Spirit Indestructible by Passion4Spike

1. Undun by Passion4Spike

2. Try by Passion4Spike

3. Eclipse by Passion4Spike

4. Wish You Were Here by Passion4Spike

5. King of Anything by Passion4Spike

6. I Need ... by Passion4Spike

7. Make the World Go Away, Part 1 by Passion4Spike

8. Make the World Go Away, Part 2 by Passion4Spike

9. Accidentally in Love by Passion4Spike

10. I Kissed a Girl by Passion4Spike

11. Scream by Passion4Spike

12. Broken Promises by Passion4Spike

13. Fade to Black by Passion4Spike

14. Bird With a Broken Wing by Passion4Spike

15. Dazed and Confused by Passion4Spike

16. Misunderstood by Passion4Spike

17. Push and Pull by Passion4Spike

18. Amazed by Passion4Spike

19. I Won't Give Up     by Passion4Spike

20. Sometimes by Passion4Spike

21. Cheeseburger In Paradise by Passion4Spike

22. Ginger or Mary Ann? by Passion4Spike

23. Smile by Passion4Spike

24. Wind Beneath My Wings by Passion4Spike

25. Home by Passion4Spike

26. Take My Breath Away by Passion4Spike

27. Heart and Soul by Passion4Spike

28. The Things We've Handed Down by Passion4Spike

29. I'll Stand By You by Passion4Spike

30. We Just Disagree by Passion4Spike

31. Everybody's Changing by Passion4Spike

32. Count On Me by Passion4Spike

33. Weird Science by Passion4Spike

34. When You're Gone by Passion4Spike

35. Heart Ain't a Brain by Passion4Spike

36. I Believe in You by Passion4Spike

37. Breakaway, Part 1 by Passion4Spike

38. Breakaway, Part 2 by Passion4Spike

39. F**king Perfect by Passion4Spike

40. Somebody That I Used to Know by Passion4Spike

41. Lunatic Fringe by Passion4Spike

42. Night Prowler by Passion4Spike

43. Heaven Was Needing a Hero by Passion4Spike

44. Don't Fear the Reaper by Passion4Spike

45. Tears In Heaven by Passion4Spike

46. Keep Me in Your Heart by Passion4Spike

47. Pavement Cracks by Passion4Spike

48. Another Step by Passion4Spike

49. A Hand in My Pocket by Passion4Spike

50. You'll Be In My Heart by Passion4Spike

51. If by Passion4Spike

52. Time in a Bottle by Passion4Spike

53. What Makes a Man, Part 1 by Passion4Spike

54. What Makes a Man, Part 2 by Passion4Spike

55. Spirit Indestructible by Passion4Spike

Undun by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thanks to you for reading! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile!
**
This is going to be a pretty long story and FULL of angst. It will go completely off-canon ... far, far afield and even away from Sunnydale. Please HEED THE WARNINGS. If threesomes of Buffy, Spike, and BuffyBot, including a bit of slash, are gonna bother you, stop now. If implied rape (not graphic) will bother you, stop now. If you don't like angst, stop now. Still with me?! Cool - let's go!
Dawn slipped away from the group that was gathered in the front room of the abandoned gas station and went back into the garage where their prisoner, General Gregor, was tied up to a pole. She walked up to him tentatively, her heart in her throat.







“My sister isn’t gonna be able to stop Glory, is she?” Dawn asked him, her voice wavering despite her best efforts to sound brave and unafraid. Her hands were trembling with fear, she clasped them together to try and get them to stop. It didn’t really help.



Gregor shook his head. “The Beast is a god. Have you any idea the power she wields? Your sister will die … you will die – the world will be cast into darkness, the universe will tumble into chaos. That is what you were created for – that is what you will bring.”



“B-but … if I … die now … here,” Dawn stammered, blinking back tears and swallowing back hot, acrid bile that appeared suddenly at the back of her throat.



“The world will be saved. Your sister, your family, your friends will be safe,” Gregor assured her. “Untie me. I will make it fast … painless. You can save them.”







Dawn’s sob turned into a gag. She lurched to the side, dropped to hands and knees, and retched onto the floor, unable to stop the fear and anguish from roiling her stomach and stabbing painfully at her heart. She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want anyone to die. She didn’t want to be the Key; she just wanted to be a teenager. She just wanted to be normal. She just wanted this nightmare to end.



“You have the power to stop this, Key. If you die now, Glory will fade, she will not be able to hurt anyone. She will be unable to open the portal. You can save them all – or you can kill them all. The choice is yours,” Gregor continued.



Dawn pushed herself up from the floor, spitting the bile from her mouth. She stumbled over to the sink on the wall and turned on the faucet, rinsing her mouth and splashing the cool water on her face. You can kill them all or you can save them all, the General’s words echoed in her head. The sobs returned as she leaned over the sink. Her body was wracked with the painful realization that Buffy would die – probably all her friends would – and it would be her fault. She wasn't real. She wasn't normal. No one cared what she wanted; no one had asked her if she wanted to be the Key. She just was. And she would kill everyone that had ever tried to help her. Everyone that loved her. Everyone that she loved. No matter what Spike said, she was evil. There was no doubt about that.



“There is not much time,” Gregor continued to press as he looked warily at the door behind which the others were gathered. “You must decide. The fate of the universe is in your hands.”







“I don’t care about the universe!” Dawn screamed, whirling on him. “I only care about …” her voice broke and her eyes went to the doorway. She could hear Buffy and her friends in the other room talking, trying to find a way out of this mess. The mess they were in because of her. Buffy. Spike. Xander. Anya. Tara. Willow. Giles. They'd all die because of her.



“Then free me and I will make sure they are safe,” Gregor insisted with an air of authority and confidence.



Dawn’s eyes settled on the weapons they had taken from the knight. She bent over slowly and picked up the sword with trembling hands. She stared at the sharp blade, as if gorgonized – frozen. She could see her reflection … she wasn’t a big blob of green energy – she was just a girl. Right?



“Hurry girl!” Gregor breathed urgently, his eyes darting from Dawn to the door through which one of the others could come at any moment.







“Wrong,” Dawn whispered to herself, barely audible even to her own ears. You’re not a girl.



She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath as she tried to clear her mind. What would Buffy do? Buffy would sacrifice herself to save the world – she’d done it before, she’d do it again.



Dawn opened her tear-filled eyes and looked up at the General. “Tell her … tell her I love her. Will you do that?”



Gregor nodded, his face solemn as Dawn stepped forward in a daze of fear and regret. She untied the length of electric cord holding the man to the pole, and let it fall off the knight, then handed him the sword with her quivering hands.



“Tell them all … I love them and … I’m sorry,” Dawn added. She closed her eyes, tears streaming down her blotchy, reddened cheeks, held her breath, and waited for the end to come.



**~**



“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Buffy screamed as she stepped into the garage a moment later. Dawn lay on the floor, her neck severed nearly in two. The girl’s throat was opened from ear to ear, her spine showing white through the gaping, blood-soaked wound. Blood spurted wildly and flowed over Dawn’s limp, crumpled body like a river of death, forming a crimson pool on the dirty cement beneath her. Wet rasps of breath gurgled from the Key’s severed trachea, the last gasps of life draining from her body.



Gregor stood over the girl, sword in hand, looking grim but satisfied that he had completed his mission. The life’s work of generations of his people was complete – the Key had finally been destroyed.



Buffy flew across the short distance, throwing herself on the floor at her sister’s side and trying desperately to stop the bleeding. “No! No! No! Dawnie, no!” Buffy screamed over and over again. Her hands sought out something to do to stem the flow of crimson life from her sister, but it was too late – her efforts nothing more than an exercise in futility, she was rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.







Hearing her screams, Buffy’s friends came in behind her. Surprised gasps, horrified oaths, and fervent curses fell from their mouths as they hurried in and saw what had happened. Spike was at Buffy’s side in an instant, at first with the thought of helping her save Dawn, but when he saw the carnage he knew it was too late. There was no heartbeat from the girl, not even a weak one. He gauged that at least half of Dawn’s blood lay in the pool of scarlet gore they were kneeling in – and he was a pretty good judge of such things. He grabbed Buffy’s blood-soaked hands and tried to pull her away from Dawn, but she fought against him frantically.



“Help me! Spike! Help me!” she demanded of him, her eyes wild with fear.



Spike shook his head gently. “Buffy, luv, there’s … She’s … gone. I’m sorry, luv. There’s nothing …”



“No! No! No!” Buffy screamed frantically, banging her bloodied fists against his chest. “Do something!”







Spike grabbed her fists and pulled her against him, wrapping her in his arms and holding her there on the blood-soaked floor. He looked at Dawn. He’d seen some things that would make the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like a children’s fairy tale – hell, he'd dealt out such things in his time – but seeing his Niblett like this ripped and clawed at his heart like nothing he’d ever felt before. Buffy continued to admonish him to ‘do something’, but the words had degenerated into little more than pleading, raspy whispers between her heaving sobs.



Gregor still stood where he had been, his bloodied sword still in hand. The other Scoobies surrounded the bloody tableau with stunned, shocked, horrified expressions on their unbelieving faces.



“She did it for you. She said to tell you that she was sorry and that she loved…”



Gregor’s words were cut off when Spike moved with a speed he’d never before possessed. Fueled by red-hot rage, he released Buffy, stood up, and drew his fist back in one motion. His knuckles slammed it into the General’s face with enough force to break the man’s neck. Gregor’s head whiplashed back and smashed into the metal pole that he’d been tied to, breaking his skull. He sank to the floor, blood spewing from his mouth, nose, and the back of his head, his sword clattering loudly in the stunned silence as it hit the floor.







In the next moment Spike screamed, clutching his head as the chip fired. He fell to his knees next to Buffy as excruciating pain shot out from the Initiative’s ‘behavior modification device’, blinding him in agony. It felt like a thousand hot pokers were being stabbed into his brain, his spine, and his eyes, shutting down any coherent thought. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes in an effort to keep them from exploding from their sockets as he crumpled to his side on the bloody floor. He keened – a feral, animalistic howl – engulfed in more pain than even Angelus had managed to teach him how to endure while also maintaining his dignity.



“My Key!!” a new voice rang out in the room.







The Scoobies, still shocked into immobility, looked up to see Glory standing in the doorway. The hell-god raced forward and began trying to gather up Dawn’s blood in her hands. Then Glory suddenly went into some sort of convulsion and Ben was there. The Scoobies watched Glory change to Ben and then Ben back to Glory several times until finally settling on Ben’s form.



The doctor was covered in blood, as were Spike and Buffy: Dawn’s blood. Suddenly Xander’s hand flew to his mouth, he dropped to the floor and retched. When the smell hit Willow, she did the same. Only Anya was able to remain relatively unaffected by the mayhem, but even she was shocked into silence – it was, perhaps, a first.







Tara’s forlorn cry for Willow from the other room seemed to pull the witch from her stupor. She stumbled back to her feet and fought to keep another wave of bile down as her eyes swept over the scene again. Spike had recovered enough to sit up and he was holding Buffy against him, rocking her like a child. The Slayer looked like she was in shock. Her eyes were open and flooded with silent tears, but blank and flat, as if dead. Ben was sitting up with his back against one wall. He’d pushed himself away from the pool of blood, although he was still covered in it, just like Spike and Buffy. Gregor was dead. Dawn was … dead. Willow couldn’t let her eyes or her mind linger there long – it was too much. She walked numbly into the other room to find Tara. Dear, sweet Tara, needed her. Tara’s mind had been stolen by Glory; Willow couldn’t let her down – didn’t want her to be frightened or alone.



Just as Willow got to Tara’s side, she felt the magical barrier outside fall. The Knights would be upon them in moment. Would they kill them now that the Key was … destroyed? Gregor was dead – they may simply kill them for that alone.



Willow looked out the slats that covered the windows and was shocked to find … nothing. The Knights were gone. All that remained outside was Ben’s car. She sighed as a small bit of relief washed over her for that small favor.



“What do we do now?” Anya asked from behind Willow.



Willow sighed, her whole body heaving with the effort, and turned around to face the ex-demon. “Go home.”



**~**







Spike watched and waited as he’d done every night for the last six weeks; waited for his Slayer to emerge. He took one last drag on his cigarette as her bedroom window opened. He dropped the butt and smashed it beneath his heel as she dropped to the ground, graceful and silent as a jungle cat. She began walking, as she did every night, toward the cemetery. He fell in step a few paces behind her, waiting to see what kind of mood she was in this night.



If she slowed her steps, that was her silent invitation for him to walk beside her; if she continued her fast pace, he should hang back, not crowd her. She didn’t talk anymore – not since that night. Her so-called friends thought she was practically comatose, since she seemed to do nothing but sleep. The two witches had moved into Buffy’s house … or actually it was now the one witch and one simpleton. He felt bad for Glinda. Her mind had been stolen by the hell-god and had not returned. He’d always liked the white witch; she'd always been fair to him, unlike Buffy's other friends.



He knew they all took turns ‘baby-sitting’ the Slayer: Giles, Xander and his demon-bird, and Red. None of them asked Spike to help; none of them asked Spike for anything – he was suddenly persona non grata. When he’d tried to see Buffy right after … that night, he’d found his invitation had been revoked – he couldn't enter Buffy's house. Bloody ungrateful tossers.

 

If they’d known one whit about the Slayer, they would’ve known that Slayers are naturally creatures of the night. She slept by day and prowled the streets and cemeteries by night. They didn’t know; Spike knew. They didn't care; Spike cared. Their lives had to go on – there was work and school, bills to pay, mundane routines to maintain. Spike had no other distractions; Buffy was Spike's life. Gormless plonkers, every last one of ‘em.







This night, Buffy slowed her steps and Spike caught up to her easily. They walked the empty streets in silence for a long while. Every night he waited for her to say something; every night he thought that this night would be the night she’d talk to him. Every night he’d been disappointed. Tonight was no different. After a few minutes the silence got to him, so he started talking as he’d done every night for the last six weeks – every night since Dawn had been buried next to her mum. Every night since Buffy began prowling the streets of Sunnydale with only a vampire for company.



“Got some new flowers for our girl t’day,” he began. “Red roses … reckon she’d like that, don’t you? Got a deal on a full dozen.”

 

Spike bristled. “No, I didn’t bloody steal them,” he defended as if Buffy had said something.



“Still can’t believe that wanker Watcher o’ yours buried her in that bloody kid’s casket with the frilly eyelet lace and pink bows. I hope she comes back and haunts the git for that. Deserved a grown-up casket … with silk and satin and whatall, she did. She wasn’t a soddin’ kid anymore – what she done proved that, didn’ it?



“Overheard ‘em talkin’ the other day at the shop, your mates. Your Watcher’s talking ‘bout going back to jolly ole England. Gave up on ya, they have. Say they're back t' one Slayer, that Faith chit, and I reckon she's outta the game. Didn’t bother tellin’ you, did they? And before you start, I think I’m entitled t’ the burba weed – me being down in the shop basement keeps the rats out; it’s only fair compensation,” he continued as they walked, sniffing as if insulted. Buffy neither replied nor even acted like she could hear him – her face never registered any expression to any of his musings.



“How long you reckon Red can keep watching over you and Glinda, and keep up her studies at University? Without Rupert t’ help foot the bills and babysit you during the day, I reckon it won’t be long ‘fore they find a nice cozy Slayer retirement ‘ome for you, luv. Where do they send Slayers who’ve crumbled their cookies?”



 



Spike snorted derisively. “Don’t reckon any ‘ave ever lived long enough t’ find out. Wonder if your old friends at the Council o’ Wankers will have a nice padded room waitin’ for you … bars on the windows and doors and whatall.”



Buffy turned into the entrance of the cemetery with Spike at her side. She walked with a purpose, a destination in mind, but wasn’t in any particular hurry. Spike scanned the area with all his senses as they walked, searching for danger. It was still the Hellmouth, even if the Slayer was on hiatus.



After walking another minute or so, Spike laid a hand on her arm. “Stay ‘ere a second, luv,” he murmured to her. Buffy stopped – proof that she could hear him and understand – but her face remained passive, her eyes blank. The passion, the fire of her was quite simply gone; extinguished by her pain and guilt.







Spike pulled a stake from the pocket of his duster and stalked forward ahead of her. The vamp that was hiding behind one of the larger tombstones had barely gotten to his feet when Spike’s stake hit home. Before the dust from that vamp had settled, another jumped out from the other side of the path. Spike spun and caught him with a round-house kick, sending him stumbling back. Spike continued his spin and used his momentum to propel himself forward, stake poised to strike. When the vamp’s back hit the wall of a crypt, Spike plunged the stake in without further struggle. He turned and scanned the area again, all senses on alert, but found nothing else.



He stood up from his fighting crouch and tucked the stake back into his pocket. “All clear, luv,” he called to Buffy and she began walking again, as if nothing had happened – as if she hadn’t even stopped.



Spike fell into step next to her as they continued their now-familiar trek. “You’ll have t’ teach me that prattle you do when you fight, luv. Not quite the same without the quips, is it? Reckon it gets the job done, just the same, but …” he sighed and let his voice trail off. Who was he kidding? Buffy was gone. The Slayer was gone. All that was left was an empty hull of a girl. He’d heard Red telling Giles that she’d tried to reach Buffy with some sort of spell and all she’d found inside was darkness – utter, cold, hard darkness.



~~



“There’s just nothing of Buffy left in there,” he’d overheard Willow tell Giles in the Magic Box. “I don’t know what to do to help her. She barely eats anything, she just sleeps all the time. She doesn't talk, doesn't cry, doesn't grieve, doesn't scream ... she’s just … gone.



"I don't know how long I can keep taking care of her and Tara. My parents were all with the insisting that I go back to my classes, since they were 'paying good money' for them, and ..." Willow's voice trailed off, shaking her head in dismay. "I love Buffy, but ... there's just not enough of me to go around."



“Indeed,” Giles had agreed, removing his glasses and polishing their spotless lenses with a handkerchief. “It’s clear she’s had a quite severe mental break. I had hoped her Slayer healing would’ve repaired it and brought her back to us by now, but it seems clear now that will not happen – at least not without some treatment.”



“What … kind of treatment?” Willow wondered tentatively.



Giles shrugged slightly, sliding his glasses back onto his nose and looking up at the red witch. “Perhaps it would be best to call the Council in to handle the matter. They would have the best chance of success. They may have even faced this circumstance in the past. And …” Giles hesitated, shifted his eyes away from Willow's, and removed his glasses again.



“My information could be faulty – American public schools and all – but I'm pretty sure proper British sentences don't end with conjunctions,” Willow prompted after Giles began polishing his glasses yet again and did not finish his thought.



Giles sighed and slid his glasses back on. “And they would be able to handle her if she were to become violent. She’s been docile thus far, but I’m concerned that her shock could morph into rage at any moment, and we would have no way to effectively contain her. In that scenario, she could be a danger to herself and to others.”



~~







Spike blinked the cold, sharp tears back from his eyes as they walked along in silence. He’d let Buffy down – failed to keep Dawn safe – and now he’d lost them both. The Slayer had just started to trust him during the battles with Glory, to see him as something other than a monster, see how much he truly cared, and now it was gone. He hadn’t told her, but there was no way he’d let Buffy’s so-called friends or the Council put her in some home or a cell. He’d take care of her – he’d taken care of Dru for a century, taking care of a silent Slayer couldn’t be that much harder.



As their destination came into view, Spike braced himself for the sound that stabbed icy, jagged daggers into his heart: Buffy’s sobs. The sobs that her friends had never heard; the sobs that he heard every night. Her pace never changed as she walked up to the graves of her only family. The vase of red roses sat atop Dawn’s tombstone while a new bouquet of wildflowers was on Joyce’s – all care of Spike. Buffy dropped to her knees as the sob he’d been bracing himself for broke the Slayer’s silence. Buffy laid across both graves on her stomach, crying into the new sod that covered her sister’s resting place. Her body convulsed with the pain and guilt that flowed out from her very soul. The sight twisted the daggers in Spike’s heart – nothing he’d ever felt before could compare to the agony of seeing his Slayer so anguished, so broken.



He crouched down next to her and laid a gentle hand on her back, trying to give her some measure of comfort as he kept watch for nasties that might be lurking, hoping for their ‘one good day.’ He wanted nothing more than to hold her there, rock her in his arms and soothe her hurt away. He’d done that the first night and he’d been caught off-guard by a pack of vamps. That mistake had nearly gotten them both killed; he couldn’t afford to let his guard down again.



The best he could do was to stroke her back and murmur words of encouragement and sympathy. Whether she heard him or even knew he was there, he didn’t know. He couldn’t stop his own tears from blurring his vision, no matter how hard he tried. Every night was the same: filled with guilt and pain and helplessness. The only thing worse were the interminable days, lying alone in his bed trying to sleep and wishing the sun would move faster across the sky, wishing night would come sooner, so he could see his Slayer again.



**~**



A few nights later...







“Buffy, luv – ya gotta do this, pet. Please … say those three little words,” Spike cajoled from outside her bedroom window. "Just need t' hear those three little words from your beautiful lips.



“‘Come in, Spike’ – you can do it, luv. They’re gonna be ‘ere tomorrow – those Council wankers with their pretty, white coats with the long sleeves. Gonna take you away from me – away from Dawn and your mum, they are. It’s our only chance, pet. If ya want any of your stuff, ya gotta let me in. Three words … Buffy, please,” he begged her.



He’d been imploring her to say the words for an hour. If she didn’t say it soon, he’d just have to take her with him and leave all her stuff behind. He would – if it came to that, he would.



She stood at the window facing him as if she were getting ready to head out on her nightly walk and he was stopping her. He thought he saw a flicker of comprehension in her eyes a couple of times over the last hour, but he couldn’t be sure – it was there and gone too fast.



“Buffy, you’ll die – if they lock you up, you’ll die. Please come with me … invite me in – I’ll pack your stuff. You don’t want t’ leave your pictures o’ Dawn and your mum behind,” he reasoned.



Buffy furrowed her brow – the first expression he’d seen on her face except for the times when she was sobbing on her family’s graves – and looked at the photos that were stuck all around the mirror on her dresser.







“That’s right, luv – the pictures, and your clothes and … those frou-frou dollies ya got … Three words, pet … ‘Come in, Spike,’ he repeated slowly and deliberately.



Buffy turned back to look at him, the confusion still evident on her features. He could see her swallow, as if fighting for her voice. He looked at her hopefully, holding his breath as a purely symbolic measure.



Buffy opened her mouth. “C…” she started, her voice faltering after only one short sound. She cleared her throat and tried again. “C-come,” she croaked out.



“In,” Spike prompted, his eyes wide and hopeful, almost joyous at the sound, the first time he'd heard her voice in what seemed an eternity.



Buffy cleared her throat again, rubbing it as if it pained her to speak. “In,” she parroted.



“Spike,” he prompted again.



“Sp … Sp ... Sp ... i ... ke,” Buffy finally got out.



Spike wasn’t sure if that would work since it wasn’t really a sentence, but three separate words, and his name was a bit mangled, but he pushed against the unseen barrier with one hand anyway. He let out a breath of relief when his hand slid past the windowsill and into her room.



"Brilliant!" he extolled her as he quickly and silently climbed through the open window.







Spike pulled a suitcase from her closet and began loading it up quickly. First with all the pictures from her mirror, then with the stuffed animals from her bed, toiletries from the dresser, then with as many clothes as he could fit. Buffy didn’t offer to help, but just watched blankly as he chose and tossed things in willy-nilly. After a moment, she opened the door to her room and went out into the hallway. Spike tried to stop her, but didn’t want to make more noise than he already was and risk waking Buffy’s keepers.



In just a few moments Buffy came back with more pictures. They were, he realized, pictures that Dawn must’ve had in her room. Buffy offered them to Spike mutely. There was one with him and Dawn that Dawn had gotten Tara to take of them one day when Buffy had been gone. He looked at it wistfully; it seemed a lifetime ago – technically it had been: Dawn's lifetime. He carefully packed them all into the case with the others.







“Anything else ya want, luv?” he asked, looking around.



Buffy went to her dresser and opened one of the drawers. She searched for something, her movements mechanical and deliberate. After a few moments she apparently found what she was looking for and slid the drawer closed again. Spike didn’t see what it was before she stuffed it down into her pocket – too small to be a stake, a trinket he supposed. Buffy then turned and headed for the window without another word.



“Right then…” he muttered, hefting the suitcase and following her. “Off we go.”



**~**



Spike tossed Buffy’s suitcase in the trunk of the DeSoto alongside his own meager belongings and a cooler, then opened the passenger door for her. She climbed in without a word or even a final glance back at her house. Spike ran around the car and got behind the wheel, stuffing the key into the ignition and coaxing the old behemoth to life.







“Any preferences, luv?” he asked her, turning to look at his passenger before putting the car in gear.



Buffy looked at him dully, but something in the backseat caught her eye and she turned to stare at the third person in the car.

 

Spike sighed. “Before you start, it’s not what you think,” he began. “Need her along, we do. She’s got … certain talents that could come in right handy…”



Buffy leveled a lifeless stare on Spike. In her current condition, it was tantamount to a death-glare of old.







“Get your mind outta the bloody gutter, Slayer,” he demanded, exasperated. “Not them talents! She’s bloody brilliant in a fight, even got the quips down. Plus, she can go in the sun – I can’t. She can fight humans – I can’t. Never know when we might need some help, luv. And … she’s right cheerful, to boot,” Spike defended.



Buffy looked at the Bot in the back seat. The BuffyBot’s eyes were closed and she leaned, as if asleep, against the window at her side.  Buffy blew out a derisive snort so soft that if not for Spike’s enhanced hearing, he might not have heard it.



“Don’t be that way, Slayer,” he begged her. “You used t’ like cheerful … used t’ be cheerful, you did, or so I've been told.”



Spike could feel her eyes roll, even though Buffy didn't actually roll them, she simply continued to stare at him.



“Buffy,” he continued turning slightly in his seat to face her and taking both of her hands into his, his tone solemn. “I’m your willin’ slave, luv. I’ll defend ya … take care of ya ‘til the end of time. But … I can’t protect you from everything. Those wankers the Council will be sending aren’t demons – if they find us, I can’t fight ‘em, luv. She’s the only … person I could trust t’ be on our side in this. If somethin’ happens to me, she’ll be my proxy … she’ll stand by you in my place.”



Buffy's gaze flicked to the Bot then back to him. He thought he saw a glint of pain, of hurt, flash oh-so-briefly in her eyes. Was it because they couldn’t trust any of her friends, or was it the thought of losing Spike that caused it? He didn’t know. He waited for her to give him some sign that she understood, that it would be alright for the Bot to come with them.



She continued to stare at him for a long minute or three. Spike waited. “It,” she said finally, her voice flat.



“Pardon?”



“Not she, ‘it’,” Buffy clarified as she turned to look forward, out the small opening in the black paint that covered the windshield.



“Right, it … the Bot’s an it,” Spike repeated, getting her meaning. “So … it’s alright then – to have it along?”



Buffy nodded her head ever-so-slightly.



Spike let out a breath of relief, reluctantly released her hands, and put the car in gear. “Where to, luv?”



“Hell,” Buffy replied, never looking at him. Her voice was small and quiet, without any particular inflection.



Spike pursed his lips a moment, then nodded. “Sin City it is.”



**~**



Spike rummaged through the old cassette tapes that littered the floor under his seat, pulling a few out at once. He held them up in front of his eyes as he drove to see what treasures he’d found.



“Prefer the Ramones, the Clash, or the Sex Pistols?” Spike asked her, glancing over at his mute passenger.



Buffy cut her eyes at him, then looked back out the front window as they made their way past the sign telling them they were leaving Sunnydale and encouraging them to ‘come back soon.’



“Don’t got any little boy bands, luv. Time ya grew up anyway,” Spike contended as he popped the Sex Pistols into the player. Nothing happened. Spike ejected it and began fiddling with the tape. He steered the car with his knees as he turned the little spindles on the cassette to try and get the tape to move properly.



He popped it back in, and a guitar screamed for a moment before it went silent again. Buffy sighed, ejected the tape, rolled her window down, and tossed it out.



“Hey! That’s a bloody classic you just tossed out. And it was mine, t’ boot!” Spike objected.



Buffy shrugged, but didn’t say anything as she looked out the open window. She watched in silence as the town where she’d come of age, where she lost her mother and sister, where she’d lost her mind, fade from view in the side mirror.



Spike started to put another tape in the player and, without looking, Buffy reached out and took it from his hand and tossed it out the window too.



“Oi! What the bloody hell, Slayer?” he snarled at her.



“No,” she said simply, still looking out the window.



“Why the bloody hell not? I like music when I’m driving … makes the time go,” he argued.



“Hurts,” was her flat, stoic reply, one hand moving to her chest, covering her heart.



Spike frowned and shoved the last tape back under his seat lest she toss it out too. “Sorry, luv…” he muttered, turning his attention back to the dark ribbon of road that spread out into the night in front of them.



**~**



The sun was just lightening the clouds in the eastern sky when Spike unlocked the door to their Las Vegas motel room. He held it open, letting Buffy precede him inside. He followed her, carrying their suitcases. He set them both on the dresser before going back out to the car to get the cooler that held blood and Cokes. Once inside with that, he made one last trip to retrieve the Bot and her – its – charging equipment. When he’d come up with his plan to get Buffy out of town, he’d liberated the Bot from the basement of the Magic Box. He’d still had her – its – charging equipment at the crypt – no one had ever asked him for it.







He laid the Bot down on the bed nearest the door, then closed and locked the door behind him. “Right then. Snug as bed bugs, we are,” he commented brightly, clapping his hands together enthusiastically and looking around.



Buffy took a step back from the bed she had just been getting ready to sit down on and looked at it warily.



“Not literal bed bugs, luv,” Spike assured her. “I know it’s not much, but I’ll go down t’ the strip t’night and win us some more money, then we can upgrade t’ something … nice ... or at least ... decent.”



Buffy looked only marginally reassured.



“You want somethin’ to eat? Could order some breakfast for ya,” Spike offered as he picked up the room service menu.



Buffy shook her head.



Spike looked disappointed and worried, but didn’t push it.



“Want t’ watch some TV then?” he tried, moving to pick up the remote control.



Buffy shook her head again, then opened her bag and began rummaging around. After looking for a while in the unorganized mash of clothes, she settled on a couple of items and took them, along with her hairbrush, into the bathroom and shut the door.



“Right – a shower then. Brilliant – you go first, luv. Don’t mind me – I’ll just wait ‘ere and …” he sighed, shaking his head and running his hand through his hair. “Won’t eat, no music, no TV, no conversation… Angelus couldn’t ‘ave done any better job o’ sending ya round the bend. At least Dru’d talk to a bloke … not that it was easy to suss out, but…”



He sighed again and turned to the Bot. Maybe if he got her charged up he could get some conversation from her … it. It. It. It, he tried to remind himself, but it was hard to remember, looking so much like his Slayer and all.



Spike broke down and turned the TV on while he waited for Buffy to come out of the bathroom. He looked up when the door opened and she emerged.







His eyes devoured her as she walked silently to the other double bed and pulled the covers down. She was dressed in a tight, white, sleeveless, ribbed t-shirt, which did little to hide anything, and a pair of little-girl undies, white with little pink flowers and a pink bow on the front a few inches below her exposed navel. Her bare arms, legs, and the lower half of her midriff weren’t as tan as he remembered them being from flashes he’d seen before, but still as fit and toned as ever. Her breasts swayed in the t-shirt as she reached down and pulled the covers back, her darker nipples more than apparent beneath the thin, white fabric. The luscious curves of her body, though not quite as round as she had been at one time, were still just as mouth-watering. She moved with the same easy grace as she’d had the first time he’d seen her, but he knew the raw power that lurked beneath the deceptive, feminine curves.



Was she doing this on purpose? Torturing him like this? Or was she so oblivious to everything going on around her that she didn’t even know the effect she was having on him?



Spike swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing, and forced his eyes back to the TV; it was like pulling a lion away from a downed gazelle. What the bloody hell was she playin’ at? Was she tryin’ to dust him right ‘ere, right now? He shifted uncomfortably on the edge of his bed next to the charging Bot, his jeans suddenly much too tight. He heard the springs of the other bed creak, and when he looked back Buffy was under the covers, the blanket pulled all the way up to her chin.



He stood up abruptly and headed for the bathroom, clicking first the bedside lamp, then the TV off as he went, leaving the room in relative darkness. Only a small glow of sun gave any illumination, leaking in from behind the heavy curtains that covered the window.



Spike struggled to not slam the bathroom door in utter frustration when he got inside. He leaned back against it heavily and closed his eyes. The scent of her assailed him in the steam-filled room, making his cock strain even harder against the zipper of his jeans.

 

When he opened his eyes, he realized she’d left her dirty clothes on the floor. He leaned down and picked up the thong she’d had on under her jeans and brought the lacy garment to his nose. When the first inhalation of her sweet scent filled his nostrils cum exploded in his jeans.



“Bloody hell,” he growled at himself angrily. “Creamin’ your pants like a soddin’ teenage virgin on prom night.”



Spike quickly lifted his t-shirt off over his head, then turned the water on in the shower. It was hot immediately and he just stepped in, jeans and all, to clean off. He hung her panties over the shower-curtain rod as he unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, letting the hot water pound on his still semi-hard cock. He moaned and closed his eyes as he imagined Buffy’s mouth, her tongue flowing over him instead of the water.







He peeled his wet jeans down from his hips and thighs, then grabbed her panties again and breathed in the essence of her. Oh how he longed to taste her, to drink from her chalice, to kiss her, to hold her, to be inside her. The gentle kiss she’d given him after Glory had beaten and tortured him while trying to find out the identity of the Key still tingled Spike’s lips when he thought of it. It was so real … so … true, so … Buffy.







He suddenly began to cry, to sob uncontrollably as the hot water pounded down on him. Buffy … he longed with all his heart for Buffy. For her wit, her passion, her determination, her smile, her eye rolls, her jibes, her punches – anything! He sank down onto the tile floor of the shower, his jeans still clinging to his lower legs, his erection and fantasy gone. He pulled his knees up to his chest and sobbed against them, still clinging to her panties. He hadn’t kept Dawn safe. He’d promised Buffy he would keep them safe, both of them, and he’d failed miserably. He never saw Dawn’s sacrifice coming and he, above anyone, should’ve. Wasn’t that his ‘thing’? Reading other people’s true hearts? He’d spent years honing that skill – looking below the surface – but when the game was on the line, he’d failed.



Buffy had at least spoken a few words today – a vast improvement over the silence of the last several weeks – but she was so far away from where she’d been that he didn’t know if she’d ever find her way back. Had losing Dawn been the final blow? One so debilitating that even his strong, confident, snarky Slayer could not overcome it? Would she ever be his Slayer again? Would she ever be Buffy again? Was she lost forever? Had her spirit, which had conquered so much adversity, endured so much heartache and loss, which had seemed to him indestructible, finally succumbed, finally given up?



He thought the long days spent alone in his crypt waiting for darkness to fall had been hard, but now he knew being with her was worse. Even with her so close, he was still completely, utterly, painfully alone.



**~**



{{  Click here to hear Undun by The Guess Who  on YouTube  }}



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

It was too late



She's come undun

She found a mountain that was far too high

And when she found out she couldn't fly

It was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

She wanted truth but all she got was lies

Came the time to realize

And it was too late



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

Mama, it was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun

She's come undun



Too many mountains, and not enough stairs to climb

Too many churches and not enough truth

Too many people and not enough eyes to see

Too many lives to lead and not enough time



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

Doe-doe-doe-doe-doe doe un doe-doe-doe un doe-doe-doe

Doe doe-doe-doe-doe un doe-doe-doe doe-doe-doe

Doe doe-doe-doe doe doe-doe-doe doe doe



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

It was too late



She's come undun

She found a mountain that was far too high

And when she found out she couldn't fly

Mama, it was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

No no-no-no-no-no no

Doe doe doe-doe

Chapter End Notes:
Where do they go from here? Can Spike get Buffy back? Will she be the same girl she was before? Lots more to come! Will try to update a couple of times a week.
I basically gave my evil muse free rein on this story. There was no outline, no real plan, and he went wild with it, wringing tears out of me as often as possible. Hope you're ready for the ride!
Try by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Buffy wants to give up, but is given a mission and admonished to 'TRY' by an unexpected visitor.
**
Thanks to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile!
"You gotta get up and try, try, try..." ~P!nk, 'Try'.

**~**



Spike slept through most of the day, waking late that afternoon to find Buffy standing at the foot of his bed staring down at him with a contemptuous look in her eyes and a small pout on her lips. For a moment he thought for certain that she had snapped out of her stupor and was fully back. Perhaps the small breakthrough the previous night had breached the dam she'd been trapped behind, but then the look faded back to blankness, washing Spike's hopes away with it. After a moment, she turned away stiffly and headed for the bathroom.

“Buffy … luv,” he called after her, his voice gentle. “What’s wrong, pet?” he asked as he pushed away from the BuffyBot, who was lying motionless in the bed next to him charging, and sat up.

Buffy stopped, her back visibly stiffened even more, but she simply shook her head, her hair cascading back and forth over her bare shoulders with the motion.

Spike stood up, pulling the sheet off the bed with him to wrap around his waist and hopefully hide his morning – or late afternoon, in this case – stiffy.

He tucked the sheet around himself and walked up behind her. She hadn’t moved any further toward the bathroom. He could see most of her face in the mirror over the dresser. Beneath the mask of indifference she looked … hurt. Sad. Not that that was a really new expression on her face of late, but somehow it looked different this morning … errr, afternoon.

He settled a hand on her shoulder gently. “Buffy, please … talk to me, luv,” he pleaded, watching her face in the mirror.

Buffy bit her bottom lip and shook her head again, half-shrugging one shoulder – the one he had his hand on, as if to shrug it off.



C’mon you git! Figure it out! It’s what you bloody do! he admonished himself as he studied her face. There was definitely hurt in her green eyes – not just the miserable, dull sadness that had haunted them since Dawn’s death. Spike looked around the room, then back at the bed where he’d been sleeping when he first saw the look, and it hit him like a sledgehammer.

“You got it wrong, Buffy,” he blurted out at once, his voice defensive, his eyes wide with panic. “Didn’t … the Bot … wasn’t like that – not what you’re thinking. Just – her … its clothes were dirty from the basement at the Magic Box – needed t’ clean ‘em up if she … its gonna come out with us, yeah? That’s all it was … took ‘em off and washed ‘em in the sink after you went to sleep. Check for yourself – they’re hanging up in the bathroom drying.”

Spike put his free hand on her other shoulder and turned her around to face him. “I swear, Buffy – I’d never, never touch her ... it like that again.”



Buffy’s eyes didn’t meet his when he turned her around, instead focusing on something over his shoulder. She shrugged again. “No big,” she offered. Spike could tell she was trying to sound uncaring, but it was a forced nonchalance.

“It is a big deal, pet!” he argued immediately, nearly frantic for her to believe him. “I didn' touch the Bot … not like that. Not like you think.”

Buffy's eyes shifted to the now uncovered, nearly-nude female form lying on Spike’s bed – her nearly-nude form. Only a black, lacey thong and matching bra clothed the Bot as it lay with its eyes closed, a wire protruding from an open access panel in its side. Then Buffy let her eyes roam down Spike’s bare chest and down his body to the bulge the sheet around his waist was doing little to hide.

A single tear slid down the Slayer’s cheek. She made no move to wipe it away as she said again, “No big,” and pulled free from Spike’s grip.

“Buffy, please,” Spike began as she stepped away from him. Before he could argue further, the door to the bathroom closed with a click. The innocent sound was like the hammer falling on a gun pointed at Spike’s unbeating heart.

**~**

When Buffy emerged from the bathroom, she was dressed in jeans and a blouse, her hair pulled up in a no-nonsense tail. She sat down on her bed and pulled her boots on without a word.

“Buffy, luv … please listen t’ me,” Spike attempted to continue the earlier discussion. He’d also gotten dressed while she was in the bathroom and the BuffyBot was completely covered up with the sheet and blanket.

“Money?” Buffy asked flatly, looking at him with a stony expression.

“Yeah I got some dosh. You want t’ go out? Get somethin’ to eat? Give the sun a few more minutes and we…”

“Now. Alone,” she interrupted him. Her voice was flat and cold, but not quite the dull monotone of the previous night. “Cash?” she held her hand out toward him, palm up.

Spike heaved a deliberate sigh, pulled some bills out of his pocket, and slapped them down onto her palm.

She closed her hand around them and stuffed them down into her pocket.

“Buffy,” Spike tried again as she began to step past him toward the door. “I swear I didn’t touch the bloody Bot. I wouldn’t … not … not now. I know how it would make you feel, luv. I know it was wrong t’ even have it built, but …”



“No big,” Buffy repeated for the third time as she reached for the door knob.

“Buffy, I love you. Would never do anything t’ hurt you, luv. Ya got t’ believe me,” he pleaded.

Buffy swung the door open and late afternoon sunlight flooded in from the west. Spike jumped back and to one side, out of the path of the deadly rays.

“Do I?” she asked, her voice stony cold and unfeeling, before she stepped out into the light, pulling the door closed as she left the dingy motel room.

“YES!” he screamed at the closed door. “Yes! You’ve gotta believe me! It’s the soddin’ truth!” he continued, banging a frustrated fist into the steel door and denting it.



Spike roared with anger and frustration, and slammed his fists into the door a few more times, each one creating an impression of his knuckles in the steel. “Bloody barmy women! How do I end up with rat-shit crazy bints? What the bleeding hell is wrong with me!? What the fuck did I do to deserve these stubborn, ungrateful, tortuous bitches? Why do I even bother?!”

Spike leaned his back against the door and closed his eyes, trying to get his anger and frustration under control. He patted down his pockets, looking for his cigarettes. Finally finding them and his lighter, he lit one, taking a long, calming drag of the nicotine-laced smoke. 'Cos you love her, came the silent, unbidden answer to his question. She'll be the soddin' death of you, but... doesn't matter; no help for that now.
 
After finishing his smoke and running his hand through his hair enough to have it standing up on end, he pushed off the door and set to work getting the Bot functional. He still had a promise to keep: make sure Buffy was safe. There were things he couldn't fight, there were places he couldn't go; he needed the Bot to help keep his promise. Not that Buffy couldn’t fight, defend herself, but he hadn’t seen her lift a single finger to fight anyone since Dawn died. He hadn’t seen a single weapon, not even a stake, in her room when he’d packed her bag. He presumed the witch or the Watcher had 'crazy-Slayer-proofed' the place.

“Right …” he tried to assure himself. “Fire up the Bot.” He pulled the covers off the BuffyBot and blanched slightly. “Dress the Bot – then fire ‘er up,” he amended, heading for the bathroom and her now clean, if still a bit damp, clothes. “Hope ya don’t rust…”

**~**

“Spike! My handsome, hard-bodied love of my life! You’re alright! I thought that evil Glory-woman hurt you!” the BuffyBot exclaimed, a wide, bright-white smile on her face, when he flipped the switch in the panel and booted her up. "I have not seen you for fifty-six days, ten hours, and thirty-two minutes. I was so worried! Shall I get naked? It I cannot resist your sinister attraction – I want you to take me! Big Bad … take me now!”

She started to rise from the chair he’d sat her down in and come to him, but he put a hand on her shoulder. “Stay,” he ordered simply, pressing down lightly against her. “There’s not gonna be any takin’ … anymore.”

The Bot pouted, looking at him with luminous green eyes. “Spike? Did I do something wrong? Do you not like me anymore?”



“Like ya fine – it’s not you, luv, it's me."

The Bot's pout deepened and creases formed between her brows. "Cosmo says that's the phrase used 68.9% of the time when terminating a relationship with someone who turned out to be repulsive and/or mind-numbingly boring. Am I ... repulsive?"

"No! No ... it's not that," Spike assured her, waving his hands emphatically. "You're bloody gorgeous, luv."

"Then ... I'm boring?" she asked, her eyes beginning to shimmer with fluid.

Spike sighed dramatically. Another barmy bint, just what he needed. "Not boring, never boring, luv. I just need your help now, can ya help me?” he asked, sitting down on the bed directly across from the robot.

“Yes! I love you! I will help you with anything!” she vowed enthusiastically, the smile returning to her face. “Shall I help you remove your clothes? Shall I throw you down and rip them off your hot, tight little body?”

Spike winced at her words. “No. There’ll be no throwing or clothes removal. And don’t say ‘I love you’ anymore, got it?”

The Bot frowned, her pout reappearing, but nodded solemnly.



“And all those … special programs; we’ll not be needin’ them anymore so you can … delete them,” he continued.

BuffyBot’s face went blank a moment, as if thinking. Spike found it slightly disturbing how much that blank stare looked like Buffy had the last weeks. “In addition to the standard systems, I have seven sets of specialty programs: Fight Moves and Strategies, Slayer Quips, Sexual Positions, Sounds to Make and Words to Use During Sex, Sexual Games – Submissive, Sexual Games – Dominatrix, and Romantic Behaviors.

“In addition, I have the following specialized database files: Buffy’s Friends, Spike’s Friends and Enemies, Common Demons of Sunnydale and How to Slay Them, Most Romantic Poems of All Time, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Spike’s Favorite Songs and Bands, Spike’s Favorite Foods, Spike’s Favorite Drinks, Spike’s Favorite Compliments, Spike’s Favorite Phrases, Spike’s Favorite Places to be Kissed, Spike’s Favorite Places to be Licked, Spike’s Favorite …”

“Right,” Spike interrupted her. “I think we can do without all the ‘Sex’ bits, so just … delete those, yeah? Can you do that?”

The BuffyBot tilted her head to the side. “I cannot delete them. I can deactivate them.”

“Good – do that then,” he instructed her.

“You do not wish to have sex with me? I found it quite enjoyable. Was I not satisfactory? I’m very pretty and you are very handsome. We make a lovely couple.”

Spike blew out a breath. “You were perfect, luv, and you are very pretty. It’s just … we got a new mission – a different mission – and I need ya to help me with that now.”

The BuffyBot’s smile returned. “I am yours to command, my evil master. How may I best serve you?”



“Right – may want t’ deactivate the ‘Spike’s Favorite Phrases,’ too, pet,” Spike advised.

The BuffyBot frowned and her expression went blank, but after a moment her smile returned and she looked at Spike, giving him a firm nod of her head. “I am ready. Please relay the details of new mission.”

“We gotta protect the Slayer … the …errr other Slayer,” Spike explained. “Now … make a new file called … uhhh … ‘Gits We Don’t Trust’,” he instructed. When the Bot nodded, he began listing off all the people they no longer trusted. About halfway through the list he thought it would’ve been simpler to make a file of the people they did trust – that was a very short list indeed: Spike, Buffy, and the BuffyBot.

**~**

Buffy stepped into the beam of sunshine outside the motel room door and pulled the door closed behind her. The world was a haze of red, as if she were looking through a veil of blood. Her thoughts were fractured by the crimson tide of guilt that hung over her and she had a hard time forming full, coherent thoughts. Time passed strangely … speeding up and slowing down apparently at will. Sometimes it moved too quickly with large chunks of time simply missing – unremembered; other times, when the weight of her failure pressed against her chest, suffocating her, it moved much too slowly.

Her emotions were similarly erratic, crashing over her in waves of grief, anger, and guilt with just the barest of hints of reason attached to them. She felt dazed – as if drugged – her emotions and thoughts not in sync. She tried repeatedly to get the confusion to subside, but could rarely focus on any one thing long enough to succeed.

Hurts.
Pain.
Too much.


She leaned back against the warm, sun-baked steel of the motel room door and closed her eyes. She still hadn’t noticed the tear that had left a single trail of salty-dampness down her cheek.



Alone.

She heard Spike screaming, roaring in fury on the other side of the door, then felt each blow of his fists against the heavy steel.

Anger.
Danger.
Go.
Run.


She started walking down the sidewalk toward the front of the motel and the street. The street was wide and busy with cars. She looked up and down for a few moments, trying to focus her thoughts.

Hungry.
Food.




She saw a familiar sign – yellow with red – and headed toward it. There was no sidewalk; she walked on the grassy right-of-way of the busy highway. A car pulled over and stopped in front of her.

“Hey, sweet-cheeks! Looking for a party?! Need a ride?” a man called from the open window.

Walk.

Buffy, wrapped her arms around her torso protectively, ducked her head, cut the car a wide berth, and kept walking.

Ignore.

The car pulled away, tires squealing and sending dirt and debris flying into the air around her.

Jerk.

She made it to the diner and went inside. Buffy took a booth in the back corner and put her back to the wall so she could watch everyone coming in.

Danger.
Council.
Jail.
White coat.


The waitress came and put down a glass of water and a menu. Buffy drank the water in a few long gulps and shoved the glass back to the edge of the table.

Hungry.

She picked up the menu and opened it. She blinked her eyes a few times, trying to focus on the words.

Letters.
Words.
Read.




She couldn’t see them past the crimson pall that shrouded her vision. It all blended into red. Blood red. The color of death. The color of alone. The color of failure.

Failed.
Killed Dawn.
Blood.


“My, you were thirsty,” the waitress observed. “I’ll get ya a pitcher … unless you’d rather something else? Coffee?”

Buffy shook her head and fingered the glass. The waitress turned and picked up a pitcher of water from a serving enclave behind Buffy, filled the glass again and set the whole pitcher on the table.

Wet.

Buffy drank about half of the second glass, then held it against her forehead a moment. The beads of condensation on the outside of the glass felt good against her warm skin. She closed her eyes, trying to wash away the film of blood that occluded her vision and clouded her mind.

Cold.
Clear.


“Decide what ya want?” the waitress asked, pulling Buffy from her scattered thoughts. Buffy opened her eyes and set the glass of water back down, looking up at the waitress who was holding a small pad of paper and a pen at the ready.

Food.

Buffy pointed at a picture: A full breakfast with eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and biscuits. Then at another picture of waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

Dawn.

“Hungry t’ go along with thirsty,” the waitress commented, writing the order down. “How do ya want your eggs, dear?”

Yolk-y.

Buffy hesitated, blinked, concentrated hard. “Flip. Easy.”

The waitress nodded and took the menu back from her. “Be right up…”

Buffy scanned the patrons as she waited, trying to see their faces.

Watchers?

Everyone looked the same; all covered in blood; their throats cut nearly in two. Her heart began to race.

Take you away.
Crumbled cookies.
White coats.


If anyone looked back at her she glared at them until they looked away.

Prison.
Bars.
Alone.


She drank more water.

Deserve.

She went to the bathroom.

Forever alone.



Buffy stopped and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She touched the deep gash in her throat. She could see her spine. She moved her head back and forth and furrowed her brow.

Should've been me.
Dead.
Failed.


She pulled her fingers away. Blood dripped from them.

She went into the stall and peed. Came out and washed her hands. She watched the blood get rinsed away, but never actually fade. She stood there for a long while as the red gore swirled around the sink and flowed down the drain, but her hands were still painted with it.



Too much.

Leaving the water running, she went back out to her table. Her food was there.

Don’t deserve.

Tears stung her eyes as she looked at the waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. She pushed them across the table for Dawn. They were her favorite.

Eat.

Buffy looked up when someone slid into the booth across from her. It was her. She blinked and looked again. Still her. Only not. Her but not her. Happy her. Used to be her. Not her anymore.

Spike slid in next to Happy Her; Dawn was gone. She hadn’t eaten. Waffles in front of Spike. Dawn’s waffles.

Buffy looked back down at her plate as tears stung her eyes.



Hurts.
Alone.
Deserve.
Failure.


“Buffy … luv,” Spike began, reaching across the table for her hand. She didn’t pull away as he closed his fingers over hers, but stiffened visibly.

“Please don’t be cross. I swear nothing happened, pet. The Bot’s just helping watch over you. Nothing more,” Spike said softly. “Tell ‘er,” he instructed the Bot.

“Spike and I are friends and coworkers. We used to have sex, but now we don’t. It isn’t because I was unsatisfactory or didn’t give him bloody fantastic orgasms, though – because I did. I’m very pretty, I give brilliant blowjobs, and my quim is …”

Spike cleared his throat. “Might wanna skip that bit…”



The Bot nodded amicably. “I am now an operative in his mission to keep the Other Slayer safe. Operatives don’t give other operatives orgasms – not even hand jobs; it’s unprofessional. You are the Other Slayer. You’re very pretty – like me. We cannot trust Rupert, Red, That Git Harris, Demon-bird, the Watchers…”

“Thanks, pet,” he said, cutting the Bot off.

“Buffy, please believe me. There’s nothin’ in this world that could make me hurt you. I love you so bloody much. Just tryin’ to do all I can think t’ keep you safe. Give you a chance t’ … heal, luv – in your own time and own way.”

Buffy shook her head. She couldn’t look up at him. He was covered in blood; the gaping wound on his neck made her stomach twist painfully.

Go away. Alone.

“Don’t,” she whispered at last.

“Don’t what, luv?”

Happy Buffy gone. Deserve hurt. Alone.

“Don’t love me.”

Spike squeezed her hand and snorted softly. “Been tellin' myself the same thing for months, pet. Apparently it's too bloody late t' change. Drowning in you, Summers – got no escape.”

Buffy looked up finally. Tears glistened in her eyes as she looked from the Bot to Spike. “Love her. Happy Buffy.”



Spike shook his head. “I love you. Barmy Buffy.”

“Barmy,” Buffy repeated sadly. “Crazy.” She nodded. The crimson veil lifted slightly from her mind, thoughts spilled in like water over a dam. “Killer. Like Dru. Worse. Killed Dawn.”

“Not like Dru, and you bloody well didn't kill Dawn,” Spike assured her sternly, leaning forward in the booth so he could keep is voice from carrying and to be that much closer to her. “Not a killer. Never a killer, luv. A Champion. You’re not like Dru. Stronger, you are. So much stronger – the Slayer.”

“The Other Slayer,” the Bot interjected happily.

Spike took a deep, patient breath but didn’t correct the Bot. “Let me help you, Buffy. You can … make it through this. Get past …”

“No. No past,” Buffy interrupted him. “Too jumbled. Too much blood.” She pulled her hand out from under Spike’s and held both her hands up to show him. Blood dripped from her fingers, from her palms, ran down her wrists to her arms, flowed off her elbows, and pooled on the tabletop. “Too much blood,” she repeated, staring at her perfectly clean hands from which too much blood dripped.

She looked back at Spike with haunted, lonely eyes. “Love her,” she said again, gesturing with her head at the Bot. “Happy. No blood.”

Buffy slid out of the booth. She pulled all the money Spike had given her out of her pocket and dropped it on the table. Spike grabbed her wrist as she started to walk past. “The blood’s not on your hands, Buffy. It’s on mine. What happened was not your fault, luv. I should’ve … I … should’ve seen it comin’. I … didn’t keep my promise; didn’t keep ‘er safe.”

She looked down at him. His face, his clothes, his hair – everything was covered in blood. “Enough to drown us all,” she observed, pulling free of his grip and hurrying from the diner.

Spike frowned after her and slid out of the booth, picking through the money she left and taking back the extra.

“What are my orders? Shall I keep her under surveillance?” BuffyBot asked.

Spike watched Buffy disappear out the front doors and sighed. He couldn’t follow her around all night and make more money at the casinos too, and they were gonna need more money. “Yeah, don’t get too close. Just watch – help ‘er, defend her if someone attacks, otherwise keep your distance, yeah?”

BuffyBot nodded decisively and slid out of the booth. “I have several scenarios for stalking and observing demons which I am skilled at and can employ successfully,” she assured him.



“Right. Good. Don’t start any fights with anyone – if someone attacks, help her – but don’t go on the offensive. Be sure first before ya do anything t’ draw attention.

“If you lose ‘er, just come back to the motel and wait. You remember where it is … the room number?” he asked.

BuffyBot nodded again. “My memory capacity is extraordinary,” she informed him. “Paradise Lost. Room 117,” she recited before turning on her heel and following Buffy outside.

Spike sighed wondering if he’d lose both the Bot and Buffy in one night.

**~**

Buffy trudged through the deep pools of blood alongside the highway, heading away from the motel and diner towards the lights of downtown. Blood-red lights flashed in the distance, nearly blinding. Brighter than the sun to her eyes.

As she walked though, the veil of guilt-laden blood seemed to slip away further – allowing thoughts, coherent, full thoughts – to reach her for the first time in what seemed forever. It felt like a shroud lifting, allowing all the ideas in her mind to come pouring to the fore. Suddenly she knew what she had to do – it came to her, clear as a bell tolling over a silent, misty moor. It was the only way to get the pain to stop.

She found a dark, dank alley – her domain, a killer’s domain – and headed down it. When BuffyBot turned to follow her down the alley, Buffy stepped out from the shadows against one wall and was suddenly behind her pursuer.



“Do you love him ... Spike?” Buffy asked herself … or not herself – no blood – used to be herself, not anymore. It was a strange feeling, surreal, talking to herself. She was getting used to strange feelings – her whole life felt surreal. She couldn't help but wonder who the real Slayer was: Barmy Buffy or Happy Buffy. Maybe Barmy Buffy wasn't real at all ... maybe she was just a player in a nightmare of this other woman who looked like her. Maybe Happy Buffy would wake up, and Barmy Buffy would be poof – gone – a wisp of smoke, a forgotten memory of a dream.

Buffy shook her head, too many thoughts were bombarding her now that they had broken free. She needed to concentrate now; she knew the mission, she needed to get it done.

BuffyBot spun around and considered the Other Slayer a moment. “I was made to love him.”

Buffy nodded slowly, solemnly. “When I’m gone you stay with him, protect him. Don’t leave him alone. He’s no good alone – Love’s Bitch." Buffy snorted sarcastically. "He's the strangest vampire I've ever known – all with the love and devotion. He thinks he loves me, but it's not me, he just needs to love someone. You love him. Love him for me. The blood is on my hands, not his. Tell him.”

“I do not understand. We are keeping you safe. It is our mission. Where would you go that he would not be?” the Bot asked, confusion furrowing her brow.

