Just a Summer Romance




Buffy and Spike deal with the consequences of their night together.


Chapter One

Buffy woke up gradually as light from outside filtered into the crypt, chasing away the gloom and forcing her out of her peaceful sleep.  She started to stretch, and found that she was sore in several places.  She was also somewhat pinned down by a muscular arm across her waist. 

Memories of the previous night came flooding back as she noticed the black-painted nails on the hand at the end of the arm.  Her heart raced and her breathing became faster as what she’d done and with whom she’d done it became perfectly clear.

Oh my god!  I had sex with Spike!  Spike – sex – words that should never be used  together.  I had sex with him.  That is just...okay, want to say disgusting, but it wasn’t.  It was...unusual.  Yeah, that’s a good word.  Much better than mind-blowing, wonderful, want-to-do-it-again sex.  It was unusual sex.

Beside her, the increase in her breathing and heart rate woke Spike from his normal, heavy, early-morning sleep.  He remained still, judging from her body’s responses that she wasn’t necessarily happy about finding herself in his bed, but he was unwilling to give up the physical contact until he had to.

Unfortunately for his attempt to remain inert, one body part woke up immediately when it noticed Buffy’s warm rear end tucked up next to it.  As soon as it poked its way between her thighs, she gasped and sat straight up.  Spike opened his eyes unwillingly and saw what he’d been afraid he would see – Buffy staring back and forth from her own naked body to his and clearly getting close to hyperventilating.

Guess a morning shag is out of the question, then.

When she grabbed the quilt and yanked it up to cover her chest, she accidentally pulled it off of him, leaving his lean body and eager cock completely exposed.  She moaned and tried to pull the bottom of the quilt back over his lower body without exposing more of hers.  Deciding he’d have a better chance of calming her down if she wasn’t so worried about what they weren't wearing, he took the edge of the quilt and carefully spread it out across both of them.  The way Buffy was clutching it to her chest made it impossible for him to cover his chiseled chest and muscular shoulders, but he did the best he could.

He rolled away from her onto his back and crossed his arms under his head as he waited to find out if he was going to be adding his dust to that already on the floor of the crypt.  He tried very hard to keep his expression bland and respectful, knowing one sign of cockiness or smirking on his part and the previous night’s beating would seem like a massage.

Was hopin’ she’d wake up happy to be here, but I guess that was too much to wish for.  Bloody William tryin’ to make last night more than it was.  We had a good shag, and if I don’t bollix it up too badly, we might be able to come out of this still friends.

He carefully suppressed the demon that was insisting he had no desire to be friends with the woman he’d tried to claim.

Buffy ran her eyes up from his chest to his face, pausing to wince at the tooth marks she had clearly left near his neck.  When she got to his face she suddenly chickened out and looked down at the quilt, her face flaming.

With a resigned sigh, Spike rolled off the bed and pulled his pants on, keeping his back to her as he did so.  When he had them zipped up, he collected her clothes from the floor and silently handed them to her before going over to his “kitchen” and opening the refrigerator.

As soon as she realized he was giving her some privacy in which to get dressed, Buffy jumped off the bed and pulled her clothes on haphazardly.  She glanced at him once or twice to see if he was peeking, but he was always turned away, his pale back the only part of him visible back in the dark corner. 

Finally she put her head up and said softly, “I’m dressed.  You can turn around now.”

She put her chin up and for the first time since she awoke she looked him in the eye.  She couldn’t interpret the look on his face.  It wasn’t the smirking self-satisfaction she had expected to see, but neither was there anything apologetic about it. He was just gazing at her, and seemed to be calmly waiting for her to tell him where they stood.

There was no way for Buffy to know that there was a war going on behind the impassive face across the room from her.  William wanted to throw himself at her feet and beg her forgiveness for presuming to touch her, and the demon wanted to push her back onto the bed and take what he now considered his.

None of that showed on Spike’s face as Buffy studied him carefully looking for some clue about his reaction to the night before.  Finally she gave up trying to read his blank expression and admitted in a shaky voice, “I don’t know what to say to you.”

“ I’m guessin’  ‘it never happened’ isn’t gonna get it this time,” he responded with a rueful smile.

“A world of ‘no’, ” she agreed, rolling her eyes.  Her hand went to the bite marks on her neck and she rubbed them absently as she stood there.  Somehow, now that they were dressed again, it was easier to remember that they were friends who could talk to each other and she closed the distance between them until they were only a few feet apart.

She looked up at him anxiously and said, “You know this can never happen again, right?  I mean, I’m the Slayer, you’re a vampire.  I have a boy friend...oh my god! I have a boy friend.  I cheated on Riley!  With you!”

She was so wrapped up in her own sudden dismay, she didn’t catch the pain that went across Spike’s face at her words. Nor did she see his hands clench into fists as he struggled to control himself.  By the time she looked back at his face, there was no sign of the ache that had taken up residence in his unbeating heart. 

Moving a little closer to her, he rubbed her arms in what was meant to be a comforting manner as he said soothingly, “Nobody knows about this except us, love.  By the time anyone is here to see you again, those bites will be gone and...and last night will be just a memory.” A wonderful, once in a lifetime memory

Without thinking, Buffy moved into his comforting embrace and rested her head on his chest as she said, “I suppose you’re right.  If nobody finds out about it, nobody will get hurt.”

Grateful that she couldn’t see his face, Spike squeezed his eyes shut as he kissed the top of her head softly and agreed, “That’s right, pet. Nobody will get hurt.”

She pulled back from him, frowning slightly as she found that inexplicably difficult to do.  For some reason the bite marks on her neck started to ache as he dropped his arms and let her go.  She reached up to touch them again and shuddered as he ghosted his fingers over hers, immediately replacing the ache with a tingle that went all the way down to her toes.

Spi—what...what did you do?  Why do I feel like this?  I’ve been bitten before – it never felt like this.”

He sighed and took her hands in his as he braced himself for a storm.

“Are you holding my hands so I won’t hit you?” she asked with a worried smile.

He laughed softly and squeezed them as he admitted, “Well, maybe that’s one reason.  But not the only one,” he added, moving his thumbs softly over her palms.  He brought one hand up to his mouth and planted a kiss on her knuckles.

“Jus’ let me tell you what’s goin’ on before you decide to beat me up again, alright?”

She looked at him dubiously, but nodded her head.  “Okay, ‘splainy, please.”

Shaking his head at her abuse of the English language, he began hesitantly,  “When I bit you – the second time.  While we were mak—”

“Having sex,” she interjected. “We were having sex.  I remember.”

“Right, then. While we were shaggin’, I might have said...something...that made my demon think I wanted to claim you.  What you’re feelin’ is just the effects of the partial claim.  It’s not a big deal.  It’ll go away as soon as the marks do.  I promise.  It’s not permanent.”

He waited anxiously as she digested the information, absently rubbing the marks again as she did so.  Her knowledge of vampire lore was not as great as it probably should have been, but she had some idea what he meant.  She thought back to the night before and tried to remember what he’d said when he bit her.  She could remember that he had murmured things in her ear almost the entire time they were making love,  Having sex! We were only having sex.   and she really had no idea which endearment might have been the trigger.

“So, you didn’t mean to do it, then?” She cocked her head at him and waited impatiently as he took his time coming up with his answer.

He stared back at her and decided to go for complete honesty.

“My demon did,” he said flatly.  “I didn’t expect to lose control of him like that, but when you bit me...”

“Are you saying this is my fault?”  She fixed him with green lasers as she waited for an answer.

“No, pet.  No, no.  Not saying that at all,” he hastened to assure her.  “ I’m jus’ explainin’ why it happened is all.”

Somewhat mollified, she poked her lip out in a pout and relaxed.

“Well, okay then.  I guess I’ll just have to wait for them to heal up.  It shouldn’t take that long.  Slayer healing and all that.”

“No, pet, it won’t take long.” He tried to keep the sadness out of his voice as he agreed with her.

Buffy shuffled uncomfortably for a minute, not sure if she wanted to know why he didn’t seem happier about losing the claim quickly.

“I guess I’d better be getting home,” she finally said.  “Mom will be calling as soon as she gets to New York.”

Alright, pet.  I’m jus’ goin’ to get some more kip.  I’m still a little knackered from last night.”

She shot him a guilty look as she remembered the beating that had led to the rest of the night’s events, but he wasn’t looking at her as he climbed back onto the sarcophagus.  She decided she really didn’t want to know specifically what had made him so “knackered” and held her tongue.  When he was lying down again on his back, bearing an uncomfortable resemblance to the corpse that he actually was, she walked over and pulled the quilt up over his immobile body. She ran the back of her knuckles over his cheek before she turned to leave.

As she went to go, she was reminded of how fast vampires could move when his arm shot out and grabbed her hand.  She raised startled eyes and found him looking at her intently.

“I’ll see you tonight, love,” he said.  It was a statement, not a question and she felt a jolt of anger go through her.  The anger quickly dissipated when she saw the fear on his face.

“Yeah, Spike.  I’ll see you tonight.  You promised me double the slaying, remember?”

“Double it is, Slayer.”  He let go of her hand and closed his eyes again, not wanting to watch her walk out the door.



Chapter Two

When Spike showed up on the front porch just after sunset, Buffy tried to tell herself the jolt of happiness that went through her was a result of the claim, but since the bite wounds were completely closed and already well on their way to being invisible, it was a hard sell.

They began walking toward the nearest cemetery, an uncomfortable silence taking the place of their usual bantering conversation.  Just when the silence was getting to the point that almost any sound would be welcome, a piercing scream saved the day. They sprinted toward the source of the sound and found a young couple pinned against the side of a crypt by two fledgling vampires.

Spike pulled the first one off the screaming girl and tossed him toward Buffy who was holding her stake out for the vamp to land on.  As soon as the dust cleared, she lifted the stake a little higher so that the slightly taller second vamp would hit it in just the right spot.  She saw his eyes widen as he found himself moving through the air toward a smiling girl holding what appeared to be a piece of sharpened wood.  With a “thump” he hit the stake perfectly and exploded into dusty particles.

Spike was glaring at the two teenagers in disgust.

“I hope you two morons are usin’ some kinda birth control,” he growled at them.  They blinked at him in confusion and looked at Buffy for clarification.

“He thinks you’re too stupid to be allowed to reproduce,” she said sweetly as she pushed them toward the gate.  “Stay out of cemeteries at night. ‘K?  Bye now.” 

The burst of speed and the brief interaction with the teenagers had broken the ice, and Buffy and Spike were soon walking around their usual patrol areas with the same comfortable camaraderie that they’d had before.  Unfortunately, the two fledglings were the only evil doers they found all night and they were soon back at Buffy’s house, both filled with pent up energy.

Spike was bouncing on his toes and shadow-boxing around her back yard, trying to entice Buffy into sparring with him.

“Come on, Slayer. You know you want to dance with me. Let’s go.”

“Don’t be silly, Spike.  You know you can’t hit me back – and if I can’t go all out, it won’t be any fun.”

“I could make it fun, pet,” he said, curling his tongue against his front teeth and wiggling his eyebrows at her.

She rolled her eyes at his blatant innuendo and smacked him on the head.

“Speaking of dancing...”

He stopped clowning and looked at her intently.

“You still want to go clubbin’, Slayer?”

“Yes.  You promised me a night in LA – and you told me you always keep your promises.”

“Ok, then.  I’ll pick you up as soon as the sun goes down tomorrow.  Wear somethin’ sexy, “ he added with a leer.

“Oh, to accompany somebody in jeans and a tee shirt?” she sneered and rolled her eyes at him.

 “Jus’ do what you’re told you silly little bint and don’ worry about me.”

 “Someday Giles is going to tell me what a bint is and I’m going to have to hurt you for that, “ she grumbled.

He just laughed and danced out of her reach when she swatted at him.

“You’re full of energy tonight,” she said, shaking her head at him from her seat on the back porch.

“Had Slayer blood last night.  Feel like I could take on the world.”

“Yeah, well, you’d better try to make it last, vampire.  It’s not like you’ll be getting more any time soon,” she growled at him, angry that he had reminded her of what he was.

Spike’s good mood vanished and they were suddenly uncomfortable with each other again.  He mentally cursed himself for bringing it up.  When he saw her face settle into unhappy lines, he sat down beside her and reached for her limp hand.

Holding her hand in one of his, he used the other to turn her face toward him.

“I also got to make love to a beautiful woman, and that was much more important than anything else that happened,” he said with complete sincerity as William took control of the conversation. 

Buffy blushed and ducked her head as she said, “More important than Slayer blood? I find that hard to believe, Spike.”

“Believe it, love.  Your blood made the demon roar, but kissin’ you, feelin’ you around me... that’s the memory I’m taking with me to my dusty end.”

Buffy was left completely speechless by his confession of what the night meant to him.  His words gave her a warm glow inside, at the same time that her brain was screaming, “Vampire feelings!  There will be no vampire feelings.  They have no feelings.  He can’t mean what he’s saying.  Not listening. Nope, not listening.  La, la, la, la...”

Her internal monologue was interrupted by his hand waving in front of her face.

“Slayer? Buffy?   You in there?” 

He wasn’t sure how to take her reaction to what he’d said.  The expression on her face and the increase in her heart rate said one thing, but the way she leaned toward him and the way her fingers curled around the hand still holding hers said something very different.  His interruption brought her attention back to him and she met his worried gaze with an embarrassed shrug.

“Sorry, Spike.  I guess I zoned out there for a minute.  I’m not used to hearing you say such nice things to me.”  She raised her free hand to touch the side of his face.  “I’m not sure I know how to react,” she added, stroking his cheek softly.

“I’d say you’re doing just fine, love,” he whispered, leaning into her hand and closing his eyes.

The sound of the phone ringing inside the house jarred them out of the moment, and Buffy dropped her hand and moved away from him quickly.  She avoided looking at him as she stood up and prepared to go inside, missing the disappointment that flashed across his face when she broke contact.

“I...I guess I’d better go in.  That might have been an important call.  Could have been Mom, or Dawn, or...”she stopped herself just before she said Riley’s name, but the amber eyes flashing at her told her it didn’t matter.  They both knew who was likely to be calling her this late at night.

“Right,” he said through gritted teeth.  “Don’t want to be missing any important phone calls, do we, Slayer?”

“Spike—“ she hesitated, not sure exactly what she wanted to say, but knowing it was important to remind him that she belonged to somebody else.

“Don’t,” he said flatly.  “Just bloody don’t, all right?”

“Okay,” she said meekly.  “So, I’ll see you tomorrow night?” 

The fact that it sounded more like a question than a statement, made him realize how close to the surface his demon was and he forced it back as he tried to look nonchalant.

“Oh, yeah.  You’ll see me tomorrow.  And I’d better see you dressed to impress, Slayer.”

He lifted his eyebrow at her and ran his eyes up and down her body, trying to get back the easy bantering they’d enjoyed earlier in the evening.

Buffy was grateful to have the tension relieved and immediately responded with a huffy, “As if I need fashion advice from you!  I just hope you don’t embarrass me, Spike.”

He studied her for a minute, then smiled his cocky smile and said, “I’ll do my best, pet.  See you tomorrow,” he threw over his shoulder as he disappeared into the darkness in a swirl of leather.

Buffy sighed at the mercurial changes of which he was capable, and opened the kitchen door to go in.  The phone had long since stopped ringing, but she was pretty sure she knew who it was, and that he would call back soon. With a guilty start, she realized that she hadn’t talked to Riley in several weeks, and hadn’t been the one to call since the first week he was gone.  She vowed silently to be a better girlfriend to him for the rest of the summer and went upstairs to shower and get ready for bed.

 She was just finishing brushing her hair and preparing to climb into bed when the phone rang again.  She picked it up as she slipped into bed, piling pillows against the headboard and pulling the covers up.

“Hello?” she said into the phone as she squirmed into a comfortable position for a long talk.

“Buffy?  Where’ve you been?  I’ve been calling all night.”

“Uh, well, I was patrolling...you know, Chosen One and all that.  Vamps to slay, demons to hunt.  The usual.  I did hear the phone the last time, but I was still outside and couldn’t get to it in time.  I knew it was you, though,” she finished brightly.  “That’s why I came in.”

 “You wouldn’t have come in anyway?” Riley asked in surprise.  “It’s the middle of the night, Buffy.  What were you doing still outside?”

Opening her mouth before she had totally engaged her brain, Buffy responded cheerily, “Oh, Spike and I were talk—”

 “Spike?  Spike was there?  Did he bother you?  Did you have to stake him?”  She could hear the anger in his voice and the trace of hope as he asked about staking.

“No, Riley,” she said with a sigh.  Deciding it was safest to go with as much truth as possible, she went on, “Spike isn’t bothering me.  He’s been helping me patrol and keeping me company while everyone is out of town for the summer. He’s been very helpful, actually.”

There was a tense silence from the other end of the line until Riley finally asked, “And does your mother know you’re spending time with another soulless vampire?”

Buffy was astonished that Riley would think that her mother would be upset, and angry that he would obliquely refer to Angel as though he had a right to comment on that relationship.

“Angel has a soul,” she said shortly, making it very clear that was going to be the end of that subject.   “And my mother happens to like Spike.  A lot.”

“Well, she doesn’t know him like I do,” he muttered, sounding very much like a spoiled child. “She wouldn’t like him so much if he didn’t have that chip,”

 “She would. She did,” Buffy said.  “She’s known him for years. He’s always been welcome in my mom’s house.”

“Spike’s been in your house?  Before he was chipped?  What the hell were you thinking, Buffy?” 

Riley’s righteous indignation reminded Buffy of how little he really knew about her life before she met him and how complicated it could get, being a Slayer on the Hellmouth.

“Long story, Riley.  I really don’t feel like going in to it right now, okay?  I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.”

“All right, Buffy.  I’m sorry I yelled.  I just...I miss you, you know?  And I worry about you when I’m not there.” 

She could hear the affection in his voice, and smothered the impatient sigh that wanted to sneak out of her mouth.

“I’m sorry, too, Riley.  Let’s just forget it, okay?”  She forced herself to sound interested as she asked, “So, how is your visit going?  Are you catching up with lots of old friends?”

“Oh yeah.  Having a good time.  We had our high school class reunion and I got to see all my old buddies.  We’ve been fishing and just riding around in the truck.  It’s been great.”

“Well, that sounds...great.  I’m glad you’re having a good time.”

“I am.  But I miss you.  I’ll be glad to get back.  Getting really horny... I hope you’ll be rested when I get back.”

Buffy smothered her laugh, but did roll her eyes since he couldn’t see that. The idea of Riley being horny enough to wear her out was even funnier now than it would have been two days ago.

“Uh, yeah, I think I’ll be okay,” she said with a smile in her voice, trying to ignore the little one in her head that was saying, “unless you let Spike wear you out in the meantime...”

      Bad voice!  Bad, bad.  Not listening to bad voice.  La, la, la...

For the second time that night, someone had to bring her back from la-la land as Riley said,  “Buffy?  Buffy are you there?”

“Oh, yes.  I’m here.  Sorry, guess I just got carried away thinking about when you get back.”  She winced at the blatant lie, but when she heard the happiness in his voice she decided it was a good lie.

“Well, on that happy note, I guess I’ll let you get to sleep.  I’ll talk to you soon, okay?  Love you, Buffy.”

 “Um, okay.  Bye-bye,” she chirped, hoping he wouldn’t notice the lack of “I love you” on her part.  She told herself it didn’t mean anything.  “I just didn’t feel like saying it right now, that’s all,” she mumbled to herself as she slid down on the bed.  “Doesn’t mean a thing.”

Which would have been a lot more convincing if her dreams hadn’t been filled with piercing blue eyes, smooth alabaster skin and a very talented tongue...



Chapter Three

Buffy started worrying about what to wear around noon the following day.  She stood in front of her closet and tried to think about what to do.  Yes, Spike had said she should look good, and she had told him she wanted to dress up, but the idea of appearing in public dressed in her best and accompanied by someone in jeans and a tee shirt was not appealing.  Finally she just decided to trust him not to embarrass her too much, and she pulled out a little black dress that she’d been saving for something special.

A leisurely bath, time spent drying and curling her hair so that it hung around her shoulders in golden waves, a half an hour at her dressing table working on make-up, and she was ready to get dressed.  She stood in front of the mirror in a black lace thong and held the dress up to her.  It came up high in front into a halter top, and was cut low in the back.  A bra was obviously not an option, but she looked at her perky little breasts and decided it was OK.  She pulled the silky fabric over her head and settled the swirling skirt around her hips.  The hem just brushed the top of her knees and when she had added thigh-high black stockings and strappy little black sandals with three-inch heels, she stepped back to evaluate her hard work.

Staring back from the mirror was someone she almost didn’t recognize at first.  Gone were the pretty, young co-ed and the flinty-eyed slayer, and in their place was a beautiful, sophisticated woman.  She worried for a minute that she looked too good for what Spike undoubtedly had in mind for them, but when she heard the car pull up outside she knew it was too late to change.  She heard the front door open and voice calling up the stairs,  “Oi, Slayer.  You’d better be ready.  It’s a long drive and we’ve got reservations for 8:00.”

Reservations?  We have reservations?

Buffy went to the top of the stairs and yelled back at him, “I’m almost ready.  Try some patience for a change.”

    She quickly grabbed an evening bag from her mother’s closet and filled it with her wallet, lip-gloss, a comb and, as an after thought, a stake.  She hung it from her shoulder, and with a sense of trepidation that surprised her, she started down the stairs.  She was almost to the bottom when she saw an incredibly good looking blond man, wearing an expensive black suit and dress shoes staring up at her with his mouth hanging open.

By the time she registered that she was looking at Spike, she was frozen on the stairs unable to do anything but gawk.  He was wearing a blue shirt that matched his eyes exactly, and a tie that she was pretty sure cost more than her dress.  She wanted to accuse him of killing someone for the clothes, but the way the suit fit, as though it had been tailored just for him, kept her mouth shut.

 Spike couldn’t have moved if he’d wanted to.  The woman standing on the stairs looking down at him was a vision in black and gold that he wanted to remember forever.  He was grateful that he didn’t need to breath, as he was sure he wouldn’t have been able to and would have passed out on the floor.

Time dragged on as they stayed rooted to their spots, both lost in the sight in front of them.  The sound of a door slamming next door broke the spell and Buffy shook herself and came the rest of the way down the stairs.  Spike moved forward and took her hands, helping her down the last two steps, but never taking his eyes from hers.

“You look absolutely stunning, Buffy,” he said with a slightly different accent than she was accustomed to hearing from him.  The look on his face left no doubt as to his sincerity and she blushed slightly as she replied, “You’re pretty amazing yourself.”

 They were standing at the bottom of the stairs, only inches apart and Buffy suddenly felt very warm as he devoured her with his eyes.  She colored again, and gently took her hand out of his as she moved toward the door.

“So, reservations, huh?” she asked as she went out the door.  “What’s that all about?”

He slipped in front of her and ran to open the door on the passenger side of his old Desoto.  He couldn’t resist touching her hair as he waited for her to get in the car and she smiled up at him almost shyly as she felt his hand brush her head.

By the time he was around to his own side and had slid behind the wheel, he was back to his old cocky self and he ran an appreciative eye up her nylon clad legs, saying, with a leer, “I hope those aren’t panty hose, pet.”

Buffy flushed, but snarked back at him as she flashed him a glimpse of lacey tops and silky golden skin.  “Do I look like the pantyhose type?” she said innocently.

He swallowed hard and wished he was wearing his usual tight jeans as his cock sat up at attention in the light weight dress pants.  He peered sideways at her to see if she noticed, but she was looking out the window, watching Sunnydale disappear behind them.

By the time they got to LA, they had relaxed back into their usual comfortable camaraderie and Buffy was beginning to wonder what he had in mind for them.

“Where are we going, Spike?” she asked, looking around but not recognizing where they were.

“Right here, love. “ he answered, pulling into a curved drive in front of a very expensive hotel and opening his door.  Before she could ask what they were doing at a hotel, the valet was opening the door on her side and handing her out of the car.  His appreciative look at her legs as she swung them around to get out didn’t pass unnoticed by the vampire, and his eyes were briefly flecked with gold as he handed the key to the oblivious boy.

“Take good care of her,” he growled, gesturing at the car and taking Buffy’s arm.  “We’ll be a while.”


 They entered the hotel lobby and Spike immediately guided her toward an elevator set off from the others.  A small tasteful sign indicated it was a direct elevator to the “Top of the World” restaurant.

When they emerged from the elevator into the restaurant, Buffy gasped involuntarily.  The room was huge and dominated by the floor to ceiling windows surrounding it.  When Spike gave the hostess his name, she smiled coquettishly and escorted them to a table for two, right next to a window.

Buffy was entranced by the view from their table, but not so entranced that she didn’t notice the woman looking Spike up and down and licking her lips.  Buffy surprised herself by giving a low growl that fortunately no one heard but Spike.  He cocked an eyebrow at her curiously, but continued to talk with the more-than-attentive hostess about a wine list.

When she finally walked away, swaying her hips provocatively, Buffy huffed, “Well, you’d think a nice place like this wouldn’t have such a ‘ho as their hostess.”

 He gaped at her and said, “Uh, Slayer?  Not sure I’m followin’ you here.  What did the poor bint do to bring that on?”

“She was ogling you,” she snarled.  At his amused expression, she snapped, “And you were ogling back!”

He looked at her in annoyed surprise for a second, then burst into a big smile.

“You’re jealous!” he crowed.

Wha—?  As if! I am not!” Buffy rolled her eyes and huffed in disgust.  I’m not jealous! Am I? Oh my god, I am.  I’m jealous.  Argh!

“Yes, you are.  You’re jealous.” He was so delighted, he was practically singing it.

“Fine, I’m jealous, Mr.-I’m-going-to-eat-the-parking-valet,’” she growled back at him.  “Thought I didn’t notice that, huh?” She stuck her chin out at him combatively.

Instead of arguing with her, he reached across the table and took her hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it.  Warmth shot through her body when his soft lips touched her sensitive palm and he smiled when he felt her heart rate go up.

“Suppose, just for tonight, that we agree that there is nobody else in the world except us?  We don’t have to worry about anybody ogling anything, because they aren’t really there.  There’s just Spike and the Slayer.”

He looked at her with soft blue eyes that pleaded with her to agree.  When she shook her head, “no”, he started to shut them in pain, but she stopped him with a light touch on his face. As soon as he was looking at her again, she said softly, “There’s just William and Buffy.”

 A smile that lit up his whole face was his only response, as he kissed her hand again and rubbed his cheek against it before giving it back.

“William and Buffy it is.”

While the waiter was pouring the wine Spike had ordered, a pretty girl carrying a camera came up to them and offered, “Would you two like a picture as a souvenir of the night?  You look so wonderful together.”

Before Buffy could respond, Spike jumped up and said, “Absolutely, luv. We’ll take two or three.”

He pulled Buffy to her feet and got behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her back against his chest.  Buffy settled for wrapping her arms across his, when she couldn’t find anything else to do with them.  They took another one of them standing side by side with Spike’s arm around her waist, and a final one of them sitting at the table, leaning toward each other and smiling happily at the camera.

 After giving the girl Buffy’s Revello Drive address and a nice tip, Spike sat back down across from her.  The menus came and they ordered, Spike having a New York Strip “very rare” he instructed carefully while Buffy rolled her eyes.  The ate a leisurely dinner, talking about where they would go after they finished and what time they would have to leave LA to get home before sunrise.

Buffy tried not to wonder how much the evening was costing, or where Spike was getting the money for it, but she knew it was beginning to add up and they hadn’t even gone dancing yet.  When she ventured a question about it, he gave her a hard look and said evenly, “Don’t worry about it, Slayer.  I didn’t steal it and I didn’t kill anybody.  That’s all you need to know.”

She flinched a little when he called her Slayer, and wondered if she had spoiled the evening for them, but he soon bounced back and was anxious to move on to the next part of the night.  Buffy refused to be rushed through her chocolate mousse dessert and by the time she was done, he was practically jiggling with impatience.

They walked past the hostess without even noticing the wistful look she sent after Spike, and managed to get back into the car without risking a Spike headache for punching the valet.

The next stop was a well-known club on the other side of town and Buffy was flabbergasted when the owner came over to greet them, tell Spike how good it was to see him again, and offer a bottle of champagne on the house. 

“How...what...who...” She fumbled for the right question to ask as Spike just smirked at her smugly.

 “I’m an important man, love. Haven’t you figured that out yet?”

You’re not a man, you’re a vampire.  And you live in Sunnydale.  How does that man know you?”

He laughed and finally admitted,  “Spent some time in LA off and on.  Especially after Dru sent me away and before I came back to Sunnyhell.  Got drunk here one night and passed out.  Came to just in time to see a couple of vamps trying to take the night’s receipts and have Jake for dessert.  Couldn’t tell you why I didn’t just kill them and drain him myself – but I didn’t.  Dusted both of them, then passed out again.  When I came to, I was lying on a couch in his office and he was telling me my money was no good in here for as long as he owned the place.  Decided havin’ someplace this nice to go to whenever I wanted was more important that eatin’ him, and we’ve been friends ever since.”

“Does he know what you are?” she asked dubiously.

“Can’t imagine he doesn’t,” he said.  “I’m sure it was my demon whipped those two thieves.  I was too pissed to be much good in a fight.  He’s never mentioned it, though.”

While Buffy tried to digest that their host knew what Spike was and liked him anyway, Kinda like my mom, she realized with a start, he was taking her hand and pulling her toward the dance floor.  They attracted a lot of attention as their natural athleticism and sense of rhythm quickly made them the most watchable dancers on the floor.  After several fast songs, the band dropped into a ballad and they melted in to each other as though they’d been dancing together for years.

Spike’s arm was around her waist and his hand was on the small of her back as he guided her around the floor.  After several circuits that let her know he was probably one of the best dancers she’d ever been with, he slowed down and they found themselves in one place swaying gently to the music flowing around them.  He moved both hands around her waist, pulling her closer to his body and she snaked her arms up around his neck, resting her head on his shoulder. 

He buried his nose in her hair, inhaling the scent of her herbal shampoo. He could smell and hear the blood rushing through the artery in her neck, just below his chin.  When he couldn’t resist it any longer, he put his head down and licked the pulse pounding there.  As soon as Buffy felt his lips on her neck, she shivered and moved closer to him.  He groaned as her warm body pressed up against his and he began nibbling on her the warm skin on her neck and murmuring in her ear when he worked his way up to her ear lobe.

When the evidence of what her nearness was doing to him became impossible to deny, Buffy reluctantly pushed herself away slightly and shook her head. 

“What’s wrong, love?” he whispered in her ear, trying to pull her back.  He missed the warm body he’d been pressed up against, even though she had only moved an inch or so away.

“What’s wrong is the whole club is going to know what you’re doing,” she hissed at him, turning a bright shade of red.  “Those pants don’t hide a thing.”

“They won’t see anything as long as you’re in front me,” he grinned. “The only way to protect your virtue is to stay right here.”  He pulled her back against the even larger bulge in his pants and she felt it twitch against her hip.  She had to admit he was right.  As long as she was plastered up against his body, no one would be able to see the hard object in front of him.

“See, love,” he whispered in that deep tone that sent shivers down her spine, “you need to be here. ‘S where you belong.”

Buffy let the soothing sound of his voice and the feel of his arms lull her back into the pleasant daze she’d been in when they first started dancing and she felt herself melting back into him.  She smothered the little pang of disloyalty she felt when she couldn’t keep herself from comparing how well their bodies fit together with how awkward it was to dance like this with Riley.

 The other patrons all noticed that the two beautiful dancers were now lost in their own world and they smiled with appreciation or wistful envy as they watched the couple swaying to music only they could hear.  Spike and Buffy were so wrapped up in each other that neither one noticed when the music ended, nor that after a short pause in which the owner gestured to the band for another slow song, it began again.

As they danced, Buffy felt the little tingles on her neck that told her there was a vampire near.  The tingle was almost familiar, but she shook it off, figuring Spike must have done something to trigger her radar.

       Maybe he nibbled too hard on my neck or something.

Suddenly, he was ripped out of her arms and she opened her eyes to see him sprawled on the floor, eyes flashing yellow as he snarled at a large, dark haired man looming over him.  Buffy could see the bouncers headed in their direction as Spike kipped back to his feet, preparing to launch himself at the man in front of him. 

Buffy had run to his side and whirled to face his assailant, fully prepared to disregard her normal reluctance to hurt humans.  One look at the furious face of the interloper and she froze in place.




Chapter Four

       Although neither vampire had gone totally into game face, both sets of glaring eyes were flickering yellow as they moved up to stand face to face.  Buffy moved quickly to get in between them, and pushed Angel back toward the rapidly approaching bouncers.

        “Stop it!,” she hissed at him.  “You’re going to get us thrown out of here!”

       “Us?  What us?  Are you here with him?”  Her ex stared at her in disbelief and dismay.  “You’re out with Spike?”

       “Yeah, Peaches.  She’s out with me.  An’ you’re makin’ a scene in my friend’s club.” 

       Angel turned to stare at Buffy incredulously.

       “What the hell are you thinking, Buffy?  It’s Spike!”

       “I’m thinking that everybody except me is having a fun summer and I deserved a night off from babysitting the Hellmouth.”  She stuck her lower lip out and glared at him.  “And you’re trying to ruin it.”

       By this time, Jake and his bouncers were surrounding the small group, which, Buffy suddenly noticed, appeared to include Cordelia.

       “Is there a problem here, Spike?” Jake asked as he motioned for his bouncers to take Angel’s arms.

       Correctly reading the barely suppressed rage on his grandsire’s face, Spike said soothingly,  “It’s okay, Jake.  Just a misunderstanding.  Peaches and I are old friends.  His social skills just aren’t very good sometimes.  Right, Angelus?”

       “Angel, please,” Buffy added quietly.

        Angel stared back and forth between his grandchild and his ex girlfriend for a second, then bowed to the pleading in Buffy’s eyes and shook the bouncers off with a “Right.  My apologies if my usual greeting was a little too rough for the time and place.  I’m not used to finding Spike in such nice places,” he added with a growl.

       Jake looked at them dubiously, but when Spike nodded his head, he directed the bouncers back to the door and went back to his office, leaving them in the middle of the floor.

        “Care to join us?” Spike asked as he took Buffy’s arm and headed for their table.  He didn’t look back to see if they were following, just pulled Buffy’s chair out for her and sat down himself.