“To Hell,” Buffy replied flatly.

“I can not process this response. Please restate your reply.”



“I’m broken,” Buffy explained.

“We will fix you,” BuffyBot offered. “I have many programs for repairing humans.”

Buffy shook her head. “Too late. Promise me you’ll tell him: not his fault. He … he did more than anyone, even when I didn't ..." Buffy halted, her voice breaking. She cleared her throat and gathered herself before continuing, "Even when I didn't toss him a single crumb. He tried harder than I had any right to expect. Just … just love him – for me.”

“I can follow your directives, but I still do not understand. What part of you is broken?” BuffyBot continued.

“My heart. My head. My soul …” Buffy replied softly, rubbing at her aching temples. “Drenched in blood. Everything’s … drenched in blood. It hurts so much.”

BuffyBot tilted her head and studied Buffy head-to-toe. “I do not see any blood, and I have excellent optics.”



“Keep watching,” Buffy muttered as she pulled the pocket knife – the thing she’d taken from her dresser drawer the night before – out of her pocket.

As BuffyBot watched, Buffy, using all her Slayer power, stabbed the knife into her left forearm and dragged it down through her flesh to her wrist. Blood spurted from the vein in a geyser of thick, hot liquid, covering Buffy with the crimson gore she’d been seeing for the last several weeks. She yanked the blade out and repeated the process on her right arm. She couldn’t stab the knife in as deeply due to the life-draining injury on her left arm, but she managed enough to start blood pouring from that arm as well.

Buffy looked back up at the Bot, who was standing stock-still, watching with confusion. “Love him for me. He deserves it,” Buffy instructed once again before vertigo overtook her and she dropped like a ragdoll to the dirty, garbage-strewn pavement of the alley, the knife still protruding from her right forearm.

“Spike said I should just watch – unless someone attacks, I should just watch,” the Bot recited her instructions, still looking confused. She fretted her bottom lip with her teeth, trying to process everything. “No one has attacked – I am to simply watch.

“But the new mission is to keep the Other Slayer safe. Excessive blood loss is deadly to humans. The Other Slayer is human," she reasoned aloud, still watching as Buffy's life-blood drained from her body, forming a slick pool of dark liquid on the ground beneath her.

The Bot stood watching, processing everything, trying to reconcile her conflicting instructions. "I must ask Spike what I should do; which directive takes precedence,” BuffyBot decided at last.

“Come. We will ask Spike what to do,” she told Buffy with a firm nod of her head, pleased with her decision. She leaned down and picked the bleeding, unconscious Slayer up and headed out of the alley, back to the busy Las Vegas street.

Before the Bot knew what was happening, people walking on the sidewalk began screaming. Someone claiming to be a doctor tried to wrest Buffy from the Bot’s arms, but she refused to let her go, explaining that she had to get back to Spike and find out what to do – which instruction to follow. As more and more people gathered around her, the Bot got more and more confused. Everyone was talking at once and pulling Buffy away from her. And then there were policemen and paramedics, and the Bot was forced to release her hold on the Other Slayer lest she injure her. She wasn’t to start a fight with anyone and draw undue attention … she needed Spike. She didn’t know what to do.

Then, just as she began to leave Buffy and go back to the motel to find Spike, she was ushered into the back of an ambulance with the Other Slayer, and the doors were closed. The siren rang in her ears as the truck sped through the busy streets toward the hospital. A man on the opposite side of the Other Slayer was working on Buffy frantically. There were needles and tubes and bandages, and a thick layer of blood coated everything. Buffy had been right, the Bot thought, there was blood everywhere.

“Identical twins, huh?” the man asked as he worked, chancing a glance up at the Bot.

BuffyBot looked at him dumbly for a moment. “Identical twins develop from a single fertilized ovum and therefore have the same genotype, are of the same sex, and usually resemble each other closely,” she replied.



“Right,” the man agreed, giving the Bot a strange look. “She should be alright. Never know, but think we got it in time,” he assured her.

“That is excellent news because our mission is to keep the Other Slayer safe. But I was not sure what action to take, because Spike said to only watch unless someone attacked, but she attacked herself. I was unfamiliar with this mode of action. Is it a common tactic?”

The man shrugged. “Common enough in this town, I guess.

“They’re gonna take her right into surgery when we get there. Someone will show you where to wait.”

“I should go to the motel and find Spike. He will know what to do,” the Bot insisted.

“Who’s that?”

“I love him. He said I shouldn’t say that anymore, but she said I should love him for her, so I will,” the Bot explained, tilting her head toward Buffy, lying unconscious between them.

The paramedic nodded sagely. “A love triangle, huh?”

The Bot considered this a moment before stating, “A triangle is a three-sided polygon with the sum of its interior angles being 180° … or it could be a percussion instrument consisting of a sonorous metal bar bent into a triangular shape, beaten with a metal stick. Spike is neither one of those; although he does enjoy music – but not music with triangles. Mostly drums and guitar played at 125 decibels or higher.”

“Right…” the man agreed, giving her another strange look. “Well … you can call him from the waiting room.”



BuffyBot smiled widely. “That will be acceptable.”

“Glad to hear it, Blondie…”

**~**

“Oh, could this get any more cliché?” Buffy asked the darkness as she looked around. “Tell me it’s an oncoming train,” she continued sarcastically, looking toward the only light she could see in the ebony blackness, a dot in the far distance. Nothing answered her. There was no sound, no movement, no feeling – just the light and the dark. The air around her seemed to absorb her words; it wasn't hot or cold, it wasn't humid or dry, it had no aroma at all. She knew she must be standing on something, but couldn't actually feel anything beneath her feet. "This must be what Willow was trying to teach me in that computer class: null ... absolute nothingness."

Buffy sighed and looked at the only thing she could see in the inky void: the small spot of golden light, which she gave even odds to being a train racing toward her. "Fine … I get it. ‘Move toward the light.’” And so she did.

It turned out to be a doorway into her kitchen back home; the light streaming into the darkness was sun shining in through the windows over the sink. Her mom was standing at the counter, her back to Buffy, pouring batter onto a hot waffle press.

“Mommy!” Buffy exclaimed in utter relief, racing around the center island to her mother.



Joyce set the bowl of batter down and turned around just in time to catch her daughter in her arms. “Buffy … my sweet girl,” Joyce murmured, wrapping her arms around her daughter and dropping kisses into Buffy’s hair.

“Mommy, God … I … tried so hard. I just couldn’t … I couldn’t save her. I’m so sorry. I let you down … I let Dawn down,” Buffy sobbed against her.

“Shhhhh … it’s alright, Buffy,” Joyce soothed, running her hand down Buffy’s long hair gently. “There was nothing you could’ve done. It was Dawn’s choice … you couldn’t have known. Shush now, sweetie. It’s alright…”



The two women stood there for what was at once an eternity and a blink of the eye; mother soothing the hurt away from her daughter. The embrace ended slowly, naturally … Buffy’s heart, if not mended, was at least temporarily bandaged. Joyce gave her daughter a reassuring smile, holding her at arm’s length a moment as Buffy wiped jerkily at her face and eyes to clear her tears.

“Sit down, honey. The waffles will be ready in a minute,” Joyce offered, waving a hand at the island. “I need to talk to you.”

Buffy took a deep breath and nodded before moving out of her mother’s arms. “Where’s … Is Dawn here?” Buffy asked tentatively, looking around as she took her normal seat at the island.



Joyce turned back around to get the waffles out of the iron. “No … that’s what I need to talk to you about,” she admitted.

Buffy fretted her bottom lip with her teeth, worry and fear settling back into her heart as she waited for her mom to continue.

Joyce brought two plates of waffles over to the table, then retrieved syrup and coffee creamer from the fridge, and poured them both cups of coffee. She stood across from Buffy to eat rather than sitting on her stool at the end of the island.

“Mom … just tell me,” Buffy begged, unable to stomach the idea of eating anything right then.

“Eat,” Joyce pressed. “You’ll feel better. You look so thin, Buffy. Have you been eating? Living on Coke isn’t healthy – you need to eat real food ... including vegetables, and potato chips don't count.”

“What difference does it make? Dead now. The good thing about dead is you don’t really need to worry about eating healthy,” Buffy retorted.



Joyce gave her that patient mom-smile that Buffy knew too well. “You’re not dead, Buffy – you’re unconscious. But if you keep on like you’ve been doing, you will be dead, and then Dawn will …” Joyce’s voice broke. She cleared her throat and took a drink of coffee to cover it.

“Dawn will what?” Buffy demanded, although she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

Joyce cleared her throat again and met Buffy’s eyes. “Dawn’s not here because she’s … stuck. She can’t move forward or back – she’s caught between worlds,” Joyce explained.

“Caught? But why?”

Joyce took another slow sip of coffee; her hands trembled slightly. Buffy noticed. “Mom … please, tell me what’s going on.”

Joyce nodded and set her cup down; it clattered slightly on the Formica countertop before she could release it from her shaking fingers. “First of all, I want to say this again: What happened to Dawn is not your fault – it’s no one’s fault. She made a decision. It’s a decision that you would’ve made if you were in her place. She died saving the world – saving you and her friends – don’t negate or belittle what she did by blaming yourself. Her blood is not on your hands, Buffy. Not yours, not Spike’s … not anyone’s except Glory’s.”

Buffy looked down at her hands and began unconsciously wringing them together, as if to wipe the blood off.

“Buffy. You have to stop blaming yourself. Dawn still needs you – and burying yourself in a pool of blood-soaked guilt will not help her. Listen to me – believe me when I tell you this,” her mother insisted.

Buffy looked up at her mother, wanting desperately to believe her.



“Dawn still needs you, Buffy. You have to pull yourself together,” Joyce repeated. “You’re the Slayer – you can do this.”

Buffy’s brows furrowed. “How … how do I help her? She’s … gone. We buried her … next to you.”

Joyce drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “She’s no more gone than I am, but she’s … trapped in Limbo. She needs you to get her out.”

“I don’t understand,” Buffy interjected, searching her mother’s face for some clue.

“When the monks made her, they made her body out of you – your blood, Buffy – but they needed a soul,” Joyce began to explain.

Buffy furrowed her brow as she listened and watched her mother’s grave expression. “Okay … they needed a soul. Why didn’t they make a withdrawal from the ‘Soul Bank’ or buy one on eBay or whatever? No! Don't tell me! They don't have a PayPal account, right?”



Joyce let out a small laugh and shook her head. “They aren’t that powerful ... the monks aren't on the level with the Powers. They don't have an account at the ‘Soul Bank’ ... and I think eBay frowns on the sale of souls – no one wants to allow returns,” she joked. Then, turning serious she added, “They had to get it from … you.”

Buffy’s brows shot up.

Joyce quickly continued, “And me, and your friends … Willow, Mr. Giles, Xander – they took a little bit of soul from each of us to make it.”

“They took pieces of our souls? Isn’t that … of the bad?” Buffy asked worriedly. “Not to mention sort of an invasion of privacy!”

Joyce shook her head. “Souls are … fluid, they grow, they change … sometimes they shrink – sometimes they even die inside people. A baby’s soul starts out as a small little thing, just like the baby started out. It’s like a bright promise, a seed made from bits of the soul of the child’s parents. As the child grows, the soul grows with them – all of the child’s experiences mold it, shape it into … their own unique soul over time.
 
“The monks took all our memories and changed them, putting Dawn in them for us. Once Dawn was in our hearts, in our souls, they took a little piece of that from each of us to give her – we were all her parents in a way. She needed this so she would have her soul – nearly fully grown right from the start – not just a small seed,” Joyce continued.

“Okaaay,” Buffy drawled. “So what does that mean? That’s what’s trapping her? She has pieces of the souls of people that are still alive so she can’t move on?”

Joyce frowned. “Sort of…” she admitted. “The little bits that they took from most of us wouldn’t be enough to trap her. The problem is, the small chunks they took weren’t enough to create a full, teen-sized soul; they had to get more – a bigger piece somewhere, to ... fill it out.”

Buffy waited for the shoe to fall.

“From someone that loved her but wasn’t actually … using his.”

Buffy closed her eyes. “Spike,” she breathed.



Joyce nodded. “They took about half his soul from the ether and gave it to her to make up the difference.”

“That explains a lot actually,” Buffy quipped dryly, opening her eyes to look back at her mother over their untouched food. She steeled herself to ask the next question, clenching her fists against her thighs, and stiffening her back. “So what does that mean? Spike has to … dust in order to release the rest of his soul from the ether and, in turn, release Dawn so she can move on?”

“That’s one option,” Joyce admitted, looking away from Buffy uncomfortably.

Buffy nodded, the threat of tears blurring her vision. Why should she care? If it came down to him or Dawn, of course she would choose to save Dawn. Spike was a vampire, it was her sacred duty to dust him. It had always been her duty, her Calling ... and yet, she'd never been able to. She'd had her chances, even when he was evil and chip-less, and she'd always, always let him go. She'd had plenty of excuses after the fact, and always swore she would dust him next time, but ... somehow she never managed it.

She blinked her confusing, irrational tears back and asked in a hoarse whisper, “What are the other options?”

Joyce took another sip of her coffee, looking everywhere except at Buffy. She took her time, setting her coffee back down on the counter and clearing her throat uneasily before answering. “He could … have a child and Dawn’s soul would be pulled back – given to the baby. Basically she – or at least her soul – would come back to life. It would get her out of the state of Limbo she’s in; give her spirit another chance at life.”

Buffy stared at her mother a moment as the words and their meaning sank into her brain. “A … baby …"

"A baby," Joyce confirmed with a slight nod.

"Spike needs to have a baby..." Buffy restated.

"Well," Joyce hedged. "Not exactly, he's a man. There would need to be someone ... else involved. A girl ..."

"A girl ..." Buffy repeated. "... to have a baby … with Spike."



"Yes," her mother confirmed, picking her coffee back up and sipping at it uncomfortably, her eyes glued to the countertop.

Buffy studied Joyce as the weight of her mother's words settled onto her shoulders. "You want me to have a baby with Spike," Buffy muttered, utterly flabbergasted by the suggestion.

“Well … ummm,” Joyce began, sounding unsure, then she sighed. “Yes.”



“Mom … I know you've been busy with the being dead part of your life, but I think you've missed some key episodes of this program. Timmy's down the well and Lassie ran off with Rin Tin Tin. I hear they're living in a hippie commune in the foothills of some mountain range I can't pronounce, smoking dope, making little mutts, calling them Shep-ollies, and selling them for major bucks on Craigslist."

"Buffy, honey ..." Joyce began, but Buffy cut her off, tossing her hands in the air in frustration.

"Mom, I can’t take care of myself, let alone a baby! I couldn’t take care of teenage Dawn – couldn’t keep her safe, couldn’t handle anything after you …” Buffy’s voice broke and she couldn’t finish the sentence. “I … I … can’t,” Buffy rasped out, her chest and throat tightening in emotions ranging from simple, unmitigated fear to utter, bone-chilling terror.

“You can, Buffy. I have faith in you. I know you can do it,” Joyce encouraged her. “You’ll make a wonderful mother.”

“You do remember me, right? Buffy – your daughter who couldn’t even keep a gerbil alive? The girl that's killed every houseplant I've ever owned? The one that spends all her time in cemeteries? The one that’s living on borrowed time? The one that’s died once already and … and … tried to die again? I’m that Buffy. There’s no room for a baby in that … it would be … craziness.”

“Buffy … Dawn needs you. Limbo isn’t somewhere you want to spend eternity, believe me. You’re stronger than you know – you can do it. You can save her soul from … the darkness,” Joyce assured her again, her voice soft and cajoling.

Buffy pressed her clenched fists against her thighs and screwed her eyes closed tightly, trying to keep from exploding with frustration and rage. Hadn’t she done enough? Couldn’t she just rest now? She was so tired, so utterly exhausted. So tired of the guilt, of the fear, of the worry, the pressure. So tired of the weight of the world resting on her shoulders. How do you add a baby to that and remain standing under the strain? She could barely stand even now. She didn't even want to try to stand anymore. Hello! Can you say 'suicide'? Is anybody up here watching?

Then something else occurred to the Slayer. She opened her eyes, blatant defiance shone in the glare she leveled on her dead mother.

“In case you forgot, Spike’s a vampire. He's big with the undead method of birth control: his little ... swimmers are mostly just belly-up floaters ... kinda like that goldfish I had when I was three.

"So, duh! He can’t make babies!” Buffy informed her angrily, a small snarl of victory accompanying the words.

Joyce flinched at her daughter’s outburst, but tried to keep her expression neutral and her voice calm. “He can,” she said, keeping her tone even. “I … I made a … deal – with the monks,” Joyce continued. “If you … were to have … relations with him and at the … ummm … right moment … think about Dawn, the monks will … fix it – a baby would be made.”



Buffy stared at her, her mouth dropping open in shock. Her mother was not backing down. Her mother, who had been so dead-set against Buffy dating Angel, was openly telling her to have sex with Spike, a soulless vampire. Not only that, she was telling Buffy to make a baby with said soulless vampire.

“I couldn’t find any other way, Buffy,” Joyce continued quickly. “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think …” She paused a moment, then asked simply, “You love him, don’t you? I know he loves you.”



The tears that had been threatening spilled from Buffy’s eyes and dampened her cheeks. She dropped her gaze to the fists she had clenched in her lap, willing the flood, which had no basis whatsoever, to stop. In answer to her mother’s question Buffy shook her head, then nodded, then shook it again. “I’m … He’s … We’re…” she stammered. She took several deep, shuddering breaths and then looked up and met her mother’s eyes. “Mom, first of all, he's a vampire. I thought you were founder and president of the No Dating Vampires Club."

Joyce gave her daughter a patient smile. "No, honey ... that was Mr. Giles. I was treasurer."

"Mooom," Buffy moaned, rolling her shimmering eyes. "He doesn't even have a soul."

"No, but he has a heart, Buffy. He can love; he loves you – he loves you very much. He's changed, Buffy – he's no run of the mill vampire. You can't deny that," Joyce pointed out gently.

Buffy closed her eyes again, her throat tightened and closed up, an icy fist squeezed her heart, until she felt like she'd suffocate, unable to breathe. Her mom was right, Buffy couldn't deny Spike's heart, not anymore. She'd tried to deny it at first, tried to paint Spike with the same blood-soaked brush she had Angelus: a soulless monster incapable of feeling any true affection for anyone. But, it hadn't worked; Spike had proven her wrong too many times, proving her mother right. He had changed, over the last months especially. Spike could love, and for some insane reason, he loved her.

"I don’t know how to love," Buffy replied after finally forcing a breath into her lungs, her voice shaky and barely audible. "I … I’m … the Slayer. Love’s not … in the hand I was dealt. And babies aren’t even in the deck.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Joyce argued sternly. “I know you, Buffy – better than anyone. Your heart is full of love. No one is more caring and giving than you are, I’ve seen it too many times. You always put the safety and well-being of others above your own. I refuse to believe that being the Slayer could take that away – if anything, it would make it stronger. Why in the world would you think that you can’t love?”



Buffy shook her head despondently, tears swimming in her eyes. “I don’t know. I’ve tried but … it’s just … more than I have to give.”

“Honey, I wouldn’t ask you to give more than you have. I know it's in you, I know you can do it,” Joyce assured her. “Dawn still needs you, now more than ever. Will you … try?”

Buffy’s head drooped, her chin falling to her chest. She felt like she was drowning. It was too much – too much to ask. She looked down at her hands, opened her fists and studied her palms. Blood. Her hands were covered in blood. Dawn’s blood. She’d killed her sister. She’d failed her.

The never-ending tears continued to stream from her eyes as she nodded almost imperceptibly. God help her, she would try. She owed Dawn that much.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear Try by P!nk  on YouTube  }}

Ever wonder about what he’s doing
How it all turned to lies
Sometimes I think that it’s better to never ask why

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

Eh, eh, eh

Funny how the heart can be deceiving
More than just a couple times
Why do we fall in love so easy
Even when it’s not right

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just becausze it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

Ever worried that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
Are you just getting by?
Tell me are you just getting by by by

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try

You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try

You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
Chapter End Notes:
Can Buffy pull herself together long enough to accomplish the mission her mother gave her and save Dawn's patch-work soul from Limbo? Lifting the bloody veil of guilt from Buffy's mind may be more of a problem than Joyce realizes.
Eclipse by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thanks to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary always make me smile! All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the very last moment.
Buffy’s head swam. She felt like she was spinning on a demonic Tilt-a Whirl and she had to take deep breaths in through her mouth to simply keep from retching. When the feeling had subsided enough to be tolerable, she blinked her eyes open.

“Mom?” she whispered, barely audible.

When her eyes finally focused, she was met with bottomless pools of concern shadowed in the azure depths of Spike’s eyes.



“Spike,” she rasped.

“Oh, Buffy…” he breathed with relief, lifting the hand he’d been holding up to his lips and pressing a soft kiss on her knuckles.

Buffy’s eyes fluttered closed again as she tried to figure out where she was. It was only a moment later when the distinct aroma of her surroundings hit her nostrils and registered in her muddled brain.

Hospital.

The stench of death, illness, and despair was barely veiled by antiseptics and the ubiquitous cherry Jell-O. It seemed that all hospitals smelled just the same, and she hated the memories and feelings her olfactory senses stirred in her.

Cousin Celia.
Der Kindestod.
Mom.


“Go,” she ground out through dry, chapped lips and tight vocal cords. She swallowed and gripped Spike’s hand as hard as she could, she hoped he would understand this was a demand, not a question. “Home.”

“Not yet, luv … gotta stay ‘ere a just a bit longer,” Spike answered, trying to sound assuring.

Death.
Fix Dawn.
No die.


Buffy blinked her eyes open again and looked around, trying to find an escape. To Spike’s back was one of those flimsy cloth ‘privacy’ curtains in puke-yellow. Presumably there was another bed, or several, beyond it. On the other side of her bed was a solid-looking wall with a small window. The window, she noted, was very narrow and up near the ceiling, high above head height, and there were steel bars over it.




Not hospital.
Loony bin.


More disquieting memories flooded through her from the time she’d spent in such a place when she had first been called, back in L.A. She pushed them back – she couldn’t deal with that now, didn’t want to remember the pain of her parents not believing her. She took a few more deep breaths to calm down, still gripping Spike’s hand to make sure he didn’t leave her here, and continued her perusal of the room.

BuffyBot stood leaning against the wall, her eyes open, but unblinking, unseeing. Her clothes were covered in blood.

Buffy looked back at Spike. “Bot?” Buffy asked, her voice still husky from disuse.

Spike looked up at the Bot. “Just in power conserve mode, luv. If ya touch her, she comes right out of it.”



“Sleep,” Buffy summarized.

Spike shrugged. “Reckon so.”

“Blood,” Buffy commented.

“Yours,” Spike replied simply.

A lock of hair fell into Buffy’s face and she reached up to tuck it back behind her ear. Her arm only made it a short distance from the rails on the side of the bed before it was stopped short. She looked down – her arms were held to the rails with wide canvas straps. Then she realized Spike hadn’t actually lifted her hand to his lips to kiss her so much as dropped his lips to her hand.

He reached up and gently slid his fingertips across her forehead, pressing the hair back out of her eyes and hooking it behind her ear.

“Arrested?” Buffy wondered.

Spike shook his head. “Just under … observation,” he allowed.

Buffy snorted. “Same.”

Spike shrugged. “Not quite. Ya got better drugs and fewer birds shagging in the shower, if the movies are t’ be believed.”

Buffy closed her eyes.

Joke.

She tried to laugh. Couldn’t remember how.

“Go,” she repeated.

Spike lowered his voice. “We can get ya out whenever you’re strong enough t’ leave,” he replied. “But I think we need t’ wait a bit, luv. You lost a lotta blood … need t’ get your strength back good and proper.”



Buffy nodded her understanding, never opening her eyes.

Break out.

“Telling ya now, though, won’t do it unless you promise t’ not try somethin’ as daft as that again, Slayer,” Spike warned, his voice a mix of fear, pain, and anger.

Buffy flinched from the rebuke, but nodded. She felt tears leak from her eyes and run into her ears. She couldn’t even lift her hands to wipe them away.

“No die,” she assured him. “Sorry,” she croaked out, her voice shaking.

Blood.
Hands bloody.


Buffy opened her eyes and blinked to get them to focus as she looked down at her hands. She released her hold on Spike, flexed her fingers, and then curled them into fists over and over again as the blood dripped from them in an unending torrent.

“Blood,” she whispered to Spike.



Spike took her left hand into both of his and held it, stopping her fist from opening and closing. “There’s no blood on your hands, luv. None of us saw it comin’ … me included. Dawn wouldn’t want this. She loved you. Don’t let ‘er sacrifice be in vain, luv. Please, Buffy – stay with me, let me help you.”

Buffy nodded as she clamped her eyes closed again. Her tears came harder, streaming down her cheeks and dampening the pillow beneath her head. A moment later they turned into keening sobs that wracked her entire body.

Spike tried to soothe her, murmuring words of comfort, smoothing her matted, blood-soaked hair. He held tightly to her hand, trying to keep her from slipping away and drowning beneath the waves of utter madness, afraid of losing her forever.

**~**

Two days later Spike and Buffy managed to convince the caseworker and psychiatrist that had been assigned to Buffy that she was stable and could be released into Spike’s care. Given the fact that she had no insurance or assets, it wasn't that hard a sell. This saved them the trouble of actually breaking her out of the psych ward. Spike was slightly disappointed; he’d spent a few hours scoping the place out and formulating a plan – a good plan, a solid plan – to break her out. It would’ve worked, he was sure.

So, with an appointment to return in ten days to get her stitches out, a prescription for an antidepressant, and a referral to a psychologist, Spike brought Buffy 'home' – back to Paradise Lost.

“How about I take you out to dinner t’ celebrate, luv?” Spike asked after they’d gotten back to their room. BuffyBot was ‘asleep’, lying on Spike’s bed charging.

Buffy shook her head and wrapped her arms around her torso in a protective gesture. “Safe here.”

Spike nodded. “No worries – we can order in, watch a movie. Got ten porn channels ‘ere. There’s a classic on t’night: ‘Deep Throat’,” Spike suggested, waggling his brows and running his tongue slowly over his teeth.



She turned away from him and began rummaging through her bag to find something clean and comfortable to change into. “Pig,” Buffy retorted after a few moments.

The timing of the come-back was late by about fifteen seconds, and her tone was flat, there was no inflection to her voice either of disdain or anger, but just saying the word was some improvement, in Spike’s estimation. At least she had the wherewithal to insult him. Not her best shot, by far – but a good first volley.

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Spike replied, his tone teasing.

Fix Dawn.
Spike.
Soul.


Buffy rolled her eyes. Spike caught it in the mirror over the dresser.

An actual eye roll! Spike’s eyes went wide and his heart nearly flew out of his chest in exaltation.

Buffy gave up her search. Spike hadn’t packed any of her comfy, grungy clothes at all – and no PJs. She found the white t-shirt she’d slept in when they’d first gotten here laying on a chair and picked it up, considering it.

“Buffy, not that I don’t fancy that … outfit, luv. But … errr … if ya don’t want t’ go the porn route, maybe you’d be more comfy in one o’ my shirts,” Spike suggested, grabbing one of his black t-shirts and holding it out to her.

Buffy took it and held it up to her shoulders, sizing it up, then pulled it up to her nose, closed her eyes, and inhaled.

Spike.
Leather.
Cigarettes.
Whiskey.
April-fresh Downy?


Spike smiled as he watched her breathe in his scent. So, he wasn’t the only one with an aroma fetish. He studied her face, trying to decide if she liked 'Eau de Spike', but her expression remained neutral – he couldn't tell.

She nodded.

Buffy lowered the shirt and opened her eyes. She looked down at her hands. There was still blood on them – standing out bright red against the black material. It didn’t drip from her fingers in rivers of crimson, but it was there.

Not your fault.
Not anyone’s.


“Mommy?” Buffy said aloud, looking around with wide, eager eyes. She was sure she'd heard Joyce's voice.



“No, luv,” Spike said softly, moving up to her. “It’s me, pet, Spike.”

“Spike,” Buffy repeated, scanning the room again, just to make sure.

No Mom.
Mom dead.
Dawn dead.
Trapped.
Buffy help Dawn.


Buffy finally looked at him. He thought the flashes of lucidity were more frequent – more … lucid. But right this minute she looked like a lost kitten, desperately searching for its mother.

Buffy closed her eyes and tried to get her jumbled thoughts to coalesce into something – anything – that made sense. Single words and short phrases were all that made it through that crimson shroud that covered everything – a shroud of guilt, of pain, of failure. She knew enough to know this wasn’t right, but couldn’t find a way to escape the river of blood that swept her thoughts away like fallen leaves in a mountain stream. She'd gotten it to ease before, she knew, but couldn't think how she'd done it – or had it been her doing at all? Everything was just too muddled and disjointed. Was she on some kind of drugs? Was that the problem? She didn't know, couldn't remember.

“Yer gonna need help with the shower, luv,” Spike said, pulling her from her futile efforts to make her brain function properly. “Can’t get your bandages wet,” he pointed out, laying a tender hand on her right forearm.

Buffy frowned, looking down at the bandages on her arms. Why were there bandages on her arms? She struggled to remember. Concentrated hard. Couldn’t. Gave up.

“I could … give ya hand,” Spike offered in earnest. When she didn’t dismiss that idea out of hand, his heart fluttered in his chest – or it felt like it did.

Buffy’s frown deepened.

Shower.
Spike.
Spike help Dawn.
Spike heart.
Spike loves.
Can't deny.
Mom?


She closed her eyes again. There should be more. More thoughts, more … something, but she was unable to find what the ‘more’ was. She felt like there was a word – or perhaps a whole dictionary of words – right on the tip of her tongue, so close she could taste it, and yet utterly elusive. All she could see was blood. The blood kept the words and thoughts from forming properly, kept them obscured from her.

Helpless.
Afraid.
Failure.
Don’t fail Dawn.
Dawn needs you.


Buffy’s hands began to tremble, still gripping Spike’s t-shirt. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, silently pleading with him to help her – help Dawn.

Too much blood.

“Help me,” she begged, leaning against him heavily as her knees wobbled beneath her.



Spike wrapped his arms around her and supported her weight easily. “I gotcha, Slayer. No worries now – Spike’s ‘ere. Won’t leave ya, luv. Never leave ya. Gonna get through this, we are.”

**~**

“Buffy … luv, ya can’t stand like that. The water’ll get on your bandages, pet,” Spike cajoled as Buffy stood in the shower stall, her back to him, her arms crossed over her bare breasts.

He’d wrapped her bandages in plastic bags, but that would only stop water that splattered on them, not a direct flow from the showerhead.

Buffy’s chest heaved, her heart raced, and fear made her adrenaline levels spike.

Vulnerable.
Vampire.
Unarmed.


“Buffy, you’re still covered in dried blood. Nurse Ratched and her cronies couldn’t be bothered t’ clean anything but your arms. Gits.” Spike spat the last word before shifting back to a cajoling tone. “Need t’ get it off. You’ll feel better once you’re cleaned up. You’re gonna have to raise your arms up above your head, out of the flow of the shower so I can turn it on,” Spike told her, his exasperation growing. He just wanted this over with – and at the same time wished to stand here and look at her naked backside for all eternity.



He thought about booting the Bot up and having her take over this task, but he had reservations about just how much water the Bot's outer skin could repel. In addition, he wasn't entirely sure the Bot had any idea how to do this. She might scrub Buffy's skin off, he reasoned as he let his eyes wander over Buffy's nude form. Definitely better if he do this, he concluded with little mental opposition to the idea, even if it kills him.

Spike fought to compose himself, to maintain a sense of aloof propriety – like having her standing there naked had no effect on him whatsoever. “Bloody hell, woman – you don’t ‘ave anything I haven’t seen before,” he practically growled at her when she didn’t raise her arms.

Buffy flinched at his hard tone and moved as far away from him as she could get in the shower stall.

Spike immediately felt a stab of regret and pain. “I’m sorry, pet,” he continued, running a hand through his already mussed hair. “Didn’t mean t’ frighten you. Not gonna hurt you, Buffy,” he assured her, keeping is voice low and melodious.

Buffy’s small voice echoed off the hard tile of the shower and came back to him. “One good day.”



Spike sighed and dropped his head back in frustration. He had to try and look at this from her point of view, he knew. He closed his eyes and tried to suss out what he could do to just get this over with. After a moment he turned and left the bathroom, only to return a moment later with a stake from his bag. He handed it to her, tapping the blunt end against her upper-arm to get her to take it.

Buffy grabbed it out of reflex, and clutched it to her like a child would clutch a security blanket.

“Right,” Spike began again. He laid his hands on her hips and gently guided her toward the back of the shower, away from the showerhead, keeping her turned away from him. His fingers rejoiced with the contact – her skin was soft and warm under his cool touch. It called out to him to touch, to explore every inch of her; with a Herculean effort, he pushed the thought away. Now was not the time for that. She needed his help, not his overactive libido. He positioned her so her body was sideways to the showerhead, facing the tiled back wall of the shower opposite the curtained side where he stood.

“Now, stand ‘ere and raise your arms up over your head. Can’t hurt you, can I? Slipped ya that lovely bit o’ hard wood, didn’t I?” Spike groaned at his double-entendre, but Buffy didn’t seem to even notice. “Safe as houses, you are.”

Buffy’s fear waned slightly as she held the familiar weapon in her hands. She looked down at her body and the dried blood that covered her skin.

Rinse away the blood.
Dawn’s blood.
Help Dawn.


Slowly she raised her arms, both hands wrapped around the stake tight enough that her knuckles turned white with the effort.

“There’s m’ girl…” Spike cajoled. He stood outside the narrow shower enclosure as he leaned in and turned the water on. He angled the showerhead away from her until the water got warm, then tilted it until it hit her around the shoulders.

Buffy let out an unconscious moan of pleasure when the warm water sluiced over her skin. At the sound Spike felt his cock jump in his jeans, which he’d purposely kept on. If he didn’t get this over with soon he’d either cream his jeans again or his balls would turn blue, possibly permanently.

Spike closed his eyes and took a deep breath meant to calm his libido down. It was only marginally successful. Giving up on that, he grabbed the washcloth and the little bar of hotel soap – he’d have to remember to get Buffy some proper soap tomorrow – and began to rub the two together. His hands moved almost angrily as he took his frustrations out on the defenseless bar of generic soap, creating a bubbly lather on the washcloth.

Spike tried his best to think of her as the Bot, not Buffy, as he moved her long hair out of the way, flipping it forward over one shoulder, and began washing her back. He started at the back of her neck and scrubbed the grime and blood off her body, trailing small circles of bubbles over her soft skin.

Buffy moaned again, let her head fall forward, and leaned more heavily on the wall. She still held the stake in her hands above her head, out of the spray of the shower, but her grip had visibly loosened on it.

Spike swallowed hard and struggled to push back his desire to kiss her, to shimmy out of his now heavy, water-logged jeans and press his body to hers, to make love to her, to devour her.



Just take care of her, you tosser, Spike admonished himself. It’s not about you.

When Spike got her entire back soaped and scrubbed, he hung the washcloth on the towel rack at the back of the shower and began gently massaging Buffy’s tight trapezius muscles. Working from the base of her neck out to her shoulders and back again, he kneaded the stress away with strong, talented fingers.

Buffy’s moans of pleasure nearly drove him to the edge of madness as his hands skimmed over her slick, soapy skin. He could feel her relaxing beneath his touch, though, and that was worth every ounce of self-control he had to expend. He moved his hands lower, working the hard strap of muscle on either side of her spine into relaxed submission. Spike couldn’t take his eyes off the gentle hills and valleys of her back as he slid his hands over her, her body slowly submitting to his ministrations.

She was beautiful. More beautiful than the Bot by far – perhaps only because he knew that this was real. Her skin shimmered under the white foam of the soap, and her curves were luscious, tantalizing, as the spray of the shower rinsed the suds over them in snaking rivulets of rich lather.

Weeks of stress and tension had been trapped in her body, in her muscles, ever since that horrible night in the desert. Spike could feel it under his hands as he gently pressed fingertips and knuckles into her bowstring-tight body. And, as he worked, he could feel all that stress flowing out of her with each soft moan that fell from her lips. Each slow, deliberate pass of his strong hands over her back, across her shoulders, and up her arms released more of the toxic guilt and tension from her body.

It gave him something else to focus on, and he actually felt himself relax as he concentrated on taking Buffy’s pain away, or at least relieving it for a short while. His deep, undeniable desire for her hadn’t gone away, but it had morphed, at least momentarily, from something sexual to something even more basic: the simple desire to help another person in need, specifically to help the woman he loved.  She trusted him to help her – he would not betray that trust; not now, not ever. Everyone has a need to touch and be touched, and Buffy had had no one to soothe her in those weeks after Dawn's death. He'd tried in the cemetery as she sobbed, but he knew it hadn't been enough. Her friends, he guessed, might've tried – a hug, a short embrace, a moment of solace – but she needed more, anyone would. She needed to feel like she was connected to someone in this cold, hard world, someone she could count on, someone she could trust. He vowed to be that person if it killed him. It very well may.

Spike retrieved the washcloth and the soap again and knelt behind Buffy to work the same magic on her legs as he had her back. The water splashed down on his head and over his bare chest and back as he knelt on the shower floor, soaking him now from head to toe. The fact that Spike’s nose and mouth were so close to her sex in this position barely registered with him as his entire focus was on working every knot, every tinge of tightness and pain from her muscles. He wanted her hurt, her guilt, and pain to wash away with the water, to flow down the drain and allow her some peace. She deserved to feel at peace; she'd given so much to the world, his strong Slayer, it was about time the world started giving something back to her.

He began by scrubbing her legs and feet, hip to toe, top to bottom, front to back with the washcloth and soap, getting every hint of blood and grime off her skin. While he was down there, he did the same with the shapely globes of her ass, although he deliberately avoided venturing between them lest he undo all the good he’d done for her. He didn't want to freak her out. The fact that she still had that stake clutched in her small but deadly hands hadn't slipped his mind, either.

When he was satisfied with the cleaning part of his task, he laid the soap and cloth down on the floor of the shower and turned his attention to her tight muscles. His hands traveled first over her hamstrings, kneading and squeezing the hard cords as Buffy groaned her approval. When he ghosted his fingers over the back of her knees, Buffy jerked and danced a small step to the side.

“Ticklish, are we?” Spike asked with a small glint of evil glee in his eyes.

When she didn’t answer, he leaned around the side of her body to see her face. Her eyes were closed, but he could see the smallest hint of a smile on her lips. His heart soared in joy. He would do anything if he could only get her to smile again … to laugh.

Spike bit his lip and filed that small bit of information away for future use as he returned to his mission. He reached around her body and massaged the strong quadriceps muscles on the front of her thighs, careful not to get too close to her naughty bits. He didn’t want to do anything to ruin this now. Directly, he slid his hands down to the tight muscle that ran the length of her shin and raked his fingertips up and down the length of it several times until it, too, relaxed. Finally, he came back to her shapely calves, which he worked by squeezing them like stress-balls between his strong fingers and thumbs.

When he’d finished, he picked up the soap and washcloth, and stood back up behind her.

“Gonna need ya to turn around, luv,” he coaxed, using his hands on her hips to turn her all the way around to face him.

Buffy kept her hands up above her head, the stake still held between them, as she turned around. She’d had her eyes closed, but when he stopped her spin, she blinked them open to look at him.

Spike was struck with how defenseless she looked standing here like this, stake notwithstanding, and how hard this must be for her to do. It made his heart ache to see his strong Slayer looking so very unsure and vulnerable.

He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile and cleared his throat somewhat uncomfortably. “Just gonna … get your neck here, luv … and your tummy. Let you get the … other bits in the sink, yeah?”



Buffy nodded slightly and shifted her gaze to look past him. “Thank you,” she murmured sheepishly.

“It’s all in it, yeah?” Spike replied, trying to sound nonchalant and business-like. “Said I’d help ya, and I will … whatever ya need, pet.”

He lathered up the washcloth again and began cleaning her neck and face, careful not to scrub as hard as he had on her back and legs. His eyes wandered over her face as he worked, taking in every line, every curve. The shape of her eyes, the contour of her nose, the sweetness of her lips, the strength of her jaw, and the smoothness of her skin all combined to reignite his desire for her.

He shifted uncomfortably in the warm spray and dropped his eyes away from her face – and that was the absolutely wrong thing to do. Suds ran over her bare breasts, which stood out even higher and tighter than normal with her arms held overhead. Spike nearly dropped the soap and washcloth as he tried to draw his eyes away from the perfection of her body. It was a lost cause. The soap bubbles slid over the curves of her breasts, across her dusty-pink nipples and down her flat stomach, mesmerizing him. His fingers twitched in longing, desperately wanting to reach up and swirl the foam around those lovely peaks, hardening them into pebbles under his touch. His lips and tongue tingled, yearning to suck them into his mouth, lavish them with the adoration and attention they deserved. Spike’s chest heaved with unneeded breaths and his cock came back to life in his jeans as image after image flashed through his mind.

“Arms tired,” Buffy said after a few moments of him not washing anything. “Done?”

Spike’s eyes shot up to her face and he swallowed guiltily. “Uhhh … yeah … No! … ummm … hair,” he stammered out. “Gotta wash your hair, luv,” he managed finally.

Buffy nodded but turned to face the back of the shower so she could rest her arms against the wall.

Spike turned away from her slightly as he tried to get his racing mind to race in some other direction. He retrieved the small bottle of shampoo and conditioner from the little shelf in the shower stall and stuck one into each of his front jeans pockets.

“Right – lean back a bit and let’s get your hair wet,” he instructed as he forced himself to concentrate on the task at hand. He put one hand on the small of her back and one hand on her shoulder and helped her lean back into the shower spray soaking her head completely while still keeping her arms well out of range of the shower.

Buffy sputtered some water from her nose and mouth when he stood her back up straight. “Sorry, luv… haven’t done this kinda thing in a good while,” he offered, grabbing a hand towel and wiping her face off with it.

“Dru,” Buffy said, it was more a statement than a question.

Spike shrugged. “Yeah,” he agreed, a touch of sadness in his voice. He’d taken care of Dru for a over a century – seen her through everything, stood by her, forgave her when she hurt him, when she strayed, when she dragged his heart through the mud, when she … chose Angelus over him – and what had it gotten him? Dumped. Abandoned. Left lonely and utterly alone.

He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he pushed Dru from his mind. Buffy was not Dru; she could never be as cold, cruel, uncaring, and hurtful as Dru had been.

Spike pulled the little bottle of shampoo out of his pocket and emptied easily half of it on top of Buffy’s head before he began massaging it into her long, golden hair. The blood and dirt from the alley that had matted in her tresses began to loosen and discolor the suds and water as it ran down her back. Before long, Buffy had a giant foam halo atop her head and she had to keep her head tilted back to keep it from running down into her eyes.

“Too much,” she complained as some of it ran down into her face despite her efforts to stop it, and she was forced to close her eyes and try to wipe her face on her raised arms.

“Sorry, luv…” he said again as he ran his hands down her hair to sluice some of the shampoo away. He grabbed the towel and wiped her face again before returning to her hair.

He felt more than heard her contented sigh when he began massaging her scalp in earnest. Her body once again began to relax as he worked. He knew he had succeeded in working the fear and tension from her body when the stake fell from her hands and clattered down onto the tile floor of the shower.

Buffy didn’t react to the loss of her weapon, but kept her arms raised, out of the direct spray, and just let him wash everything down the drain. The blood, the fear, and the guilt flowed away with the steaming water. His hands felt so good on her skin, on her body, on her scalp – strong and steady and sure – everything she wasn’t at that moment. As Spike massaged her scalp, Buffy opened her eyes and looked up at her now-empty hands. She turned them over so she could see her palms – the blood was nearly gone. She rubbed them together and looked again … yes, even less now. She heard her mother's voice echo in her mind ...

Her blood is not on your hands, Buffy.
Not yours, not Spike’s … not anyone’s except Glory’s.
Not your fault.
Only one to blame is Glory.


She felt Spike’s hands gently urging her to lean back so he could rinse the shampoo from her hair and she let him guide her and support her as she did. The water felt like heaven as it rinsed all the oil, grime, and blood out of her golden tresses. She could feel her hair shimmy silkily over her shoulders and back as the water flowed through it and Spike urged the last of the shampoo out with his fingers. She closed her eyes and let herself get lost in the feel of it – the hot water pounding against her, the warm steam that rose all around them, Spike’s strong hands flowing gently against her skin, the way her spine tingled with his presence … and the way other parts of her tingled, which had nothing whatsoever to do with generic vampire tinglies, and everything to do with the specific vampire standing next to her.

Just as it had done the other night in the alley, the shroud that blocked her thoughts and emotions from reaching the surface of her conscious mind began to slowly lift. The river of blood that carried her words and thoughts away slowed to a trickle as Spike worked the crème rinse into her hair. Ideas, conversations, thoughts, fears, dreams all came flooding back to her with overwhelming clarity.

Dawn. Dawn was trapped. Make a baby … with Spike. Get her out of Limbo … a baby with Spike. Think about Dawn … the Monks will fix it. Have to help Dawn – get her soul out of Limbo – give her another chance.

“Think that’s got it, luv,” Spike said from behind her as he ran his fingers through her silky, tangle-free hair. After assuring himself that all the soap and crème rinse was gone from her hair and body, he mashed the water control knob and stopped the warm spray.

Buffy lowered her arms thankfully, rolling her shoulders a bit from the strain of holding them up, then turned around – facing him squarely. Spike had started reaching for the towel which hung just outside the shower stall – averting his eyes from Buffy’s wet, naked bits. Buffy watched him with clear eyes for the first time in … she didn’t know when – before Dawn died. How long had that been? Seemed like yesterday – or several millennia ago, she wasn’t sure.



He was taking care of her. She remembered that. Her friends were gonna put her in a loony ward – the Council’s loony ward, no less. She clearly remembered Spike telling her what he’d overheard at the Magic Box, but she also remembered hearing Giles, Willow, and Xander talking about it at the house. They were afraid she’d get dangerous – they wouldn’t be able to control her. Afraid she’d hurt someone or hurt herself. Giles had been the one to suggest that the Council would be Buffy's best option for recovery. The Council, who she hated with every fiber of her being. How could Giles suggest that? He knew how she felt about them. The memory was painful, and Buffy wished that had been one of those things that had simply stayed locked behind the wall of blood.

She also remembered that Spike had gotten her away from them – took her where the Council couldn’t find her. But even before that, on her nightly sojourns to the cemetery, he’d been there every time, watching her, holding her, protecting her. He’d stood with her even when she didn’t acknowledge him or even seem to know who he was. He stood with her when no one else did.

You love him, don’t you? I know he loves you, her mother's words rang in her head. What did it say about her to know that a soulless vampire was capable of love but she wasn't? It didn't matter ... Dawn needed her help. The mission came first – her duty, as always, was the important thing.

“Spike…” she murmured, standing facing him, one arm now crossed modestly over her breasts while the other covered parts lower.

His eyes shifted and met her gaze. So blue. Had his eyes always been that blue?

“Yeah, luv?” he asked, head tilted, waiting for her to continue.

His hair fell in wet ringlets around his face. So cute. Had he always been so cute? No, not cute. He’d hate that. Adorable? Definitely not. Devilishly handsome, in a Standard Poodle sort of way, with Shirley Temple hair, luscious lips, razor-sharp cheekbones, and cobalt blue eyes.

“Uhhh …” Buffy stammered a moment as she tried to sort through her myriad of thoughts, which had suddenly bombarded her when the blood-red barrier had lifted. “I … uhhh … think you missed my tummy,” she said at last.



Spike’s brows lifted straight up and his eyes widened in surprise. Her eyes! He couldn’t pick out one thing to attribute it to, but her eyes looked alive, sparkling, they looked like, “Buffy? Are you … Is that you, pet?”

“Yeah, Spike … I’m here,” she replied, her voice gentle and even a little shy.

He bit his bottom lip and his head tilted again, regarding her with a look of school-boy wonder and awe. She was back! Buffy was back! His chest heaved with unneeded breaths as his heart rejoiced – shouting his gratitude to the Powers for bringing her back to him.

“Spike?” she asked sheepishly after a few moments of silence filled the space between them. "You ... missed some spots. Maybe you could ..." she shrugged uncomfortably, her eyes dropping to the floor. "... ummm ... get them for me?"

“Buffy …” he murmured, unable to stop himself from leaning forward and kissing her soft, wet lips.

Their mouths met tentatively – a first kiss – exploring, tasting, testing, teasing. Spike drew her bottom lip – that sweet, pouty lip – into his mouth and nibbled on it gently. Her tongue darted out and flicked against his teeth and Spike released her pouty lip to allow her entry. His tongue met hers and they twined together, each circling the other in a slow, sensuous discovery.

Buffy’s hands settled gently against Spike’s sides, just above the waistband of his jeans. Her fingers ghosted like feathers over his skin and he longed to feel her touch every inch of him.

"You sure, pet?" Spike murmured against her lips when Buffy pulled back to breathe. "Maybe we should ..."

"I'm sure," Buffy cut him off, ghosting a soft, reassuring kiss against his lips. She was so warm, her lips so soft, her voice so inviting that any argument to the contrary sputtered and died in Spike's mind before it could reach his lips.



Spike trailed his tongue down her wet skin. Over her jaw, down her neck, momentarily nuzzling and nibbling on the spot where her neck met her shoulder. Her blood thrummed beneath his lips, he could feel it pulsing a staccato beat just beneath her hot skin and he moaned against her, his desire growing by leaps and bounds. He waited there, suckling gently against her neck for a while – waiting for her to stop him, to push him away, to call him a 'pig', to change her mind; giving her every possible chance to say ‘no’. She didn’t.

His hands wandered down her flanks, this time allowing himself to savor the curve of her breasts before sliding down over the hourglass of her waist and hips. His mouth followed his hands down her body as Buffy’s fingers slid up and tangled in his wet curls. She moaned, low and throaty, when his lips encircled her right nipple and his tongue teased it to stiff attention.

“God, Spike…” she murmured as her whole body tingled and shivered in delightful anticipation. As missions went, she'd had worse.
 
Spike thought he’d never heard anything sweeter than his name rolling from Buffy’s lips, full of pleasure and desire. He slid over to give her other beautiful tit equal attention, nibbling the pebbled nub with his blunt teeth until she moaned and her back arched into him.

“So beautiful you are, Buffy,” he whispered to her as he went lower, covering her flat abdomen with lazy kisses and licks.

He dropped down to his knees in front of her, lifted one of her legs up, and draped it over his shoulder as he found the nirvana he’d dreamed of for months.

Buffy’s hands roamed up from his shoulders to his head and tangled in his curls, silently encouraging him to continue. The heavenly aroma that assailed him when he lifted her leg told him that he had found the Promised Land. The scent of her arousal sent waves of desire flooding through him, threatening to drown him. He wanted to be buried in that sweet quim, feel her surrounding him, holding his body as surely and strongly as she held his heart. But first he wanted a taste of her sweet nectar.

He spread her pussy lips with two fingers and buried his mouth in her dark, springy curls. Buffy’s hips bucked against him when his tongue touched down on her clit then circled the throbbing nub, teasing her body to the edge of oblivion.

“Spike … God … please … yes … Spike … so good,” she panted from above, her words flowing over him like warm honey as he worked his magic on her. No one had ever done that to her before. The feel of it surprised her – so different than the rough, inarticulate fingers that had bungled their way around down there in the past. His tongue was cool against her hot skin, strong but pliable, rough and soft at the same time, as it stroked her throbbing bundle of nerves. Buffy felt herself getting lost in the utter pleasure of it as her legs quivered uncontrollably with every touch of his lips, tongue, and teeth against her sex.

Her body sang with his every touch, every teasing flick of his tongue, every suck, every nibble. She was like a Stradivarius and he was Stradivari himself; every note flowing into angelic chords, chords forming a moving, flowing concerto, all building to an earth-shaking crescendo.

As Spike worshiped her clit with his lips and tongue, taking her right up to the edge of the harmonious climax, he slid one long finger into her slick, wet heat.

Buffy’s body jerked, pressing her mound harder against his mouth and hand, increasing the symphony’s tempo, racing for the finale. Even this was so much better than anything she'd had before. How did he know exactly where to touch her? How did he know just how and when to vary his strokes and nibbles to keep her hovering on the brink of heaven? He kept the waves of bliss washing over her, but never allowed them to break. It was at once the most incredible feeling she'd ever known and the most frustrating.

“Spike … more … more … so good … please … more,” Buffy gasped, her hands now painfully tangled in his hair as she pressed him to her with unbridled desire.

Spike moaned against her, indicating that he was more than happy to oblige. He slipped a second finger into her tight, wet hole and a third, stretching her opening to accommodate them. He began sliding in and out of her, matching the ever-increasing rhythm of her heartbeat, which rang like a clarion against his eardrums. Her hips matched him, slamming against him in perfect time, driving his fingers deeper into her. Bolts of pleasure shot out through her limbs every time her clit banged against his mouth and teeth, making Buffy’s legs twitch and weaken. Spike curled his fingers inside her just enough to rake hard over the sensitive g-spot with every thrust, and the walls of Buffy’s channel spasmed and shuddered around him in violent, blissful waves of pleasure.

Suddenly Buffy’s words, which had been flowing from her lips in an unconscious stream, were swallowed by a breathless gasp. After a moment, the brief silence was replaced with a wordless, primal exclamation of orgasmic ecstasy that undoubtedly woke every guest in the motel. Paradise Lost had just been found again.

Buffy’s body tensed, her sex seized around his fingers, and her cum flowed over him as she ground her clit against his luscious lips and inscrutable tongue. Her whole body shuddered in the throes of the orgasm, which broke over her in wave after wave of furious bliss the likes of which she’d never felt before.

Spike moaned his pleasure again as she came, her sweet nectar coating his fingers, and pooling in his palm and between her pink petals. He suckled her folds, lapping hungrily at the slick ambrosia she had bestowed upon him. He'd never tasted anything sweeter than his Slayer's bliss – it was everything he'd dreamed of and more. He could've seen to her sweet quim all night, never moving from this spot, if the leg Buffy was standing on hadn't buckled at that moment.

Unable to stop the inevitable, her body slid down the wall and slumped to the floor of the shower bonelessly. Spike felt her slipping and quickly extricated himself from her embrace and grabbed her hips. He helped lower her to the tile so she didn’t land awkwardly or do anything to tear her stitches out. Buffy’s breath came as rasping gasps, her chest heaving to replenish the oxygen that had been depleted so thoroughly by Spike’s touch. She looked up at him through heavily-lidded eyes, the green of her irises nearly completely engulfed by the black of her dilated pupils. Her beautiful eyes were a deeper green than he'd ever seen in them before, full of passion and ecstasy. He thought she'd never looked more beautiful than that moment.

He leaned in and began dropping gentle kisses over her face, pressing his lips to her eyelids, the tip of her nose, her bottom lip, cheeks, forehead …

“God, Buffy … so passionate you are. So bloody sexy, so beautiful … love you so much,” he murmured to her between each touch of his lips to her heated skin.



Buffy’s eyes flew open, wild with guilt and fear. Suddenly the crimson shroud began to fall down on her like a heavy metal gate slamming closed on a prison. What right did she have to feel pleasure when Dawn was dead? What right did she have to be loved when her hands were dripping with the blood of her sister? But she needed to … to do something. There was something she was supposed to do – a mission – for Dawn. Her thoughts were suddenly swept away in the river of blood, ripped from her grasp once again.

No love.
Don’t deserve.
Blood. Too much blood.


Buffy began scrambling away from Spike, pushing wildly against his bare chest, and kicking at him with her feet as she slithered along the wet floor trying to escape the confines of the shower.

“Buffy,” Spike began, confused, but his voice was cut-off when a foot caught him squarely in the chest and drove the air from his lungs with a grunt and a 'whoosh' of expelled breath.

Buffy’s hand found the stake she’d dropped earlier. She grabbed it as she stood up on the bathroom floor, facing him. She held the stake in front of her, the blunt end pressed against her chest. She clutched it with both hands as she tried to cover her nude form with her arms, looking like a terrified, cornered animal. She couldn’t actually strike him with it from that position, or at least not very accurately, but it would keep him from coming too near.

“Buffy … luv,” Spike finally managed as he struggled to his feet, holding his hands out in a conciliatory gesture. “What’s wrong, pet?” he asked, but he already knew. He could see it in her wild eyes, frightened, guilty eyes.

“Back,” she ordered, her eyes scanning the bathroom with quick, jerking motions of her eyes and head. She found the towel and pulled it from the rack with one hand. “Stay,” she commanded as she backed up to the door, opened it with one hand, and stepped out into the motel room.

Spike sighed as the door slammed shut and he heard her drag something – the dresser perhaps? – across the floor and put against it.

His head dropped back and he roared in frustration. He’d just gotten her back, she’d just allowed him to touch her and now she was gone again. And if he didn’t get out of this bathroom, he might lose her forever. Suddenly fear outweighed the frustration as the image of her cutting her barely-closed wounds open again flashed across his mind. He shoved a shoulder against the door, but it didn’t budge.




“Buffy!” he called through the door, trying not to sound as angry, afraid, and frustrated as he actually was. “Buffy, luv … not gonna hurt you, pet. Just let me out and we’ll … get dinner, like we planned. Remember – you wanted t’ order in? Watch a movie?” he pled through the door as he leaned both hands on the frame on either side of it, his head slumping forward in defeat.

He could punch through the door – or the wall for that matter – but would that just serve to frighten her more? He stood still, abruptly stopped his frantic breathing, and listened. He could hear her moving around in the other room … perhaps getting dressed? He couldn’t tell for sure.

Then she began talking – or perhaps ranting would be a better term for it. He could tell she was pacing back and forth across the room by the sound of her voice as it came to his sensitive ears.

“No, no, no. Don’t have. Can’t give. Don’t take. Too much blood. Blood all over. Oh, God, Dawn! No! No! Not looking. Mom! Please! I … what is it? Can’t remember. What am I doing? No – not love. There's no love. Yes, I know! Heart! I get it! Ok. Try. Ok. The gerbil ran away. No, it died! I’m not five! Council wankers. Hide. Just … hide. In the blood. Hide in the blood. Won't look there. No finding. No looking. Ok. Stay. Hide. Safe. Ok.”

Spike heard more furniture being moved and shoved around the room for the next few minutes, then everything went silent. He strained to listen, to hear something. Finally, he moved to the wall and pressed his ear against it. He went all along the wall of the bathroom like that until he finally heard it: her heartbeat. It was muffled and racing with barely-contained fear, but it was there. She was still there.

He sighed with relief and rubbed tiredly at his eyes. He’d forgotten how exhausting it was to be around someone who was off their gourd. Not that anyone else better say that about Buffy – or Dru for that matter – but he loved them, so he had the right.
 
He berated himself for pushing her tonight. Shouldn’t have … taken advantage of her. But she was there with him – Buffy had been there, he was sure. She wanted it too – he was equally sure of that. But he'd known in the back of his mind that he should've waited, he shouldn't have listened to her. But nooo ... couldn't just turn away from her, could ya? Bloody git! But she'd wanted it, there had been no doubt. Bloody fucking hell!

Maybe he’d made a mistake thinking he and the Bot could take care of her and protect her. But who else was there? Her friends? They were ready to turn her over to the Crazy-Slayer police.

Then she began talking again, pulling Spike from the silent argument he was having with himself. Quietly, whispering, barely audible through the wall and whatever she’d piled around her out there. “Shhhh. Quiet,” she began, then, in a sing-song voice she began murmuring, “Hush little baby, hush little baby, hush little baby…” over and over again.

Spike blew out a breath and settled down on the floor of the shower to wait. He leaned his back against the wall nearest Buffy where he would be sure to hear her if she moved. Maybe when she’d calmed down a bit, she’d let him out. Barring that, she’d have to pee sooner or later, he reasoned.



He sat there growing increasingly colder in his wet jeans and listened to her chant, “Hush little baby,” as he tried to suss out where her mind had gone. He’d gotten to be a fair hand at untangling Dru’s ramblings, but it had taken him years and years of trial and error. He didn’t even know where to start with Buffy’s.

“Love you, Buffy,” he said to the empty room, laying his palm against the wall that separated them. “Please come back t’ me.”

**~**

Despite his best efforts to stay awake, Spike had fallen asleep sometime during the night. He was awoken when he heard the dresser – or whatever it was Buffy had shoved against the bathroom door – move. He pushed himself stiffly to his feet, tilting his head from side to side and popping the kinks out of his neck, as he waited.

“Spike! Why have you barricaded yourself in the bathroom?” BuffyBot asked curiously when the door swung open. “Is this a new ritual?”



Spike rolled his eyes and pushed past her. “Can’t bloody barricade yourself in from the outside,” he pointed out as he stepped out and looked around for Buffy.

“I do not understand this behavior,” BuffyBot continued, following him. “The Other Slayer has covered herself with the bedding and will not come out, and you were hiding in the bathroom. Is this a new form of 'Hide and Seek' where everyone hides and no one seeks?”

Spike shook his head and waved a dismissive hand at the Bot. "No ... just ... it's a bit complicated, luv."

"My reasoning abilities are stellar, and I have an unlimited capacity to understand complicated equations," the Bot assured him.

"Later, pet," Spike put her off as he quickly located Buffy.

In one corner of the bedroom area of the motel room, Buffy had made a fort of sorts out of the mattress and box springs of one of the beds, leaning them against the walls at right-angles to each other. There was a small opening where the two met. Spike crouched down in front of it and looked in. Buffy was curled into a fetal position on the small floor space behind the fortress walls. She had her head covered with a pillow, so Spike couldn’t see her eyes, but her heartbeat told him she wasn’t asleep. In her hands she clutched the stake and one of her little-girl keepsakes that he'd packed: a stuffed pig that used to sit on her bed back in Sunnydale.

“Buffy? Why don’t ya come out, luv?” he asked gently. “Get some breakfast, we can. Spend the day watching some shows … then we’ll go out t’night if ya want. Come to the casino with me if ya like. Have a grand time, we will.”

Buffy neither moved nor responded.

Spike sighed and stood up.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” BuffyBot offered helpfully.

Spike began to berate her less-than-helpful ‘fun fact’, but he hesitated, thinking, then pulled the Bot forward and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Brilliant, you are,” he told the Bot as he reached for the phone.

“Of course I am. And pretty,” the Bot replied, smiling proudly.

Within the hour the smell of bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, fresh cinnamon buns, hash browns, and, perhaps most importantly, coffee, filled their motel room.

Spike could actually hear Buffy’s stomach growling in hunger as she stubbornly stayed within her mattress fort. Barmy and stubborn – perfect bloody combination that is.



He crouched back down in front of the small opening with a cup of coffee and held it out where she couldn’t help but see it if she looked. “Hot coffee, luv. Just how you like it: three sugars and two creamers. Got some o’ that fancy Bailey’s creamer here too. Too bad there’s no one ‘ere that can’t breathe without coffee in the morning,” he taunted, taking a slurping sip of the syrupy-brew.

When she slid the pillow off her head, Buffy’s glare could’ve melted the Terminator into a puddle of spare parts. Spike gave her his best smile through the small opening and took another overly-dramatic sip of the coffee, ‘mmmm’ing as he did so.

Buffy reached her hand out to try and snag it from him, but he was ready for that tactic and pulled it out of her reach. “Gotta come out t’ get it, luv,” he informed her, practically waving the cup in front of her like a red cape being waved in front of a bull.

“Gimme!” she demanded, her arm still reaching out for the cup.

“Come take it from me,” Spike challenged, as he stood up and stepped back.

“GIVE!” Buffy screamed at him, pressing out further against her make-shift fort.

“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand, Slayer?” Spike retorted, moving back further. That fort was gonna come crashing down any moment and he didn’t want to be under the mattress when it fell.

Sure enough, not ten seconds later, both the mattress and the box springs tumbled to the floor away from the enraged – and deranged – Slayer.

Enraging a deranged, caffeine-deprived Slayer by teasing her with coffee is something akin to poking a bear with a stick: Neither ends well, unless you’re the bear … or the Slayer.

Before Spike could properly enjoy his victory or bask in a smug moment of superior intellect, he found himself flat on his back atop the other bed, the mug of coffee gone from his hand without a drop being spilled. He rubbed his jaw, which hurt despite him not actually seeing the punch Buffy must’ve thrown.



“Spike!” BuffyBot exclaimed, worry evident in her voice.

The Bot hurried over to his side, but he waved her off with a, “No worries.”

He pushed himself up to his elbows, his eyes locked on his Slayer. The self-satisfied smirk he’d been denied a moment ago curled his lips as he watched Buffy tuck into not only the coffee, but the tray of food, with wild abandon. His smile quirked into one of wonder when he realized that she had put on his t-shirt last night after she’d locked him in the bathroom. It hung down past the curve of her ass and he could just get a glimpse of pink knickers beneath when she moved. He thought his shirt never looked better as he mused over just what that meant.

He let out a breath and admonished himself to not over-think it. It was hard to not be pleased, and a little confused, however, given her mental relapse and angry, frightened reaction to him the previous night.

He shook his head, giving up trying to suss her out just then, and lay back on the mattress. One hurdle cleared: she was out of her hidey-hole and was eating. And, despite everything, including how the previous night had ended, hope bloomed in Spike’s chest: Buffy was still in there somewhere. He hadn’t imagined what had happened between them in the shower – she had been there with him, at least for a while. The sound of his name rolling blissfully off her lips was something he'd never, ever forget and he longed to hear again.

Just how many more buildings would he have to leap to get his Slayer back permanently? He hoped not too many; his tights and cape were at the cleaners.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear Pink Floyd - Brain Damage/Eclipse on YouTube  }}

The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And everyday the paper boy brings more

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if you're head explodes the dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'till I'm sane

You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side on the moon

All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save

And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy
Beg, borrow, or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say

And all that you eat
And everyone you meet
And all that you slight
And everyone you fight
And all that is now
And all that is gone
And all that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon
Chapter End Notes:
My wonderful beta, PaganBaby, said to me after this chapter: 'Wouldn't they have cleaned her up in the hospital?' It so happens that not long ago a friend of mine was in the hospital and I have to say - no - they don't. He was in there for 5 days, including 2 in ICU, and the only thing that ever got cleaned were his arms where they poked the needles in. Maybe this isn't typical, but it's what I experienced. Will have more soon - this weekend.

What does Spike have to do to keep Buffy in the moment with him? It's gonna be a process ...
Wish You Were Here by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thank you for reading! I so appreciate everyone that's left comments - I wasn't sure how this story would go over since I really just let my muse run wild with very little planning. Glad you've been liking it! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
While Buffy devoured the best meal she'd had in days, Spike and the Bot got the other bed put back together and the sheets and blankets arranged on it more-or-less properly. When they’d finished, Buffy had pretty well decimated all the food he’d ordered and was sitting at the small table in the room finishing the last of the coffee.

“Buffy, luv?” Spike began, talking in a gentle, reassuring tone like you might use with a frightened pet … or a wolverine. He slid the other chair away from the table so he could sit facing her without the table between them and sat down. Buffy didn’t look up at him, but didn’t move away, so he continued on his next mission: check those bandages on her arms.



“Need t’ get that plastic off yer bandages, luv,” he continued in the same melodious tone. He reached out, putting one hand on each arm of the chair she was in, and twisted it away from the table so she was facing him directly. He kept his movements slow and deliberate, as if she were a spooky horse that might bolt at any moment if startled.

“Can I … have a look, luv?” he asked, dipping his head and leaning into her line of sight so she had little choice but to look at him.

“No die,” was Buffy’s only reply as she set her coffee down and turned her arms over so the wounds on her forearms were up. She held her arms out to him as her eyes searched his face with the confusion of a lost child.

Spike nodded and swallowed back a myriad of emotions, at once thankful that she seemed unafraid of him now, but heartbroken at her vulnerability – it didn’t suit her, his strong Slayer.

“Won’t let ya die, Buffy,” he agreed as he began peeling the tape off that held the plastic in place which he’d put over her bandages the previous night. When he got the bandages themselves off he was pleased to see that at least her Slayer healing hadn’t suffered any setback due to her mental state. New, bright pink skin had formed thick, wide scars over her wounds, and they were closed completely now, making the stitches superfluous.

He looked up to meet her eyes and gave her a reassuring smile. “They look good, Slayer. All healed up, yeah? Gonna need t’ take those stitches out ‘fore your skin grows over ‘em. Will that be alright? … Gonna need t’ use some scissors,” Spike explained. “Need ya to hold very still while I do it, yeah? Can you do that for me?”



Buffy looked at him and he could see the effort behind her eyes as she tried to focus on his words and decipher their meaning. Flashes of confusion coupled with frustration blazed across her features until she finally shook her head in defeat. “Spike fix,” she said at last, thrusting her arms toward him further.

Spike nodded. “Right – Spike’ll fix ya up, luv.”

Spike retrieved a few pairs of scissors that he’d liberated from the hospital, looking for the ones that were small enough to get under the thin line of the stitches. Buffy watched him warily as he set each discounted pair on the table, finally deciding on one.

Buffy reached one hand out as if to pick up one of the shiny, sharp instruments, and Spike grabbed her hand in a crushing grip. “No! No die, remember, luv?” His voice was harsh with anger and fear as he squeezed her hand in a painful grip.

Buffy looked at him sheepishly. She didn’t seem to notice, or at least didn’t acknowledge, any pain from his fingers that wrapped around her own, nearly crushing them. Spike instinctively tensed, waiting for the chip to fire, but it didn't. Did it know that he had no intention of hurting her, or was it because she didn't react to his outburst that made the 'behavior modification device' remain silent? He didn't know, but was thankful in any event.

After a moment Buffy nodded her understanding, and he released his grip as she pulled her hand back. “No die. Try. Dawn. Try,” she agreed, nodding determinedly.


Save Dawn.
Dawn’s dead.
Blood. Drown. Sleep.
No! Try!


Buffy turned her arms over and rested them on the arms of her chair, palms up, and held very, very still. Spike took a calming breath and began snipping the myriad of little black knots and pulling the slick, plastic line out of her flesh.



“Used t’ use thread, they did,” he spoke as he worked, unable to abide too much silence. “Some kinda plastic now I reckon … comes out easier, yeah? Looks like soddin’ fishin’ line,” he rambled. “Still black. Wonder why that is? Could ‘ave pretty multicolored stitches like they do casts these days. We could’a gotten you … what? Pink t’ go with your knickers, luv? What’s your favorite color, Slayer?”

“Purple,” Buffy replied without hesitation.

Spike stopped and looked at her, his brows raised in surprise.

Tears shimmered in Buffy’s eyes as she met his. “Dawn. Purple.”

Spike nodded. “Yeah … our girl liked purple alright,” he agreed sadly as he set back to his task.

One million and fifty-nine stitches later, Spike ran a cotton-ball soaked in alcohol gently over the new skin on Buffy’s arms to disinfect all the new little holes the removal of the stitches had opened up. Then he dabbed some antibiotic ointment on her arms and spread it over the little wounds with gentle fingers. Finally, he looked up at her and pronounced, “All fixed.”

Buffy nodded and pulled her arms back to look at them. After a moment, she met Spike’s gaze. “Thank you.”

“Buffy?” he asked hopefully, tilting his head and studying her. Every time she said something lucid like that Spike’s heart leapt at the possibility that she was back – wholly back.



“Buffy try,” she said in the same short, clipped, forced, pronoun-deficient cadence that he’d come to know so well over the last few days since she’d began speaking again.

He sighed and nodded, giving her a sad smile. “Good … ‘try’ is … good.”

**~**

Although Spike wasn’t sure Buffy really understood what she was agreeing to, she had nodded at his suggestion that they all stay in for the day and then they could go out that night. He didn’t dare tell the Bot that he didn’t trust her watching over Buffy without him any longer – it would hurt her little, heart-shaped microchip, and she’d give him that damn pout. After running the channels a few times, purposely skipping the porn selections, Spike settled on a channel running an NCIS marathon. He liked the lab girl, Abby: smart, spunky, witty, tattooed in interesting places, slept in a coffin – what wasn’t to like?

When Buffy crawled into her bed and covered up, making no hint at inviting Spike to join her, he settled onto the other bed to watch the show. Sometime between Abby roller-skating through her lab, nearly bowling over one of her co-workers, and solving the crime with impossibly thin evidence and supernaturally fast computers, Spike fell asleep.

He couldn’t be sure how long he’d slept, but some sixth sense woke him up. When he opened his eyes he saw Buffy standing right next to him, the stake he’d given her the previous night in her fist, drawn back as if ready to strike. "Bloody hell!"



**~**

After Spike took her stitches out and suggested they stay in for the day, Buffy had gathered up Mr. Gordo and the stake from the floor where she'd dropped them earlier, and crawled under the covers of the bed furthest from the door. Curled on her side with the blanket tucked under her chin, she watched the TV as Spike flipped through the channels, but it was nothing except a frustrating annoyance to her: random sounds and pictures that made no sense. As soon as she started to focus on what was on the screen, he'd change it, never allowing her enough time to really comprehend whatever it was. When he finally stopped the infernal channel-surfing and settled on one show, Buffy was too tired to try and focus her muddled mind any longer. She gave up, turned over, and pulled one of the pillows over her head. Despite the coffee, she was content to give in to sleep after her heavy meal and stressful morning.

In her dream, Buffy found herself in a lovely park with what seemed hundreds of acres of green grass which rolled gently down to a sky-blue lake some ways off. She was pushing a child of perhaps four or five on the swings, a girl with curly, chestnut-brown hair that flowed wildly in the wind with each movement to and fro.

"Higher! Higher, Mommy!" the child squealed in delight as she was propelled through the air, clinging to the heavy chains that supported the swing with her small, delicate hands.

"I think that's high enough," Buffy replied, laughing at the girl's fearless enthusiasm, which reminded her of herself at that age.

"Nooo!" the child whined. "I wanna go all the way around! Push harder! Pleeaassee!"

"All the way around?" Buffy chided the girl. "I don't think even I could do that. C'mon! I'll race you to the jungle gym!" Buffy challenged, stilling the girl's swing.



Buffy waited for her daughter to dismount and then waited even longer, giving her a several second head-start before jogging after her. "I'm gonna catch you..." Buffy warned as she ran after the giggling child.

"Nuh-uh!" the girl disputed, increasing her pace in earnest. "I'm the fastest of the fastest!"

Buffy let her win and was just about to climb up onto the jungle gym to join the child when someone spoke from right behind her, "This is so touching. Such a load of crap, but still ... very touching."

Buffy spun around to find herself standing there. For reasons known only to the world of dreams, this didn't seem strange to her at all. "What do you mean?" Buffy asked as she backed up and turned so she could watch her daughter and talk to herself at the same time.

"Load. Of. Crap," her counterpart repeated deliberately, crossing her arms over her chest. "First of all, any kid with Dawn's soul would not laugh that much. I mean, you do remember Dawn, right?"



Buffy's brow furrowed. "Yeah, but ... she'd been through a lot and ... and the monks made her. They must've had some influence on her being the Queen of Brat-dom," Buffy argued. "This will be different."

"Oh, right..." Negative-Buffy intoned sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "Fine, let's talk about how you're going to support her, then. It's lovely that you're out here in the park in the middle of the day. No job, I suppose? What are you, living in a shelter? On welfare? Oh! I know! You won the lottery!"

"I ... I don't know," Buffy admitted, fretting her bottom lip with her teeth. "I might have a ... night job," she offered, brightening. "I can get a job. I have my high school diploma and..."

Negative-Buffy barked out a sarcastic laugh. "That barely qualifies you to flip burgers."

Buffy scowled at her. "I can waitress. I was a good waitress in L.A. I didn't have any problem getting a job, an apartment..."

"A Roach-Motel, you mean," Negative-Buffy interjected.

"I'm perfectly capable of supporting us," Buffy contended vehemently. "A-and ... plus ... maybe Spike..."

At that, Negative-Buffy burst out into fits of laughter. Buffy continued to scowl as her counterpart doubled-over and began to wheeze and cry with gut-busting glee.



"It could happen!" Buffy asserted through the other's gales of laughter. "You don't know!"

"He's a vampire! The 'duh' at the end of that statement is inferred!" Negative-Buffy asserted, still giggling but pulling her mirth under control. "What do you think, that he's gonna settle down in a little house in the 'burbs with a white picket fence and geraniums in the window-boxes, and you'll be a family?"

Buffy's frown lines deepened. "It could happen..." she repeated, but the words didn't carry much force or confidence.

"Oh, yeah, it could happen in some bizarro, topsy-turvy world where day is night, water runs uphill, and you can squeeze toothpaste back into the tube," Negative-Buffy claimed.

Buffy glared at her, her eyes flashing with anger. "Why are you being so negative about this?" she asked her counterpart.



"I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic!" Negative-Buffy contended. "I'm just trying to show you what you're getting into here. It's not all ice cream and giggles. C'mon, Buffy, you know as well as I do: you can't do this!"

"I can!" Buffy retorted angrily, then, lowering her voice to barely a whisper she said, "I have to."

"See – that's where you're wrong. You don't have to! You can release Dawn from Limbo by doing something you're actually good at!" Negative-Buffy explained. "Slay Spike. Problem solved. You are the Slayer ... you do remember that part, right?"

"Mommy! Look at me! Look at me, Mommy!" the girl called from the jungle gym where she hung upside-down by one knee that was looped over the highest part of the apparatus.

"Be careful," Buffy warned distractedly, barely sparing a glace at her daughter.

"Buffy, I know this was Mom's grand plan to save everyone, but you've got to face reality. She doesn't know us like we do. Face it, you don't have what it takes to raise a kid – you proved that with Dawn, didn't you? You're just not cut out for it. What you are cut out for is being the Slayer. So, buck up, put on your Slayer nametag, and get to work saving Dawn from Limbo!" Negative-Buffy demanded.

"But ... Spike's been helping me. He ..." Buffy argued meekly.

"He's a killer, Buffy! An evil, soulless monster! He is the thing you were made to destroy! He's killed two other Slayers already. It's only a matter of time before he makes you his third!"

"No ... he ... he wouldn't," Buffy stammered. "He's changed."

"What do you suppose will happen when you break his heart? How long is he gonna be your lapdog after he figures out that you aren't capable of loving him? When he finds out you've got nothing but an empty shell inside where your heart should be, he's gonna turn on you ... on us," Negative-Buffy warned.

"The chip..." Buffy pointed out, but the argument was without conviction. Even chipped, he'd managed to get her shackled and helpless in his crypt with Dru's help, hadn't he? And Negative-Buffy was right about another thing, Buffy had told her mother as much: she didn't have any love to give.

"The chip will do nothing if he puts a bomb in the car and blows it up with you in it, or hires those Taraka guys again, or just gets himself some minions to do the work for him," Negative-Buffy contended vehemently.

"Mommy, look! Look, Mommy, look! Look what I can do!" the enthusiastic girl called again.

Buffy turned just in time to see her daughter release her hold on one side of the dome-shaped jungle gym and hurl herself across the empty space toward the other. "Oh, God!" Buffy exclaimed even before the child's chin cracked against the bars she was trying to catch. The child tumbled to the ground, landing with a thud that was disproportionately deafening, given the short fall and the soft grass.

Buffy raced to her daughter's aid, flinging the dome-shaped jungle gym away and sending it rolling down the hill toward the lake. Buffy was on her knees next to the girl's prone, unmoving form in an instant. Blood gushed from the child's mouth where she'd bitten her tongue or cheek, several of her teeth were cracked and broken, and there was a nasty gash on her chin, as well. "Dawn ... Dawnie, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Buffy lamented, trying to stop the bleeding, but the child couldn't hear – she'd been knocked unconscious.

Buffy's hands were once again bathed in scarlet. Blood coated her palms and dripped from her fingers as she tried desperately to help the girl. The girl Buffy was supposed to be keeping safe, supposed to be raising, supposed to be protecting.

"Face it, Buffy. You can't do this," Negative-Buffy insisted from just over her shoulder. "It's you or him, Buffy. Save yourself and Dawn at the same time! Do it! Do what you were born to do!"

**~**

Spike’s first instinct was to scramble away from Buffy or knock the stake out of her hand, but he reined in his basic ‘fight or flee’ response, afraid that would only provoke her to immediate violence and/or trigger his chip. Instead, he slowly – very, very slowly – reached one hand up toward the stake.

The look in Buffy’s eyes was one part loathing, one part revulsion, one part determination, and two parts murderous rage. He had to wonder if part of her was reacting to him on some primal, Slayer level. He knew how his own instincts reacted to being near her, or any Slayer, for that matter. Being near a Slayer made the hairs on the back of his everything stand up and scream, it sent pinpricks of fire down his spine, and sent his adrenal glands into overdrive.  It wasn’t precisely a recipe for peace, harmony, and goodwill towards men … or Slayers.

“Buffy, luv … it’s me, Spike,” he told her in a gentle tone as he lifted his hand. "Buffy, luv ..." he said again, keeping his tone as calm as he could. "You in there, Buffy? Not gonna hurt you, pet. No one's gonna hurt you. Fun as it may be, there's no need t' resort t' violence now, is there?"

The murderous rage in her eyes morphed into confusion, while a flash of what he hoped was recognition replaced the loathing and revulsion, and the determination lapsed into uncertainty.

“You remember Spike, right? The chipped vamp that loves you? Better that than a vamped chimp, I reckon,” he quipped dryly, his hand still inching up toward the stake.

Buffy didn’t react or move – not even an eye roll or a disdainful snort.

“Yeah, well you try comin’ up with a funny with a deranged Slayer standing over ya with a stake,” he continued grumpily.

“Just give me the stake, luv,” he cajoled as his fingers slowly, carefully closed over it. “Let go, pet,” he instructed as he pulled on it gently, trying to free it from her grasp.



For a moment he thought she was going to fight him over it – which he was afraid would not have ended well for him – but then she stuck her bottom lip out in a pout and simply released it. Spike breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled it from her fingers and began to sit up to talk to her, but she turned away and crawled back into the other bed. Before he could even get fully to a sitting position she had covered up and turned her back on him, whatever snit she’d been in apparently past.

He blew out a breath and put the stake back into his bag, out of sight, before lying back down. He watched most of another NCIS episode, keeping a wary eye on Buffy, before finally relaxing enough to fall back asleep.

**~**

"What happened!?" Negative-Buffy demanded when Buffy reappeared in the park.



Buffy shook her head. "We don't know me as well as we thought, I guess," Buffy explained with a defeated sigh.

"What is there to know? You're the Slayer, he's the vampire holding your sister's soul prisoner! It's a no-brainer!" Negative-Buffy retorted angrily.

Buffy shook her head again, her shoulders sagging. "It's Spike."

"And...??!" Negative-Buffy questioned incredulously.

"And ... it's Spike," Buffy repeated, unable to come up with anything more.

"Damn it, Buffy! He's a vampire!" Negative-Buffy retorted.

Buffy shook her head, her expression perplexed. "I know ... but ... I just ... can't. He loves me and ..." Buffy blinked a sudden flood of tears back from her eyes, unsure why they had even surfaced.

"Oh. My. God," Negative-Buffy exclaimed, flinging her arms out in frustration. "Mom was right! You love him!"



"What!?!? No ... no! I didn't say that! That would be ... a world of wrong! Ten thousand gallons of wrongness!" Buffy insisted adamantly. "It's just ... Spike," she added lamely.

"Mommy! Look! Watch what I can do! Look, Mommy! Watch!" Buffy's daughter called from the jungle gym, saving her from further discussion on the matter.

"No! Wait, don't let go of the bars! Let me help you!" Buffy insisted vehemently, moving quickly away from Negative-Buffy and the convo she didn't want to have, over to her daughter's side. "Ok, I'm here," Buffy told her daughter, taking her place near the girl as a 'spotter'. "Show me what you can do," she encouraged the child.

As Buffy helped her daughter release from one side of the jungle gym and 'fly' to the other side safely, Negative-Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"You are sooo gonna regret this," Negative-Buffy warned before strolling away, back toward the swings. "Hmmm ... I wonder if I can swing all the way around?"

**~**

When he awoke, Spike felt warm, gentle weight surrounding him. He hovered in the hypnopompic mist between sleep and wakefulness, not quite able to focus on the feeling other than that it was exceptionally pleasant. He let out a satisfied moan and relaxed back into sleep, hoping to re-enter the dream that cast him as the creamy center of a Buffy sandwich.

Unfortunately, the NCIS marathon had apparently gone off – or someone had changed the channel – and the cackling, grating voice of Judge Judy pierced his eardrums like a thousand toothpicks being rammed into them.

“Bloody hell…” he groaned as he reached blindly around the bed next to him to find the remote so he could end the torture.

He did not find the remote, however. His eyes blinked open when his hands met warm, soft bodies on either side of him.

“Mmmm, brilliant,” Spike rumbled, still-half drowsing, looking from the Bot on one side of him, her bits and bytes and fully-charged battery warming her – its – skin, to Buffy on the other, still dressed only in his t-shirt and light pink knickers.



Both Slayers were curled next to him on their sides as he lay on his back. Buffy’s arm was lying across his stomach and her head rested on her own pillow, which she’d apparently brought with her, near his shoulder. The Bot had one leg thrown over his and she used one arm folded beneath her head for a pillow.

Spike closed his eyes and waited for the dream to continue; he’d had a couple of dreams that started off exactly like this. But, after enduring several more minutes of Judge Judy, long enough for him to worry about his eardrums bursting, nothing changed, no one moved. Could this be ... ?? No.

Spike pinched his leg through his jeans to assure himself that this was a dream and nothing more – it hurt. He opened his eyes again and looked: the two Buffys were still there, he was still there. Bloody hell, he wasn’t dreaming! The two Slayers both appeared to be asleep … or in ‘energy conservation mode’. He saw the remote on the other side of Buffy and carefully snaked his arm over top of her head to retrieve it without waking her. She stirred slightly when he moved. With his arm no longer at his side, she snuggled in closer and settled her head on his shoulder, apparently never fully waking. Spike stopped moving a moment, trying his level best to not wake her and end this … whatever it was.

When she settled against him and seemed content, he grabbed the remote and clicked the TV off. Leaving the remote on the bed behind her, he carefully wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his body even tighter. She shifted again when he did that and draped a bare leg over his jean-clad thigh, a mirror of BuffyBot on the other side.

Spike closed his eyes and swallowed, afraid to move lest he break the spell. After a few moments, when neither of the beauties next to him awoke, he carefully slid his arm out from between his body and the Bot. He wrapped it around her – sod it, he could not call her an ‘it’ – shoulders and urged her against him. She obliged, taking the shoulder he offered and using it for a pillow as she snuggled against his body.

Spike drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He could die now. Dust right here, surrounded by Buffy – two Buffys. There’s only one thing that could make this better and his mind started wandering off in very naughty directions. Ok, maybe a few things actually came to mind, sue me. The fingers of both hands drew soft shapes on his companions’ arms, caressing their warm skin with just the tips of his fingers as his imagination wandered down some naughty paths his mind had only rarely dared to trod before.

As he lay there, apparently having been lifted to heaven by some unsuspecting, and soon to be ex, angel, he felt just how different his two Slayers were. Despite looking so much alike, they felt completely different against his body. Buffy’s body was comfortably warm, but the Bot was approaching hot, with her myriad of electronics that whirred inside her almost constantly. Although the Bot weighed more than Buffy with all her high-tech components, Buffy felt heavier against him. He realized that she was completely relaxed in her slumber and had allowed all the weight of her limbs to press down on him. BuffyBot, on the other hand, seemed unable to relax that completely; even in sleep-mode she didn’t fully let go, she was holding her body in place like a mannequin imitating sleep, rather than just letting it fall naturally against him.
 
Their skin was obviously different. Despite the Bot’s state-of-the-art-ness, there was no way to imitate the soft, supple feel of a woman’s skin. The same was true of the Bot’s hair – although soft and silky and something Spike loved to run his fingers through, it lacked the natural vitality of the real thing that lay on his other side.

For Spike, perhaps the biggest physical difference was the aroma of his two Slayers. Absolutely nothing could imitate the heavenly perfume that wafted up to his sensitive nostrils from Buffy. Even now he could still smell the remnants of her arousal and climax from the previous night. He breathed in deeply, longing to taste her again, to feel her body shudder and hear her breathless scream of release. His cock, already awoken from any thought of sleep, jumped in his jeans as he relived the night before and added a ‘Doublemint’ motto to it: Double your pleasure, double your fun.



He sighed dreamily and indulged his mind’s trip down 'Triple-X Lane' for several minutes before pulling his brain (kicking and screaming) out of the gutter. He knew Buffy would never go for anything he’d just conjured on his little journey into the Double-Slayer Orgy-land theme park, but that didn’t really bother him too terribly. All he really wanted was her – Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – to be herself again.

“Buffy, please … please come back to me,” he pleaded, his voice a bare wisp of breath in the quiet room. She had been there last night – Buffy – all of her; mind, body, and spirit. He longed with all his being for her to return – longed to see that look of, if not love, at least acceptance of him in her eyes. Acceptance was a start – acceptance could grow into love, he assured himself. She’d looked at him like a man; treated him like a man in the last days before Dawn’s death. That was more than he’d ever hoped for, and that small victory made him hope for even more.

“I’m here,” Buffy murmured, her breath warm against the bare skin of his chest.



Spike lifted his head to look into her eyes, but she hadn’t awoken – her eyes remained closed, her face lax with sleep. He laid his head back down, still caressing his two bedmates’ arms gently, and closed his eyes against the hope that had swelled in him. I love you, Buffy, he thought deliberately, not daring to say it lest she awake and scamper away from him again. Love you so bloody much.

**~**

Later that evening when Buffy awoke, Spike waited for the explosion – for some outrage or tirade about being in bed next to him – but it never came. She stretched her body, arching her back and pressing her hips against his side harder. Spike remained perfectly still as Buffy yawned and stretched, then moved away and sat up on the edge of the bed.



“Sleep well, luv?” he asked from behind her, still waiting for her to get angry, perhaps accuse him of being in her bed or tricking her somehow.

She nodded, not looking at him.

“Was there … something wrong with your bed?” he ventured when she didn't attack him, trying to suss out what had brought her to his side so he could recreate it later.

“Cold. Alone,” she replied simply as she stood up and headed for the bathroom.

Spike pursed his lips and nodded as she walked away. If she didn’t drive him stark, raving mad, it would be a bloody miracle. He never knew what to expect from her: a stake, a cuddle, a kiss, or a punch – any could come at any time. He could’ve just as easily woken up dusty this evening instead of cocooned in the arms of his two beautiful Slayers. Come to think of it, maybe he already had gone 'round the bend. If he had, would he be able to tell? Waking up to a Slayer standing over you with a stake, and staying in the room with said Slayer seemed to indicate he had already succumbed to insanity.

But, oh the possibilities…

**~**

Spike couldn’t help but put a little extra ‘oomph’ in his swagger as he walked into one of the large hotel casinos that night with Buffy on one side and the Bot on the other. All eyes in the place turned to the trio of blonds as if a spotlight were shining on them as they strode by. Spike felt like Bond, James Bond, sans the poncey tux, walking through the casino: Men want to be him, women want to be with him. Oh yeah, who’s the Big Bad now?



Spike smirked as he hooked his arms through those of his companions and headed over to the cashier’s window to buy some chips. He pulled out a thick roll of cash, but only peeled off two one-hundred-dollar bills to trade for the chips. In fact, the rest were all ones, it just looked impressive. He really needed to parlay the two hundred into more tonight – lots more. With his twin good luck charms, how could he lose?

Spike could feel Buffy’s unease as the three walked around the blackjack tables. He could tell she didn’t like the crowds by the way her heart raced and skittered in her chest, and the way she twitched, as if ready to fight or flee, with each new sound. She hadn’t been around this many people since before they’d lost Dawn, and never in her precarious mental condition. He watched her jerk her eyes and head from person to person, as if scanning for danger at every turn.

“It’s alright, luv. No one knows where we are. Safe as houses ‘ere,” he assured her as he took her hand in his and gave it a comforting squeeze.

Buffy looked at him blankly a moment, then repeated, “Houses – safe,” in a flat monotone.

Spike chose a ten dollar blackjack table. It was a six deck table, odds weren’t the greatest, but he needed to start small and move up to the better tables, which also had higher buy-ins, after he had more dosh in his pocket. Buffy and the Bot stood nearby, just a little behind him, as he played.

“Spike is a genius,” BuffyBot commented to Buffy brightly as they watched.



Buffy looked at the Bot and rolled her eyes. Spike didn’t see since the women were standing behind him.

“Look at all the pretty discs he’s accumulated already,” the Bot continued. “He will soon take all the colors away from the others at the table because he’s bloody brilliant at blackjack.”

“Cheats,” Buffy replied dryly.

“Spike does not cheat! Don’t ever say that! He’s got a natural aptitude for games of chance. He’s simply more clever and adept than anyone else,” BuffyBot insisted, glowering at Buffy.

“More like inept,” Buffy sighed.



Spike heard that and looked around for a moment at his girls, paying special attention to Buffy. He missed the dealer asking him if he wanted another card, his attention focused on her. She wasn’t looking nearly as nervous as she had been, she looked … bored actually. Her arms were folded over her chest and one toe was tapping unerringly on the carpet in a classic ‘when can we get out of here?’ signal. He cursed when the dealer pulled his cards and wager away – he’d lost the hand while he was distracted with Buffy.

He waved off the next hand and gathered his chips up, rising from the table.

“Buffy, ya want t’ get something to eat, luv?” he asked her, watching her face closely for her reaction.

“No … could use something to drink,” she replied sounding completely lucid. “And something to do. What are we, your body guards … or just arm candy? Boring!”

Spike felt a wave of joy wash through him – it practically lifted him off his feet. Spike stepped closer to the ‘twins’ and raked his tongue along this teeth. “You can guard my hot, tight little body any day, Slayer,” he retorted, running his free hand down his chest to his belt suggestively.

“There’s nothing boring about watching Spike display his superior skills and intellect. It’s nearly as impressive as his washboard abs,” BuffyBot defended.

Buffy quirked a brow at Spike. “‘Superior skills and intellect’? Conceited much?”



Spike winced and turned to the Bot. “I thought we deactivated that file,” he growled at her through clenched teeth.

The Bot smiled at him. “No. We deactivated ‘Spike’s Favorite Phrases’, that is one of ‘Spike’s Favorite Compliments,’” she informed him brightly.

A muscle in Spike’s jaw twitched. “Well, let’s deactivate that one too, then,” he suggested.

“If we keep deactivating my files, I will not know the proper responses to outside stimuli,” the Bot protested.

Buffy smiled wryly and hooked her arm through the Bot’s. She turned her twin away from Spike and began walking towards the bar. “Tell you what, we’ll start a new file – ‘Smartass Retorts’ – that way you’ll never run out of things to say when properly … stimulated.”

“Oh, yes! That would be greatly appreciated. He had me deactivate all my sex programs, his favorite phrases, and now this… I’m very concerned that my limited banter and skills of engagement will become boring for Spike,” the Bot replied.

“Well, we wouldn’t want that now, would we?” Buffy replied, shooting Spike a devilish smile over her shoulder.

“Oi! My bloody Bot,” Spike protested. “Don’t be messing about with ‘er, Summers.”



Despite his protest, his heart was soaring higher with every moment Buffy was Buffy again. It felt like a thousand nightingales had taken flight inside his chest; an exaltation of joy, lifting him up to heaven.

Please, please let ‘er stay this time, he sent to whoever might possibly listen to the prayers of a heathen vampire. Was there a patron saint of vampires? He frowned and thought that Saint Jude would probably serve both Slayers and vampires – patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations. Suddenly, the Beetles began playing in his head, Hey Jude, don't make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better... Hey Jude, don't let me down, you have found her, now go and get her...

At the bar, Spike got himself a whiskey with a beer chaser and Buffy ordered a Coke. They took their drinks to a booth and sat down. Spike noted that Buffy slid in next to the Bot – was that to keep him from sitting next to the android? His ego swelled with the thought that Buffy might be jealous of his … relationship with BuffyBot, but he wisely didn’t mention it.

“You … feeling better, luv?” he asked Buffy, watching her face and her eyes carefully for signs of consternation or confusion.

Buffy nodded, but looked away from him as she took a drink of her Coke. “I … think so. I think I’m losing time…” she admitted. She looked down at the scars on her arms. She ran a finger over the worst one – the one on her left arm. It was still angry-looking, reddish-pink and the scar tissue was thick and deep. She looked back up at Spike. “I thought … this happened … yesterday. Everything’s … muddled.”

Spike shook his head. “Four days ago now,” he told her.

“Four days,” Buffy repeated in a whisper, shaking her head. She rubbed at her forehead with her fingers as flashes of guilt and confusion danced across her mind. “What … happened in those four days?” she asked finally, looking back up at Spike.

“You were in the … hospital for near-abouts three,” he told her. “Then … today – mostly just slept.”

“That’s … all that happened?” Buffy asked, the confusion showing in her face again.

Spike’s chest tightened. Don’t let her slip away. “Uh, well … you could say there was a bit of … excitement last night,” Spike admitted.



Buffy’s face flushed bright red and she looked down at the table, unable to meet his eyes. “So … that … in the shower, that was real?”

Spike cleared his throat and took a long swallow of his beer, unsure what to say, afraid of losing her again.

"Spike?" she prompted, keeping her head bowed but chancing a glance at him through her lashes and a veil of golden locks that had fallen in front of her face.

Spike shifted in his seat and cleared his throat again before answering. “It was for me. Thought you were there with me, luv. Wouldn’t ‘ave… taken advantage if I thought ...”



“No! I was there,” Buffy blurted out, suddenly feeling guilty for making him feel guilty. She summoned the courage to look up at him finally. “But I don’t remember how it … ended.”

Spike swallowed. “The same way everything between us ends: you got brassed off and threatened t’ stake me.”

A bark of laughter exploded from Buffy’s throat before she could stop it, but she stopped when she saw the pained expression on Spike’s face. “You’re serious.”

“As a heart attack,” he confirmed.

“I … I’m sorry … I don’t remember. I don’t understand why I would…”

Spike waved her apology off with a small motion of his hand. “Not your fault, luv. Should’a known better. Ya been in right state and I should’ve ‘ave …”

“No – it’s … Spike, I …” Buffy closed her eyes as the memory came back to her. She had come on to him, flirted with him, teased him – she had started it, not him. She had a mission. Her mother had given her a mission – rescue Dawn’s soul from Limbo. Make a baby. With Spike. She’d failed. Again.

Buffy opened her eyes and looked at him. He looked so concerned, so worried about her. She wished he wouldn’t look that way; this vampire who had unknowingly donated half of his unused-soul for Dawn; this vampire who Buffy was planning to use to make a baby and get said soul back out of Limbo.



Maybe I should just tell him about Dawn’s soul, Buffy thought. The answer to her silent musing came to her mind almost immediately. No! What if he gets pissed about the monks commandeering half of his soul? What if he doesn’t want to make a baby? What if he says no? What if he walks away from you? How will you rescue Dawn then? Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Finally Buffy said, “It wasn’t your fault. I … wanted it.”

Spike’s expression softened as he considered her, his head tilting to the side as he took her in. “Yeah?”

Buffy gave him a shy smile. “Yeah.”

“I … thought so, but been having a bit of a go readin' ya of late. Ya seemed … happy with it, but … errr … well, ya been a bit confused most o’ the last days – silent in the weeks before that. Ya keep talking ‘bout blood on your hands,” he told her truthfully.

Buffy closed her eyes and the image of Dawn lying in a pool of her own blood flashed in her mind. She’d never get that picture out of her mind. It was tattooed there – a permanent fixture. Then she could see her hands, covered in blood, Dawn's blood. She could only stare at them – frozen with the reality of her failure. Tears formed behind her closed lids and she had to blink her eyes to keep them from falling.

Buffy felt the crimson shroud of guilt-laden blood begin to descend over her mind again. She pressed her hands against her forehead – willing it to stop, to leave her alone. “No, no, no…” she muttered to herself, now pounding the heels of her hands against her forehead. “Mission … Dawn … focus … think … remember,” she admonished herself in a desperate whisper.

“Buffy?” Spike asked, urgent worry in his voice. “Slayer? Stay with me, Buffy,” he begged, reaching a hand across the table between them and gripping one of her forearms, as if he could hold her mind together with the gesture.

“Where is she going?” BuffyBot asked blithely, unable to process what was happening between her companions. Neither Spike nor Buffy replied to her or even heard.

“Spike …” Buffy panted – her heart galloping wildly in her chest as she desperately tried to keep her mind from drowning in the red river of confusion. “Help me … Spike.”



Buffy’s eyes were panicked – they looked just like she had that horrible night when she was bathed in Dawn’s blood. Helpless. Hopeless. Frightened. Forlorn.

Spike slid out of the booth and pressed into the seat next to Buffy, crowding her over against the Bot as he wrapped his arms around her. “Stay with me, Summers. You’re stronger than this. Too bloody stubborn t’ give in to it. Stay with me, Buffy,” Spike demanded of her – his voice strong and sure.

“She cannot leave. We have not created my new database of ‘Smartass Retorts’,” the Bot interjected with a pout.

Spike snorted. “Ya hear that, pet?” he said to Buffy. “Gotta stay – Bot needs them bloody insults o’ yours t’ hurl at me. Can’t leave that undone now, can we?” He held her and rocked her – he could feel her fighting the madness, the guilt – he could feel her losing the battle. His voice turned soft, agonized as he began begging her to stay with him. “Please, Buffy … please stay with me, luv. Please don’t leave me, pet. Buffy … please.”

“Spike,” Buffy grated out between panicked breaths. “Can’t … stop … it,” she gasped. “Too … heavy.”

“Balls!” Spike argued. “You’re the bloody Slayer. Nothing’s too heavy for you. Fight it, Summers. Bloody well fight,” Spike admonished her.



“Who are we fighting? I have many skills for slaying demons. I’m very good at physical confrontations and I look good while I’m doing it,” the Bot offered.

Spike could feel Buffy slipping through his fingers even as he held her against him. He clamped his eyes closed as tears of grief and frustration threatened to fall. Having her back for brief flashes was almost worse than not having her at all. He thought he would have been able to handle the sullen, monosyllabic responses from her better if he weren’t reminded of her wit and vitality with these periods of lucidity. How many times could he be lifted to heaven only to be slammed back into hell a few minutes later without losing his own mind?

“Inner demons,” Spike told the Bot grimly, “aren’t as easy t’ slay.”

He felt the fight go out of Buffy’s body. She relaxed and became still against him. She was like a completely different person in his arms – one moment a strong and determined warrior and the next a defeated, confused girl. It was almost like feeling the life drain from her; almost like feeling her die in his arms, and he was helpless to stop it.

“Buffy?” he asked softly, as if talking to a child. “You alright, luv?”

Buffy lifted her head from where it rested against his chest and looked up at him. He could see in her clouded eyes that she wasn’t in there – not his fierce Slayer.

She blinked a few times as if trying to reorient herself, then cleared her throat, touching a finger to it. “Thirsty,” she muttered wearily.

Spike nodded and released the hold he’d had on her. He pulled her Coke forward and handed it to her. Buffy took a few tentative sips, then downed the rest in one long pull. She wiped her mouth on the back of her arm and sat the empty glass down on the table.

“Need more, pet?” Spike asked.

She shook her head.

Spike reached across and retrieved his beer and drank it as Buffy had done her Coke, in one long swallow. “Right– let’s find a higher stakes table, then,” he suggested, although he really wasn’t in the mood anymore.

Regardless of his mood, he’d wanted to move Buffy out of that flea-bag motel into something nicer, and to do that he needed more money. The fastest way he knew to get more money, legally, at least, was to move up to higher stakes tables now that he’d built his ‘stack of pretty multi-colored discs’ into a fair amount of dosh.

He slid out of the booth, then offered Buffy a hand. She took it tentatively and followed his lead as if unsure what she was supposed to be doing. The Bot followed, and together they headed back into the casino proper.

**~**

It wasn’t really late by vampire and Slayer standards when Spike cashed in his chips before they headed back to the Paradise Lost Motel. He smirked as he provided the ID and non-citizen Social Security number of one 'Rupert Giles' for the tax forms, wishing he could see the wanker's face when the IRS and Inland Revenue came calling. He hadn’t won enough to move them in to a Skyloft at the MGM Grand – yet. But, he had bet and won enough to catch the notice of the casino's floor managers, earning Spike and his ‘companions’ complimentary drinks while he played. Another couple of nights like that and they’d have a complimentary room too. Casinos really hate it when you walk out the door with their money. They prefer that you not leave the premises at all, lest you go next door and give all the money you won from them to their competitors. Spike had played this game before in casinos from Monte Carlo to Moscow – the key was knowing when to stop playing. It was just another dance.



While Buffy was getting her shower – quite alone this time – Spike lit a cigarette and settled in to watch the late, late movie: ‘Bloodbath at the House of Death.’ It was a comedy. Really. He listened to Buffy moving around in the bathroom. He could hear the water coming on, then the sound of the falling water change when she stepped under the spray. He wished he was in there with her as he tried to work out in his mind what triggered her sudden bouts of lucidity and what triggered her retreats into the darkness.

Certainly today mentioning blood had been the thing that sent her scurrying back into the security of confusion. In the shower the previous night it seemed to be when he told her that he loved her. How those were related, or if they were, he didn’t know. What triggered her sojourns into clarity was even less evident. It seemed random – it probably was; Dru had been that way. Perhaps the swings in both directions were nothing but chance – random occurrences that only the Slayer’s subconscious could hope to suss out. It was frustrating, but then again, she’d spent six weeks not saying anything at all. As farfetched as it seemed, perhaps Spike, the epitome of patience that he was, was simply being too impatient. He just wanted Buffy back. He just wanted a chance to build on the small thread of trust and friendship that had begun between them before…

He sighed. Before I let her down. Before Dawn sacrificed herself. Before we all had blood on our hands.

Spike heard the water shut off in the bathroom just as a knock came at the door to their room. He furrowed his brow and looked at the clock. Who would be knocking on their door at three am? Who would be knocking at their door at all?

The Bot was ‘asleep’, charging in the bed next to him. He quickly roused her, pulling the charging cord out and rebooting her. She blinked awake and gave him her brilliant smile. “Spike!”

“Shhh!” he warned, pressing a finger to her lips. “Go into the loo. Keep the Other Slayer in there. Someone’s at the door ….”

“Oh! I can get it. I have excellent conversation skills and can offer proper hospitality to a caller. I am very good at idle small talk,” the Bot informed him. “Nice whether we’re having, isn’t it? How ‘bout them Giants? Have you seen any good movies lately?” she demonstrated.

“Don’t think it’s that sort o’ caller,” Spike advised her, keeping his voice low. “Got a bad feeling.”



“Then I should stay with you. If they do not follow acceptable social etiquette as our guest and agree that the weather is quite nice and the Giants are doing well, I can beat them senseless and toss them into oncoming traffic,” she offered, looking menacingly at the door.

Another knock came at the door, more insistent this time. “Give a bloke a minute t’ get decent!” Spike called to the door. Then to the Bot he whispered, “No. Here’s your mission: you keep Buffy safe. Don’t let anyone take ‘er outta ‘ere or hurt her, no matter what. Got it?”

The Bot nodded sharply and headed for the bathroom. He heard Buffy say something when the door opened, but the Bot shushed her and stepped inside. Once the door closed on his two Slayers, Spike, a stake tucked into the back of his belt and a dagger in his right hand, went to answer the door.

The moment he turned the handle the door exploded in, knocking him back into the dresser with superhuman force. He began scrambling up to his feet, shifting the dagger to his left hand at the same time, as the apparently socially-inept visitor stepped into the room.

“Spike,” Angel spat the name as if just saying it left a bad taste in his mouth. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” he snarled as he lunged forward, stake in hand.



**~**

{{  Click here to hear Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here on YouTube  }}

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
Chapter End Notes:
Oh, dear! One of my evil muse's favorite things: The Evil Cliffie! Sorry guys! I told you I just let him run wild and this is our reward for that! He does, however, want to thank PaganBaby for suggesting that we have Buffy 'come and go' rather than get better at a slow, but steady pace. My muse *loved* that idea so much more than the way he'd originally envisioned it, and you and Spike are reaping the angst of that, as well.

She was also the one that suggested Spike awake one night and find Buffy standing over him with a stake. And you guys thought Pagan was all happiness and fluff! Ha! Now you know! She's my Evil Twin. Muahahaha.

I also need to thank ILoveLamp for suggesting the inner-dialogue/dream that lead up to the near-staking, as I didn't have that in there previous to the suggestion on her review. See what can happen when you leave me love notes??

Lastly, isn't that a lovely drawing of Buffy sleeping? That is, of course, from the comics, which I have broken-down and started reading. Can I just say: 'Thank goodness for fanfic!' I've been less than impressed with the comics but I do like the wonderful cover art.

Thanks again for reading! Will have more hopefully Tuesday.
King of Anything by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thanks to YOU for reading, and super-thanks to those of you who take time to drop me a note! They really mean a lot! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Spike had just barely regained his balance when Angel lunged, stake aimed directly at Spike’s heart. Spike swung his dagger at the oncoming weapon as he leaned backwards, away from the deadly wood. Spike’s blade banged against Angel’s stake, pushing it off-target, but didn’t knock it from the larger vamp’s hand. Spike’s balance wavered as he arched his upper body away from the deadly weapon Matrix-style, but, not having the special effects of the movies to aid him, he overbalanced and fell onto his back. The threadbare carpet of the room did little to cushion his fall, and the back of his head hit first, banging hard against the unforgiving concrete beneath the thin excuse for a rug.



Angel, sensing a quick and easy victory, followed him down, readjusting his aim, a murderous gleam in his yellow eyes.

Stars momentarily danced in Spike's vision, but he'd gotten used to dealing with worse pain since the Initiative chipped him, and he shook it off in just a second or two. As Angel dove for him, Spike drew his knees to his chest and, with the strength and determination of a mule, kicked up with both bare feet. He hit Angel in the stomach, drawing an ‘oomph’ of pain from the dark vamp. Spike's powerful kick sent Angel flying backwards through the air and crashing into the already-dented steel door of the room, which had automatically closed behind him.

Angel’s back hit the door with a thunderous clang and he slid down to the floor with a thud. Spike flipped himself back up onto his feet and closed on the larger vamp with inhuman speed fueled by decades of rage. Angel sat on the floor, arms and legs akimbo, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs as Spike closed on him.

When Spike got within arm’s reach of Angel, the larger vamp suddenly swung the stake roundhouse-style at Spike’s thigh with all his strength. Spike screamed in pain as he jumped back, the stake finding purchase deep in the meat of his quadriceps muscle. The stake tore out painfully when he jumped back, leaving a ragged hole in his flesh and drawing a litany of growled curses from the blond.



Spike clutched at the injury trying to stem the bleeding as he backed away from Angel, who had jumped back to his feet.

“Forgot what a manky bugger you are, Angelus, can’t even fight straight up. Always with the bleedin’ tricks,” Spike complained as he backed away, holding his dagger at the ready with one hand while he pressed against the gaping wound on his thigh with the other.

Angel smiled mirthlessly as he closed in on Spike. “I’m taking Buffy out of here one way or the other, Willie. The only question is how much pain I get to inflict on you before I dust you.”

**~**

Buffy looked up in surprise when the Bot entered the bathroom. She grabbed the towel she’d just dropped and held it in front of her. “Occupied,” she informed her twin rancorously, Buffy’s look of surprise morphing into agitation.

The Bot held a finger up to her lips, shushing Buffy as she closed the door behind her. Then, in her normal, totally unstealthy voice she said, “Spike sent me in here while he investigates who is knocking on our door. I am to make sure you do not exit this room until he says it is safe.”

Buffy’s agitation slid back to confusion. She looked at the closed door as if she would be able to see through it into the other room. Then they both heard a loud thud coming from the other room and both of their eyes went wide.

“Spike!” they both exclaimed as one, worried chorus.



Buffy forgot her modesty, dropped the towel, and quickly pulled on Spike’s t-shirt. After stepping into a pair of stretchy shorts that Spike had bought her on their way back to the motel earlier, Buffy headed for the closed door.

Remembering her orders, the Bot blocked her path. “Spike said I am to keep you here…” she began, holding the Other Slayer back.

“Spike no die!” Buffy exclaimed, frantically trying to get past the Bot.

The two Slayers grappled for several moments, neither gaining an upper hand, then Spike’s ear-splitting roar of pain cut the air. They both stopped and looked at each other, eyes wide with fear. In the next heartbeat, they both hit the bathroom door, nearly knocking it from its hinges, and almost bowling each other down as they charged into the motel room.

Although not out of options, will, or determination, Spike’s back was against the wall, literally, when the two blondes emerged from the door just to his right. Angel turned instinctively to the new threat, still brandishing the stake. As one, Buffy and the Bot descended on him like hyenas, knocking him back away from Spike and to the floor. Buffy instinctively grabbed the hand that held the weapon and slammed it down on the floor several times until he released it. At the same time the Bot pummeled his face with crushing blows from her powerful fists.



“Spike no die!” Buffy screamed at Angel as she retrieved the dropped stake and pressed it against the large vamp’s chest.

Spike limped forward and pulled the Bot off his nearly-unconscious grand-sire, certain that it was no trick this time. With a word from him, her assault desisted and she stood back.

"That is Angel," the Bot reported, pointing at the downed attacker. "He is at the top of our 'Do Not Trust' list. Aliases include: Angelus, Peaches, Gormless Tit, Magnificent Poof, Captain Forehead, Mr. Broody-Pants, Tall-Dark-and-Dreary. He is a vampire. He wears lifts, has poncey hair, uses Nancy-boy hair gel, and is a right wanker."

"Thanks for the report, luv," Spike offered with a grimace of pain as he put weight on his bleeding leg. The Bot smiled proudly, nodded sharply, and stood back to await further orders.

Spike turned to Buffy, who was clearly not herself as she pressed the stake further into Angel’s ribs, drawing blood. Her eyes were wild, nothing but primal fury shone in them as she scrambled atop Angel’s stomach for better leverage now that the Bot was out of her way.



“Buffy, luv …” Spike began. He tried to kneel next to her and Angel, but ended up more-or-less falling when pain shot up through his injured leg.

That drew her attention from Angel for a moment and she reached a hand out to help him. “Spike no die,” she said to him softly as she steadied him on the floor next to her.

“I’m all for that, luv,” he agreed, gritting his teeth against the pain. “But, ‘fore we dust the wanker, we might want t’ find out who else knows we're here,” he suggested.

Buffy turned angry eyes back to Angel who was trying to slap away the little cartoon birdies circling his head and fight through the blinding confusion and pain the Bot had inflicted on him. “Hurt Spike. Hurt Wanker,” Buffy snarled out after a moment. Then she pulled the stake away from Angel’s chest, lifted it out to the side, and swung it down in an oblique arc behind her, right into the side of the large vamp's thigh, burying it to the bone.

Angel screamed in agony, writhing on the floor beneath her, and trying to clutch at his leg. Angel screamed again when Buffy twisted the stake and pulled it out, his body bucking, trying ineffectively to dislodge her.

Spike smirked. “Love your logic, Slayer. Bloody brilliant.”



**~**



Angel’s eyes flashed open when cold water splashed over his head and face, shocking him out of his pain-induced trance. He blinked and sputtered the water from his mouth as he tried to remember where he was and what was happening. Two Buffys stood in front of him, both looking equally pissed off. He blinked again, trying to get his double-vision to solidify into one reality. It didn’t work.