       Cordelia rolled her eyes at the still frozen Angel and walked over to sit down next to Buffy.  She eyed Spike cautiously until Buffy snapped, “He’s not going to bite you, Cordelia.  Relax.”

       “Well, not unless you ask me to, Cheerleader,” Spike leered at her then winced when Buffy kicked his unprotected ankle under the table.

       “Ow, Slayer!  Knew I should have worn my boots. What’s wrong with you?”

       “Don’t be an ass, Spike,” she grumbled.

         Guess William and Buffy have left the building.  It’s jus’ like Angelus to bollix things up for everybody.

       When Angel had recovered sufficiently to follow Cordelia’s swaying hips to the table, he grabbed the only chair left and sat down, facing Buffy and doing his best to ignore Spike.

       “Buffy?  I don’t understand.  This is Spike.  What are you doing going out with him?  And what about the soldier?”

       It wasn’t lost on Angel that Spike’s eyes narrowed and flickered yellow when he mentioned Riley.  He tried not to watch as Spike struggled to push his demon down, but Angel couldn’t help noticing that Spike was able to do it fairly easily.  A twinge of envy went through him to think that his much younger grandchilde was able to control his demon better than Angel could his own.

       Buffy rolled her eyes and tried to be patient as she filled Angel and Cordelia in on the events of the past year.  Angel had heard about Spike’s chip and his inability to hurt humans, but he was floored at the idea that the former killer of Slayers was now helping one. 

       He turned to look hard at Spike and growled,  “Why, Spike?  What are you up to?”

       “Not up to anythin’, Peaches.  Jus’ helpin’ the Slayer out while her little Scoobies are out of town, and gettin’ in my spot of violence while I do it.  Promised her a night out on the town before summer was over and I’m just keeping my promise.”

       He clenched his jaw and glared back at the clearly distrustful, scowling vampire.  The air was tight with tension, and for a minute Buffy was sure they were going to throw the table aside and tear the club apart.  However Spike was able to lean back in his chair and project an air of supreme indifference that gave Angel no excuse for violence.

       Instead, he demanded that they pay up their tab and come with him.  Cordelia rolled her eyes when he said, “We’re going somewhere else.  I need some answers here.”

       “Oh, wonderful,” she moaned.  “You promised me a night out in a human club and now you want to go running back to Caritas.  How perfect!”

       “Caritas?” Buffy and Spike asked at the same time.

       Angel sighed and, taking a more conciliatory tone, explained, “Caritas is owned by a friend of mine.  He can...sense things about people and demons.  I want him to read Spike to be sure there isn’t something evil going on here.  I don’t trust him,” he added, throwing another glare at Spike.

       “I do,” Buffy said quietly.  Under the table she rubbed her foot against Spike’s ankle and saw him smile slightly in her direction before he turned to meet Angel’s glare.

       Angel continued to glare at Spike, although he was speaking to Buffy. “Well, then it’s probably a good thing we ran into you.  Obviously he’s got you fooled somehow, Buffy.  But don’t worry, I’ll take care of it as soon as we find out what’s really going on.” 

       He beamed at Buffy, completely missing the pissed off look on her face.

       “You will take care of it?  Because I’m being fooled?”  The more she thought about his cavalier treatment of her belief in Spike, the angrier she got. “Have you forgotten entirely who I am?  Slayer here, Angel.  Pretty good at spotting evil when I see it, remember?”

        He had the grace to look embarrassed, but stubbornly stuck to his guns as he said, “I’m not trying to insult you, Buffy.  But I’ve known Spike for a lot longer than you have and I know—”

       “You know nothing, wanker, but I’m tired of this.  Let’s go visit this friend of yours so he can do whatever it is he does, and then Buffy and I can go back to enjoyin’ what’s left of our evenin’.”

       He stood up and pulled Buffy's chair out, asking, “You ready to go, pet?”

        She focused glittering green lasers on Angel as she reluctantly finished off her glass of champagne and stood up.  She conspicuously ignored Angel’s outstretched hand and moved closer to her date.  Spike smirked at the glowering older vampire and smoothly ushered Buffy toward the door.  They paused to look in to Jake’s office and Spike thanked him sincerely for the champagne and apologized for Angel’s behavior. 

      “No problem, Spike. I’m glad you could smooth it over.  I had a feeling my bouncers might have been a little out of their league there...” He waited, not demanding an explanation, but clearly curious.

       “Yeah, the poof might’ve been a bit of a handful for ‘em.  Thought it would be better to let it go than to tear up your club.  Woulda had a go at him myself, otherwise.” 

      It was as close as Spike was willing to come to admitting that Angel was also a vampire, but it was enough to satisfy Jake’s suspicions. He nodded his head and repeated his promise that Spike would always be welcome there.

       “No fighting tonight!” Buffy poked him. “We’re on vacation,” she explained to the grinning club owner with a smile.  He walked over and shook Buffy’s hand.

      “Well, don’t wait till you’re on vacation again to come back,” he offered.  “You don’t even have to bring him with you if you don’t want to.” 

       He laughed with Buffy at Spike’s indignant, “I’ll be damned” and waved them away.

       When they reached the sidewalk, Angel suggested they all go in his car, but Spike refused.

      “We’ll jus’ follow you there.  Don’t want to leave my baby unprotected here on the street.”

      Angel growled and made one last attempt to get Buffy to ride with him and Cordelia so that he could “talk to her”, but she shook her head and stepped through the car door Spike was holding open for her.  In spite of Spike’s outwardly calm appearance, she could see that he was wound as tightly as she’d ever seen him.

      Once they were alone in the car and Angel and Cordelia had gone up the street, she put a tentative hand on his leg and said carefully, “I’m really glad you didn’t let Angel make a scene back there, Spike.”  She could feel how tense his muscles were when she touched him and marveled at how something so hard could feel so good when it was pressed up against her own thigh.

       Great, bloody, fuckin’ poof!  Leave it to him to come ridin’ in like the Lone Ranger and ruin my night.  If this ‘friend’ of his manages to convince her to leave with him, I’m gonna take this whole city apart, brick by brick.

       All he said aloud was, “I need to kill something.”

      Buffy sighed and removed her hand, but stayed close to where he was sitting, resting her hand on the seat between them.

       “I know what you mean,” she surprised him by agreeing.  “I don’t know where he gets off thinking I can’t make my own decisions.  He’s a stupid...poof!”

      He shot an astonished look at her, then grinned with delight.  “Right with you there, love,” he said and patted her hand where it was lying on the seat.  When she turned it over and curled her fingers up into his, he swore his heart lurched.  They drove the rest of the way behind Angel’s car, holding hands, but looking straight ahead as though if they didn’t see their hands, it wasn’t really happening.

      As they slowed down to follow Angel into the parking lot, they could see the silhouette of Cordelia’s head, and it was obvious that she was speaking very animatedly.

      “Looks like the cheerleader has a few choice words for Mr. Tall, dark and forehead,” Spike pointed out happily.

       Buffy examined herself internally, looking for the pang of jealousy that should be there, and was amazed to find that she didn’t mind that Angel seemed to be with Cordelia.  In fact, she was happy that he had someone else to be protective of.

       She giggled and agreed, “Yep, looks like he might be apologizing for the rest of the night.”

      Finding themselves in much better moods than they had been when they got in the car, Spike and Buffy decided to make the best of the new club and they eagerly followed Angel and a still-angry Cordelia through the door.  They were greeted by a large green demon with red horns on his head and a frothy drink in one hand.

       “AngelcakesCordelia, don’t you look gorgeous?  And what is this vision in blondness I see behind you?”

       He walked past them to circle Spike and Buffy twice before announcing to all within earshot that they were the “best looking couple to ever walk in the door.”

      “I’m Lorne,” he introduced himself, “And you are...? Other than drop dead gorgeous, that is?”

       He looked back and forth from Buffy to Spike expectantly, but Angel’s voice interrupted his beaming perusal.

       “This is Buffy, Lorne,” he said gruffly, ignoring Spike completely.

       “How do you do, Buf—” His eyes got big and he whirled on Angel.  “Your Buffy?  The Slayer?”

       He whirled back as he heard the snarl from the man standing beside her and, batting his eyes at Spike, he said quickly,  “Didn’t mean it that way, Scrumptious.  Just that he talks about her a lot.”

       He looked back at Buffy in admiration and said, “Welcome to Caritas, darlin’.  I can’t wait to hear you sing.”

       “Sing?” Buffy whirled on Angel.  “What does he mean, sing?  I don’t sing. No singing.”

       “How about you, luscious?” he turned to Spike.  “Would you sing for me?”

      “Maybe later,” he growled, still angry over hearing Buffy referred to as Angel’s.  “Give us something to drink first.”

       “Oh, of course! Where are my manners?  Here you go.”  He ushered them to a table near the karaoke equipment and waved a waiter over.  “Whatever they want,” he told him.  “Keep them happy.”

       Buffy looked around the bar at all the demons and vampires and decided that a Diet Coke would be the best choice.

       No way do I want to be drunk in a place where I’m outnumbered by demons twenty to one!

       Spike looked disappointed, but settled for a beer himself, still somewhat angry over the turn their fancy night on the town had taken.  After a round of drinks and some awkward small talk, he finally looked Angel in the eye and asked, “Alright then, your royal poofness, tell us why you dragged us away from a perfectly good time at a nice, human club to this place.”

       Angel hemmed and hawed until Cordelia finally snapped and said succinctly,  “Lorne reads auras when people are singing.  Angel wants you to sing so Lorne can tell him what evil plans you have for Buffy and he can rescue her from your evilness and be the big hero.”

      Buffy and Spike gawked at her while Angel glared around the room as though looking for something to hit.  Buffy and Spike looked at each other and put their heads together, speaking so low that even Angel’s vampire hearing couldn’t pick it up.

       “Do you think he’ll know we...”

       “Dunno, love.  But he’ll know I don’t mean to hurt you.  That should be enough for Peaches.”

      Angel frowned at the two whispering together and leaned forward to try to hear what they were saying.
       “Rude, much?” Buffy said as she pulled back, her lips pursed in a worried pout.

       “It’s rude to whisper,” he snapped back at her, then looked away when he saw her flinch.

       “I’m sorry, Buffy.  It’s just that I know he’s up to something, and Lorne should be able to tell what it is.  I’m just trying to protect you.  Really.”

       “I know you are, Angel,” she replied with a sigh, “but I’ve been the Slayer for over four years now.  I really think I can handle Spike on my own.”

       “Hey!” Spike’s indignant shout was cut off when Buffy looked at him with warm eyes that said more than she intended about just what she’d like to be handling.

       “Can’t I?” she said, holding his gaze until he thought the air between them was going to combust.

       “Bloody Hell!” he exploded.  “Let’s get this over with.” 

      He marched up to the small stage and started going through the available music.  Cocking his head at Buffy, he asked with a smirk, “Should I be lookin’ for Wind Beneath My Wings, pet?”

       He laughed at her horrified expression, and went back to the pile, leaving Angel, Cordelia and Lorne to puzzle over what it meant that her flaming face looked, angry, embarrassed and somewhat wistful, all at the same time.

       As much as he would have liked to take the opportunity to croon a classic love song to her, even his demon’s desire for stirring things up knew that would be too much.  The instant Angel caught on to what he was doing, the bar would be turned into an arena for a battle between two master vampires.  He was pretty sure Buffy didn’t want to see that, no matter how much she might have liked the song.

      Instead, he settled for being predictable Spike, and chose a song by the Clash.   He started the music machine and began belting out the lyrics in a very passable baritone.  When he got to “Girl, you got to let me know, Should I stay or should I go?” he was clearly singing directly to Buffy and she blushed in acknowledgement even as she tried to warn him with her eyes not to push Angel too far.

      Fortunately, Angel didn’t pay much attention to anything that wasn’t written by Barry Manilow, and he didn’t have any idea what the lyrics were that Spike was shouting so enthusiastically.  Lorne, on the other hand, had a very thoughtful look on his face as he stared at the vampire on his stage.  Spike’s feelings for Buffy were so obvious that the demon was sure he could have seen them even without his special talent for reading auras. 

      Buffy was laughing and clapping along with the song until Spike reached over the stage and grabbed her hand.  She gave a little shriek, but allowed him to pull her up onto the stage with him where she joined him in shouting out the chorus.  When the green demon saw what their combined auras looked like, he groaned and shook his head.  No way was it going to be good for the interior of his establishment if he told Angel what he was seeing.

      The laughing couple finished singing to a round of applause from the other patrons, and Spike bowed deeply before leaping off the stage and lifting a blushing, but still-laughing Slayer down to the floor.  His hands lingered just a second on her waist before he let go and pulled out her chair for her.

       Oblivious to the good time being had by everyone except him, Angel whirled on Lorne and demanded, “Well?”

      “He’s not going to hurt her,” Lorne answered immediately, hoping Angel would be willing to let it go at that.

       “That’s all you saw?” Angel snarled in disbelief.  “What else?”

      “Nothing else that’s important.” Lorne tried to drop the subject.  “That’s what you wanted to know, isn’t it, sweetcheeks?  If he was planning to hurt her?”

       “I want to know everything you saw,” Angel gritted through his teeth. 

      “No, Angel, you really don’t,” his friend said sadly as he moved back to the bar.  “Just let them go.  She’s going to be fine.”






Chapter Five

      Caritas was known as a place where anyone, or any demon, could come to relax and have a good time.  There were also some hard and fast rules about behavior in the bar that helped make it a zone of tranquility for those demons that chose not to make murder and mayhem their constant companions.  There was a strict no-fighting rule, reinforced by magic, as well as a rule protecting any human customers that might come in with demons, just as Cordelia frequently did with Angel.

      However, demons as a group weren’t known for rule following, so some nights there were problems.  As though Lorne wasn’t finding having two angry old vampires and a Slayer at the same table nerve-wracking enough, the door burst open and in rolled a gang of snarling demons in biker gear. They shook off the wards they had to pass through, and continued into the bar, snarling their contempt for both his rules and his magical backup.

       Lorne hastened to the door to greet them before they could actually all get in, but his attempt to convince them that they would be happier somewhere else was met with a backhanded slap that sent him sprawling onto the stage.  While Buffy rolled her eyes and groaned, “Not in my good clothes!”, Spike leapt to his feet with a happy gleam in his eye.  Cordelia scampered behind the bar, picking up the baseball bat she knew Lorne kept there, while Angel got to his feet snarling at the interruption.

      The gang’s forward progress stopped as they caught sight of the two vampires facing them.  One was scowling quite impressively, his game face just beginning to come to the fore.  The other, smaller one, was still in his human guise and was literally bouncing on his toes as he gestured them forward. His “come and get it” signals were unmistakable and the demons crowded through the door eager to be first to take him on.

      None of them paid any attention to the very small, extremely pissed off human girl standing behind the two vampires, except perhaps to note that she might be a fun toy once they took over the place.

      With the entire gang trying to crowd through the entryway at the same time, it was fairly easy for Spike and Angel to pick up one or two to fight simultaneously.  But, once they had been forced back a little, the whole gang shoved their way in and fighting broke out all over the floor. 

      Lorne had made his way back to the bar and was busy trying to protect his glasses and bottles, while Cordelia whacked away with the ball bat at any demon that got too close.   When one reached over the counter to grab Lorne, she cracked the demon’s head open, then hit him again in the face, sending him to the floor unconscious.  Predictably, she then held the gore-smeared bat away from her clothes and wrinkled her nose in disgust.

      Meanwhile, Spike was working out his anger at Angel on as many demons as he could get to come within reach of his fists and fangs.  His initial fury soon faded into his usual joyful appreciation of a good brawl as he worked his way through the first bikers to come through the door.

    Angel was methodically destroying one demon at a time; only moving on to the next one when he had finished with the one he was currently pounding into the floor. 

      Buffy was watching anxiously, really not wanting to ruin her new dress, but feeling her adrenaline begin to rise as the fight ebbed and flowed around her.  When one of the bikers slashed Spike with his claws, sending blood onto Buffy’s dress, as well as tearing the sleeve off his suit, she threw her arms up in the air and huffed, “Okay, that’s it!”

       Leaping into the fray, she sent the offending demon to the floor with one kick. She continued to punch and kick him, punctuating her blows with muttered complaints about her ruined evening. 

      “First the stupid vampire embarrasses me in a nice club.”


      “Then a bunch of,”

Whack, thump!

incredible ugly,”

Kick, snap!

demons get blood on my new dress.” 

      When she finished turning the unfortunate demon into a pile of whimpering goo, she stepped up beside an admiring Spike to inspect his arm.  She took a second to mourn for the beautiful suit that was now armless, before checking the wound.  It didn’t appear to be incapacitating, so she turned back to the still-determined demons rushing toward them.

       “Incoming, pet,” he smirked as he pushed one her way.

        “These morons are sooo going to pay for spoiling my night off,” she groused as she stepped up beside him, mentally rolling up her sleeves. 

      “Let’s do it, Slayer.” He grinned at her, happy to see that she wasn’t at all put off by his fangs and wrinkles.

       They fell into a rhythm, working together as though they were parts of the same person.  The fighting gradually died out all around them, until the only contests left were the two visitors steadily decimating the remains of the demon gang.  They punched and kicked and ducked almost in unison.  If one missed or took a hit, the other was there to take up the slack.  It would have looked like a choreographed dance if it weren’t for the sound of breaking bones and the sprays of blood.

       Angel was leaning against the bar with Lorne and Cordelia, watching his grandchilde and his ex girl friend with a mixture of jealousy and pride.

      “They’re pretty awesome together, aren’t they?” Lorne ventured, watching Angel out of the corner of his eye.

       “That they are, Lorne,” he answered softly, with just a trace of his Irish brogue showing through briefly.  “That they are. They make a good team.” This last was said with a touch of sadness in his voice.  “Is that what you didn’t want to tell me about them? That they’re a team?”

      Lorne thought for a second too long before saying, “Yes, that was pretty much it, Angelcakes.”

       Angel looked at the now-triumphant couple, leaning on each other in laughter as they went back to the surprisingly intact table and said flatly, “You’re a liar, Lorne.” The green demon blinked at him apologetically, but before he could say anything, Angel added, “Thank you for that.”  He walked back to the table where Cordelia was just regaining her seat and sat down heavily.

       “Well, that was refreshing,” Spike said, downing the new drink Lorne had placed in front of him.  “Nothing like a spot of violence to finish off an almost perfect evening.”  The pointed, but surprisingly good-humored look he sent toward Angel made it clear which parts weren’t perfect.

       “There is nothing perfect about getting blood and demon guts all over my new dress,” Buffy grumbled.  Her cranky tone of voice was belied by the color in her cheeks and the sparkle in her eye.

       “Fess up, Slayer.  You enjoyed that just as much as I did,” Spike said, wagging his finger at her.

       She looked around at Lorne’s clean-up crew collecting the dead demons and rolled her eyes.  “I so did not,” she huffed, but she was smiling at him as she did so.

       Then her eyes fell on the ruined suit jacket and shirt and she moaned. “Oh, your clothes are ruined too.  And I liked you in that suit.”

      “He’s got plenty more where that came from,” Angel growled. “And it’s not as if he can’t buy even more.”

       Buffy looked at Angel like he’d lost his mind. 

       “This is Spike!  He wears the same thing every day. He steals cigarettes and blood, and plays pool for poker money.”

       “Buffy, he does those things because he likes to.  Not because he has to.”

       Angel successfully ignored his frantically signaling grandchilde, and smiled when Buffy sent Spike a “we’ll talk about this later” look.

       Spike glared at the once-again-brooding Angel and growled, “So, Peaches, as much fun as this has been, we need to get on the road if we’re gonna get back to Sunnyhell before I risk serious sunburn.  I’m guessing Kermit over there told you I’m not plannin’ to harm the Slayer?”

      Angel just looked at him under lowered eyebrows and snarled.

       “Right, then.” He stood up and offered Buffy his un-bloody arm.  “Coming, love?”

       He deliberately sent his eyes roaming over her body in a way he knew would make her warm and laughed softly when she blushed all over.  Doing her best to ignore his double entendre, she gave Lorne a little wave and said ‘Good-bye “ to Cordelia.  For the first time that either of them could remember, a visit with Angel didn’t end with a good-bye hug and kiss.  Buffy gave him a sad smile, but she was still too angry about her spoiled trip to a dance club, not to mention the subsequent damage to her wardrobe, that she couldn’t bring herself to hug him.

       Buffy complained all the way to the car about her ruined dress, messed up hair, and general lack of the fine grooming with which she had started the evening.

       “I’m a complete mess,” she muttered.

        As they neared the Desoto, Spike finally had enough of listening to her whine about her appearance and he grabbed her by the shoulders, spinning her around to face him.

       “You,” he said flatly,  “are the most beautiful woman in this city.  I don’t care how much demon blood you have on you, or how much slime you have in your hair.” He raised a hand to push said hair back from her face and continued in a softer tone of voice, “You are a queen.  Venus herself would be jealous of you, Buffy.  You will never look anything less than wonderful to me.”

       Buffy was left completely speechless by his ability to bounce back and forth between violence-loving vampire and the poetic Victorian gentleman she was beginning to suspect he had been before Drusilla turned him.  His words, and the emotion pouring out of his eyes, made her uncomfortable at the same time that the woman in her was thrilled to be the object of this passionate man’s ardor.

       “I...I have slime in my hair?” she said in a small voice.  It seemed the safest option, considering all the other things he’d said.

      Way to seem self-absorbed, Buffy. He tells you he thinks you’re beautiful, and you complain about slime in your hair.  Wait! Spike thinks I’m beautiful?

      Using anger to cover his disappointment that she hadn’t responded to his sincere flattery, he threw up his hands and turned back to the car growling, “Fine! Let’s get back to Sunnydale so you can wash your bloody hair!”

      As he reached for the door handle, he was suddenly slammed up against the car from behind. He whirled, demon face emerging, to face the attack, only to find himself pressed back against the door by a warm, feminine body.  Buffy kept him pinned there for several long seconds, staring into his puzzled eyes.  Finally, she asked softly, “You think I’m beautiful?”

      “You know I do, love.  Told you often enough in the last couple of days.” He leaned in and kissed her gently as he murmured, “Think you’re beautiful.” Kiss.  “Strong.”  Kiss. “Brave.”  Kiss.  “Sexy.”  The last word was practically growled into her mouth as he fastened his lips on hers and ran his tongue around them until she sent hers out to caress it.

       With a groan, he pulled her even tighter against his body and let her feel the desire that had been steadily building in him since he watched her come down the stairs.  She moaned into his mouth and allowed herself to melt against him, knowing the arms wrapped around her wouldn’t let her fall when her knees gave out.

      Once again the fabric of his dress pants provided only a thin barrier between her warmth and his hard cock.  When her hand touched him through the cloth, he hissed and thrust forward involuntarily.  His hands were moving down her bare back, making her shiver as they ghosted over her skin.  When he got to the bottom of her spine, he slipped them into the waistband of the dress and down over her firm cheeks, pulling her even more tightly against him.

      She tried to wrap one leg around his hip to increase the pressure on her aching sex, and he used his grip on her ass to lift her up so that she was pressed against his fabric-covered cock.  Buffy ground herself against him, whimpering in her need for more contact.  When one of his hands reached under her skirt to shove aside her thong, she gasped and squeezed the fingers he slid into her wetness.

      Leaning back just enough to fit her hand between them, Buffy reached for his zipper and pulled it down, mewing softly when it seemed to get stuck part way.  At last it was down and she could pull his smooth length out and place it at her entrance.  He immediately removed his fingers and allowed the head of his cock to push into her.

       Using his arms for support, Buffy gradually lowered herself onto him, shutting her eyes and throwing back her head, the better to appreciate the feeling of being stretched and filled. 

       Spike growled as he felt her warm walls slowly enclose his shaft. When he was finally in as far as he could go, he held her hips still, moving his own hips around until he heard her gasp.  He knew then he’d found the spot he was looking for, and began to slowly push in and out of her, touching that spot with each thrust.  He turned them and put her up against the side of the car to give himself better leverage as his thrusts came harder and faster. 

       It briefly occurred to Buffy that they were standing in a parking lot, albeit a dark one, and that they could be discovered at any moment.  To her surprise, she found that she was even more turned on by the idea of someone seeing them, and she filed that away as information to be vigorously denied if she remembered it later.

      With the way they had been teasing each other all night, as well as the ferociousness of Spike’s attack on her body, it was a very short time before Buffy was clenching around him and making the little gasping sounds he already knew meant she was reaching her climax. 

       When he felt her begin to shudder with the force of her orgasm, he let himself go and he spasmed into her at the same time she was muffling her shriek against his jacketed shoulder.

       For several minutes after, he remained inside her, the weight of his body keeping her up against the car as they both struggled to breathe normally.  The sounds of people passing by on the street finally brought them back to awareness of where they were, and she pushed against him feebly to make him let her down.

       He growled softly when he slipped out of her, only slightly mollified by Buffy’s matching little whimper of protest.  He moved back far enough to let her skirt fall back around her knees, but didn’t release her to take his face out of where it was buried in her hair. 

       Suddenly, his head flew up.  His enhanced hearing picked up the sound of familiar voices, and he realized Angel and Cordelia were leaving the club.  No matter how brave and foolhardy Spike could be, he knew that letting Angel spot him shagging Buffy against a car in a parking lot would lead to a fight to the death.  A fight that would leave Buffy mourning no matter which of them won.

       He stepped back from her with a quick kiss and whispered in her ear, “Got to get movin’, love.  Sounds like the poof and the cheerleader are on the way out.”

      He heard her heart beat, which had just dropped back to normal, accelerate again as she took in what he’d said.  With a very un-Slayerlike squeak, she whirled and dove into the now open door of the car, crawling past the steering wheel and across the seat on her hands and knees.  Spike was right behind her, shoving her away as he dropped behind the steering wheel.

       “Much as I like this view, pet,” he said appreciatively of her waving rear end, “I don’t have time to enjoy it if I’m gonna live to get out of this parking lot.”

       Before she had even turned around to sit down properly, he was backing out of the parking space and slamming the car into drive.  From her place on the floor where she landed when he went into reverse, Buffy thought she could hear Angel’s muffled, “Spike? Is that—” Whatever else he might have said was lost in the sound of squealing tires and the roar of a V-8 engine as they left the parking lot on two wheels. 

       Fifteen minutes later they were safely on the freeway and heading back toward Sunnydale.  Buffy was back on the seat by this time, and sitting by the window, letting the cool night air dry her sweaty hair.

       I am so in need of a shower!  I have demon slime in my hair, I’m sweaty, and I’ve got Spike stuff sliding down my legs.

       She turned her head slightly to look at his intent profile as he pushed the big car down the highway at attention attracting speeds.

       “Don’t you think you ought to slow down?” she finally asked. “If we get stopped...”

       “Don’t plan to get stopped, pet,” he answered, but he did ease off the gas pedal enough that he could steal a look at her.  He couldn’t read her face, and her body language told him nothing.  

       Can’t tell if she’s sorry we did it; sorry we got interrupted; or jus’ plain sorry she ever went out tonight.  Sure as hell wasn’t the ending I was planning for the evening.

       They rode on in silence until Buffy began yawning and Spike patted his thigh and offered, “Want to put your head down, pet?  Maybe catch some kip on the way home?”

       He wasn’t really expecting an answer from her, and he didn’t get a verbal one.  What he did get was a lap full of demon-slimed blond hair as she dropped her warm cheek onto his leg and closed her eyes with a sigh.  He dropped one hand down to rest on her shoulder and drove into the night.


Chapter Six

By the time they pulled into Buffy’s driveway, the eastern sky was beginning to lighten and Spike’s body was screaming at him to get to shelter.  He shook Buffy’s shoulder gently and whispered,  “Wake up, love.  I need to get home before I fry.”

Instead of sitting up, she just turned her head and murmured sleepily as she burrowed into his lap.  Her warm breath on his lower abdomen was all it took to bring him back to attention, and his cock was immediately nudging the side of her face.  She squirmed around a little more, obviously not awake enough to realize what body part she was pushing against with her nose.

A strangled, “Blood hell!” from the vampire, finally got through the fog in her brain and she froze as she took in her position and remembered where she was.

Spike was already putting his hand between her head and the steering wheel so that she wouldn’t injury herself when she bolted upright; but to his surprise, she remained where she was.  He soon realized she was deliberately blowing her warm breath on his already hard cock, and he made a noise between a growl and a groan.

“You’ve got to stop that, pet.  One way or another, I’m going explode into dust.  Not sure if it’s gonna be you or the sun that does it, but...”

Giving his cock one last nudge with her nose, she giggled and sat up carefully.  Looking at him and batting her eyes innocently she said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I do something wrong?”

“Very funny, Slayer,” he growled, adjusting himself and reaching for the door handle. “’S a good thing I’m so tired or I’d never get to sleep this morning.”

You... you’re not coming in?”

The disappointed look on her face would have made his heart stop, had it been beating.  He looked into her anxious eyes and breathed, “D’you want me to?”

Buffy blushed and looked away, embarrassed.

“Well, no.  I mean not if you don’t want to.  I can see why you’d want to get home.  You need to sleep.  I need to clean up.  You need to...” her babbling trailed off when he took her chin and tilted it up toward his face.

“’S not a question of what I want, love.  You bloody well know what I want. Do you want me to come in?  Sun’s comin’ up.  You’ll be stuck with me all day.”

She flushed again, but held his eyes as she whispered, “That’s kinda what I had in mind.”

Instead of answering her, he pushed the door open and held it as he quickly pulled her out onto the driveway.  They walked to the door, Buffy fumbling for her key as she tried to calm her racing heart.

OK, I’m inviting him in.  To spend the day.  With me. To do what? Sleeping?  We can do sleeping.  Maybe shower?  Shower with Spike? Wet, soapy Spike? Argh!  Do I really want to do this?

She took a peek at the puzzled vampire standing beside her, and gave herself a mental shake.

Yes, I do.  I want him.  I want him in the shower.  I want him in my bed.  I want him in me.  Repeatedly.  It’s summertime . I’m entitled to a summer fling.  I saved the world, dammit. .

Spike stood just outside the door, wanting to follow her in, but puzzled by the rapid increase in her heart rate and breathing.  It wasn’t hard to see the confusion going on in her head, as every thought was reflected on her mobile face.  When she settled into a look he recognized – one of stubborn determination, he smiled and followed her inside.

Don’t know what that was all about, but looks like she made up her mind about somethin’.  Hope it’s what I think it is.

Closing the door behind them, Buffy blushed to the roots of her hair as she mumbled, “Uh, I think we...that is, I...you...”  She stopped, unable to say what she wanted.  She looked at him with pleading eyes, willing him to read her mind and not make her say it.

Smothering a grin, he pulled her into his chest gently and whispered in her ear, “Think we need to get cleaned up, pet.  That what you are trying so eloquently to say?”

She nodded her head dumbly, fighting the shivers that his cool breath sent through her body.

What’s the matter with me?  I let him screw me up against a car, outside, in public!  Now I can’t tell him I want to get him naked?  Buffy the Slayer-slut is suddenly shy?

Letting go of her, Spike shrugged out of his ruined jacket and dropped it on the floor.

Right then, pet.  Showers it is.  Who’s goin’ first?”  Hse raised an eyebrow and cocked his head at her, enjoying the blush that spread over her face again. 

As soon as Buffy realized he was teasing her, she lost her embarrassment and whirled to run upstairs, throwing over her shoulder,  “Whoever gets in there first!”

With a whoop, he followed her with supernatural speed, catching her at the top of the stairs and tackling her to the floor.  He planted a quick kiss on her indignant face, then was on his feet and into the bathroom before she could move.  By the time Buffy made it through the bathroom door, he was already naked and turning on the water.

Buffy stopped to admire his tight ass and to watch the muscles in his back flexing as he bent over the tub to adjust the temperature.

When he had it to his satisfaction, he turned to her and smiled when he saw how she was looking at him.

“Like what you see, love?” he smirked, running a hand down his chest to his taut stomach.

In reply, Buffy approached him and ran her hand lightly down the same path.  She smiled to herself when he hissed and clenched his fists, his cocky expression giving way immediately to one of heated desire.  It gave her a jolt of purely female pride to know that she could reduce the cocky vampire to a quivering beggar with just a touch.  She shot him a triumphant look, then turned her back and lifted her hair.

“Unfasten my dress for me?” she asked softly. 

He stared for a second at the graceful neck she was presenting for him, then lowered his head and used his lips and teeth to unhook the halter top. He reached around in front of her and caught the top as it fell, holding it against her chest and running his thumbs over her now-exposed nipples.  His cool lips continued to nibble on the back of her neck as he pulled her back against his body.

Buffy felt wetness begin to seep out around her thong as she leaned back into him, enjoying the feel of his cool hands running over her.  When he came to the top of her skirt, she shimmied her hips to help him slid the dress the rest of the way off.  It pooled at her feet and she almost collapsed into it when he slid a hand into her thong and cupped her mound.  She moaned and pushed against his hand.

“Still too many clothes,” he growled into her neck, pushing the underwear down until she could hook it with her toes and pull it the rest of the way off.

He turned her around and held her at arms’ length, his eyes running from her still-slimy hair to her bare toes.

“So beautiful,” he breathed.  “A golden goddess.”

Once again, his flowery praise made her feel uncomfortable and she broke the mood by stepping into the shower and saying, “a slimy, sweaty, goddess.”

He barely controlled his sigh of exasperation at her inability to take a compliment from him.  He wanted to be angry, but the sight of her standing under the running water with her head thrown back was too much and he stepped in behind her.

While Buffy allowed the running water to soak her head, he reached for the shampoo and poured some into his palm.  He eased her forward out of the running water and gently began to massage her head with his long fingers.  He continued to rub her scalp long past the point where there was a need to spread shampoo; lost in the feel of her hair and the contented sounds she was making as he worked the suds around her head.

Finally he allowed her back under the water, and while she was rinsing out the shampoo, he picked up the nylon scrubber and poured scented body gel on it.  He began at her neck and moved gently around her body, using the sponge and his hands to spread the suds.  When he came to her breasts, he dropped the sponge and used his hands to massage the soap into them.  He watched her nipples come to little hard peaks, and couldn’t resist tweaking them with his fingers.

Buffy playfully slapped his hand away and reached down for the scrubber he had dropped.  While Spike continued using his hands to spread the soap around her body, she began running the nylon sponge over his muscled chest and abdomen.  When they had cleaned each other’s fronts as much as was possible without sitting down, they stepped closer together and without discussion, put their arms around each other to begin working the bubbles around their backs.

It wasn’t long before proximity to Buffy’s warm, wet body had the inevitable effect on Spike and his cock bobbed against her stomach as she stretched her arms around to reach his back.  When she slid her soapy hands down to his ass and cupped his cheeks, he stopped pretending he wasn’t aroused and pulled her in against him.  He slipped his own hands down over her ass and let his fingers wander into the cleft.  He smiled when his questing finger’s gentle circling of her smaller hole made her gasp and clasp her legs together.

When his persistent exploration made her squeal, he broke into actual laughter as he licked water off her neck.

“What are you doing?” she squeaked.  “How would you like it if I did that to you?” She fully expected him to back off from her challenge.  Instead, his eyes became even darker as he shook with laughter and nuzzled her throat.

“Oh, love, if you only would...” he purred into her neck as his fingers continued to find their way past her clenched thighs and onto more acceptable places.

Wha-? Ewww, Spike!  You are such a pig!”

“Oink, oink, pet,” he said, completely unfazed.   “Could show you how much fun it is to wallow, Slayer.  Could teach you so much...” Somewhere in the middle of his teasing, visions of teaching her the things he had learned about sex in his over 120 years of unlife completely took over his brain and he forgot what he was saying and doing.  His hands stilled and his eyes unfocused for a minute as he began to fantasize.

Buffy’s curious, “Spike?” brought him back to the realty of the warm, wet body already in his arms and he mentally smacked himself for allowing his mind to wander away from what was right in front of him.

“Sorry, pet,” he said apologetically, “let my brain get ahead of my...other parts there.  Forgot what I was doin’ for a sec.”

“Forgot?  You forgot what you were doing?”  Anger and a trace of insecurity crossed the Slayer’s face at his words.

Fuck!  Way to bollix it up, wanker!

Hurt that he seemed able to think about something else while she thought they were working their way toward more sex, Buffy struggled to get out of his embrace.  He held her slippery body as tightly as he could and frantically tried to calm her down.

“Slayer.  Buffy.  Please.  Listen to me, love.  Please.”

His pleading voice kept her from continuing to struggle, but she refused to look at him and stood rigidly inside his embrace, arms folded across her chest.

He wanted to tip her face up so that she could read the truth in his eyes, but he was afraid if he let go she would slip away from him and out of the tub.

He settled for running light kisses from her forehead, down her cheek and jaw and onto her neck.  He ran his tongue lightly over the area just behind and below her ear that he was coming to realize was an erogenous zone for her. While his lips and tongue worked their magic, he began speaking softly to her.

“Didn’t forget because I wasn’t into it, love.  I just got wound up in all the things I want to do with you; things I want to do to you; things I want to teach you to do to me.  It was visions of how wonderful we could be together that had me gobsmacked there for a minute.  Never meant to ignore you, my love.  Could never ignore you.  Want you all the time, any and every way I can have you.”

“Really?” she asked quietly, relaxing slightly in his embrace.  She peered up at him through wet hair.  “Gobsmacked, huh?  What does that even mean?”

“Means,” he said, smiling with relief, “that when I’m around you my brain goes out to lunch sometimes and all I can think about is makin’ lo—shaggin’ you into the ground.   You can’t be mad at me for that, can you, pet?”  He looked down at her dripping face hopefully and risked letting go so that he could push the wet hair out of her eyes.

“So, you still want me?”

Instead of answering her, he picked her up and placed her legs around his waist, so that she could feel how much he wanted her pressing against her bottom.  When she shook her head, “no” and tried to get down, his heart sank and he started to plead with her again.  But she put her fingers against his lips and whispered, “I just want to try it in a bed this time.”

“As you wish, love,” he whispered back as he lowered her feet to the bottom of the tub.  They quickly rinsed off and stepped out.  Spike grabbed a large towel and began running it gently over her body, patting her dry and planting kisses every time he finished an area.  When he came to her soft curls, instead of using the towel, he licked them until there was no water left to lick and Buffy was clinging to the sink to support herself.  Her knees had long since refused to hold her up as his tongue flicked in and out of her folds making sure he got every last drop of bath water. 

When all he could taste was the heady nectar of her arousal, he stopped and stood up to quickly flick the towel over his body.  As soon as he was dry enough, he dropped the towel and opened the bathroom door.  He turned, scooped her up in his arms, and strode out into the hall looking back and forth between the bedrooms.

“Over there,” Buffy breathed, pointing a dainty finger toward her bedroom.

Spike kicked open the door, using his heel to nudge it shut behind him.  He walked over to the rumpled bed and carefully set her down beside it.  Suddenly shy again, Buffy dropped her gaze and stood twisting her hands awkwardly, wondering what to do next.  One look at his face and she relaxed.  Spike was looking at her with such obvious desire that she immediately regained her feeling of womanly power.

She reached out a hand and gently stroked his smooth hardness, smiling when he closed his eyes and sighed.  Emboldened by the fact that he wasn’t watching her, she rubbed her thumb over the head, spreading the pre-cum around.  She then slid her hand down the shaft, pumping gently and watching his face. 

As soon as she squeezed him and began pumping, he suddenly had to watch, and he stared in awe at her small hand working the length of his cock.  When she sank down onto the bed to take him in her warm mouth, he couldn’t stop the flow of verbal encouragement while she sucked and licked him.

“Fuck, baby, your mouth is ...  Feels so good, your hot little mouth, little pink tongue, on me, sucking me, Ahhh!” he almost screamed as she nipped at him with her blunt little teeth.  Encouraged, she continued to nibble her way up one side and down the other, pausing at the top to insert her tongue in the little slit, and run it around under his foreskin.  By the time she was done there, he was babbling almost incoherently and pushing his hips toward her in an effort to put more of his cock inside her warm mouth.

Buffy decided to experiment while she had a willing subject, and she fought back her gag reflex so that she could get him into her throat.  Spike’s size made it impossible for her to take him all in her mouth, but she was able to get the head far enough down her throat that when she swallowed, he growled and grabbed her head, stilling it temporarily.

She shook his hands off, the rotation of her head making him cry out again, and continued what she was doing.  She was determined to take it through to its logical finish and smiled to herself when she felt his balls tighten up under her hand and his thrusts become uncontrolled.  With a final strangled yell, he spilled into her throat and she swallowed him down, each swallow milking even more from him.

When he finally stilled, she lifted her head and made sure he was watching as she licked her lips of every last drop. She was hoping to see something to let her know that she’d done a good job, but the expression on his face made her made her stomach drop.  She’d never seen quite that expression on his face before and she looked away from him to hide her confusion.  Something about the look on his face told her she didn’t want him to speak just then.  She was so sure that he was going to say something to change things between them, that she grabbed him and pulled him on to the bed with her to stop his mouth with a kiss.

Spike wasn’t fooled.  He knew she was avoiding having to deal with what she could read on his face, but he couldn’t help himself.  The sight of Buffy looking up at him, his cum still on her lips, her eyes anxiously looking for his approval, made it impossible for him to deny what was happening.

Bloody, buggering fuck.  I’m fallin’ in love with her.  Spike, William the Bloody, is in love with a Slayer. Might as well fall on a stake now. There’s no way this can end well.

Even as he rolled his body on top her hers, kissing her back with everything he had, he was wondering how long it would be before she broke his heart just as Drusilla had.  He knew she didn’t love him.  Liked him maybe.  Lusted after his body and his talented hands and tongue; but there was no way Heaven’s Chosen One was going to fall in love with a soulless vampire. Even a harmless one.

Mentally shaking off his momentary sadness, he concentrated instead on the scent, taste and feel of the woman writhing under him.  He took her two hands in one of his and stretched them over her head, silently encouraging her to grasp the rails on the headboard.

Their bodies were pressed together, warm fragrant skin to cool, smooth flesh.  Buffy moaned and squirmed under him as though she couldn’t get close enough, but she obediently kept her hands around the railings.

As soon as he was sure she was going to stay there, he let go of her hands and began moving his long, cool fingers down her body, following them with his lips and tongue.  He suckled on each breast for minutes at a time, using his hands to caress the other one while he did.  He gloried in the way Buffy arched up into his mouth when it fastened on her nipple.  He nipped and licked at them until the peaks were hard as diamonds and bright red.

Leaving his hands to keep her breasts happy, he ran his mouth down her rib cage and onto her flat stomach.  He tickled her navel with his tongue, running it around and around until she squirmed and giggled between gasps.  Then he kissed his way across her hipbone and down to where her leg met her lower abdomen.  He paused to suck over her femoral artery and enjoy the sounds and scents of blood rushing past his mouth.  Pulling on the skin there, and sucking as hard as he had on her breast, he felt her fighting the urge to ask for his fangs.

He knew he didn’t have enough control of his demon to resist the bite if she offered it, so he reluctantly moved away from the tempting rush of her blood and began planting kisses down the inside of her thigh to her knee.  By the time he had worked his way back up the other leg, she was whimpering in need and pushing her hips up off the bed.  He blew his cool breath across her pubic bone, stirring the curls there and causing another whimper.

Using his hand to hold her hips still, he nuzzled his way between her outer lips, inhaling the intoxicating scent of her arousal and lapping up the moisture he found there.   Her legs fell apart as she felt his tongue slide into her wetness and she moaned in relief.  Her relief was short-lived as he continued to tease her by running his tongue around her outer lips, carefully avoiding the swollen nub she was trying to force into his mouth.

He ran his tongue into her warm opening, wriggling it inside and making her twitch before he ran it from there all the way up to her clit.  He then proceeded to lick her throbbing clit with forceful flicks of his tongue until she ground out a snarling, “Spike...If you want to live...”

He smiled into her, then raised his head long enough to say, “Alright, love.  I love your sweet tasting cunny, but I guess I’ve been playin’ long enough.”

“Too long,” she gasped, as he pulled her into his mouth and began to suck on her clit, at the same time his tongue continued to flick back and forth across it.  In no time Buffy was panting and whimpering as she tried to press herself against his mouth, growling when he held her hips still.  By the time she arched off the bed, screaming his name, he was rock hard again.

He gave her a minute to calm down from the tremors still shaking her body before he slid up and into her tight warmth.  He buried himself with one strong push, then stilled as he waited for her to notice where he was.

“That what you wanted, then, love?” he murmured as he sucked on her earlobe.  “Did the Big Bad give you what you wanted?”

“Took you long enough,” she sighed, relaxing the muscles that had just clenched almost to the point of cramping when her whole body spasmed in pleasure.

Evil, here, pet.  Remember?” He smiled into her neck and licked the pulse pounding there.  He ran his tongue lightly over the spot he had marked at his crypt and was gratified to feel her shiver slightly at the sensation created.

Buffy opened one eye and looked at him suspiciously.  “What the hell was that?  I thought you said it was going to go away.”

“Don’ want it to go away,” he mumbled, thinking she couldn’t hear him.

“Spike...” There was a warning in her voice, and she shifted under him as though she was thinking about pushing him off.

His head flew up and he looked at her with so much fear she was shocked.  She’d never seen Spike be afraid of anything, human or demon, but here he was staring at her, almost quaking with it.  She frowned at him, not quite sure what had just happened.

“Spike?  What’s the matter?  Is something wrong?”  She could feel him clutching her arms and his body trembling.  Wracking her brain for what might have happened or what she might have said or done to bring on this reaction, she was shocked at the look in his eyes as he answered her.

Are those tears? What the hell did I say?

“I didn’t mean it, Buffy.  I swear, I didn’t.  I’m not tryin’ to own you, love.  Wouldn’t keep you if you didn’t want to be with me.  Don’t push me away, love.  Don’t make me leave.  Won’t bite you again.  Promise you.”

There was no trace of the cocky, violence-loving demon on the pleading face before her.  She realized that he thought she was recoiling from his demon and its attempt to claim her.  Surprisingly, she felt no sense of disgust or revulsion at the idea that his demon wanted to make her his.  She had a feeling that belonging to Spike’s demon might very well be something she wouldn’t mind at all if she wasn’t the Slayer.

“I wasn’t accusing you of trying to claim me again,” she said soothingly.  “I was just asking why I could still feel it when you touched the marks.  I’m not mad at you, you big baby.”

“Oh.”  He looked back at her and made a feeble attempt to save the situation.  “I knew that.  Was jus’ testin’ you, is all.”

She just rolled her eyes and wriggled against him, reminding him that they had been in the middle of something. 

“Right, then,” he muttered, trying to salvage what was left of his dignity. “One good shaggincomin’ up.  Hang on to your knickers, Slayer.”

Her giggle was enough to banish the specter of his embarrassing behavior and he began moving slowly in and out of her, losing his sense of insecurity as she put her arms around him and pulled him even closer.  He could hear her panting whimpers as he rotated his hips to get both her clit and the nerves he was looking for inside. 

When she brought her legs up and locked her ankles behind his back, he let the demon out and began pounding in to her, shaking the bed and pushing her back against the brass headboard.   As hard as he was thrusting, she was pushing back against him and meeting him thrust for thrust. It briefly crossed Buffy’s mind that there was no need to control her Slayer strength with Spike and she could let her self go in way she couldn’t with Riley. 

Secure in that knowledge, she allowed herself to take what she wanted and demand more for the first time in her short life.  Her nails raked his back as she arched into his strong body and pulled him to her. 

“Give it to me, Buffy.  Give it to me good,” he gasped as she clenched her muscles around his cock.  He wondered briefly how her human lovers managed to survive lovemaking with Buffy with their equipment intact, as he felt the pleasure-pain that made shagging her better than anything he’d ever felt before.  Even his inventive dark princess, had never made him feel like this.

He felt the pressure building and his balls tightening as he buried himself in the warmth of her tight walls.

“Come for me, love.  Want you to come with me.  Let it go, sweetheart.  Let yourself feel me.  Feel me Buffy.  Can you feel me filling you up?”

Her shuddering body was his only answer as she pulled him against her so hard he thought they might break each other’s bones.  When the last wave of sensation had finally subsided, Buffy relaxed the grip she had on him enough that he could turn his head and bury his nose in her neck.  Without thinking, he licked his barely visible bite marks again.

This time, when the tingle went through Buffy’s body, she just relaxed and arched her neck to give him better access.  As the licking went on, the tingle changed to a much less stimulating feeling and she found herself basking in a state of overall peace and contentment.  

Maybe there’s something to be said for this claim stuff.  When I think I can be bothered moving my mouth again, I’ll ask him more about it.

She was so wrapped up in how comfortable and content she was both mentally and physically, that it took her awhile to identify the rumble coming from the body draped over her. 

“Are you purring?” she asked, nudging the source of the rumble.

Mmmm, hmmmm,” he murmured, never taking his lips off the soft skin of her neck.

“Uh, since when do vampires purr?  And why?”  Rather than the demanding tone she would have normally taken with him, her questions came out as idle requests to accompany the small circles her fingers were tracing on his arm.

“Happy,” he mumbled between licks. 

Buffy felt like she should be seriously wigged by the whole situation, but the calming licks made it impossible to feel anything except safe and content. She shrugged lightly and wriggled closer to his body.

“Oh. ‘K, then.”  As she closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift off to sleep, she murmured softly, “Me too.”


Chapter Seven

When Buffy awoke, well after the sun had risen, she stretched and yawned before opening her eyes.  Once again, there was a strong arm around her waist, holding her against a cool body.  This time, instead of bolting upright in a panic, she wriggled backwards into Spike’s embrace.

The feel of his blunt teeth nipping at her shoulder, and his soft lips kissing the back of her neck, told her he was awake now too.  She noticed that they were now covered with sheets and blankets, and that the drapes over the windows were carefully pulled, so she knew he had been up at some point after she fell asleep.

“You’re awake?” she asked as she turned to face him.  “How come you’re up so early?”

“Haven’t been to sleep yet, pet,” he answered, hoping she wouldn’t pursue it.

Pretty sure she doesn’t want to hear that I’ve just been lying here watchin’ her sleep and wishin’ the day would never end.

She looked at him, her eyes still soft with sleep, but she didn’t pursue it.

Maybe he just wanted to make sure the curtains were pulled before he went to sleep.

Buffy peered over his shoulder to look at the clock, giving him a chance to nibble on the front of her neck and suck on the soft skin of her throat.  In spite of the soreness she felt in her crotch area, the touch of his lips was enough to start moisture seeping out.  She felt him smile against her neck and knew he could tell what he was doing to her.

The clock said it was only 11:00 AM, and with no place in particular to go, she snuggled back into him and rested her head on his chest.

“I don’t really have to get up yet,” she mumbled as she swung one leg over his.  “We could go back to sleep.”

“That really what you want to do, love?” His rich baritone sent a thrill right to her womb.  “Not sure that’s what your body’s telling me.”

“How do you know what my body’s saying?” she asked somewhat indignantly.  “Anyway, it could be lying. You wouldn’t know.”

He cocked an eyebrow at her, but when he saw she was honestly puzzled, he sat up and asked with some concern, “You do know I’m a vampire, pet?”

The look she gave him clearly said, “Duh!” so he continued, “What has your watcher taught you about vampires and what we can do?”

“You can go poof when I stake you,” she said brightly.

“This is serious, Slayer.  I want to know what you know. Don’t want you makin’ any mistakes out there.”

“Fine, Giles, Jr.” she huffed and sat up to face him.  He was secretly thrilled to notice that she made no attempt to cover herself this morning, although his appreciative scan of her body did make her blush slightly.

“Stop ogling me and tell me what you want to know,” she said as sternly as she could with his heated eyes on her.

Instead of asking her to tell him, he ran one hand up her arm and said, “I know that made your heart rate go up, I know you got wet when I sucked on your neck, I know you’re getting brassed off at me, and I know you’re still sore from last night...” 

He laughed as she glared at him.  “How?” was all she said.

Can hear your heart beating – from a good distance, I might add. Can’t always tell why the rate increases, but I can tell when it does.  As a predator, that tells me you might have sensed me, or that you’re already fighting somethin’ else.  As a lover,” he smiled softly, “it tells me you’re reacting to me the way I want you to.”

Buffy huffed again, but waited expectantly for him to elaborate.

“My sense of smell is better than most dogs.  I can tell if you’re frightened, if you’ve been with somebody else, if you’re brassed off,” he leaned in and caressed one of her naked breasts with his mouth until she squirmed and pushed him away, “and, I can smell your arousal.”

“What?”  Most of what he’d been telling her were things she knew to some degree.  Enhanced vampire hearing, enhanced sense of smell, but the idea that he could smell her arousal sent her heart rate pounding and he grinned happily at her panicked look.  “You can what my what?”

He pulled her into his lap so that she was straddling him, her moist center resting lightly on his semi-erect cock.  He ran his tongue up the side of her neck and nibbled on the spot below her ear.

“I can smell when you’re aroused.  You can try to control your heartbeat and your breathin’ with all that yoga stuff your Watcher tries to teach you, but you can’t hide it when your juices start to flow.  “S like ambrosia to me, love.”

“Well, that ‘s just...gross, Spike.”

Prob’ly not one of those things I should be sharing with you, Slayer?”

Probably not.  Now I’ll never be able to...Have you always been able to do that?”  Her wide open eyes told him she’d just figured out what he’d known since the first time they fought.

“ ‘Fraid so, pet.”  When she looked mortified and tried to pull away he held her arms and forced her to stay where she was.  “Look at me, love,” he ordered and she found herself reluctantly raising her eyes to his. 

“Getting aroused when you fight – it’s not uncommon.  Why do you think we ended up shaggin’ against the side of my car last night?  It happens to me too.  I had such a hard-on the first time we fought, it’s a wonder I was able to run away,” he said wryly.  “The best part of that fight was knowin’ you were feelin’ the same thing.  ‘S a part of you, love.  Don’t be ashamed of it.”

“It doesn’t always happen,” she said, looking down. She debated whether to share Faith’s “slaying makes me hungry and horny” with him, then decided it was more information than he needed to have.

“Good to know, sweetheart.  Else I’d have to kill every vamp you ever left standin’.”

“You’re the only one I’ve ever left standing,” she said, smiling up at him shyly.  “Well, except for Harmony, but that doesn’t really count, cause she’s so—”

He stopped her babbling by pulling her closer and kissing her until she was moaning and wrapping her legs around him.  As he gently pushed her back down on the bed and nudged at her entrance, she asked breathlessly,  “But how did you know I was sore?”

He grinned and gently pushed into her a little further.

“Cause if you weren’t, I wasn’t doin’ my job right last night,” he replied with a smirk.

Buffy rolled her eyes at him, but shifted her hips to give him better access. Suddenly she winced slightly and he stopped immediately.

“Am I hurtin’ you, love?  I meant sore in a good way.  If I hurt you, I—”

Shhh,” she said, pulling his lower lip into her mouth.  “It is in a good way.  You can hurt me like that anytime you want,” she finished, blushing at her own boldness.

“That’s my girl,” he breathed as he started gently moving his hips.  “But I can make this good without hurtin’ you.   You just relax and let Spike show you how he can make love slow and easy.”

True to his word, he kept his thrusts soft and gentle, letting the pressure build so gradually that Buffy was clenching around him, tremors shaking her body, before she even realized she was close. 

This is definitely the way to wake up.  He fits me perfectly.  Not too big or heavy on me, just right.   And he’s almost as strong as I am. I can’t hurt him.  And he is sooo good at this.  I could just lie here and let him... whoa!

Her last surprised squeeze brought him to the climax he’d been putting off as he let hers build and he exploded into her, muffling his words in her neck as he did.

Before she drifted back to sleep, Buffy wondered fuzzily if she had heard him say “Love you, Buffy,” but sleep took her before she could decide if she had.

The next time she awoke, Spike was clearly in the deep sleep brought on by daylight and she slipped quietly out of the bed, after planting a soft kiss on his unmoving chest.  She felt like she should be a little more disturbed about waking up next to what was essentially a corpse, but his face was so beautiful and youthful looking when he slept that she couldn’t.

By the time the approach of sundown did awaken him she had eaten, wrapped up their clothes to take to the cleaner’s, and found an old pair of Riley’s sweats for him to wear.  He growled at the scent on the pants, but agreed to wear them until he got back to his crypt to get his own clothes.



Once Spike was back in his comfortable jeans and tee shirt, they did a long patrol to make up for missing it the night before.  Without any discussion, they finished the patrol back at her house and Spike only hesitated for a second before following her through the door. 

Buffy went straight into the kitchen and pulled a bag of blood out of the fridge at the same time that she took out the juice.  Spike watched without saying anything while she poured the blood into a mug, set it in the microwave, and sat at the counter to wait for it.  When the oven pinged to say it was done, she pulled it out and handed it to him with a smile. 

“Here you go, dinner is served.”

“Didn’t have to do that, love,” he said gruffly, trying to hide how affected he was by her thinking of him first. 

He took the mug from her hand and carefully set it on the counter so that he could pull her into his arms.  He buried his face in her hair while he held her in a tight but chaste embrace.  His inner William wanted to babble poetry praising her for her generosity and kindness.  His demon was screaming to mark her again.

Instead, he settled for planting a kiss on her head and thanking her.  While he drank his blood, Buffy put a bag of popcorn in the microwave and they spent the rest of the evening watching TV and snuggling on the couch.

When Buffy began to yawn, he stood up and pulled her to her feet.

Com’on, love, let’s get you tucked in,” he said softly.  “a tired Slayer is a cranky Slayer.”

“I’m never cranky!”

He just raised one eyebrow at her and she had the grace to blush.

“Well, hardly ever,” she muttered. “Unless I’m being annoyed by neutered vampires.”

“Neutered?  I’ll show you neutered, Missy,” Spike’s growl would have been impressive if he hadn’t looked so dismayed.

She just giggled and pulled him up the stairs with her.  When they got to her room, she started to change into her pajamas and stopped when she had her shirt part way off.  She could feel his eyes devouring her as more and more flesh was exposed.  Looking at his heated gaze she changed her mind about what she was doing.

Buffy slowed down the motion of taking off her shirt, stretching her arms up higher than necessary and bending slightly to one side before pulling it over her head and tossing it at him.  He batted it away without taking his eyes off her and watched intently as she unhooked her bra and slowly let it drop to the floor.

When she turned her back on him to shimmy out of her pants, she heard a soft growl behind her that sent a sudden wetness into her lace trimmed tap pants.  Using just her fingertips, and exaggerating the hip motions needed to work her underwear off, she continued to tease him until she felt the air move behind her the way it often did before she was attacked.

She whirled just in time to find herself wrapped in leather-covered arms that were pulling her against a fully aroused and game-faced vampire.  Her surprised “eep!” was almost drowned out by his throaty growl as he ran his fangs lightly along his marks.

Even as one part of her was screaming that she was in mortal danger and should be pushing the vampire away, her body was responding to the growling in a way that took her completely by surprise.  The growls shook his whole body, which sent vibrations throughout her own and made her want to climb up and wrap her legs around him.

Before she could act on the urge, she found herself tossed onto the bed on her back. She looked up to see Spike, still in vamp face, rapidly shedding clothes, never taking his eyes off her.

The sight of Buffy lying spread out on the bed, face flushed, hair tousled, and clearly aroused sent any trace of William so far inside he might as well have not existed.  The hard body that landed on top of the Slayer was pure vampire and he wasn’t worrying about hurting the human girl under him.

Their coupling was hard, brutal and fast.  The vampire pounded into the Slayer, only to be met with equally strong hip thrusts that drove his cock in so far his balls were slapping against her ass.  As their climaxes rapidly approached, she raked her nails over the smooth skin on his back, leaving bloody trails and eliciting more growls.

Buffy’s scream as she came was muffled by Spike’s neck, where she had gripped the skin with her teeth as she shattered around him.  With a roar, he sent his fangs into the exact spot on her neck that he had left his mark before.  He took only a few strong pulls of her blood before pulling out and whispering, “Mine” as he licked them closed.

He rolled off her panting body and let his face gradually fade back into his beautiful human features.  For several minutes they just lay side by side, hands touching, while Buffy struggled to get her breathing back to normal.  When she felt she had her voice under control she gasped, “Note to self – do not tease the horny vampire.”

She felt the bed shake gently as Spike chuckled beside her.

“Always good advice, love.” 

Hmmph” was her only response at first, then she suddenly sat up and glared at him.


“Sorry, pet,” he said, not really sounding all that sorry, but looking at her apologetically.  “Demon was definitely in the driving seat that time.”

He waited to see if she was really angry, but to his surprise she just pulled the blankets up and snuggled next to him.

“Stupid demon’s gonna get his ass kicked if he doesn’t quit biting me,” she mumbled as she closed her eyes. “Don’t care if it does feel good...”

Without actually discussing it, they went back to their routine of patrolling together every night.  The difference, now that they’d had their night on the town, was that they often ended the night at the Bronze, sitting in the balcony and enjoying a beer or two before heading back to Revello Drive.  Sometimes they would walk through downtown and Spike would buy her ice cream from the shop there that stayed open late.

When Buffy questioned the wisdom of someone operating a shop after dark in Sunnydale, Spike introduced her to the owner, and explained that she was a harmless demon; one that appeared human enough to pass and yet be safe from the demon population around her.  The nervous demon woman, with the pretty lavender eyes and pointed ears, was excited to meet the Slayer and fussed over Buffy until Spike told her to” knock it off, before you make her think she’s important or somethin’.”

“I am important,” she sniffed.  “And don’t you forget it, buster.”

“Never could, my love.  I will never forget it.”  Suddenly William took over Spike’s mouth and Buffy stared at him suspiciously wondering when he’d started talking like Giles.

To cover his embarrassment, he quickly changed the subject, asking, “So, when do the Scoobies start comin’ back to Sunnyhell from their summer escapes?”

“Pretty soon, actually,” she shrugged.  “I think Willow and Tara will be back next week and Giles the week after that.  Xander and Anya will be back about the same time, I think.”

She looked at him from the corners of her eyes and added, “Mom will be back from her New York trip day after tomorrow.”  She waited to she how he would handle the news that they only had two more nights in which he could sleep in her bed.

Maybe this is a good thing.  We can wean ourselves off this constant togetherness a little bit at a time.  By the time everybody is back, we’ll be back to normal.

She refused to think about the way that their relationship had irrevocably changed or what effect that was going to have on all the people in her life who had not been around all summer to watch the change take place. 

I wonder what “normal” is going to mean now?

“So, Slayer,” he said carefully, “guess it’s back to the old crypt for me, eh?”

“It doesn’t mean we won’t see each other,” she said quickly.   “Mom likes you, and we’ll still patrol and all.  We just...”

“We jus’ won’t be sleeping in the same bed like we have been.”

He stopped her with a hand on her arm and turned her to face him, “Kinda gotten used to that, love.  ‘M not sure I want to give it up.”

“We’ve got no choice, Spike,” she said firmly.  “No matter how much my mother might like you, I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to let you sleep with me!  Anyway,” she looked up at him with a twinkle, “I think I’d be kind of inhibited knowing my mother was in the next bedroom.”

“Can’t have that, pet.  If I can’t make you scream at least once, it feels like a wasted day.”  He smirked at her and pulled her close.  “So, guess we better not waste any of the time we’ve got left. Yeah?”

Without answering, Buffy whirled and started walking home, knowing he would fall in beside her as he had every night since the beginning of summer.



Chapter Eight

     Without any discussion, Spike and Buffy spent the next two days close to the house on Revello Drive.  They went out in the evening for a quick patrol of Sunnydale then returned to the house to cuddle on the couch until one or the other of them initiated the first round of that night’s vigorous love making.

         Buffy had finally stopped trying to deny that what they were doing was more than recreational sex.  She was able to rationalize that when two people who clearly were fond of each other shared sexual pleasure it was perfectly fair to call it love making.  Even if, as she constantly assured herself was the case, they were not actually in love with each other.

  The day before Buffy’s mother was to arrive home, they spent the whole day in her darkened bedroom, emerging only for forays to the kitchen for food and drink, or Buffy’s occasional trips to the bathroom.  Neither one of them commented on their unusual behavior, but the desperation with which they held each other every time they made love made it clear they were having the same thoughts.

   I’m being paranoid-Buffy.  There’s no reason to act like this is the last time.  We have plenty of time before everybody comes back.  He just won’t be sleeping here, that’s all.  Not a big deal.

   Buffy refused to admit that she had become accustomed to the safe feeling she got when she fell asleep with Spike’s arms around her.  Telling herself it was just some residual claim stuff that made it feel so right, she pushed away any thoughts of how much she might miss it.

   It’s not like I’ll be sleeping alone all that much.  Riley will be back and he’ll be there to hold me.  My real, warm, human boyfriend will be back and wanting to spend his free time with me. And that’s who I really want. My real boy friend.  This is just a summer thing between two friends who are lonely and bored.

    Telling herself firmly that she was going to be happy to see the big soldier and have him back in her bed, Buffy successfully suppressed any comparisons between Riley’s gentle, if boring, love making and Spike’s passionate and inventive worshipping of her body.

   If Spike noticed how preoccupied she was, he didn’t say anything.  Too wrapped up in his own internal monologue to even worry about her unusual silences, he never caught the confused looks she was sending him from time to time.

     Bloody hell, know we’ve still got tonight before I have to go back to the crypt.  Soddin’ demon and his claim, makin’ me need to be with her all the time; worryin’ about leavin’ her to sleep alone.

     He almost doubled over in very real physical pain when he remembered who else was coming back soon and that she would not be sleeping alone all the time.  The demon was roaring for his mate and Spike grabbed a surprised Buffy, pressing her into the mattress with his body while he growled and licked at the almost invisible marks on her neck.

     As quickly as it came, the demon was gone and William was kissing her frantically and murmuring soft words into her flesh as he held her in arms that managed to be incredibly strong and incredible gentle at the same time.  It wasn’t long before their bodies were once more intimately connected. Their lips and tongues silently saying the things that couldn’t be put into words.

    Can’t give this up.  I’ll die without this.  Need to feel her touchin’ me, around me.  I’m drownin’ in her and I don’t want to come up.  Want to stay here forever, buried inside my Slayer, my Buffy, my love.

     Before they went out for patrol, they once again showered together, washing away the sweat and body fluids that had accumulated on both of them during the course of the day.  Spike was alternately tender and passionate as he tried to wrest every last speck of contact from his last day and night in the house. 

     Buffy was luxuriating in the pampering he was giving her scalp and hair when she heard the phone ringing in the bedroom.  Quickly, he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Let it go, love.  Whoever it is will call back.” 

     “But it might be Mom,” Buffy complained.  “What if she’s getting home early Maybe she’s on her way right now!”  She struggling against his pinioning arms, then relaxed when the phone stopped ringing.

     “See,” he said happily as he positioned her under the water and rinsed the shampoo out of her hair.  “You didn’t need to get out.”

      He slid his hands down her flanks and pulled her closer to his slick body, nuzzling his marks on her neck.  Buffy felt her knees weakening as he sucked gently on the scars, and she steeled herself to push him away.

      “Okay then.  But, we need to get out and kill some demons.  The sooner we’re done patrolling, the sooner we can come home and go to bed,” she offered as an incentive when still reaching for her as she stepped out of the tub.

     “Spoilsport,” he pouted, following her out and beginning to rub her down with the dry towel she handed him.  When he had her dried off to suit him, she returned the favor, rubbing his back and legs before turning to dry his chiseled chest.  She finished drying him off, only to run her tongue over his chest and nip at his nipple before running out of the bathroom laughing.

      “Oh, that’s it, Slayer.  You will pay for that one,” he growled, pursuing her out the door and across the hall.  He grabbed her and tackled her on to the bed, biting her on one of her firm butt cheeks and mock snarling as he pretended to savage her flesh.

      Buffy was screaming with laughter and flailing around trying to get enough leverage to throw him off.  When his growls and bites turned to purring kisses and licks, she was finally able to stop giggling and pull herself away.  She turned and looked at the smirking vampire, now lying on his back totally comfortable with his nudity.  Her breath caught with a little hitch as she realized again how beautifully he was made.

      Suddenly the idea that he was not going to be lying there anymore after tonight, really hit and she threw herself on top of him kissing him frantically.  It took Spike only a second to recover from his surprised delight, and he wrapped his arms around the squirming girl on top of him.  For minutes she continued to kiss his face and neck, clinging to him as though she wanted to get inside his skin.