“Really are two of ‘em,” a snarky voice said from beside Angel.

He looked toward the source of the words. “Spike,” Angel muttered when his eyes found Spike’s smug face.

“Well, now that we have that settled, how ‘bout you tell us what the bloody hell you’re doing here,” Spike suggested.

Angel tried to move, but couldn’t. He looked down and found that he’d been tied to a chair. Arms, legs, and torso were all wrapped with enough rope to outfit a professional rodeo.

“May I throw more ice water on the wanker? I find it extremely satisfying,” the Bot asked brightly.

Spike grinned. “Anything for you, pet.”



The Bot’s grin widened and she went to retrieve more water from the bathroom, stopping at the ice bucket on the dresser to drop a few cubes of ice in the pitcher first.

“What the fuck is going on here, Spike?” Angel asked, looking between the two Slayers.

“What’s going on is me asking the questions and you answering ‘em,” Spike retorted. “Now, let’s start simple: How did ya find us?”



Spike was fairly certain it hadn't been through magical means. He'd been careful to guard against that before they reached Las Vegas. Thinking Willow would do a locator spell to find Buffy when the Scoobies realized she was missing from her room, Spike had procured three talismans from a reputable, if eccentric, witchdoctor who lived in the Mojave desert near Zzyzx, California. The talismans cost him a pretty penny, and were guaranteed by the crazy old coot to deflect and confuse locator spells. He'd dealt with the old hermit before and was fairly certain the old man knew better than to cross William the Bloody. He, Buffy, and the Bot had all been wearing them practically the whole time they'd been gone, certainly before they'd landed at Paradise Lost.

Angel leveled a caustic gaze on Spike, who was seated on the bed near Angel’s chair. “I’m an investigator. I investigated,” he snarled back at his grand-childe.

Spike hit him with a closed fist in his already bruised, and possibly broken, jaw. Spike made a blaring sound, imitating a losing buzzer on a game show, then said, “Wrong answer.”

Angel let his head fall forward, clamping his eyes closed against the pain. A moment later more ice water fell over the back of his head and neck, shocking him back to alertness.

“Who called you?” Spike asked.

Angel blinked and sputtered a moment, before looking back at the blond vamp. “Giles.”

Spike lifted his hands up in front of his chest and began popping his knuckles menacingly before asking again, “How did ya find us?”



Angel looked from Spike’s fists back to his eyes, then over at the two Buffys who now leaned against the dresser facing him with identical looks of impatience on their faces. “Hospital records. They have to report attempted suicides to the police,” he revealed, looking from one of the blonde women to the other. “I have friends in the police department ... they helped me track you down.”

Angel finally found what he was looking for – the Slayer in the black t-shirt had the scars on her arms. “Buffy,” he said softly, looking that one in the eyes. “Please come back with me. We can take care of you. Get you the help you need.”

“She’s not going back t’ be locked up by those Council wankers,” Spike snarled. “Been through enough, she has. Doesn’t need them poking and prodding ‘er, keeping her drugged and caged like a soddin’ animal.”

“Oh, right ... looks like you’re doing a bang-up job of taking care of her, Willie,” Angel growled, narrowing his eyes at Spike.



Spike punched him again. The Bot tittered; bouncing on her toes, she practically danced back to the bathroom for more ice water.

When Angel was wet and coherent again, Spike continued his questioning. “Who else knows where we are?”

Angel didn’t answer him, he kept his eyes locked on the Buffy with the scars. “Buffy – you know I love you and I’d never hurt you. We all just want what’s best for you. Come back with me … I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.”

Buffy looked from Angel to Spike and back again.

“Angel love Buffy?” she asked tentatively, her green eyes intent on Angel’s now swollen brown ones.



“You know I do,” he replied gently. "I've always loved you – even before I met you – and I always will."

Spike drew his fist back to strike Angel again, but stopped as he watched Buffy. She seemed conflicted, unsure. Could she really still love Angel after all he’d done – or not done? Could she actually be buying this bollocks?

Where had Angel been during the fight with Glory? Where had he been when she’d most needed help? Where had he been when they buried Dawn? Spike’s chest ached and he suddenly wished Angel had plunged that stake into it earlier – that would’ve been easier than watching his Slayer melt under his gaze.

“Angel help?” she asked him, her voice growing more vulnerable and trusting the longer she spoke to the magnificent poof.

The dagger protruding from Spike’s heart twisted. The physical pain threatened to bring tears to his eyes and he had to blink to keep them back. Seeing her like this – talking to sodding Angel as if he was the one who had saved her – was going to tear Spike’s heart from his chest. How could she look at Angel as if he were the one who had stood by her all this time? As if he was her hero?

“Yes – you know I will. Anything. I’ll do anything to help you, Buffy,” Angel promised, his voice reassuring and full of sincerity.

“Angel do for Buffy?” she asked in that same shy tone – a child speaking to a parent.



“Yes … trust me, Buffy. I’ll do what’s best for you,” Angel agreed eagerly. "Just untie me and we'll go – we can be together. I'll take care of you."

“Angel … not leave Buffy?” she continued, pushing herself off the dresser and taking a tentative step toward the large vamp.

“Never – I’d never leave you,” he agreed, his voice cajoling and eager.

Buffy’s eyes suddenly went cold and hard. She drew her hand back and slapped him across the face, an opened-handed, but vicious, blow.

“Angel lies,” she stated flatly, glowering at him as he blinked in surprise and pain. “Angel leave. Angel not help.”



Buffy raised her eyes to Spike. “Spike help. Need Spike,” she announced firmly.

The dagger in Spike’s heart evaporated, leaving behind a gleeful chorus of joy. His eyes danced with delight as she reached the hand out that had slapped Angel and gently touched Spike’s cheek.

Spike smirked at Angel who gawped unbelievingly at the pair. “Reckon that says it all. She don’t want you, you gormless tit. Had your chance – blew it, you did. First sign o' trouble and you bolted, left the girl t' face a hell-god on 'er own. Some bloody hero you are!" Spike scoffed at him.

"You tell the Watcher and the rest of her bloody friends t’ back the fuck off. She’s fine. I’ll take care of ‘er,” he ordered Angel, poking a finger in the larger vamp's chest for extra emphasis.

“We!” the Bot interjected, raising her hand like an eager schoolgirl. “I’m helping! We’ll take care of her.”

Spike looked up at the Bot and nodded. “We’ll take care of the Slayer.”

“Spiiike,” Angel drawled the name out as if talking to a petulant child. “You have no idea how to…”



“Balls!” Spike growled back, interrupting him. “Who took care o’ Dru? Not bloody you! Me! All you wanted to do is shag ‘er – I had t’ live on the lunatic fringe, clean up the aftermath when you scampered off.

“I know what I’m doing and I’ll … we’ll take care o’ the Slayer no matter what. And if they think I won’t or can’t kill ‘em, you tell those so-called friends o’ hers different. If they try t’ take Buffy, we’ll stop ‘em – rip their bloody heads off.”

Angel shook his head, clearly not happy with the message, but finally said, “Fine – I’ll tell them if you tell me one thing.”

“What?”

“Who in the hell is that?” he asked incredulously, looking at the Bot.

Spike smirked. “Slayer’s little helper.”

**~**

“The wanker is secure in the bathroom,” the BuffyBot announced as she slid the heavy dresser in front of the bathroom door as Buffy had done the previous night.



Spike nodded from where he sat in the bed, leaning against the headboard, smoking a cigarette. His leg still hurt like a mother, but it had stopped bleeding and the Bot had bandaged it up well enough. “Ta ever so. We’ll head outta here after dark. They should find ‘im tomorrow sometime. Give us plenty o’ time to put some miles between us. ‘Til then, reckon we should get some rest … recharge.”

The Bot nodded and took her place next to Spike near her charging equipment. She hooked herself up and lay back to recharge.

“You too, luv,” Spike said to Buffy, who was sitting on the edge of the other bed.

“Angel … not good … here,” Buffy replied, casting a glance over her shoulder at the door to the bathroom.

“Be alright, luv. He can’t get outta there without waking us up. Need him to carry the message back to the gits in Sunnydale,” Spike explained. “When they know we’re serious, reckon they’ll leave us be.”

Buffy nodded reluctantly and crawled under her covers. Spike crushed his cigarette out, turned off the light, and rolled over onto his side to sleep. The heavy curtains over the windows let in a faint glow of the dawning daylight outside, but otherwise the room was dark. The only sounds that could be heard were people moving about in other rooms above or beside theirs, as well as muffled voices and the sound of the city coming from outside.

After only a few minutes of darkened silence, Spike felt the bed behind him dip and Buffy slid under the blanket behind him. Her warm body spooned against his back and her breath tickled the nape of his neck as she snuggled against him. Spike fought the urge to turn over and kiss her, to hold her in his arms and never let her go. Instead he laced his fingers through hers where they rested on his stomach and gave them a gentle squeeze. He heard her sigh as her warm, supple body settled into relaxation against his hard coolness. She’d chosen him over Angel – or at least part of her did – but that part was enough for him, for now anyway. One day he’d have all of her – it didn’t matter how long it took – he could wait.

“Good night, Slayer,” he whispered. I love you, he added silently.

“G’night, Spike,” she murmured sleepily.

**~**



Buffy woke in early evening with Spike curled around her, his body spooned against her back, his arm around her middle holding her in place. She tried to remember what had happened, how they had ended up like this, but could only get flashes of memory. The last thing she remembered clearly was being at the casino in the bar with him and the Bot. She pulled the cover up and looked down at her body – she was dressed in one of Spike’s t-shirts and a pair of shorts. That would seem to indicate that nothing but sleep had happened during the time she couldn’t remember. She was glad of that small favor, at any rate. Based on the little she remembered from the shower, having sex with Spike and not remembering would just be wrong ... very, very wrong.

The mission her mother had given her weighed heavily on her mind. She needed to get Dawn’s soul out of Limbo. To do that she either needed to dust Spike and allow Dawn to move on, or make a baby with him and draw it back. There was a time when dusting Spike would’ve been the obvious choice, but not any longer. He had fought at her side, did everything he could to help her keep Dawn safe, and he’d gotten her away from the impending threat of a Watchers Council intervention. She’d been captured by their Slayer retrieval team before when she was in Faith’s body. She’d escaped, but just barely. The mere memory of that Wet Works team gave her a wiggins – they were scruple-less ... un-scruple-ful? ... They were creepy lowlifes.

She didn’t want to do that again. Ever.

She owed Spike. A lot.

Laying there in Spike's arms, she again wondered if she should just tell him about Dawn’s soul. Despite the loyalty he’d shown her, being told that someone had been mucking around with your soul might be a bit more than even he would stand for. Even if he wasn’t actually using it at the moment, it was still his. It hadn’t been fair for the monks to do what they’d done with it – but then lots of things the monks did wasn’t exactly fair. She’d been upset to hear that they’d taken part of her soul to give to Dawn; how would it feel to know they’d taken more than just a little nibble and given it to someone else?

No, she couldn’t chance it, Buffy decided again. She couldn’t tell him about the mission, about Dawn’s soul, about making a baby. What if he got angry? For being undead, Spike had a hot-blooded temper and he could be one stubborn SOB when he wanted to be. What if he refused to help her? There was no way to know what his reaction would be. It didn’t make her feel good – she’d be using him just like the monks had – but she’d promised Dawn that she would take care of her and she meant to do that. She’d failed Dawn’s physical self; she wasn’t about to take any chances with her sister’s soul, borrowed though it may be.

Buffy silently slid out from under Spike’s arm and headed for the bathroom. The room was completely dark now – no light shone in from behind the curtains, but the layout was simple and she moved to the door of the bathroom without hesitation. When she got there, however, she bumped into the dresser that was pressed against the door.

She muffled a curse when her toe banged into the unexpected obstacle, trying not to wake her roommates. Perplexed, she slid the dresser back where it was supposed to be on the wall and opened the door to the bathroom. Still concerned about waking her roommates, she closed the door behind her before switching on the light. She’d just started sliding her shorts down when she saw someone sitting on a chair in the shower enclosure.



“Holy shit!” she exclaimed, jumping back a step as she took in the stranger in their bathroom. “Angel?” she asked, mystified. He was bruised and bloodied and tied to a chair. His head lolled to one side – asleep or unconscious – leaning against the cool tile of the shower wall.

When she spoke he lifted his head and opened his eyes as much as they could through the swelling.

“Buffy…” he groaned. “If I can’t leave, could I at least have some blood so I can heal?”

“Angel … what … What the hell are you doing here? In our shower? Beaten and tied up?” Buffy stammered. It was becoming clear that something had definitely happened while she was out of it. “Oh, my God! You’ve gone evil again, haven’t you? Lost your soul…”



“Nooo, I haven’t gone evil again,” Angel protested with a moan of indignation.

“Then … what are you doing here?” Buffy repeated.

Angel snorted. “As if you don’t know…”

Buffy frowned. “Pretend I don’t,” she suggested, eyeing him warily.

Angel sighed. “Could you loosen the ropes … they’re cutting off my circulation.”

Buffy snorted. “I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Spike tried that one on me a long time ago. Didn’t fall for it then, not falling for it now. Just tell me why you’re here. And make it fast, I really need to pee.”

Angel rolled his eyes. “Don’t let me stop you.”

“As if,” Buffy retorted, folding her arms over her chest.



“I’ve seen it before,” he pointed out.

“Yeah, and we know how well that ended. Spill.”

“I’ve come to … take you home. To rescue you from Spike – get you the help you need. You can’t trust him – he’s an evil, soulless monster. He’ll take advantage of you, Buffy. He'll kill you if he gets the chance. Believe me, I’ve known him a lot longer than you have. I know what I’m talking about.”

Buffy nodded. “Uh-huh. Sooo, you’ve come to be the hero, is that it? Save the damsel from the evil vampire?”

“Buffy, I know you’re not helpless, I just think you’re not thinking clearly right now. Giles said that you’ve been … depressed and in some kind of fugue state since …”

“Since my sister killed herself to save the world,” Buffy filled in when Angel paused. “You know, I could’ve used some help then, Angel. I called you – I got freaking voice mail,” she snapped at him.

“I was a little busy myself,” Angel retorted angrily.

“We were fighting a hell-god, Angel! She was going to kill my sister and end the world – end all the worlds! What could’ve possibly been more important than that?” Buffy wondered.

“I … we … weren’t here. We went to … Pylea – it’s another dimension – on a mission,” he explained.

“Oh? And this mission, did it involve saving the universe?”

“Well, no, not exactly. We went to save … Cordelia. She got … sucked into a portal,” Angel admitted.

“Cordelia,” Buffy repeated dryly. She snorted sarcastically and rubbed at her eyes. If Angel and his crew had been there to help her fight Glory would it have made any difference? Would Dawn still be alive today? There was no way to know the answer to that, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to have had more muscle.



“Buffy, I’m sorry. I’m sorry about Dawn. I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help with Glory. But I’m here now,” Angel continued. “I still love you, Buffy. Let me help you,” he pleaded. “Come back with me – you don’t have to go to Sunnydale – you can come to L.A. with me. We can … get you some counseling, help you work through this.”

**~**

In the other room, Spike held his metaphorical breath as the silence between the two people in the bathroom stretched out. Was Buffy actually considering going back with Angel? It was clear that she was ‘back’ this evening. Just because Barmy-Buffy had rejected Angel didn’t mean that Sane-Buffy would. Sane-Buffy always had a soft spot for the poofter, no matter what he did, she forgave him his sins. Murder, mayhem, lies, rejection, humiliation … it didn’t matter, she would always give him another bloody chance.

Spike waited for the axe to fall on him; waited for Angel to win again. Angel, it seemed, had a knack for taking anything and everything that Spike desired and loved. He’d reveled in shagging Dru in front of Spike from the very beginning, in rubbing Spike’s nose in Dru’s desire for her ‘Daddy’. And now he was doing it with Buffy. Angel was going to take her away from him before Spike even had a chance to show her how much he truly loved her.

**~**

In the bathroom Buffy closed her eyes and rubbed at her temples. A headache was forming behind her eyes and, on top of that, her teeth were starting to float; she really, really had to pee now.

Finally she looked up at Angel, dropping her hands down from her aching head. “You really want to help me now?” she asked him hopefully.



“I do, Buffy. Let me help you,” he repeated, his voice more sincere and caring than she'd ever heard it before.

“Okay …” she agreed solemnly, nodding and moving forward toward him.

**~**

Spike’s heart fell. He rolled over onto his back on the bed and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes as anger, frustration, and heartache warred for dominance inside him. How could she do this after all he’d done for her? He’d been the one to stand up to Glory when he could’ve turned the Niblett over to her and saved himself a godly beat-down. He’d been the one standing with Buffy against the hell-god. He’d been the one protecting her every night when she sobbed at her sister’s grave. He’d been the one that believed in her when everyone else gave up.

**~**

Buffy walked over to Angel, grabbing the bath towel from the rack as she went. “Here’s what I need you to do to help me,” Buffy began. She reached in and turned the shower on.

Angel flinched when the cold water hit him. “What are you …” he began as Buffy lifted the towel up and dropped it over his head.

“I need to pee,” she told him for the third time as she pulled the translucent shower curtain closed. “I need you to shut up before my bladder bursts.”

“Buffy! I can’t breathe … or see!” he protested as the heavy towel covering his face was soaked with water.

“Yeah, kinda the point,” she agreed as she finally, thankfully, emptied her bladder with a relieved sigh.

When she was done, Buffy washed her face and hands, and brushed her hair and teeth while the shower rained down on Angel. When she’d finished, she turned the water off and pulled the wet towel off his head, dropping it on the floor of the shower enclosure.

“Leave us alone, Angel. Go back and tell everyone I’m fine – I’m just … done. I told Giles if Dawn died, I was done slaying, and I meant it. I’m out. I’ve given all I have to give.” Tears stung Buffy’s eyes and she blinked them back, squaring her shoulders and willing steel into her spine. “Tell them I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything left.”



“You can’t trust Spike. He’s not me, Buffy. He doesn’t even have a soul!” Angel argued.

Buffy snorted and began gathering up her toiletries from the countertop. “Thank God for small favors.”

“Buffy! You don’t know him like I do,” Angel continued.

Buffy stopped and looked back at Angel, her expression icy. “I know he stood by me when it was pretty clear we weren’t gonna win. I get that he’s an adrenaline junkie and facing insurmountable odds is his drug of choice. Surprisingly, that doesn't bother me – in fact it sounds kind of familiar in a 'been-there-done-that' sorta way. He doesn’t give up when things are hard – he just keeps fighting – and he wins. Unlike you.

“You could’ve stayed in Sunnydale – stayed with me. We could’ve found a way to lift that happiness curse and been together, but you wouldn’t even try. Wouldn’t even consider it. Wouldn't talk about it. I begged you to stay. I would've walked through fire for you. I loved you sooo much. But you left. You don’t have the right to tell me what to do anymore – you lost that right when you walked away from me. You aren't the king of me anymore, Angel.”

“Buffy…” Angel pleaded.



"Don't," she whispered, her voice choked with emotion. Buffy sniffed back her tears, swiping her fingers across her cheeks in a vain attempt to hide them from him. She said nothing more to the vamp that had been her first love and her first lesson in heartbreak before turning and walking out of the bathroom, turning the light out, and closing the door behind her. She dropped her things into her suitcase and then shoved the dresser back across the door, still fighting to get her tumultuous emotions under control.

Spike turned on the light next to the bed and Buffy looked up in surprise. “Sorry … I didn’t mean to wake you up,” she apologized, still sniffing and wiping her cheeks in earnest.

“‘S alright,” he rumbled, his voice deep with barely contained emotions of his own. “I didn’t win, luv … I failed you … failed Dawn.”

Buffy took a deep, calming breath, blinked back her tears, and walked over to sit on the other bed, directly across from him. “Spike, I … when I … did this,” she began slowly, turning one arm over and fingering the still-pink scar there. “I … talked to Mom. I thought I was dead, but she said I wasn’t … I don’t know, maybe I was for a little while. Anyway, she said that we shouldn’t blame ourselves for what happened to Dawn – neither of us. That Dawn did exactly what I would’ve done if I’d been in her place, and by blaming ourselves we were … cheapening the sacrifice she made.

“Despite part of me understanding that on an intellectual level, on an emotional level that really hasn’t sunk in. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you. I know I’m … not right … there’s something inside me that’s broken, but … maybe you can help me fix it. I know you won’t give up on me.” A sob lodged in Buffy's throat, stopping her. She closed her eyes in a vain attempt to stop the tears she’d been fighting from spilling down her cheeks.

Spike reached out a hand and touched her damp face gently. Buffy leaned into his touch and blinked her eyes open. “I need to get better, Spike – for Dawn. I need you to help me. Please,” Buffy begged him. She closed her eyes again, unable to meet his lest he see her hidden agenda. She couldn’t raise a baby in the state she was in. She’d told the truth: She had to get better for Dawn. But she hadn’t told him the whole truth – to save Dawn’s soul from an eternity in Limbo.



“I’m here, Slayer. I’ll stand by you ‘til the end o’ time, pet. I lo…” Spike choked on the words, afraid of sending her back into her fugue state, as Angel had called it.

Buffy nodded. “Insurmountable odds,” she murmured, opening her eyes and giving him a wan smile.

Spike returned her sad smile. “You’re wrong ‘bout that, Buffy. You’re my drug o’ choice, luv.”

Buffy snorted a soft laugh, shaking her head. “Not a junkie, then – a glutton for punishment.”

Spike wagged his brows and pressed his tongue against his teeth, opening his mouth into a wolfish grin. “Hurt me good, Slayer.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Buffy warned, her smile widening slightly with his teasing tone.

“You’re all I’ve ever wished for, Buffy,” Spike replied, his voice suddenly somber.



Buffy bit her lip and shook her head. “Spike, I don’t know if I can ever be … what you need – what you think I am.”

“You already are, luv – and more.”

**~**

{{  Click here to hear King of Anything, Sara Bareilles  on YouTube  }}

Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

Keep drinkin' coffee
Stare me down across the table
While I look outside

So many things I'd say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet
And count the cars that pass by

You've got opinions, man
We're all entitled to 'em
But I never asked

So let me thank you for time
And try to not waste any more of mine
Get out of here fast

I hate to break it you babe
But I'm not drowning
There's no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

You sound so innocent
All full of good intent
You swear you know best

But you expect me to
Jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I'm not the one who's lost
With no direction, oh
But you'll never see

You're so busy makin' maps
With my name on them in all caps
You've got the talkin' down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

All my life
I've tried
To make everybody happy while I
Just hurt
And hide
Waitin' for someone to tell me it's my turn to decide

Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

Let me hold your crown, babe
Oh oh
Ah
Chapter End Notes:
Yes, Zzyzx, California is a real place in the Mojave desert between LA and Las Vegas.

So, where to now for our Intrepid Trio? And will letting Angel go come back to bite them later? Hmmm ... we'll find out. Will have more this weekend. Thank you so much for reading - let me know your thoughts! I love hearing from you!
I Need ... by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thanks to YOU for reading! Super-duper thanks to everyone who has taken time to stop in with feedback! It means a lot to me! Also thanks to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.



As the two blondes sat on the edges of their respective beds facing each other in the motel room, Spike leaned across the short space between them and touched his lips to Buffy's tentatively. Buffy's earlier tears made her lips salty and damp, beneath that Spike could taste a splash of cinnamon from her toothpaste. He longed to delve deeper, to taste 'Buffy', but was afraid to push, afraid he'd push her away. He could feel a small shudder run through her – whether from the kiss or a remnant of her tears, he didn't know.

To his delight, Buffy laid her hand on the side of his face and deepened the kiss, sweeping her tongue along his lips, searching for entry. With the Bot still in 'sleep mode', charging on the bed behind him, Spike moaned against Buffy's mouth, parting his lips for her, and meeting her tongue with his in a gentle, sensuous dance. And there it was, her tang, her essence assailing his senses with the utter spirit of her – her strength, her determination, her light all shone through as their tongues swirled against each other. He'd never tasted anything sweeter.

Buffy melted into his lips with a desire that had been building in her since he’d shown her his true self by standing up to Glory’s torture when the hell-god had kidnapped him, thinking he was the Key. His sacrifice, loyalty, and bravery had touched something inside her and shone a new light on Spike. Even if she hadn't been ready to fully admit it then, she knew deep down that he had truly changed. Soulless though he may be, he stood like a man, he acted like a man, and she had started to think of him as a man rather than a monster.

Although Buffy had been shocked by the mission her mother had given her, partly because it had come from her mother, the thought of it had only fueled the Slayer's slowly building desire for her former mortal enemy, turned ally, turned rescuer. But she dare not undertake that yet – not until she was sure she was ready mentally to deal with the ramifications. Which didn’t mean, she concluded, that they couldn’t … practice until that day came.

Buffy slid her hand behind his neck and pulled him to her as she lay back on the bed, and Spike followed willingly. Together they scooted back, their lips parting only for her to take deep gasping breaths of air, until his body covered hers. She could feel his hardness pressing against her as she spread herself open for him, wrapping her bare legs around his hips and pulling his chest down to rest upon hers. Suddenly the t-shirt and shorts she had on seemed like way too many clothes to her, as did the jeans that Spike still wore, but, at the same time, she was loath to break the contact between them to remedy the situation.

 

Spike snaked his arms under and around her shoulders, holding her against him as he’d wanted to do for so very long. His hips moved of their own accord, grinding his jean-clad pelvis against her sex in slow, sensuous thrusts. He broke the kiss, allowing Buffy to breathe, and trailed his tongue down her heated skin, across her jaw, to her neck. He nibbled and sucked gently on the tender skin, feeling her pulse racing just beneath his lips as her whole body shivered under him.
 
“Want you so much, Buffy,” he whispered against her ear, his breath tickling her earlobe and loosing another shudder and a moan from somewhere deep inside her.

Buffy began to reply, to agree, when a loud banging began from the wall near them. They both stopped, their heads jerking toward the source of the unexpected sound.

“Angel,” they both groaned at once as the banging began again in earnest.

“Ignore ‘im,” Spike urged her as he went back to kissing her throat.

The banging got louder.

Buffy sighed and pressed gently on Spike’s shoulders, stopping him. He groaned and dropped his forehead to her shoulder, his whole body sagging in frustration.

“Spike – I’m sorry. I … I don’t want our first time to be …” she began, then stopped and tried to compose her thoughts. “I mean, I don’t want to be thinking about Angel while we’re …”

Spike’s head snapped up, his eyes narrowing as he peered down at her. Hurt and anger warred in his expressive eyes for which emotion would dominate their burning, blue depths.



“And I don’t want you to be thinking about him, either,” Buffy added quickly, realizing her mistake. Buffy's eyes suddenly widened and her face screwed up like she'd just eaten a lemon as her words registered with her brain. "I mean ... not that you'd ever be thinking of Angel like that ... while we're ... you know ... or ever! ... not like that ... I mean ... it's just ..." She groaned and closed her eyes a moment to compose her jumbled thoughts.

When she opened her eyes again, Spike looked almost amused by her uneasy prattling, the hurt and anger that had been there now faded into the background. He cocked a questioning brow at her, waiting for her to continue her 'foot in mouth' routine. "That whole train jumped the tracks and took a wrong turn somewhere near Albuquerque. A very, very wrong turn. I just meant that I want it to be us … no one else in the whole world, no interruptions,” she explained gently, touching a reassuring hand to his face.

Spike sighed and nodded. He closed his eyes then dropped his head down onto her shoulder, relaxing his whole body against her. She felt like heaven; her supple body, strong and lithe beneath him. Her heart was thundering in her chest, beating against his ribs as if it wanted to break through his bones and embed itself in him. Her body was like a furnace in the cool of the room, and she warmed him like nothing he’d ever felt before – from both the inside and the outside.

Buffy trailed her hands over his bare back, playing a game of chase with the rising and falling goose-flesh she was creating with her touch. “I’m sorry,” she whispered against his ear as the banging from the other room continued. “It probably would’ve been some kind of macho victory for you to … for us to ... you know … right under his nose,” she stammered, flushing slightly. “But … I … I don’t want to be a trophy.”

Spike lifted his head and looked at her. The depth of emotion in her verdant eyes was overwhelming – it was Buffy, fully and completely. And she’d chosen him – again. He shook his head. “You aren’t, luv. Not t’ me. I … care about you too much for that,” he agreed, again biting back the ‘L’ word that wanted to come out, afraid of losing her again.

A tear slid down Buffy’s cheek and she nodded. “I know everyone thinks you’re a soulless monster, but … to me you’re a man, Spike.”

Spike had to swallow back the emotion that suddenly lodged in his throat. When he finally spoke, his voice was rough and genuinely awed. “No one’s ever said that t’ me before, Buffy – not even when I was a man.” Spike dipped his head and kissed her again, soft and gentle, undemanding – a kiss that conveyed all the love he held in his heart for her.

Bang, bang, bang…

Buffy released her own groan of frustration and Spike pushed up off her and stood up. His injured thigh, which had somehow stopped hurting a few moments before, shot pain into his hip and knee when he stood up. He fell back onto his butt on the other bed to get the weight off it.

“Are you alright?” Buffy asked worriedly as she sat up and moved to the edge of her own bed. “Are you hurt?”



“I’ll do. The wanker stuck a stake in m’ leg last night. Just hasn’t quite healed yet,” Spike explained, assuming she didn’t recall the skirmish, which she didn't.

“A stake? In your leg?” Buffy repeated, confused.

Spike shrugged. “He never was big on book learnin’. Reckon he needs a remedial anatomy lesson t’ locate the heart.”

Buffy snorted a laugh and shook her head.
 
“Better get dressed and packed up, luv. The sooner we find a new place t’ hole up, the sooner we can … resume our … dance,” he suggested, leering at her, his voice growing lower and sexier as he went.



Buffy shivered just from the timbre of his voice, but nodded and got up to start tossing things into the suitcases. While she did that, Spike woke the Bot up and set her to helping Buffy. When they’d gotten dressed, had everything packed, and were down to just his cooler of blood to load into the DeSoto, he asked Buffy if she’d take it to the car for him.

“Need the Bot t’ … check my bandage a mo',” he explained, waving a hand at his injured leg.

Buffy gave him a suspicious look, but hefted the cooler up and headed to the car with it.

“Is the bandage I applied earlier not satisfactory?” the Bot asked, looking at him with concern.

“No – yeah … it’s fine,” he replied when Buffy was gone and the door closed behind her. “Need ya t’ help me with something else, luv.”

“I am at your command,” the Bot replied, grinning widely. “How may I be of service to you?”

Spike adjusted himself in his still-frustratingly tight jeans and moaned at the images her words conjured, but shook the thought off. He had the real Buffy now – he could wait. He motioned with his head for her to follow him. He stopped near the headboard of the bed he and Buffy had been on earlier and began banging it against the wall in a steady rhythm. He smirked and increased the pace when Angel began banging against the wall in the bathroom – apparently with his hard head.

As Spike banged the headboard on the wall, he leaned over and whispered into the Bot’s ear, “Reactivate the ‘Sounds to Make and Words to Use During Sex’ file and run through ‘em, luv.”



The Bot’s gaze became unfocused a moment, then she began to moan deeply and call Spike’s name as she stood casually beside him. Spike smirked and added his own moans to hers as he increased the rhythm of the headboard banging against the wall to a frantic pace.

When the Bot began to scream out, “Take me, take me, I’m yours! Oh, Spike! I’m yours!” Spike growled and banged the headboard harder, but more deliberately. He heard Angel roar in frustration and anger from the bathroom and it was all the blond could do to keep from bursting out laughing. Spike stilled the headboard as the Bot panted and cooed beside him, as if she’d just been taken to heaven and back again.

“I love you, Buffy,” Spike vowed to the Bot, wishing for the day he could say it to Buffy again without fear of her retreating from him.

“I love you, Spike,” the Bot replied breathlessly, as he knew she would. “I’ll always be yours.”

The Bot tilted her head and seemed to focus inwards a moment before asking, “Shall I start this prog…”

“Shhhh…” Spike hushed her, quietly, laying a finger on her lips. “No,” he whispered against her ear. “That’ll do.”

When they emerged from the room into the still-steamy, early evening air, Buffy was leaning against the trunk of the car, her arms crossed over her chest. She glared from one to the other of them, then settled her sharp gaze on Spike. “Get everything … taken care of?” she asked, looking pointedly down to his crotch – not his injured thigh – and then back up to his eyes again.

Spike shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny, the self-satisfied grin fading from his lips. “Yeah – everything’s … fine.”

“Got the bandaged changed, did you?” Buffy pressed.

“Yeah, yeah … got it changed,” Spike replied dismissively as he limped quickly for the driver’s door.

“Huh. That’s amazing, since I packed all the bandages up and loaded them into the car not fifteen minutes ago,” Buffy shot back, anger flaring in her eyes. “You’re a pig, Spike! How could you?”



Bugger!

“Buffy, it’s not what you think, luv,” Spike defended, holding his hands up in surrender. “Nothing happened. Just taking the piss outta Angel is all.”

Buffy turned her accusing eyes to the Bot. “What did you and Spike just do in there?”

“He banged the headboard against the wall and then I began program one from the ‘Sounds to Make and Words to Use During Sex’ file. This included the proper vocalizations for foreplay, penetration, intercourse, climax, and post-fornication embrace.”

Buffy cocked an angry brow at Spike, her eyes blazing with fury.



“Buffy, she said the words and I banged the headboard against the wall with my hand. Bloody hell! We didn’t … engage in anything,” he defended emphatically. Spike stepped up to Buffy and pulled one of her hands from where she had it tucked against her ribcage. He pressed it against the hardness in his jeans, barely repressing a moan as her warm hand touched him.

Buffy pulled her hand back as if it had been burned, but her indignant look faded a small fraction. Spike leaned next to her ear and whispered. “It’s you I want, luv. Only you.”

Buffy laid her palms on his chest and shoved him back away from her. She turned to the Bot again. “So, you didn’t actually … fornicate?”

The Bot tilted her head as she thought about the question, then re-focused on Buffy. “No. That file has been deactivated.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed, looking back at Spike. “One day I’m gonna take you and Angel, put you in a room and just let you two fight it out.”

Spike shrugged nonchalantly. “No problem on this end, luv. Name the time and place, I'll be there with bloody bells on.”

“Bells? Hadn't really thought of bells ... I was thinking there could be some kind of oil … or Jell-O … maybe pudding involved,” Buffy offered, thinking aloud as she bit back a grin. “Naked vampire wrestling in a vat of chocolate pudding. I could sell tickets – make a million.”



Spike looked at her in disbelief a moment, then gave her a wolfish smile. “Cheeky wench, you are.”

“And you’re insufferably juvenile at times,” she retorted as she pushed off the trunk and headed for the passenger side of the car.

“But in a bloody adorable way, right?” Spike prompted, his eyes flashing with amusement.

“You have your moments,” Buffy admitted with a sigh as she climbed in. “Not sure this is one of them…”

**~**



Spike felt like the king of the bloody world as he rode the elevator up to their new suite on the top floor of the MGM Grand. With Buffy’s hand in the crook of one elbow and the Bot’s in the other, he drew looks from every man and woman that entered the lift. The porter was waiting for them with their bags already set out in the dressing area and a magnum of champagne chilling in the sitting room. Giant vases of fresh flowers adorned nearly every flat surface, their fragrance making it seem like they’d just walked into a tropical garden rather than a hotel room, and room service was on the way. Off to one side of the sitting room was a bedroom larger than Spike’s crypt back home, a spa-bathroom to match it, and a floor-to-ceiling mirrored dressing area. All gratis.

Spike flipped the porter a $50 chip after the young man showed them around the suite.

“Thank you, Mr. Gambolputty,” the young man, a redhead who was clearly not as old as Spike’s duster, tittered.

“Name’s Heir Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter von Hautkopft of Ulm,” Spike corrected tersely in his best German accent.

“Uhhh … Yes, sir … Mr. … ummm … Heir … What should I call you then?” the porter asked worriedly, his face scrunching up in confusion.

Spike shrugged. “You can call me Spike,” he replied deadpan, returning to his normal Cockney-esque accent.

“Oh. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Spike,” the young man replied, relieved, the smile returning to his lips. “Just call if you need anything. The service numbers are right on the phone.”

“Will do, Opie,” Spike assured him as the young man let himself out.

Buffy rolled her eyes and looked at Spike. “How am I supposed to remember that name?” she wondered.

Spike looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “It’s a classic. How can you not remember it?”



“Smith. ‘Smith’ is a classic ‘check into a hotel’ pseudonym. Mr. and Mrs. Gobble-de-gook is … totally not classic!”

“Is it possible you have never watched Monty Python?” Spike wondered incredulously.

“I don’t like nature shows … something always gets eaten. I can’t handle all that gore and violence.”

“You can’t handle … gore and violence?” Spike laughed. “You’re the bloody Slayer, pet – you eat gore and violence for breakfast.”

“It’s different,” Buffy objected. “The big mean animals are always eating the cute little baby animals, and then the mother animals are looking for their babies… It’s just depressing.”

Spike shook his head. “You’ve lived a sheltered life, Summers. Can see right now, I got a lotta work ahead o’ me.”

“I’m telling you right now, I’m not watching any mountain pythons eating little baby meerkats, so you can just forget it.”

“I’ll try t’ keep the meerkat eatin’ pythons to a minimum, pet.”

**~**

A few minutes later, Buffy stepped out onto the balcony that looked over the bright lights of the Vegas strip. Despite the late hour, or early hour, depending on your perspective, the town was still buzzing with traffic, people, brilliant lights, and blaring sound – the city that truly never sleeps. She leaned against the railing and closed her eyes, letting the cool desert air blow over her face. After spending the entire night in the casino downstairs, it was a relief to finally breathe some relatively fresh air.
 
Spike walked up behind her, pressing lightly against her back, and offered her a glass of the bubbly. Buffy gave him a smile over her shoulder, and took it from his hand as she turned back to look at the view.



“Bloody genius you are, pet,” Spike offered as he nuzzled through her long hair into the nape of her neck, breathing her in.

Buffy closed her eyes and pressed back into him, savoring the feel of his lips as they touched her skin. “You’re the card shark…”

“Sharp,” Spike corrected, emphasizing the ‘p’ on the end with a burst of cool air against her neck.

“Huh?” she asked, turning and stepping slightly to the side to look at him.

Spike sighed at the loss of contact, but let her go. “Card sharp, luv, not shark,” Spike explained, taking a sip of his own champagne.

“Are you sure? ‘Cos I always heard it as ‘shark’,” Buffy argued, leaning against the railing with one elbow as she looked at him.

“In my time, a card shark was a cheat … a card sharp was just bloody good. Didn’t cheat, did I? Couldn’t bloody cheat – watch ya too bleedin’ close here,” Spike admitted.

Buffy shrugged. “Either way, you won the money … and the room – that makes you the genius. And if you ever tell anyone I said that, I’ll kill you.”

Spike chuckled, a low, melodious rumbling, and mimicked her stance, standing facing Buffy and leaning one elbow on the railing close to her. “But it was your idea t’ stay ‘ere. I was ready to high-tail it outta Dodge,” Spike pointed out.

Buffy shrugged again. “Which is exactly what Angel would expect us to do. If he decides to be an ass and keep looking, he’d never look for us right here where he already found us. And, anyway, we needed more money.”

“You’re bloody devious … always liked that about you, Slayer,” Spike revealed.



Buffy snorted softly and took a sip of her champagne, turning and leaning both her forearms on the railing to look out at the city. “I guess I had some good teachers. You might want to … remember that about me,” she warned softly.

Spike furrowed his brow and studied her, trying to suss her out, but his efforts were thwarted by the vision before him. The desert wind was blowing her hair back from her face in soft waves, transfixing him. It flew out like strands of spun gold, shining in the lights of the city below. She was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen – a vision of light and goodness – more than he deserved.

“I trust you, Slayer,” he said at last.

Buffy looked at him, turning just her head. “Maybe you shouldn’t. I’m not the Slayer anymore. Not sure what I am … who I am.”

“You don’t just stop being the Slayer, pet,” Spike pointed out.



“Oh yeah? Watch me,” Buffy tossed back, her voice angry, harsh with regret and guilt.

“Not something you can get rid of any more than I can get rid o’ my demon,” Spike offered.

“Maybe not. But I can … muzzle it – just like your demon’s been muzzled.”

“Oi!” Spike objected, insulted. “Not a bloody dog.”

Buffy shrugged and looked back out at the city. “When was the last time your demon killed a human?” she asked rhetorically. “It’s muzzled … chained up, pushed back, controlled – whatever you want to call it. If you can do it, I can do it.”

“You gonna ring up the gigantic hall monitor and get 'im and his buddies to chip ya then?” Spike wondered sarcastically.

“Already got it,” Buffy told him, never looking at him – her eyes focused on the city lights in the distance, even if she didn’t actually see them. “It’s called ‘Dawn’.”



“Buffy,” Spike cajoled softly, reaching a hand out to touch her shoulder.

She turned her head and looked at him. “I’m serious, Spike. I’m done. So … if you want the Slayer, you need to keep looking – I’m passing the torch.”

“Slayer only passes the torch when she dies, luv,” Spike pointed out.

“Yeah, well – been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Faith’s the Slayer now. I’m dead. I kept fighting, thinking I could make a difference, but I can’t. I couldn’t save her, Spike. I couldn’t save my own sister. What fucking good is being the Slayer if you can’t save your own family?” she demanded, as tears filled her eyes.

Buffy looked down at her hands as the river of blood began to bubble up from the dark depths of her mind again, coating everything in a red pall of guilt. The champagne glass fell from her fingers and dropped into the open air below the balcony as her hands began to tremble uncontrollably. They were covered in thick, hot blood. It dripped off them, following the champagne flute into the night sky above the city streets.

 

“Oh, God … Oh, Spike … no … no … it’s … I’m … it's starting,” she stammered, looking up at him with wide, frightened eyes. She held her hands up for him to see the blood, but he, of course, didn’t see it. “So much blood…” she murmured, turning her hands over and back again – staring at them with wide, shimmering eyes.

Spike dropped his own glass onto the balcony, shattering it, and grabbed her by her upper arms, making her focus on him. “Buffy, you’re stronger than this. Fight it, luv. Stay with me … stay with me, Buffy,” he admonished her.

“Spike … I can’t,” Buffy gasped as the guilt of failing her sister began to overwhelm her psyche yet again.

“You can!” he argued, shaking her slightly to make her focus on him.

“Dawn … Oh, God … Dawn. I … failed. I killed her. Mom begged me to take care of her and I … couldn’t. Everyone was depending on me and I … wasn’t strong enough, not smart enough … not fast enough,” Buffy cried, hot, salty tears streaking her face. Suddenly, her knees buckled and she began to fall to the floor of the balcony.

Spike scooped her into his arms, his bad leg nearly giving way under the extra weight. After regaining his balance and gritting his teeth against the renewed pain, he carried her back into the room, constantly admonishing her to stay with him, to not give into it, that it wasn’t her fault. He reminded her about what her mum had told her in the dream: about not cheapening Dawn’s sacrifice, but nothing worked. By the time he set her down on the bed, Buffy’s mind had been flooded by the crimson tide of guilt. She was lost to him yet again.

As Spike stood up after laying her on the bed, Buffy clutched at his arms, his shirt – whatever she could reach. “No leave. Spike! No leave,” she begged him frantically.

“Not leavin’, luv,” Spike assured her, grabbing her hands in his and holding them in a firm grip.

“Alone. Blood. Spike … no leave,” Buffy continued chanting as she pulled her hands free and began tugging at him again. “Blood hurts. Hurts, Spike. Spike stop hurt.”

“Shhhh…” Spike cajoled as he sat down next to her and pulled her to him. Buffy scrambled into his arms, onto his lap like a child, and Spike rocked her.



“Hurts. Hurts. Blood burns. So hot. Make stop. Help Dawn. Save Dawn,” Buffy continued prattling incoherently as he ran a hand down from her hair and over her back, soothing her.

“It’s alright, Buffy. Spike’s ‘ere. Not leaving, pet. Shhhhh….” he murmured to her as she cuddled against him like a child seeking solace after waking from a nightmare.

“There is someone knocking on our door,” BuffyBot announced, coming to stand in the doorway to the bedroom. “What shall I do?”

“Room service – let ‘em in,” Spike told her. He freed one hand from Buffy, dug another $50 chip from his pocket, and tossed it to the Bot. “Have ‘em leave it and give this to ‘em as they’re leaving,” he instructed her. “And shut that door.”

The Bot nodded sharply before shutting the door to the bedroom and going to answer the knocking.

“Help Dawn. Spike help Dawn. Spike sex Buffy…” Buffy muttered as Spike turned his attention back to her.

Suddenly Buffy began groping at Spike’s chest and stomach – anything she could reach. Pulling at his t-shirt, raking at his skin with her nails. “Buffy, luv – stop,” Spike said, his voice gentle as he tried to catch and still her hands.

“No – save Dawn! Spike sex Buffy! Make baby!” Buffy exclaimed, her eyes now wild as she slid off his lap and began scratching at his belt and the zipper of his jeans.

“Buffy! Slayer! Stop!” Spike demanded, his voice growing more determined and frantic.

“Help Dawn! Save Dawn!” Buffy continued, apparently not even hearing him as she managed to get his belt unhooked in her frenzy. “Sex make baby! Spike sex! Sex with Buffy,” she continued, ripping at the button on his jeans.

“Bloody hell, woman! NO! Not like this!” he growled, jumping up and dropping her onto the floor as he did so.



Spike’s chip fired when he pushed her and he clutched at his head as the electrically-charged muzzle flashed its painful warning inside his skull. Spike fell to the floor next to the bed, momentarily dazed. He shook his head, trying to clear it so he could move away from Buffy, but it was too late. The Slayer was atop him, ripping at his zipper in a frantic effort to undress him.

“SLAYER! STOP!” Spike yelled at her, trying to roll onto his stomach and away from her wildly grasping hands. The stabbing pain began in his leg again and Spike could feel blood begin to flow from the wound as he struggled to get free from her.

The irony of the situation flashed in Spike’s mind as he fought against her. How many times over the last months would he have welcomed such an advance from her? How often had he dreamed of her wanting him, of taking her in a wild flurry of preternatural lust? A hundred? A million? But now it wasn’t what he wanted. Not like this. This wasn’t Buffy – and he knew she wouldn’t want this either when she came back to herself.

“Spike sex Buffy!” she demanded, pinning him with her hips as she gripped the waistband of his jeans and ripped the teeth of his zipper apart by main force.



Spike tried again to capture her hands, but they seemed to move faster than they had any right to. Even when he managed to grab one, she would yank free with adrenaline-powered Slayer strength, leaving him grasping at air. In desperation, he punched up at her, delivering a wild blow that connected with her jaw and momentarily stunned her. Unfortunately, it also stunned Spike, who screamed out in agony and clutched his head as the chip fired again.

Buffy recovered first and had his cock out of his pants, stroking it frantically to hardness.

“No … no … Buffy … don’t,” Spike begged her through the haze of agony which stabbed at his senses from both his leg and his head. He tried to focus on the pain to keep his body from reacting to her touch, but it did no good. Pain and pleasure had gone hand in hand for too many years with Dru – his body had been trained more thoroughly than Pavlov's dog. He responded to the pain, and he hardened obediently under her touch.

“Please … Buffy … you don’t want this,” Spike tried desperately to reason with her, pushing at her hands, trying to roll away from her.

“Spike sex Buffy,” Buffy-but-not-Buffy repeated.

When she stood up to undo her own jeans, Spike got his chance. He turned over and pushed up to all fours, scrambling wildly toward the door and leaving a trail of blood in his wake. He’d just gotten it open when Buffy caught him by one foot and yanked him back, slamming the door again.

“Bot! Help! B...!” he yelled out at their roommate before the door closed, cutting him off.

BuffyBot, who was waiting to give the young man that had brought their meal the pretty colored disc, looked at the bedroom door just as it slammed closed again, her brows furrowed.



“Do you … uhhh … need to check on that?” the young waiter asked, looking from the blonde standing next to him to the door. He had just started setting the covered plates, condiments, and drinks out on the table for them, but the frantic interruption stopped him cold.

BuffyBot looked back at the young man, recalling her previous orders. “I must wait for you to finish and give you this plastic disc as you leave,” she said matter-of-factly.

In the next moment, Spike’s panicked voice could be heard through the door. “Bot! Get your bloody arse in here! Now!”

BuffyBot looked at the waiter at the same time he looked at her. “Sounds like he kinda wants you in there…” the young man pointed out.

“You will complete your duties and wait here. When I return, I will give you the plastic disc and you may leave,” she ordered the waiter, pleased with her solution to the contradictory instructions.

“Sure … whatever you say. I’ll wait,” he agreed, eagerly eyeing the $50 tip she had in her hand as he resumed setting the food out on the table.

The Bot nodded and strode purposely to the bedroom door. “My bloody arse is here, as requested,” she said as she stepped into the bedroom and closed the door behind her.

“Get this barmy woman off me!” Spike screamed at her as she came into the room.

The Bot assessed the situation a moment. Spike was pinned beneath the Other Slayer. Her jeans and thong lay in a heap on the floor; Spike’s jeans were shoved down around his knees. She could see the wound on his thigh, which was bleeding profusely again, the bandage completely red and dripping with blood. Spike was squirming under Buffy, rolling as much as he could, and grabbing at her hands frantically, trying to push them away or still them. Buffy had Spike’s hard shaft held firmly in her hand, trying to hold him still and guide him into her opening.

“I am not familiar with this form of combat,” the Bot stated, studying them as they wrestled and grappled wildly on the floor.

“Bloody hell! Just grab her and get her the fuck off me ‘fore she does something we’ll all regret and rips my dangly bits off!”

The Bot nodded sharply, stepped forward, and wrapped her arms around Buffy’s upper-arms and torso. When Buffy's hands let go of Spike and she began trying to pry free from the Bot's grip, the robot lifted her twin straight up off Spike. Buffy kicked and screamed wildly as she was pulled off, smashing Spike in the chin with one foot before he could scramble away.

Spike crawled to the door of the bedroom, leaning his back against it and wiping the blood from his mouth where Buffy had kicked him as he watched Buffy struggle against the Bot.



“Spike! No leave! Please! Make baby! Spike sex Buffy,” she continued to rant as she flailed her legs and head, trying to wrench free of the Bot’s grasp.

“Can ya hold ‘er?” Spike asked, gasping for unneeded air as he tried to pull his jeans back up over his butt.

“Yes. As per specifications, I was created to withstand the force of a ‘freight-train slamming into me repeatedly.’”

At just that moment, however, Buffy, now covered in perspiration that turned her into something like a thrashing, greased-eel, wriggled free of the Bot’s grasp.

“Bloody hell!” Spike exclaimed as she started for him again. He yanked the door open and scrambled out into the sitting room and up to his feet, pulling the door closed with both hands just as he heard Buffy hit it and the Bot hit her.

“Uhhhh … is everything alright?” the young man asked from where he waited next to the room service cart.



Spike spun around, eyes wide in shocked-surprise. “Uhhh … yeah. Just a slap and a tickle…” he explained quickly, pulling his jeans up the rest of the way and tucking himself into them as much as he could with the broken zipper.

He fastened his belt back – at least she hadn’t broken that – so he wouldn’t have to hold his jeans up like a git. The broken zipper gaped open and Spike readjusted himself so nothing would … peek out. Blood began to drip down his leg and soak into the carpet at Spike's feet. He turned slightly to the side to hide it from the room service waiter.

“Did you … need some help with them?” the young man offered, eyeing the door as sounds that could be a struggle … or something much more pleasant, continued to stream from behind it. “Sounds like they could be … more than one man can handle.”

Spike growled slightly at the man’s implication, running a hand through his disheveled hair. “Handle ‘em fine, I do. What the bloody hell are you still doin’ here?”

The young man held his hands up in a placating gesture. “The hot blonde told me to wait for my tip,” he explained.

Spike sighed. “Right. 'Ere,” he said, pulling another chip out of his pocket and tossing it to the waiter.

When a particularly wild, almost blood-curdling scream came from the bedroom, the young man hesitated. “You’re sure…” he began, eyeing the door hopefully.

“Anyone touches my women won’t live t’ see the bloody dawn,” Spike warned, a snarl on his lips.



The young man held his hands up again in surrender and headed for the door. When it closed behind him, Spike slumped, hands resting heavily on his knees, and closed his eyes. “Most likely includin’ me,” he added dryly.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear (I Need) Ooh, la, la, la, la by Goldfrapp  on YouTube  }}

Dial up my number now
Weaving it through the wire

Switch me on
Turn me up
Don't want it Baudelaire
Just glitter lust
Switch me on
Turn me up
I want to touch you
You're just made for love

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la

Coils up and round me
Teasing your poetry
Switch me on
Turn me up
Oh child of Venus
You're just made for love

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la.

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la.

You know I walk for days
I wanna waste some time
You wanna be so mean
You know I love to watch

I wanna love some more
It'll never be the same
A broken heel like a heart
I'll never walk again

YEAH!

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
Chapter End Notes:
Ok, I know the one photo near the top of Spike with Buffy was really BuffyBot in canon. (the one with the pink quilt . Why did Spike have a PINK quilt? Was it originally Harm's? Or did he get it 'cos it went well with Buffy's skin tone .. or HIS skin tone?) There are just so few (as in NONE) of Spike and Buffy together like that so ... work with me, folks.

UH-OH ... has Buffy let the cat out of the bag about a baby?? How will this go over once she's sane again? We'll see next!

Will Spike ever be able to get her to watch the 'nature show' Monty Python? That could take a while...
Make the World Go Away, Part 1 by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Too long for once chapter - posted in two parts. Thanks to YOU for reading and super-duper hugs to everyone who takes the time to drop me notes! I love them! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.


“Spike?” Buffy called, her voice rough from sleep. She tried to look around and figure out where she was, but the room around her was dark and someone warm – definitely not Spike – was holding her in place on the bed.

“Spike?” she tried again louder as she tried to pry the arm off from around her torso that was holding her prisoner.
 
“Spike went down to get more of those pretty plastic discs,” the Bot told Buffy cheerfully.

Buffy started at the loud voice so near her ear. “And you’re all wrapped around me like a boa constrictor around a … whatever boa constrictors eat … why exactly?” Buffy protested, pulling harder on the Bot’s arm to no avail.

Buffy and the Bot were both lying on the bed on their sides with the Bot behind Buffy. BuffyBot had her arms wrapped around Buffy’s upper arms and torso, and her legs twined around Buffy’s legs, holding the Slayer’s back securely against the Bot’s front.

“He said I should keep you immobile until he got back. Boa constrictors eat a wide variety of food. Young snakes eat rats, small birds, lizards, and frogs. Adults will eat monkeys, capybaras, caimans, and wild pigs,” the Bot offered helpfully.

“Great … I’m a rat … again,” Buffy groaned. “And just why would I need to be kept immobile?”

“You were trying to rip off Spike’s dangly bits. He was quite upset. Based on his reaction, I’ve surmised that he’s rather fond of them,” the Bot told her.

Buffy couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped her throat. “His 'dangly bits'?” she repeated incredulously. “Why would I do that?”

“You attempted to copulate with him. He was unwilling,” the Bot answered.

The humor of the situation died on Buffy's lips. “I … did I hurt him?” she asked the Bot as she stopped pulling against the robot’s limbs.



“He sustained no serious injuries, although his chip fired several times as he tried to restrain you and defend his delicate, and quite impressive, reproductive organs.”

“Oh my God,” Buffy moaned, not certain whether to be mortified, horrified, or terrified by what she’d apparently done when she wasn’t in control.

“You … got me off him?” Buffy asked the Bot.

“Yes. I’m the Slayer. I’m quite strong and have many combat skills. Spike said that your mind was in disarray, otherwise I would not have so easily subdued you. But, I’m not certain if that is true. I’m very capable. And I have excellent quips.”



Buffy closed her eyes and sighed heavily. “Bot, promise me something. Promise to always protect Spike … from me, from anyone, okay? He’s got that chip and it makes him … vulnerable.”

“You have already directed me to do that. Is your memory faulty? The night you stabbed the knife into your arms and everyone started screaming. That directive has not been countermanded.”

“Right. I forgot,” Buffy agreed.

“Spike is probably right. Perhaps you are ‘off your gourd’.”

Buffy snorted and closed her eyes, relaxing in the Bot’s protective, and fairly immovable, embrace. “I am undoubtedly ‘off my gourd’.”

**~**

Buffy awoke later when something tickled her nostrils and some indistinct aroma made her stomach rumble in reply. She tried to reach up and rub at her nose to get the tickling sensation to stop, but her arms were still pinned to her sides. She blinked her eyes open to find Spike crouched down on his heels in front of her, waving a French fry under her nose like smelling-salts.



“There you are, Slayer,” Spike commented affably, giving her a little smile as if she hadn’t tried to rape him, presuming what the Bot had told her was true. “Got your favorite,” he continued, still waving the French fry around like a sword in front of her face. “Chips and a chocolate milkshake.”

“Sounds really healthy,” Buffy commented, her voice raspy from sleep. “And I told you before, I’m not the Slayer.”

“I’m the Slayer. I fight with weapons,” the Bot offered from behind Buffy.

Buffy quirked a brow at Spike. “See? She’s the Slayer, not me. I officially relinquish my title to her.”

Her? Not it?” Spike questioned, his brow furrowed, surprised by the use of the pronoun.

Buffy shrugged one shoulder – all she could move. “She’s alright, I guess ...” Buffy admitted. “A bit literal, but … at least she’s brutally honest.”

“Buffy?” Spike questioned, tilting his head to consider her more carefully. “You back, luv?”

Buffy closed her eyes and nodded. “Yeah … I guess.”

“Don’t feel any uncontrollable urge t’ … rip my clothes off, do ya?” he asked, a slight teasing tone to his words.



Him making light of what she’d done stabbed an icicle of guilt into Buffy’s stomach and tears welled behind her lids. “I’m sorry…” she murmured, the sound barely audible even to Spike’s ears.

“No worries, pet. Been wishing you’d rip m’ clothes off for a good while now. Bloody pathetic that when ya finally did, I wouldn’t let ya,” he replied as he stood up and touched the Bot’s arm. “Let ‘er go,” he said to the newly-appointed Slayer.

Buffy rubbed at her numb arms when the Bot released the hold she’d had on her, and sat up slowly on the edge of the bed. “From what the Bot tells me, you needed help fending me off,” Buffy countered.

“Bot’s got a big bloody mouth,” Spike spat, looking at the robot who moved to sit next to Buffy.

“My mouth was created to precise specifications,” the BuffyBot protested, then opened her mouth as wide as it would go to demonstrate. “Uh iau ooo ook eeg?” she asked with her mouth still fully open.

“No – it’s not too big,” Buffy answered her. “It’s just right. You can close it now.”

Spike looked at Buffy with disbelief. “You understood that gibberish?”

Buffy shrugged. “It’s what I would’ve asked.”

“Bloody scary, that is Sl...ummers,” Spike stuttered.

Buffy stopped rubbing her arms and looked up at him gravely. “I’m so sorry … I don’t know why I … I just … I’m sorry.”



“Least ya didn’t break m’ nose this time, pet,” he excused with a casual wave of the French fry still in his hand.

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head. If he’d done that to her, could she have been so cavalier and forgiving about it? Even if she was out of her mind with grief and guilt, she couldn’t let that happen again. She’d have to talk to the Bot later, set up some kind of signal when Buffy felt the … madness coming on, so the Bot could restrain her. Madness. The word sent shivers down Buffy’s spine, but it was the only word that fit. She was going – or had gone – mad.

“Peckish?” Spike asked, breaking into Buffy’s train of thought.

Buffy looked up at him. “No, this is America – I’m hungry,” she retorted, choosing to go along with his casual dismissal of her behavior, at least for now.

“Bloody Yanks. Got perfectly good words from the mother country, but you gotta go mucking about with the language. Can’t ever leave well enough alone, can ya?” Spike taunted.

“I’m pretty sure hungry isn’t a new word we just invented over here,” Buffy argued as she stood up and grabbed the French fry from his hand.

“I grew up being ‘peckish’ – it’s bloody well not new either,” Spike shot back.

“I bet ‘hungry’ is older than ‘peckish’,” Buffy retorted as she shoved the fry into her mouth.



“Right – what’s the wager? I got fifty bucks says I’m right,” Spike challenged, pulling a chip out of his pocket. “What ‘ave you got, Summers?”

Buffy frowned – she didn’t have any money. “Can I … borrow…”

“Pffft!” Spike snorted, cutting her off before she could even get the words out. “If ya can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch, luv.”

“I can run with the biggest dogs … wolves … werewolves even!” Buffy objected with a pout. “I just don’t have any money,” she added petulantly.

“I bet you don’t let anyone borrow money in Monopoly, either,” she griped.

“Not a bloody chance,” Spike confirmed. “Pay up or go broke – that’s the way ya win, luv.”

Buffy frowned at him, thinking. “We could bet something else!” she offered, brightening. “I bet you … a massage.”

Spike’s brows quirked up, as did his libido, but he repressed the ‘I got ya now’ smirk that reached for his lips. “Full body… head t’ toe.”

Buffy nodded.

“With oil,” he added.

Buffy twisted her mouth suspiciously, but then nodded.

Spike stuck his right hand out to shake on it. Buffy spit on her palm, then reached for his outstretched hand. Spike drew his hand back out of her reach with vampire speed, making a disgusted face.



"Oi! Don't want your crazy-cooties, Summers," he objected.

"My crazy isn't catching! Geez, Spike – never knew you were so ... prissy! I'll bet you wouldn't complain if it was blood."

"'Course not – that's different, innit?" Spike agreed with a derisive sniff.

"You are so ... " Despite several descriptive words jumping to mind, Buffy shook her head and sighed, not voicing any of them.

She wiped her hand off on her jeans and offered it to him again. They shook once, both trying to break the other’s fingers, but neither succeeding in even making the other wince.

“Sooo … how do we find out now? Normally, I’d ask Giles or Willow…” Buffy let her voice trail off, a hint of sadness sneaking into her mood. She’d almost forgotten; bickering with Spike felt so natural and normal, she’d almost forgotten that things were not normal anymore.

"Bot – reckon you got a dictionary or two crammed in that lovely noggin o’ yours, yeah?” Spike asked, looking at the BuffyBot.

She nodded. “As well as the entire Wikipedia database, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the…”



“Right – reckon a plain, ole dictionary will do. Need the origins of the words ‘hungry’ and ‘peckish’.”

The Bot ‘went away’ for a moment, then smiled widely, re-focusing on her companions. “Peckish: Adjective. Chiefly British. Feeling slightly hungry; having an appetite. Origin circa 1785. From ‘peck’: a measure of quantity, eight quarts.”

“Oh! Like ‘pick a peck of pickled peppers!’” Buffy interjected brightly. “I never knew what that meant before.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Bloody genius you are, pet.”

Buffy stuck her tongue out at him as she scrunched up her face like a fifth-grader who couldn’t think of suitable a retort to a jibe.

“Do mine,” Buffy encouraged the Bot. “'Hungry'.”

The Bot nodded. “Hungry: Adjective. Having a desire, craving, or need for food. Origin before 950; Middle English, Old English.”

Buffy squealed in delight, clapped her hands, and began sing-songing, “Na-na-na-na-na-naaa,” in a very mature and dignified manner. “♫ You owe me a massa-aage ♫,” she continued in the same sing-song tune as her ‘na-na-na’ chant.

Spike bit back a grin of victory, dropping his head in a bow to concede to her and hide his delight. “Bloody beginner’s luck,” he ground out, sounding dejected as a feeling of elation at the thought of running his hands over her body danced in his mind.

“If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch,” Buffy mocked him as she headed off for the bathroom. “And … could you order me a burger to go with those fries? I’m totally peckified…”

Spike snorted and rolled his eyes as he headed for the phone. “Bloody Yanks, got no respect,” he muttered, loud enough for her to hear.

**~**

After Buffy ate less than a quarter of what turned out to be the largest hamburger she’d ever seen – easily eighteen or twenty ounces worth – she settled onto a comfortable sofa on the balcony of their suite while Spike got a shower. He’d been in the casino all day while she’d been sleeping, and he practically reeked of cigarettes and whiskey, as well as a cacophony of perfumes and other odors which had settled on him from other patrons. Not that the aroma of smoke and whiskey was all that unusual on Spike, but the sheer volume of it, combined with the mishmash of every designer fragrance known to man, was a bit overwhelming, even for Buffy’s un-bloodhound-y sense of smell. Spike could just stop breathing; she didn't have that luxury. 

As she sat in the cool night air listening to the sounds of the always-thrumming metropolis below, her mind darted from one thought to another like a hummingbird would flit from flower to flower, rarely settling on one very long. She thought that perhaps it was trying to make up for lost time, trying to think all the thoughts she needed to think while it had the chance – before she lost the ability again.

While her mind jumped from thought to thought, her emotions were jerked along for the ride. Guilt and shame over attacking Spike morphed into worry that her mind would never be stable enough to allow her to properly raise a child. Then guilt came back once again as she thought about Dawn needing her to do just that. Then anger bloomed in her chest – anger at the monks for putting her in this untenable situation in the first place. They couldn’t have turned the Key into a grain of sand or a rock on the bottom of the ocean? I mean … seriously? Glory could’ve never found it, and Buffy wouldn’t be sitting here feeling … feeling … overwhelmed. What the hell were they thinking?!

And just how did Spike get to smelling so strongly of perfume? Smoke and whiskey – yeah, ok … he smoked and he drank. Just how many women had been rubbing all over him today to get him smelling like a two-bit hooker at Mardi Gras? Jealous fury burst forth out of the tumult of emotions inside Buffy and she began to seethe as she imagined all the skanks that must’ve been hanging all over him – or worse. She could see him turning on that boyish charm – she’d seen him do it before – smiling at them, pouring that stupid, cheesy Cockney accent all over them, calling them ‘pet’ and ‘luv’ and …

“That better then, pet?” Spike asked as he stepped onto the balcony, fresh from the shower. He had on a pair of jeans, but was barefoot and shirtless. His platinum hair was still damp and clung in soft curls to his head.

Buffy scowled at him. “Don’t call me ‘pet’,” she snarled. She pulled her legs up against her chest, wrapped her arms around them, and made herself very small.



Spike gawped at her a moment, gobsmacked, then sat down next to her.

Buffy scooted away from him, pressing herself against the arm of the couch, and continued to shoot daggers from her eyes in his direction.

“Buffy?” he asked with concern. “You with me, luv?”

“Don’t call me ‘luv’ either,” she shot back. “Save all those cute little names for your … stinky, perfume-counter, body-rubbing, skank-hos.”

Clearly Buffy was still with him – she was talking in full sentences, even if she wasn’t making a lot of sense. “Ummm … not quite following. Care t’ share with the class, Summers?”

“I’m not an idiot, Spike,” Buffy continued angrily. “You come in smelling like a perfume factory exploded all over you; it’s really not hard to figure out.”

Spike pursed his lips and watched her a moment, then his lips quirked into a smirk. “You’re jealous,” he accused.

“I am not! There’s nothing to be jealous of. It’s not like we’re … or you’re … or … I’m …” she stuttered. Buffy waved a diffident hand in the air and looked away from his blue eyes, which glittered with amusement. “I’m not jealous,” she repeated firmly, looking out at the city lights.

Spike barked out a self-satisfied laugh, sat back on the couch, and hooked his thumbs over his belt buckle. His legs fell wide in a casual sprawl as he leaned his head back and looked up at the star-less sky. He couldn’t keep the goofy grin from quirking his lips. The bloody Slayer is jealous.



“You don’t have to rub it in my face,” Buffy ground out, trying to still sound angry, but she cringed at the needy whine that snuck into her tone.

Spike pursed his lips and sat forward, leaning his elbows on his thighs so he could look her in the face. “You’re bloody daft at times, Sl...” He stopped. “Running outta things t’ call you, kitten.”

Buffy snorted, still not looking at him. “What’s the matter? Don’t have any cute names for stupid, crazy women?” she shot back tersely.

“Buffy, you’re forgettin’ one thing,” Spike said softly.



“Yeah, what’s that?” Buffy wondered, finally turning her angry eyes back to his.

“I love you.” Spike held his breath. The words were out of his mouth before he thought about what they might do to her. The last time he’d said them it had sent her scurrying back into her shell of madness.

Buffy was silent a moment, her eyes locked onto his. Then her lids fell closed, trying to contain her raging emotions. “Maybe you shouldn’t,” she said at last, her voice low and sad.

Spike sighed in relief – she hadn’t retreated. “No ‘maybe’ about it … but I do anyway,” he replied gently. He reached out and laid a hand over her arm where she had it wrapped around her legs. “Buffy, there’s no one else I want, luv. You’re the only one I see – the only woman in the world.”

Buffy opened her eyes and looked into the depths of his bluer-than-blue eyes and once again she felt guilt surge in her for her plan to use him to save Dawn. Perhaps she should just tell him. He loved Dawn, he may be perfectly fine with it. But what if he wasn’t? Could she chance Dawn’s soul?

“I’m sorry,” she murmured – apologizing for more than Spike could possibly realize. “For everything. I’m just …” Buffy waved a hand vaguely in front of her face. “… I just get overwhelmed with stuff when I can finally think and … let my mind start long-jumping to world-record-setting conclusions.”

“‘S alright, luv,” Spike assured her as he moved his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against him.

Buffy relaxed her posture and tucked her legs to the side as she leaned against his bare chest, resting her head on his strong shoulder. One hand casually came to rest on his jean-clad thigh.

Sparks danced up Spike’s leg and settled into a tingling need in his core. He stifled a groan and pushed the desire down, at least momentarily. There was one thing he really needed to talk to her about while she was lucid … or as lucid as Buffy got these days.

“Need t’ ask you something, Sla… Buffy,” he began. He’d never be able to stop calling her ‘Slayer’ – never.

“Sure,” Buffy replied as her fingers began drawing idle circles on the denim covering his thigh. Spike fought to ignore it – she wasn't gonna make this easy.

“Do you … What I mean is …” Spike stammered a bit, suddenly a bit unsure of how to ask his question. Finally, he settled on, “You do know that vampires can’t make … babies, yeah?”

Buffy tensed a moment, her hand stilling, as her mind raced to figure out what he was talking about. Did he know? Surely not. How could he know? She forced herself to relax again and replied casually, “I know. And you don’t carry diseases either – there’s nothing for them to live on. So, if this is about ‘safe sex’ … I get it: You aren’t spending money on condoms.”

Spike snorted. “Who talks t’ Slayers about ‘safe sex’ with vampires? Your Watcher or your mum?”

Buffy flushed. “You really don’t want me to answer that question.”

It was Spike’s turn to tense up. “Angelus,” he practically snarled. Buffy shrugged against him. Spike blew out a breath and recomposed himself before pressing on. “Not really what I was getting at, anyway,” he admitted.

“Is havin’ babies something you … want?” he continued cautiously. If she wanted a family, it would tear his heart out. That was one thing he could never give her. He could give her his love, give her his heart, his mind, his body, but he could never give her a family.

“Why are you asking?” Buffy wondered, still trying to sound casual although she was suddenly worried again.



“Well … ‘cos when you were … errr … That is – the other day, you said something ‘bout making a baby. Didn’t know if that was … a metaphor or…” Spike let his voice trail off, shrugging.

Buffy cringed inside but tried not to let it show. Crazy-Buffy had a big mouth.

“I … uhhh … never really thought about it much,” Buffy replied fairly truthfully. She’d never allowed herself to think about it. Slayers didn’t live long enough to have families – there was no sense thinking about it. She honestly had dismissed the idea of babies long, long ago.

“Having a baby’s never been really high on my priority list,” Buffy concluded. “Never figured it was in the cards for me.” Until recently, she added silently. “You know, being all Chosen and doomed.

“What about you? If you could, I mean … make a baby. Would you … want to?” she asked cautiously. She held her breath, awaiting his reply. Please say 'yes'.

“Me? A father?” Spike scoffed, snorting derisively. “Changing nappies and get spit-up on, right sexy that’d be. Not good for Big Bad’s image, that.”

“There’s more to babies than yucky stuff,” Buffy pointed out, hopefully. “And they do grow out of it.”

Please, Spike ... please say you wish you could have a family...

“Yeah – PTA meetings would be a slap and a tickle, I reckon. Little League could be a bit dodgy … what with the sun and all. No, don’t reckon ole Spike’s cut out t’ be a da. Probably a right good reason vampires can’t make bits – not in our nature – ya, know, evil and all,” Spike finished, sounding resolutely disgusted by the idea.

He hoped he sounded as confident and resolute as Buffy had about not wanting a family. He was relieved that it had just been some kind of metaphor the subconscious, fugue-state Buffy had used for sex. But, at the same time, it hurt a little deep down knowing that he’d never see her glowing with the joy of pregnancy; never see her body grow with a life that they’d created together, never feel the love of his own child – that unconditional, rock-solid love that only a child can give a parent.

Buffy nodded her agreement, despite her heart collapsing in upon itself. She was glad now that she hadn’t told him about Dawn’s soul. He didn’t want kids – not in his nature. “Yeah – we’re just not … cut out for parenthood,” she agreed after a moment, hoping she sounded as confident as he had about it. She sighed inwardly, this mission was gonna all be on her shoulders.



**~**


Chapter End Notes:
Continued ....
Make the World Go Away, Part 2 by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
This is a continuation of the previous chapter. Had to break up 'cos too long for one posting. Be sure to read the first part first...

Hope you like!!
Buffy moaned in pleasure as Spike worked the warming oil into the muscles of her back later that night. The whole bedroom smelled of rich vanilla beans – as did her skin. Her mind and body rejoiced in the sensation of his hands gliding over her as the oil heated her right to the bone. Was it actually the oil doing that or Spike’s hands on her body? She let her mind drift away, trying to not over-think it. Whether it was his hands, or the oil, or a combination of the two making her flesh heat right down to the core, it didn’t matter. It was heaven.

“You’re hired…” Buffy groaned into her pillow as she lay on her stomach, boneless beneath him.

Spike grinned from where he straddled her legs as he massaged her back. “What’s it pay, luv?” he teased as he kneaded her muscles into jelly.



“Mmmm … All the gold in my kingdom,” Buffy replied.

Spike stopped a moment and snorted. “You don’t ‘ave any gold … or a kingdom, for that matter,” he pointed out.

“Oh,” she deadpanned. “Double it then.”

Spike laughed and went back to work, moving his hands lower down her back, savoring the curves of her body under his palms. Spike had been surprised when she’d emerged from the shower in just a towel and announced that she was ready to collect the massage he owed her. He was still in his jeans and he’d kept them on, not sure where Buffy’s mind was at … or where she’d be five minutes from now.



He’d heard a song once that said that, to women, sometimes a backrub was only a backrub. He’d learned some good lessons from songs in the past, so he heeded that advice. Therefore, he wasn’t sure if she just wanted a massage or if she had more on her mind. She’d been ready for more the other day until Angel stuck his bloody nose in and mucked it up, but then she’d ‘gone away’ and … and basically tried to rape him. Looking back, maybe he should've let her – it might've been his only shot. He sighed. No, he'd had a taste of actual affection from her and it had given him hope that she could actually love him one day. It was a long shot, he knew ... but long shots did win once in a while.

He used to feel like he could read her fairly well, but with her mind so scattered now, he was lost. He didn’t want to push her into anything she wasn’t ready for. On the other hand, he wanted her so badly it was a physical pain in his heart … and lower. It was driving him mad being this close to her and not taking it further. He allowed his hands to roam to her hips, then her bare bum, and waited to see if she objected. Buffy didn’t. He leaned down and began dropping soft kisses on the slick, vanilla-flavored skin of her back, tracing a line down her spine with his lips.

Buffy moaned in approval when Spike’s lips set the oil on her back on (metaphorical) fire. Flames tingled across her skin everywhere his lips touched her, building the heat up inside her until a bonfire raged. The heat burned away the mist of guilt and loneliness that had been her constant companion for too many weeks, like the noon-day sun would burn the morning fog from a mountain lake. Even when she’d managed to shed the crimson shroud of failure from her mind, the feeling of being utterly alone and of having failed Dawn never quite left her heart. Until now.

The feel of him, of his desire and his adoration, pushed everything else from her mind and heart. It was, she realized, why she’d retreated back to her ‘crazy-place’ that night after he’d taken her to heaven in the shower at the Paradise Lost. She’d allowed herself to forget for those few minutes – allowed herself happiness and pleasure when all she should be feeling was guilt and shame. It had slammed back into her like a freight train, putting her back in her proper place. She had no right to be happy, to be feeling the things he could make her feel, not after what she’d done, how she’d failed.

But right now it felt so good, so freeing. It felt like an oasis after trudging across sun-baked, desert sands for a month. It felt like that first gulp of air after your head broke the surface of the water after being held under for far too long. It felt like a warm, crackling fire in the middle of winter; a half-frozen glass of lemonade in the summer. It felt like an ocean breeze, a snowflake, a raindrop, a sunbeam after being too long in the dark, and she longed to feel those things again. She longed to feel hope, to feel not-alone, to feel wanted and loved and forgiven.

Buffy gasped and stiffened when Spike’s fingers slid between her butt cheeks and feathered over the sensitive skin there. Spike pulled them away and began massaging the round globes of her ass as he slid to one side of her legs and urged them apart with one knee. Buffy complied, relaxing again as he moved between her legs. He slid his hands back up her body, leaning forward as he did until his mouth was near her ear.

“Trust me, luv,” he whispered against her ear, his breath a cool breeze against her heated skin. “Just relax, won’t hurt ya.”
 
“I’ve never … ummm … done anything … there,” Buffy stammered, flushing with embarrassment.

“I have,” he assured her, his voice a deep, rich caress. “Trust me, Buffy, not gonna hurt you. Just relax and let me make you feel good, pet.”

Buffy shivered with a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and a hint of fear, but she nodded and forced her body to relax. It occurred to her, with no small amount of irony to the revelation, that she could trust this soulless vampire perhaps more than anyone else in the entire world. Back in Sunnydale, she had put more and more trust in him as the skirmishes with Glory had escalated, and he’d rightfully earned higher levels of trust with each passing week. She once again began to wonder if she should trust him with the mission her mother had given her. Maybe she could counter his objections, make him see that it could be of the good... Then Spike’s fingers once again parted her firm cheeks and all coherent thought evaporated in the heat of the moment.

Something cool and wet trailed down from her tailbone and delved between the mounds of flesh of her ass. Buffy realized with a start that it was his tongue and he was … Oh God! Buffy’s body jerked when the tip of his tongue circled her puckered hole, teasing the sensitive skin there with gentle flicks and licks. Those tingling flames burst back into life in her core and her whole body seemed to throb in time to his teasing touches.

“Like that, pet?” Spike murmured against her skin.

“God, Spike … yes,” Buffy moaned into the pillow beneath her head. She'd never had anyone do anything there, let alone what Spike was doing. Was that a vampire thing, or a Spike thing? Her heart-rate skittered excitedly and her breathing became shallow and erratic in anticipation of just what Spike would do next.

Spike lifted her hips up off the bed just a couple of inches until she was supported on her widely-spread knees and chest. He slid a finger down from her crack, over her taint to her glistening pussy. He moaned in pleasure when his finger was coated with her slick juices.

"So wet, you are," he murmured reverently.

Buffy let out a whimper as he teased her opening, sliding just the tip of one finger inside her, then pulling back out.

“Killing me…” Buffy groaned, as she arched her back, lifting her ass higher in the air to give him better access.

“It’s what I do, luv,” Spike replied in a rumbling basso as he settled onto his stomach and elbows between her legs and covered her throbbing hole with his mouth.

Buffy screamed out when he sucked down and slid his tongue into her at the same time. Her hips bucked back against him, then began grinding against his mouth as his fingers began circling her clit. His hand, tongue, and lips seemed to know exactly how to touch her – how hard and how fast to move against her heated flesh to send her over the edge. The world suddenly fell away as he made love to her in a way she’d never experienced before. She fell through space and time, letting every thought, every worry, every emotion except exultant joy slip away as meaningless. Her body bucked against him of its own accord, demanding more. Spike was more than happy to give it to her.

He slid his tongue back up over her taint and began to tease her ass again. Spike’s thumb dipped into her pussy, allowing his forefinger to continue its teasing-torture of her clit. At the new sensation, Buffy felt herself floating higher as her body shuddered and tensed beneath Spike’s ministrations. The orgasm reformed, the second building upon the foundation of the first, and propelled her so far away from the crushing weight of guilt that she couldn’t even remember the meaning of the word.

Her mind blanked, filled with nothing but brilliant fireworks of rapture. She floated, weightless in the inky-blackness, surrounded only by the colorful, glowing sparks which tingled over her skin in a cascade of bliss. Suddenly there was another explosion, and she was hurtled even higher as Spike increased the tempo and ferocity of the thrusts into her sweet quim. White hot sparks engulfed her as the next wave of rapture washed over her body.

She heard someone screaming out and realized it was her. The feelings building up inside her were more than she could contain without exploding – she had to let them out.

As Buffy’s scream of orgasmic bliss slowly died and she began gasping for oxygen, Spike slowed his thrusts into her and changed back to teasing touches around her clit. He lifted up and began dropping kisses on her lower back and the firm globes of her ass as he gently lowered her back from heaven to earth.
 
Buffy’s thighs trembled and she collapsed onto her stomach when gravity finally kicked in again, pulling away from Spike. Her whole body buzzed in the afterglow of traveling through the heavens. She’d never felt anything like that before; not with Angel, or Riley, and certainly not with poop-head Parker. It was the second time Spike had been the giver – and wow did he know how to give.

Buffy turned over onto her side so she could look down and see Spike. He was sitting back on his heels now, still between her legs, so she had to pull one leg up to get it past him. He seemed to be as dazed as she was, his eyes unfocused with a small smile on his face.

Buffy reached an arm out toward him and his eyes finally tracked up to hers. She beckoned him to her and he slowly crawled up the bed and settled next to her, lying on his side facing her. Buffy laid a hand on his shoulder and gently pulled him closer as she touched her lips to his. He still tasted of cigarettes and whiskey, but the perfume that was on him now was all hers. Her sex. Her essence. Buffy pressed her tongue against his lips, gently requesting entry, and Spike welcomed her into his mouth with a small moan. Within a moment, his arms were around her, pressing her bare chest against his, and the kiss had become a desperate struggle, each giving as much as they took.



When Buffy pulled back to breathe, she rested her forehead against his, not wanting to break the contact any more than necessary.

“So beautiful you are, pet. Dreamt o’ this … can’t tell you how often,” he murmured to her as his hands roamed over her back and sides, taking in every curve, every heaving rise of her body as she panted for air.

“Did your dreams usually involve you still dressed?” Buffy wondered as her hands skimmed down his body only to be thwarted by his jeans.

Spike smirked. “Not as a general rule … no,” he admitted.

“So … why are you now?” Buffy asked as she fumbled for the button at the front of his jeans.

Spike reached between them and stilled her hand a moment. She pulled back a bit so she could look into his eyes. “Want to make sure you want this, Buffy. You. Not … Barmy-Buffy – but you.”

Buffy bit her bottom lip and nodded. Tears swam in her eyes, but she blinked them back quickly. “I’m here, Spike, and I want this,” she assured him. Buffy leaned in and kissed him softly. “What you’ve done for me is real,” she said when the kiss broke. “I believe you when you say you love me … you’ve shown me that it’s possible, soul or not.”

Buffy dropped her gaze from his eyes. Spike waited, unbreathing, unmoving, hope blooming in his chest. He longed for the words she didn’t say; longed for her to give him what he knew she’d given others. Why was he undeserving of her love when she could give it to Peaches and Captain Cardboard?

‘Cos ya got no soul, came the silent, painful answer. She could believe his emotions were real, but not reciprocate. His stomach coiled into knots – he may finally have her body, perhaps even her trust, but would he ever have her heart? Would she ever give him the one thing he’d searched for all his life: undying love? He’d thought he’d found it with Dru, but he’d been wrong. Dru wasn’t capable of giving back the same love that he’d showered on her – ever faithful, ever adoring.  Perhaps Buffy wasn’t either. His heart ached at the notion.

Buffy was his equal in every way. She was the point to his counterpoint, the wit to his charm, the good to his evil, the soft to his hard, the warm to his cool, the light to his dark, the sun to his moon. She met his every strike with a perfect parry, anticipated every feint, and gave back as good as she got. Surely her heart was just as capable of love as his was. Surely.

Finally, when she didn’t say any more, he curled a finger under her chin and lifted her eyes back up to his. He didn’t want to beg her for the words – for the feeling – but his eyes, as always, betrayed his emotions.

She gave him a sad smile, reading his expression like the open book that it was. He was asking too much. He didn’t know. He didn’t know that she’d have to leave him soon. He didn’t know that she didn’t have enough pieces of her broken and battered heart left to leave a part of it with him. She couldn’t bear it; couldn’t bear her heart being ripped apart again. Even now, with Slayer-hood renounced, the mission always came first. It was, she realized, her destiny, her curse. She wasn’t meant for love – it had never been part of the Slayer package anyway. She knew that now. Her life was not her own, perhaps it never had been.

“I … I need you. I trust you. You’re … in my heart – I care for you. That’s all I have to give. I … don’t know if it’s enough.”

Spike closed his eyes against the pain in his chest where a dagger had been stabbed in and twisted.

“I’m sorry,” Buffy blurted out quickly. “I … maybe one day things will be different,” she continued, the words sailing past her lips without thought. Why? Why had she said that? Why give him false hope? Bad Buffy!  

“Spike, I’m barely hanging on here,” she continued truthfully. “Insano-Buffy could come back any minute. I never know when … I can’t seem to stop it. But you … you make me feel safe. I know I can count on you and, really, that’s so much more than I can say about anyone else in the world right now. I care about you … I care for you.”

That was better, she decided. That was all true. No false hope in those words. No promise of a tomorrow that will never come for them.

Spike opened his eyes and met hers. Unshed tears made the blue seem brighter as they shimmered in the low light of the room. Buffy felt the mist of guilt rise in her again. Good job, Buffy. Why don’t you just stake him instead of dragging his heart through the mud? Great way to repay all he’s done for you.

“I reckon that ‘maybe one day’ is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, yeah?” Spike offered, trying to sound cocky and indifferent. It didn’t really work. He gently pressed a lock of her hair back from her face, letting it fall over her shoulder, his eyes giving away the longing his words denied.

 “I do love you. I’ll always love you, Buffy. I can live with being in your heart … for now,” he admitted softly, his adulating eyes locked onto hers.

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her guilt building. She shouldn’t have said that to him; should not have given him that empty promise. “I’m sorry that I don’t have more to give you.”

Spike nodded – afraid if he spoke, his voice would give away his hurt and disappointment. He endeavored to look assuring, as if that was fine, as if he didn’t need anything more, but he had to wonder if she’d be giving this same speech to the Magnificent Poof … or even Soldier Boy if one of them were in his place right now. He tried not to dwell on it too long, tried not to let the disappointment and hurt and jealously show in his eyes. He tried to assure himself that being ‘in her heart’ was at least in the same zip code as being ‘in love’. It was closer than he’d ever been before; closer than he’d ever hoped to get; possibly closer than he deserved – but he wanted more. The small taste of trust and affection she’d given him had only been enough to whet his appetite. He wanted all of her: mind, body, spirit, heart, and soul – and he wanted it forever. Long shot. Spike had played long shots before and won. This race wasn't over yet. He could still win Buffy's love, he assured himself.

Buffy couldn’t take the silence that had fallen over them another second. She was afraid she’d start talking to fill it, and more empty, unwise promises would rattle from her mouth unbidden. Action now was better than words, she concluded. Words were not her friend; she’d always been better at action.

Buffy pressed a palm against his top shoulder and rolled Spike onto his back, following him over. She straddled his stomach and leaned down over him, her hair falling in a golden veil around their faces as she kissed him. Buffy’s hands roamed over his strong chest, shoulders, and upper arms as their lips nibbled on the other, tasting and teasing.



His hands came up to glide over her body, finding her swaying breasts and cupping them gently in his hands as a tremulous breath escaped his lips. Spike’s thumbs ghosted over her nipples, and they responded immediately, puckering into hard pebbles. Chill-bumps flowed out from his touch, covering the curve of her breasts in the process. Buffy moaned against his lips, her hips grinding slow circles against his hardness as he fanned the fires within her again.

“God, Spike … need you, baby,” Buffy mumbled against his mouth as her desire blossomed back into a burning need, empty promises temporarily forgotten.

 

Spike’s eyes flashed wide and he hesitated with the endearment, momentarily frozen in place. He took a mental snapshot of this moment, locking the memory into his mind forever. Baby. A shiver ran down his spine. Baby. In the next instant, he crushed his mouth up to hers again, holding her down against him, devouring the flavor and scent and feel of her to add to his mental cache of this moment: the moment she called him her baby.

When Buffy had to breathe, she reluctantly pulled away from the kiss and from his magical fingers, which seemed to know just how to touch her body, and she slid down his legs. She unfastened his jeans and slid the zipper down, releasing his urgent need from the denim that had been holding it prisoner.

Her eyes widened in fascinated surprise when his hardness emerged from his pants. Spike pressed his tongue against his teeth as he watched her expression.



“Oh…” Buffy managed at last, clearing her throat a little uncomfortably and sliding the rest of the way off the bed. She began tugging on the legs of his jeans and Spike lifted his hips up so she could slide them off.

“Something wrong, pet?” Spike wondered, his voice tinged with a … errrr … cocky arrogance.

Buffy looked back up to his face and felt her own face flush. “No … no, not at all. I just … ummm … am gonna need a new name for your … privates.”

Spike cocked an amused brow at her. “Pardon?”

Buffy waved a hand vaguely at his package and flushed even brighter red. “I … in my mind, sort of called it ‘Little Bad’ … you know, ‘Big Bad’ and ‘Little Bad’,” she admitted. “But … that won’t work – at all.”

Spike barked out a short laugh. “Given this a bit o’ thought, then, have you?”

Buffy coughed again and fanned herself with both hands as she looked around the room – concentrating on anything but Spike. “It’s really … hot in here, isn’t it?”

Spike sat up, grabbed one of her arms, and pulled her back onto the bed. “Not as hot as it’s gonna be,” he promised.



Buffy 'eeped' in surprised when he grabbed her, and flopped onto her back next to him. Spike supported himself on one elbow and leaned over her, half-covering her body with his. “Now … where were we?” he murmured as he dropped his mouth to hers again.

Buffy melted against him. His cool body felt like heaven against her suddenly tingling, over-hot skin. His lips were soft against hers, and her body thrummed in anticipation as ‘Little Bad’ pressed urgently against her hip.

Spike’s free hand roamed over her skin, now damp with a thin layer of perspiration, as well as slick from the massage oil. Her soft, feminine curves belied the power beneath and Spike cherished them both. Her strength was as much an aphrodisiac to him as the swell of her breasts or the sway of her hips.

“Buffy … so beautiful, you are, luv. You got no idea what you do to me, pet. Want you so much. Love you so much …” he murmured against her neck as he kissed a line of fire down from her mouth to her throat.

“Spike … please … want to feel you inside me,” Buffy replied breathily as she shifted on the bed and encouraged him to settle between her spread legs.

Spike slid over her and Buffy immediately wrapped her legs around his hips and tilted her opening up to him, beckoning his hardness into her supple heat. Spike rose up to support himself on his hands and slid his cock up and down her slick folds, over her clit, coating himself in her juices.

Buffy’s eyes fluttered closed as she moaned and clutched at his shoulders, then slid her hands down his sides. The corded muscles of his back and buttocks strained and shifted beneath her palms as he moved, like cool, smooth granite come to life. She lifted her hips up against him in frustration and need, wanting more from him even as she longed for the sensation of his hard shaft raking against her clit to continue forever.



When he stopped moving, she opened her eyes and looked up at him. He’d pulled his hips back away from her a bit and just remained motionless above her. The muscles of his arms bulged with the strain of holding himself over her, but he didn’t tremble or waver.
 
She felt like she was falling into the deep pools of cool blue water that were his eyes. Little flecks of gold shone in their cerulean depths, the demon wanting to be set free, but he didn’t change. In fact, he’d never changed into the demon except when they were fighting – and even then only if she’d really pissed him off royally. How did he manage to control it so thoroughly without a soul, she wondered briefly, but put her pondering aside for another time.

Buffy didn’t break eye contact with him as she slid her hand between them and guided his hardness to her opening. Spike pressed forward slowly, his whole body quivering in anticipation. Buffy gasped and he thought he saw a flicker of pain pass behind her lustful, green eyes. He stopped.

“It’s ok … just … been a while and you’re a little … ummm … more than…” Buffy cleared her throat self-consciously. “Just go slow at first …” she said finally as she explored the ever-changing hills and valleys of muscle on his back with her hands.

Spike dipped his head down and kissed her. It was so gentle that it felt like nothing so much as a cool breeze fluttering against her lips. Spike lifted up so he could see her eyes again. Their viridian depths were so full of fire, full of life, of strength, of passion, and if he looked closely, he thought he could see the affection she had for him reflected there too. His heart took comfort in the thought, ill-conceived and self-delusional as it may be.

He pulled his hips back fractionally and then pressed in again, going just a little further than he’d been before. A tingling chill rushed over Buffy’s skin as he pressed in, then pulled back, then pressed in again. He stretched her gently until she could accommodate his girth without pain. Each time he pressed in a new wave of pleasure tingled over her body, caressing her with a gentleness she’d never before felt. Not even Angel had been this careful, this caring or adoring with her. She was suddenly wreathed in a warm blanket of pure emotion. It swelled up from the deepest, most guarded and hidden corners of her heart, and surprised her with its girlish softness.

She was momentarily taken back to that first time with Angel. At the time she’d thought he had been loving, giving, and gentle with her, but now she knew better. This. This is how it should’ve been. The soft murmurs of affection, of love and desire that Spike was raining down on her had never passed her first love’s lips. Angel had been silent – as was his nature. Not exactly cold, but not … not this. Angel’s hands had not touched her so reverently; his mouth had not kissed her so fervently. He had tried, she was sure – he’d tried to be this, but even with a soul he didn’t have what Spike had. She didn’t know what it was. Something indefinable, unfathomable to her in this moment – something that made him so very different than any vampire she’d ever met. Heart, her mother's word came to her mind. Spike has heart.

By the time his hips settled against hers, Buffy’s chest was heaving and her heart was racing from the endorphins flooding her body. His slow progression into her had triggered a series of seismic events – like foreshocks preceding an earthquake. With that as the precursor, she couldn’t wait to feel the main event.

Spike dropped down onto his elbows and rested his body against hers, savoring the feeling of her quim, hot, wet, and tight around him. Her pussy walls fluttered and undulated over his hardness, holding him in their velvet smooth embrace as if she never planned on letting him go. And that was perfectly fine with him.

Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and began twining her fingers gently into the hair on the back of his head. It was softer than she’d imagined without the gel, and the curls were just adorable. He’d kill her if he knew she thought that … Big Bad was not adorable.

The adoration that was pouring from his eyes covered her with a feeling of security, of confidence, of belonging. It made her feel warm somewhere deep inside, as if he’d dropped a burning torch into the bottomless pit of her blood-soaked soul and frightened the icy guilt away.

The words that she knew he longed to hear fluttered to the fore of her mind and nearly made it to her throat when the crimson shroud of guilt began to descend over her again. Buffy closed her eyes, fighting it back – fighting to stay in this moment with him, fighting to remember her mother’s words of encouragement: Dawn’s death was no one’s fault but Glory’s.

She felt the veil waver as she struggled to hold it back with nothing but her willpower, then she realized that Spike was talking to her – asking her if she was alright. She opened her eyes and drew her hands down to frame his beautiful face. His eyes were full of concern and love, and it only made her feel less deserving. But she didn’t want to do this to him, didn’t want to go away – not now. She’d already withheld the words he longed to hear, made empty promises she knew she couldn't keep, she couldn’t take this away from him too. She wanted this to be perfect – as perfect as she could make it – for him. He’d done so much for her, she owed it to him to fight the oblivion her guilt wanted to drag her into. She wanted more than anything to make this first time perfect.

She lifted her face up until her mouth was near his ear, then whispered, “Make love to me, William.” It was as close as she could come to saying what she knew he wanted to hear. It was all she had to give.
 
“You sure, pet?” Spike asked, his voice full of gentle concern.

Buffy nodded. “Keep me here, baby. Make me feel … need to just feel … not think.”

Spike kissed her with that same gentleness that she’d been pondering only a few moments before as he began rocking his body against hers. It was a slow, sensuous movement that nonetheless made Buffy’s heart skip and stutter in her chest.

“I’ve got ya, luv. Never lettin’ you go,” Spike assured her, his mouth close enough for her to feel his cool breath on her cheek. Their bodies slid against each other, building a slow friction that kindled hundreds of sparks in the waiting tinder of Buffy’s body.

Before everything with Glory began, Giles had started teaching Buffy about compartmentalizing her thoughts, of concentrating on what was important in the moment and letting everything else wait. He’d used crystals for her to focus on, and it had taken hours of boring repetition before she’d started to get it – but she had started to get it.

The memory of those lessons popped into Buffy's mind now. She drew on that wisdom, using what she’d learned to help keep the shroud of guilt from crashing down on her. She had no crystals to focus on, but she had Spike. She had his bluer-than-blue eyes with the flashes of gold sparkling down on her, and she had the tingling sparks that he was showering over her body – inside and out.

Buffy kept her eyes focused on Spike’s as he moved above her, and she felt herself falling into those blue depths, away from the crimson gore. For the first time she was able to draw away from the demon inside who wanted to drag her back into the bloody river and drown her. She could, instead, immerse herself in the pool of cool blue adoration and be safe – Spike would keep her safe.



When Spike ground his pubic bone against her clit on the next down-stroke, Buffy’s mind dove headfirst to a sparkling sea of cool, azure blue, and her body flared white-hot in pleasure, washing away the bloody river in her mind that held the guilt of her failures.

“Yes … Spike … God, so good. So … oh! Yes!” Buffy panted breathlessly as he came down and ground against her again and again. Her body writhed beneath him as she clung to his shoulders, digging her nails into his deltoids in her fervor. Her body arched into his, demanding even more, as the small tremors announcing the upcoming earth-moving quake of bliss vibrated through her core.

When Spike rose up to his hands, pulled nearly out of her, and then slammed down against her in a wave of primal desire, Buffy shrieked in renewed pleasure. It was at once surprising and exhilarating – such a contrast to the easy movements of a moment before. It was exactly what she needed – what she wanted and desired. How did he know? How could he tell that she needed more when she didn’t even know until he’d given it to her, like a gift from heaven?

Buffy’s hips bucked up against him, matching his rhythm as he began thrusting into her with more and more power and fervor. Spike’s demon raged behind the burning eyes of the man, demanding release as untold days, weeks, months, and years of longing for his Slayer finally came to fruition. The demon’s desire for her blood was no less strong than the man’s desire for her heart and her body. Spike pressed the bloodlust back, and instead used the demon’s needs to fuel the man’s – driving him wild with feral lust. And the Slayer, the strong, passionate woman beneath him, responded in kind.

Her hisses, gasps, shrieks, and demanding cries of pleasure told him all he needed to know about her need. There was no more worry of hurting her. Her channel had stretched to take him and she engulfed his girth like a silken glove – hot and wet and supple, molding around his shaft like she had been made for Spike and Spike alone. Buffy’s body moved with him as if they’d danced this dance a hundred times – and in a way they had, the vampire and the Slayer – her strength and passion the perfect match for his, and his for hers.

Buffy’s legs wrapped around his hips in a crushing grip, pulling him to her ferociously, her heels digging into the backs of his thighs. Her hands slid down his body and her fingers dug into the undulating muscles of his ass as he drove into her at a feverish pace. She added her strength to his, pulling him against her, as their hips slammed together and he impaled his shaft deeper into her sheath of bliss.

Spike roared in defiance as his demon felt her trying to control him and he sat back slightly on his heels, pulling out of reach of her hands. He wrenched her legs from around his waist and then pressed them up and out – opening her to him fully, taking her control away. Then he drove into her again, thrusting into her with a power and passion she’d never felt before.

Buffy screamed out as the force of his renewed storm of lust hit her with a blinding explosion of bliss. She could do nothing but feel. Feel his body, hard and powerful above her; feel his hips driving against her, his cock hammering into her all the way to her core; feel his unneeded breath, cool and wild against her skin; feel his passion; feel his strength; feel her own vulnerability to the vampire that was controlling her; feel the utter madness of rapture washing over her, drowning her in the bliss of the sparkling blue ocean.

She’d never felt anything like it before – it was freedom. There was no thought; there was only feeling, and every cell in her body was screaming with blissful explosions of joy. There was no room for anything else; no thought or worry or inhibition could step between her and heaven now.

Her body reacted to his instinctively. Her arms reached above her head and pressed against the headboard for more leverage. Her hips jerked against his, somehow following his staccato rhythm – short, shallow strokes followed by long, slow ones then back again. Words fell from her lips, but they weren’t anything she thought with her conscious mind so much as something deeper, a brain-stem reflex to the power and pleasure coursing through her. And she could hear Spike’s voice, pouring over her like hot, sweet honey, hear his rumbling growls and grunts of effort. Every one of her senses was being bombarded with something, blocking everything else in the entire world out except this. There was nothing but this feeling.

When Buffy shrieked Spike’s name and her body convulsed into a final, ground-shaking, magnitude ten-million earthquake, Spike had no choice but to stay buried inside her. Her sugar walls clasped around him like a vise wielded by a goddess, undulating and fluttering wildly over his shaft. His own roar of release joined hers as her body milked every drop of lust from his groin in a painfully sweet explosion of bliss. Her name tumbled off his lips – half-curse, half-prayer – as he spilled into her, utterly undone.

Both of their bodies trembled violently with the power of their orgasms. The sound of their inharmonious chorus of ultimate release filled the room and reverberated off the walls. The air vibrated around them palpably, as if a giant loudspeaker had magnified Buffy’s ear-splitting scream and Spike’s growling, basso roar into a discord worthy of a Kiss concert.

And then they both collapsed bonelessly; every drop of tension and power drained from their bodies. Spike fell atop her, releasing the hold he had on her legs as he collapsed. Buffy’s legs sprawled uselessly to the mattress on each side of him; her arms, a moment ago pressing against the headboard above her with all her strength, simply slumped to the pillow near her head. The only sound left in the room was the gasping gulps for air that came from each of their throats.

Spike, not actually needing air, recovered use of his limbs first and began to roll off her, but she stopped him with a word, “Stay.”

He stopped and pulled back to look at her, worried that she’d lost the battle with the madness after all. But, when his eyes met hers, he realized it wasn’t that, she simply didn’t have the breath to say anything more.



He smiled down at her. Her face was flushed and sparkled with diamonds of perspiration; her hair was mussed, a golden tangle of silken tresses; her lips were swollen from their kisses and beautifully pink. But it was her eyes that captured him most. They were Buffy: her essence, her soul. And she was looking at him with something he was afraid to name, so he simply allowed himself to believe that she was looking at him with her heart.

“Wow,” was the next word from her lips. It came out raspy and a little choked through her strained vocal cords.

“Wow,” Spike mimicked in a throaty rumble, agreeing wholeheartedly. There was awe not only in his voice but in those amazing blue eyes that she’d let herself fall into. Even the demon’s eyes, hidden behind the man’s, sparkled like golden stars within the field of azure as he looked down at her.

“You’re bloody amazing, Slayer,” Spike whispered, touching his mouth to her sweet lips in a gentle, chaste kiss.

Buffy smiled and her flush actually turned a deeper shade of red. She bit her bottom lip and suddenly looked like a schoolgirl – that girl he’d first seen dancing with her friends so long ago, so many battles ago, so many heartbreaks ago.

“Not Slayer, just Buffy,” she corrected after a moment, but there was no scorn in her tone. “And you’re pretty amazing yourself,” she admitted as she snaked her arms around his neck and lifted her quivering legs up to capture his hips in a gentle embrace, hooking her feet behind his back and preventing him from moving.

Suddenly the door to the bedroom swung open and the Bot strode in. “Buffy, I did as you instructed and stayed on the balcony with my fingers in my ears humming ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’, but I got bored. Can we play a different game now?” she asked, her fingers still sticking into her ears.

Two pairs of surprised eyes turned to look at the door; the lovers too surprised to actually respond for a moment.



The Bot tilted her head and considered the pair on the bed. “Perhaps I could join in your game. What do you call it?” Then, after a beat, she asked, “It doesn’t involve show tunes, does it?”

Spike began to rebuke the Bot, ask her if she'd ever heard of bloody knocking, when a burst of laughter tore from Buffy’s lips. He looked down at her, more surprised by the sound of her laughter than the Bot's intrusion. Buffy was laughing! It was a joyous sound, like a celestial choir of angels singing.

Buffy knew she should be indignant, angry, or embarrassed, but she could do nothing but laugh at the Bot's earnestness. Buffy tightened her hold on Spike, making sure he didn't rise, using him as a cover, as she began to giggle uncontrollably. Then Spike’s laughter joined hers, his body shaking with the effort. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever heard him actually laugh before, and the rich, rolling sound only made her laugh harder. His laughter was contagious – a virus of mirth. Every time Buffy’s laughter began to wane, she found herself buoyed by the sound of his exuberance. Then she began to wonder if she’d ever heard any vampire laugh before – not the ‘I’ve got you now’ evil laugh of Angelus, or the ‘I’m crazy as a loon’ laugh of Dru, but a gleeful exaltation of emotion.

The Bot studied her naked roommates in earnest, trying to determine what was so humorous. Buffy watched her watching them and thought that the Bot was most likely the sanest of the three of them. That thought sent another wave of giggles over Buffy, and the entire scene simply devolved into one of those blooper reels where no one could stop laughing long enough to actually say anything.

Buffy couldn’t remember the last time she laughed so hard or so long. She laid her hands on the sides of Spike’s face and pulled him down to her, smothering his bubbling laughter with her child-like giggles. It was, perhaps, the most wonderful gift anyone had ever given her – he made the world go away. She could pretend that she was just a girl – a giggling, happy, normal girl – if just for a little while.

**~**

{{ Click here to hear one of my favorite sounds in the world: James Marsters' Laugh }}

**~**


{{  Click here to hear Make The World Go Away, Martina McBride  on YouTube  }}

Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulders
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away

Do you remember when you loved me
Before the world took you away
Well if you do, then forgive me
And make the world, make it go away

Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulders
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away

Now I'm sorry if I hurt you
Let me make it up to you day by day
And if you will please forgive me
And make the world, make it go away

Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulders
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away.
Chapter End Notes:
Shooo!!! Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Ok, so, good news: Buffy was able to keep the crazy away. Will she have to shag Spike every time to keep in in check? There could be worse things! Pretty sure Spike won't mind. And just how many show tunes does the Bot know? Bad news: Proud, stubborn, uncommunicative superheroes! Will they tell each other the truth about babies before it's too late? Sad news: Buffy still can't say the "L" word. What will it take for her to take a chance?

Will have more this weekend, probably Saturday.
Accidentally in Love by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Posting a little early this time to make up for the late post on Tuesday. Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.


When Buffy awoke, she could see sunlight glowing behind the curtains covering the French doors that led to their balcony. Her first thought was relief that she was still here mentally. She’d done it! She’d fought back the debilitating guilt! She'd closed her eyes and pictured Spike’s face in her mind’s eye, then focused on his eyes. They had been her anchor: those expressive blue eyes dotted with flecks of gold.

The memory of her victory sent a thrill of confidence and surety washing through her. She had done it! She could fight the madness. She knew how now. She had an anchor to the world of relative sanity; she had an azure sea of blue between her and the river of blood. She had Spike.

Her body still tingled with desire even though she was deliciously sore from the previous night’s activities. Her skin flushed with heat as she remembered their lovemaking, and she felt her tender opening begin to pulse with renewed need.
 
Spike was spooned against her back. His bare body fit hers as if they had been made for each other. He felt cool and hard – in more ways than one – pressed against her. His top arm was draped across her ribs and breasts, and his hand lay over her softly beating heart. Buffy could feel his breath, cool and gentle, against the back of her neck.
 
She loved how he breathed, even in sleep. It was only a small thing, but it was one of many things that Spike did that made him seem so much more alive, so very different than … other vamps she’d known. She knew he’d hate being compared to Angel, but Buffy couldn’t help it. Since, thus far, he’d outdone his grandsire in every way, perhaps he wouldn’t be too upset if he managed to read her thoughts somehow. Even without a soul, Spike had stood by her, helped her, kept his word, and shown her undying affection. He’d been gentle and loving and …

A warm flush of emotion rose up in her, unfurling in her chest like a beautiful rosebud coming into full bloom, as she reflected not only on their night, but everything that Spike had done for her. God, was her mom right? Had she really fallen in love with him somewhere along the way when she wasn’t looking? Was she even capable of that? Maybe. Was that a bad thing? Not right this minute perhaps, but one day it would be bad: very, very bad. One day her mission would come between them; one day her mission would drive him away and leave the beautiful rose to wither and die inside her. How many times can the flower of love be charred to ashes before your heart dies along with it?

Buffy's chest tightened with pain, but she resolutely pushed the disturbing thoughts away. She didn't want to think about that now; that wasn't today. That worry could wait for another day. She didn’t want to let go of this bright, shining feeling just yet. The day of reckoning would come soon enough, today she just wanted to feel happy and desired and loved.

Buffy closed her eyes and sighed contentedly as she twined her fingers in Spike’s where they rested over her heart. She could barely remember the last time she felt this way. Safe. Loved. Desired. Sexy. … Completely in love? Did she dare let herself admit that? She had a mission: make a baby. He didn’t have any desire for such a mission. Could she really allow herself to be in love with that chasm between them? Shoot! How had her thoughts gotten back to angst again? Grrrrr! Stop thinking, Buffy! Happy-Buffy and Thinky-Buffy are non-mixy, she admonished herself. But she was so confused, her emotions so tangled...

Buffy’s thoughts were thankfully interrupted by a gentle kiss on her shoulder. The pins and needles of desire that had been gently tingling her core burst into flames of utter, primal need with the simple gesture. Who needed thoughts, anyway? Thoughts were waaay overrated.



“Morning,” she murmured, turning her face to look over her shoulder at him.

Spike dropped a kiss lower on her arm then touched his lips to hers. “‘Ello, cutie,” he replied against her mouth. His voice was rough with sleep and it rumbled against her skin, sending shivers down her spine.

Spike slid his hand down from where it rested over her heart to cup her breast gently as he kissed her lips again. Buffy moaned as he flicked his thumb over her nipple, bringing it to hardness in an instant. She reached back and laid her palm against his cheek, holding him in place as the kiss deepened. Her hips swiveled in slow circles, pressing her ass back against his erection. Spike moaned into her mouth as the globes of her ass moved over him, stroking his cock to painful hardness.

Spike slid his hand down over her flat stomach and cupped the sweet mound at her apex. “You … alright?” he asked, breaking the kiss. He began nibbling at her neck as he slid a finger between her folds and into the dew of desire that covered her.



“Mmmm…” Buffy moaned, her back arching in pleasure as he teased her pussy. “Want you …” was her only answer.

Spike circled her clit with his slick fingers, something so gentle that Buffy thought she’d explode in frustration. His teeth and lips continued to suck and nip at her neck as his fingers explored and played. His own hips began to move in the same rhythm as Buffy’s, pressing his rod against her ass harder with each passing moment.

“So wet you are for me,” he murmured against her golden skin. “You feel like heaven.”

Spike pulled his fingers out of her wet folds and up to his mouth, then sucked her juices from his fingers with a lascivious moan. “Taste like sweet ambrosia, you do. So fucking sexy – so beautiful. Love you so much, Buffy,” he purred against her skin, lowering his hand back to find her quim again.

Buffy’s face flushed with equal parts embarrassment and glee. No one had ever done that before. No one had ever talked to her like this before. She found herself turned on even more by his words, his praise, his moans and growls and blissful curses. She never realized how sexy words could be. She felt like he could almost make her cum just whispering sweet, dirty nothings in her ear.

Buffy lifted her top leg and draped it back over Spike’s, opening herself up to him. “Need you, baby. Fuck me … make me cum,” she purred, trying to sound like she’d said such things all the time.

Spike’s hand slid away from her pussy and over her hip, then down between their bodies. He guided his cock down the crack of her ass, pausing at her puckered hole a moment and teasing her with a gentle push. Buffy gasped at the sensation and wondered what it would be like to do that. He said he’d done it before, and the thought of it made her heart race faster.



Spike smirked behind her and slid his cock down between her thighs. He pressed between her folds, not entering her, and coated himself with her juices. Then he pulled back and once again began teasing her ass with the slick head of his shaft. Buffy’s body jerked with the sensation as he passed back and forth over the sensitive flesh there, then pressed against her opening.

“Like that, do ya?” Spike rumbled as he leaned forward near her ear.

“It’s … ummm … a little scary but …” Buffy gulped, embarrassment overtaking her.

“We’ll need more lube for that, pet. Don’t wanna hurt you. And with your tight ass, a butt plug'll be a must.”

Buffy’s body stiffened and went completely still. “Excuse me?” she growled defiantly.

Spike laughed that rolling, melodic laugh of his. “That’s not a put-down, luv,” he assured her as he let the pressure off her puckered hole and slid his cock down to the apex of her thighs. “A little pain just adds to the pleasure, but it’s a fine line. Believe me when I say the thought of shagging your tight ass sends every drop o’ blood I got south o’ the border. But need t’ do it right. I promise I’ll make it good for you, pet. Trust me.”

Buffy relaxed, then nodded. “I do,” she admitted seriously, hoping the tone of her words expressed the depth of her trust.

Spike bit his lip and his Adam’s apple bobbed, swallowing back a 'whoop!' of joyous exultation. He knew it was more than just trust in sex that she meant. She trusted him. He was ‘in her heart’. He was her 'baby'. Could love really be that far away?

Without further warning, Spike pressed his hips forward, dipping his cock into her quim. Buffy gasped as her sore, sensitive opening was again stretched to accommodate him, and her nerves blazed with a wave of stinging pain. She tried to make it sound like a gasp of pleasure, but it didn't quite work. He’d surprised her a little; her mind was still back on butt plugs and why the thought of a little pain with the pleasure seemed so perfect. Oh God, was she some kind of deviant? Well – duh! Obviously! What was your first clue? The vampire in the bed behind you, maybe?

Spike stopped. “Thought you said you were alright,” he said, concerned.

“I am. Just a little … sore. But I want you … need you. Just go easy. A little pain makes it better, right?”



Spike pursed his lips, angry with her for lying to him, and was just about to pull out when she said, “I trust you.”

Spike dropped his lips to her shoulder again and began peppering gentle kisses over her heated skin. “I love you, Buffy.”

“I … know,” Buffy stammered back, feeling her heart twist. Why couldn’t you just say it to him? Would it really be so bad? But she couldn’t do it. It was too much. She had a mission. Love didn’t fit into that mission. She couldn’t bare her soul to him and then watch him walk away when her belly bulged with their child – a child he didn't want. She could not bear to watch another man walk away from her, not again. It would be too much to bear; it might break her.

She touched a hand to his cheek and turned his face to hers. Her lips found his and she moaned against his kiss as he slid the rest of the way into her.

Once sheathed in her heat, Spike stopped moving his hips, relishing the feel of her around him. The connection between them was more than physical; he could feel it when he was inside her. She might not be able to say the words yet, but he simply knew that it was there somewhere deep down inside her: love.