     He could hear her heart thudding and in addition to smelling her distress, he could sense it through the partial claim he’d made.  He stopped responding to her kisses and took hold of her shoulders, pushing her slightly off him so that he could see her face.

      “Hey, love,” he asked softly, “What’s this all about?  Not that I’m not enjoyin’ it,” he hastened to assure her, “but I thought you wanted to go kill things?”
            “I did.  I do.  It’s just...everything’s changing.  Mom will be home, so no more Spike in my bed.  Willow and Tara will be back in a few days, and...then Xander and Anya.  And Giles!  Giles will be here in another week.  And...”

     She didn’t need to finish her listing of names.  They both knew who else would be back soon.  Spike’s eyes flashed amber as he stared at his marks on her neck, knowing the claim would mean nothing to her human boyfriend other than she’d let Spike bite her without dusting him.

      “So, what’s the big deal, pet?” he asked much more calmly than he felt. He tried to smother the hope he could feel growing in his chest. “I’m gonna miss sleeping here with you, for sure, but we can still find time to be alone.  We’ll still patrol.  The nasties will be gettin’ more active now that fall’s comin’ and we’ll have plenty to do.  It’s not like I’m gonna stop helpin’ you jus’ cause your little Scooby gang is back,” he said cautiously.

      When she didn’t respond, except to get up and start dressing, he grabbed her arm and pulled her up short.

      “I’m not, am I, Buffy?” 

       Spike’s use of her name, something he usually only did during love making, brought her startled eyes to his face and she cringed at the fear she saw there.  It was easy to recognize the fear, because she was feeling the same thing as she contemplated how complicated her life was about to become.

      “I...I don’t know,” she whispered, pulling her arm free and tugging her sweatshirt over her head.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

       She finished dressing and walked out of the room, leaving him lying on the bed, still naked, staring blindly at the ceiling.  She cringed when she heard him snarl and throw something across the room, although when he appeared quickly all dressed and ready to go, there was no sign of anger or fear.  His face was closed and his eyes were blue ice as he held the door for her.

       The uncomfortable silence between them lasted until they ran into a group of fledglings just finding their way out of Restfield cemetery.  With a guilty start, they both realized that they had been careless about patrolling Spike’s cemetery all summer.  And with the older vampire not staying in his crypt, the newly risen vamps had been able to make themselves at home in a way they never would have if he was still living there.

       “Looks like it’s time to clean house, pet,” he said with barely restrained glee.

      “It sure does. “ Buffy was startled to realize how much difference Spike’s presence had made in Restfield and how much she had come to depend on it when planning her patrols.

       Buffy strolled toward the group of curious vamps, her stake concealed in her hand.  Giving them a cheery smile she asked, “What are you guys doing out tonight?  Is it Halloween and somebody forgot to tell me?  What are you dressed as?  Let me see, dirt under your fingernails, cheap suits, ugly faces...you must be...ogres!”

       The newly risen vamps had no idea there even was such a thing as a Slayer, let alone that it was their misfortune to be turned in the very town in which she lived. They jostled each other in their eagerness to be the first one to get a bite of the tiny blonde walking toward them.  It briefly crossed the mind of the smartest one that there was something not quite right about the smiling couple who didn’t seem to be worried about being in a cemetery after dark, but he couldn’t really come up with any reason why it wasn’t all right to eat them.

       Nevertheless, he hung back slightly and so had an excellent view of the Slayer in action.  Buffy pivoted on one foot, using the other leg to sweep the feet out from under two of the four vamps attacking her. Her momentum carried her out of reach of their grasping claws and she was able to stake the first one through the back as she went past him.  She had dusted two more before they had enough presence of mind to gang up on her.  While she exchanged punches with the one in front of her, another crept around behind and went to reach for her arms.

        Instead of having an armful of Slayer, he found himself dangling off the ground.  Something very strong was holding him in the air using only the largish hand wrapped around his throat.  The vampire didn’t have to breath, but he began to panic as he realized that the steady squeezing could easily pop his head off.  The lone remaining fledgling hesitated only a second before he turned and ran for the gate, leaving his fellow bloodsucker to his fate.

       Spike continued to hold the struggling vampire aloft while Buffy finished with the one she was fighting and then threw her stake with unerring accuracy into the retreating back of the last fledgling.  When nothing was left but the one Spike was holding, she put her hands on her hips and looked at him impatiently.

        “Are you going to dust him, or just play with him all night?”

      “I dunno, pet.  He was trying to grab you, so I was thinkin’ about ripping his arms off before I dust him.  What d’you think?”

       The dangling vampire redoubled his struggles as the seriousness of Spike’s expression left no doubt that the older vampire was really considering tearing him apart.  Fortunately for him, Buffy was impatient to see what else might have been taking advantage of their absence from the cemetery. She plunged her extra stake into his chest, watching with great satisfaction as his remains drifted away on the evening breeze.

        Buffy rolled her eyes at Spike’s disappointed grumbling and led him further into the graveyard.  They encountered several more newly risen vampires and sent them all to their final end before agreeing that they had done a good night’s work and turning for home.

        Buffy frowned as they approached the bungalow, asking Spike, “Do you remember my leaving the lights on in the kitchen?”

       “Can’t say I do, love.  But I wasn’t really paying attention.”

      Words were unnecessary as both nighttime hunters slipped silently around to the back of the house to peer into the kitchen.

       “Oh,” Buffy said slowly.  “Mom’s home a day early.”

        She turned to look at Spike, tilting her head up in time to catch the disappointed look that flashed across his face.

       “Guess we don’t get that last night after all, eh, pet?” he said quietly, trying to sound casual about it.  

      “I guess not...” she replied just as quietly. 

       As one, they moved together and exchanged a kiss that was equally full of regret and longing as it was passion.  They stood together for several seconds, neither one willing to be the one to let go first.  Finally, as so often happened, they were ready to reluctantly let go and step back at the same time.

       When Buffy turned to go up on the porch and in the kitchen door, Spike followed silently.  Joyce looked up, startled, when the back door opened suddenly, then smiled when she saw who was there.

       “Buffy! I was hoping you’d be home before I went to bed,” she said as she hugged her daughter and smiled over her shoulder at Spike.  “I guess you two still aren’t finding many things to slay?”

       “Oh we found ‘em, Joyce,” Spike said with a grin, “It’s just the stupid buggers were all in the same place, so it didn’t take long to dust ‘em.”

       “Oh, well, I’m glad I got a chance to see you tonight anyway.  I’m just exhausted from the trip.  I’m going to bed in just a few minutes and I do not want to be disturbed until noon!” 

        Buffy laughed to hear her early-rising mother threatening to sleep late and kissed her on the cheek.

       “Ok, Mom.  No problem here. We—I—don’t get up very early either.”

               She held her breath, hoping her mother was too tired to have noticed her slip, but the sharp look Joyce shot at Spike told her it was a faint hope.  Giving Buffy a look that promised they would be having a long talk tomorrow, she said “good-night” and started upstairs.  Spike noticed her wrestling with her suitcase and with a “Let me get that, Joyce,’ immediately took it away from her and went upstairs with it.

           Joyce wasn’t too tired to notice how comfortable he seemed to be in her house and that he had no trouble finding the correct room in which to put the suitcase.  Promising herself she would have a long talk with Buffy in the morning, she thanked him politely and closed the bedroom door.

         When Spike got back downstairs, Buffy was sitting on the couch and idly flipping through channels on the TV.  After a moment’s hesitation, he slipped into his usual spot beside her and put a tentative arm around her shoulders.  He let out the breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding when she dropped her head against him and mumbled into his chest, “She knows, doesn’t she?”

          “Your mum’s not a stupid woman, pet.”

             “And I, apparently, have no control of my mouth.”

          “I think you have great control of your mouth, love,” he said, placing his tongue behind his teeth and leering at her.

             She smacked him half-heartedly on his arm and glared at him.  “And you’re going to have to watch yours, too!  You can’t say things like that around my mom!”

            “Relax, Slayer,” he put his other arm around her and nuzzled her neck.  “I’m not stupid either.  And, I don’t want your mom going for her axe,” he added.

           “This is just the beginning.  Tonight my mom; next week Giles.  Gah!” She put her head down and shuddered as she thought about her Watcher’s probable reaction to any suggestion that Spike had wormed his way into her life, never mind her bed.

           “We’re never going to be able to keep this a secret,” she moaned.  “Everybody is going to know what we did this summer.”

           Buffy was so busy bemoaning how hard it was going to be to prevent her friends from finding out about them, that she didn’t see the heartbroken look that went across Spike’s face at her words.  While Buffy worried that her friends would find out about her summer fling with a vampire, Spike felt the whole fantasy he’d built up about what was between them crumble around his head.

           He slowly removed his arms from around her slender body, asking in a deceptively mild tone, “What exactly did we do this summer pet?”

          Buffy blinked at him in confusion.

           “What do you mean, what did we do?  Hello, you were there!  Where do you want me to start?”

           “How about you start with, we patrolled together because you were bored and I was...convenient?  We got to be friends and shared a few laughs. We killed some nasties, took one trip to LA , annoyed the poof, came back, killed some more nasties, had a few beers and some ice cream cones, and watched some TV together. That’s about it, yeah?”

             Buffy continued to stare at him, her mouth hanging open.

           “That is most definitely not ‘about it’, Spike, and you know it!” She glared at him angrily.

            “ ‘Bout covers what you’re gonna tell your friends, though, doesn’t it?” He spoke through gritted teeth, trying to hold on to both his temper and his pride. 

            “Well, what do you want me to tell them?  That I spent the summer having mind-blowing sex with the vampire that came here to kill me?  That I had a summer fling with William the Bloody and let him bite me?  That a vampire tried to claim me?  How long do you think you’ll stay not dusty if I tell them that, huh?”

            His face wore an expression she had never seen before. One she was sure she never wanted to see again.  She watched his eyes go from icy anger to sheer misery as he said quietly,  “If what we’ve shared was just a ‘summer fling’ to you, then I don’t think it really matters how long it is.  It won’t be soon enough.”

           He whirled and was out the door before she could process what he’d said, leaving her staring after him in shock.  Absently clicking off the TV, she made her way upstairs and into her empty bedroom.  Still dazed, she got ready for bed, putting on pajamas for the first time in weeks.  She stood in the middle of the room, staring at the rumpled bed that suddenly appeared so large and empty.

          With a small moan, she threw herself down onto it, burying her nose in the sheets that smelled faintly of tobacco, leather and Spike.  They also smelled like someone had spent the entire day having sex on them, and Buffy realized she was going to have to do that particular load of laundry when her mother was at work.  Wrapping herself in the comforting sheets and clutching the pillow that smelled faintly like Spike’s hair gel, she closed her eyes and waited to fall asleep.

             Two hours later, she was still waiting.  No matter how many talks she had with her disobedient body, it insisted on telling her something was missing from the bed and sleep was not going to be an option until she found it.  She unconsciously ran her fingers over the almost invisible marks of Spikes teeth, not even noticing how much that soothed her until she was drifting off.



Chapter Nine

           When she awoke the next morning it took her a few minutes to remember where she was.  There was no cool body pressed up against her back, no strong arm around her waist or eager cock pressing into her backside.  She let herself indulge in a few minutes of unashamed self-pity, then gave a mental shake and sat up.

           Better get used to this now, Buffy.  There will be no vampire missage in this bed.  It was just a summer thing that happened because we were both lonely and bored. It’s just as well Mom came home when she did.  Saved us from the whole “it’s our last night” thing.  This gives me/us more time to get used to not being together all the time.

            She conveniently ignored the fact that Spike did not have, to the best of her knowledge, anybody else in his unlife except her, Dawn, her mother, and peripherally, the same Scoobies that would want to kill him if they got an inkling of how Buffy had spent the summer.

             Buffy pulled the well-used sheets off the bed, pressing them to her nose as she carried the bundle of dirty linen down to the basement.  It was with a small pang that she put them in the washing machine, knowing that when they came out they would just smell like fabric softener rather than sexy vampire.  At the last second, she snatched the pillowcase out of the machine and carried it back up stairs.  When she was finished putting the fresh linens on the bed she stuffed the rescued pillowcase under her pillow and pulled the spread up to cover it.

           Joyce did, in fact, sleep until almost noon and by the time she came downstairs Buffy had gone out to spend some time in the sun.  She watched her daughter through the kitchen window as Buffy carefully basted her body with sun block and turned regularly to even out her tan.  To prove that the apple didn’t fall far from this particular tree, she decided to pretend she never heard Buffy’s slip of the tongue the night before.  As much as she liked Spike, she really didn’t want her daughter getting involved with another vampire, so in typical Summers fashion, she refused to consider it a possibility.

             She found it a little harder to cling to that belief when she found a laundry basket full of clean black tee shirts and jeans beside the dryer later that afternoon, but by then Buffy had gone to the college to register for Fall classes and once again, denial seemed the way to go.

            When Spike left the Summers’ home he had headed blindly for Willie’s, determined to drink away the pain that had taken up residence in his chest.  He sat at the bar, downing one Jack and O Neg after another, and snarling viciously at any demon daring to cast a glare in his direction.  He knew he was unpopular with most of the demon crowd, as word spread that he was helping the Slayer, but his current murderous mood made him welcome the idea of being challenged.  When it seemed no one was willing to actually start anything with the angry vampire, he grabbed a fresh bottle from the back of the bar and left to go drink himself unconscious in private. 

          His crypt seemed much darker and colder than it had before he began spending his nights in Buffy’s cheery bedroom, but it suited his mood and he sank down into his comfy chair and proceeded to pour the entire bottle of bourbon down his throat.

           What the hell is a summer fling?  Does she expect me to just stop wantin’ her on the first of September?  There isn’t that much magic in the world. I’ll never stop – Can’t give her up now.  She’s in my blood – literally.  The demon isn’t goin’ to let her go without a fight.

           Just before he achieved his goal and passed out from the alcohol he’d been steadily consuming, he felt a brief flicker of loneliness prick his consciousness and realized the partial claim was still operating.  He tried to reach out to connect with Buffy, but passed out before he could be sure the reassurance he was trying to send made it.

           When he awoke late the next afternoon, he prowled around the crypt like a caged animal.  For the first time in weeks he wasn’t waking up surrounded by Buffy’s scent and without the sound of her heartbeat letting him know where she was. 

            He thought back to his emotional exit the night before and groaned aloud.  “You bloody drama queen!  If she wasn’t worried about the situation before, she sure as hell will be now.  Be lucky if she doesn’t stake me just to get me out of her hair.”

            As the skies outside darkened, he went around the crypt, listlessly lighting a few candles and wondering if she was expecting him to come over for patrol or if she didn’t want to see him.  He vaguely remembered feeling the little touch of her loneliness the night before and it gave him a sliver of hope that maybe she wasn’t ready to cut him out of her life completely.

            “Not yet, anyway, you pathetic git.  Know it’s gonna happen, don’t I?”

           His conversation with himself was interrupted by a timid knocking on his door.  He looked up in surprise, wondering who would bother knocking, then felt his heart lurch when he realized whose heartbeat he was hearing.

            “Buffy?” he whispered in disbelief as he went to the door and opened it.

             She was standing outside, her arms full of his clean clothes and her face wearing an anxious expression.  He stared at her for long seconds before he shook himself out of his daze and backed up so that she could come in.

              He realized belatedly that she was holding his laundry, and mentally cursed himself for a fool.

            She’s not here to see you, you stupid git.  Just gettin’ your stuff out of her house before her mum sees it.

           He was reaching to take the clothes from her just as she stepped through the door and they collided briefly in the doorway.  Spike automatically grabbed her arms as she stumbled back, her balance thrown off by the things she was carrying.

             “I’m sorry, pet,” he said quickly, releasing her shoulders.  “Let me take those from you.  You don’t need to bring them in...”

             Her eyes flew to his face as he turned away with his laundry, his shoulders slumping.

            “You don’t want me to come in?” she asked in a small voice.

            He could hear the hurt she was trying to hide, and he could feel the touch of her pain in his blood. She whirled and started out the door, willing the tears that had sprung to her eyes not to fall until she was far away.  A strangled sound from behind her halted her exit and she looked back to see Spike had dropped the clean clothes on the dusty floor. 

            Once again she got a look at true vampire speed as he was in front of her before she even registered his movement.

           “Of course I want you to come in.  How could you think I wouldn’t?  But I thought you—“

            “You thought I what?  What did you think I was saying last night?”

           He looked down at the floor as he mumbled, “Thought you were kickin’ me to the curb.  Wouldn’t want me around anymore now that your friends and family are comin’ back.  Won’t need me anymore.”

            He raised his head to meet her troubled eyes.  She moved into the crypt, pulling the door shut behind her.

            “Do you think that’s the only reason I want you around?  Because I need you for something?  I thought we were friends.”

              She stared stubbornly at the silent vampire, waiting for him to say something.  Instead he took her arms again and pulled her toward him so that he could read her face.  When she continued to look puzzled he said softly, “I’m not your friend, Buffy.”

           Her puzzled look changed to one of unhappiness and then, in her usual response to pain, anger.

            “My mistake then,” she said tightly, struggling to break his grip so she could turn and leave.  “Let me go, Spike.  I won’t bother you anymore.”

            He could smell the angry tears trembling in her eyes as she tried to get away from him.  Suddenly his own anger leapt up to match hers.

           “Are you really that bloody stupid, Slayer?” he snarled.  “I’m not like Harris.  I can’t pretend to be your friend when that’s not what I’m feeling for you.  I don’t know what the hell you think a ‘summer fling’ is, but I can’t turn off what I’m feeling just because the soddin’ seasons are changing.”

           He glared at her, his breath coming in totally unnecessary gasps as he waited for her response.   She glared back at him as long as she could, then her face crumpled and she sagged into him.

           He immediately wrapped his arms all the way round her and dropped his face down onto the top of her head.  Her arms crept around his waist and they stood silently until he felt Buffy sniffle against his chest.

           “Gettin’ Slayer snot on me, then, are you?” he said, smiling down at her embarrassed face.  He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her, moving away to give her some privacy while she wiped her eyes and blew her nose. 

           He was afraid to start talking again until she gave him some sign of where they stood with each other, so he picked up his clothes and dropped down to the lower level.  He was changing into clean jeans and shirt when he heard a small noise on the ladder.  He glanced up, his pants on but not fastened yet, his shirt in his hand.

           Buffy was standing on the ladder, part way down and looking around the lower chamber curiously.

           “I didn’t know this was here,” she said shyly.  She deliberately kept her gaze away from his bare chest and abdomen, not wanting to be tempted until she figured out where they were with each other.

           “Yeah, well, ‘s not like I spend a lot of time down here,” he said gruffly. “Especially lately,” he added, then cursed himself when he saw her flinch.

           Buffy walked slowly around the large space, noting the bookshelves with the well-worn volumes of poetry.  There was a large armoire and a dresser, with a mirror that seemed wasted on a vampire.  She supposed it must have come with the dresser and Spike just hadn’t bothered to remove it.  She wondered briefly if it was there because he’d had other human women in his bedroom and felt her stomach cramp at the thought.

            She shot a look at the large four poster bed she’d been ignoring up till then and tried to picture Spike sleeping in the rich bedding covering it.  She remembered what Angel had said about Spike not needing to steal and gamble for money and she took another hard look around the room.  Buffy couldn’t be sure without her mother’s knowledge of furniture and art, but thought she might be looking at a room on which someone had spent a lot of money on very fine furnishings.

           Spike sat down on the edge of the bed and began to pull on his boots.

           “So, Slayer,” he said as casually as he could, “made up your mind what you want to do yet?”

           “About what?” she asked, avoiding his eyes by studying the titles of the books on his shelves.

            She heard a snort of exasperation as he threw himself backwards on the bed, glaring at the ceiling.   He stayed there for several minutes, then sat up abruptly and pulled his shirt on, and tied his boots.

         “Ok then, pet.  Have it your way.  When you suss it out, let me know, yeah?”

          He stood up and pulled on his leather coat.  “I’m goin’ to go kill something.  Are you coming with me or do you want to stay here until I get back?”

            Without answering, she moved to the ladder and quickly climbed up into the crypt.   She watched without speaking as Spike pulled the cover back on to the sarcophagus that covered the entrance to his bedroom. Still not speaking, they left the crypt and began their patrol, quickly dusting any newly risen vamps they encountered.  There was no playing with their prey, no clever quips from the Slayer, no snarky remarks from the vampire.  Just two killing machines working their way methodically through Sunnydale’s numerous cemeteries.

           When they had cleared out the last cemetery on their rounds, they found themselves near the campus of Sunnydale University and Buffy let her feet carry her to a bench on the grounds.  When she sat down and rested her head on the back of the bench, Spike looked at her quizzically for a second, then dropped onto the bench beside her and tilted his head back.  They sat in relatively comfortable silence for several minutes, watching the stars flicker in and out as clouds blew across the sky.  When he couldn’t stand the silence any longer, Spike turned his head toward her and asked, “Are we lookin’ for anything in particular up there, Slayer?”

             She tipped her own head toward him and met his eyes for the first time all night.

            “Answers?” she ventured.

            “Don’t think the answers are up there, love,” was his soft reply.

            “I suppose not,” she sighed, then stuck her lip out in a pout.  “I don’t see why they can’t be.  This should be easy.  Me Slayer, you vampire.”

            “Me William, you Buffy,” he gently reminded her and was rewarded with a sad smile as she scooted a little closer on the bench.  She looked into his darkened eyes with complete honesty.

           “I wish it was that simple,” she said slowly.  After another pause in which she searched his face as though the answer might lie there, she said candidly. “I don’t know how to do this, William.  I don’t know how to have you and my friends at the same time.”

            He leaned over and planted a kiss on her forehead.  “Let’s just see what happens, pet.  It’s not like everybody’s coming home on the same day.  Or like we need to invite them to watch us shaggin’.” He chuckled at her shocked gasp.

            “My patrollin’ with you shouldn’t give anybody problems.  Even the Watcher can’t object to havin’ somebody watch your back.  What else we might be doin’ when they’re not around is nobody’s business but ours.”

           There was a very heavy silence while they both avoided thinking about the one person who would most definitely think what they did away from prying eyes was his business.  Since he wasn’t due back for another couple of weeks, Buffy put all thoughts of Riley and her relationship with him in the back of her mind to be worried about later.

           “So, pet,” he said, changing the subject, “back to school soon?”

            “Yeah, I registered today.”  She looked up at him slyly.  “I signed up for another poetry class.  Figured I probably know somebody who can help me with it if it gets too hard.  Maybe even help me write some...”

          Spike gave the first genuine laugh of the evening.  “Trust me, love. You do not want me helpin’ you write the bloody stuff!”

          In spite of her badgering, he refused to tell her why he found that idea so funny and they walked away arguing and laughing, not noticing the shadow that watched them from the corner of a building.




Chapter Ten

They walked in comfortable silence for several blocks before Spike reached for Buffy’s hand and she moved slightly closer to allow him to take it.  It felt so natural and right to be walking together through the darkness, that any worries about the upcoming weeks faded away.

Buffy felt her heart speed up when they came to the intersection of the road leading to Restfield and Revello Drive.  As one, they stopped to look at each other, neither one quite sure what to say or do next.

As usual, it was Spike who broke the silence as he ghosted his free hand over her cheek.

“We never did get our last night in bed, love,” he said carefully.  If his heart could beat, it would have been racing as he waited to hear her response.

“No, we didn’t,” she agreed in a whisper.  “I...I was lonely last night...without you,” she added, still whispering.  “Did...did you miss me?”

He pulled her into his chest with a groan.  “Missed you the minute I left the house, pet.  Never want to be without you in my bed.  Never.”

“I’ve never been in your bed,” she said slowly, running her fingers down the front of his shirt.  “You really don’t know if you like me there or not.”

“Then, don’t you think we need to find out?” he purred, running his tongue down the side of her neck.

“Well, yes, I suppose there’s no sense missineep!”  She was cut off when he scooped her up and began walking toward the cemetery gate with long strides, his leather coat billowing behind him.

Buffy tried to sound indignant as she squirmed around and giggled, “I can walk by myself you know!  Super power girl, here, remember?”

“Oh, I remember, love.  Trust me.  I expect to be enjoying those super powers very soon.”  He gave her one of his best leers.

When they reached his crypt, he kicked open the door and carried her all the way in before letting go and allowing her feet to slide to the floor.  She kept her arms around his neck and turned to press up against his already eager body.

“So, do I get to try out that fancy bed this time?” she breathed, kissing her way from his neck up over his jaw to his waiting mouth.

Without answering, he kissed her hard then broke away to close the crypt door and walk over to uncover the entrance to the lower area.  Buffy hurried to help him move the heavy sarcophagus lid, then waited as he dropped down to light some candles.  As soon as there was light flickering below, she climbed down, only to be gripped in strong arms before she reached the bottom.

She wrapped her legs around his waist as he lifted her up and fastened his mouth on hers.  Never taking his mobile lips off the needy mouth devouring them, he walked to the bed and fell onto the soft mattress with her legs still clutching him.  Even though it had been less than forty-eight hours since they last made love, the urgency was almost overwhelming for both of them.

They lay on the bed, grinding their pelvises together until the need to feel bare skin became overwhelming and they broke apart long enough to peel off their clothes.  As soon as they were both naked, he pinned her to the bed and nudged her legs apart, pressing his hard shaft against her already dripping entrance.

“No foreplay?’ she gasped, even as she lifted her hips to meet him.

“Fuck foreplay,” he growled. “Need to be in you. Now.”

“Wouldn’t that be ‘fuck Buffy’?” she quipped, pulling him into her waiting warmth.  She sighed in relief when she felt herself filled with his familiar cool length and she squeezed gently in welcome.

He lay still on top of her, basking in her warmth and the sensation of having her around him again.

“Ah, love.  You feel so good.  Want to stay like this forever.  Never want to leave here.  Don’t make me leave, Buffy.  Let me stay.”

Buffy lowered her legs and wrapped them around his thighs as she slid her arms around his muscular back and stoked it softly.  Their lips and tongues met and tangled, as their bodies melted together into an intimate comfort zone.

“I wasn’t planning to let you leave any time soon,” she murmured, wishing she had his eloquence during sex.  Knowing she didn’t, she answered as best she could by continuing her gentle squeezing, smiling at the growls and gasps she was evoking.

“Buffy...pet...love...Slayer!  You need to stop...doing...that...or...I...won’t—“

He stopped his protests as the breathing patterns and increased heart rate that he’d learned to associate with her orgasms told him she was just as close as he was.  With a happy groan, he surrendered to the building pressure and let her squeeze his release from him without either of them actually moving their bodies.

He shouted his pleasure into her neck and felt her teeth clench onto his shoulder as she shuddered beneath him.  He immediately fastened his lips on his marks, sucking her skin into his mouth fiercely.  He felt the blood being pulled to the surface and fought his demon’s urge to use his teeth on the soft flesh before him.

As soon as Spike began sucking on her throat, Buffy felt another orgasmic jolt go through her body and she arched up into him, moaning his name.  When he stopped sucking on her skin and began purring and licking gently at the reddened area, she relaxed immediately and almost purred herself.

She could feel everything as the claim struggled to complete the connection between them.  She told herself she should be wigged that a soulless vampire was in love with her, but somehow it seemed more comforting than frightening.  There was something about lying under his body and letting the love wash over her that made her feel very safe and secure.

He was floating...suspended on a cushion of peace and tranquility that he’d never felt before.  Even though he hadn’t pulled any of her blood into his throat, he could feel her within him as never before.  He felt her acceptance of his love, her tentative attempt to return it, and her complete willingness to allow his demon access to her blood.

Eventually he rolled off, pulling her with him so that they were lying side-by-side, Buffy’s leg thrown over his and her head resting on his chest.  He absently stroked the skin on her arm as he thought about what had just happened.

I felt her.  Know I did.  She felt me too.  This’ll be what the Watcher will go off about.  I’ve half -claimed his Slayer.

Elation warred with worry as he thought about their situation and wondered how much to tell her.

Claim isn’t gonna mean a thing to the bloody soldier.  He won’t respect it the way another vamp would, even if he knows what it is.  And the chip won’t let the demon protect his rights.  I’d be unconscious before I could take down that overgrown hayseed with his drug-enhanced muscles.  She didn’t accept it, so it probably won’t effect her that much...


“Spike?” Buffy’s worried voice brought him out of his thoughts and he turned his head to see her looking up at him curiously.

“Yeah, love,  ‘m here. Just got distracted for a sec.”

“Should I be offended?  We just made love and you’re thinking about something else?”  She mock-pouted at him.

He smiled at her warmly and raised an eyebrow.  “Trust me, sweetheart, I wasn’t thinkin’ about anything else but us and what we did.  Speaking of which,” he tried for a change of subject, “where’d you learn that little trick – or do I even want to know?”

She colored and lowered her eyes briefly.  “It just felt so good to be together like we were, I didn’t want you to move, so I thought I’d... Did you like it?”

“What d’you think?” he asked, pulling her up so he could kiss her swollen lips.  “I just can’t believe you got off on it.”

“One of the benefits of Slayer muscles,” she said, blushing furiously.

“You mean, you already knew you could come like that?”  He took in her embarrassed face and chuckled,  “Why you little minx. I’ll bet you’ve been practicin’ that since you were called.”

“I have not!” she blurted, smacking his chest when he laughed at her.  “Anyway, it’s not like I do it all the time or anything.  I just ...never mind.  This is sooo none of your business!”

He grabbed the fists that were flailing at his chest and pinned her arms to her sides while he continued to laugh.   As his laughter tapered off to soft chuckles, she grudgingly began to smile with him.  Nudging him with her nose, she said, “I’ll be you’re just jealous cause you can’t do that to yourself.”

Prob’ly right, pet.  S’good thing though or I’d been dust a long time ago, what with losin’ my concentration every time I flexed a muscle...”

“Knowing you, you would have been flexing all the time,” she grinned at him.

“Oh, no doubt about it, love.  I definitely would.”  He grinned back at her. Changing his mood, he asked more seriously, “So, love, how do you like m’bed? Does it suit you?  Feel like you could spend some time here?”

Bloody hell!  Could I sound any more like a wanker?

She stretched and looked around before snuggling against him again.

“It’s pretty comfy, I’ve got to say.”  She planted a kiss on his chest and sighed. “You know I can’t stay here, don’t you?  Mom hasn’t mentioned last night yet, but if I don’t come home tonight...”

“I know, love,” he agreed, resting his chin on the top of her head.  “I just hate the thought of goin’ to sleep or wakin’ up without you.”

“Me too,” she admitted softly.  “I couldn’t sleep last night.  The bed seemed so empty without... But we need to get used to it,” she said with sudden determination.  “It’s just not gonna happen anymore.”

She felt his body flinch and then gasped as an additional pang went through her from the bite marks.  He squeezed her apologetically and shut down the connection as best he could.

“Did you sleep OK?” She suddenly looked up at him with dawning suspicion.

“Uh...if passin’ out counts as sleepin’, I guess I did.” 

When she rolled her eyes, he protested,  “Hey!  I had issues – needed some conversation with my friend Jack.”  At her blank stare he added, “Daniels, pet. Jack Daniels. Maybe you’ve heard of it?  Liquid comfort?”

She shook her head and sat up reluctantly.

“On that disgusting note...” She began searching for her clothes and tossing them on the bed.

He watched her with admiring eyes, remembering how shy and embarrassed she’d been about her nudity at the beginning of the summer.  Now, she walked around the room, paused to look in the mirror and run her fingers through her hair, shot him a dirty look when she saw the enormous hickey on her neck, and strolled back to the bed without the slightest trace of shyness.

When she started pulling on her clothes, he sighed in resignation and reached for his pants.

“What are you doing?” she asked in genuine confusion.

“You don’t think I’m goin’ let you walk home alone do you?” he said gruffly. “I was, contrary to what you may think, raised to be a gentleman.”

She gave a snort of disbelief, more because she knew he was expecting it than because she didn’t believe him.

“Anyway,” he said, watching her ass swaying up the ladder in front of him, “Got to see that my girl gets home safe.  Doesn’t get scared by those things that go bump in the night.”

She shook her head at him and shot back, “I’m the thing that the things that go bump in the night are afraid of.  Remember, vampire?”

“Well then, It’s my duty as a member of the undead to see that you don’t terrorize any law abiding demons you find on the way home.  Either way, I’m going with you, so get used to it.”

She looked at him with puzzled eyes for a minute.  “You know, when Angel used to treat me like I was fragile, I would get really pissed at him.  And when Riley wants to protect me...” She shuddered briefly.  “What makes you think you can get away with it?”

“Because, Slayer, you know that I know you can take care of yourself.  I’m here because I want to be, not because I think you need me.  ‘S matter of fact, I expect you to protect me.” He smirked at her and laughed when she rolled her eyes.

They walked the rest of the way quickly, gently teasing each other about who was the most in need of protection.  When they reached the Summers’ house, they burst in the back door together, laughing and shushing each other so as not to wake Buffy’s mom.

They stopped abruptly when the man sleeping on the kitchen counter raised his head to look at them with bleary eyes.  As he woke up more, his gaze shifted from Buffy to the suddenly dead still vampire behind her and he stood up slowly.




Chapter Eleven

“Riley?” Buffy bit back the “what are you doing here?” that wanted to fall out of her mouth.  Instead, she settled for looking around and asking, “Where’s Mom?”

“She went to bed,” he said coldly, never taking his eyes off Spike.  “She got tired of waiting up for you.”

A light touch on the small of her back was Buffy’s only indication that Spike was still behind her.  She felt the gentle pressure for a second and then he was gone, the door falling slowly shut behind him.  She gasped and grabbed onto the counter for support as a jolt of pure emotional pain shot through her. Tears sprang to her eyes as she felt the misery flowing from Spike to her.

“What’s wrong?”  Riley asked when he noticed her drawn face and white knuckles.  He moved toward her and frowned when she flinched away from him.

N...nothing.  Just a sudden cramp.  I’m okay now,” she said, taking a deep breath and standing up straight.  The gut wrenching pain that had gone through her when Spike left was gone, leaving a residual ache.  She wondered what he’d done to make it stop hurting her.

“You don’t look particularly glad to see me,” her boyfriend said with a frown. “I thought I’d surprise you by coming home a couple of weeks early, but maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”

Buffy gave a guilty start and moved closer to him, holding up her face for a kiss and allowing him to pick her up in an all enveloping hug.  When he went to repeat their chaste “hello” kiss, Buffy turned her head just enough that his lips hit the side of her mouth and she kissed his cheek quickly before sliding down to the floor.