Spike slid his hand down over her hip again and skimmed his fingers over her dark curls. Buffy’s moan returned, and he felt her velvet walls tighten and pulse around his length. Spike continued to tease her with his talented fingers, never moving his hips. He caressed her outer folds, petting them with gentle touches, and he could feel her desire building higher. Her body quivered under his touch, her inner muscles jumped and jerked uncontrollably, blissfully clenching her supple quim around his hardness.
 
“God, Spike, please …” she murmured against his lips, begging him for release.

“Please what, luv?” Spike teased. “Tell me what you want.”

“Make me cum.”

“How … what should I do?” he continued. “Tell me, Buffy, tell me what you want.”

“You know…” she protested breathily.

“Want to hear the words from your pretty, pink lips.”

Buffy panted for breath, leaning the side of her head against his over her shoulder. She battled her inner-good-girl to be able to bring the words to her lips. She loved hearing him say them, why should she not expect the same to be true for him? But what if she didn’t say it right? What if he made fun or laughed? She swallowed hard. Trust. I trust you.

“Your fingers … play with my … pussy,” she began tentatively, her breath catching in her throat.

Spike moved his fingers between her folds and began teasing her clit with feather-soft touches. “Like this? Talk to me, pet,” he requested, his voice deep with desire.

“Feels so good,” Buffy breathed, closing her eyes and letting the feeling wash over her. Goose flesh prickled her skin as he ghosted fingers over and around her clit, his cock still buried in her tight channel.

“A little harder … press down and … gahh!” Her body jerked when he followed her instructions. Bolts of trembling pleasure shot out from her core, down her legs, and curled her toes.

Spike’s eyes closed as her pussy fluttered around him, building to her climax, and nearly sending him to one of his own. Don’t be a git! he implored himself, opening his eyes to watch her beautiful, strong body tremble against him.

“Yes,” Buffy breathed. “Now … tease and then … harder and tease … and … oh, God! Yes … Spike … yes!” she screamed, her hands fisting in the sheets as her body convulsed in pleasure.

Spike continued his ministrations to her pussy, keeping her flying in the clouds for as long as he could. Her pussy clenched around him, milking him, demanding his cum, and he moaned with the painful pleasure of it. Spike could feel the slickness of her cum coating him as she rode out the waves of euphoria under his hand. Her face contorted into a mask of bliss and her whole body flushed with a sheen of perspiration. Her beautiful tits danced and he wished he could touch them …

“Touch your tits, Buffy. Wanna see you play with your nipples, pet,” he murmured near her ear. He wasn’t sure if her mind was functioning well enough at that moment to obey him, but after a couple of seconds she brought one hand up to tug and twist her dusty-pink tips.

Her body began to shudder again and Spike redoubled his efforts, teasing her pussy with his long, lithe fingers as she did the same with her breasts. Buffy screamed out as her body stiffened and her wet pussy released another flood of cum over him.
 
“Love to feel you cum, pet. Got any idea what you do t' me? So bloody hot you are. So tight and wet. God, Buffy … can’t get enough o’ you,” he rumbled against her skin as she surfed the waves of bliss yet again.

Before she’d come all the way down from the tidal wave of pleasure, Spike began moving against her, pulling out slowly and pushing back in. She gasped at the new sensation, the soreness of her tender opening only a vague shadow in the periphery of her awareness.

“Yes, Spike … so good. You feel sooooo ... f-fucking good,” Buffy gasped, stammering slightly over the slightly unfamiliar 'f-word', as her fingers continued playing with her tits. Spike hadn’t moved his hand either and he went back to the soft teasing caresses around her aching bundle of nerves.

“You like my cock inside you, Slayer?” he purred against her flushed skin.

“Yes…” she panted back, moving her hips in time with his easy rhythm.

“Love being in you,” he groaned back.
 
“What’s it … feel like?” Buffy wondered as his thrusts into her tight channel grew more urgent.

“God, Buffy …” he moaned. “Overwhelming. Too much t’ describe.”

“Try…” she pleaded. “Love to hear you … just talking.”

Spike slowed his strokes and began kissing a line of fire from her shoulder to her ear. As he spoke he nibbled and sucked on her earlobe and neck between each thought.

“Like bein’ born.” –Kiss– “Like dying.” –Lick– “Paris in the spring.” –Nibble– “Rio during Carnival.” –Suck– “Snow on Christmas morning.” –Moan– “Summer sunshine on a clear, blue sea.” –Kiss– “Mist in the mountains.” –Suckle–“Rain on a tin roof.” –Lick– “Like warm, gooey caramel and soft, fluffy clouds.” –Flick– “Thunder rolling over a white sand beach at sunrise.” –Kiss– “A hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, a tidal wave.” –Lick– “Heaven on earth. Like trust … like undying love.” –Moan–

By the time he’d finished talking, both of their bodies had stopped moving. The only movement from either of them was their chests, which both heaved with bated breath.



Buffy pulled away from him – sorry for the loss, but desperate to see his face – and slowly turned on the bed until she was facing him.

Spike ducked his head, unable to meet her eyes, his stomach twisting in fear that she’d poke fun at him, and waited. Such a bloody git. Why did he say that bollocks aloud? She didn’t want to hear that drivel. Couldn’t have just stuck with something simple and … less poncey?

Buffy put her hands on each side of his face and made him look at her. She searched his eyes for any hint of mocking – but she found none. He meant it – he meant it all.

“No one’s ever said anything like that to me before,” she whispered to him. “It was beautiful …”

Then she kissed him. It was the sweetest, softest, most loving kiss Spike had ever felt. It seemed to go on forever and at the same time end much, much too soon.



Spike bit his bottom lip as he pulled back to look into the depths of her green eyes. “You’re beautiful, pet. I’m just a git.”

Buffy gave him a small smile. “I guess. If ‘git’ means that you really know how to woo a girl – how to worm deeper into her heart, then that’s exactly what you are.”

Spike felt his lips turn up into a smile. “Yeah?”

Buffy bit her bottom lip and nodded. “Yeah.”

Buffy rolled onto her back, gently urging Spike to follow until he was settled between her thighs. Buffy wrapped her legs around his powerful, slim waist, and he guided his desire into the heat of her welcoming body again.

Spike dipped his head back down and returned her gentle kiss, teasing her lips with his tongue as he began rocking his hips against her again.

When the kiss broke, Buffy lifted her head up so her mouth was near his ear and whispered, “Take me to all those places, Spike … Paris in the spring, Rio at Carnival … the misty mountains, the sparkling sea … heaven … love.”

“God, Buffy – come with me, pet,” he begged as he rose up onto his hands and began moving in earnest against her.
 
Spike dipped his head and sucked one hard nipple into his mouth, swirling his tongue over the sweet pebble. Buffy’s body arched up to him, at once pressing her tit harder against his mouth and changing the angle of his strokes into her. His cock raked across her g-spot with each thrust as his pubic bone ground against her clit. He never let go of her tit, nibbling and sucking on it as she responded to him with no reservations.

The romance of Paris in the spring, the wild abandon and passion of Carnival, the gentle mist of a mountain morning, the tingling warmth of sunshine on a blue sea, the power of a tornado, the deep, rumbling magic of thunder, the overwhelming, unstoppable force of a hurricane, the childlike joy of snow on Christmas morning, and the simple comfort of rain on a tin roof rolled over them. One sensation merged into the next with no beginning and no end, like waves rolling in from a distant shore, each building on the last. It all built up to a heavenly climax equal to the power of dying and being born – to the power of undying love.



Dawn. Dawn … Dawn … Dawn … The chant of her sister's name came into Buffy’s mind just before she fell off the cliff of bliss and began to drown in the feeling of love that washed over her like a tidal wave. She hadn’t actually planned on doing that today – of calling on the monks' magic to rescue Dawn's soul – but all the emotions running through her overwhelmed her and urged her to throw caution to the wind. Spike made her feel so safe, so utterly adored, so anchored, and with the newfound confidence that she could fight the madness of her guilt, it suddenly just felt right, like the time was now.

Two small, sparkling globes of golden, empyreal light swirled down from the cosmos, twining around each other as if caught in a small cyclone. They both hit Spike squarely in the back just as he cried out with a roar of his impending release. Spike’s eyes clamped shut as his body tensed, his cum boiling up, swelling his cock, overwhelming him with a climax the likes of which he’d never felt before. He never saw the lights as they merged into one and glowed in his chest like St. Elmo’s fire, he only felt the blissful power of it.

His heart came to life, beating a wild staccato rhythm in his chest. It hammered against his ribs like a crazed, wild beast trying to escape its too-small confines. His blood pounded in his veins and his body was suddenly hot – on fire. The air filling his lungs was more than a habit, it felt like a burning need, something even stronger than his demon’s bloodlust, as he panted and gasped for more. Then his seed spilled into Buffy, her pussy grasping and undulating around him, pulling him into her, milking him, begging him for his very soul. The glowing light followed, flowing with his passion into her core.

A warm feeling of joy filled Buffy, welling up in her womb and gently flowing out to all parts of her body. She gasped, and her eyes flew open wide as the sensation engulfed her with a thrill of impalpable elation she’d never before knew existed. It was all things and nothing at all, indescribable, overwhelming, celestial.

Spike’s eyes were closed, but as if sensing the change in her, they opened just as wide. They were filled with the same overwhelming ecstasy as hers. It was nothing either of them had ever felt before, and, most likely, would never feel again. In that moment, they touched the pearly gates of heaven and it was exquisite.

Green and blue met and held for what felt like a lifetime – longer than a lifetime, an eternity. Spike struggled to hold onto the utter bliss, willing it to not end for either of them. Never, in a century and more, had he felt anything as powerful, as radiant ... as effulgent as this. Buffy tried to memorize every nuance of his eyes in those moments, embedding them into her heart and mind. She knew she would need something to keep her warm on the long, lonely nights that would too soon come. He was her anchor.

Then, as if they were puppets and someone had just snipped their strings, the two blonds both fell limp, unconscious, in each other’s arms. For many minutes the room was still and quiet. The only sounds breaking the silence were desperate, gasping breaths as they floated in the rapturous arms of their lover.

When Buffy blinked her eyes open, Spike was sprawled atop her. She could feel his heart beating against her chest, feel his warm breath against her skin. A thin sheen of perspiration covered his body, and splotches of color dotted his alabaster skin. She ran her hands gently over his back, wondering if this was permanent. Had the monks brought him to life? You’d think they would have the power to do that – they had the power to make Dawn out of nothing but thin air. But, even as she was contemplating all the ramifications and possibilities, she felt his heart slow, his body begin to cool, and saw the spots of color fade.

Buffy blinked tears back from her eyes. The tears weren’t for her, but for him. Each day she spent with him she found more and more layers to the man beneath the demon. It seemed to her, with what he was giving, what he had given, it would’ve only been fair to allow the man a new chance at life. But apparently the monks didn’t see it that way ... or maybe it just wasn't part of the bargain her mom had made.

Buffy continued to stroke his limp form as he lay atop her, a feeling of melancholy coming over her. She'd set the wheels in motion; there was no going back, no stopping it now. She’d have to leave him soon, before he found out what she'd done, and his love turned to hate for how she'd used and deceived him.

He'd pulled her back from the brink of a deep, dark abyss, he'd believed in her when no one else had, he'd leant her strength and courage and made her feel worthy again, and, however unknowingly, he'd helped first shape, then save Dawn's soul. And, for all of that and more, her heart had done what she’d hoped it wouldn’t, what she thought it wasn't capable of. It had done more than let him in. It had fallen in love.

“I love you, William,” she whispered to him mournfully as a tear trickled down her cheek.

He didn’t hear.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Accidentally In Love – Counting Crows on YouTube  }}

So she said what's the problem, baby?
What's the problem, I don't know
Well, maybe I'm in love
(Love)
Think about it every time
I think about it
Can't stop thinking 'bout it
How much longer will it take to cure this?
Just to cure it cause I can't ignore it if it's love
(Love)
Makes me wanna turn around and face me but I don't know nothing 'bout love

Oh,come on, come on
Turn a little faster
Come on, come on
The world will follow after
Come on, come on
'cause everybody's after love

So I said I'm a snowball running
Running down into the spring that's coming all this love
Melting under blue skies belting out
Sunlight shimmering love

Well baby I surrender
To the strawberry ice cream
Never ever end of all this love
Well I didn't mean to do it
But there's no escaping your love,oh

These lines of lightning
Mean we're never alone,
Never alone,no,no

Come on, come on
Move a little closer
Come on, Come on
I want to hear you whisper
Come on, Come on
Settle down inside my love

Oh, come on, come on
Jump a little higher
Come on, come on
If you feel a little lighter
Come on, come on
We were once upon a time in love

We're accidentally in love

Accidentally in love (x8)

Accidentally

 I'm In Love, I'm in Love,
I'm in Love, I'm in Love,
I'm in Love, I'm in Love,
Accidentally (x2)

Come on, come on
Spin a little tighter
Come on, come on
And the world's a little brighter
Come on, come on
Just get yourself inside her

Love
I'm in love
Chapter End Notes:
Oh boy ... now what? How long will Buffy stay now that she's put the 'Dawn' mission in motion? Will it be long enough for Spike to realize what's happened and come clean about his feelings? Or will she pluck up the courage to come clean, herself? Or will she simply leave him dazed and confused? Or ... will it be none of the above?

I love hearing from everyone - don't be shy!! Your notes keep my evil muse inspired!
I Kissed a Girl by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
OK, this is one of the chapters you were warned about: Threesome B/G/G action involving Spike, Buffy, and BuffyBot.
**
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
A couple of weeks later…

“We must select Slayer theme music,” the Bot proclaimed as she and Buffy left the Vegas theatre where they’d just watched the Cirque Du Soleil perform. “It appears the music made them stronger and more flexible, and it may do the same for us. Other superheroes have music. Batman has music; Superman has music; Underdog has music. Even Darth Vader had music. We should have our own music.”

“Uhhhh, I guess,” Buffy stammered, still a bit flabbergasted that normal humans could do the stuff she’d just witnessed. She didn’t think she could do half of what they had just done. Maybe the Cirque Du Soleil performers were some kind of acrobatic demons. Were there such things as acrobatic demons? She'd have to ask Spike ... Then she frowned, the Bot's words sinking in. “Darth Vader? That didn’t really end well for him, did it?”



The Bot shrugged. “Maybe if he’d had better music he wouldn’t have been so easily swayed by the dark side,” she contended. “I believe Luke had much more appropriate music for a hero.”

Buffy laughed and shook her head. “If you say so. Why don’t you work on that?” she suggested.

Suddenly the Bot’s mouth opened and the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ began blasting at top volume from her throat. Buffy gasped and pushed up on the Bot’s chin, closing her mouth. “Shhhhh!” she admonished her BFF-Bot, looking around sheepishly at the other patrons leaving the theatre.

“You do not like Wagner?” the Bot asked, confused.

“Sure, he’s very … music-y,” Buffy replied, pulling the Bot off to one side of the hallway. “But it’s already been used in ‘Apocalypse Now’ ... although …” Buffy mused, tapping a finger on her pursed lips, and then shrugged. “We’re usually pretty apocalypse-y. It might work, actually.

“I don’t know. Let’s just … think about it. Spike might have some ideas too. Maybe something more modern,” Buffy suggested.

The Bot opened her mouth again and Carl Douglas began singing, “♫ Everybody was Kung-fu fighting…”

Buffy laughed and put her hand over the Bot’s mouth. “I don’t think so. Let’s wait until we get back to the room, okay?”

The Bot nodded and closed her mouth, and the muffled song behind Buffy’s hand stopped.

Every day since 'that bloody brilliant night', as it had come to be referred to, Buffy had planned on leaving. She'd squirreled away money and chips that Spike had given her to spend, even bought a bus ticket to New York City. She'd packed her bags more than once, but then ended up unpacking them again before anyone saw. She was on the starting line, she just couldn't quite push off. Each day she told herself that 'tomorrow' she would leave. So far, two weeks on, tomorrow had never come.

While Buffy was secretly planning her escape, the three roommates had fallen into a bit of a routine. Spike would go to dinner with them each evening, then he’d go to the casino to continue amassing his, or their – as he insisted it was – fortune. While he was doing that, Buffy and the Bot would go to one of the many shows that the hotel gave their VIPs complimentary tickets for. After the show, the two girls would window shop, or shop-shop, or just walk for a while, people-watching. Buffy and the Bot usually went back to their room by one or two a.m., maybe talked a bit more or watched TV. After that, Buffy got her shower, and the Bot lay down on the couch in the sitting room to charge. Spike usually showed by three or four.

Then came the part of the day that Buffy looked forward to most, and the part that she knew she would miss most when the day came that she really had to leave. She and Spike would make love and talk, and make love again. They’d sleep and wake up and make love again. They’d order in breakfast and eat and talk and laugh and make love again until they both finally fell into utterly exhausted and contented slumber, and the cycle would start again with dinner out.

Buffy had become better and better at pushing back the red river of guilt over the last days with Spike. She continued to use his eyes as her anchor to sanity and could even fight it back when he wasn't even near. She could close her eyes and see his face, see the azure pools of adoration threaded with the golden sparks of demonic power beneath, and the guilt and anguish would simply melt away, recede like a glacier touched by warm, tropical sunshine. The better she got at it, the more confidence she had in her ability to stay in control, and the less often the guilt-monster tested her, giving her even more confidence. It was a vicious cycle that, for once, worked in her favor.

The only thing about ‘that bloody brilliant night’, that Spike ever mentioned to Buffy was that she shouldn’t expect those kinds of mind-blowing fireworks all the time. He was good, but he wasn’t that good every time. That night was, he told her, a once in a lifetime – the stars, moon, and planets had all been aligned for them that night. She assured him that she didn’t expect that every night, and what they had was perfect – he was perfect, and he never left her wanting. It twisted her heart to do it, but she agreed with him about it being ‘once in a lifetime’ without telling him just how right he was about that night. The other thing she never did again was repeat those three little words that she'd let slip from her lips as he lay unconscious in her arms. Giving him that and then yanking it away, she reasoned, would be worse than never giving it to him at all. Leaving him would be hard enough as it was without those words hanging like an empty promise in the air between them.

Over the last days and nights, Spike had taught her things about her body that she was sure Dr. Ruth couldn’t have told her, shown her positions the Kama Sutra lacked, and pleasured her with toys she had no idea even existed. He somehow made even her most embarrassing cravings and curiosities seem perfectly natural. He made her darkest desires feel right, made her most twisted fantasies come true. He could mix pain with pleasure in the most amazing ways and leave her utterly satisfied and yearning for more at the same time. She felt like something inside her had been freed. He'd touched the deepest parts of her being – parts that she'd denied for so long– and somehow made it seem right.

She would miss him in so many ways, and to her chagrin it wouldn’t just be physically. Her heart would break the day she left, she knew it. He'd earned her trust and her affection and she'd finally given it to him, utterly and completely. He'd brought her from the darkness into the light and then shown her how to walk the path between those two worlds. He anchored her so she didn't fall back into the abyss, but gave her permission to swim in the dark worlds of lustful desire that she'd denied for so long.

As the two blonde twins walked through a mall-like shopping center in the hotel where the show had been, Buffy laid her hand over her lower abdomen. Her period wasn’t due for another few days. When she missed it, Spike would be sure to notice – and she was very sure she would miss it. She had no illusions about his knowledge of exactly when she menstruated – she’d been too near him for too long. Stupid, creepy vampire smelling. She might be able to forestall questions for a day or two, but if she was later than that he was sure to notice.

When that happened, there would be questions. Questions she couldn’t answer. How could she tell him that she’d used him to make a baby? She felt dirty, like she’d raped him, stolen part of him without his knowledge or permission, just like the monks had. But she’d had no choice. She had to save Dawn’s soul, and Spike had made it clear that he had no desire for a child. Buffy had even brought the subject up once or twice more in round-about ways, and Spike’s disdain for the idea never wavered.

She considered telling him and simply begging for his forgiveness, but the thought of it terrified her. What if he didn’t forgive her? What if he hated her? What if he looked at her with disdain and contempt? This was going to be hard enough on her heart, she didn’t think it could take seeing those emotions in his eyes.

Buffy’s logical mind knew just how crazy it sounded, but to spare her heart the possibility of utter decimation, she would have to leave Spike before he found out about the baby and left her, or worse: stayed but resented her for it. Her heart would be broken, but it wouldn’t be destroyed. It was the lesser of two evils. The possibility that Spike would forgive her seemed so remote that it didn’t even make a blip on her emotional radar.

She was the Slayer and she had a mission. Her heart had been broken more than once in the name of the mission; it was, it seemed, her true calling. She simply had to make sure it wasn't broken so completely that she couldn't take care of their child, and to do that she would have to leave him before he shattered her with his scorn and rejection. Tomorrow ... or, perhaps the tomorrow after that. Definitely one of these tomorrows would be their last.

“Let’s go in here,” Buffy suggested as they got to the swankiest ice cream parlor she’d ever seen. If the ice cream was as rich as the décor, she may just die right there from the utter bliss of it.

The Bot turned in and Buffy directed her to a booth in the back. The menu was like something from the Guy Savoy over at Cesar’s Palace, which Spike had taken them to the week before. She suddenly felt a bit underdressed in her short skirt, sandals, and button-down blouse.



Golden Opulence Sundae. $1,000.

Five scoops of Tahitian Vanilla Bean ice cream mixed with Madagascar vanilla and Venezuelan Chuao chocolate. The decadent foundation is set off with a leaf covered in 23K edible gold and surrounded by golden dragets, Paris candied fruits, marzipan cherries, and truffles. This decadent sundae is topped off with Amedei Porcelana drizzled over the top, and a Ron Ben-Israel sugar flower. But the experience doesn’t end there! Topping the sundae you’ll also find a small glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, sweetened with orange, passion fruit, and Armagnac, which gives off a shiny golden color. Eat your sundae in style: an 18K gold spoon is provided to eat your delicious treat out of a Harcourt crystal goblet.


“Holy shit,” Buffy muttered under her breath as she searched for something she could afford.

She finally settled on something with less glitz and precious metals: a brownie sundae for $50, along with a cup of coffee. She gave her order to the waitress and, after getting her coffee, she summoned her courage to do what she knew needed to be done. Buffy had to get the Bot prepared for the day when Buffy left. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Spike completely alone. The Bot was all she could give him, and she intended to make sure he knew that Buffy gave her blessing for him to be with her twin.

“It is a very good thing that Spike is so talented with games of chance,” the Bot observed after the waitress left. “Otherwise you would starve.”

Buffy chuckled nervously and nodded. “No doubt. Man – I had no idea there was such a thing as a thousand dollar sundae. Geez … and I thought McDonald’s was overpriced when they went to $1.29 for their sundaes. I guess I’m not very good being a high roller’s girl.”

“Spike seems satisfied with your performance,” the Bot offered matter-of-factly.



Buffy blushed and fidgeted with her coffee cup, looking down at the table. “Yeah, I guess … Which brings me to something I wanted to talk to you about,” she forged ahead. Summoning her courage, Buffy looked up at the Bot. “Spike had you deactivate some files and programs.”

“Yes,” the Bot replied.

“Can you … reactivate them anytime?” Buffy wondered.

“Yes. I am extremely efficient at managing my files.”

Buffy nodded and gave the Bot a smile. “Good. Ummm … I was thinking that Spike might like to spend some … time with both of us … together.”

“Spike spends an average of 2.76 hours per day with both of us together,” the Bot pointed out helpfully. “I believe he is satisfied with this level of interaction.”



Buffy sighed – hints were not gonna get it with the Bot. She started to get more explicit, but stopped talking when the waitress came with a brownie sundae that could’ve fed a Mongol horde.

“Wow – I didn’t ask for it to be supersized,” Buffy commented as the punchbowl full of rich, dark chocolate brownies and decadent French vanilla ice cream was placed in front of her. The ice cream had been drizzled with hot fudge and then covered with Maraschino cherries, sliced bananas, pecans, and walnuts. The whole thing was then topped with real whipped cream – as in cream that had been whipped, not sprayed from a can – and that was dusted with Ghirardelli’s cocoa.

“There must be a whole pan of brownies here… and a whole half-gallon of ice cream,” she continued as she eyed the mountain of food from one side, then tilted her head to check the other.

“Biggest, baddest thing you’ve ever had in your mouth, honey,” the waitress assured her with a wink.

Buffy choked and flushed, and thought, You’ve never met Spike, but aloud she just said, “Uhhh ... right. Thanks.”

When the waitress left, Buffy tucked into the mound of sugary-goodness and talked between bites and moans of pleasure. If Buffy had never met Spike, she would’ve agreed with the waitress – it was heavenly!

“What I meant was, I think that you should reactivate those files that he had you deactivate and then … use those programs to spend more time with Spike and I,” Buffy clarified between bites.

The Bot’s eyes became a bit unfocused, the clue that she was ‘thinking’, then she looked back at Buffy. “You wish me to have sex with you and Spike,” she announced in a too-loud voice. “I believe that is called a ménage à trois or a threesome.”

Buffy choked on the food in her mouth, inhaling some brownie into her windpipe, and began coughing. Her eyes teared up, and she thought she was going to have to do something really gross to clear her windpipe. After a long minute, she finally got her throat cleared (without resorting to anything too unladylike) and swallowed what was in her mouth. By now people at tables and booths near them were casting furtive glances at the blonde twins.

“Inside voice! Geez! Announce it over the loudspeaker, why don’t you?” Buffy growled at the Bot in a mock whisper.



“If that is preferable,” BuffyBot began as she began to slide out of the booth, presumably to go in search of a loudspeaker.

Buffy put her hand on the Bot’s arm and stopped her. “A figure of speech,” she clarified. “Not literal.”

“Oh. I understand. You were using sarcasm. I am still compiling a file on sarcasm, it is incomplete.”

Buffy sighed. “Ok … those files that he had you deactivate. Do any of them have … scenarios for … threesomes?” Buffy asked, keeping her voice low.

The Bot’s mind whirled behind her eyes a moment, then she nodded. “Yes. I have several scenarios for threesomes. Do you wish me to diagram them for you?”

“Uhhh … no. I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” Then, after a beat, “You can do that?”

“Yes. I have above-average hand-eye coordination and can draw in perfect detail in several mediums, including pencil, charcoal ...”

“That is so not fair. I can barely draw stick figures,” Buffy groused, cutting the Bot off. She sighed. “Also non-pointy.”



“Actually, the pencils are quite pointy,” the Bot corrected.

“No … I mean … never mind,” Buffy huffed out a breath, then began again in earnest. “Bot, do you remember when I cut my arms?”

“Of course. I run diagnostic tests daily and my ROM and RAM is in perfect working order,” the Bot replied.

“Right. And I asked you to love Spike for me?”

“Yes. I agreed.”

“Right, you did. I want you to promise, if anything … happens to me ... If I … go away or … well, just anything happens and Spike’s alone ... or for some reason I can't be with him, that you’ll love him for me, okay?”

“I have not rescinded my promise. It remains in effect,” the Bot assured Buffy. “I am excellent at keeping promises.”

“Good. That’s good. Ok, but you need to not be jealous, ok? If he finds someone else to love, then you can … stand down, go back to just being his friend if that’s what he wants. Take your cues from him. Don't go all Othello on him. Understand?”

“Yes. I understand fully. My verbal and written comprehension of the English language is in the 100th percentile among English-speaking college graduates,” BuffyBot agreed.

Buffy furrowed her brow but nodded. Did the Bot go to college? Surely not. “Good … At least I think that’s good. That's good, right?”

"Superlative," the Bot clarified, giving Buffy a nod and a Colgate smile. "Just like Spike's wash-board abs."



"Oh, you mean 'extra-yummy-goodness'," Buffy translated, returning the Bot's smile.

Buffy turned her attention back to her barely-touched mound of chocolate nirvana. She’d eaten as much as she could, but it hardly made a dent in it. “Man, I wish I had a poor country I could send this to. It’d feed a small army for a week.”

“Actually, that would be insufficient to feed even one human adult for a week. There are approximately 12,000 calories in that dish. It would, of course depend on if the army was made of males or females, and their average weight and fitness levels. It would also depend on if the army was actively engaged in warfare and at what temperatures and in what terrain. A fit male would require approximately 2,000 calories per day, however if they were active …”

“Never mind,” Buffy sighed, waving a hand at the Bot. “That was rhetorical.”

“I am not programmed to recognize rhetoric.”

“I know – sorry,” Buffy apologized as she pulled money from her purse to pay for the dessert. “C’mon – we’ve got some things to do before Spike gets home … errr … back to the room tonight.”

**~**



When Spike got in in the early hours of the morning, Buffy and the Bot were both on the couch in the sitting room. Buffy was half-snoozing, half-watching TV, and the Bot was charging. They were both dressed in soft, fluffy bath robes and they both smelled of sandalwood and vanilla, the fragrance of the high-end body-wash and shampoo that the hotel provided.

“Honey, I’m home,” Spike called as he closed the door behind him. He dropped his keycard onto the table near the door as well as the ‘spending money’ and loose chips that he’d brought home. The ‘real’ cash – the cash they’d soon use to start a new life – was in a safety deposit box in the hotel’s vault.

“Miss me?” he asked as he leaned over the back of the couch and gave Buffy and upside-down kiss.

“Always,” she purred as she grabbed the back of his neck when he began to pull away. Spike didn’t fight as she deepened the kiss, holding him in place with the gentle pressure of her hand … or perhaps it was the pressure of her lips that was holding him in place.

When she finally released him, he still didn’t move far from her. “What was that for?” he wondered, giving her a sexy, upside-down smirk.

“Got a surprise for you tonight,” Buffy revealed. “There’s an outfit in the bathroom I want you to put on after your shower.”



Spike cocked an upside-down brow at her. “I refuse t’ wear a pink tutu, pet.”

Buffy cocked a brow at him. "A blue tutu would be ok?" Spike started to shrug, but Buffy laughed and shook her head. “It’s not a tutu!”

“Or a feather boa…” Spike added.

“Just go get a shower, you deviant,” she commanded, laughter still in her voice.

“Maybe you’d like t’ join me,” he suggested, running his tongue suggestively over his teeth.

“Not tonight – now go on before I change my mind about your surprise,” she ordered, pushing on his shoulder where he still leaned over her.

Spike gave her one more assessing glance, then acquiesced and headed into the bedroom and the bathroom beyond. After a moment he was back.



“Don’t think it’ll fit, luv,” he informed her, holding a black scarf up across his hips.

Buffy rolled her eyes and got up off the couch. “It’s for your eyes, dummy,” she told him, taking it from his hands and wrapping it around his head to demonstrate. “And no cheating. If you look, you won’t get the surprise.

“There are ear plugs and a nose clip in there too. Put them all on and lay down on the bed … after you shower that smell off you,” she instructed, scrunching up her nose. “Mrs. Ryblonski again, huh?”

Spike rolled his eyes. “What can I say? I’m a bloody babe magnet.”

“Good thing I’m not jealous, or I’d have to steal her walker … and blow up her oxygen tank.”

Spike laughed. “You are the epitome of trust and sharing, luv.”

You have no idea… Buffy thought. “Come in smelling like that ho’ Seashell – what kind of name is that, anyway? Geez! – and I’ll show her just how much I can share … with my fists,” she threatened.



Spike laughed. “No worries, pet. I think you got your point across last time when you threatened to make her spine into a puka shell necklace. Haven’t seen her about of late.”

“Good. You don’t need all those skanks rubbing all over you. You’ve got me for that.

“Now go. Shoo!” she instructed, making a shooing motion with her hands. “The smell of Bengay and ‘White Diamonds’ that’s reeking off you is about to make me hurl.”

Spike gave her an appraising look. “What are you plannin’, Summers?” he wondered.

“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it? The ‘duh!’ at the end of that sentence is silent,” she informed him.

“Only one way you’re gonna find out. You do … trust me, don’t you?” she asked coyly.

Spike sighed, gave her one more curious look, then turned and headed for the bathroom again, twisting his hips in an exaggerated motion from side to side as he went. He swung the scarf in his hand like a stripper would twirl an item of clothing before tossing it to the crowd. He stopped in the doorway and looked dramatically back over his shoulder at her. His lips were pursed to highlight his razor-sharp cheekbones, his eyes narrowed into sexy slits. Spike blew her a kiss, then turned away and continued his ‘sexy walk’ into the bedroom.



Buffy laughed and shook her head as she watched him go. Such a perv.

**~**

“Right then, Mistress Pandora, come open your box,” Spike called from the bedroom. “Your deaf, blind, and … What do ya call someone who can’t smell?” he wondered, his voice strangely muffled by the clip on his nose.

“A sanitation worker,” Buffy supplied, as she moved to the bedroom door, still clad in her fluffy robe.

Spike snorted. It blew the clip off his nose. Buffy scowled at him. “I should’ve gotten the big, steel, industrial strength one.”



Spike pulled the blindfold up – to look for the clamp, of course – and stole a glance around the room and at her. He didn’t see any big surprise waiting for him – or at least nothing he hadn’t seen every night for the last couple of weeks.

Buffy sighed and strode over to where the little plastic swimmer’s clamp fell on the floor, picked it up, and put it in Spike’s hand. “Get in bed, face up, spread-eagle,” she commanded.

“Ooooo … I love it when you act like a bossy bint. Gets me all hot and tingly. Oh – wait – that’s how you act all the bloody time,” Spike taunted as he put the little clamp back on his nose and basically dove onto the bed, bouncing halfway across it before coming to rest near the middle of the wide mattress.

He rolled over until he was face up and then spread his arms and legs out as instructed. “I’m your willin’ slave,” he offered as he waited, his whole body on alert, thrumming with anticipation.

Even with the plugs in his ears, he could still hear – it was just a little muffled. He heard Buffy open a dresser drawer. Since he didn’t think she was getting clothes out, he had to assume she was retrieving some of the toys they’d bought over the last days. Ok, to be fair, he’d picked out most of them.

The memory of her in the sex shop the first time made him grin as he waited for her to give him his surprise. She couldn’t have been more red-faced if she’d been dunked into a vat of ketchup. She followed him around, head bowed, her hair falling over her face to hide her discomfort … or maybe to just hide her identity from anyone that might be looking. She wouldn’t even look at the stuff he picked out, even when he specifically asked her preference on something. I mean, how should he know if she’d rather have a Hopping Rabbit Vibrator, a Wild Orchid, a Thrusting Panther, or a Diving Dolphin? She absolutely refused to even look at them. He chose the panther for her; for some reason the predator theme seemed to suit his Slayer.

He took her back there six times in the first two days, just so he could see her face go through the transformation from pink, to red, to nearly purple. She looked like one of those cartoon characters just before the steam starts whistling out their ears and their eyes bulge out of their heads. It was too bloody cute.

To Buffy’s credit, after ten days and fifteen trips into the shop, she had started picking out some things on her own. Her current favorite was the Twin Teasers vibrator that offered double penetration and a little bunny to hop excitedly over her clit at the same time. Spike had unleashed the monster inside his Slayer … and oh how he loved it. And, the best part was Buffy hadn't retreated into 'Barmy-Buffy' once in the last two weeks, even when faced with Thrusting Panthers and butt plugs. He had Buffy back, and now he had all of her ... or nearly all. Her heart was still elusive, but he could wait for that – there was no rush – they had forever. Every minute, every hour, every day he spent with her only brought them closer, he could feel it in his bones. Every silly argument he let her win, every chick-flick he endured, every hour he spent explaining 'Passions' to her was worth it. She had let him in, metaphorically and literally, it was only a matter of time before she admitted her feelings for him, he was sure of it.

Spike came back to the moment when the handcuffs closed over his right wrist. It was only then that he realized she had shackled him to the bed by his wrists and ankles. He pulled against them tentatively – they were surprisingly strong; the bed, however, wasn’t, but he had no desire to escape his Mistress. He’d done this to her, but this was the first time she’d done it to him. The added incapacity of the blindfold, ear plugs, and the nose clip left him feeling strangely vulnerable. But wasn’t that the point?

“I know you can hear me, can’t you?” Buffy asked from the right side of the bed where she’d just finished clicking his wrist into the handcuff.

“I can hear you,” he confirmed.

“Mistress…” Buffy added angrily as a sharp swat of a riding crop smacked Spike in the stomach.



“I can hear you, Mistress,” Spike corrected, trying to keep from grinning like a mad-man. Oh, yes … he’d created a monster. A wickedly wonderful horny deviant bossy bint of a dominatrix monster.

Buffy trailed the leather tip of the riding crop down from Spike’s shackled wrist, over his biceps, across the dark hair under his arm – which made him squirm – to his chest. She drew figure-eights over his hard pecs with the leather, making smaller and smaller loops, closing in on his dusky nipples as she went.

Spike jerked his leg, trying to move it away, when a new sensation began on his foot. A feather was trailing lazily from the ticklish bottom of his foot to his ankle and up over his calf.



“Bet you’re one a’ those chits that can pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time,” he commented after a moment.

Buffy’s crop lifted off his chest and smacked down on the hard muscles of his abs again.

“Mistress,” Spike added through clenched teeth, the muscles of his stomach quivering beneath the delicious sting of the leather.

“I can chew gum and walk at the same time, too,” she assured him haughtily.

“We know you’re a vampire,” Buffy continued, as she began the figure-eights on his chest again.

“Do we now?”

“Mmmhmmm,” Buffy confirmed. Spike jumped again as the unmistakable tip of a stake began idly tracing the muscles of his six-pack.

“And … what are ya gonna do with the vampire, Mistress?” Spike wondered as his adrenaline began to climb. He was already hard, but the feel of the sharpened wood against his skin made his cock jump and jerk, dancing with fear and arousal.

“Use him for our pleasure,” Buffy replied matter-of-factly.

Our? Spike thought. Who is ‘our’? She got a bloody mouse in ‘er pocket?

Buffy trailed the soft leather flap at the end of the riding crop over Spike’s nipples, hardening them into pebbles with just a touch. At the same time, the feather tickled his inner thighs before momentarily caressing his balls and cock, then circling around over one hip and beginning again on his thighs.

And in her third hand, Buffy was inching the stake up from his abs toward his heart. What the bloody hell?

Spike didn’t have time to process that very long before the stake stopped over his heart. He felt the tip press into his flesh painfully as the feather ghosted over his balls and cock again. Two primal, brain-stem reactions battled inside him for dominance: fear and lust. The two built on each other as they warred within him, lifting his hormone and adrenaline levels through the roof. He briefly thought of blurting out their safe-word, but parts of him really wanted to see just where this was going. Those would be the parts below his navel; the part just under the tip of that stake had no desire whatsoever to find out any more about this new game.

“I could dust you right now,” Buffy informed him, as if he didn’t know that.

“Yeah … so why don’t ya?” he asked, feigning Big Bad indifference.

Buffy smacked him again with the crop.

“Mistress,” Spike ground out through clenched teeth, trying not to inhale too deeply and press his chest harder against the deadly wood.

“We’re horny. You’re the only vampire we’ve captured in a very long time. If you want to stay non-dusty, then you’ll do as you’re told, when you’re told, for as long as you’re told. Got it?”

There was that ‘we’ again. What the fuck was that about?

“Yeah, I got it.” Spike felt the crop lift off his abs again and quickly added, “Mistress.”

Buffy let up on the pressure of the stake and Spike felt at once relieved and a little disappointed. She was hot when she was threatening him like that. There had been a time when that was the only action he’d ever gotten from her, and he’d taken those crumbs and shaped them in his mind into all sorts of sexual fantasies. Who knew they'd ever actually come true? A vamp could dream, of course ... but this – this was a bloody wet-dream come to life.



Suddenly Buffy’s mouth was right next to his ear. “Don’t think we won’t dust you, vampire. When we say ‘fuck’ you better be the best fuck we’ve ever had, and when we sit on your face, you better give the best head of your miserable life. You want to keep walking around, then you need to satisfy the needs of a Slayer and one horny bitch.”

Before Spike could even answer, Buffy had pulled away and, in what seemed like the very next instant, her lips had closed over his cock and were sucking down on him.

“Bloody hell!” he exclaimed, surprised by her quickness and ferocity. His hips jerked up, pulling on his restraints as she continued teasing his balls with the feather, a sharp contrast to the hungry way her mouth was devouring him.

**~**

Buffy stood back and watched as the Bot’s lips swallowed Spike’s length, sucking down with God-only-knew how much force. The Bot, Buffy was sure, could suck the chrome off a bumper. It really was a little weird – ok, it was a whole-lot weird – to watch herself giving Spike head. She was at once jealous and worried that the Bot did a better job of it than she did.



This was your stupid idea, she admonished herself. You have no one to blame but yourself if the freaking Bot is better than you are. Remember what you’re trying to do, for Christ’s sake, and stop being a baby.

But Buffy couldn’t help but listen to Spike’s moans and hissed words of praise, and compare them to what he said to her when she’d given him head. She’d read in Cosmo one time that threesomes could get really complicated when there were emotional attachments. Buffy suddenly understood that to her core. The feelings that had grown inside her for Spike were suddenly in turmoil. Maybe she should just stop this now. He was still blindfolded – he might not even know if she just stopped the Bot, sent her to the other room, and took her place.

And then Buffy thought of Spike being alone. He deserved better than the Bot, but at least he’d have some comfort until he could find someone new after Buffy left. Spike was, at his core, Love’s Bitch – he needed someone to love almost as much as he needed blood. She owed him this much. She could be a mature, self-assured adult long enough to make sure he no longer felt any guilt over being with his robot. Buffy took a deep breath and steeled herself. She could do this. She could even enjoy doing this. It could be fun. Right?

That’s your problem, Summers. You think too much, Buffy scolded herself. Quit thinking and do.

**~**

Spike had started to say something lewd to Buffy about ‘horny bitches’, but the words exploded into sparks of surprised pleasure when her mouth engulfed his length.

“Bloody hell!” The words burst from his lips, surprised by her quickness and ferocity. Only a moment before she had been right next to his ear, and now she was devouring him. His hips jerked up, pulling on his restraints, as she drove him wild. Her mouth was hot and wet as she sucked down on his shaft, and the head of his cock slammed into the back of her throat when his hips jerked up against her. The feather she’d had in her hand continued to tease his tight balls like the fingers of a ghost, and the disparate sensations overwhelmed his mind for a few moments as his body wrested control from his blood-starved brain.

But something was off. Not that there was anything wrong with what Buffy was doing, but it simply felt different – familiar but different. Buffy's first forays into fellatio had been tentative and unsure. She'd gained confidence over the last couple of weeks, but she still liked to start slowly, tease him into rock-solid hardness with that lovely, pink tongue, then nibble the length of him with her teeth before dropping that luscious mouth over his shaft. And even then, her tongue continued to swirl over him and twirl around the head when she pulled back. She wasn’t doing any of that now, and she definitely hadn't started slowly. Not that Spike was complaining, but it was just … different. Maybe she was just getting into the whole Mistress role and trying something new, he mused as he forced some blood back into his muddled brain.

And then it hit him. ‘We’. He suddenly remembered why this felt familiar. ‘We.’

“Bugger,” he murmured as the truth came to him in slow spluttering bursts of lucidity. That wasn’t Buffy; that was the bloody Bot. No sooner had he realized the truth and began trying to process just what the bloody hell that meant, he felt the mattress dip near his head and Buffy’s lips touched down on his. Spike instinctively returned the kiss, darting his tongue out to taste her. She tasted of cherries and chocolate and Buffy. He wished he could see her. If he could see her perhaps he could suss out what she was thinking, but all he could do was taste her and feel the Bot’s mouth raking over him. Then Buffy’s hands pressed against his chest and she pushed herself away.



He began to protest, but before he could get the words out he felt her shift again and her sweet quim was over his face, effectively silencing him. Her hips rocked back and forth, then she settled her wet pussy over his mouth. Spike moaned into her as his tongue lashed out and devoured her sweet, dripping desire. He pulled against his restraints, wishing he could use his hands, but was thwarted with the cuffs. He groaned in frustration, but his tongue and lips took up the challenge immediately.

As he dove into her he felt the Bot pull off and he tensed, waiting to see – or more accurately feel, since he couldn’t actually see anything – what would come next.

**~**

When the Bot straddled their prisoner and lowered herself down onto his shaft, Spike’s deep, basso growl of pleasure washed over Buffy’s pussy with a vibration that rivaled any of the toys they’d bought. Buffy’s hands were pressed against Spike’s chest, balancing and supporting her over his face, and now the Bot’s were pressed against his flat abs as she ground her hips down on him.

Spike’s tongue began thrusting into Buffy’s throbbing channel in time with the Bot’s rocking rhythm on his cock. His chin raked against her clit, sending shivers of fire down her thighs and up into her core. Buffy suddenly found that she was no longer jealous, but turned on by the vision of the Bot riding Spike’s thrusting hips – a mirror of Buffy’s own position over his luscious mouth.

The Bot had a look of pleasure on her face and Buffy knew, from talking to her robot-twin earlier, that it was most likely real – not a strictly programmed response to the act of sex.

The Bot had tried to explain to Buffy how the receptors that were in her flexible outer layer of dermis worked. Buffy didn’t really get it, other than to realize that the Bot could feel things. She knew when something felt hot or cold, soft or hard, good, or bad, or … wonderful, and the proper response to the stimuli would be triggered. It was, Buffy thought, not that different from how a human would respond in many ways. The only difference was that the responses were generally programmed in ahead of time (although she could also learn new responses) and stored in little bits and bytes rather than in a mushy, pink brain.

There were times Buffy wished she’d had the ‘proper’ responses to things pre-programmed – especially things like algebra, French, history … It would’ve save all that pesky time she’d wasted studying!

From the look on BuffyBot’s face, she was feeling pretty darn good as she slid languidly up and down Spike’s shaft, grinding down on him hard every three or four strokes. The Bot’s head was tilted back, her lids heavy, eyes nearly closed as she rode him. Low, throaty moans fell from her lips, especially on the hard down-strokes. Buffy knew that feeling. The feeling of Spike’s cock plunging into her, banging against her womb, his girth stretching and filling her.



Buffy had nothing to complain about herself as Spike’s rough tongue darted into her, laving her sensitive opening with blissful abandon. She didn’t know if it was a vampire thing or just a Spike thing – but that tongue. Oh. My. God. Gene Simmons had nothing on Spike. His long, lithe, talented oral appendage was vampire-strong and wonderfully wicked. His taste buds were as rough as sandpaper against her flesh, while the bottom was smooth as silk. When he curled the hard, sharp tip against her g-spot, raking those rough taste buds over the elusive little bobbin, Buffy’s body turned to jelly. He sent her heart fluttering just running that devilish weapon over his own lips – when it was delving into her, her heart tried to explode out of her chest.

Buffy had never experienced anything like it before – of course that was true of all of Spike’s talents and appendages.



Watching the Bot and Spike moving together sent chills of desire through Buffy. She could see his cock, slick and shining with BuffyBot’s juices, sliding in and out of her twin. Buffy watched as Spike’s shaft disappeared between the Bot’s smooth pussy lips, only to reappear again a moment later. She couldn't bring herself to look away; the sight made her pulse race, her heart skitter in her chest, and her pussy throb. It was beautiful and erotic and ... wrong. Enjoying this must be wrong. Buffy’s body tingled all over with the absolute wrongness of it; the wrongness of watching this; of doing it, of liking it. There was no doubt this was the epitome of wrong … but it felt soooo good.

This wasn't what she'd expected ... this wasn't what she'd planned. She ... she was just doing this for Spike, so he would know it was alright to be with the Bot. How had this gotten so ... turned around?

Even with the wrongness of her enjoying this tableau blaring wildly in her brain, the vision of Spike's cock thrusting into her twin fanned the flames of Buffy’s desire. She couldn't look away if she'd wanted to, and the evil-bliss of it captured and then burned her inhibitions into tiny motes of ash and cinder, effectively silencing her stupid brain. Thoughts of what was right and what was wrong, of social taboos and expectations, vanished from her mind in a whirlwind of flames and dancing embers.

Buffy bit her bottom lip and reached one tentative hand out to touch one of the Bot’s bouncing nipples.

BuffyBot gasped at the new sensation. She widened her half-lidded eyes and raised her head from its rolled-back position to look at Buffy with smoldering green passion. Buffy half-expected to feel squicked-out – her desires had never leaned this way – but she suddenly realized that she cared for the Bot, crazy as that was. In her own way, the Bot had been a friend to her over the last weeks, almost as much as Spike had. Freud would probably have a field-day with this one, but suddenly giving the Bot pleasure seemed just as important to Buffy as giving Spike pleasure.

Buffy rolled the Bot’s nipple in her fingers as Spike had done hers so many times and the Bot’s body arched into her hand. A thrill ran through Buffy and she became bolder, rougher, more lascivious. Giving pleasure to her partner in this surprise made Buffy’s own pulse quicken and her passion rise even higher. When the Bot’s hand came up to mimic Buffy’s, she didn’t pull away, she pressed into it, savoring the feel of the Bot’s heat on her skin, of her twin’s strong fingers tugging her nipple into rock-hardness.

When the Bot raised her other hand up to Buffy’s neck and pulled the self-proclaimed ex-Slayer forward, Buffy didn’t fight her. Their lips met in the middle and they kissed gently and tentatively. Tongues teased and tasted, teeth nibbled, and lips pressed softly against the other’s. The Bot tasted like strawberries. Her lips were fever-hot against Buffy’s, so very different than Spike’s. They were firm, yet pliable, not as pillowly-soft as the vamp's, but they were just as passionate against Buffy's mouth. Buffy found herself lost in the sensations flowing over her body. Hands and mouths touching, lips and tongues tasting, gentle caresses and demanding gropes all merged into a sea of sensation that washed over the ex-Slayer like a hundred-foot tidal wave.

Buffy was suddenly giving as much to the Bot as she was getting. She was just as turned on by the giving as the receiving, and she silently willed the Bot to fall with her into that sea of bliss.

With Spike pleasuring them both with cock and tongue, the two blondes atop him both shuddered in blissful release as their pleasure centers were overloaded. They both gasped then moaned sharply into the other’s mouth as their orgasms washed through them. Their bodies tensed almost as one, and their throbbing quims clenched at Spike’s thrusting bits.

When Buffy’s cum showered down on his tongue in an explosion of sweet desire and the Bot’s quim fluttered and clutched at his cock, Spike couldn’t hold back another moment. All the sensations were simply too much to fight, and his own explosion erupted into the Bot’s quivering channel. Although he’d indulged in fantasies about such a threesome, Spike hadn’t dared think such a thing would actually happen to him – Dear Penthouse, I don’t normally write letters like this but – and the reality of it was more than he’d ever imagined.

As Buffy returned to earth from her trip around the moon, she collapsed down onto the bed on Spike’s right, half-draped over him, her head near his hips. At the same moment, the Bot returned from robot heaven – presumably somewhere in the ‘Futurama’ Universe – and collapsed forward from her perch on Spike’s hips. She ended up with her head on his shoulder, laying on her side with most of her body weight on the bed on his left. One of the Bot’s arms rested on his chest, and one leg draped over his left thigh.

“Bloody hell,” Spike panted, still licking Buffy’s spendings from his lips. “Can I see my bloody surprise now?” he gasped out, belatedly adding, “Mistress.”

“As soon as enough parts of my anatomy begin functioning again,” Buffy replied dreamily.

“I am fully functional,” the Bot offered brightly.

“Bitch…” Buffy murmured. Then more loudly said, “Go ahead … release the prisoner.”

The Bot retrieved the handcuff key and released one of Spike’s wrists. As soon as he was free, the blindfold, nose clip, and ear plugs were yanked off. He looked at his two beautiful bedmates. Buffy was still flushed with the afterglow of a lovely orgasm as she sprawled in the bed against his side, a small, satisfied smile playing on her lips. The Bot, he noted, had the very same little smile as she walked around unlocking each shackle from his limbs.

Spike bit his bottom lip as his eyes roamed over their naked forms and he breathed in the scent of them. Not that this hadn’t been a fantasy for him for a long time, and he wasn’t normally one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but …



“Why … What brought this on?” he asked, looking curiously at Buffy.

“You don’t like your gift? I’m not sure I can return it now that we’ve, you know, taken it out of the box and played with it,” she retorted glibly.

“I love it, pet. You got no bloody idea, but …”

Buffy huffed out a breath and sat up. “God, Spike. Don’t you know by now?”

Spike sat up too, looking at her quizzically. “Know what, pet?”

Buffy reached her hand out to the Bot and pulled her twin back onto the bed next to her now that Spike had been freed. “BuffyBot loves you and I love you and so … we … wanted to … love you … together,” Buffy stammered out, her voice getting lower the longer she talked.

Spike stopped breathing. He became so still Buffy thought he’d turned to marble. Oh God! What had she said? What had she done? Why did she say that? Bad Buffy!



“Spike?”

Spike continued to stare at her, unmoving, still as a statue. Were those words from her lips akin to gazing upon Medusa? Had she turned him to stone?

“Spike?” Buffy squeaked out again, her heart and mind racing with what she'd done.

Spike finally blinked. His mouth fell open, then closed ... then dropped open again but nothing came out for a long minute. “Say ... that … again,” he requested finally, his voice quavering and unsure.

Buffy cleared her throat uncomfortably. “BuffyBot loves you.”

“No … the ... the other bit.”

“We wanted to…”

“No, the other bit,” Spike ground out, afraid to believe what he’d heard her say.

“Oh.” Buffy cleared her throat again and looked down at her hands which she was wringing nervously in the sheets. She hadn’t really meant to say that earlier – it just came out – but it was too late to put that back box and return it for a refund. “I love you.”

A thousand angels took flight inside Spike's chest, their wings beating a joyful rhythm against his heart, lifting it to heaven.

“Oh, Buffy. Waited so long t’ hear that. Love you so much, pet,” Spike breathed. He reached out and pulled her into his lap and against him. He captured her lips with his, devouring her with a feverish kiss. She loved him!

He tasted like sex. He tasted like her. Buffy melted into him and allowed herself to get lost in the joy of loving and being loved. She hadn't meant to say that, but she was here now – there was no un-ringing that bell. The moment was magical, filling the air with static electricity. Her whole body thrummed with it, her skin prickled, and her heart soared. Even the knowledge that their time together would be fleeting couldn't dampen her giddy, school-girl reaction to saying the words she knew he'd longed to hear. She was here in his arms now and that was all that mattered in this moment – she could allow herself to indulge in the magic for a little while. She had no doubt that she’d never feel this again if she lived to be a hundred – she was going to wallow in it. It would need to last her a lifetime.

After a moment Buffy pulled back to breathe. She rested her forehead on his, not wanting to get too far away. “But did you like your present?” she wondered, sounding like a child at Christmas asking their father if they liked the garish cartoon tie they’d picked out ‘all by themselves’.

“Bloody brilliant! Best present ever. You got no idea. Loved it, pet. Love you ... love you both.”



**~**

{{ Click here to hear I Kissed A Girl, Katy Perry on YouTube }}

This was never the way I planned, not my intention.
I got so brave, drink in hand, lost my discretion
It's not what I'm used to, just wanna try you on.
I'm curious for you, caught my attention.

[Chorus:]
I kissed a girl and I liked it,
The taste of her cherry Chapstick.
I kissed a girl just to try it,
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it.
It felt so wrong,
It felt so right.
Don't mean I'm in love tonight.
I kissed a girl and I liked it (I liked it).

No, I don't even know your name, it doesn't matter.
You're my experimental game, just human nature.
It's not what good girls do, not how they should behave.
My head gets so confused, hard to obey.

[Chorus]

Us girls we are so magical,
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable.
Hard to resist, so touchable.
Too good to deny it.
Ain't no big deal, it's innocent.

[Chorus]
Chapter End Notes:
Buffy's been all 'Wizard of Oz' with the 'Tomorrows' and now she let the 'L' cat out of the bag! What will she do? Will she leave anyway or will she procrastinate so long that Spike figures it out on his own? Or ... will some other diabolical plot twist© wreck havoc on them and ratchet the angst back up?

Before we find out for certain, there will be one more chapter of Threesome-lovin'. Hope no one got too squicked with that. If you *really* hated it, then you could probably skip the next chapter and not really lose the plot at all.

Next update scheduled for Saturday.
Scream by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
OK, this is another of the chapters you were warned about: Threesome B/G/G action involving Spike, Buffy, and BuffyBot. If that really bothers you, then this chapter could be skipped and not lose the plot.
**
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Moments later...



“But … the surprise isn’t over yet, is it?” Spike wondered as he pulled BuffyBot into his embrace along with Buffy. “Maybe I could have a turn as … Master,” he suggested as he sat on the bed with his girls in his arms, looking between then and wagging his brows lecherously.

As Spike pulled the Bot forward, Buffy slid over a bit, off Spike’s lap, and onto the big bed to make room for her partner in … well, not crime exactly, but in taboo-shattering wickedness perhaps.

Spike kissed Buffy again, a quick but passionate melding of their lips which left her panting, then turned and did the same with the Bot. When the kiss broke, Spike looked from one to the other of his blondes, waiting for an answer. He was already getting hard again just thinking about the possibilities.

Buffy gave the Bot a significant look, then smirked at him. “I’m thinking ‘no’,” she said wryly as both she and the Bot pushed on his shoulders and he was knocked backwards, his back pressed down hard onto the soft mattress.



The two girls followed him down and Spike scooted back from the edge so he was lying fully on the bed in the middle again. He didn’t want to crowd anyone that might want to ravage him – that would just be inconsiderate. With Buffy on hands and knees on one side and the Bot on the other, Spike’s two Mistresses crawled up beside him and began dropping twin kisses along his jaw, taking turns with quick brushes of soft lips on his mouth, then continuing down.

Their lips and hands roamed over his marble-esque physique, from his neck to his traps, to his strong shoulders. They licked fire across his collarbone then slowly roamed down his chest, over his pecs, to the dark skin of his nipples.

Spike moaned in pleasure as they ravished him with their mouths and hands, then brushed the touches away with a sweep of their long, soft hair. He loved how Buffy’s hair felt against his skin – like a thousand strands of golden silk – and now he had two thousand fingers of spun gold washing over him, making his skin prickle and his muscles tremble with need.

Spike’s moan turned into a rumbling growl when the girls began teasing his nipples to hardness with their mouths. Their hands wandered gently over his abs and hips, taking in every detail of bone, muscle, and sinew with their fingertips. With their silken tresses falling over his chest in a veil, they licked, sucked, and nibbled at his sensitive nipples, and tickled and teased his flanks and abs, until they’d driven him to the brink of madness.

Unable to remain motionless another moment, Spike sprang with the grace and speed of a predator, surprising Buffy and pushing her onto her back. He rolled over with her, then slid off onto the other side of her body.



Buffy let out a surprised yelp, but she was smiling when Spike looked at her. “Your turn, pet,” he rumbled as he beckoned the Bot to move over to their new ‘victim’.

Spike captured her mouth in a passionate kiss, her lips parting willingly as his tongue pressed in. Buffy moaned against him, then her body arched up when his fingers began teasing one of her nipples. Buffy gasped against his mouth when she felt a warm, wet tongue flick at the other breast, and her heart rate soared higher.

The feeling of doing something that was taboo both excited and still frightened her a bit. While it was true she’d done a lot of things with Spike that she had never even considered before, some she’d never heard of before, it was with Spike. It was with a man. Of course, wasn’t being with a vamp the biggest taboo a Slayer could cross? But she’d crossed that line before – she’d wrestled with the wrongness of that before and beaten it into submission … mostly. She’d never even remotely considered this new naughty-no-no whose tongue was suddenly feeling absolutely amazing against her pebbled nub.

When Spike felt Buffy relax from the initial shock of the Bot’s warm mouth on her, he broke the kiss and began mimicking what the two of them had done to him. His kisses and nibbles slid down her jaw to her tender neck. Buffy’s Slayer instincts ratcheted up the adrenaline another notch as he bit down lightly on her jugular with his blunt teeth. Buffy gasped and her entire body seemed to tighten like a bow as the woman’s lust and the Slayer’s instinctual fear wrestled for control.

The demon’s bloodlust forced a rumbling growl from Spike’s lips as his mouth suckled at her tender skin, feeling her pulse racing beneath. He could smell the fear that the Slayer’s instincts had triggered, and his eyes flashed golden with the deliciousness of it, his mouth never breaking contact with her flesh. This tongue traced the old scars there, his demon desperate to cover them with his own, to mark her as his.
 
Buffy’s head tilted to the side, opening her neck up to him fully, and Spike felt something warm and soft flow out from his heart and engulf the demon’s bloodlust. Trust. She trusted him. Even if he could bite her, he wouldn’t – he’d never break that trust.



As Spike nibbled and sucked at her neck, Buffy felt her fear rising and took note somewhere in the back of her mind, but the sparks of lust that were showering down on her from Spike’s lips were simply stronger. His growl against her skin reverberated through her whole body, tingling her skin and releasing a swarm of fluttering butterflies in her stomach. While the Slayer screamed, ‘Danger! Demon!’ at the top of her lungs, the woman inside moaned, ‘Spike … yes, so good,’ in a throaty purr.
  
Buffy tilted her head to the side, encouraging Spike’s lips and nibbling teeth to continue their exploration of her neck. It felt heavenly. The butterflies in her stomach swarmed through her entire body, making her quiver uncontrollably from head to toe. As Spike’s tongue traced sparks across the old scars on her neck, the woman’s trust engulfed the Slayer’s fear, silencing it and transforming it into needful desire.

Buffy shivered – a primal reaction that came from somewhere deep in her core and shook her very foundation – as Spike and the Bot teased, kissed, licked, and caressed her body. Then the Bot’s long, soft hair was flowing over Buffy’s heated skin and she suddenly understood why Spike liked that so much. Her pussy ached for attention, but at the same time she didn’t want either of them to stop what they were doing.

When Buffy thought her entire body would simply unravel with need, Spike’s cool fingers brushed across her apex, barely stirring the springy curls there.

“God, yes … please,” Buffy begged as he teased her pussy-lips with light, barely-there touches. Her hips lifted off the bed, trying to meet his hand, but he reacted naturally, moving with her, and kept his touches light.

“Spread those lovely thighs wide for me,” Spike rumbled into Buffy’s ear and Buffy obeyed immediately.

Spike moved down her body and moaned against her stomach as the aroma of her arousal hit him full force. He slid two fingers between her dew-covered petals and spread her open to the cool air of the room. Buffy’s hips jerked again, the anticipation nearly killing her. And then warm lips sucked down on her aching clit. Buffy’s mind blanked, then brilliant striations of color filled her mind as her body went into blissful spasms of release.

When Buffy recovered enough to open her eyes, she looked down her body to see the Bot between her legs, her face buried in Buffy’s pussy.

“No … no … I don’t …” Buffy began, her eyes growing wide as she tried to slide away from the Bot.



Spike stopped her with a firm hand on her shoulder. “Stay put, Slayer,” he breathed.

“No, Spike … I’m sorry. I just … that’s just … not … ummm …” Buffy stammered as the Bot continued her mission. Buffy couldn’t help but moan when the other girl’s warm tongue circled Buffy’s aching channel.

“There is no wrong here, luv,” Spike assured her.

“Oh … ummm … well, I know it’s not wrong, ‘cos, you know … Willow and Tara, and I get not-wrong, but …” Buffy’s mind blanked again, her eyes feathering closed of their own accord, as the Bot slid two fingers into her and began slowly fucking Buffy.

“Just feel, Buffy. You’re safe here, pet. There’s no judging, no wrong,” Spike assured her as he began nuzzling her neck again, right in the very spot he knew made her crazy.

Despite the reservations of Buffy’s mind, her body responded. When the Bot slid another finger into her and began thrusting against her in earnest, Buffy’s body exploded into another orgasm. Despite not being as talented as Spike was with her fingers, the Bot was amazingly strong and swift.

Then, in the next moments, there were hands and lips all over her. Buffy couldn’t separate them any longer. Her clit was being teased softly, in sharp contrast to the pounding into her tight channel, and one nipple was being sucked and nibbled on roughly.

Buffy’s body tensed and shuddered in another spasm of bliss as all the sensations overwhelmed her again. She could’ve no sooner stopped the blood-curdling scream that escaped her throat than stop a run-away freight train. Fireworks exploded, comets raced past, thunder rolled, the earth shook and then fell away in a shower of rapture.

When Buffy came back to earth, panting for oxygen, she blinked her eyes open to find Spike looking down at her, his eyes sparkling with desire and mischief. She half-expected him to say, ‘I told you so,’ but he simply kissed her. It was a long, slow, burning kiss and Buffy melted into it, giving herself to him fully.



As the kiss slowly died to glowing embers and they pulled apart, Spike rolled back and gently urged the Bot up Buffy’s body to take his place.

“Kiss ‘er, pet. Taste yourself on those beautiful lips,” Spike whispered to Buffy.

Buffy looked from the Bot to Spike as a myriad of emotions flicked across her face: fear, insecurity, desire, uncertainty, lust. Spike’s eyes were absolutely smoldering as he met Buffy’s eyes. “No wrong here, pet,” he reminded her. “Want t’ see you kiss her.”

Buffy looked back at the Bot, who was on the bed on the other side of Buffy, propped up on one elbow. BuffyBot’s over-hot body was right against Buffy’s, half-leaning on her. Buffy thought she saw her own uncertainty mirrored in the android’s eyes, but the desire was there too.

Buffy lifted a hand and slid it behind the Bot’s neck, under her hair, and gently pulled her doppelganger down. As before, the kiss was a tentative exploration of lips. The Bot still tasted of strawberries, but above that was the flavor Buffy had tasted on Spike’s lips more than once: the taste of her cum. Buffy found the taste of the forbidden fruit to be an aphrodisiac, and the two women deepened the kiss as their confidence and desires grew. Then Spike’s hands were on them both. Gentle fingers trailed over their curves, tracing lines of goose-flesh down their flanks. Then the fingers were followed by his lips moving from one to the other, kissing, nibbling, suckling on his two goddesses.

They both moaned their disapproval as Spike got up from the bed, but they soon replaced his hands with their own on the other’s body. When he returned a few moments later, the two women's limbs were entwined, wrapped around the other’s – arms and legs holding their bodies together, as if any small space between them was too much to bear. Spike stood and watched them for a long minute, stroking his painfully-hard cock and reveling in the beauty and passion of his Slayers.

With his unneeded-breath coming in fitful gasps, Spike watched, utterly mesmerized. Finally, after what could’ve been a few seconds or a few minutes, a small drop of blood raced back up to his brain, spurring him back into action. With that droplet of sanity returning to his brain, he realized that he needed to snap out of his erotic trance or the threesome would be over before it really began.

Shaking his head to clear the double-Buffy induced daze, Spike finally broke from his reverie and began moving his women into the position he wanted. When they realized he was back, they stopped writhing quite so much and followed his gentle commands and touches. The Bot ended up on top of Buffy, face-to-face, their feet toward Spike. He gentled nudged their legs open enough for him to kneel between them, opening two lovely pink pussies to him.

He could hear Buffy’s heart-rate accelerate again in anticipation of what he was going to do. He began sliding a single finger down their slits, across the Bot and then Buffy, and then back up. The girls’ hips jerked and twitched, and nearly identical moans fell from their lips as he teased them both.

“So wet … So bloody beautiful,” Spike murmured as he played with the two quims spread open before him. His fingers formed a ‘rock on’ sign, with the forefinger and pinky up and the middle fingers curled down. He slid his fingers into them both at once – his pinky into the Bot and forefinger into Buffy.

The women began to kiss again, more desperately now, as he slid in and out of them in a slow rhythm, teasing them. Their hips jerked against each other of their own accord, seeking more, needing more.

“Please, Spike,” Buffy breathed at the same time the Bot begged, “Take me, Spike.”

Spike hesitated, his worried eyes darting around the room for a moment. This was the part of the dream where he usually woke up. He waited a second, two, three. Nothing changed – they were all still there. Spike smirked and turned his full attention back to his two Slayers. It wasn’t a dream. Thank the bloody God of Dreams Come True.

They both moaned when Spike’s fingers withdrew, but in the next moment Buffy’s favorite toy, the Twin Teasers vibrator, pressed into them both at once. Shrieks of surprised delight rang from their throats as Spike thrust the double penetration vibrator into them both, fucking both of their sweet quims with wild abandon.

Spike had never heard, seen, or smelled a sweeter tableau than his two Slayers writhing against each other as they were fucked with the strong vibrator. Words seemed to have lost meaning to both of them as they moaned and cursed and called to God in heaven without any network censors coming between their hormones and their vocal chords.

Their bodies rocked against each other, their legs spreading wider yet, as Spike ravaged them with the toy. When their words degenerated into nothing more than panting gasps and their bodies began to spasm, he slammed into them even harder, sending them both over the edge as one.

This time Buffy’s scream was in stereo, just as mind-numbing and ear-splitting as before. Their bodies bucked and ground against each other and against the hand wielding the pleasure device as they soared through the oblivion of bliss.

When he felt them floating back down to earth, Spike pulled the toy out and sunk down onto the mattress between their legs. His long, lithe tongue raked from bottom to top over the two dripping slits, adding the best thing he’d ever tasted to the tableau. The feel of his tongue lapping their juices only sent the two back up onto another crest of ecstasy. Their pussies throbbed wildly in response, and released more ambrosia for Spike’s eager tongue and lips to devour.

The sounds, smells, feel, and sight in front of him launched Spike’s lust to new, previously unseen levels. He couldn’t contain himself another moment, and had no desire to. With an animalistic growl, he went after what he wanted. There was no gentle persuasion to it, no request, not even any warning. He rolled the two women over by their legs, putting Buffy on top. Without a moment’s hesitation, he climbed back between her legs, lifted her ass up by the hips, and slammed his aching need into Buffy's hot, wet channel.

Buffy’s back arched and she screamed out in carnal need at the invasion. Buffy came up onto her hands so she was on all fours and her weight was off the Bot, and rocked her body back against Spike with the same wild ferocity as he was delivering.

“Fuck yes! Fuck me, Spike!” she screamed at him, tossing her head back, spilling her long, golden mane over her shoulders and the bare skin of her back. Spike released one hand from her hip, and grabbed a handful of that spun gold, holding her in place like an animal as he thrust into her with absolutely primal need.

Buffy’s back arched more to take the pressure off her scalp, lifting her pussy up to him even higher as she complied with his unspoken demand of subservience. She felt that same flush of wrongness wash over her – she was the Slayer, this wasn’t her role – but it only served to excite her more. Although Spike had taught her a lot, and they’d played a few games of Master and Slave – often with a measure of pain and violence involved both ways – this was a new level of dominance she’d not felt before. She knew if she could turn around that the demon would be behind her, fucking her with wild, savage lust. He’d never once vamped out on her before. The thought of it made her heart skitter with fear, her adrenaline surge again, and that just made her slam back against his thrusts even harder.

Suddenly a completely new sensation was added to the crazed lust. The Bot, still beneath Buffy from where Spike had simply turned them both over, closed her hot, soft mouth over one of Buffy’s nipples, her tongue dancing across the puckered flesh. BuffyBot’s small, powerful hands roamed over the Other Slayer’s flanks, the curve of her breasts, her waist, her hips, and back again as Spike drove into her.

Buffy rode the tidal-wave of wild, blind lust that Spike and the Bot built inside her to dizzying heights. Wave after wave of bliss crashed over her as he hammered into her, and the Bot’s mouth nipped and sucked at her breasts. Then the Bot’s hand found Buffy’s clit and the ground fell out from beneath the Slayer. She was floating … floating in a sea of rapture; untethered by reason or thought or worry. There was no right or wrong, no should or shouldn’t, no good or evil. There was only feeling here: glorious, heavenly, joyous feeling.



Buffy’s screams rose and fell with her bliss, intersected with gasping pants for oxygen as Spike drove into her from behind and the Bot pleasured her from beneath. Spike’s bear-like growls and grunts of effort joined the Slayer’s cries in a chorus of primal lust. The hard, fast rhythm of their flesh slapping together, and the unmistakable, moist melody of his cock sliding in and out of her tight, slick channel joined with the warriors’ cries to create a symphony of animalistic revelry.
 
Buffy rose up atop wave after cresting wave of pleasure, then crashed down when the wave broke, falling back into that sea of rapture, only to begin up toward the next pinnacle a moment later. Time lost all meaning, she may have been writhing in this blue ocean for a minute or an hour or a lifetime. Spike’s leonine roar of release joined hers more than once as she sailed higher and higher. She felt his cock swell and pulse as he shot his cool seed into her time and again, but each of his rumbling cries of release only seemed to spur him into a more wild and chaotic frenzy. Finally, all she had left in her was an incoherent stream of strangled moans to mark the passing of each blissful zenith and nadir.

When Buffy finally found herself washed up onto the beach, the rapturous waves transformed into small eddies gently lapping at her body, Spike’s strokes into her were languid, lazy presses and pulls. The slapping of flesh had been replaced with a gentle pressure of his hips against her ass, and the wet, squishy sound of his cock sliding in and out of her was now a relaxed, if perhaps even wetter, serenade. He’d released her hair and had a gentle hold on her hips, moving her against him in a comfortable, slow dance.



The Bot’s movements had slowed as well. They’d devolved into soft kisses and teasing touches, mirroring Spike’s languorous pace.

Buffy moaned deeply and Spike’s words about snow on Christmas morning and the rhythm of rain on a tin roof came to her mind. The tornado, the hurricane, the earthquake were gone for now, and all that remained was the warm glow of embers left in the wake of the raging wildfire.

Spike slowed his pace even more and finally stopped, his hips pressed against her ass. He leaned forward, dropping cool kisses on her flushed, damp back. “You’re a bloody animal, Slayer,” he murmured against her flesh. His cool breath and lips felt like heaven against her. “Love you so much. Can’t get enough o’ you.”

Buffy let out a low throaty moan of self-satisfied agreement, but said, “Not the Slayer. And you’re still hard …” Even she could smell his cum, and she could certainly feel it dripping down her thighs. How many times had he cum and he was still hard? Not that she was really complaining…

“Can’t help it … it’s what you do t’ me,” Spike explained in a deep rumbling basso.

Buffy somewhat reluctantly rolled away from Spike. He made no move to hold her as she flopped limply onto her back in the large bed next to the Bot, arms and legs akimbo. Buffy met Spike’s eyes and gave a small inclination of her head toward the Bot, the implication to Spike clear: he’d been ignoring someone.

Spike crawled on hands and knees, moving like a lithe, graceful panther, until he was hovering over the Bot. He dropped his mouth to hers and kissed her. Strawberries mixed with the taste of Buffy on her lips and tongue made Spike’s libido soar again. Could this really be happening? Again he wondered if maybe it was all a dream …

“Take me, Spike. Take all of me! Need to feel your hard, impressive manhood inside me,” the Bot breathed against his lips. She lifted her legs and wrapped them around his waist, lifting her opening up to him urgently.

Spike turned his head to the side slightly and looked at Buffy. He was shocked to see her nod to him, to give him permission to do this. Spike reached between their bodies and guided his still-aching need into the Bot’s hot, wet quim. She gasped when he entered her, sounding so much like Buffy that Spike had to check again to make sure it was the Bot, but the strawberry-flavored lube that someone – either Buffy or the Bot herself – had filled her ‘fluids’ tank up with was a sure give-away.



The Bot’s hands slid down from his shoulders, over his flanks, and settled on his hips, her fingers digging lightly into his ass as he pressed into her. A thought whirled in Spike’s mind: she had never done that before. That was something that Buffy always did, although her nails usually dug in deeper, often drawing blood. Had Buffy told her, taught her to do that?

The thought was washed from his mind when the Bot squeezed his length with her hot, undulating quim, urging him into action. He began moving his hips against her, slowly at first. If Buffy was a goddess, then the Bot was the goddess’ handmaiden. Her pussy tightened around him like a wet, hot, velvet glove. The Bot was actually hotter – temperature-wise – than Buffy, and the way her quim reacted to him was more rhythmic – almost like a metronome – than Buffy’s frantic palpitations, but they both felt heavenly in their own ways. The real difference, of course, was Buffy was … Buffy and the Bot was not. He cared for the Bot – despite trying to create her to be just like Buffy, her personality was really all her own – but he loved Buffy, and that made all the difference in the world.



Just as he began thinking how to get Buffy involved, he felt warm hands trailing silkily over his back. The Bot’s hands were still on his ass. He looked to the side to see Buffy watching them. She had her head propped up on one hand and the other hand was drawing gentle curlicues over his back.

“Like t’ watch, pet?” Spike asked, quirking a brow at her.

Buffy flushed bright red and dropped her eyes as her hand went still on his back. Now that her brain was functioning again, her inhibitions and all the ‘rights and wrongs’ of the outside world came bubbling back to the surface. Did she like to watch? No … no! Of course not! That’s … wrong … right? So why had she been doing it? And enjoying it?  

“No wrong, Sl… Buffy,” Spike reminded her, reading her expression perfectly. He leaned to one side a bit, taking the weight off the arm next to Buffy. He reached out and lifted her face with a curled finger under her chin.

Buffy looked everywhere but at him, finally settling on an interesting spot on the wallpaper on the opposite wall.

“Buffy …” Spike cajoled. “Look at me, luv.”

Buffy took a deep breath and finally forced her eyes to his. Spike’s eyes were bright; they glittered like they were made of sapphires, undisguised, evil glee dancing in their depths.



“Nothing wrong with enjoying it, luv. Turns me on knowing it’s turning you on,” Spike told her, curling his tongue over his teeth salaciously.

Buffy flushed again, mortified, then her mouth started working without consulting her brain. “I just … you’re … well … all … muscle-y and I never get to see you … when you’re … ummm … I mean, when we’re doing it … and … Oh, God. I am so demented.” She covered her face with the hand that had been on Spike’s back, wishing the bed would just swallow her.

“Spike?” the Bot asked finally. “You are not taking me. You are inside, but I don’t feel your thick, hard cock moving against my pleasure receptors.”

“Uhhh … Sorry, luv. Give us a minute, yeah? I’ll get those pleasure receptors firing double-time in a mo’,” Spike assured the Bot.

Spike turned back to Buffy and pulled her hand away from her face. “There’s no wrong here, Buffy,” he repeated more sternly. “There’s nothing twisted or demented ‘bout any of this. Bloody hell – you have any soddin’ idea how hot you’re making me just knowing that you like how my body looks, how it moves, how it fucks?”

Buffy rolled her eyes and flushed even brighter red, if that was possible. “There’s something wrong with me,” she asserted.



Spike barked out a quick laugh. “Well, yeah,” he drawled, perhaps too quickly, drawing a deeper scowl from Buffy. “Something wrong with everybody, I reckon. But I love you. Love every twisted, demented, beautiful, sexy thing about you.

“Watch me fuck her, Buffy … tell me what you see, what you want me to do … what you like about our bodies coming together. Use me as you will, my temptress, Mistress Pandora. I’m your willin’ slave.”

Buffy pursed her lips into a strange contortion, trying to hide the smile that leapt to them unbidden. “You’re demented too,” she informed Spike, though it was more of a compliment than a dig.

Spike shrugged one shoulder. “Better t’ serve you, Mistress.”

Buffy bit her bottom lip and took a deep breath, trying to sort through her jumbled feelings and thoughts. She’d already gone this far, done things she never imagined she'd do... much less imagined she'd enjoy doing. So why not just keep going with it, taking and giving pleasure with no consequences, no judgment, being truly free for the first – and last? – time in her life?

Finally, she met his eyes again and let the twisted, demented, beautiful lust that smoldered in their blue depths speak to the most base, primal part of her. Somewhere deep inside, Buffy felt her freak flag completely unfurl. No wrong…

Buffy nodded slightly and licked her lips nervously, letting her eyes fall to the Bot’s face. “Ki…” Buffy’s voice broke and she cleared her throat, which was suddenly too tight. “Kiss her…” she whispered.

Spike smirked and centered himself over BuffyBot again, then dipped his head and touched his lips to hers. He felt Buffy’s hand on his shoulder, a gentle, warm weight, trailing over the muscles there. “Deeper…” she breathed to him and Spike deepened the kiss, slipping his tongue between the Bot’s parted lips.



Buffy watched as Spike’s soft, full lips nibbled on the Bot’s, sucking and teasing her. His lips were indescribably luscious, and Buffy’s own lips tingled with remembered kisses. She shivered as she watched the kiss become more passionate, watched him delve into her twin’s mouth, taste her, devour her.

“Her breasts,” Buffy whispered. “Make love to her breasts.”

Spike shifted, arching his back up to make room and still remain buried in his partner’s quim, then ducked his head down to the Bot’s chest. BuffyBot moaned her approval as he circled first one, then the other dark areola with his wet, cool tongue, hardening her nipples into small stones. Buffy watched Spike lavish one nipple with soft licks, kisses, and sucks, and her own nipples hardened in response. Her hand slid down Spike’s arm and reached in to touch the Bot’s other breast.

Buffy rolled the hard bud between her fingers as Spike continued making love to the other, and the Bot’s body arched up in rhapsody beneath their touches. Buffy cupped the Bot’s breast, feeling the weight of it, the firm roundness in her palm, as Spike so often did her own. She couldn’t quite understand the utter fascination men had with breasts … they were just … breasts, like any other part of a woman’s anatomy. Although she didn’t really get the same turn-on out of it as, for example, Spike did, Buffy enjoyed knowing that she was giving her friend enjoyment as she gently teased the Bot’s pleasure receptors.

“Pump into her,” Buffy instructed after a few moments, her voice still low, although slightly less hesitant.

Spike’s hips began to move ever-so-slowly against the Bot’s. Buffy’s hand withdrew from between Spike and the Bot, and slid down his body, over the hard muscle and bone, and settled on his lower back.

Buffy’s eyes were drawn along the path of her hand to the sleek lines of his body. She watched the muscles of his back, his ass, and his thighs ripple under his alabaster skin as he moved. She ran her hand over the bulging cords of strength, letting them rise and fall sinuously under her palm. Spike’s body rolled in a liquid grace, a slow undulation that belied the power contained within. He moved, she thought, like a jaguar or a panther – long and lean and lithe … and deadly.

Buffy pushed herself up to her knees beside the couple and began dropping kisses on Spike’s back where the muscles tensed and relaxed with each slow thrust of his hips. His skin was soft and cool against her warm lips, the tendons and muscles beneath were solid, as if made from living marble. She let her breasts press against him, the coolness of his skin making her already hard nipples stiffen even more, and ran her hands over his back and flanks.

Spike continued the slow grind of his hips into the Bot as Buffy began showering him with kisses and caresses. Her hands were gentle on his back, loving, adoring.  The feeling of her against his skin washed over him like a warm shower of love, heating him from the inside out.

He could practically feel Buffy’s eyes on his body and a surge of smug satisfaction welled up inside him. He was quite sure she’d never looked at another man the way she was looking at him … and she’d never look at another this way. Being desired by women had been common enough over the last century. He and Dru had used it more than once to lure unsuspecting girls to their death, but being wholly desired by a woman that loved him, that was different. Dru loved him in her way, but he was just one of many toys that she desired, her hungers changing depending on the moon or stars or whether the sun rose in the east or not. Buffy was different.

“Harder…” Buffy murmured against his back. “Grind against her clit, baby. Make her cum.”

Spike’s hips responded without question, pounding into the quivering pussy beneath him harder, then grinding his hips to rake his pubic bone over her clit. The Bot responded with gasps and several, ‘Oh, Spike!’s as her hips rose up to match the new rhythm.



Buffy laid a hand on the globe of Spike’s ass, nudging the Bot’s hand a bit lower, to feel the power of his thrusts. His hips moved as if they had a mind of their own, and perhaps they did. Buffy’s had been known to do that. He alternated several quick, short strokes with a couple of long, hard, grinding ones and Buffy’s pussy throbbed in jealousy. She knew how that felt, the wild friction of the short strokes, then the raw power of those long ones; the feel of his pubic bone grinding against her clit, sending sparks out in all directions. Buffy’s heart-rate suddenly jumped with just the thought of it.

Spike gasped when her fingers slid between his butt cheeks and pressed against the sensitive skin there, but he didn’t stop – if anything, his thrusts into his lover became more desperate and wild. Buffy pulled her hand back out of reflex but then she realized that Spike hadn’t made any complaint. She watched another moment as the Bot’s face contorted into furious pleasure and Buffy knew she was close to falling over the edge … or whatever bot’s did when their circuits overloaded on pleasure. Maybe they just fried some delicate fuses or flipped some breakers or something.

Not knowing how many more orgasms Spike could experience and still stay hard, Buffy leaned forward near Spike’s ear and whispered, “Make her cum, but you need to hold back.”

Spike groaned in acknowledgement that he heard her, if not actual agreement, as he took the Bot closer to her happy place. Buffy smacked a hand on his ass sharply, “I mean it,” she ordered in her best Mistress Pandora voice.

“That’s … not … helping,” he growled back at her through clenched teeth as an area the size of her hand stung hot on his ass.

‘Two times two is four,” Buffy began, “Four times four is sixteen, sixteen times sixteen is…”

“Two hundred and fifty-six,” Spike filled in.

“Two hundred and fifty-six times two hundred and fifty-six is….” Buffy prompted.

“Sixty-five thooousaand …” the Bot began before Spike could even try to calculate that, her voice growing higher and wilder as she went. “… Five-hunnnndred aand … thiiiirty … siiiiixxx!”

Spike gasped as the Bot’s nails dug into his thighs and she held him to her with arms and legs, her whole body shuddering beneath him. Spike struggled for unneeded breath and panted, “Sixty-five thousand, five hundred and thirty-six times …”

Buffy laughed, patted Spike on the top of the head like a good dog, and jumped up off the bed, running quickly to their ‘goody’ drawer.



When she got back a moment later, Spike had slowed his thrusts back to a steady, easy rhythm and no longer seemed to be calculating impossible math problems in order to keep himself under control. Buffy hid what she’d retrieved beneath a tangled bit of sheet on the corner of the bed and climbed back onto the bed with her lovers. She lay down next to the Bot on her side facing the pair. Her hand, apparently drawn magnetically to Spike’s rippling back, began tracing idle patterns on his skin.

“Did he make you cum good?” Buffy asked the Bot.

“Yes. Spike is an excellent lover. He is the best in the entire world, perhaps the universe. He knows the exact friction, angle, torque, and magnitude of pressure necessary to stimulate every pleasure receptor perfectly.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” Buffy asked slyly, giving Spike a wicked smile.

“He is even now recharging my sensory preceptors back to maximum capacity, readying them for an additional, equally profuse overload of tactile sensation. I am awaiting it with eager anticipation.”

“Ya know, it’s hard t’ keep the mood when you bints are yammerin’ away like I’m not even ‘ere. Sound like bloody hormone-bombs at a sleepover,” Spike complained, dropping down onto his elbows above the Bot, but continuing to rock his hips against her gently.

“Oh, poor baby,” Buffy mocked, sticking her bottom lip out in a pout. “Does our Spikey need some … attention?”

“Wouldn’t say 'no' to some talk ‘bout something other than ‘receptors’ and ‘torque’,” Spike growled back.



Buffy looked back at the Bot. “Are you ready to have your sensors overloaded?”

“Yes, please.”

“How ‘bout you?” Buffy asked, turning her head to look up at Spike. “Is the World’s Greatest Lover ready for some … overloading?”

“Was ready before when some nutter made me do bloody impossible math equations,” Spike informed her dourly.

Buffy bit her bottom lip in a sly grin and sat up slowly. She moved down the bed again toward the foot where she’d hidden her toy, the whole while running her hands gently over the muscles of Spike’s undulating back. Watching him was, she thought, art and poetry and music all rolled into one.

If someone could capture the beauty of the way his body looked, the way it moved, the way his muscles flowed and bulged, the way his growling groan felt against your skin, the way he could make you shiver with his touch, and burn with his gaze, it would be something on the level of the Sistine Chapel, or Michelangelo’s David, or a symphony by Beethoven, or an Emily Dickinson poem. It would be a classic masterpiece.

Buffy sighed wistfully and dropped a soft kiss on each of his dimples of Venus, then slipped back into her Mistress Pandora persona and retrieved her surprise. Buffy touched the vibrator to Spike’s tight balls and clicked the little remote control device to the first setting. The vibrating butt-plug came to life with a low hum and Spike’s hips jerked wildly in response. His cock slipped out of BuffyBot’s tight channel, and flailed wildly against her wet folds as the thrums of vibration from the toy shot through his groin.

“Bloody hell, woman!” he growled as he brought his body back under some semblance of control. “Little warning next time!”

Buffy ignored him as she slid the vibrator forward, touching the tip of it against the base of his cock, then clicked the remote up to the next level. Spike’s hips jerked again and he moaned as waves of brilliant sensation washed over his cock, through his balls, and into the pit of his stomach.

“Gonna … have t’ start … the math … again … if ya keep … that up,” Spike warned her through gasps of bliss.

Buffy pulled the vibrator away and set it down on the bed. “Bury yourself in her pussy, vampire, then stop moving,” Buffy ordered in her Mistress voice.

Spike used one hand to guide himself back into BuffyBot. When their hips met, he stopped, as instructed.

Buffy squeezed out some of the strawberry-flavored lube onto her fingers and began sliding them up and down Spike’s butt crack. “Unclench,” she ordered him.

“Unclench what?” Spike shot back.

“Your tight ass.”

“What the bloody hell do ya think you’re gonna do with my tight ass?”

Buffy smacked one ass cheek with the flat of her hand. “Anything I want, vampire.”

Spike growled but lowered himself back to his elbows, resting his body against BuffyBot, and forced himself to relax the muscles of his back and butt.

“Ever been fucked in the ass, vampire?” Mistress Pandora wondered licentiously.

“Don’t answer that!” Buffy blurted out quickly when Spike took in a breath to answer her. “Rhetorical … I sooo do not want to know.”



“Do not feel bad, Spike,” the Bot interjected. “I cannot decipher her rhetoric from actual inquiries either.”

Spike chuckled and dropped his head to the Bot’s shoulder, allowing his body to relax more. “A bloody jewel, you are, pet,” he told the Bot, kissing her shoulder gently.

When Buffy’s well-lubed finger pressed into Spike’s ass he gasped and tightened around her. “Unclench,” she ordered him again. “Let me in.”

“Tryin’,” he ground out through equally clenched teeth.

“Not as easy as it sounds, is it?” Buffy tossed back, remembering how often he’d told her the same thing when the shoe had been on the other foot … or the finger up the other ass.

Spike moaned as Buffy’s finger began gently working the lube into him. Goose-flesh raced over his body from the sensation, something he hadn’t felt in a good many years – the finger bit, not the goose-flesh. Of course, neither Dru nor Angelus had bothered to use lube … this felt infinitely better.

His cock jumped and pulsed inside the Bot with each thrust and twist of Buffy’s finger inside him. BuffyBot moaned her approval of the relatively small, but powerful movement deep inside her, shifting her hips under him in a gentle grinding motion.

“Feel good?” the Mistress wondered, as she slid her finger in and out of him now in an easy, wet rhythm.

“God yes…” Spike groaned, his body shivered down to his very core as she fucked him, a sweet, gentle seduction. He thought every organ inside his body was trembling, every cell, every molecule buzzed with anticipation.

Buffy slid her finger out and in the next moment the butt plug, still vibrating, was pressing against his puckered hole. Spike’s head snapped back and his back arched in response to the waves of pleasure washing over and through him.

“Unclench,” Buffy said again, a gentle request this time, as she pressed harder on the small-ish vibrator.

Spike’s breathing became more labored as he forced his body to do what it didn’t want to. “Not gonna … be a marathon man … with that,” he ground out as Buffy seated it inside him.

“You better last long enough to produce a ‘profuse overload of tactile sensation’ in my partner, vampire,” the Mistress warned. “Or you will be very, very dusty.”

The moment he felt the plug seated inside him, Spike stopped fighting the sensations and reflexes it was producing in him. His demon roared with primal need as the vibrations the toy was creating flooded through him. He could feel it not just in his ass, but in his perineum, balls, and all the way down his cock. Spike lost control of the demon and of himself. He pulled the Bot’s legs from around his waist and pushed them up and out in a swift, violent motion, then he was slamming into her, his demon snarling and grunting with the effort.

“Oh Spike! Take me! Yes! I’m yours! All yours! Bite me, Spike! Drain me! Take all of me!” the Bot screamed at him.

Buffy watched the savage power of the demon ravage her twin and was once again reminded of a panther. A force of nature. Beautifully wild. Primal.  Her body tingled with desire; she longed to be beneath that powerful animal – taking all he had to give.

Buffy picked up the double penetration vibrator Spike had used on them earlier which was still on the bed. She lay on her side next to the snarling demon and lifted her top leg. She quickly lubed up her ass, just as she’d done Spike’s, clicked the toy to its highest setting, and pressed the vibrator into her aching holes. Buffy screamed out as it hit home, sating the aching need inside her.

Her hand matched Spike’s wild rhythm as he fucked BuffyBot. She pounded against her pussy and ass with the humming vibrator as Spike pounded into her twin, all three of them desperate for release. The sight and sound of the two blondes as they brought each other closer to climax drove Buffy wild, her own blissful release building along with theirs.

And then it hit all three of them almost as one. BuffyBot began chanting, “Buffer overflow! Spike … yes! Buffer … overflow!” It was all Spike needed to hear, he’d held his own release until it had become painful. His leonine roar filled the room as he thrust in wild bursts of power into the Bot, spilling his seed into her with a barrage of rapturous explosions.

Buffy’s scream of blissful fulfillment came a moment later with a final thrust of the vibrator into her. Her body shuddered and tensed around the toy, her pussy clenching, pulling it in to her core.

Long moments later, the roars and screams faded and the room was filled with the gasping lovers’ wheezing breaths and the soft buzz of vibrators. Buffy flopped onto her back limply and pulled the toy from her sopping holes. Still panting for air, she fumbled for the remote that controlled the butt plug and clicked it off, drawing a spent moan from Spike. She pushed herself up and slowly pulled the vibrator from his ass, twisting slightly as she did.

“Fuck…” was the weak – though reverent –  murmured response from Spike, his face buried against the Bot’s neck, his depleted body a boneless glob of muscle atop her. The Bot lay beneath him, apparently still lost in the afterglow of the sensory overload. Spike had released his lover’s legs and they were splayed limply on the bed on either side of the demon atop her.

Since Buffy was already half-way up, she took the two vibrators into the bathroom and dropped them in the sink. While she was there she cleaned the strawberry lube out of the crack of her ass and off her hands, although she left the spendings between her pussy lips. That well-earned squishy feeling was somehow comforting or … something equally demented.

When she came back to the bedroom, Spike had lifted up onto his elbows, his body still pressed against his lover’s. He was showering soft, sweet kisses over BuffyBot’s face. Buffy could hear his rumbled whispers, but couldn’t make out the words he was saying to her between kisses. The Bot had wrapped her arms around his neck and was holding him to her in a gentle, loving embrace.
 
Buffy stood behind them at the foot of the bed and she felt hot tears sting her eyes. This is what she’d wanted – for Spike to know it was alright to love the Bot – but seeing it made her feel … alone. Very, very lonely and alone. She turned away and headed back to the bathroom, suddenly feeling like an intruder. Somehow that seemed like too personal a moment to infringe upon.



In the bathroom, Buffy splashed some cool water on her face and tried to calm her tangled thoughts and emotions. She leaned on the counter heavily and looked at herself in the large mirror. She turned sideways and tried to imagine what she’d looked like in a few months with Spike’s baby growing inside her. Buffy ran her hand over her flat abdomen trying to imagine the embryo there – the child that Spike didn’t want.

What she told him tonight was true, she did love him. It was almost prophetic – perhaps preordained – for her life: she could always find a way to drive the men she loved away. She remembered too clearly how Angel had talked to her after the night when she’d given him everything. She hadn’t realized it was Angelus at the time, in her heart it would always feel like Angel, the vamp that she loved, saying those hurtful, stabbing words to her – telling her she wasn’t any good. And later Riley confirmed her first lover’s assertion, turning to vamp whores, leaving her, telling her that she wasn’t giving him what he needed – telling her that her best wasn’t good enough. She didn’t even want to think about Parker … at least she hadn’t actually been in love with him.

Buffy leaned her hands on the countertop and let her head fall forward. She wouldn’t be able to bear it if Spike told her the same thing, if he hated her, resented her, for what she’d done, how she’d used him. She wouldn’t be able to handle seeing disgust and disdain for her in those expressive blue eyes. She’d seen many emotions pass through those azure depths over the years, but true disgust, hatred, or revulsion for her had never been there, not even when he wanted to kill her. She’d rather remember the smoldering lust in them, the lecherous stares, the adoration, the pride, the respect … the love.

Her time was running short; she’d need to leave soon … very, very soon. That had been the point of this little twisted tableau, after all.

“Buffy, luv … you alright, pet?” Spike called from the other room.

Buffy cleared her throat. “Yeah – fine,” she called back, wiping hurriedly at her tear-stained cheeks. “Just … getting a drink of water.”

Buffy splashed her face again and washed away her tears. She’d need to leave soon, but that wasn’t tonight. She looked at the small, pebbled window in the bathroom – the sun was well up in the eastern sky. “Or today,” she amended, softly.

She took a deep, calming breath and let it out, then headed back to the bedroom. Spike was lying on his back with the Bot curled against one side, his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He held his other arm out in invitation and Buffy crawled in next to him.



Spike dropped a kiss on the top of her head as she snuggled against him, draping one leg over his and resting one arm across his hard abs. They quivered under her touch from the exertion of the night.

“Love you, Buffy,” Spike murmured to her, his voice weary but utterly contented. “With all my heart. Never known anyone like you, pet.”

Buffy lifted her face up to his and gave him a small smile to cover the sadness that shrouded her heart. “I love you too, Spike.”

Spike’s heart swelled and soared again as angel wings beat a gleeful rhythm in his chest. Thrice! She’d said it three times now! He’d never grow tired of hearing those words cross her sweet lips. He brushed a soft kiss against those swollen lips and tugged her tighter to his side. Within moments the spent lovers were asleep, lost in peaceful dreams, far removed from the reality that lurked in the shadows of tomorrow.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Scream by Usher  on YouTube  }}

Usher, baby
Yeah, we did it again
And this time I’mma make you scream

USHER! Yeah, man…

I see you over there, so hypnotic
Thinking ’bout what I do to that body
I get you like ooh baby baby
Ooh baby baby, ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby
Got no drink in my hand
But I’m wasted
Getting drunk of the thought of you naked
I get you like ooh baby baby
Ooh baby baby, ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby

And I ain’t trying to fight it, to fight it
But you’re so magnetic, magnetic
Got one life, just live it, just live it
Now relax, sing it on your back

If you wanna scream, yeah
Let me know and I’ll take you there
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna turn right
Hope you’re ready to go all night
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna scream

Yeah, come on

Kill the lights, shut ‘em off
You’re electric
Devil eyes telling me come and get it
I have you like ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby
Girl tonight you’re the prey
I’m the hunter
Take you here, take you there
Take you wonder
Imagine me whispering in your ear
Then I wanna, take off your clothes and put something on ya

And I ain’t trying to fight it, to fight it
But you’re so magnetic, magnetic
Got one life, just live it, just live it
Now relax, sing it on your back

If you wanna scream, yeah
Let me know and I’ll take you there
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna turn right
Hope you’re ready to go all night
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna scream

Out, louder, scream louder
Louder, louder, louder
Hey, tonight I scream, I’m on need

[Beat break]

If you wanna scream, yeah
Let me know and I’ll take you there
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna turn right
Hope you’re ready to go all night
Get you going like ah-ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby
If you wanna scream
Chapter End Notes:
I know, I know - - I've used that song in other stories, sorry - I like it. Sue me.

Ok, I think that's got my muse's threesome-itch scratched for a while, we'll be back to the drama/angst/BuffyBot-comedic-relief next. Assume crash positions. Your seat-cushion can be used as a flotation device, although I wouldn't recommend it, especially if it's attached to your chair. :) Seriously, strap in - it's about to get really bumpy and not in the good way.
Broken Promises by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Sorry this is a shorter than normal chapter. Trying to give my wonderful beta reader, PaganBaby, a little time to catch up with my writing pace and posting schedule. Of course, the fact that it created an 'evil cliffie' by cutting it off here didn't enter my muse's mind at all! :P

Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Three days later…

“Ok,” Buffy began as she sat cross-legged on the bed across from her eager student. “When a random bad guy asks you who you are, tell them: ‘I’m your worst nightmare.’ Or, you can say, ‘I’m the Slayer, and you are history.’ Then there’s the classic, ‘I’m the thing that monsters have nightmares about.’



“Another thing you can do, when they go all ‘grr-arrgh’ on ya is to act all damsel-y and scared, and say, ‘Oooo … scary! I'll tell you something though: there are a lot scarier things than you. And I'm one of them.’”

The Bot nodded attentively, carefully indexing and storing away the retorts so she could quickly access them at the appropriate time in the future.

“When Spike calls you ‘Slayer’, call him ‘Slayee’ back … or ‘vampire’ works too – like that’s his name. But don’t call him ‘vampire’ if you’re out in public – it might draw too much attention from other people. ‘Dead-man walking’ works too and … ummm. Oh! He just loves: Captain Peroxide, bleach brain, and blood breath. I’d add Evil Dead to the list, but I think he actually likes that one too much.”

Buffy paused for a breath, thinking about what other nuggets of wisdom she should impart on her twin while the Bot waited patiently, filing it all away.

“Ok,” Buffy continued after a few moments, “when he makes one of his crude, lewd remarks, tell him that he’s a pig, like this: ‘Spike, you are such a pig’. You can have your hands on your hips for that or your arms crossed … either way works. But be sure to get the sneer in there on ‘such’.”

The Bot nodded as she sat on the giant bed facing Buffy, mirroring her in every way. “Spike, you are such a pig,” she repeated, then looked at Buffy for approval, her green eyes eager.

“Perfect,” Buffy confirmed. “Oh! And if he does something really clumsy and makes a lot of noise, just say, ‘stealthy.’ Let it kinda drip off your tongue … and roll your eyes with it. Of course, there’s the all time classic line of: ‘Do they call you Grace for short?’ if he, like, stumbles or something.”

“Spike would never stumble. He is graceful, agile, nimble, and lissom,” BuffyBot contended. “But I can file it for use with other bad guys.”

Buffy snorted. “You’ve never seen him drunk. He’s a stumble-palooza.



“Ok, let’s see …” Buffy mused a moment, looking up at the ceiling as she thought. “Ummm … when he does that thing with his tongue … you know, he, like, curls it over his teeth and gives you that really sexy … I mean … that totally inappropriate leer, then you should…”

“Oh!” BuffyBot interrupted her. “I know this one!

“I should press my body against his, wrapping one leg around his to keep him from escaping. Then capture his face with my hands and suck his tongue into my mouth. When his arms wrap around my back, I should moan against his lips and shift my hips so they press against his impressively hard penis,” the Bot explained, clearly proud of knowing the answer before Buffy could tell her.

“What? No!” Buffy exclaimed. “That’s totally not …” Buffy dropped her face into her hands and shook her head in dismay.

The Bot’s bottom lip stuck out in a forlorn pout. “I am very certain of this response. I have observed this behavior several times over the last few days. Every time the Slayee flicks his tongue at the Other Slayer, she captures him thus and rubs her body against his.



“This has been recorded in my ‘Learned Responses’ file. I have many of these. For example, it is not considered appropriate to pick up money from empty tables at restaurants or bars. Those are called ‘tips’ and they are meant for the servers who work in the establishment. You should also be observant of the signs on restroom doors. While entering the room reserved for males can be quite fascinating, it is sometimes met with high levels of agitation or sexual innuendo from the occupants standing at the urinals.

“Did you know that the penises of males vary in size considerably? Spike’s is quite impressive, isn’t it?”

“Uhhh … yeah … it is,” Buffy agreed, her face flushing slightly. Buffy thought she would’ve been over the embarrassment of such remarks by now, but it never seemed to quite go away. Spike always said it was ‘cute’ – he seemed to take some twisted delight in making her blush. The Bot never actually seemed to notice.

“Wow! Look at the time!” Buffy deflected, ending the lesson as she moved to the edge of the bed and stood up. “Spike should’ve been back by now. I think I’ll just … go look for him. Why don’t you stay here, okay?”

“Okay,” the Bot agreed amiably.

“I shouldn’t be long, you can watch TV,” Buffy offered as she headed for the door of their hotel room.

“I wonder if ‘Passions’ is on?” the Bot mused as she reached for the remote control.

Buffy rolled her eyes as she closed the room door behind her, double-checking that her keycard was in her pocket just before it locked. Buffy leaned her back against the door a moment and sighed. Having the Bot as a BFF was definitely … different. She missed her friends, missed girl-talk with Willow – oh, man, did she have some stories for her! – she missed Giles … and she missed Dawn. God, she actually missed Dawn. As annoying as her sister was, she was still her sister in some twisted, magical way, and she’d loved…

Buffy realized her mistake the moment the thought floated through her mind. Dawn. God, Dawn! She failed Dawn. She closed her eyes and focused on her breathing as she felt the old, familiar weight of guilt begin to press down on her. It didn’t happen often – not like it had – and it wasn’t nearly as strong as it had been, but once in a while, it still snuck up on her and reared its ugly head. She could smell the blood, feel the slick-stickiness coating her hands, hear that horrible gurgling that had come from Dawn’s severed throat, and she could see it. Oh, how she could see it – coating everything in hot, scarlet gore.



“No, no, no. You have to be strong for the baby … for Dawn. Focus, Buffy … focus,” she admonished herself as she stood in the hallway.

As Buffy focused on her anchor, on the smoldering blue of Spike's eyes, in order to quell the rising river of guilt, she felt tears well behind her closed lids. A sharp pain stabbed the center of her chest as a new guilt, a new anxiety was added to the old one. She should be leaving today. Last night she’d assured herself that she would definitely leave Las Vegas today. Of course, she’d assured herself of that every night for the past three nights, ever since the first night the Bot had shared their bed.

Spike would notice soon that she’d missed her period and the questions would start. Questions she didn’t want to answer. Then he’d know she’d deceived him, used him, and she wouldn’t be able to bear his rejection. He didn’t want a baby – he didn’t want that kind of responsibility. A kid would only tie him down, ruin his street creds, and when he found out she’d used him, it would royally piss him off. She couldn’t bear having him look at her with disgust and revulsion; she couldn’t take having one more man she loved toss her away like garbage. She needed to take the initiative and leave before he got the chance to drive that knife into her heart. Everything was in place. She just had to force her feet to take that first, giant step.

“I'm doing it, Mom. I’m working the mission. I'm trying to make things right for Dawn. This is for Dawn,” Buffy reminded herself as she fought back all the guilt – old and new – resolutely pushing it down.

And then, as if Spike's reaction might not be enough incentive for her feet to overpower her inertia and take the leap, she kept adding other reasons to leave to the list. On deck behind the 'rejection' batter was: What if Spike's chip stopped working? What kind of danger would he pose to a helpless child if that happened? Buffy could take care of herself, but what if William the Bloody turned on his ‘family’ – a family that he didn’t ask for or want in the first place? Buffy shuddered to think of it. She couldn’t take the chance, she told herself resolutely. She couldn’t let Dawn down again.

And anyway, she continued to reason with herself, still trying to make her feet take that first step which they seemed incapable of, Spike wouldn’t want a big, fat, supremely hormone-charged, Prego-Buffy. He might be able to handle Barmy-Buffy, but Prego-Buffy would be more than even Spike could – or would – contend with, she told herself. And, as much as she missed her friends, she could never go back to Sunnydale, either. No, when she did it, she’d have to go somewhere that he couldn’t find her – ever. Thus the bus ticket to New York. She could get utterly lost in the crushing mass of humanity there. It was the only way.

“Tomorrow,” Buffy promised herself, taking a deep, calming breath. “Definitely tomorrow.”

Buffy took in a few more deep breaths, letting each one out slowly through her mouth. She concentrated on her anchor: a vision she held in her mind of Spike’s eyes. Their blue depths were a comfort. In their most intimate moments, a rich cascade of azure love pouring over her. It was like a balm to her heart; even the golden flashes from the demon helped her push the flood of bloodied-guilt back by lending her strength and courage.



She felt the river of blood slowly begin receding back into her nightmares and away from her conscious mind as she focused on remembering every detail, every nuance, every spark of amber, every shade of blue, and fleck of color in his azure eyes. She may not be able to sleep more than an hour at a time with that guilt trapped there, but at least she could function, more-or-less like a normal human being, when she was awake. As long as she could keep that blood-stained shroud hidden in the dark recesses of her mind where her worst fears and nightmares lived, then she could handle the mission her mother had set out for her: save Dawn’s soul from Limbo by having and raising Spike’s baby.

Buffy took one more deep breath and opened her eyes as she pushed off the door and headed for the elevator, the blood-shroud once again under control. Spike really should’ve been up from the casino by now. He must be on quite a winning streak to be staying so late.

**~**



Buffy got off the elevator and headed for the blackjack table she knew Spike frequented. After practicing getting focusy the last couple of weeks, she’d gotten pretty good at keeping the crazy away, and was actually feeling a little playful by the time she got downstairs. The guilt over failing Dawn was never too far below the surface, but she’d managed to push it down far enough to allow herself to actually feel happy, at least for short periods of time. And right now was one of those times. She decided she’d sneak up behind Spike and surprise him with a nice earlobe nibble. Her body tingled just thinking about how he’d repay her back in their room, and a shiver ran down her spine as she walked.

She didn’t see him, though, as she approached his normal table. Buffy frowned and looked at the neighboring tables – nope. There weren’t that many people in the casino at this time of the morning, he couldn’t be that hard to find. She scanned the floor, searching with her eyes until she finally spotted the unmistakable platinum.

What’s he doing over there? she wondered idly as she began walking toward the far wall where he was standing with his back to her and the room at large. As she got closer another thought came to her mind, less idle this time, And who is he doing it with?

Buffy’s good mood soured and curdled when she saw him standing with a woman. The woman’s hands were around his waist, holding him to her tightly – not an inch of space separated them from head to mid-thigh. He had the woman’s back pressed against the wall, his head dipped down as if he were kissing her or nibbling at her neck … or feeding. All the tables in the area around the pair were closed in the early morning lull. There wasn’t anyone else near them – a nice private corner, perfect for killing someone.



A thousand horrible thoughts stampeded through Buffy’s mind at once. Had the chip failed? How long had he been feeding on humans? How could she not have known? How could she be so naïve – still – about vampires? How many times would she have to learn this same lesson? She was going to have to stake him now. Her heart ached at the thought, but how could she not? Maybe he wasn’t feeding, maybe he was just kissing her. That prospect didn’t make her feel much better.

Buffy’s hands curled into fists as fear and rage battled with hurt, and jealously fought with wounded pride to see which emotion would surface above the rest. The Slayer stormed across the nearly-empty floor of the casino, dodging around the games of chance in a bee-line for Spike. As she walked past an empty craps table, she snagged the long, wooden stick they used to push the dice to the shooter. She broke it in two and tucked half of it in the waistband of her pants at her back, keeping the other half in her clenched fist.

Buffy didn’t even realize that tears had blurred her vision until she bumped into a chair and nearly stumbled. How could he? How could he do this to her after all he’d promised? How could he do this after she let herself love him? Buffy blinked her eyes furiously as she kept walking, steeling herself for what had to be done if the chip had stopped working. Part of her almost hoped that was what it was – she wasn’t sure if she could take it if he were simply screwing around on her and the Bot. Feeding she could blame on the soulless demon; screwing around was all on the man that she’d let into her heart.



The fact that just moments before she had been assuring herself that tomorrow she would be leaving him never even entered her mind as she made her way across the floor to her lover’s side. All she could feel was the betrayal of his lies, forgetting that she had lied to him, as well. By the time she reached Spike, she was little more than a simmering cauldron of jumbled, overflowing emotion.

“What the fuck!?” Buffy demanded as she reached the pair, fury in her voice. Buffy grabbed Spike’s shoulder when she spoke and jerked him away from the woman angrily, spinning him around at the same time.



“Buffy,” she heard him say, but it wasn’t the surprised, angry, or indignant tone she'd expected. It was slurred, almost as if he were drunk – which, hey, maybe he was.

“Trap,” was the second word that tumbled from his lips as he fell limply onto the carpeted floor of the casino when the woman released him. His eyes rolled back into his head as he collapsed like a lump of wet noodles, arms and legs akimbo.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Broken Promises, Survivor on YouTube  }}

Summer and smoke, diamonds and dust
Go where you will, do what you must
The promise was made your word was enough
We had dreams, visions and plans
Into the night, out of our hands
Letting our passion fulfill our demands
I remember those songs on the radio
The jasmine, the wind in your hair
Does it seem like so long ago

Broken promises
Is it written in stone that we wind up alone
Whoa-oh, broken promises
And a heart that recalls
When the promise was all that we had

Into the dust, reckless we rode
Secret desire, talking in code
Bittersweet madness, the stories unfold
I remember those songs on the radio
The jasmine, the wind in your hair
And how it hurts to remember those

Broken promises
Is it written in stone that we wind up alone
Whoa-oh, broken promises
Can your heart still recall
When the promise was all that we had

Broken promises
Is it written in stone that we wind up alone
Broken promises
Can your heart still recall
When the promise was all that we had

Broken promises
Is it written in stone that we wind up alone
Whoa-oh broken promises
Can your heart still recall
When the promise was all that we had

Broken promises
Is it written in stone that we wind up alone
Broken promises
Can your heart still recall
When the promise was all that we had
Chapter End Notes:
Eeeek! UHT-OH! Who is it?
Fade to Black by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
This is another a short chapter. Trying to give my wonderful beta reader, PaganBaby, a little time to catch up with my posting schedule.

Warning for this chapter: There is the beginning of a rape scene here before it all fades to black. This is the implied rape in the main warning of the story.
As Spike fell to the ground, Buffy’s mind whirled and her throat tightened as she looked into the eyes of the woman now standing directly in front of her. The woman she thought Spike had been kissing or killing. A very familiar woman. Linda? No. Lily? No. Lydia … Yes! Lydia. A fucking Watcher!



Buffy only hesitated a second before she swung her make-shift stake right at Lydia’s throat. The woman was surprisingly fast for a Watcher. Buffy’s moment of hesitation allowed her to block the Slayer’s blow with her forearm. Blood flew from where the jagged wood stabbed into Lydia’s arm, and Buffy instinctively knew she could take her out easily in just a few more seconds, but the large number of shapes approaching in her peripheral vision told the Slayer didn’t have any more seconds.

Buffy reached down and hauled Spike up by one arm, draping it over her shoulders, and began dragging him away as quickly as she could. At the same time she began screaming at the top of her lungs for help. Even during the slowest times, the casino had lots of security guards – she just needed to get their attention and …

**~**

BuffyBot frowned down at the noise on the street far below as she waited for Buffy and Spike to return. People were yelling – too many to make out just what they were saying.



She used her enhanced optics to zoom-in on the street below her so she could see what was happening more clearly. A group of about a dozen people, men and women alike, were running toward some vehicles parked in a service area behind the building. Most of them were carrying weapons of one sort or another, everything from stun guns, to pistols, to crossbows. She continued to watch as the people with weapons formed a perimeter around two cars and a large truck, then two men carrying a limp body followed quickly on their heels. The Bot frowned in confusion and focused in closer on the blonde that was being carried. It was the Other Slayer.

She tilted her head back and forth, still watching the street below, while scanning her memory to try and find some context for this scenario that she was familiar with. Nothing came to mind immediately, but she was certain that this was not a game. Spike had told the Bot not to let anyone harm or take Buffy – that instruction had never been countermanded – she needed to stop them.