“No, no, it was a great idea.  You just caught me by surprise, that’s all.  I mean it is 2:00 in the morning, after all.  I wasn’t expecting to find anyone sitting in the kitchen.”

“Except Spike,” he said flatly.

She squirmed mentally, then decided to go with as much truth as she could.

“Yes, except Spike.  Look, Riley, I know you can’t see him as anything but an evil demon, but thanks to the Initiative he is completely harmless to humans and I think it’s...changing him.”

Buffy briefly remembered that Spike had saved Jake before he got the chip, but resolutely pushed the thought away. There was no way to explain about Jake to Riley without getting into areas that were definitely not any of his business.

Well, technically, I guess my going out clubbing with Spike MIGHT be considered his business, but...

“Vampires don’t change, Buffy.  We’ve contained him, that’s all.  If, when, the chip fails...”

“The chip could fail?” Buffy tried to keep the fear out of her voice, but couldn’t control the clenching of her stomach.  She shoved the question of what exactly she was afraid of to the back of her brain and stared at Riley anxiously.

“Well, it is a prototype, Buffy.” He looked at her suspiciously.  “We don’t know how long it will last.  He was never intended to leave the lab, you know.”

She shook her head and turned away from his probing look.

“Well, he did, didn’t he?  And...and I’m glad he did,” she said, sticking her chin out stubbornly.  “There’s something very wrong with doing experiments on sentient creatures, even if they are evil.”

“They’re just animals.  Even if they can look and talk like humans.  They aren’t human. No souls, no conscience, no feelings.”

Buffy thought about the look in Spike’s eyes when he was buried inside her and the pain she had felt from him when he left her with Riley.  She started to argue, then shrugged and walked away from him.

“Well, whatever he may be, he has been a big help to me all summer as well as good company when I was here by myself and I’m not going to treat him like an animal.”

Riley rolled his shoulders in irritation, then opted not to get into an argument about Spike on his first night back.

“It’s all right, Buffy,” he said following her across the kitchen and putting his hands on her shoulders.  “I don’t mind that you had someone to watch your back while I was gone.  But now that I’m back...”

He ran his hands down her arms and tried to turn her around to look at him.

“You won’t need him anymore, now that I’m here.  I’ll be able to patrol with you and—”

“You—you’re planning to patrol with me?” she could hear the dismay in her voice, but couldn’t seem to do anything about it.  Suddenly the complications of having everybody back in her life were overwhelming and all she wanted to do was get into her bed and shut out the world for a while.

“Well,” he was taken back at her obvious surprise, “yes.  I thought we’d patrol together.  Like we did before I went away. Is there some reason why I shouldn’t?” he asked with a frown.

Buffy sighed and shrugged.  “I really don’t want to talk it about right now, Riley.  It’s late and I’m tired.”

“Really?” he said, fixing her with a look she’d never seen before.  “Because you didn’t seem to be working very hard when you and Spike were laughing and looking at the stars.”

“When we what?  When did—?  Where—?  Were you spying on me?”

“That would imply that you were doing something that I shouldn’t have seen, wouldn’t it?”

“No,” she responded haughtily, “it would imply that if you were there, the decent thing to do would have been to let me know.  Not watch me from...wherever...as if I was some enemy soldier.”

He had the grace to look ashamed briefly, then quickly regained his righteous indignation.

“I would have, but I wanted to see what was going on with you two.  You seemed awfully friendly for a Slayer and a vampire.”

Buffy sighed and shook her head.  “We are friendly, Riley.  That’s what I’ve been trying to get you to see.  Spike and I are friends.  Turns out we have a lot in common,” she said without thinking.

“You have a lot in common with a vampire?”

The disgust and disbelief in his voice shook her confidence for a minute and she faltered as she responded, “Well, except for the whole – good/evil thing. I guess that’s not...” 

“Yeah, seems to me that would be a biggie,” he agreed through gritted teeth.  “Not to mention, soul/no soul, sleeps in a bed/sleeps in a coffin,” – Buffy gave a guilty start at that one- “eats pizza/drinks blood, do I need to go on?” he asked with a self-satisfied smirk.

“Spike eats pizza,” she said so softly he wasn’t sure he actually heard her.

“He also eats people, Buffy.  Or have you forgotten that?  He’s violent, stubborn, impulsive...what could you possibly find to do together?  You have nothing in common, Buffy, nothing!”

She studied him in silence for a moment, before saying quietly, “You really don’t know me very well, do you, Riley?”  She looked into his puzzled eyes and smiled sadly.  “And I’m sorry.  That’s probably my fault.  I wanted so much for you to see me as a normal girl.”

“I know you’re not a normal girl, Buffy.  I’ve seen you fight and you’re amazing.  But that doesn’t make you like a vampire, just because you are as strong as they are.”

“I’m stronger, Riley,” she said softly and smiled ruefully at his frown of disbelief.  “See, that’s another thing you don’t know about me; because I never let you see it.  I’m strong and I kill things – hence the name, Slayer.”  She looked up at him again and allowed a little smile to quirk up the corners of her mouth. “And, if I felt like being truthful about myself, I’d have to admit that I can be a little impulsive and stubborn – or so Giles tells me, anyway.”

The big man’s shoulders sagged in submission.

“All right, Buffy. I really don’t want to fight with you my first night back. Let’s just agree to disagree about Spike for now.” He looked down at her hopefully and added, “There are other things I’d really rather be doing right now, anyway.”

As he spoke, he pulled her into his body and ran his hands down over her firm rear.  To her amazement, Buffy felt an immediate, visceral revulsion at his touch and she grabbed his hands before they could move anywhere else. He tried to pull her in again and she let go of his hands to push on his chest.

“No, Riley.  Not here!  It’s the kitchen, for God’s sake!”

She carefully smothered memories of Spike pushing her up against the sink just a few days ago.

“Fine, “ he said, trying to kiss her rapidly retreating mouth, “Let’s go upstairs.”

My mom is home.”

“Buffy,” he almost growled,  “I’ve been gone for two months.  Haven’t you missed me at all?”

“Of course I did.  I did miss you.  I just...I just can’t right now.  Because...you know...” She peered up at him to see if he was buying it.

She knew he wouldn’t want to have sex with her if she was having her period.  Riley had very emphatic rules about what was and wasn’t “normal” sex and having it during that time was definitely not on the list.  Again, memories of Spike’s enthusiasm for sex when she was menstruating cropped up, but she loyally pushed them back.

After all, he’s a vampire.  He’s all about the blood.

Buffy got lost in her memory of the first time she’d tried to turn Spike down because she was having her period.  While she hemmed and hawed and stammered, he had just stood there looking at her with steadily growing amusement.  Finally he had burst into outright laughter and explained to her, through loud guffaws that he always knew when she or any of the other Scoobie girls were having their “monthlies” as he called it.

While she glared at him in embarrassed anger, he’d calmed down and reminded her that he was a vampire.  “Enhanced sense of smell? Appetite for blood? Ability to sense/smell changes in bodily functions? Stop me when I get to something we’ve talked about before, love.”

“You mean you always know...eeww, Spike!”

“Nothing eww about it, Slayer,” he’d said, suddenly serious.  “It’s your blood, just as surely as if it came from a vein.  And it’s extra rich blood at that.  You didn’t seriously think I was going to forgo a chance to...”

“Don’t’ say it!” she’d gasped in a panic.

“OK, love,” he’d rumbled, running his mouth up her neck to the place right behind her ear, “I won’t say it, but I’m bloody well going to do it before the night is out.”

Buffy’s distraction as she thought about Spike and the night he’d shown her just how okay he was with making love during that time of the month caused her to miss the calculating stare Riley was giving her.  When he let go of her arms, she snapped back to the present and looked at him apologetically as she frantically tried to remember what he’d been saying while she was lost in her memories of sex with another man.

“So, then, “ he said with exaggerated casualness, “I’ll see you tomorrow night?”

Uh, uh...sure.  Of course.  Tomorrow night.  Maybe we can go to the Bronze or something...”

“Yeah, or something,” he agreed.  “I’ll let you get some sleep now,” he added, kissing her on the forehead.

Guilt made Buffy hug him longer and harder than she actually had intended to, and he finally had to point out that she was crushing him.

“Oh! I’m sorry,” she blushed and stammered.  “I forgot –I –”

“Hey, it’s okay, Buffy,” he smiled and tilted her head up.  “I’m glad to see you missed me.  Just thought I’d remind you that I need to breathe now and then.”

She searched his face for any sign that he was comparing himself to Spike, but he seemed genuinely pleased to have been hugged so hard. 

Guess it’s just me who needs reminding that Spike is different from human men.

“Okay. Good-night, Riley.  And...I’m glad you’re back. Really I am.”

“Me too.  I guess it’s going to take us a little while to get used to each other again.”

“I guess so.  But, hey, we can start tomorrow night, right?”

“Right.  Good-night, Buffy.”




Chapter Twelve

           Spike could feel Buffy’s reaction to the way his stomach had knotted up when he left her alone with the soldier.  He stopped at the edge of her yard and inhaled unnecessarily to calm himself down.  Using skills he hadn’t really known he possessed, he was able to damp down the connection between them so that he couldn’t feel her anymore and she, therefore, wouldn’t be able to feel him.

           He forced himself to walk away quickly before the urge to stay close enough to see and hear them could make him do something he was sure he’d regret.

           Don’t really need to see or hear her snoggin’ or more with Capt’n Cardboard. Bad enough to know it’s gonna happen.  Seems like it’s time for another visit with my friend Jack.

            He got back to his crypt and threw himself into his comfy chair, bottle already open and tilted toward his mouth.  Visions of Buffy and Riley kissing, holding each other, and making love were piercing his brain as he gulped the whiskey as fast as he could.  When the oblivion he was seeking began to seep over him, he unconsciously relaxed his control over the claim connection.

            He immediately felt Buffy’s guilt and confusion, as well as the loneliness she was feeling as she curled up in her bed.  His own confusion kept him from passing out as he tried to figure out what he was sensing from her. 

            She’s alone?  She sent him away? Why is she so lonely? Could‘ve had him if she wanted.  No way the stupid git was so mad at her about me that he’d not want to shag her silly after bein’ gone all summer.  Somethin’s wrong...

           Telling himself he wasn’t spying on her, just checking to be sure she was all right, he forced himself to his feet and stumbled toward the door to his crypt.  By the time he’d staggered through the cool night air as far as Revello Drive, he was rapidly sobering up and having second thoughts about what he was doing.

           What am I goin’ to say to her?  I came back ‘cause I knew he wasn’t here? Thought you might want/need me?  Yeah, that’ll happen you bloody wanker.

             He stood under the tree in her yard, staring up at her window.  Now that he was close, he could hear her rapid heartbeat and restless tossing around in her bed.  He told himself he was just checking on her, nothing else, as he silently climbed up and onto the roof.  Moving as quietly as only a nocturnal predator can, he slipped over to her window and peered in.

            Buffy was lying on her bed clutching Mr. Gordo and rubbing her face on an empty pillowcase.  Spike frowned as he caught a whiff of the pillowcase and realized it smelled of both Slayer and vampire.  This close to her he could feel her confused emotions even more than before.

             Bloody, stupid pillock.  Don’t know what he said to her, but he’s got my Slayer upset and losin’ sleep she doesn’t need to lose.

            Suddenly Buffy’s heart rate went up and she sat up looking right at the window

           “Spike?  Is that you?”

            Shit.  Guess there’s no point in pretendin’. If I can feel her, she can feel me.

             “Yes, love,” he said softly, moving closer to the windowsill. “It’s me.”

              “What are you doing out there?” she asked, with just a trace of the anger he expected to hear in her voice.

             He sighed and slipped one leg over the windowsill.  “Could feel you, pet. Knew you were upset about somethin’.  Jus’ came to make sure you were all right, that’s all.  I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to wake you up.”

              “I wasn’t asleep,” she admitted, gesturing him into the house.

            He cast an eye at the pillowcase she was still holding and raised an eyebrow inquiringly.   She flushed when she realized he’d seen it, and quickly shoved it back under her pillow. 

           Wanting to distract him before he could ask her about it, she asked casually, “So, you could feel me, huh?  What’s that all about?”

            He took a deep, unnecessary breath and sat down, careful to keep some distance between them.  When he reached for her hands and held them gently, she frowned briefly.

            “Is this another one of those, you’re-holding-my-hands-so-I-won’t-hit-you things?”

            Smiling ruefully he nodded his head and brought her hands to his lips for a second.  “Dunno, love.  But we need to talk about what’s happened between us.”

           “Patrol, friends, sex, patrol, sex, go dancing, kick demon butt, sex, summer fl—”

           She stopped when she saw the amber flashes in his eyes and felt his grip on her hands tighten.

           “Okay,” she said quietly, “not just a summer fling.  I admit it.  I just don’t know what to do about it.”

           She looked him directly in the eye and said, “and I don’t know if what I’m feeling is real or if it’s got something to do with letting you bite me.  Don’t you think it’s time you told me, Spike?”

         “Yes, love, it is. It’s past time...I just...I’m a coward.  I don’t want to lose what we have – whatever it is, and I’m afraid...”

           “Spit it out, Spike.  What’s going on with us?  Why can I feel it when you’re... and why can you tell that I’m upset all the way from your crypt? I thought you told me if I didn’t reciprocate the claim would go away in few days.  If anything, it’s getting stronger.”

          He held her hands lightly, unconsciously using his thumbs to rub small soothing circles on her wrists.

         “Spike?” Her voice began to sound more like the Slayer and less like the Buffy he’d come to know so well.

            “Alright, love, here’s the bloody situation. I wasn’t lying to you when I said the claim wasn’t finished or that it would go away in a couple of days.  But we didn’t exactly do what we needed to do for that to happen...”

        She continued to look at him with barely concealed impatience and he hastened on.

            “The thing is – in order for the claim to fade away, we would have had to stop having any kind of physical contact.  Every time we made love...” He paused waiting for the inevitable correction in his terminology.  When it didn’t come, he felt a small spark of hope in his chest and he continued with more confidence, “every time we made love, we strengthened the bond a little.  Every time you let me love you, let me touch you... Every time I put my mouth on those marks, I was renewing my side of the claim.”

            He felt rather than saw her withdraw from him.  She pulled her hands back slowly and wrapped her arms around herself as though she was cold.  He immediately damped down the fear and pain that shot through him, hoping she hadn’t noticed.

            “So, you’ve been deliberately letting me think this thing was going to go away, and at the same time you were making it stronger?”  Her voice shook slightly and she felt an overwhelming disappointment go through her.  She couldn’t help but remember Riley’s words about soulless demons and vampires as she struggled with an overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal.

            “No!  No, I swear I wasn’t trying to deceive you.   Jus’ wanted you so bloody much...” He reflexively reached for her hands again and winced when she cringed away from him.   “I’m not a strong man, Buffy.  I couldn’t make myself stay away from you. Couldn’t not touch you, hold you, love you...I never meant to—”

           “Never meant to what?  Drink from me?  Bind a Slayer to you?  Is this how you make up for the chip? You can’t kill me so you decided to own me?” Her voice was an angry hiss as she struggled to keep it low enough that her mother wouldn’t wake and hear them.  “I was a fool to trust you,” she finished, fighting back the tears behind her eyes.

          His beautiful face became a cold, hard mask as he stared back at her.

         “Is that what you think, Slayer? Is that you talkin’ or is that the soddin’ soldier boy?”

          “Leave him out of this, Spike,” she warned coldly.

           “Don’t think I can do that, pet,” he said evenly. “Wanker’s only been back for a few hours and you’re already telling me you don’t trust me.  What’s next? He gonna talk you into staking me just in case the chip fails?”

           Buffy winced inwardly as she remembered what Riley said about the chip’s longevity. 

          Could I stake Spike if I had to?  I sent Angel to hell.  There’s no reason why I wouldn’t be able to stake a vampire I’m not in love with.

             She ignored the little voice in her head asking her if she was sure she wasn’t falling in love with this vampire.

           That’s only the claim making me have...feelings for him.  They’ll go away as soon as the claim fades.

           Spike waited for her response, the restless clenching and unclenching of his fists the only sign of his impatience.

            Ignoring his question, she tried to continue the conversation in a calmer voice.

            “So, if we stop sleeping together, this is going to go away.  Is that what you’re saying?”

           She caught his brief hesitation before he answered and said, more curtly than she intended, “Tell me the truth, Spike.”

          She saw him stiffen and bit back the apology that tried to come out of her mouth, although she softened her command with a quiet “please?”

           He sat on the edge of the bed, his forearms resting on his knees, hands dangling between his legs.  He resolutely kept his gaze on the floor, afraid if he looked at her he would break down and cry.

           “I don’t know, Buffy,” he said softly.  “I never claimed anyone before – and no one has ever claimed a Slayer.  I really thought it would just fade away if I stopped sayin’ anything possessive or...” He stopped and took a deep breath before continuing.  “I guess not sayin’ out loud what I was thinking every time we made love wasn’t good enough.  The demon knew I was thinkin’ it.”

          There was silence for several minutes as he continued to stare at the floor, misery in every line of his body. 

           He drew another shuddering breath and added, “I don’t know why it’s as strong as it is.  You never accepted it, or tried to claim me back.”  He couldn’t hide the pang that went through him when he said those words and he saw her flinch slightly when she felt it.

            “You know it’s got to stop,” she finally said firmly.  “I’m the Slayer.  I can’t be bound to a...to your demon.”

            “I know, pet. Wouldn’t expect you to. We’ll fix it, Slayer, don’t worry.”

           “How?” she asked dubiously.

           “Do what I shoulda done in the first place – stay away from you ‘less there’s somebody else around.  If we don’t do anything to renew it for a while and it still doesn’t go away, then we’ll have to fess up to the Watcher or the Wiccas and ask for a spell.”

            “Okay,” she agreed. “We won’t see each other except when we know we can’t...”

           As realization set in, she felt her resolution falter.  It was one thing to say she didn’t want the claim.  It was quite something else to acknowledge that she had to give up the gentle bantering and reliable back-up she’d become used to, not to mention the intense love-making that usually followed their patrols.

           Suddenly the Slayer was gone and Buffy was back as she asked him timidly, “Couldn’t you just not...think?  Or not think claimy kinds of thoughts?  Just don’t think it anymore. Whatever ‘it’ is.”

           She looked at him triumphantly as if she had just solved all their problems.

          “Don’t think I can do that, pet,” he said softly, looking up so that she could read his eyes.  “I can’t be in you, surrounded by you, feeling you moving under me and not...” His voice trailed off and his eyes glazed over as he thought about Buffy’s body moving with his.  He shook his head at his own easily distracted thoughts and touched her face gently.

          “There’s only one way this is going to work, and that’s if I stay away from you completely.  You’ll know where to find me if you need me for somethin’, but I won’t be comin’ ‘round unless you ask for me.”

           Buffy leaned into his hand and rubbed her face on it.  “We have to get rid of it,” she said with as much determination as she could muster.  “I need to know...”

          “Need to know what, pet?” he asked, genuinely puzzled, but willing to keep his hand on her face as long as she seemed to want it there.

         She looked up and met his eyes with complete honesty.  “I need to know if what I’m feeling for you is me or the claim.”

          “Which do you want it to be, Buffy?” He knew if his heart could beat it would have been pounding.

            She just shook her head and whispered with her eyes closed,  “I need to know, Spike. I just need to know.”  Suddenly her eyes flew open and she asked, “Don’t you want to know? If it’s real?  For you, I mean.  If it’s real for you.”

          He smiled at her sadly and shook his head, then took her chin and she got lost in his eyes.  He leaned in and put his forehead against hers.

            “If it got any more real, I’d be dust. Doesn’t matter if you’re claimed by me, Capt’n Cardboard, or the great bloody poof.  There is nothing on this earth that can change the way I feel. I love you, Buffy Anne Summers. I think I always have. And I think I always will.  ‘M yours, love, whether you want me or not.”

          He watched the emotions play across her face when he pulled back to look at her – surprise, a flicker of happiness? Then she gained control of herself and pushed him gently away.

           “I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?” she said softly.

          “Yeah, pet. I guess we will.”

           He stood up, pulling her up with him and folded her in his arms.  “Good bye, love,” he whispered as he fastened his lips on hers, leaving them there until she was kissing him back with a desperation that surprised them both.

          Before their bodies could turn the kiss into something more, Spike reluctantly let go.  He turned in a swirl of leather and leapt through the window and down to the ground before Buffy could get, “Goodbye, Spike” out of her mouth.


Chapter Thirteen

         True to his word, Buffy saw no trace of Spike over the next two weeks.  She resolutely pushed any thoughts of the vampire out of her mind as she worked on getting her things together to go back to school.  She continued to put Riley off when he tried to initiate sex, but she was rapidly running out of excuses not to be alone with him.

          Fortunately, with Giles returning from England, she could plead time needed for training with her Watcher and bringing him up to date on the summer’s lack of hellmouth activity.  She assured Riley that the things she and Giles had to go over wouldn’t interest him at all and promised to spend more time with him when they were all caught up.

           If Giles was curious about her sudden willingness to give up her time in the evenings to discuss Slayer things with him, he was able to hide it.  Over four years with this slayer had given him some insight and he knew she was struggling with something.  When she finally worked up her courage to tell him about Spike’s help, she was astonished that the older man just nodded his head at the news.

          “Giles?  It‘s Spike.  I spent the summer patrolling with Spike.  Why aren’t you more wigged out by this?”

          “I am not ‘wigged out’, Buffy, because I have been hoping for something like this.”

          He was busy polishing his glasses and completely missed Buffy’s shocked look.

          “It has occurred to me that the chip would allow Spike to seek redemption for his past if he was so inclined.  While Angel is the first vampire to be cursed with a soul, he is not the first one to help a Slayer or to fight evil.”

          “Huh?”  Buffy’s mouth fell open.  “You never told me...”

          “I wanted to reread some of the older Watcher’s Diaries to refresh my memory before I said anything.  Now that I have done so, I am convinced that Spike’s getting the chip may have been orchestrated by the Powers That Be.  He is being given an opportunity to redeem himself.  It will be quite interesting to see what he make of it.”

          “So, you’re okay with me spending so much time with him this summer?” she asked in disbelief.

          “Well, yes, of course I am.  I’m delighted that you had someone that powerful to assist you.  I am anxious to speak with him as to what caused him to change his mind about helping us in our fight against evil.  I don’t suppose you have any idea what it is, do you?”

          Frantically Buffy sought for an answer that didn’t involve biting and sex. “Umm, I think maybe he was just bored and looking for some violence.”

          Her Watcher seemed slightly disappointed, but shrugged and said, “Well, then, we’ll just have to see how it develops, won’t we?  When will you see him again?” he asked, changing the subject slightly.

          “Uh, I don’t...I mean with Riley back and...Why don’t you just stop by his crypt some afternoon?  He’s usually awake by then.”

           “I take it your babbling means that Riley is not as pleased about your having Spike’s assistance as I might be?” her Watcher guessed shrewdly.

          “You might say that,” she grimaced.  “Spike is...staying away...for awhile.  If I need him for something, he’ll help me, but we’re taking a...a break from patrolling together for awhile.”

           Giles stared at her flushed face for a minute, then said in a mild tone of voice, “All right, Buffy.  I will contact him myself and see what explanation he has for helping you all summer.  And perhaps, why he is no longer doing so,” he added, shooting her a suspicious look.

          Deciding she’d said all she needed to about Spike for the time being, Buffy hastily told Giles “good-night” and went out to patrol.  Things were still very slow around the cemeteries, and Buffy was fairly sure that a certain chipped vampire was at least partially responsible for the lack of things to slay.  Every once in a while, she was sure she could sense him nearby, but when she would turn to try to find him, the sensation would go away immediately.

          Once again, she found only one fledgling to slay and after a cursory stroll around town, she headed home for another night of wishing she wasn’t alone in her bed.  She found herself looking forward to getting back into the dorm, where sleeping alone would be a choice, not something imposed by her mother’s sleeping in the next bedroom.

           So far, her mother hadn’t brought up the subject of Spike’s clothes in the laundry basket or Buffy’s slip of the tongue the first night she was back.  She did look at Buffy curiously when she started going out on patrol by herself, but wisely decided not to say anything.  When Riley showed up at the house to help Buffy move back to the dorm, her mother was careful not to bring up Spike’s name or mention his help during the summer. 

          Once Buffy and Riley had moved her stuff into her small room in the dorm, she began unpacking and finding places for things.  With Willow wanting to room with Tara, and Buffy’s unpleasant experience with her first roommate, not to mention the unusual hours her Slayer duties required, a private room had seemed like a good idea to her and she had a small corner one to herself.

          When Riley began dropping strong hints about how they should “break in” the new room, it suddenly didn’t seem like quite such a good plan.  She knew the time had come to either admit she didn’t want him anymore or try to pick up their relationship where they’d left off in June.  She looked at him thoughtfully and almost giggled at his hopeful smile.

           He really has been very patient and sweet.  I should do this.  Get back into the swing of things with my real boyfriend.

          Resolutely pushing all thoughts of piercing blue eyes, soft cool lips and a lean muscular body away, she smiled back at him and allowed him to pull her to the newly made bed.  Even though he felt too warm to her touch, she forced herself to respond to his eager kisses and whispered endearments.  As soon as her clothes were off and he’d dropped his on the floor, he moved to cover her tiny body with his.

          While Riley grunted and puffed on top of her, Buffy tried her best to enjoy what she used to find perfectly pleasant lovemaking.  But she couldn’t help making comparisons between the big man working away on her body without, apparently, any idea what he was doing, and the vampire who could make her nerve endings sing with just a touch of his cool fingers.  Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she used her strength to flip them over so that she was on top of him, looking down into his surprised face.

          “What are you doing?” he asked, sounding almost petulant.  She belatedly remembered that he didn’t like being reminded of how strong she was and she ducked her head in apology.

          “I’m sorry, Riley.  I just thought we could try something a little different...but if you don’t want to...”

          “No, it’s fine.  Just surprised me, that’s all.  You could have just asked me, you know.”

          She suppressed a sign and agreed sweetly, “I’ll remember that next time. I promise.”

          Buffy began to move up and down on him, squeezing gently as she did so and rubbing her clit on his pubic bone every time she came down.  She got a rhythm going and, without realizing what she was doing, began to move on him as vigorously and uninhibitedly as she did on Spike. In no time she was reaching the point where a little attention from him would send her over the edge and she increased her pace, clenching around him as she did.

          She was so caught up in her own building orgasm that she didn’t notice that Riley was writhing beneath her and gasping her name.  When he grabbed her hips and stopped her motion, it took a few seconds for her to realize what had happened.

          “Wha—?” she looked at him through lust-filled eyes, surprised to see him looking less than pleased.

          “Buffy, you’re hurting me!” he gritted out through clenched teeth.  She could feel his cock deflating inside her as he tried to push her off.

          “Oh, Riley!  Oh my god.  I am so sorry!  I never – I didn’t mean to—oh my god!”

          Babbling apologies, she quickly moved off him and looked to see if he was permanently damaged. 

           “I’m sorry, baby.  I really am.  I don’t know what...I’ve never done that before, have I?  You would have told me, wouldn’t you?  Oh my god.”

          He looked up at her and smiled ruefully.  “It’s okay, Buffy.  Just shows how much you missed me, I guess.  I’ve never seen you that passionate before.  I think I might like it – once I recover, that is.”

          Blushing furiously, Buffy continued to fuss over him and apologize until he finally stopped her with another kiss.

          “It’s all right.  I promise.  I didn’t realize that Slayer strength extended to every muscle in your body.  Now that I know, I can warn you to ease off before you cripple me.  We’ll be fine.”

          Buffy tried to look pleased that he was taking it so well; although she didn’t care much for the idea of being asked to “ease off”.  She asked Riley if she could make it up to him by kissing it better and he readily agreed, settling himself back on the pillows to be serviced.  Struggling not to roll her eyes at his smug look, she bent to her task and skillfully brought him to throbbing erectness before he insisted she stop and let him enter her again.

          Lying down on her back, Buffy prepared to continue her interrupted orgasm, only to find herself left wanting as Riley quickly got his release and pulled out of her.

           “Wow,” he said breathlessly, “I should go away more often if that’s the effect it has on you.”

          He kissed her tenderly and pulled her into his arms, completely oblivious to her lack of fulfillment and fully expecting to spend the night sleeping in her bed.  Buffy tried her best to enjoy being held and cuddled for the first time in weeks, but nothing felt right. 

          He felt hot, too warm for comfort.  And he took up the whole bed with his large body.  Sunnydale U did not provide double beds in their tiny little rooms and the twin bed just was not large enough for two people when one was almost bigger than the bed itself.  When she added that to the way her body was complaining about the sexual tension left over from the interrupted orgasm, there was no way Buffy could remain where she was.

          She slipped quietly out of the bed, noting briefly that Riley neither noticed nor cared that she wasn’t there anymore.  She couldn’t suppress the guilty memory of how, no matter how deeply asleep he was, Spike always reacted to the loss of her warmth and reached for her when she tried to move.

           I guess I shouldn’t be sorry Riley isn’t like that.  If he was, I wouldn’t be able to leave.

          As she had that thought, she realized that leaving was exactly what she intended to do.  She thought briefly about going to the, hopefully deserted, bathrooms and providing her own release, but discarded that idea in favor of going out and killing something.

          She quietly slipped into her clothes and left the soldier snoring in her bed as she went out into the welcoming night.





Chapter Fourteen

       Spike was prowling through Sunnydale’s cemeteries, as he’d done every night since he’d left Buffy alone in her room.  He’d done his best to keep the claim completely damped down, both so as not to burden her with his emotions, as well as to spare himself any possible feedback from her relationship with the ex-commando.  For the first few days, he’d stayed as drunk as possible – using the alcohol to dull his senses and the pain; pain which varied from a steady ache at her absence from his life to a fierce, heart-rending stab when his disobedient imagination insisted on picturing what she might be doing with Riley.

         As the first week went on, he’d felt a lessening of the pull between them and knew that he was doing the right thing.  If he just stayed away from her, the claim would fade until there was nothing left of it. As painful as he was finding it not seeing her every day, to not be there when she went to sleep or when she awoke, he fought down his demon’s demands and kept out of her orbit.  He couldn’t stop himself from shadowing her occasionally, just to see her and know she was all right, but he faded back into the shadows any time it seemed as though she was sensing him and he hoped she didn’t know he was doing it.

          His plan was to give it a good three weeks or more before he approached her again, but the surprise visit from her Watcher and his request that Spike continue to help Buffy had thrown Spike into a whirl of conflicting desires.  He disregarded Giles’ probing questions about his motives for working with Buffy, handling any suggestion that he was seeking redemption with a “That’s for the bloody great poof to worry about.  I just needed a spot of violence, that’s all.”

         On the one hand, he wanted to keep his promise to the Slayer to stay away until they were sure the claim had faded completely.  On the other, the fact that her Watcher didn’t object to his helping her was one less obstacle to their continuation of the summer’s activities.  He didn’t delude himself that the Watcher would be as welcoming if he knew of or suspected their more private activities, but just to know he didn’t object to Spike’s help was a relief

        For the first time since they’d parted, he allowed himself to actively seek her out, going from one cemetery to another until he heard the unmistakable sounds of a fight.

         It was only a little after midnight, and Buffy was hoping that Spike hadn’t had time to get to every cemetery in Sunnydale yet.  The need to have a challenging fight and kill something was overwhelming and she vowed she would stake him if he hadn’t left her anything to kill.

         Oooh, this probably comes under the heading of ‘be careful what you wish for’ she thought, just before she waded into the gang of vampires she caught stopping cars and pulling the occupants out.   Once the surprised vamps got over their initial shock at being attacked by a small human woman – and after she’d turned three of them into dust particles – they regrouped and began to surround her, clearly intending to overwhelm her with sheer numbers.

          Since she hadn’t quite worked off the tension she’d felt when she left her room, Buffy discarded the idea of running away and centered herself for a good fight.  As the snarling vamps closed in on her, she flipped herself into the air and over the heads of the two approaching her from behind.  She quickly staked one through the back, while she kicked the other into the closest attacker.  She whirled and spun, dusting another one as she crippled two more with well-placed kicks to their knees.

          In spite of the built up energy she brought to the fight, as well as her own innate abilities, the sheer number of her opponents was beginning to be a factor and she knew she was tiring.  Just as the beginning tendrils of fear began to spread through her body, she saw a flash of bright hair and black leather and the vamp in front of her was flying backwards propelled by a well-placed Doc Martin boot.

          Without any conversation, they fell back into the rhythm they knew so well, and Buffy’s strength was renewed as the pleasure of fighting beside Spike gave her another shot of adrenaline.  Working together, it took them only a few minutes to reduce the number of foes to a very workable four remaining vampires and Buffy was able to take her time and work out her frustration on the large vampire in front of her.  She briefly noted that he was wearing camouflage and wondered if he’d been a commando before he was turned.

         As she punched and kicked her opponent, telling herself she was not being more aggressive simply because he reminded her of Riley, she saw that Spike had finished off two of the remaining vampires, allowing the last one to run away while he leaned against a light pole to watch her.  He lit a cigarette and basked in the sheer joy of watching her fight.

         A loud, “Buffy!” startled all three of them, and she quickly staked her distracted opponent before turning to see Riley running toward her.  He stalked right past her and loomed over the smirking vampire exhaling smoke in his face.

          “Is this how you ‘watched her back’ all summer?” he demanded, poking the smaller man in the chest.  “She fights while you have a cigarette?”

         He whirled on a completely bewildered Buffy and asked incredulously, “Is this what you call  ‘helping you?’”

          Before Spike’s low growl could escalate into something that would give him a major headache, Buffy stepped up to Riley and said tightly, “I didn’t need help at that particular moment, Riley.  It was only one vamp and I was winning. Spike knows that.  He doesn’t help me if I don’t need it.”   Like you do.

          “Then why is he even here?  If you don’t need help with one vampire, then you don’t need him.”

          “There were a few more than that when she started, you stupid git,” Spike growled, straightening up and rolling his shoulders.

         The big man looked at Buffy for confirmation and when she nodded and said, “He’s right, Riley.  I was way outnumbered and getting a little tired when he—”

           “What the hell were you even doing out tonight? And by yourself?  Why didn’t you wake me up?  I would have gone with you.”

           Buffy didn’t need the claim to know what Riley’s words were doing to Spike.  She saw the pain flash across his face before he closed it down.  Except for the slight twitch she could see in his jaw, you would have thought he was completely bored by the conversation, but she knew he’d correctly interpreted Riley’s words.

           They’d yet to be close enough for Spike to really scent her, but now that the excitement of the fight was over and she moved closer, he could smell the man all over her.  He could also still smell her arousal, which he attributed to the adrenaline-pumping fight she’d just finished.  He was shocked when she glared at her boy friend and muttered, “I didn’t want you with me.  I needed to work off some excess energy by myself.”

          Don’t tell me the selfish bastard didn’t get her off before he went to sleep on her!

         He was torn between righteous indignation that Buffy hadn’t been treated the way she should be, and delight that her boy friend was falling down on the job.  He remained as still as he could, waiting to see if the Slayer was going to go back with the still fuming man.  He had to smother a grin when she waved off Riley’s suggestion that they go back and “work on that energy problem.”

          Apparently forgetting Spike’s presence, he tried to pull her into an embrace, whispering that he was completely recovered and ready to “go again”.  The vampire was dying to know what he was recovered from, but knew he’d be inviting a stake from one or the other of them if he asked.

         Riley’ face darkened when she moved away from him and told him to go on home, that she wasn’t finished patrolling.  When he offered to stay and patrol with her, she dismissed the idea with a shrug, saying, “That’s okay, Riley. Now that Spike’s here, he can finish up with me.  You go get some sleep.”

         Buffy’s back was to them and she missed the thunderous look Riley sent toward the vampire.  Spike kept his face impassive as he met the big man’s scowl with an icy stare.

         He knew if the larger man charged him there would be little he could do except try to get out of the way, but he refused to let that knowledge show in his face.  For a tense few seconds it looked as though Riley was seriously considering attacking Spike; then his expression changed from rage to one of calculation and he turned away.

          He took a deep breath and asked Buffy coolly, “How long do you think you’ll be, baby?”

         She blinked at his abrupt change of attitude, but accepted what she though was an olive branch, saying,  “Oh, I don’t know.  I’m still pretty jumpy.  You should probably go on to your own room, rather than wait for me to get back. I’ll call you in the morning, ‘K?”

“Fine,” he agreed smoothly.  “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.  Let’s have a goodnight kiss then,” he added, pulling her to his chest and leaning down.

          She pecked him quickly on the lips and backed up before he could turn it into anything more, telling him again, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

         They stood in uncomfortable silence for several minutes after Riley had marched off toward the campus, neither one quite sure what to say.  Spike wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and kiss the taste of the other man off her lips, but he hesitated, not sure where he stood with her.  Clearly she was sleeping with the ex-commando, and for all Spike knew she had decided the whole summer was a mistake.

         Buffy was not sure how to read the closed expression on Spike’s face, so she resisted the urge to get closer to him.  She also remembered how sensitive his nose was and knew he would be able to tell she had just been having sex with someone else. 

         As usual, it was Spike who couldn’t stand the silence any longer and he finally asked, “So, how’ve you been then, Slayer.  All back at school?”

          She started walking toward the nearest cemetery, knowing he would fall in beside her.

         “Yep, I just moved all my stuff in today.”  She sent him a sideways look as she added, “I have a room to myself this year. No roommate.”

         “That so, pet?” he said noncommittally. “Didn’t sound that way to me. Seems like you had one tonight. Even if he did leave you with ‘excess energy’.”

          When she visibly flinched, he almost regretted saying it, but the solid ball of pain under his breastbone wouldn’t let him.

         “That...that wasn’t very nice, Spike,” she said softly.

        “Well, yeah. Vampire.  Evil.” He smothered the urge to drop to his knees and apologize.

         “Guess I forgot that for a minute,” she responded, then was silent again until he asked quietly,  “Why were you out by yourself so late, pet?”

          He sensed rather than saw her flush and she stammered as she tried to answer. 

         “I...I just couldn’t sleep...and I was...restless...so I just decided to go kill something.”

         “Uh, huh,”

          “What, uh huh?  Don’t you believe me?”

         “Oh, I believe you pet.  Just wonderin’ how somebody who’d just been shaggin’ her boy friend wouldn’t want to cuddle up and nap, that’s all.”

           His tone of voice left no doubt that he knew exactly why she was restless and she responded with a curt, “Go to Hell, Spike.”

          “Got that memo, pet. Pretty sure it’s a done deal.”

         Buffy stopped and sat on a tombstone, sighing in exasperation.

          “I guess I should go back...Everybody’s going to be home tomorrow and we’re meeting at the Magic Box in the morning.”

         “Yeah, so I heard.”

          She looked up at him with surprise, “You did? From who?”

          “Your Watcher paid me a visit the other day. Wants me to be an honorary Scoobie or somethin’.  Told him I’d come by but wasn’t makin’ him any promises.”

          “I’m glad he came over.  I wasn’t sure he was going to.  He expected me to ask you...and I really didn’t want to go into why we were staying away from each other,” she said with a quick shudder.  “It was so cool that he wasn’t wigged by our patrolling together.  I really didn’t want to spoil it by telling him that wasn’t all we’d been doing all summer.”

         Spike gave her a small grin.  “And my unbeating and unstaked heart thanks you for that, love.”

          She grinned back at him and just like that, they were back to the comfortable camaraderie they’d enjoyed before their enforced separation.  They strolled through the remaining cemeteries, staking a fledgling and having a good fight with another Fyarl demon before Buffy began to yawn and had to admit it was time to go.

         “So,” she said as casually as she could with her heart pounding so hard she was sure she could hear it, never mind the vampire.  “Do you think the claim is all gone?  Are you safe to be around now?”

          “I’m never safe to be around, pet,” he growled as he moved closer to her. “And don’t you forget it.”

          She just rolled her eyes and reached up to stroke his cheek, causing him to close his eyes and lean into her hand, purring.  He stiffened indignantly when she giggled at him, but allowed a small smile to curl his lips as he kissed her warm palm.

          A bolt of pure lust shot through the Slayer’s body and she gasped in surprise.  “Okay...” she said in a shaky voice, “maybe not.”

          Spike smirked at her and put his hands in his pockets.  He did his best to look relaxed and cool, but inside he was fighting to keep his hands from reaching for her.

          “Does that mean it’s still there?” she asked in a small voice.  “Cause I was really, sort of hoping...”

          “It’s gone, love,” he said almost sadly.  “I can’t feel you anymore – and I haven’t been hidin’ my feelings from you for several days, so if you have to ask me, that means it’s gone.” He touched her chin and tilted her head to one side.  “And if I didn’t know where to look for the marks, I’d never know they were there.”

          “Well, good then,” she said dubiously.  “So you can come to the Scoobie meeting tomorrow without me having to worry about somebody staking you?”

          “Guess so.  At least not for anything I’ve done to you.  You never know about the whelp – he always wants to stake me.” 

          Buffy laughed with him and shook her head.  “With Giles all on this ‘Spike’s gonna be redeemed’ kick, l don’t think Xander will get much support there.”

         “So...” She looked at the ground and shuffled her feet nervously.

          “Yeah,” he agreed, resolutely keeping his hands in his pockets.

         I’m NOT gonna touch her when she reeks of that pillock’s spendin’s.  She could beg me and I wouldn’t touch her.

          “I’m just gonna head back to the dorm, now.”  She peered at him from under her eyebrows. “You could...I mean, if you want to...”

         “You askin’ me to walk you home, pet?” he asked coolly.

         Her pride kicked in and she tossed her head haughtily,  “No, of course not.  I can walk myself home.  I just thought you might want to know—”

          “Cause that’s all I’d be doin’, Slayer,” he said flatly.  “I’ll walk you back, because I haven’t seen you for so long and I want to spend some time with you.  But that’s it.  Don’t be thinkin’ I’m going be makin’ up for soldier boy’s shortcomin’s. Not tonight.”

         Anger flared in her eyes as she glared at him.  “I never asked you to, you arrogant pig!  I just thought you might want to know which room I was in.  Obviously, I was wrong.  I won’t make the same mistake again.” 

         With a final toss of her hair, she turned and began marching off as fast as her Slayer feet could carry her with dignity.  Embarrassed tears were threatening to leak from her eyes as she realized that she actually had been thinking that Spike might be willing to finish what Riley started. 

         Oh my god. What kind of slut does that make me?  Two men in one night? And treating one who loves me like he was my own personal vibrator to use whenever I need it?

         She groaned softly and slowed down as she realized Spike wasn’t making any attempt to follow her.  Refusing to look back to see if he was watching her walk away, she continued toward the campus, her head hanging down as she continued to scold herself for her behavior.

          As she approached the dorm, she thought she felt Spike and turned around to look for him.  She had just established where she thought he was and was starting to walk toward that spot, when the feeling vanished as quickly as it had come.  She turned back around, shrugging away her disappointment, only to see Riley just emerging from the shadows near the door.

          “Riley?  I thought you went home.  What are you doing here? And why were you in the bushes?”

         “I was just waiting for you to come back, Buffy,” he lied smoothly. “I thought I heard something in the shadows and went to check it out.”

         “Why were you waiting for me?”

          “Because I want to spend some time with my girlfriend who I haven’t seen all summer.  Is that a problem, Buffy?”

         She sighed heavily, “No, of course not.  It’s just...it’s late and I was really looking forward to getting some sleep tonight.  We have a Scoobie meeting in the morning and—”

           “No problem.  I’ll just make sure you’re awake early and I’ll go with you to the meeting.”  As he spoke, he took her arm and smiled at her warmly, steering her toward the door to the dorm.

         Buffy looked around anxiously before they went in the building, not sure if she’d felt something out there or not.  Riley waited patiently, holding the door open while she looked around the quad.

        “Is there something out there, honey?  A vampire maybe?”

         She shot him a suspicious look, but Riley’s face was the picture of innocence and concern.

          Way to be paranoid, Buffy.  It probably wasn’t Spike; and even if it was, there’s no reason for Riley to think so.

         Casting one last look over her shoulder, she moved reluctantly toward the open door, mumbling, “Might have been, I couldn’t be sure.  And I’m too tired to go hunting now.  I’ll just have to hope everybody stays in the dorms till morning.”

         The morning’s news shows had the same lead story.  Vandals had gone through several of Sunnydale’s cemeteries, destroying granite tombstones, monuments and statues.  The authorities were sure it was a gang high on PCP as there was no way a normal human could have moved some of the objects that had been thrown around.

          In a crypt in one of the cemeteries, a vampire was passed out on top of a sarcophagus, both hands torn and bleeding onto the dirty floor.




Chapter Fifteen

After an unrestful and unsatisfying night, during which she faked an orgasm for the first time in her life, Buffy was tired and cranky when the alarm went off. Riley had been determined to see that they were going to “make up for lost time” and insisted on having sex again in her narrow bed. When they seemed to be going nowhere with it, Buffy pretended an orgasm, just to make Riley get off and let her go to sleep.

She leapt out of bed quickly before he could unintentionally try for another round of “let’s show Buffy how much better this is with Spike”. She grabbed her robe and some clothes and went to the bathroom down the hall to shower and get dressed.

While the hot water was running over her body, she tried to analyze what had gone wrong with them. When Riley left Sunnydale for the summer, she’d been sure she was falling in love with the ex commando. He was, she and her friends thought, perfect for her. While he was nowhere near as strong as either Buffy or Spike, he was, thanks to his size, training and fitness, stronger and quicker than most men. He knew about vampires and demons and was more than willing to help fight them. He seemed to genuinely love her, and was very sweet and considerate.

If anything, he was too considerate and caring. If she was honest with herself, she could admit that even before he went away she was feeling a little smothered by his constant attention and neediness. While he said he accepted her calling, and admired her for it, at the same time he couldn’t seem to shake the idea that it was his job to protect her and he frequently got in her way when she was slaying.

She knew instinctively that the sheer joy she and Spike shared in a good fight was not part of Riley’s make-up. His purpose was to eliminate an enemy as efficiently and quickly as possible and with a minimum amount of physical contact. He was always willing to spar with her, but it was not more satisfying than the night’s sex. He was unwilling to go all out, apparently laboring under the impression that he might hurt her. As a result, she had to hold herself back so much that she thought she might as well be sparing with Xander.

She sighed heavily as she got out and toweled herself dry.

“Why can’t he be more like Spike?” she grumbled quietly to herself as she put her clothes on. “Just like Spike, only human, and not-evil, and...argh!”

After a quick breakfast in the school cafeteria; one at which Riley chatted casually as though the last two months had never happened, they walked to the Magic Box for the Scoobie meeting.

Buffster! Riley!” Xander greeted them enthusiastically, folding Buffy in a big hug while he shook Riley’s hand. “Great to see you, guys. Together. Not that you wouldn’t be...together...cause that’s how you are...together. Right?”

The big man gave Xander a puzzled stare as he answered with, “Well, yeah, Xander. Is there some reason you thought we wouldn’t be?”

Before Xander could open his mouth to reply, Anya shrugged and said, “I guess he wondered if you would still be together after Buffy spent the whole summer with Spike.”

Xander elbowed her hard and shook his head with a sheepish grin.

“Boy, Anya, I don’t know where you get your ideas, but that one was a lulu!”

He tried to glare her into silence, but she snapped back, “What? You’re the one who said Buffy has a thing for vampires and you were worried about her spending all summer palling around with one that had—”

She glared at him indignantly when he grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the back of the store. He shot a “heh, heh, just kidding,” at Buffy and Riley as he retreated from them.

Buffy’s face was beet red and she avoided meeting Riley’s eyes, although she could almost feel the anger rolling off his body as he ground out, “You spent all summer with him?”

“Patrolling!” she squeaked. “He helped me patrol, and...”

Just then the subject of the conversation burst through the door, a smoking blanket covering his head.

The smile that started to light up his face when he saw Buffy, faded when Riley stepped forward and got between them.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded. “This is a meeting for Buffy and her friends.”

Only Buffy noticed the slight flinch when Riley emphasized “friends”; Riley only saw the cocky smirk that Spike put on as he answered, “I’m here by special invitation of her Watcher, soldier boy.” He put a small amount of stress on “boy” and smiled quietly to himself.

Bloody hell, I’m channeling my inner Angelus, today.

Riley stiffened at the reminder that the bleached punk in front of him was actually a master vampire who had been around in one state or another for over 150 years. Putting his arm around Buffy possessively, he stared back and growled, “I think he’ll find there isn’t much need for your help, now that I’m back in Sunnydale.”

He was so busy preening at his statement that he missed Buffy’s eye roll and Spike’s subsequent grin.

“We’ll see, won’t we,” Spike replied with deceptive mildness. Inside, his demon was screaming to be let out so he could rip both arms off the man who was touching his property. One look at the way Buffy was shaking off Riley’s proprietary grip and he was grateful for the chip.

Not one to be owned by anybody, my Slayer. Bloody stupid git’s gonna find that out the hard way.

Riley’s hurt complaint when Buffy threw his arm off her shoulder was interrupted by the arrival of Giles with Willow and Tara. While the girls greeted each other with hugs and squeals, the Watcher looked back and forth between the two tense men in the room and mentally rolled his eyes like a teenager.

Tara’s shy smile of hello, and Willow’s cheery “Hi Spike, hi, Riley” broke some of the tension and Spike went over to the counter and hopped up to sit on it. Xander and Anya had come from the back of the shop when they heard the girls come in and the whole Scoobie gang was soon seated around the table.

While Spike watched from his perch on the counter, Riley shifted his feet uncomfortably as he realized all the seats were taken. He settled on leaning against the wall behind Buffy’s chair where he could be close to her and still glare at the relaxed looking vampire.

Buffy was quick to assure her friends that they hadn’t missed anything by being gone most of the summer. “You know how it is in summer, guys. Evil kinda goes on vacation too.”

“So, there was nothing slay-worth?” Willow asked curiously.

“Nothing we couldn’t handle,” her friend chirped back before her brain could reach her mouth.


Giles cleared his throat and jumped in to rescue his panic-stricken Slayer.

“Yes, it would appear that Spike has been quite useful to Buffy for the last few months; assisting her with her patrolling and slaying duties as well as keeping her from going, if I am using the term correctly, ‘wiggy’ from boredom.”

“Way to go, slightly-less-evil-undead,” Xander snarked. “Buffy and boredom – always a bad combination.”

“Tell me about it,” Spike muttered with a laugh as he ducked the wadded up paper Buffy threw at him.

Riley’s face darkened as he watched the relaxed by-play between his girlfriend and a hostile. Giles was also observing their interaction with a slight frown, but his curiosity about Spike’s change in behavior allowed him to push down any disquieting thoughts about Buffy and another vampire.

“If the two people in question would settle down,” he harumphed, “I would like to discuss the possible ramifications of the summer’s activities.”

He missed the quick exchange of looks between Buffy and Spike, but neither Riley nor Willow missed the heated glances. Willow exchanged a knowing look with Tara and shook her head slightly. Tara gave her a reassuring smile and gestured briefly toward Spike’s head to indicate she had seen his aura and wasn’t worried.

Spike narrowed his eyes at the two witches and asked suspiciously, “What are you two conjuring up now?”

Willow just looked at him intently, but Tara smiled warmly, blushing as she said, “We were just wondering how much activity there actually was.” She ducked her head, embarrassed by her own comments and Willow leaped to her rescue with, “Yes, with the hellmouth being all quiet and evil being all asleep, and stuff like that. We were just wondering what you guys had to do every night.”

Spike coughed to smother a laugh as Buffy spit doughnut crumbs out on the table. Willow helpfully pounded her on the back as Buffy gasped and choked.

“A very good question,” came the cold voice from behind Buffy’s chair. The venom in Riley’s voice sucked all the humor out of the room and there was silence until Giles broke it.

“And one to which we might eventually get an answer if we can all stay on topic.”

He glared around the room and eventually everyone was looking at him attentively. Everyone except Riley, who was still staring coldly at Spike.

“As I have intimated to Buffy already,” he began pedantically, “the old Watcher’s Diaries indicate that it is not unheard of for a vampire to assist a slayer, or even some other human, in the fight against their own kind.”

He waited for that to sink in, ignoring Spike’s “Bloody Hell!”

“It is, of course, extremely rare, and has not been documented for several hundred years. However, just as Spike made common cause with Buffy two years ago to save the world from Angelus’ plans, it is not uncommon for a vampire to initiate a temporary truce with a Slayer or the Council in order to dispose of a common enemy.

“So, although Angel is the only vampire that we are aware of to be cursed with a soul...” He paused for Spike’s obligatory, “Bloody poof” and continued, “...it is certainly within the realm of the Council’s experience for one to assist in the fight against evil. It is my suspicion that the Powers That Be may have arranged for Spike to be chipped in order to push him more quickly in the direction of helping Buffy that he began during the time of Angelus. They may have chosen him to be her...umm...”

There was silence for several seconds, and then a burst of chatter as everyone tried to talk at once.

“You sayin’ the bloody Powers That Can’t Let Well Enough Alone are responsible for my chip?”

“Spike? The bleached wonder has been Chosen? Merciful Zeus!”

“I’ve certainly known it to happen. Although there’s always some sort of relationship between the slayer and the vampire. Usually something se—mmph!” Anya’s contribution was cut off by Xander’s hand.

Riley’s calm, cold voice intruded on the general babble.

“The Powers That Be, whatever they are, have chosen Spike to be Buffy’s what, Giles? What exactly are you saying?”

“Well, to be her, for want of a better term, right hand man, I suppose. Another warrior to fight at her side. An equal.”

While Riley snorted in disgust, Buffy said quietly, “Spike fights on my left.”

“Leave it to the bleached wonder not to know what a right hand man’s job is,” Xander snarked.

“This is all speculation,” Riley stated emphatically. “More supernatural mumbo jumbo. It has nothing to do with Buffy.”

Everyone in the room stared at the confident man with their mouths open.

“It has everything to do with Buffy, you stupid git.” Spike spoke for all of them. “She is Heaven’s Chosen One. D’you think she’s that strong because she takes a lot of vitamins?” he scoffed at the disbelieving young man.

“Buffy,” Riley appealed to her, “You don’t seriously believe any of this crap do you? Spike is chipped because he walked into our nets; and the only reason he isn’t dust is because he was able to escape, and you people,” he gestured around the room, “you people, who think you are standing against evil, decided to hide him from us. He isn’t your equal. He doesn’t even deserve to walk the same earth. He’s just a temporarily harmless animal that you for some reason want to keep around as a pet.”

Buffy’s heart ached when she saw the look on Spike’s face and realized how much of what Riley said had resonated with him. In spite of his quick recovery, and the cocky grin he sent toward the bigger man, she knew that Spike’s innate inferiority complex was absorbing the harsh words and believing them.

While Tara moved quickly to put a gentle hand on Spike’s arm, surprising him with her kindness, Giles turned on the outsider in the room and said with just a trace of Ripper, “You are a very stupid man, Riley.”

“Yeah, well, at least I’m in touch with the real world. I know a vicious animal when I see one, and I know what to do about it.” With a last venomous look at the vampire he whirled and stalked toward the door. Without looking back, he said, “Are you coming, Buffy?”

“I don’t think so,” she answered slowly. She was trying to reconcile the sweet man she thought she knew with the one stomping out of the shop after saying such hurtful things to her friends and her watcher.

“Fine,” he threw over his shoulder. “When you decide to face the facts about all the supernatural garbage Giles has been feeding you, you’ll know where to find me.”

There was silence again for several minutes. Even Anya seemed to be at a loss for words. Finally, Xander spoke up and offered cheerily, “Well, that went well, don’t you think?”




Chapter Sixteen

Riley’s angry exit left everyone stunned and puzzled.

“Buffy, does he know nothing about what a Slayer is?” Giles inquired, somewhat testily.  “What have you told him about your calling?”

She looked down at the table and frowned guiltily.

“I tried, Giles. Really, I did. But he just didn’t get it.  He’s all into ‘science that’ and ‘technology that’ and he was always looking for some ‘logical’ explanation for everything.  And you know me, not so much with the metaphysical stuff...I didn’t really explain things well enough, I guess.”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Xander began hesitantly, “but I think Captain Peroxide better start watching his back.   I don’t think Riley’s real happy about knowing his girlfriend is gonna be spending a lot of time in dark, lonely places with the evil undead...and somebody hit me to remove that visual, please!” he groaned.

“Your concern is touchin’, whelp; but I think I can take care of m’self,” Spike growled.

“As much as I hate to admit it, I do believe Xander may have a point, Spike.  Riley is well-versed in the methods of removing vampires, and you are not really able protect yourself as well as you could at one time.”

As Giles finished speaking, he noticed a look of true fear on Buffy’s face when she realized what he was implying.  Moving toward Spike, she grabbed his arm and began pulling him toward the basement.

“Let’s go, Spike,” she ordered.  “We can get to your crypt through the sewers from here, can’t we?”

“Yeah, but why would we—”

“We’re going to get your stuff.  You can’t stay there until I’m sure Riley is going to leave you alone.”

“So, what, you’re going to babysit me?  I don’t think so,” he snorted indignantly, yanking his arm away.   “Master vampire, here, pet.  I don’t hide behind a woman’s skirt – even it is a mini-skirt worn by a slayer,” he finished with a leer.

“You’re going to be staying with my mom.  She doesn’t wear mini skirts, but she does swing a mean axe, as you might recall.”

Giles tried to suppress a memory of Joyce helping him bring out the Ripper after ingesting band candy.  He distinctly remembered a mini skirt and his mind wandered briefly.  When he came out of his self-induced fog, Buffy and Spike were already on their way down stairs.  He could hear their voices floating back up, arguing in a joking fashion about the vampire’s need for protection.

While Spike’s demon pride was outraged that the Scoobies thought he needed help taking care of himself, his inner William was warmed knowing Buffy was worried about him.  That she cared enough to want to keep him safe more than made up for the high handed way she’d decided where and how to do it.

Spike spent most of the walk laughing at Buffy’s attempts to keep her new shoes out of the filth and water trickling along the middle of the big pipe.  He decided she looked adorable with her nose wrinkled up in disgust.  When he commented on it, she replied testily, “I’d think somebody with a super smeller wouldn’t want to be anywhere near this disgusting stuff.”

“Vampire, pet. Don’t need to breathe, remember?”

“Oh yeah.  So you are.  Silly me.” 

Without warning, she leaped onto his back and said, “So, you can slosh through this stuff with your boots that are older than I am, and I’ll hold my nose.”

Spike pretended to grumble and complain about her weight and her “thinkin’ she was a bloody princess”, but to have her touching him again, her arms around his neck and her breasts pressed into his back, had him grinning from ear to ear.  He reached around and grasped her ass cheeks to help hold her up, wishing she had jumped on him from the front.

Buffy buried her offended nose in the skin on the back of his neck, inhaling the scent of leather, tobacco, whiskey and Spike instead of the smell of sewer gas. 

Mmmmm, much better,” she breathed, nuzzling the back of his neck.

“So I smell better than sewer gas, pet?  Not quite sure how to take that.”

“You smell better than lots of things,” she said softly and fastened her lips on his cool skin briefly.

The vampire had no reply to that, he just lengthened his strides to get where they were going faster. 

When he emerged from the tunnel that connected his bedroom to the sewers, he slowed and began backing toward the bed.  As soon as he felt his knees touch the edge of the mattress, he let go of her legs and unwrapped her hands from around his neck, dropping her onto it.  He turned around to find her sitting propped up on her arms, her legs sprawled out, looking up at him expectantly.

“So what’s this about, then, love?  You really don’t strike me as the kind of woman who goes from one man’s bed to another’s all in the same day.”  He looked down and shuffled his feet uncomfortably.  “In spite of anything I might have said last night,” he added. 

Buffy shook her head and looked away from his inquisitive eyes.  “I...I’m sorry about last night.”

“No, pet,” he said, kneeling down and cupping her chin.  “I’m sorry.  I never should have talked to you like that.  I was out of line.”

“No,” she said softly.  “No, you weren’t.  I was thinking you might...” She glanced away and then forced herself to look into his eyes.  “I’m sorry. It was selfish of me, and gross and disgusting and—”

Her self-flagellation was interrupted by soft, cool lips that fastened themselves on hers and a familiar tongue that gently traced her lower lip until she opened her mouth and her sweet breath sighed into his.  She put her arms around his neck and fell back on the bed, pulling him with her.  They gave matching moans when she was once again pressed against his lean body.

The world went away as Buffy fell into Spike’s bone-melting kisses.  Once again, it was just the two of them.  On their own – no Watcher, no judgmental friends, no jealous boyfriend to worry about. 

“I missed you, love.  Missed you so much,” he murmured as he ran his mouth down her neck and flicked his tongue over the invisible bite marks.  “Missed feelin’ you, touchin’ you.  Missed bein’ with you.”

He stopped his frantic murmuring and tasting to raise his head and look into her soft gaze.

“I’ll never bite you again, love.  Not if it means I have to stay away from you like that again.  Know the demon was wrong to claim you.  Know you’ll never be mine.  Jus’ tell me you’ll let me be around you.  Let me be part of your life. Jus’ let me have my crumbs, Buffy. “

“You are part of my life, you stupid vampire.  I missed you more when the claim was gone than I did before.”

He blinked at her in complete amazement.

“You what?”

She flushed and lowered her eyes briefly, then resolutely brought them back up to meet his awed gaze.

When...when I couldn’t feel you any more.  It was like part of me was missing.  I didn’t know where you were or if you were okay....”

He continued to look at her with complete attention, one eyebrow raised as she fumbled on.

“Okay, I’m not saying I missed the ‘when you hurt, I hurt’ stuff.  ‘Cause, on the whole?  Got enough pain in my own life, thank you very much.” She shifted underneath him, bringing out an involuntary groan as he pressed his whole length against her again.

“But, I missed not knowing where you were – that you were close by.  I missed not being able to feel how much you....” her voice trailed off in embarrassment and he smiled down at her, stroking her cheek tenderly.

“Being able to feel how much I love you?” he asked softly.

Buffy nodded her head and closed her eyes against the emotion she could see in his.

“I missed that,” she whispered against his cheek.  “I really missed that.”

“It’s not gone, love,” he whispered back, trailing kisses from her ear to her mouth.  “It’s still here.  It will always be here. You might not always feel it, but don’t every doubt it.  S’not goin’ anywhere.”

“Show me.”

The vampire growled and began pulling her shirt over her head,  “With pleasure, pet.  Get those damn clothes off and I’ll show you...”

Buffy giggled and squirmed under him, trying to reach his belt buckle while he fumbled with the fastening of her pants.  He paused in his frantic pursuit of Buffy nakedness to pull one rosy nipple into his mouth and begin sucking on it, making her arch up off the bed into him.  He ran his tongue over one breast, then the other, nipping gently at the hard little tips until they were both bright red peaks of hard flesh.

He sat up briefly to pull his own shirt off and throw it across the room, then went back to opening her pants and pulling them down her legs.  While he was at the bottom of the bed, he stood up and quickly shed his own jeans.  He got back on the bed on his hands and knees and crawled up her body, planting feather-light kisses as he went.  When he reached the end of her long, tanned legs, he let his fangs come down and used them to slice through the scrap of lace that covered her neatly trimmed curls.

He carefully retracted his fangs before lowered his face and inhaling the scent he’d been missing for weeks.  With a sigh, he put his face against her and nuzzled his way into her folds, growling softly.  He heard Buffy catch her breath with a gasp when his tongue shot out to gently touch her clit and her hips jerked up.  

He smiled against her and put one hand on her lower stomach to hold her still. 

“Uh, uh, pet.  I’ve been missing this too much.  Gonna take my time and you’re just gonna have to live with it.”

“That’s just evil...” she gritted out.

“Vampire, love.”  He ran his tongue from her entrance all the way up to her swollen clit, which he then flicked with his tongue until she was almost growling at him.  When she started hissing, “Spiiiiiike” he relented and pulled the needy nub into his mouth.  As he sucked on it and gently rubbed it with his blunt teeth, she moaned and then began the whimpers that told him she was almost there.  Just as she grabbed his hair and arched up into his mouth, he let his fangs slip out and nicked her clit just enough to release a few drops of blood.

Another gasp and jerk of her body told him the bite was just enough to give her another orgasm and he smiled in satisfaction at having made his love come twice before he even entered her.  Buffy pulled on his hair until he looked up at her and grinned.

“Sorry, love, jus’ bein’ greedy.”

“Come up here and be greedy for awhile,” she purred, continuing to tug on his unruly curls. 

He crawled the rest of the way up her body, pausing to plant wet, open-mouthed kisses here and there.  He stopped when the head of his throbbing cock was just brushing her opening and she looked into his intense eyes as she said, “Come in, Spike.”

With a groan, he slid into her welcoming moist heat and was enveloped by everything Buffy.  She wrapped her legs around his and pulled his head to her neck as they started rocking together slowly. 

It wasn’t long before he was thrusting harder and faster as he felt her beginning to clench around him and she moved her feet up to cross behind his back, pulling him in even deeper.

“Love you, Buffy. Love you so much,” he chanted over and over as he drove into her.  With every thrust, the slayer’s hips rose to meet his and she breathed in rhythm with his chanted “love you’s” so that she almost seemed to be echoing him.

When he felt her internal muscles trembling as they tightened around him, he shifted into vamp face and roared his pleasure as he exploded inside her.  He fought his demon to a standstill as it struggled to renew the now-dormant claim.   Throwing himself off Buffy with a growl, he tore himself away from her warm arms and fell onto the bed beside her, shaking with need.

“Spike?  Wha...what’s the...Did I do something wrong?”

The hurt and insecurity in her voice as she turned toward him was enough to banish the demon instantly. He silently cursed Riley’s name for putting that insecurity back into the voice of the woman he’d spent the summer coaxing into reveling in her sexuality.  As he rolled over to face her worried frown, the ridges faded and the fangs receded into his gums.  He took her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing her open palm and inhaling her scent.

“I’m sorry, love.  Nothing’s wrong.  It’s just been so long, and you feel so amazing...I was havin’ trouble controllin’ the demon, is all.  Didn’t want to bite you and start the whole soddin’ mess over again.  Never want to be away from you that long, ever again.”

“Oh,  ‘k, then.” She sighed with relief and snuggled into his reaching arms. “I thought maybe I hurt you or something... she mumbled as an afterthought.

Is that what happened the other night?  She hurt the bloody wanker?  Oh, that’s just too delicious.

“Tell you a little secret about vampires, pet,” he said nuzzling her neck, “we like a little pain with our passion.  Hurtin’ me is not something you ever need to worry your pretty little head about, love.  You do whatever makes you feel good and let me worry about if it’s hurtin’ me.”

“Really?” she said with what sounded suspiciously like eagerness.  She blushed and hid her head.  “I mean, not that I would ever want to hurt you, because that would just be...weird, and perverted and—”

“And delicious fun if it’s done right,” the delighted vampire purred into her ear.

She peered up at him from under her hair, but saw nothing on his face but love and lust.  There was no sign of rejection or revulsion and she sighed in relief.

“You don’t think I’m too rough, or—?”

Again, the vampire mentally cursed the unimaginative human who had the good fortune to share her bed and didn’t know what he had.

“Buffy, love, how long were we together this summer?”

“Um...I don’t know.  Couple of months...every night?”

“Do you remember all the things we did together?  The things I did to you – the things you did to me?”  At her timid nod, he continued, warming to his subject, “Did any of those things feel weird or perverted?  Did you ever hear me complain about what you wanted to do?  Did I ever make you do anything you didn’t want to do?”

“Well, there was that time you wanted to...on top of the statue in front of the courthouse...” she ventured.

“I was drunk. Doesn’t count.  And you know that’s not what I mean, anyway, don’t you?”

She nodded her head, “yes” and relaxed back into his side.  Spike gently stroked her silky hair and whispered into her shell-like ear, “There is nothing wrong with anything two people do together as long as they both want to do it, and as long as it’s done with love and respect.  Don’t ever be afraid to try something you want to with me.  If you’re not sure, ask; just as I would ask you before I did anything I thought you might not like.”

“Says the man who ravished me in a public parking lot,” she said wryly.

“Hey!” he said indignantly, “you liked that!”

When she didn’t respond, he tilted her face up toward his and asked warily, “Didn’t you?”

“Of course, I did, dummy.  Don’t be so insecure.” She gave him a nudge and he relaxed, pulling her closer.

“Says the woman who worried I didn’t like the way she was shagging me,” he muttered back at her.

They rested in comfortable silence for several minutes, his arms around her and her fingers trailing abstract designs on his smooth chest.  When her hand strayed down toward the nest of sandy colored curls at the bottom of his abdomen, he growled softly and his cock immediately stirred to life.

“I have an idea,” Buffy said softly.

“So do I,” he responded, pulling her on to his body so that she was stretched out along his length.  He put his hands on the round globes of her ass and pulled her up so that he could put his cock between her thighs.

“That wasn’t my idea,” she said with a giggle.

“It wasn’t?” He couldn’t keep the disappointment from his voice.  “Well that’s—mmmph.”  He was cut off by warm, soft lips fastening on his and there was no conversation for several minutes while their tongues explored and tasted, stroking each other to moans and sighs.

When Buffy had to break for air, she took a minute to get her wind back, then said shyly, “If I asked you to do something, would you promise not to get all weird on me?”

His brows met in a puzzled frown.

“We just had this conversation, love. You can ask me anything. You know that.” He tipped her chin up to make her meet his confused eyes. “What could you possibly think I would get ‘weird’ about?”

“I want you to bite me,” she said so softly he wasn’t sure he heard her correctly.  “I want you to claim me again.”

“Bloody, buggering, fuck!”

“See! I knew you’d be all wigged out.”  Her lower lip came out in a pout.

“I am not ‘wigged out’.  I just don’t know what’s wrong with you!”

“You think something’s wrong with me?”

Shit. I have got to be the biggest wanker in the world he thought when he heard the fear in her voice.

Buffy was struggling against his arms, trying to get off him and away before he could see the tears starting in her eyes.  I’m such a loser, even a vampire doesn’t want me.

“No, no, baby. Stop it.  Buffy, stop!” he clutched her arms so hard he knew he was leaving bruises, although the chip didn’t fire.

“Let me go!  I’m sorry I said anything.  I thought you wanted to... Let me go, Spike!”

He flipped them over on the bed, the better to use his weight to hold her still. 

“Listen to me, love, please, Buffy.  Let me explain.”

She stopped struggling, but her lower lip was quivering and the tears that had welled up in her eyes were glistening as she forced herself to look into his anguished face.

When she quit trying to throw him off, he relaxed his hold on her arms and breathed out in relief.  Fixing his pleading eyes on hers, he willed her to believe what he had to say.

“I’m sorry, love.  Thought I was better than that at handlin’ surprises, but I guess not.”

He blew out another unnecessary breath and tried to collect his thoughts so that he didn’t say something else to upset her.

“I just don’t think you understand what you’re askin’ for, love.  When you ask me to claim you, you’re basically acceptin’ the claim.  That’s a whole different kettle of fish from what we had a few weeks ago. I just spent the worst three weeks of my life trying to stay far enough away from you to erase that little bit of a claim because I thought it was hurtin’ you.  And now you’re telling me you want me to do it again?  How the hell did you think I was gonna react?”

“I thought it would make you happy,” she sniffled softly.

“If I thought you knew what you were askin’ for, it would make me –well, happy wouldn’t begin to describe it.  But I’m not sure you do.  A mutual claim, or even an accepted claim,” he hastily added as he realized she hadn’t said anything about claiming him, “is a very major commitment.  It’s forever, Buffy.  There’s no makin’ it go away by staying apart for awhile.  We could be on different continents for fifty years and we’d still have that connection.  We’d still be able to feel each other, no matter where we were..... You’d be my mate for life, love.  I don’t think you really want that... Slayer.”

His deliberate use of her title was a like cold shower on her heart and she sighed and closed her eyes.

“I’m not sure that I don’t want exactly that, Spike.  How long do you think my life’s actually going to be?  Aren’t you the one who told me all slayers come with an expiration date?  What if my date is next Tuesday?  And I could have spent the week feeling...feeling loved and safe...and—”

Spike’s growled, “Not gonna happen.  Not next Tuesday. Not a thousand Tuesdays from now.  I’ll be dust before I let anything happen to you.  You’re gonna be the longest lived Slayer ever.”

His eyes blazed with the intensity of his emotion as he fought off the image of life without Buffy.  Suddenly her request didn’t seem so bazaar as he realized how much better he could protect her if he had that connection between them.

“Your friends and your Watcher are gonna go apeshit, love.  You know that, right?”

“They wouldn’t have to know right away, would they?  If you bite me somewhere...”—she blushed hotly— “somewhere less visible.  They wouldn’t have to know about it until they were ready to hear it.”

“And the toy soldier?” he asked flatly.

Her hand came up to stroke his cheek as she said with complete honesty, “I think that’s pretty much a no-go. Buffy and normal?  Not so mixey. Tried it, didn’t like it.”  She smiled up at him.  “Seems like I need a little monster in my man.”

She opened her legs and he slipped between them, his cock already pushing at her damp warmth.  Buffy wrapped both arms around his back and bought her legs up to wrap around his waist, effectively trapping him within her supernaturally strong limbs.

“And right now,” she added in a whisper, “I need a little of my man in Buffy.”

“How about all of your man, love?” he groaned as he filled her until he couldn’t go any deeper.

“That works, too.”

They rocked together for a while, then Buffy flexed and flipped them over.  Rather than react with angry surprise as Riley had, Spike grinned up at her and said, “Baby wants to play, huh?”

Putting her hands on his shoulders, she moved her hips up and down, almost coming off his cock each time, then slamming back down onto him.  By keeping her head down, she could watch herself rising and falling over him over and over, her speed increasing as the pressure increased within her.  When Spike grabbed her hips and began pulling her into the position that let him hit her clit with every stroke, she sat back up and arched her back, moaning her pleasure to the ceiling.

When the moans turned to the whimpering gasps that meant she was about to come, he suddenly pulled her off his cock and toward his face. Before she could complain about the loss of contact, he had sunk his fangs into her femoral artery and was pulling long, strong draughts of her blood into his mouth.  As he did, he worked her already sensitive clit with his fingers until she spasmed against his face and screamed his name.

He released her hips and licked his marks as he whispered, “Mine.”

“Yours,” she whispered back as she slid down his body to rest against his chest. 





Chapter Seventeen

When the sun was sinking below the western horizon, Buffy helped Spike put his extra clothes and some books into boxes to carry to her mother’s house.  He insisted she was not driving his “baby”, and over her objections went to retrieve his car from it’s parking place behind the caretaker’s house.

She breathed a sigh of relief when he roared up to the door and threw it open with a flourish.

“Okay, show-off.  Let’s get this stuff loaded,” she grumbled. “I want to get to Mom’s in time for dinner.”

When the car was loaded, they carefully covered the entrance to the lower part of the crypt so that, hopefully, any unwanted visitors would not know there was another level full of things worth stealing.  Leaving the crypt looking as though Spike had just gone out for the evening, they got in the car and drove to Revello Drive.

“Leave your stuff in the car until I explain everything,” Buffy instructed as they pulled into the driveway.  “We’ll bring it in after Mom says you can stay.”

Still grumbling about being babied, Spike followed his mate into her mother’s house.

Joyce was surprised, but delighted to see them and immediately insisted they stay for dinner.  Buffy, who hadn’t eaten since that morning in the school cafeteria, smiled triumphantly at Spike and agreed enthusiastically.

“I, uh, I don’t think I have any blood, Spike,” Joyce said apologetically. “But the roast beef is very rare.”

“Roast beef is fine, Joyce.  I’ll get some blood later.”

When dinner was over, and they were sitting quietly at the table, Joyce looked at the two nervous supernatural people in front of her and asked firmly, “So, what’s this all about?”

“I can’t come by my mother’s house for dinner without an ulterior motive?” Buffy did her best to look offended while Spike rolled his eyes.

“Buffy, you only moved back into the dorm yesterday.  And I haven’t seen Spike since right after I came home – I haven’t even seen any of his dirty laundry,” she said, shooting a teasing look at the embarrassed vampire.  “Now, here you both are, having dinner with me as though you do this every week.”

“Told you your mom wasn’t stupid, love,” Spike said, smiling at Joyce.

“Okay, mom.  Here’s the sitch.  Riley is kinda...bent out of shape...over Spike and me spending so much time together this summer, and then Giles said some stuff about Spike being all chosen to help me by the Powers That Be and being my warrior or something, and Riley got really mad and said it was all mumbo jumbo, and he stomped out and I’m afraid he’s gonna hurt Spike.”

She stopped to gasp for breath and looked at her mother to see how much of what she’d said how actually been understandable. Joyce looked from her daughter to the vampire she’d come to like so much and asked mildly, “And does Riley have any reason to be upset about this summer?”

Buffy looked at Spike with her deer-in-the-headlights stare and began to breathe rapidly.

“Easy there, pet,” he soothed.  “You’re going to hyperventilate.”

‘Buffy?” her mother prodded, although the look on her daughter’s face confirmed what she’d suspected since her surprise early arrival home.

Spike looked at Buffy with an inscrutable expression as he waited to hear what she as going to tell her mother about them.  He could feel her nervousness and excitement, but decided not to send any emotions back until he heard her answer.

Taking a deep, calming breath, Buffy stood up and walked over to stand behind Spike, resting her hands lightly on his shoulders.

“I suppose he does, in the whole I-didn’t-tell-him-I-was-seeing-somebody-else kinda way.  But I thought we, Spike and I, were just friends having a little summer fling.”  She felt the vampire’s shoulders tense and could feel the anger he was feeling.  Giving his shoulders a little squeeze and at the same time trying to send him reassuring thoughts, she looked her mother in the eye and continued, “But it looks like it’s not...not just a fling.  We’re together now and Riley—”

“Soldier boy wants to put a piece of pointy wood through my unbeatin’ heart,” Spike growled for her.  “And with this soddin’ chip, I can’t really do much to defend myself against humans.”

Joyce studied the two anxious people in front of her and realized with a start that they were more or less asking for her blessing.  Since Buffy had never bothered to even let her mother know when she started dating anyone else, Joyce was taken back at what that indicated about the seriousness of the relationship.  She made a quick decision and stood up abruptly.

“Well, if Spike’s going to stay here, we’ll have to set up the cot in the basement.  That way I won’t have to worry about him spontaneously combusting while I’m gone if he falls asleep watching Passions in front of the picture window.”

Buffy jumped out from behind Spike and hugged her mother. 

“Thank you, Mom,” she whispered.  “I love you.”

Smiling to herself, Joyce went to get clean linens from the closet.  While she was doing that, Spike and Buffy got his things out of the car and carried them to the basement.  By the time Joyce got there with the clean sheets, they had set up the cot and arranged Spike’s books on a makeshift shelf.  They put his duffle bags of clothes on the floor at the foot of the bed.

She handed the clean sheets to her daughter and said, “Buffy, please make up the bed.  Spike, I’d like to talk to you upstairs, please.”

Spike followed the Slayer’s mother up the stairs, feeling more like a twelve-year-old than his actual 150 plus years of existence.  When they reached the kitchen, Joyce gestured to him to sit on a stool as she faced him with her hands on her hips.

“Do you think you could be a little more specific with me than just, ‘it’s more than a summer fling?’  What exactly is between you and my daughter?”

“Not my place to tell you what she’s feelin’.  But I can tell you I love her more than my unlife.  I’ll never hurt her, and I’m gonna do my bloody best to see that nothin’ else does either.”

Joyce nodded her head and sighed heavily, “I guess my illusions about her having a normal life and giving me grandchildren to play with are just that – illusions.”

“I can’t give you grandchildren, Joyce,” he said softly,  “and the Slayer’s life was never gonna be normal. But I’ll do my best to give her as close to it as I can.  That’s all I can promise you.  That, and I’ll never leave her,” he added.

Just then Buffy appeared at the top of the stairs looking suspiciously from her mother to Spike.

“Is everything okay up here?”

“Everything’s fine, love.  We just need to get my car moved to somewhere else and do a quick patrol while you mum gets to bed.”

Joyce reached into a drawer and pulled out a key on a ribbon. She handed it to Spike with a casual, “I’ll probably be asleep when you come in. This works on both the back and front door.”

The vampire stared in awe at the small piece of metal in his hand.

“Thank you, Joyce,” he said softly as they exchanged a look that said much more than their words.

After moving Spike’s old Desoto to a rented garage, Spike and Buffy did a quick patrol of the cemeteries before heading back to her dorm.  He walked her up to her room, making a note of where it was and what was below the windows.

“I don’t want you walking back to my house by yourself,” she pouted, bringing his attention onto her lips.  He nipped at the plump lower one that she was sticking out and said, “I’ll be alright, love.  And if anything happens, you’ll know as soon as I do.”

“That’s right! I forgot.  I”ll know that you’re okay...or not.”

He put on a mock angry face.  “We get mated for life, and you ‘forgot’ already?  Guess that honeymoon’s over, huh, pet?” he teased.

“Honeymoons are for married people, Spike.  They follow weddings, with flowers and...flowers and cake, and...stuff.  Not—”

He cocked his head at her and asked seriously, “You know, to a vampire, this is a marriage.  You did understand that part of it, didn’t you, Buffy?”  He looked at her anxiously, wondering if she was having second thoughts about the claiming.

She nodded her head and moved into his arms, holding up her face for a good-night kiss.

“I know.  I didn’t mean anything by it.  I’m just tired and cranky.  Sleepy Buffy isn’t a very nice person sometimes.”

“Sometimes?” He raised his eyebrow and laughed when she thumped him on the chest.

Alright, love.  You go get some sleep and I’ll go back to hide in your mum’s basement.  Good night, sweetheart.”

Nite, Spike.  Be careful.”

“Got a lot to be careful for now, pet. Don’t worry.”

With another long lingering kiss, he slipped out the door and out of the dorm.

Buffy watch him crossing the quad until she couldn’t see him anymore, then turned away and got undressed for bed.  She turned off the light and tried to sleep, but worry over Spike kept her tossing and turning until she felt him sending her reassurance and comfort.  Smiling at the knowledge that he was now safely ensconced in her mother’s basement, she tried to project her contentment back to him as she closed her eyes and slept.





Chapter Eighteen

It took a surprisingly short amount of time for Joyce to get accustomed to having a vampire living in her basement.  When she got up in the morning, the door would be shut and there would be no sign of Spike’s presence except the washed cup in which he drank his blood sitting upside down in the dish drainer.

When she got home in the evening, he would be on the couch watching the TV, ready to tell her all about the happenings on Passions if she felt she didn’t have time to watch the episodes he taped for her.  She also found that whatever dishes she had left in the sink from her breakfast were washed and put away.

While Joyce fixed and ate her dinner, he would join her, sipping from his cup of blood, for conversation about the gallery and artists.  She found, to her surprise, that he was quite knowledgeable about art, and their conversations were interesting and stimulating.  She even found that he knew of local Sunnydale artists whose work not only deserved to be shown, but would compliment the other things in her gallery.

Most nights, Buffy would arrive shortly after dinner and, after a quick visit with her mother, she and Spike would leave for a night of patrolling.  They were both frustrated by their inability to spend the night together.  Spike could not stay in Buffy’s dorm room, as that would mean he was either walking back to Revello Drive alone or that he was stuck there all day waiting for the sun to go down.  And, while Buffy was sure her mother knew that they were lovers in the full sense of the word, she wasn’t comfortable sleeping with him in her mother’s basement and sneaking out before dawn. 

Nor would Spike hear of her doing such a thing.

“I’m not havin’ you come to shag me and then walk yourself back home like some...some...”

When Buffy raised an angry eyebrow, daring him to complete his sentence, he backpedaled quickly.

“’M sorry, pet.  It’s the Victorian man in me.  You leavin’ my bed to take yourself home unescorted just sends poncey old William into a frenzy.  Know you can take care of yourself, but...bloody hell! It’s just not right!” he finished with an exasperated huff, glaring at her very poor attempt to smother her laughter.

When she finally gave up and rolled on the floor in hysterics, he drew himself up with an offended snort.

“Laugh it up, Slayer.  Not my fault you’ve never had a gentleman before!”

As soon as she realized he was genuinely offended by her laughter, Buffy stopped and walked over to him.  Touching his chin to make him look at her, she kissed the pout on his face and whispered,  “You’re right.  I haven’t ever had a gentleman.  You’re going to have to show me how to be a proper lady, William.”

Unable to resist her pulling on his lower lip with her teeth, he began to kiss her back, mumbling a face-saving, “Not a miracle worker, y’know, love.”

They settled for ending each patrol at his crypt, making love for a couple of hours on his luxurious four poster, before parting sadly to go back to their respective single beds.  Buffy couldn’t decide if the claim was making that better or worse.

On the one hand, she could feel the love and reassurance that he sent her every night before she went to sleep and she found it a very pleasant way to nod off.  On the other, she ached for the physical contact that was so enhanced by the claim. Falling asleep lying skin to skin next to the vampire was at once the most erotic and the most comforting experience she’d ever had.  Not since she was very young, and her mother’s loving arms and warm kiss could make anything better, had contact with another person made her feel so safe and secure.

If it weren’t for her very real concerns about Riley’s less than understanding reaction to her attempts to break up with him, she would have allowed Spike to move back into his crypt just so they would have a place to stay together all night.

But the ex-commando was not receiving the message she was sending.  Or, she was coming to believe, he was deliberately misunderstanding it.

When she told him she would be patrolling with Spike every night, he insisted he would be accompanying her just in case Spike “scampered off when things got hairy.”  She finally allowed him to come with them one time, frantically sending Spike soothing thoughts when she felt the rage surge in him at the soldier’s swaggering approach.

“Just trust me,” she hissed too low for anything but vampiric hearing as they all headed for the first of Sunnydale’s many cemeteries.

She broke into an effortless jog, noting with satisfaction that both men were keeping up with her.  Riley, of course, insisted on being slightly in front, as though to meet anything evil they encountered before she could.  Buffy rolled her eyes at Spike, but allowed the big man to stay in front until a look from Spike and her own vampire sensing tingles told her there was something ahead.

Lacking their superior senses, Riley was obliviously jogging straight ahead, looking around for possible “hostiles” and wishing he still had all his infrared gear.

Suddenly, with a burst of speed that he couldn’t begin to match, Buffy flew past him and off to the left where she sensed the newly risen vamp.  When Spike blew past in a swirl of black leather, Riley broke into a sprint that still left him arriving at the scene in time to watch Buffy brushing off the dust.

“Nicely done, pet,” he heard Spike say as he nodded to their right.  “But you’re not done yet.”

Buffy whirled and caught the attacking vampire on the point of her stake.  She could see several confused minions milling around near the empty grave, clearly unsure what to do with their lord and master turned into dust by a human girl.

Ignoring Riley’s hesitant, “Buffy, I think there might be too man—” she rolled her shoulders and with a joyful “You take the ugly ones” to Spike, she did two hand springs to land behind the startled group.

By the time Riley got his stake out and approached the melee, Spike had dusted two very large and very ugly vamps, while Buffy played with the last of the three she had chosen.  Leaving Riley to attempt to stake the lone female in the group, a thin brunette who seemed more interested in running away than fighting.

Buffy threw her remaining vamp at Spike, who caught it on the point of his stake with a flourish.  They both turned to watch Riley stake his vamp, only to see her crying on the ground as he loomed over her.

“Riley, it’s me! Please don’t stake me. I wasn’t hurting anybody.  You know I wou—” Her pleas were cut off when he plunged the stake into her chest and stood over the spot breathing hard.

He looked up to see Buffy looking at him with puzzled eyes and glanced away quickly, only to meet the eyes of the vampire, which were not puzzled, but cold and filled with complete understanding.

“Riley? Why did she know your name?  Did you know her before she was turned?”

With great relief, he agreed immediately.  “Yes, yes, I did.  I think she used to work for the initiative,” he said firmly.  “That’s where I know her from.”

Buffy accepted his answer without question, but Spike just snorted and turned away.

“Yeah, well, good job there, Capt’n Cardboard.  Staking your vamp, I mean.”

“Yes, that was very good, Riley,” Buffy said cheerily.  She looked around at the loose dust and shrugged.  “Guess we’re done here.  Time to head for the next stop.”

She made eye contact with Spike and flicked her eyes toward the next cemetery.

“Last one there’s demon meat!” she trilled and took off at a speed she knew Riley couldn’t hope to match.  She could feel Spike right behind her and put on another burst of speed, joying in the physical release provided by the run as well as pleasure she got from playing with her mate.

Again, Riley arrived panting and late to watch Buffy and Spike tag teaming a large, hairy demon with spikes running down its back.  His one attempt to join them was met with a backhand swipe of a paw that knocked him to the ground and from there he watched as the lithe couple whirled and kicked, ducked and punched almost in unison.  He had to admit, as he watched them take the occasional hit, that they were much more suited to fighting something as large and strong as this particular type of demon than he was.

And when they were done, and the demon’s head had been wrested from its body by the snarling vampire, their comfortable kidding about each other’s missed opportunities and potential mistakes gave him some insight into how poorly a human man, even a chemically enhanced one as he used to be, fit in to Buffy’s usual nocturnal activities.  And, he had to admit that if she expended as much energy every night as he had seen tonight, she had a right to be “too tired” to want to see him after.

However, when she sent him back to his apartment again, while she stayed with Spike, his brow darkened and he glared hard at the smirking vampire before striding off toward the campus.

The next day, when he showed up outside her class to walk her to the cafeteria, he admitted grudgingly that Spike might be a better choice for a fighting companion.

“It’s okay, Buffy.  You made your point last night.  I can’t match what the two of you can do together.  I think I get it.  I would slow you down.  Especially now, with the drugs working their way out of my system, I’m losing what little extra strength I had.  I can see why you’d want to patrol with someone you didn’t care about losing rather than worry about protecting a human.”

Buffy stared at him with dismay.

“Riley,” she started, not quite sure what she was going to say, but knowing he still wasn’t getting the picture.  “Riley, I like you a lot. You know that, right?”

The frown on his face told her he wasn’t hearing what he wanted to hear.

“But?” he asked bluntly.

She took a deep breath and blew it out hard before replying. 

“This is really hard for me.  I’m usually on the other end of these conversations.”

“Waiting for the ‘but’, Buffy.”  He gave her no sign he wasn’t going to make her say what they both knew she was going to say.

“But I don’t think this is working out as well as I...we...hoped it would when we started dating.  There is just too much you don’t understand about my life, my calling, my...friends.”

“Are you including Spike in that?” he asked coldly.

“Yes, Riley.  I am including Spike in that.  We have become very...close in the past few months.  He is a part of my life.  An important part,” she added quietly.

“Exactly how important is he, Buffy?” He glared at her fiercely.  “Is he important enough to get a pass on staking when that chip goes?  Is this another vampire that gets to walk the earth forever because he’s ‘important’ to the Slayer?”

The venom in Riley’s usually gentle voice startled her and she couldn’t reply for a minute.

Sp...Spike’s not feeding,” she finally said uncertainly.  “And..and you met Angel. You know he has his soul.  He doesn’t kill either.”

“That you know of,” he said cryptically.  “And I’ve heard all about how stable the soul is.  Both of these vampires that seem to be so important to you are only safe because something is keeping them from killing.  What would you do if and when one of them lost those safeguards, Buffy?  What would you do then?”

Buffy stood up, her face as hard and cold as he had ever seen it,  “I would do the same thing I did the last time, Riley.  My job.  I would send him to hell.”

The big man was taken back at both her expression and her words.  “The last time?”

“Oh, did you miss that part of the story?  Yes, when Angel lost his soul, I ran a sword through his chest and sent him into a hell dimension to save the world.  I was seventeen and loved him with everything I had. I had no idea the Powers That Be would send him back after he’d suffered long enough. I thought he was gone forever. I did it then, and I would do it again if I had to.  It’s what I do.”  She stared hard at her now ex-boyfriend.  “But I will not do anything to either of them unless or until they give me a reason to.  Is that clear, Riley?”

“Perfectly,” he said coldly.  “If a vampire gets between the Slayer’s legs,” at Buffy’s start of surprise, he grinned thinly, “Oh, yeah. I’m not as dumb as you two think I am, Buffy.  As I was saying, if a vampire makes it into your pants, he gets a free pass no matter what he’s done in the past.”

“This conversation is over,” she ground out as she whirled and left the cafeteria.

Anger and guilt fueled her body and she got to the magic shop in record time.  Bursting through the door, she went straight for the training room to begin pounding on the heavy bag.

After fifteen minutes of unrelenting pounding, Giles timidly put his face in the door to inquire, “Would you like to talk about it?”

Buffy dropped her arms and let out a weary sigh.

“I just had the break-up conversation with Riley and it got a little nasty.  I figured it was better for me to take it out on the bag than on his face.”

Staring at the still-swinging bag, the older man said wryly, “And I’m quite confident his face thanks you for that thought.”

She laughed softly and managed to look ashamed and angry at the same time.  She sat down on the mats and put her head in her hands.

“He thinks I should stake Spike and Angel,” she said quietly.  “I know he thinks he’s saying it because they’re vampires...”


“But I think he’s just jealous.  He said...he said something really ugly about why I haven’t staked them.”

“Well, I can quite imagine what he had to say about Angel; but, Spike?  Surely he doesn’t think you and Spike....” his voice trailed off when she raised her head to look at him.

“Oh, dear Lord,” he murmured almost to himself.  “I had no idea you would take my rambling about the Powers and Spike being chosen so seriously.  Oh dear!”

“Relax, Giles.” She grinned at his distress, “You had nothing to do with it.  We were way ahead of you.”

“You were...oh!  Oh, my.”

He began polishing his glasses vigorously and blushing a deep red color.  When his color had dropped to a rosy pink, and the glasses were spotless, he put them back on and looked up at his Slayer.

“Who knows about this...change...in your relationship?”

“Just my mom – oh, well, and apparently Riley, and I don’t even want to know how that happened.”

“You do realize this places Spike in even more danger, do you not?”

“Yeah.  I know.  I’ll warn him tonight to be extra careful.  I think he’s safe at my mom’s though.  I don’t think Riley knows he’s there, and even if he did, surely he wouldn’t do anything in my mom’s house....”

“I certainly hope, for your sake as well as Spike’s, that you are correct, Buffy.  Please do not forget that this is a man who hid information from you for quite some time last year.  You do not really know what he may be capable of if he is sufficiently angry.”



Chapter Nineteen

When Joyce got home that afternoon, there was a large crate sitting on the front porch and she shook her head as she walked past it.

Evenin’, Joyce,” came from the living room.  “That an early Christmas present?”

“No,” she said with exasperation, “It is a very valuable and heavy sculpture that was supposed to be delivered to the gallery – not here.  Now I’ll have to hire someone to move it for me.”

“I’ll do it for you,” Spike said, following her into the kitchen.  “Got nothing to do till the Slayer gets here for patrol.  I can load it in the back of your truck and unload it for you at the gallery.  Why don’t you grab some dinner and then we’ll run it over there?”

“That’s very sweet, Spike.  Thank you.  But don’t you think we should wait until Buffy gets here? Between the two of you—”

“I’ll be fine by myself, Joyce.  Give me a chance to get out into the world a little.  I’m going a little stir crazy here –not that it’s not nice,” he hastened to add when she looked somewhat hurt. “But I’m startin’ to feel like a caged bird.”

“I don’t know, Spike.  I appreciate the offer, but if Buffy still doesn’t think it’s safe...”

“We’ll be fine.  I’ll be with you and the wanker isn’t going to do anything with the Slayer’s mum watchin’.  Come on, Joyce.  Please, huh, please?”

She had to laugh at his hopeful face and puppy dog eyes, even though she knew it was act he was putting on for her benefit.

“All right, Spike. You win.  I’ll get something to eat and then we’ll take it over to the gallery.  I’ve got some new things I want you to see anyway.”

When the meal was over, she watched anxiously as he lifted the large crate and carefully set it in the back of her SUV.  He slammed the tailgate and jumped into the passenger seat, looking for all the world like a little kid going for a ride.

As Joyce pulled out of the drive-way, neither one of them noticed a black van ease out of a parking spot down the street and begin to follow them through the dark streets.  It stayed far enough back to be almost invisible in the dark; just another pair of headlights that appeared in the rear view mirror from time to time.

At the gallery, Spike quickly got out and opened the back of the vehicle while Joyce unlocked the loading dock door.  She stood to one side as Spike carefully set the crate on the dock, then jumped fluidly up onto it and pushed the crate into the shop.  He pried it open for her and lifted the heavy work of art out onto the floor before saying,  “I’ll just go shut the car up before you show me around, Joyce.  Be right back.”

Nodding absently, she walked around the piece, making sure it was intact.   A scuffling noise from outside caught her ear and she went to the dock and peered out into the dark.

“Spike?  Spike, is something wrong?  Spike?  Where are you?”

Suddenly a black van with no markings and no lights, pulled away from the loading dock, tires squealing and engine roaring. 

“Spike?” Joyce tried once more, but she knew before the words left her lips that there wasn’t going to be an answer.  Her heart ached for her daughter as she quickly locked up the shop and turned her car toward home.

When Buffy got to her house, she was surprised, but not worried, to find her mother’s car not there.  Joyce often stayed late after the gallery was closed to catch up on paperwork and bookkeeping.  But when she entered the empty house and realized she couldn’t sense Spike anywhere, she was furious.

“That moron!  Of all the nights for him to go out without me. When I find him, I’m going to—ooooh!” The Slayer fell to the floor, limbs twitching as she felt the shock of a tazer go through her body.  She twitched for minutes, until she finally lost consciousness and awoke to find her mother frantically rubbing her face.

“Oh my God, Buffy!  What happened?”

“Where...where’s Spike?” she got out through chattering teeth.

“I don’t know.” She lowered her head and said softly, “I’m sorry, Buffy. I let him talk me into helping me carry something to the gallery.  It’s my fault.  All I saw was a black van speeding off and he was gone.”

Buffy sat up slowly, waiting for the feeling to come back to her arms and legs.

“No, Mom.  It’s not your fault,” she said in a tone her mother had never heard before.  “It’s Riley’s.”

“What happened to you?  Did he come here first?”  Her mother looked in bewilderment at her seemingly uninjured and yet obviously debilitated daughter.

“No, he hit Spike with a tazer to knock him out.”


“I’ll explain later.  I have to find him.  Will you call Giles for me, please?”

“How will you find him?  Shouldn’t you wait for Giles?”

“I’ll know where he is.  At least I will as soon as he wakes up.”

Cursing herself for not completing the claim and giving her that telepathic connection that Spike had alluded to, she went to the phone herself to call her watcher.

“He has Spike,” she said tersely when he answered.  “I’m at my mom’s, I’ll wait for you here.”

She then picked up the phone and called Willow and Tara to tell them she might be needing a locater spell and they promised to arrive as quickly as they could.

While she waited impatiently for her help to arrive, she paced the floor, muttering threats to both Spike and Riley for putting her through this.  Joyce went to the kitchen to fix hot chocolate for the arriving Scoobies, vowing to have a long talk with her daughter once they recovered Spike.

Just as Giles came through the door, Buffy’s head flew up and she grabbed the sides of it, screaming.  When the scream had tapered off to a moan, she opened bleary eyes to see the worried faces of her mother and her surrogate father staring at her.

“Guess Spike woke up and tried to leave,” she said weakly, as Giles helped her to the couch.  As the pain faded, she could faintly feel his confusion and anger coming through the claim.  There was a surge of rage, and then her head snapped back as she felt Spike take a hard blow on the chin.

“Buffy!  What’s happening?  What’s wrong?”

“He’s beating him,” she gasped through the pain flowing to her from the vampire.  “He’s, aaaah!, he’s breaking his bones....Spike!”  She fell back on the couch, crying in pain and fear. 

Her watcher grabbed her face and made her look him in the eye as he asked firmly, “Tell me what is happening.  Why are you in pain?”

“Spike... He... I...  Call Angel. He can explain it.  He needs to come. Tell him I, we need him.”

She fell back on the cushions, moaning and crying out periodically.

The Watcher went to the phone and dialed Los Angeles only to be met with Cordelia’s “What’s wrong with her now?” 

There was some scuffling and arguing and then Angel was on the phone.  “Yes, Giles. What is it?  I apologize for Cordelia’s... What?  He did what? And she knows this because...”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” Giles said quietly. “I only know of one thing that would give them that kind of connection.  I was hoping you might have another idea.”

“That son of bitch claimed her,” Angel growled, thereby removing any hope of another explanation. “I’ll kill him!”

“Actually, Angel, I believe Buffy is expecting you to come and assist us in locating him before Riley turns him to dust. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he appears to be in no hurry to do that.  However, the pain he is inflicting on Spike is preventing Buffy from going to his rescue.”

“I’m leaving now. Be there in two hours.”

The phone was dead in Giles’ hand and he slowly replaced it in the cradle as he turned to look at his slayer.  Buffy was lying on the couch, breathing hard, but with clear eyes.

“Buffy?” he asked hesitantly.

“He’s unconscious,” she said flatly as she struggled to sit up.  “Either that, or he’s blocking it somehow.”

“Can he do that?” Giles asked, polishing his glasses.  Neither of them bothered to pretend not to know what they were talking about.

“He can make it less; but I don’t think he could totally block that kind of pain.  I think he’s unconscious.”

“He could be...” Giles looked at her sympathetically and heard Joyce gasp when she realized what he was implying.

“No.” Buffy said flatly. “I’d know.”

The older man nodded his head and sat down heavily in a chair. 

“Angel’s on his way,” he said softly.

Buffy nodded and rested her head on the back of the couch.  “Good. He should be able to help me find Spike.”  He head shot back up.  “Did you tell him?”

“I didn’t have to.  He knew as soon as I told him what was happening.”

“Shit,” she groaned, dropping her head back down and ignoring her mother’s shocked, “Buffy!”

“Indeed,” her watcher agreed.  “I believe it will be a toss-up which one wants to kill Spike the most.”

Buffy tried to sit up again.  “I should go now, while he’s unconscious and I can function.”

“I really wish you’d wait for Angel,” Giles said.  “If he attacks Spike again, you will be helpless.”

As much as she hated to do so, Buffy had to admit Giles was right, and she forced herself to wait for the arrival of Spike’s grandsire before she went looking for him.

However, when Willow’s locator spell showed that Riley was holding Spike in an abandoned factory near the waterfront, Buffy refused to wait for Angel, telling Giles to send him after them as soon as he got there.  Against her mother’s protestations, and her watcher’s grumbling, she ran out the door heading for the waterfront and the man who was hurting her mate.




Chapter Twenty

Spike woke slowly and sent out his vampiric senses before he tried to open his eyes.  As consciousness came back and his memory returned, so did the pain in his broken bones.  When he felt Buffy’s fearful response to his pain, he immediately damped down the claim as much as he could in his condition. In addition to wanting to spare her the pain he knew she was getting from him, he didn’t want her distracted from her search to find him.

He never doubted for a second that she was on her way to rescue him.  Even without the reassurance he could feel coming from her, he would have known she was coming. 

It’s what she does, my beautiful girl.  She rescues people – even vampires.

Memory of who had beat him and why surfaced, and he flexed his arms to see if the chains he remembered being anchored to were still there.  He could feel blood trickling down the back of his head and wondered briefly how and why the much larger man had hit him back there.

The sound of the chains clanking brought Riley back into the room to observe his prisoner. 

“So, you’re awake again,” he remarked.  “Let’s see what I can do to make it interesting for you.”

As he spoke, he walked over to the immobile vampire and waved a large knife at him, clearly hoping to see fear.  He was gratified, although somewhat surprised, to see that Spike was, in fact, frightened.  He hadn’t really expected it to be that easy.  Mistaking completely the reason for Spike’s concern, he puffed himself up and said, “Yeah, that’s right, vampire.  I’ll teach you to touch my girl.  We’ll see how she likes you when she sees you crying and begging for me to stop. I think I’ll start with that prick she seems so fond of.”

“You won’t just be hurtin’ me, you stupid git.  You’ll be hurtin’ Buffy every time you cut me.”

Riley had expected all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t begin cutting on Spike; but that was certainly not one of them.  It was so ridiculous, it almost sounded real; but he quickly discarded it as an attempt to avoid more pain.

“Right,” he sneered, “I suppose this is more of your vampire mumbo jumbo.”

“I claimed her.  We’re bonded.  Did they teach you nothing in that soddinlabratory?”

“I knew you’d be a coward about this, but I had no idea you’d try to drag Buffy into it.  You’re pathetic,” Riley blustered.  He wanted very badly to believe Spike was lying, but he knew there was a great deal more to know about demons than he had been taught in the Initiative. He hesitated for just a minute, then went back to his original plan.

“I know you can’t bleed to death like a human,” he said coldly, “but it would be an interesting experiment to see exactly how much blood you could lose before the need to feed could override the chip.  That would have been one of the experiments we could have done on you while we had you in the lab, if you hadn’t escaped.”

“Pretty stupid move, there, Cardboard; since the only thing I see to feed on in here is you.”

“Oh, don’t worry.  I’m pretty sure your next snack is on her way here already.  I just need to be sure you’re hungry enough to appreciate it when she gets here.”

“She? You can’t seriously think I’d ever...”

“We’ll find out, won’t we?  I’ve been doing some research on my own, and going over the results of the Initiative experiments.  It seems like blood lust is just about the strongest thing going for the undead.  It’s even more powerful than ordinary lust,” he finished with a meaningful look.

“I won’t touch her,” Spike said with no expression.  “I’d starve first.”

“So you say now,” Riley said as he ran the knife down the front of Spike’s body, slitting the tee shirt and allowing a growing line of red to spread out from the cut.  “I think you’ll change your tune by the time I’m done with you.”

Slowly and methodically, the ex commando used the knife to bleed the vampire.  He watched with interest at the slowly growing pool of blood collecting under the table to which Spike was chained.  As he watched the vampire gradually weaken, he knew that the broken bones he’d inflicted on Spike earlier would prevent any sudden movement on the vampire’s part.  When he was comfortable that Spike would be unable to move quickly enough to catch him, he unlocked the chains and stood away from the table.

Spike looked at him with amber eyes that glittered with hunger.  His face was ridged and frozen into a snarl as the starving body yearned toward the blood he could hear pounding through the big man’s veins.

Riley looked at the snarling, snapping vampire with satisfaction.

“Oh, yeah.  This will do.  Even Buffy will have to see where her duty lies now. ”

At the sound of footsteps echoing through the open door, he threw a wooden stake on the floor and slipped out a side door.

“By the way, Spike,” he said as he left the room, “the chip is out.”

Buffy approached the warehouse with caution, even though everything in her body was screaming at her to rush in and rescue her mate.  She noticed the van her mother had described and saw that the door was open as though the driver had been in a hurry to get his cargo inside.

This close to him, she could feel Spike in spite of his attempts to mask the pain for her.  Suddenly she was hit with a stab of hunger so powerful it brought her to her knees and she fell to the floor gasping for air.  The masking Spike had been doing was gone as the demon took over in the starving vampire and she remained on the floor, moaning in pain and swearing in anger at her helplessness.  Forcing herself to remember that her bones were not broken, and her body was not bleeding, she summoned the will to move forward toward the opening that she knew would lead to the source of the pain and hunger she was feeling.

Back on Revello Drive, a dark sports car roared into the driveway, barely stopping before Angel and Cordelia jumped out and ran to the door, which Giles was opening for them.  They hesitated on the threshold only long enough for Joyce to say grudgingly, “Come in, Angel,” before entering the house.

Nodding his thanks, Angel stepped into the room and looked around.

“Where’s Buffy?”

“She left already,” Giles sighed. “She refused to wait.  She wanted to get there while Spike was unconscious and she couldn’t feel...”

Angel turned his angry gaze on Willow and asked simply, “Where?”

The frightened witch held out the map and pointed at the building where they knew Spike was being held.

“It’s over by the—”

“I know where it is,” he cut her off and whirled toward the door.

When Buffy didn’t immediately run into the room where Spike was struggling to get off the table, Riley frowned and moved to where he could see the rest of the warehouse.  He watched in amazement as she pulled herself across the floor, tears streaming down her cheeks as she forced her body on.

He ran out to her, oblivious to the feral look in her eyes, and pulled her to her feet.

“Buffy, what’s wrong?  Are you hurt?”

The incongruity of his being worried about her physical well-being, even as he was setting up her for what he hoped would be a devastating emotional ordeal, didn’t bother him for a second.  In order for her to do what he was confident she would once she saw and was attacked by chipless Spike, she needed to be physically ready.  And the way she was wincing and struggling to stand erect did not fit with his plan.

“Get out of my way, Riley,” she got out through her gritted teeth.  “I need to get to Spike.”

“Oh, I know that, Buffy.  I know you do.  Here, let me help you.”

The big man picked her up and carried her to the open doors of the room in which Spike was still struggling to sit up.  He set her down in the doorway and pushed her inside, saying, “There he is.  You know what you need to do.”

When she turned to look at him with a puzzled frown, he added, “By the way, Slayer, the chip is out.”

He slammed the two doors closed behind her and dropped a bar across them.  He then ran up to a cat walk that overlooked the lower room to watch as the Slayer and the starving vampire faced off.

Buffy froze just inside the door when she took in what she was seeing.  A gaunt, skeletal Spike was clinging to a blood soaked table, balancing on the one leg that appeared to be unbroken.  She didn’t even bother to register that he was in game face as she ran to his side and gently tried to put him back on the table.

“Oh my god, Spike.  What did he do to you?”  Tears fell onto his bloodied shirt as she ran her hands over his body, assessing the damage. She ignored the strangled snarls coming from the vampire as his demon fought to mark his property again.

“Buffy!” Riley shouted from the cat walk, “The stake!  Get the stake!” He was pointing frantically at the wooden stake he’d left on the floor for her.

She glanced up once, then disregarded her ex boyfriend as she determined what needed to be done to help Spike recover.   Baring her neck and holding his head against her throat, she said softly, “Here, baby.  Drink from me.  Let’s get you back on your feet so we can leave this place.”

Above, a panicked Riley began to rave as he watched her present her throat to the growling vampire.

“Buffy! Stop!  What are you doing?  Oh my god, he’ll kill you!”

“No he won’t,” came a deep, cold voice right behind him.  Something about the sound made Riley’s hair stand on end and he turned slowly to find Angel blocking his exit from the catwalk.

Swallowing hard, he gestured below.  “Yes, he will.  I...bled him almost dry.  He should be completely controlled by his blood lust by now.  She has to stake him.  It’s the only way to save herself.”

Completely unconcerned with what was going on below, Angel leaned toward the other man and asked in a deceptively mild tone, “So you’re the one who did this to my grandchilde? You beat him and bled him?”

Riley had never been comfortable around Buffy’s ex.  In fact the only time he and the soulled vampire had met they spent most of the time fighting. But the jealous anger he’d seen on the vampire’s face that time was nothing compared to the frightening aspect facing him now.  His blood ran cold as found himself looking into the amber eyes of what he could only assume was Angelus.

He whirled in an attempt to run the other way on the narrow walk, but only got a step before a large hand closed around his arm and he was yanked back.  He gave a frightened yell as he felt himself tossed over the side to land in a painful heap on the cold floor below.  Angel jumped over the railing to land easily beside him and hold him in place with a meaty hand.

“Watch and learn, boy,” he growled as they looked at the couple leaning against the table. 

Buffy and Spike were ignoring the activity around them, as the demon nuzzled her neck before gently sinking his teeth into her flesh.  Buffy gave a happy moan when she felt her blood being pulled into the vampire’s mouth and felt the energy that immediately infused his body.

Spike took only enough to make the demon recede and his bones begin to heal, before pulling his fangs out and licking the wounds closed.  He slid his arms around Buffy’s trembling body and whispered, “Thank you, love.”

For several minutes they held each other and allowed the mutual feelings of relief and love flow back and forth between them.  Finally, Buffy straightened up and turned to face a furious and still clueless Riley.

  “What did you do to him?” she asked in a voice that was pure Slayer.

“I took his chip out.  And he bit you, so obviously you have to kill him now.”

Riley’s words were much more certain than his tone of voice as he took in the way Buffy was leaning into the still-weak vampire, showing absolutely no inclination to pick up the stake still lying on the floor.

She cocked her head and looked at her former lover for a good minute before she asked softly, “I thought you cared about me, Riley.  Why would you try to make me do something that would hurt me that much?”

She looked at him with genuine bewilderment as his face darkened and he threw off Angel’s restraining hand.

“Because you’ve forgotten what your real mission is.  You’re more vampire layer than Slayer.  Slaying is what you were supposedly ‘called’ to do, the other is just...disgusting and sick.  You needed to be shocked out of this obsession you have with vampires.”

“Says the man who reeks of vamp whores,” Spike wheezed out through his rapidly healing throat.

Riley dove for the stake lying on the floor and rolled past it to spring to his feet facing the three astonished and powerful beings.  He moved toward Spike, saying coldly, “If you won’t do your duty, Buffy, I’ll have to do it for you.”

While Spike struggled to stand erect and meet the much larger man advancing on him with a stake, Buffy stepped in front of Spike to say quietly.

“You really don’t want to do that, Riley.”

He paused momentarily at the look on her face, then shrugged, “Don’t try to stop me, Buffy.”

“Are you insane?” she asked him, waving her hands in the air.  “Hello! Pissed off Slayer here, master vampire there.”  She gestured toward Angel who had moved closer to them. “And extremely pissed off, unchipped vampire also right here.  Do you have a death wish?”

Riley shrugged again.  “I’m human, you can’t kill me.  And he’s still too weak,” he said, gesturing toward Spike.  “And your other undead lover has a soul, as you keep reminding me.  So, I’m figuring I’ve got a pretty good chance of ridding the world of this vermin.”

He again moved in Spike’s general direction, only to find himself once again face to face with Angel.

“Buffy, why don’t you go outside while Spike and I have a talk with the boy?” he said softly.

Riley’s calm assurance was shaken when he saw Spike’s head whirl toward the older vampire.  Something about the worried look on Spike’s face made Riley’s balls clench.

“Now, Peaches, I know finding out about me and Buffy didn’t give you any kind of a happy, so what’s with the Angelus imitation?”  He studied his grandsire a little longer, then relaxed. “ Don’t tell me you’re alright with us being bonded?”

“Buffy,” Angel repeated, never taking his eyes off the soldier,  “please leave us for a while.”  He spared a quick glance at his grandchilde.  “I’ll talk to you later, Will.   And no, I am not alright with it.  But you’re mine to deal with, not his.  And, Buffy?” he added, “Close the door behind you,”
Buffy looked back and forth between the man who had beaten and tortured her lover and the vampire who she had once thought was her true love.  She could feel Spike’s assurance flowing through her and knew that, as scary as Angel appeared to be at the moment, it was Angel and not Angelus.  She breathed a sigh of relief that she was not going to be forced to stake the other vampire that was part of her life and with a chaste kiss on Spike’s cheek, she moved to the door.

She pushed against the double doors until she snapped the bar on the outside.  Behind her, Riley was beginning to realize that he was being left alone with two vampires famed for their torture and killing sprees throughout Europe.

“Buffy!” he shouted.  “You can’t leave me in here with them.  I’m human! You have to protect me!”

She met his suddenly frightened eyes and then turned to look at the burly vampire glaring at him.

  “I’ll be outside, Angel.  Don’t be too long, I want to get Spike home.”

With a finality that terrified her former boyfriend, she closed the double doors and walked away.

Inside the blood-soaked room, Riley made one last attempt to avoid the fate that seemed to be awaiting him.  He hefted the stake in his hand and said hopefully, “You have a soul.”

As the old vampire moved swifter than the eye to snatch the stake away, he said slowly,  “It’s not a chip, boy.  It’s just a soul.  Just like yours.”




Chapter Twenty-One

While a defenseless Riley pressed himself into the corner of the room, Angel turned to look at Spike critically.

“You look like hell, Spike.”

“Yeah, well, Buffy’s blood was right refreshin’, but I couldn’t take enough to really heal up.  I’ll be all right once I get some more sustenance.”

He leered in Riley’s direction and laughed when the soldier cringed, then stared in amazement as Angel went into vamp face and slashed his own wrist with his teeth.

“Here, boy,” he said gruffly, holding out his dripping arm.  “Not quite Sire’s blood, but close enough.”

Spike moved very slowly toward the offered wrist, trying to get his mind around the fact that Angel was not only not beating on him for touching Buffy, but was actually offering his own blood to help him get better.

He took a tentative lick of the potent blood, then his demon came to the fore and he latched onto the older vampire’s wrist, gulping greedily.  He could feel the potent blood mixing with the already powerful Slayer blood to strengthen and heal his battered body.  When he felt Angel pulling his wrist away, he struggled briefly to keep it there until Angel said, not unkindly, “That’s enough, Will.  We’ll get you more later.”

Spike reluctantly let go of Angel’s wrist, still in game face and with blood smeared on his lips.  As one, the two vampires turned amber eyes on the large man huddled in the corner of the room.  When Spike slowly licked the blood off his lips and began stalking toward him, Riley was embarrassed to realize he had defecated in his pants.  He could feel the moisture going down his leg as his bladder also let go.

With their superior senses, both vampires caught the scent of his fear at the same time and shared a laugh that reminded them both of years spent perfecting ways to terrify their human prey.

“What do you think, Will?  Your way or my way?”

Spike didn’t have to ask what the other vampire meant.  Spike’s way was always to hunt, kill – preferably after a good fight, feed and then go do it again.  Angelus preferred to take his time, playing with his prey and tormenting them until he drove them mad with fear. Then he killed them.

Spike licked his lips as he stared hungrily at the man who had been abusing him verbally and physically for so long.  The man who was responsible for his being captured and chipped in the first place.  He could see his own thoughts about how much he owed Riley reflected in the man’s frightened eyes.

He could also see in his mind Buffy’s warm eyes looking at him with trust and affection, and he knew that his first act as an unchipped vampire could not be to drain someone she used to care about.  He reached out with the claim and tried to assess what she was feeling.  There was relief that he was safe, anger clearly directed at the cowering soldier, and just the barest beginning of worry as he and Angel stayed in the room longer than she would have expected them to.

He could feel her begin to regret leaving them alone with Riley, as her anger faded and her responsibilities as a Slayer worked their way back into her consciousness.  He knew if he followed his inclination and ripped the throat out of the man who’d tried to make her kill her lover, that it would change the way Buffy felt about him.  Perhaps not right away, but over time it would erode the trust he’d built up between them.

He shook his head with regret and looked at Angel. “I guess it’s gonna have to be your way.  Don’t fancy facing the Slayer with his blood on my fangs.”  He spoke too softly for Riley to hear.

Angel shrugged his large shoulders and said, licking his lips, “That works for me.”  He made no attempt to lower his voice, as he knew Riley would have no idea that they had just agreed to terrify him, but leave him alive.

Both vampires stalked toward Riley, wrinkling their noses at the smell coming from him.

“Much as I like the scent of fear,” Angel said with a snarl, “this stench is disgusting me.  Get out of those clothes,” he growled at the smelly man in question.

Without questioning, Riley scrambled to obey, shedding his military fatigues and his GI boxers.  He cringed back when Spike approached him with the knife he’d been wielding himself such a short time ago.

“Now then, Capt’n Cardboard, what was it you were tellin’ me you were gonna do with this knife?  Cut off my balls, was it?”  He waved the knife in the general direction of Riley’s groin.  “Or was it my dick you were so anxious to be handlin’ and cuttin’ on?”

Riley covered himself with both hands, pleading with the vampires to let him go.

“No, no. I was just talking.  I wouldn’t have done that.  I just wanted to scare you. I’m sorry.  Really, I am....” He continued to babble apologies and excuses as he retreated further along with wall.  Riley backed up along the wall almost all the way around the room, the two vampires strolling slowly after him, Spike idly twirling the knife.  When he reached the table where he’d had Spike chained down, Riley stopped, unable to go any farther.

“Oh look, he stopped just where we need him.” Spike’s eyes glinted malevolently.  “Still got the chains handy, too.”

They grabbed the now gibbering soldier and tossed him onto the bloody table like he weighed no more than a puppy.  While Angel held the squirming man down with one hand, Spike proceeded to wrap the chains around Riley’s arms and legs, pretending to fasten them to the table.  He then stood up and handed the knife to Angel.

“You want to do the honors, Angelus?  This is more your thing than mine.  I’d be content to just rip his head off and eat his entrails. You’re the artist in the family.”

Angel took the proffered knife carefully and weighed it in his hand as he studied the terrified man before them.  Lying on the table soaked in Spike’s blood, with traces of feces and urine running down his legs, and shaking in fear, Riley looked nothing like the confident, clean-cut boy from Iowa that Buffy had met the previous year.

When Angel leaned over him with the knife as though looking for the best place to start cutting, Riley began to scream as loud as he could.  Spike could feel Buffy’s anxiety when she heard the screams, as well as the pain she was feeling at the thought of what he was doing.  He caught Angel’s eye and said quietly, “We need to wrap this up before I have to spend the rest of the night apologizin’”

Nodding his head, Angel lifted Riley’s limp dick and said cheerily, “So, should we begin here? What do think, Spike?  I’ve always found this to be a real ice breaker.”

Before Spike could answer, Riley’s eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out in the slimy puddle of blood and filth.

“Well, that was just...disappointing,” Angel said in disgust as he dropped the knife on the floor.  “I thought we’d at least get a few more girlish screams out of him.”

“Yeah, he was no fun at all,” Spike agreed as they both slid into their human faces and started toward the doors. 

Just as they reached the doors, they flew open and Buffy burst into the room. 

“Spike.  Angel!  I changed my mind.  I can’t let you...” her voice trailed off as she saw the unconscious man lying on the table.

“What did you do to him?” She turned frightened eyes to her current and former vampire lovers.  “And, ewww, what is that smell?”

“We didn’t do anything but scare him a little,” Spike said with a pout. “And he shit his pants – that’s what you’re smellin’.”

“You scared him a little?” she raised her eyebrows, gesturing at the unconscious man on the table.

“Yeah, I’m a bit out of practice,” Angel admitted.  “I was hoping to make him scream again. I wasn’t planning for him to faint yet.”

Buffy put her hands on her hips and looked back and forth between the two innocent looking vampires suspiciously.

“So, you didn’t hurt him?  You did all this without touching him?”  Her tone of voice implied she didn’t believe them for a minute, although she could sense Spike was telling the truth.

Cross our unbeatin’ hearts, love.  Didn’t so much as pull off a fingernail.”

“Damn! Why didn’t I think of that?  I really am out of practice...”

She shot Angel a look that promised she would be monitoring activities in LA more closely for a while, then flicked her hair and turned around.

“’K, then. Let’s go home,” she said, walking out the door and leaving Riley to wake up on his own torture table.





Chapter Twenty-Two

The ride back to Revello Drive was quick and quiet.  Spike was not as recovered from his ordeal as he had pretended to be, and he was slumped against Buffy’s shoulder before they’d left the parking area. 

Angel drove in silence, casting the occasional glance over at his former girl friend and the younger vampire that had been the bane of his existence for years.  He watched Buffy’s gentle stroking of Spike’s cheek and saw the way she was looking at him.  He had no doubt about Spike’s feelings for Buffy.  Spike had always loved the way he did everything else– all out; and Angel had already seen it on the younger vampire when he’d interrupted their night out in LA.

He knew that the closeness he was seeing, and the fact that Buffy had let Spike claim her were the things that Lorne had seen in their singing and been so reluctant to tell him that night in Caritas.  And, he had to admit to himself, he would not have taken it well if he’d been told about it then.

Now, however, he forced himself to accept that Buffy had moved on.  Spike was certainly not what he would have chosen for her; but he knew that in Spike she had someone who would love her until death and would protect her with his own life.  Someone who understood her life and accepted it completely.  He pushed down the questions raised by Spike’s ability to do these things without the soul that was the only thing keeping Angelus at bay.

The next time he glanced over at Buffy, she was looking up and their eyes met briefly.  “Thank you,” she mouthed at him over Spike’s head.  He gave her a nod and a brief, sad smile before turning back to the road.

When they reached Buffy’s house, she whispered in Spike’s ear, urging him to wake up.  He raised his head and looked around, then groaned and forced himself up.  He got out of the car, then staggered as his knees gave way.  Buffy’s shoulder was under his arm in an instant, her arm around his waist supporting him.  After a second’s hesitation, Angel silently took Spike’s other arm and they all walked to the door, the injured vampire stumbling between his grandsire and his mate.

Willow had been watching out the window and raced to open the door before the threesome got there.

“Spike?”  Joyce’s concern was evident as she watched Buffy and Angel half drag, half carry him into the living room.  “What happened to him?”

“Nothing a little blood can’t fix, Joyce.  Don’t worry yourself.  I’ll be fine.”

Those reassuring words used up what little energy he had left and he gratefully collapsed onto the couch when Angel and Buffy deposited him there.

There was an awkward silence for a minute, which then broke as everyone spoke at once.

“Where...what happened to Riley?”

“Who bit your neck, Buffy?”

“I’m just going to go warm up some blood for Spike and make some hot chocolate for the rest of us.”

“Can we leave now?”

This last, from Cordelia, brought everyone’s attention to the tall brunette.

“What?  Spike is rescued – for whatever reason,” she rolled her eyes to indicate her complete lack of understanding, “and I have an appointment at the hairdresser’s this afternoon.”

“I think you’re going to have to cancel, Cordy,” Angel said with an apologetic shrug.  “It’s going to be daylight pretty soon.  We’ll have to stay here until tonight.  If that’s all right with Joyce, that is,” he added quickly.

Reminding herself that the broody vampire had just helped her daughter save the man she loved, she nodded her head graciously and indicated the door to the basement.

Of course.  You can use Spike’s bed downstairs.  Cordy, you’re welcome to use the spare room upstairs.”

While the two visitors from LA thanked Joyce and went to their respective beds, Buffy sat beside Spike and made sure he drank every drop of the pig’s blood her mother had warmed for him.  She knew he would need human blood to replace all that he had lost, but decided to wait until her mother and Giles weren’t around for that.

Buffy quickly filled her mother, Giles and Willow in on what Riley had tried to force them into by draining Spike.  She deliberately did not mention that he had taken the chip out of Spike’s head.

“So,” Giles said slowly, “his intention was to bleed Spike to the point that his bloodlust would override both the chip and his feelings for Buffy?  He was assuming, I presume, that you would then stake him for attacking you. Is that correct?”

“Yeah, that was pretty much his plan.”

“And why didn’t it work then?”

Spike struggled to sit up straight as he said indignantly, “Because he’s a bloody moron who knows nothing about vampires and claimin’.”  He stopped abruptly when he remembered that her watcher probably knew a great deal about vampires and claiming and he waited cautiously for Giles’s reaction.

“Quite right,” he surprised them by saying.  “He didn’t realize that you would never harm your...mate.  But surely he had prepared for the possibility that Buffy would refuse to stake you?”

“He might have, but he didn’t count on Peaches showin’ up,” Spike admitted grudgingly.  “Ol’ grandpa’s still the head of the family, soul or no soul, and he wasn’t a happy camper.”  He paused for effect, then added, “Which is prob’ly a good thing for Capt’n Cardboard, all things considered.”

Everyone in the room shuddered at the thought of Angel being really happy and thus Angelus making an appearance.  Each was lost in his or her own memories of the unsoulled vampire’s previous time in Sunnydale.

“I take it then, Riley is still alive?”

Alive and untouched.  The only thing we damaged was his pride.  Now he knows what it feels like to be helpless and to brass off a couple of old vampires,” he finished with a growl.

“Yes,” Giles cleared his throat.  “Well then, let us hope that he has learned a lesson and we do not have a repetition of tonight’s events.  I fear that the next time, if there should be a next time, he could be more prepared.”

“This time he walks.  If there’s a next time...he doesn’t.”  The Slayer’s tone of voice allowed no dissent and surprisingly, no one in the room seemed inclined to disagree.

With that final conversation, the people who had been up all night began yawning and thinking about sleep.  Giles politely refused Joyce’s offer to stay there and left for his apartment.  Willow was more than willing to curl up on the couch when Buffy pulled Spike to his feet and pushed him toward the stairs.

Joyce made no comment as Buffy helped Spike navigate the staircase.  She listened as her daughter murmured to the vampire in the bathroom and she knew Buffy was cleaning up the blood still drying on his body.  With a wisdom she’d just discovered she had, she remained downstairs in the kitchen until she heard the shower stop and the door to Buffy’s room open and close.  Then, with a sigh, she followed them upstairs and, after throwing away the bloody remnants of Spike’s clothes and putting the dirty towels in the laundry chute, she went into her own room and fell into a grateful sleep.

Buffy had held Spike up in the shower long enough to wash the blood out of his hair and off his body.  She then quickly dried them both off and scooted across the hall to her bedroom, coming back with an old pair of sweats for him and a nightshirt for herself.  As soon as they were dressed, she led him to her room and watched him painfully lower himself onto the bed.

After locking the door, which brought a quirked eyebrow from the vamp, she slid in beside him and snuggled up under his chin.  Although he wrapped his arms around her as tightly as he always had, she could feel the lassitude and lack of energy that accompanies major blood loss.  She marveled at the ability he’d shown to resist his bloodlust when left with the man who’d tortured him.

“I’m glad you didn’t drain him,” she said softly. 

“Knew you wouldn’t like it, pet. Not after you got over bein’ mad, anyway.”

“I’ll go by Willie’s and get you some human blood tomorrow,” she promised.  “Can’t have my guy too tired to...”

“I’ll never be that knackered, love,” he said with a smile as he ran his hand up under her shirt.  “Oh ho, no knickers.  Aren’t you the bold little Slayer?”

His hand stroked her flanks, caressing the silky skin he found there and marveling that this warm, loving woman was mated to him.  Turning his head slightly, he began kissing his way down her face.  He forgot for a minute that in addition to the love she could feel rolling off him, the claim allowed her to feel his weakness and the effort it was costing him to fondle her.

“Let me,” she whispered against his lips, stopping his hand so that it rested against her stomach.  “You just lie there and enjoy.”

She began at his chin, running her tongue and blunt little teeth down his throat and across his chest.  She paused to nibble on each nipple, knowing how much he liked to feel her teeth on him when they made love.  She loved making him hiss and groan when she nipped at the taut skin on his abdomen, and the way he caught his unneeded breath as her mouth worked its way down his hipbone to the base of his cock.

“Did you say Riley was threatening to cut this off?” she asked with a growl, taking it in her hand.  She used her toes and feet to push the loose sweatpants down his legs so he could kick them off.

“Yeah, he seemed to think you were a little too fond of that particular body part,” he gasped as she nibbled her way up to the tip and tickled the opening with her tongue.  His hips involuntarily jerked upward when she put her warm mouth around the head of his cock.

Ummmm,” she mumbled as she licked off the pre-cum.  “He just might have been right.”

She crawled back up to where she could look him in the eye as she said, “But then, again, I love all your body parts.”

Spike’s mind went into overload as her words registered.

Love, she said love.  She loves all my body parts.  Does that mean she loves me?

“Not as much as I love yours,” he finally was able to respond, as he folded his arms around her.

“We’ll see,” she replied enigmatically as she pushed herself up on her arms until she was poised over his aching cock. 

She lowered herself on to him slowly, taking care not to bump his still-tender leg and moaning as his cool length slid into her a little bit at a time.  When she had taken him all in and their lower bodies were pressed together, she began the internal squeezing that had brought them such quiet pleasure before.

“I love you, Buffy.” He kissed her ear. “I love what you are.” He moved his lips down to her mouth.  “I love how you make me feel.”  He fastened onto her lips and sent his tongue exploring her mouth.  “I love how you kiss me....” He made a gurgling sound as she clenched around him.  “And, bloody hell, I love what you can do with those muscles!”

Buffy giggled and continued to squeeze, feeling her own orgasm building even as the vampire beneath her began to whimper and growl.  She fell forward onto his chest, reaching up to fasten her teeth on the side of his neck. With a sudden movement, she bit down hard enough to break the skin and felt the coppery blood touching her tongue.

“Mine,” she growled around her mouthful of skin.  “You are mine.”

Spike came with a muffled roar as he fastened his fangs on her throat and gasped, “Yours. Always yours.”

With his strong, deep pulls on her artery matching the rhythm of her clenching vaginal muscles, Buffy felt herself shuddering all over at the force of her orgasm.  She was vaguely aware of Spike’s whispered, “Mine,” as he pulled his fangs out and licked her neck, but her answering, “yours” came out more as a sigh than actual speech.  She lay on top of him, trembling with the aftermath and wondering how often they could do that before she became anemic.

For his part, Spike was in complete awe of her actions.

She claimed me.  Buffy claimed me.  I belong to her now; just like she belongs to me. Could dust happy, except I don’t ever want to be away from her.

Wondering if the claim between human and vampire worked the same way as between two vamps, he concentrated on thinking “out loud” to her.

“I love you, Buffy.”

Mmmmph” she replied, nuzzling into his neck.  It took her a few seconds to realize that she never felt his mouth move.


“Yes, love?”

She could feel the humor in his reply and frowned slightly.

“Did you say something?”

“I don’t know.  Did I?”

She could feel the rich chuckle in his voice, but she was sure he hadn’t actually opened his mouth or moved his lips.  As an experiment, she thought hard,  “Are you THINKING at me?

“I could be.  Are you thinking at me?”

Her head shot up and she looking into his laughing eyes.  “Can you read my mind now?” she asked in a high pitched squeak.

Relax, pet.  I’m not reading your mind.  You have to want me to know what you’re thinkin’ before I can hear you.  And vice versa.  Don’t be thinkin’ you’re gonna be knowin’ what I’m thinkin’ either, missy.  It doesn’t work like that.”

“How does it work?” she tried experimentally.

“Jus’ like that, love.  If you want me to hear somethin’, just think it at me. It’s like we were before, ‘cept instead of just feeling things we can actually talk to each other.”

“ That’s kinda cool.  I think I like it!”

“So do I, my love.  So do I.’

He rolled her off to his side and pulled the covers up over them.  For the first time since Buffy’s mother came home, they went to sleep in her bed, wrapped around each other tightly.

When Spike and Buffy finally got up late in the afternoon, they came downstairs to find that Angel and Cordelia were getting ready to leave.  Joyce looked relieved to no longer be entertaining them by herself.  She’d never really been close to Cordelia when the girls were in high school, and she’d never forgiven Angel for taking her daughter’s virginity and then, as Angelus, telling her about it.  As far as she was concerned, if her daughter had to be with a vampire, she much preferred the soulless one she knew and liked.

Angel’s eyes went immediately to the new bite marks on Buffy’s neck, and the matching human bite on Spike’s.  The ache he felt at knowing that his grandchilde had what he never could was eased by the presence of the beautiful woman waiting impatiently for him to leave.  Cordelia’s place in his heart would never replace what had been Buffy’s, but she had definitely filled the empty space in his life. He gazed at her with newly realized gratitude.

As the sun gradually sank toward the western horizon, the visitors worked their way toward the front door, thanking Joyce for her hospitality as they went.  Buffy and Spike moved with them, halting just outside the door in the shelter of the porch.  Spike stood behind Buffy, his arms wrapped around her waist.  She leaned back against his body and smiled up at the former love of her life.

“Thank you, Angel,” she said softly.  “I know this wasn’t an easy thing for you to—”

He held his hand up to stop her.

“As much as I dislike Spike,” he said with a glare at his smirking grandchilde, “he is my family.  And I really don’t like that cowardly soldier boy.  So, it was a pleasure.”

Hard brown eyes stared into Spike’s.

“Spike...” he began in a warning tone of voice.

The younger vampire shook his head.

“You know better, Peaches.  I’ll take care of her till I’m dust.  And I’ll love her longer than that.”  He tightened his arms around Buffy, letting her know exactly what they were talking about.

Angel nodded briefly and turned to leave.  Buffy pulled herself out of Spike’s arms and touched Angel’s sleeve.  She reached up and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek and a grateful hug.

With a roll of her eyes, Cordelia grabbed his arm and yanked him toward the car.

“Let’s go.  We’ve got our own bad guys waiting for us at home.”

With a sheepish grin, Angel allowed himself to be dragged toward the car and shoved in the open door.  His last glimpse of the Summers home was the sight of Spike and Buffy on the porch, wrapped around each other and waving “good-bye.”

The End.

Sorry to end it without resolving the Riley situation; but that seems to call for a whole ‘nother story and I want to end this one here.  I promise a sequel if there’s interest in which there is more Riley bashing, Dawn makes an appearance, and perhaps even Glory.  But not now.