The Bot immediately calculated the distance from their thirtieth story balcony to the street below and her chances of surviving the leap and remain undamaged enough to still function: 27,893,009 to 1. Then she calculated how long it would take her to ride the elevator down, and how long it would take to sprint down the stairs.

As she ran the possible courses of action through her microprocessors, the two men carrying Buffy tossed her unmoving form into the back of the large, square truck, then climbed into the cab. Someone fired a gun toward the door where they had all exited the casino, then the rest of the people scrambled into the two cars near the truck. Within seconds all three vehicles sped out of the service area, turned onto the main road, and moved away quickly in the light, pre-dawn traffic. Obviously neither option, stairs or elevator, would be fast enough now.

The Bot stood and waited for Spike to come out of the door below, but he never appeared. Men with guns came out of the casino after a few moments, all talking loudly and quickly, but no more shots were fired. The Bot kept waiting, but Spike never emerged from the hotel into the alley.

“I must find the Evil Dead and tell him what I have observed. He will know how to proceed,” the Bot decided as she turned on her heel and strode out of the room.

**~**



Buffy’s head throbbed with the steady beat of an enormous, demonic base drum. Her eyes felt like they might pop right out of their sockets with each thunderous strike, and she was fairly certain her brain would turn to mush soon – that was assuming it hadn’t already. She tried to reach up to her head to find the volume control, but her hand wouldn’t move – neither would the other one. She carefully, and very slowly, cracked one eye open to try and see where she was as she tried to remember what had happened.

The first thing she saw was her right hand in a shackle. The heavy shackle was attached by a thick chain to a steel wall.

Luckily there wasn’t much light wherever she was – she didn’t think her eyes could handle a barrage of anything stronger than candlelight. She bravely opened both eyes, blinking them against the throbbing pain which she now realized originated between her shoulder blades. She slowly came to the other realization that the heavy beat that carried the agony to her brain and down her spine was her heartbeat. Great. Hard to shut that off.

She slowly turned her head the other way, which made her vision swim and her stomach roil in protest. She stopped and closed her eyes again until things calmed back down, then continued her perusal of her situation.

Her left arm was shackled the same as her right, and her feet were similarly immobilized. She realized she was laying flat on her back, spread-eagled on the floor of some sort of metal box. No, wait … a metal box with windows and a door and … shit. She gently settled her head back down onto the floor as her heartbeat and, therefore, the pulsing jackhammer in her head, sped up. It was the back of an armored truck. A rush of déjà vu swept over her: the Council’s Wet Works team had her … again.

She tried to remember what exactly had happened back at the casino, but the last thing she could remember was trying to get the attention of the security people as she dragged Spike …

Spike.

Where was Spike?

Buffy’s eyes flashed open, a painful move that sent burning hot daggers of agony stabbing in through her retinas. She blinked the pain back desperately, then scanned the area around her again through squinted eyes. Spike wasn’t there. Had he gotten away?

“Yes, Buffy, of course they caught you but he – who had already been drugged or injured and couldn’t walk – got away,” she chided herself aloud. The sound of her own voice sent more shards of pain into her brain through her ears and she winced.

“Didn’t think you’d ever wake up, toots,” a scornful male voice said from somewhere behind Buffy’s head.  She flinched again, realizing the sound must be coming from the cab of the truck through some kind of mesh opening between the compartments.

“Where’s Spike?” Buffy asked immediately. Ignoring the pain radiating through her head and body, she pulled as much as she was able on her chained arms and legs, testing the shackles. They held strong.

The man snorted disdainfully. “The vampire? Where do you think? Stuck to the bottom o’ our bloody shoes. Lydia had her fun with him, but his usefulness was over. Once you catch your quarry, ya don't really need the bait anymore.”

Buffy’s whole body shuddered and recoiled at the words. Hot tears burst from her eyes, burning as if formed from acid. “No … no … you didn’t need to…”

“I guess they were right about you,” the man said condescendingly, cutting her off. “A Slayer protecting a vampire – how bloody twisted is that? And they say I’m a sick bastard. At least I don’t protect the undead … or fuck them. You, on the other hand, aren’t dead yet. What do ya say, toots? We’ve got some time to kill. How ‘bout I show you a good time? Let you see what a real man feels like? I can make it good for you.”



“Touch me and die,” Buffy snarled, yanking harder at her chains. The pounding pain morphed back into stabbing agony shooting down her limbs and up into her brain when she did that, but she continued thrashing wildly. Her tears were still falling in waves even as her fury built. But, after several exhausting, painful minutes, the anger was replaced with genuine fear when she realized that the Council’s Wet Works/Retrieval team would not be making the same mistakes twice. She’d escaped them once before when Faith did her little body swap, but they had learned. She wasn’t getting out of this, at least not while she was chained inside this fucking armored truck.

The man laughed at her. The sound grated on her eardrums and sent a shudder of repulsion down her spine. She wasn’t sure of his name – Weathers maybe? – she recognized his voice from before, but hadn’t stuck around for formal introductions. She wondered just how sick a bastard he was; she was afraid she might soon find out.

Buffy continued to struggle against the shackles until her wrists and ankles were horribly bruised, and deep, painful cuts bloodied the floor of the armored car. Before long, the muscles of her arms and legs began to cramp from the strain of her battle against the immovable restraints. Her muscles felt like they were being wrenched from her bones as Charlie Horses galloped through her body in protest of the futile exertion she'd demanded. Buffy had no choice but to stop thrashing and try to relax her traitorous muscles – the pain of the cramps was just too much. As exhaustion closed in on her, the one thing that she’d not allowed herself to focus on flooded her mind: Spike was gone.

She fought against the tears that continued to fall, not wanting her captors to see any weakness, but it was an exercise in futility. When her body could do no more, her emotions took over and wracked her with a hopeless, desperate sadness that had become all too familiar to her of late. She’d felt it when her mom died, she’d felt it when Dawn died, and now that bone-deep, sub-arctic chill was back with a vengeance. A new guilt was added to her overwrought psyche: she’d cost another person she loved their life. Spike was gone.

“God, Spike…” she whispered through her tears. “I’m sorry … I’m so sorry.”



Buffy felt the guilt of it bearing down on her, adding its weight to all the rest, and she just let it fall. She didn’t even try to reach out for her anchor. Her anchor was a pile of dust being trampled and ground into the short pile of a gaudy, industrial carpet in a Las Vegas casino. She found it hard to care about anything else, impossible to focus on anything else. Her mind blanked, shut down; nothing else seemed to matter at that moment, not herself, not even Dawn. Spike was gone.

She was so very, very tired. She couldn’t do it anymore. Couldn’t fight anymore; couldn’t do anything but fall into the bloody river and sink like a stone to the bottom. She watched the bloodstained shroud flow down over her and prayed that it would drown her. She was done. She just wanted it to end, wanted everything to end. So, very, very tired… Can we rest now?

**~**

Buffy fell into a dazed stupor, and finally her mind completely shut down, retreating into fitful sleep. She woke when the door to her improvised, armored cell opened with a thunderous clang. She groggily blinked the crusty tears from her eyes to try and see what had made the noise. She tried to remember where she was to no avail. She then tried to remember when it was or who the man was who was standing over her, but the best she could do was remember who she was – and she wasn’t entirely certain about that.

“Well, we’re all loaded up on the cargo plane and headed back to the mother country. Looks like you and me got about ten hours to kill, sweet cheeks,” the man said as he pulled the door closed behind him. “Whatever could we do to fill the time?” he asked sarcastically as he bent over her prone form.

The man had a gaunt, almost skeletal face, with coal-black, sunken eyes, and a hard, angry mouth. While two or three days of stubble might make some guys look sexy and mysterious, it only made this man look like he’d been on a bender, and his 100-proof breath did nothing to assuage that notion. His thinning, dark hair was badly in need of trim … and a serious degreasing.



Buffy stared at him blankly from the floor of the metal box she was chained to, unable to comprehend his words or even try. She could barely make out his features through the veil of blood that soaked her mind – nothing could penetrate the flood of utter defeat that she was drowning in.

Spike had once told her that every Slayer had a death wish – they wished for the fight to be over. Buffy didn’t even have the ability to wish that any longer. The fight had drained out of her, leaving nothing but an empty shell that used to be the Slayer. Apparently, her spirit wasn’t so indestructible, after all.

“Gone mute on me, have you?” he continued talking as he reached down with both hands and ripped the front of her shirt open, sending buttons flying in all directions.

Buffy still didn’t react; she simply continued to stare at him with dull, empty eyes.



The man pushed her bra up, exposing her breasts, and leered at her, licking his lips. “Nice tits,” he offered as he groped them roughly. “Oh yeah, bit small, but nice and firm … Mmm,mmm … hope that cunt of yours is just as tight,” he continued as he moved his hand down and began to unbutton her jeans.

“Never fucked a Slayer before – never caught one alive before – well except for that Faith-chit. She scampered off ‘fore she could have the pleasure of my company. Unlike you, I draw the line at screwing dead things. Always wondered … does that Slayer healing grow your cherry back? I’d love to pop you over and over again … all the way to London.”

Weatherby, the leader of the Council’s Wet Works/Retrieval team, yanked Buffy’s jeans down her hips, but with her legs shackled wide apart, he couldn’t get them down enough to do more than see her dark curls.

He took the opportunity to shove a finger between her folds and thrust it into her dry channel. Buffy didn’t react at all to the painful invasion; she remained still, silent, and unblinking.

“Bet you’ll scream when I shove my hard cock up there, toots. Never did like a girl who didn’t scream – never met a girl I couldn’t make scream,” he bragged as he moved to the shackle on her right ankle. He pulled out his keys and very cautiously unlocked it. With her foot out of the restraint, he shoved her jeans down to her ankles and off the free foot.

“You’re wanting this, aren’t you?” he asked with a lecherous grin when she didn’t fight him at all. He didn’t bother locking her leg back into the shackle – it’d be easier to fuck her with it free. “Probably never had a real man before, have you little Slayer-girl?” he asked as he began unhooking his belt. “Well we’ve got plenty of time to get you well acquainted with the feel of it. You won’t want to go back to dead meat after you’ve had mine.”

Buffy blinked up at him unseeingly; her eyes dull, face slack, and body limp with defeat and the ultimate surrender. Slowly, the red river that was finally, thankfully drowning her, faded to black.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Fade to Black, Metallica  on YouTube  }}


Life, it seems, will fade away
Drifting further every day
Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters, no one else

I have lost the will to live
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me
Need the end to set me free

Things not what they used to be
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can't be real
Can't stand this hell I feel

Emptiness is filling me
To the point of agony
Growing darkness taking dawn
I was me, but now he's gone

No one but me can save myself, but it's too late
Now I can't think, think why I should even try

Yesterday seems as though it never existed
Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye, *Goodbye*
Chapter End Notes:
Oh no! Is Spike really dust? Can he be reconstituted with some filtered water and chicken broth? Will someone step in and save Buffy at the last moment? Where's the Calvary? Who's the Calvary? BuffyBot? Angel? Giles? Is there a Calvary?


Pagan pointed out that I'd managed to actually get *two* evil cliffies in this one chapter. Even though one was only temporary, my muse is dancing with evil glee.

Will have the answers to these and other questions next time - same Bat Time (Tuesday), same Bat Station.

PS: According to Facebook, Elysian Fields' site is down - they are changing hosts, so I won't be updating there until they come back up. (duh).
Bird With a Broken Wing by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Warning for this chapter: Angst, violence. My beta, PaganBaby, said some of the violence described here was squick-worthy, so be warned.
**
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.



Spike tried to push away from the Watcher, Lydia, but she was stronger than she looked. Or maybe whatever they’d laced his drink with had weakened him more than he dared admit. He couldn’t even fight her enough to make the chip fire – that could not be good. She was talking about something Spike couldn’t follow as she braced herself against the wall. She kept him upright only by leaning most of his weight against her and wrapping her arms around his middle. His head swam. He tried to lift it up off her shoulder, but simply could not manage it. He couldn’t remember ever feeling this drunk in his life, and that was also saying something.



Some small part of his brain that was functioning knew it was a trap to get Buffy out of their top floor suite and down here near the exit so they could make a quick getaway, but he was helpless to stop it.



Spike felt the Slayer before he heard or saw her. He could smell the adrenaline and anger boiling off her as she got nearer, and he tried to ready the words on his lips to warn her. When she grabbed his shoulder and spun him around his brain faltered and all he could say was her name. “Buffy…”


There were a thousand things that he wanted to say after that. I’m sorry. I failed you. I love you. Please forgive me. Run! Trap! Finally the word ‘trap’ made it from his brain to his lips, but it was too late, he knew.





Spike’s knees buckled with his full weight on them. He fell to the floor and lost consciousness in the next instant. He wasn’t sure how long he was out – it may have been a second or an hour – when he felt himself being hauled up by one arm and dragged across the floor. He tried to get his feet underneath him and walk, but his legs weren’t responding to his brain’s commands. Buffy had him – he could smell her, he could feel her strength tugging on him desperately. Then she was screaming for help. It was too loud in his ear and he flinched, and then they both fell to the floor in a limp heap, arms and legs entangled.


Suddenly there was a flurry of motion and sound, people were screaming and he felt himself being pulled away from Buffy. He forced his eyes open and caught a flash of a tranquilizer dart sticking out of her back, just at the base of her neck. He reached out to pull it out of her, but his hand met nothing but air – she was suddenly too far away.


“Buffy…” he screamed … or he tried to scream. He realized that it came out as barely a whisper when no one reacted at all to his furious outburst. He fell onto his back …. No – didn’t fall, someone shoved him onto his back. He blinked up, trying to focus his swimming vision, and saw a woman standing over him with a stake.


This was it. He always thought he’d go down fighting. This death would be more pathetic than his first death – just laying here doing nothing while a fucking Watcher put a stake in him. A Watcher, for Christ’s sake! He always thought it would be Buffy who would ultimately dust him. It should at least be a Slayer. This was just wrong. William the Bloody should go down fighting, not lying on his back like a git.


He tried to roll away, tried to lift his hands and stop her, but everything was moving in slow motion. Well, everything he did was in slow motion; either that or everyone else had taken their ‘Flash’ superhero pills today and no one had offered him one. Either way, he realized all too clearly that he was not going to stop this bitch from dusting him.





Suddenly there was another barrage of motion and sound, all much too loud in the enclosed casino. In the next instant, blood and other unidentifiable gore splattered over his face, neck, and chest. He instinctively closed his eyes when the red liquid flew at him. When he finally got them open again, someone was dragging him away and talking to him. Why was everyone talking to him? And what fucking language where they speaking, anyway? Didn’t they know how to speak the Queen’s proper English? Bloody gibberish is what it is … bloody … gibberish, he thought as the world once again faded to into inky darkness and perfect silence.


**~**



“Spike!” the Bot yelled, her voice full of worry and concern, as she strode quickly to where he lay on the floor of the casino.


He was surrounded by paramedics and police. One of the policemen stepped in front of the Bot as she tried to reach the vampire. “Sorry, miss – need to give them some room to work.”


The Bot stopped, watching the paramedics try to shock Spike’s heart back to life. “You’re hurting Spike!” the Bot complained when Spike’s body bucked and writhed wildly under the applied voltage.





Another officer joined the first, trying to hold the Bot back, then a third came to help as the paramedics continued turning up the voltage on the defibrillators and shocking Spike’s body.


“Stop! Stop hurting Spike!” she screamed as she elbowed one policeman in the ribs that was behind her and punched one in the mouth that was in front of her, sending them both sprawling onto the floor. The third officer brought out a stun gun, but the Bot’s hand moved faster than he’d anticipated and she turned the weapon back on him.


“Are your microprocessors damaged? That is painful to humans!” she pointed out as he fell to the floor as well. The Bot flung herself down atop Spike just as the paramedics sat back from his lifeless body.


When more police officers and security guards came to get her off, one of the medics waved them away, shaking his head and frowning. “He’s gone…”


“No! He’s right here!” the Bot corrected, pulling Spike away from the menace and into a protective embrace as she knelt on the floor.


“Miss, I’m sorry … but he’s … gone … he’s dead,” the other paramedic told her as gently as he could.


“I understand that he is dead, but he is not gone,” the Bot protested, keeping herself between the medics and their torture devices, and Spike’s limp form. “Do you have some malfunction with your optics?”


“Ummm … no. I can see that he’s dead,” the man replied, brows furrowed in confusion.


“Then I do not understand your contention that he is gone. Clearly, he is not gone. Buffy is gone. The men in the truck took her. I saw it from the balcony. I must ask Spike what to do,” the Bot informed them, as she started to rise, picking Spike up with her.


“Miss … I’m sorry, but you can’t … take him away,” the first paramedic told her, reaching a tentative hand out towards the obviously grief-stricken woman.


“Why not?”


“Well … because he’s dead. And dead people have … certain needs.”


“Yes, I am aware of that. I can fulfill all of Spike’s needs,” the Bot asserted.





“Right, but what I mean is … errr…” the paramedic looked for help from one of the policemen nearby.


“It’s the law, miss,” the policeman offered. “The deceased must be taken to the morgue so we can make a case against the perpetrators of his murder. You do want us to catch the people that killed him, don’t you? You can claim his body from there.”


The Bot frowned in thought a moment. “But, I need him to tell me how to find Buffy.”


“Who’s Buffy?” the policeman asked.


“Buffy is … Buffy. The men in the truck took her,” the Bot offered, looking toward the emergency exit door.


“You knew the girl that was taken?” the policeman asked.


“Yes. She is my friend.”


“The best way to find her is to let our doctors have a look at your boyfriend. There could be clues that can help us catch who took her and who … hurt him,” the officer explained gently.


The Bot frowned again and looked down at Spike. She shook him to try and wake him, but he remained unmoving and silent. “Spike? What should I do?” she asked, leaning her face near his.





No reply came from the vampire, he didn’t stir at all.


The Bot looked back at the policeman, her face a study in confusion. “You can find out what to do even though he won’t respond to verbal prompts?”


The policeman nodded and came closer. “Yes. Our forensic scientists are some of the best. If there’s anything to be found, they’ll find it.”


The Bot nodded reluctantly, and the policeman waved a hand for the Medical Examiner to bring a gurney over. Before long, Spike had been zipped up into a body-bag and loaded into the back of the ME’s van.


“Can I … accompany him?” the Bot wondered as they loaded him into the van. “I went with Buffy to the hospital.”


“Ummm … not really,” the same policeman told her. “Just have your funeral home contact the ME’s office tomorrow.”


“I do not own a funeral home,” the Bot informed him. “I am not certain Spike has accumulated enough plastic discs to purchase one. Do you know what they cost or where to shop for one?”


The policeman furrowed his brow. “Uh, no, not off hand. Here, just call this number and they’ll help you,” the officer offered, giving her a card with the phone number and address of the Medical Examiner’s office.


“This is where you are taking Spike?” the Bot asked, looking at the card.


“Yeah. That’s where they’ll look for the clues. Our detectives would also like to ask you some questions about the girl that was kidnapped. Do you feel up to that now?”


“My battery is running low. I believe I should return to our room and recharge very soon or I will risk automatic shutdown,” the Bot replied.


The officer nodded, but his brow remained furrowed. Nut jobs. How did he always get the nut jobs? “Uhhh … Ok. Just let me get your information and I’ll have them contact you later.


“Your name?”


“Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My friends call me BuffyBot.”


The officer’s brows went up. “Ummm … your first name is … Betty…”


“Buffy,” the Bot corrected, enunciating slowly.






“Right, Buffy,” the officer repeated. “And your last name is…?”


The Bot thought about this a moment. “Vampire Slayer,” she concluded, nodding decisively.


“Right” the policeman drawled, sarcastic disbelief in his voice. “Is that hyphenated or …?”


“Two separate words, both capitalized.”


He wrote it down. “Date of birth?”


The Bot looked at him blankly for a moment, then said, “Date of birth is the moment of emergence of offspring from the body of its mother; the start of life as a physically separate being.”


“Right. And … Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s birthday is?”


The Bot stared at him intently she thought, trying to determine the response he wanted. “Buffy’s birthday is January 19th,” she said finally.


The cop wrote that down. “What year?”

The Bot frowned again, thinking. “Every year.”



The cop sighed heavily and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “Do you have any ID?”



“ID?” the Bot questioned.



“Identification,” the policeman clarified. “A driver’s license maybe?”



“Oh. No. Spike will not allow me to drive. I think I would be an excellent driver – much better than the Other Slayer – but he won’t allow anyone to drive his DeSoto. He said that perhaps one day we could nick the Watcher’s car and I could drive that piece of shite into a pole, but not his precious DeSoto.”



“Uh-huh,” the policeman grunted, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “You’re staying here at the MGM?”



“Yes. We are in the complimentary suite on the very top floor because Spike is bloody brilliant at blackjack – but he doesn’t cheat because that would be a card shark, and he’s a card sharp. He’s extremely skilled. The key is knowing when to stop playing. It’s just like any other dance.”



The policeman blew out a long breath. “How do I always get the freaks?” he muttered under his breath as he scribbled something on his pad. “Okay, I’ll have one of the detectives contact you later. Sorry for your loss,” he said louder, then turned, still shaking his head, and walked away.



**~**



After the policeman left and they'd taken Spike away, the Bot returned to their room and plugged herself into the charging station. Her batteries had gotten to critically low levels and she had been programmed to recharge at that level, regardless of what was happening.



When she awoke some time later, fully charged again, she set out to find Spike. Since she didn’t have a funeral home, or the money to purchase one, she decided that she would go to where they took Spike and ask him what she should do next. Maybe he had recharged by now too.



She had watched Spike enough to know how to trade in the pretty plastic discs for actual money, and there were several on the table beside the bed. She took them and cashed them in in the casino. Out front, she explained where she needed to go to the doorman and he helped her into a cab. She gave the driver the address for the Medical Examiner from the card the policeman had given her, and they were off.



It turned out that the morgue was in the basement of the county hospital. By the time she’d gotten there that evening, the morgue was closed, but there was a security guard on duty near the elevators that she took down from the hospital itself.



“Can I help you?” he asked, looking up from his graphic novel when the elevator doors opened and the Bot stepped out.



She smiled her most friendly smile. “Yes, thank you, you can. I am here to see Spike.”







“Ummm … there’s no one here but me, miss. Maybe you have the wrong office. This is the morgue.”



“This is the correct location. I have a card. I just need to see to him,” she explained, handing the guard the business card with the ME’s information on it. “They took him from the hotel today and said that he would be here. They said they could find out who took Buffy, even if he did not wake up.”



“Wait a minute …” the guard drawled, his brows furrowed in thought. “You’re talking about that guy they brought in from that big shoot-out/kidnapping on the strip today.”



“Yes. Spike. I just need to speak with him, please. It is quite important – a matter of life and death really.”



“That’s really not allowed, miss,” the guard replied, his voice softening.



The Bot frowned. “But … I need to see him. I don’t know what to do without him. You asked me if you could help me and I said yes, so I would like you to help me now. It’s very important that I talk with him.”



The guard sighed and pulled out some paperwork from a drawer, flipping pages on a clipboard. “They’ve been backed up around here this week … let me see …”



After a few moments he found what he was looking for. “Ok … it doesn’t look like they got to him yet, so I guess it’ll be alright. But no touching – you can just … talk.”



The Bot’s smile returned. “That will be acceptable. Thank you.”



“Just call me a sucker for a pretty girl,” the guard sighed as he rose from his seat.



“Thank you, Sucker For A Pretty Girl. I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the Bot offered as she fell into step next to him.



The guard looked at her with confusion a moment, then gave a snort of laughter. “You into Dungeons and Dragons? My little brother plays that stuff.”



“No, I can confidently say that I have never been inside a dungeon or a dragon.”



The guard chuckled again. “Don’t worry, your secret D&D identity is safe with me.”



The guard opened a door and walked into a large, sterile room. He checked the clipboard again, then headed for the wall of refrigerated compartments as the Bot followed him. He opened one of the doors and then slid a long tray out upon which was a large, black, plastic body bag with a body obviously inside.



“Are you sure you want to do this, Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Sucker asked, looking at her with concern.



The Bot nodded. “Yes. Buffy’s life is at stake. I do not know what to do. I must talk to him. Spike will know what I should do.”



The guard gave her a curious look. Talking about one’s self in the third person was a little creepy, but then, he worked the night shift at the morgue. Everything was creepy. “Okay, I’ll give you some privacy, but no touching the body, understand?”



The Bot nodded emphatically and folded her hands behind her back.



Sucker slid the zipper down enough to expose Spike’s face, then left the room, closing the door behind him.



“Spike!” the Bot exclaimed excitedly, moving closer to him. “I need a new directive. Some humans with weapons placed the Other Slayer in the back of a large, square truck and I do not know how to proceed.”



The Bot stood over him and waited, but he still did not open his eyes or answer her. She moved her face very close to his – as close as she could get without touching him – and screamed, “Spike!” at the top of her volume control modulator.







Spike jumped and tried to raise his hands up to cover his ears, but they were caught in the body bag. He began to struggle wildly, still half-dazed from the drugs he’d ingested and the shock treatment he’d received. The commotion was too much for the supports on the metal drawer, and the whole thing, including Spike, fell to the floor with an ear-shattering clatter.



“Spike!” the Bot exclaimed again, trying to pull the heavy tray away from where he was still thrashing inside the body bag, being careful not to touch Spike in the process.



“Buffy!” Spike exclaimed, his mind finally snapping into focus. “Run! We gotta get outta here! It’s a trap!”



“It is?” the Bot asked, looking around warily. “What class and category of trap should I prepare for?”



Spike stopped thrashing long enough to look around and get his bearings. “Oh, bloody hell,” he muttered as he realized he wasn’t in the casino any longer. He looked up at the Bot, his concern deepening. “Where’s Buffy?”



“I do not know. That is what I needed to consult with you about, but the men said they had to take dead bodies here – that it was the law. I did not know how to proceed.”



Spike began to struggle with the cocoon-like bag he was trapped in. “Who do I look like, bloody Houdini? Get me outta here,” he growled at her.



“Sucker said that I cannot touch your body,” the Bot replied, tossing the body-sized, stainless steel tray she was still holding across the room like a child would throw a stuffed animal.



“What the bloody hell are you on about?” Spike demanded.



“Sucker wouldn’t allow me to see you if I didn’t promise,” she continued. “I am programmed to keep promises.”



Spike closed his eyes, clenched his jaw, and slowly rolled his head from side to side for a frustrated moment, trying to rein in his anger. “Then slide the zipper down without touchin’ my body,” he instructed through clenched teeth.







“Oh! I can do that,” the Bot agreed happily.



Just then the door opened and Sucker stepped in. “Buffy! I thought I said not to touch…” He stopped and stood gape-mouthed as Spike rose from the body-bag on the floor, still wearing the blood-splattered clothes he’d had on earlier.



“No worries,” Spike offered. “She didn’t touch me.”



“Wha… wha …” the guard stammered.



“Virgin, eh?” Spike asked Sucker as the vamp grabbed the Bot’s hand and headed towards the door. “Shock that, workin’ ‘ere. Sorry, don’t have time t’ make it better for ya, mate. Next time, maybe.”



“Wha…” Sucker continued to stammer, wide eyed, as Spike and the Bot pushed past him.



“Thank you, Sucker For A Pretty Girl!” the Bot called back over her shoulder, waving at him with her free hand as Spike pulled her along.



As they walked, Spike asked the Bot what happened. She explained as quickly as she could, with Spike frequently prodding her to skip over irrelevant details, as they rode up out of the morgue in the elevator.







“What should I do now? Do you know where Buffy is?” the Bot asked as they walked the halls of the hospital, trying to find an exit.



Spike’s mind was racing, trying to answer that very question for himself. He was furious with himself for being suckered, furious with the Watchers, with Buffy’s friends, with the whole bloody universe. How was he gonna find her now? It had been hours since they’d taken her; they could literally be anywhere in the world by now.



Suddenly Spike’s long, angry strides came to an abrupt halt. The Bot nearly crashed into him, but side-stepped at the last moment. “What has happened? Are we no longer angry and tense?”



Spike didn’t answer, instead he turned in a slow circle, sniffing the antiseptic air of the hospital. “Smell that?” he asked the Bot as he stopped, facing down an intersecting hallway.







The Bot sniffed. “Blood, feces, urine, bile, cherry Jell-O, alcohol, iodine, antibiotics…”



“No,” Spike cut her off as he began stalking slowly down the hallway. “Fe, fi, fo, fum …” he murmured under his breath. “I smell the blood of a …”



He pushed a door open and stepped inside one of the patient rooms. “…Watcher,” he finished. “Hello, luv. Fancy meetin’ you again,” he continued with a predatory purr.



Lydia’s eyes went wide with fear. She fumbled for the nurse call button and began to scream at the same time. Spike was across the room faster than she could get either her voice or her fingers to summon help. He clamped a hand over her mouth and pulled the call box/TV control out of her reach, dropping it on the floor beneath the bed.






“We don’t want any interruptions, pet,” he whispered against her ear, his voice a silky, unveiled threat.



Lydia tried to push him away, but she’d been shot in the shoulder by one of the security guards at the casino and pain radiated from her broken scapula up her neck and down her spine.



Unable to escape or defeat him physically, she tried to calm herself and use her Watcher training to outwit and overcome the threat. She said something against Spike’s hand – not a scream, but words. He lifted his hand slightly to allow her to speak. “You can’t hurt me…” she breathed, remembering the chip that William the Bloody had. “Just go away and I won’t … stake you.”



Spike grinned, showing his teeth in a wolfish smile. “I’m gonna ask you a question and you’re gonna answer me,” he informed the Watcher. “If I’m not happy with your answer, one of your fingers will be broken each time I ask until you answer me properly. Am I makin’ myself clear?”



“You … can’t,” she stammered again, unable to stop her eyes from flashing wide with fear.



Spike’s smile never wavered. “Meet William the Bloody’s new apprentice,” Spike said genially, moving back a step to allow Lydia to see BuffyBot standing behind him.







Lydia sucked in a frightened gasp, then tried to scream for help again. Spike clamped his hand over her mouth, stopping the sound from escaping. He pressed his mouth to the Watcher’s ear. “Now, if memory serves, you did your thesis on William the Bloody, yeah? Just what do you think is gonna happen after all ten o’ your fingers are broken? Can ya guess what comes next? And then next after that … and after that?” he purred against her, his breath cool against the frightened woman’s skin. “What was that cute little tagline ya used? ‘William the Bloody don’t stop until everything in his path is dead’? It’s the bit before the ‘dead’ that you should be worried about, luv.”



She shuddered and closed her eyes, then swallowed hard. “What do you want to know?” she asked after a few moments, her words muffled against his hand.



**~**



Three nights later, Spike and BuffyBot stood outside the big square building that was the Watchers Council’s headquarters in London. Like its inhabitants, the building had no personality or character – it looked something like a giant block of baker’s chocolate … with windows. It was three a.m. and the streets were nearly deserted in this older section of town which housed mostly offices.







“You know the plan, yeah?” Spike asked the Bot for perhaps the hundredth time.



“Yes. You have conveyed the plan to me two hundred and thirty seven times. I have recorded it verbatim each time. Which reiteration would you like me to recount to you?”



Spike blew out a breath. “None. Time t’ put the words into action, pet. Are you ready?”



“I am fully charged,” the Bot confirmed.







“Right, let’s dance,” Spike instructed as he clasped his hands behind his back and brought his demon up. The Bot grabbed him by one arm and jerked him roughly forward, up the walkway to the front door of the Council headquarters. At the door she paused, never letting go of him, and entered the code Lydia had given them onto the keypad. Spike held his breath, metaphorically speaking. If that bitch lied to him, he’d hunt her down and rip her eyeballs out with a fondue fork, just like he’d promised her.



The lock on the door made a soft ‘click’ as it released. Spike blew out the breath he’d been holding, and allowed the Bot to pull him inside. The moment he crossed the threshold, alarms began to blare through the whole building. Within a second, two guards appeared with crossbows, one from each of two wide corridors leading from the main foyer deeper into the building.



“Stop! Identify yourself!” the older of the two shouted at the intruders.



BuffyBot kept walking, unfazed, dragging Spike, who was now thrashing against her, in her wake. “I’m Buffy Summers – you know – the Vampire Slayer? Ring any bells? The person all you dolts work for.”



The two guards looked at each other across the lobby, then back to the blonds. “Stop,” the older one said again, leveling his crossbow at her in earnest.



BuffyBot stopped walking and dragged Spike up next to her. She roughly shoved him down onto his knees at her side and surreptitiously stepped between him and the guards. She planted one hand on her hip that jutted out to the side, and glared at the man that had spoken.







“What part of ‘Vampire Slayer’ don’t you understand?” she asked him angrily. “I’ve captured William the Bloody. If he escapes or gets dusted because of your incompetence, you can be sure Quentin will know about it.



“And will you please shut off that damn alarm!” she continued vehemently.



“Uhhh … just … ummm … hang on a minute, Miss Summers,” the older guard said as he moved to a console and turned off the blaring alarm.



“Thank you,” the Bot barked sarcastically. She reached down and dragged Spike back to his feet. “I have to get this prisoner to the cell block. Drusilla is still out there somewhere, I need to get back while I can still track her.”



“Ummm … I’ve never … no one’s ever brought prisoners in here before. For that matter, no one’s ever brought a vampire in here before,” the older guard stammered, caught between confusion, fear, and suspicion.



“Oh, well maybe that’s because no one ever caught the most notorious vampire of all time before: William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers. But … whatever, if you’d rather I just dust him, I’ll let you explain to my buddy Quent why he can’t interrogate the vampire that’s killed two Slayers,” the Bot threatened, pulling a stake from the waistband of her jeans and raising it menacingly near Spike’s chest. “Your name again? Just so I have it right for my report to Quentin.”



“No! Wait, I didn’t say that,” the guard blurted out quickly, holding one hand out to stop her. “I just said … I never saw it before.”



“And I guess you’ve seen everything, huh? Ever see a vampire rip someone’s throat out? I’m sure William wouldn’t mind a snack before he gets locked up. C’mon over here … get a firsthand demonstration,” the Bot offered, her voice dripping with saccharine.



The guard put a hand to his throat protectively. “Uhhh … no, that’s ok. Do you need any … help getting it into a cell?” he asked tentatively.



The Bot rolled her eyes and pushed Spike ahead of her down the hallway the older guard had vacated. “As if,” she retorted as she strode after her stumbling captive.



Spike let out another breath of relief. The bloody Bot sounded more like Buffy than Buffy. Of course, he’d practiced all sorts of scenarios with her on the long flight in the cargo-hold of a FedEx plane, but still, you never knew what might throw her for a loop or when she’d start talking about microprocessors and overflowing buffers. The other thing he’d worried about was the night-watchmen knowing that Buffy Summers was already their prisoner. Lydia had said they wouldn’t – they weren’t Watchers or anything other than hired help. They didn’t go into the cell level at all or have any contact with prisoners.



The pair of would-be rescuers navigated the labyrinth of corridors to a freight elevator based on the map Lydia had drawn them, and took it down underground three levels. The door opened to a pristine, brightly lit, white room. There was no furniture in the small room, only another door and a keypad. The door had a small window in it made of bulletproof, or at least vampire-proof, glass. The two blonds moved up to the door in silence and peered through the window. Spike had to force himself not to curse or gasp aloud when he looked into the cell block. He pulled back and rested his back on the wall next to the door – his eyes closed and head hung down.



“I don’t remember this part of the plan in any of your scenarios,” BuffyBot whispered as she looked through the small window. “Should I also lean on the door and pray?”



Spike shook his head and held his hand up, silently asking her to give him a minute. He’d been hit with a supersized helping of déjà vu. The other side of the door held a cellblock that looked suspiciously like one he’d spent time in before – in Sunnydale, under the campus of the University. It looked just like the Initiative’s setup. It wasn’t as big; not nearly as many cells, but the setup appeared exactly the same. So who, exactly, was working for whom in that scenario?



After composing himself for a few moments, Spike pulled Lydia’s access card out of his pocket, slid the magnetic strip through the slot on the locking device, and then entered in the PIN number that went with it. Just like had happened at the main door, the lock released with a ‘click’ and the Bot pushed the heavy door open.







The two intruders slipped in and started moving silently down the corridor. The place was spotless and each cell they passed was empty. Spike began to mutter vitriolic curses under his breath as they continued down the hallway. Had the Council changed their plans and taken Buffy somewhere else? Had Lydia lied to them? Thoughts of murder and mayhem began racing through Spike’s mind as they skulked between the empty, pristine cells.



And then, in the very last one, she was there. Spike nearly shouted her name out loud as relief flooded through him. Buffy’s cell was just as stark and cold as the others. There was a plain toilet bowl in one corner that appeared to be made out of some type of molded plastic rather than porcelain; the plastic being less likely to be broken and used as a weapon, he supposed. Apart from that, there was nothing in it at all. No bed. No chairs. Not even a mat on the floor.



Buffy was huddled in the back corner of the cell opposite the toilet. She had a blanket wrapped around her – the only creature comfort she’d been afforded. He could only see the top of her head as she huddled in the corner beneath the blanket, but there was no mistaking that it was her. She didn’t look up or seem to notice that Spike and the Bot were there.



The Bot reached a hand out toward the seemingly fragile glass wall that separated them from Buffy. Spike grabbed her wrist before she could touch it.



“No,” he whispered. “Electrified,” he explained simply as he quickly swiped the access card in the lock next to Buffy’s cell. At once the electric barrier fell and a door slid open in the clear wall.







The moment the door opened, Spike was knocked back by the putrid smell coming from the room. His demon came up unbidden as the unmistakable aroma of sex mingled with Slayer blood hit him. He staggered, caught off guard by the intensity of it, then a growl began in his gut and reverberated through the whole cell block.



Some part of him knew he needed to stay calm and quiet lest they attract unwanted attention, but a larger part of him wanted to rip and slash and bash and scream in fury. He wanted to gouge out eyes and tear still-beating hearts from the chests of whoever dared touch his Slayer. Spike struggled against his need for violence, trying desperately to regain control of the demon so they could get Buffy out. Images of Buffy being raped flashed through his mind as the demon raged against his effort to control and calm it.



The struggle between rage and calm was physically painful, and Spike staggered and fell to his knees as he tried to regain control. He pushed the heels of his hands against his eyes, trying to stop the visions of Buffy being abused, but it didn’t help. He banged his fists against his head, then fell to the floor, rolling around as if wrestling with an unseen adversary.



The Bot watched helplessly, unsure of what to do. This had not been in any of the scenarios either. “I am not familiar with this ritual. Am I to join you in this dance?” she asked him. “I do not know the proper response to this stimulus.”







Finally Spike let out a long, undulating howl of agony and anger. His whole body went rigid on the floor for several seconds, every muscle pulled tight as a bowstring, then, suddenly, he went limp. His chest heaved with unneeded breath – each inhalation bringing in more of the scent that had stirred his demon in the first place. He finally forced himself to stop breathing, but could not push the demon down, no matter how he tried.



After a few moments, he decided that this was as close to control as he was likely to get, and he pushed himself up off the floor wearily. He took in a breath through his mouth so he could speak and he could taste the spunk and blood and other bodily fluids that hung in the air. He closed his eyes and focused on Buffy. Get the Slayer out. Come back later and kill the bastards. Get Buffy out now.

 

After another long moment, he steeled himself and stepped into the cell. He could almost feel the stench of blood, semen, and human waste on his skin as he moved into the enclosed space.



“Buffy,” he said as calmly as he could. “Buffy, it’s Spike, pet. Here t’ get you out.”



In reply, Buffy recoiled and pulled the blanket over her head as if to hide herself. Her fear was palpable and he could see her trembling under the thin cover of the blanket. She looked like she was trying to embed herself into the wall of the cell, to become invisible – a part of her surroundings.



Spike laid a hand on her shoulder and Buffy jumped under his touch. He felt his demon rage again, but he kept his voice as calm as he knew how. “Buffy, luv … it’s Spike. Not gonna hurt you. We need t’ go.”



Her only response was to try and huddle closer to the wall.



Spike blew out a frustrated breath. “Gonna pick you up, luv. Don’t fight me, Buffy. Not gonna hurt you, pet,” he cajoled as he reached around her and slid her away from the wall.



“No, no … no …” she whispered and tried to scramble back to her ‘hiding place’.







The blanket came off her when she did and Spike felt his demon reasserting itself. Beneath the blanket she was completely nude. Her body was covered in burns, bruises, cuts, and abrasions, all in different stages of healing. There was dried blood, semen, urine, and feces on the blanket and the floor beneath her, as well as on the skin of her legs and buttocks.



“Bloody hell,” Spike groaned, his stomach turning in revulsion and renewed rage. Spike might’ve seen worse in his unlife, but this was different. This was Buffy. Spike fought down the bile that burned the back of his throat, and focused his rage on the mission at hand: Get Buffy out. He could reap his vengeance later.



He steeled himself and wrapped the blanket back around her, then, without trying to be cajoling or gentle, he snaked his arms around her and lifted her off the floor. Buffy whimpered and pushed against his arms as he settled her against his chest, carrying her like a child. Her protests were so weak he barely noticed that she was struggling at all.



“What have they done to you, Slayer?” Spike wondered forlornly as he carried her out of the cell.



Just then he heard the elevator open into the antechamber at the end of the hall. He looked around wildly – they were sitting ducks here in this corridor if whoever that was had a tranq gun or crossbow. On top of which, if there were several of them it was doubtful they’d be able to fight their way out since the Bot was the only currently lucid one that could fight humans. And, as if all that weren’t enough, if whoever was coming sounded the alarm, that would bugger their ultimate escape from the building.



Spike quickly spotted a slatted, unlocked door near them at the very end of the hallway with a sign that said ‘Maintenance’ on it. In just a second he’d come up with a new plan – which was pretty scary all by itself.



**~**



Spike still held Buffy in his arms as he peered out of the slats of the maintenance closet to see who was coming and how many there were.



“No, no, no …” Buffy began objecting again, this time more loudly, as Spike held her in the small, deeply shadowed room. Spike clamped one hand over her mouth to quiet her, and she bit down on the fleshy ball at the base of his thumb.



It wasn’t as hard as it could’ve been, he’d been bitten harder in his unlife, but it still hurt like hell. Spike couldn’t pull away or she’d alert whoever had come in to their position. He clenched his jaw against the pain, keeping his hand pressed against her mouth as Buffy bit down harder.



Bloody hell! he wanted to scream as her teeth cut into him, but he didn’t pull away or drop her. If the price of getting her out of here was a chunk of his flesh, then he’d gladly pay it.



Spike focused on the hallway, allowing Buffy to use his hand as a chew-toy. A solitary man with thinning dark hair and deep-set eyes, strode down the corridor looking like he hadn’t a care in the world. The grin on his lips was incongruous with his gaunt features and stark cheekbones – he looked like a skeleton that had just won the lottery.



“Daddy’s home, toots!” he called happily as he walked. “Did ya miss me?”



The man stopped in front of Buffy’s cell and turned to look in. “Oh yeah, I can tell you missed me. Gonna have to take it easy on you for a couple of days, old man Travers wants to see you on Monday. Be hard to explain all our fun and games as resisting arrest. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun, Slayer-girl,” he continued as he drew his own access card from his pocket.



Weatherby slid the card through the reader, making the force-field fall away and the door slide open.



“I bet I can still make you scream – we’ll just have to make it hurt on the inside,” he continued jovially as he stepped into Buffy’s cell. “I know you’ll still enjoy it just as much.



“But, first things first…” he said as he pulled a syringe from a bag he had slung over his shoulder. He stopped and readied the syringe, clearing the needle of air, and stepped over to the girl huddled under the dirty blanket. Weatherby grabbed her arm through the cover and shoved the long needle into her flesh right through the fabric … or tired to.







The needle went through the fabric and skin, but shattered when it hit the Slayer’s 'muscle'.



The Bot uncovered her head and scowled at the man. “That pierced my state-of-the-art, nanotube-coated, ultra-sensitive, silicone outer shell,” she informed him. “And it hurt.”



Weatherby jerked back and scampered to his feet, sunken eyes suddenly wide with surprise. The Bot took a determined step towards him and he turned to run out of the cell just as the door closed and the force-field came back up. The man barely stopped in time to keep from getting a full-body electrocution.



“No need t’ leave so soon,” Spike drawled past his fangs as he waved his keycard in the air absently from the other side of the barrier. Blood flowed from his hand, splattering the white floor with drops of crimson, but he didn’t seem to notice. “Thought you wanted t’ hear someone scream. I fancy hearing that m’self.”







“Who … how … who?” Weatherby stammered, looking between the Bot and Spike as he backed away and over to one side of the cell.



“Thought you blokes were familiar with a Slayer. Give him a demo of who you are, pet,” Spike told the Bot.



BuffyBot stepped forward toward Weatherby who kept backing up until his back hit the wall. He tried to dodge left, but she cut him off. He scampered back away from her, then he went right, but she was faster, sending him back to the center of the wall again.



“Don’t kill him, pet,” Spike warned as the Bot drew her right fist back. She nodded acknowledgement and swung at Weatherby’s chin. He flinched back and raised his hands to protect his face, but she still connected solidly with the side of his head. His head slammed against the wall and he crumpled to the floor.



“Bloody hell,” Spike complained. “What kinda poncey villain are you? Taken down by one punch from a little girl?



“Get him up and bring him over here,” Spike instructed the Bot.



BuffyBot picked the thin man up by the back of his neck like he was a kitten. Holding him at arm’s length with his feet dangling off the floor, she walked over towards Spike with the dazed, skeletal man.



“Stop there,” Spike instructed her when the man’s face was about three inches away from the electric force field.



“Now then, reckon we’ve answered your question, you can answer one o’ ours,” Spike, still in game-face, continued in a conversational tone. “What’s in that syringe?”



Weatherby looked at Spike blankly as he tried to clear the cobwebs from his brain.



“Come closer,” Spike beckoned the Bot. She moved Weatherby’s face even closer to the field of electricity.



“Not gonna ask again,” Spike warned, looking at Weatherby. “Tell me what’s in that bloody syringe or I’ll have ‘er fry you right here and now.”



Weatherby shook his head and held his hands out in supplication. “It’s … ummm … not really sure. They give it to Slayers for the Cruciamentum. It … weakens them.”



“Is it permanent-like?” Spike continued.



“Uhhh … No. Gotta give it to ‘em everyday t’ keep ‘em … sedate, like normal girls,” the dark man replied.



Spike nodded. “Big man, you are,” Spike growled. “Wanna hear the Slayer scream, but can’t handle her if she’s at full strength. If I had time, I’d show ya a thing or two about pain – but it’ll have t’ wait for another day. In a bit of a rush, we are.”



Spike looked past the man hanging helplessly in mid-air to the Bot. “Crush his dangly bits and let’s go,” he ordered matter-of-factly.



“What!? No! I … answered your bloody question!” Weatherby objected, struggling against the Bot’s superior strength.



“No worries. I’ll reward ya for that,” Spike assured him, smiling around his fangs. “We’ll get to the real screaming another time. This is just to keep you … sedated ‘til I can get back.







“Do it,” he ordered the Bot, his demon face a mask of barely repressed rage.



The Bot nodded again and stepped back from the electric barrier. Almost faster than Spike could see, she dropped the man, slamming him down onto the white tile floor with a hollow thud that drove all the air from his lungs. As he wheezed and moaned, she picked him up by one ankle and drove her other fist straight down between his legs like a sledgehammer. It sounded something like a fist being slammed into a watermelon as all his external parts were suddenly transformed into internal organs.







Weatherby wailed in white-hot agony and thrashed wildly as he clutched at his groin. Within seconds, he went still and silent – the pain and shock sending him into unconsciousness. The Bot dropped him unceremoniously and he fell into a limp heap on the floor.



“Bugger. Was just starting to enjoy the sound o’ that,” Spike groused as he opened the cell with the access card to allow the Bot out before he headed back for the closet where he’d left Buffy.



Spike wrapped Buffy in his duster and picked her back up. She pushed and struggled against him, protesting with a single word repeated over and over again, “No.” He didn’t stop her from speaking this time, but each time she said it a razor of ice slashed at his heart, bleeding him with freezing shards of guilt and regret.



He’d promised her he’d keep her safe and he’d failed. Just like he’d failed Dawn. Maybe he should’ve let Angel take her back to L.A. Maybe none of this would’ve happened if he’d just let her go, not been so bloody selfish and arrogant. Why did he think he could keep her safe? Had he ever had a plan that had actually worked properly? What made him think this would’ve been any different? He was a git, and Buffy had paid the price for his incompetence.



“I’m sorry, Buffy. God, I’m so bloody sorry,” he murmured to her as she continued her litany of ‘no’s, pressing her palms against his chest feebly as he carried her out.



**~**



The Bot checked the hallway outside the elevator on the ground floor, but it was clear. She could hear the guards up at the desk near the front doors – out of view of the freight elevator. She beckoned to Spike, and he came out still carrying Buffy. She was still whispering ‘No, no, no…’ but she’d given up trying to push him away.



The fire exit was only about ten feet away from the freight elevator and Spike headed for it. BuffyBot strode down the hallway back to the main entrance. She stopped at the guards’ small desk and instructed, “Make a notation that no one is to enter the cell level without checking with me first. Even contained, that vamp is extremely dangerous.”



The older guard nodded and began to write something in a logbook on the desk.



“I’ll be back,” she told them, turning toward the front doors. Instead of entering the PIN number to open the front doors, however, she simply pushed on them, cracking steel and shattering glass. The alarm began to blare again as she stepped through the mess into the cool London night, ignoring the complaints and exclamations from the guards.



When the alarm began to sound, Spike pushed open the emergency exit. The guards would have no idea that anyone had gone out that way, what with the alarm already sounding from the Bot’s exit.



It had been touch-and-go for a few minutes down in the cell block, but they had succeeded in getting Buffy back. Spike’s plan had worked almost to perfection, although that was little comfort to him – he’d failed. He’d failed to keep her safe and it tore at his heart, shredding it into a bloody mass of agony and regret. His demon finally relinquished its hold on him as his anger morphed into unbearable pain and guilt. Sobs began to wrack his shoulders as he held Buffy, incoherent, drugged, weakened, and battered, in his arms. She didn't seem to know him, didn't seem to comprehend anything that was going on at all, she just continued to mutter 'no' over and over and over again. Her voice was little more than an un-ending litany of feeble protest, but it bore into Spike's heart like a laser.







After a few moments, the Bot came around the building and joined him. Spike blinked back the blur of tears and together they walked away from the back of the Council’s nondescript building to their waiting car, the alarm still blaring behind them.



As Spike gently set Buffy down in the backseat of their rental, she scrambled away, pressing herself against the other door – as far away from him as she could get. Spike felt a steel band cinch around his chest and he had to wonder if he’d ever really have her back again after this. Just how much could one soul stand? Even the Slayer had limits, her spirit wasn’t indestructible; no one’s was.



His heart, already torn and tattered by what he knew had happened to her, burst into ashes in his chest. His strong Slayer was gone. He felt like he’d been carrying a small sparrow with a broken wing in his arms. He worried that no matter how much he loved her or how hard he tried, she’d never be able to fly again. He had failed Buffy on an epic scale. William the Bloody, taken down by a pitiful herd of Watchers. How pathetic was he? Buffy would’ve been better off without his ‘help’. If she ever did recover enough to fly on her own again, it would serve him right if she flew away and never returned.



**~**



{{  Click here to hear  Don Francisco: Bird With A Broken Wing  on YouTube  }}



Bird with broken wing

Locked up inside

A tiny cage

Till the day I heard your cry

And set you free



But as I reached in

To heal the hurt

You fled in wild dismay

Now your pain

Is made you blind as you can be



Echoes in the distance

Are almost all you hear from me

Each time I speak your name

You fly away



While the agonies of mindless flight

Is more than you can bare

Still you think it's because of me

That you feel this way



Soarin' far above the storm

On wings spread strong and wide

Is the vision that you've buried

In despair



You dash yourself against the stones

And flutter terrified

When my love will heal your wounds

And lift you there



Like a frightened child

Who starts away with every move

You want to trust

But watch so fearfully



Everything you're longing for

Is here within my hands

I'm waiting now for you

To come to me



Soarin' far above the storm

On wings spread strong and wide

Is the vision that you've buried

In despair



You dash yourself against the stones

And flutter terrified

When my love would heal your wounds

And lift you there



Like a frightened child

Who starts away with every move

You want to trust

But watch so fearfully



Everything you're longing for

Is here within my hands

I'm waiting now for you

To come to me



I'm waiting now for you

To come to me

I'm waiting now for you

To come to me

Chapter End Notes:
Oh dear. Will Spike be able to reach Buffy and help her heal from her ordeal, or will this be too much for even his love to overcome? What will happen when he finds out she's pregnant? We'll find out over the next couple of angst-filled chapters.

Was what happened to Weatherby overly squicky? I actually toned it down after PaganBaby said what I'd originally done was too gross. I hope it didn't squick anyone too badly, but I think he deserved it (And more!).
Dazed and Confused by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Look, I'm early!! You can't say I'm totally evil now, can ya!? Posting early ... what more could you ask for?! (Rhetorical! Don't answer that!)


Warning for this chapter: Angst.

Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to all of you who take the time to leave my muse love (and hate) notes! We love them both! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Moments later...

Buffy huddled against the door of the car as the dark world outside whirled past her. She closed her eyes and imagined herself sinking into the cold vinyl of the seat or the hard metal of the door. Sinking … melting … morphing … changing … floating away … leaving her body behind.



No … no, can’t leave. Spike’s baby. Dawn.

A flash of blue danced across the field of black behind her closed lids, taunting her. Spike.

Her eyes burned with tears as she saw his dust being trampled into the short pile of the carpet at the casino. She could see every vivid, heartbreaking detail of it: the garish, industrial carpet, the hundreds of shoes blithely walking through all that was left of her lover, the dry motes being scuffed up, dancing forlornly in the artificial light before settling back to the ground. Spike. Gone. Alone.

She whimpered and curled into an almost painfully tight ball, wrapping her arms around her stomach. Save baby. Do anything. Save baby. All that’s left.

**~**

Within a few hours, the three travelers were settling into a cheap motel along the M20 well outside London. Spike had planned on traveling further, in fact he’d hoped to be on a boat to France before dawn, but he hadn’t planned on Buffy being in the condition she was in.

The Bot unlocked the door to their room and Spike carried Buffy in. He headed straight to the loo with her as the Bot brought in their luggage.

“Ok, pet. Gonna set you down here now and get the shower warm for ya. The soap and water’ll sting, but gotta get you cleaned up. Be a bloody wonder if ya don’t have an infection already,” Spike told her, speaking softly.

The moment he sat Buffy down on her feet, she scrambled for the door to the bathroom. Weakened by the drugs Weatherby had been giving her, she was no match for Spike’s speed, however, and he caught her easily. Buffy pulled against his grip ineffectually, again chanting, “No, no, no,” almost constantly.



“Buffy, luv. Not gonna hurt you, pet,” Spike tried to assure her as he closed the door to the loo, sliding the lock. When he released her arm, she huddled against the door and hunkered down on her haunches, just as she had been in her cell and in the car, now clinging to his duster.

Spike blew out a frustrated, furious breath. Those wankers were gonna pay for this if he had to hunt every last one of them down one by bloody one. Chip or no chip, he was gonna make them pay. There was nothing in the world, nothing in the universe, that would stop him from exacting extreme revenge for what they'd done to his Slayer.

“Buffy, luv,” he began, speaking softly. “It’s me, pet: Spike.”

Buffy shook her head, trembling beneath his duster, never looking up at him. Spike was dust, she knew this – she could see it in her mind’s eye, his dust, the gaudy carpet at the casino, the feet trampling it. This wasn’t Spike, it was the monster. Cold, black eyes stared back at her from behind her closed lids, mocking her, laughing at her with that horrible, cruel chuckle.

“No Spike. Only monster,” she muttered, never looking up.



Spike closed his eyes and his whole body went rigid with her words. His heart felt like it had just imploded in his chest, crashing in upon itself painfully. She was right, of course, he was a monster. He’d failed her epically at every turn, just like the soulless thing he was. Why did he think he could be anything else?

Spike blinked back his tears as the storm of regret raged in his chest, threatening to undo him. He had to … do something; had to hold it together now. He had to make this right. He had to atone for his failure. Could a soulless monster make this right? Was he even capable of atonement? He hadn’t succeeded in doing anything right yet.

Spike’s chin quivered with the strain as he fought to hold his emotions in check. The tears he’d been trying to contain leaked from his eyes and burned his cheeks with shame and remorse as he watched her cowering, utterly terrified, on the floor.

He swiped at his face brusquely; tears weren’t helping Buffy. Deciding that actions were preferable to thoughts, he reached in and turned the water on in the shower and waited for it to get warm. Then, as gently as he could, he lifted her to her feet and tried to pull his duster off her shoulders. She clung desperately to the leather when he tried to pull it away, whimpering like a child lost in the darkness, so Spike just let her take it along as he guided her into the warm spray.

“No! No! No!” Buffy’s objections became more adamant as the water hit her cuts, scrapes, and burns. She thrashed against Spike, trying to get out of the hurtful, stinging spray of water.

“Buffy, stop, luv. Please, baby … stop,” he admonished her, ducking her flailing fists as he tried to hold her under the spray without hurting her further.

“Don’t touch. Stop. Don’t … please don’t touch,” Buffy begged, her voice small and frightened as Spike tried to hold her still.

Spike released his hold at her insistence, but as soon as he did she tried to dive past him, out of the shower. He caught her shoulders again and pressed her back as gently as he could, trying desperately not to frighten her further, but not succeeding. His heart ached. His gut twisted. He eyes stung with bitter tears. His demon raged with fury at her captors and lusted for retribution. He knew he had to get her cleaned up, but all he wanted to do was howl in pain and guilt and anger.

It didn't matter how gentle he was, even the slightest touch seemed to terrorize her. Spike thought of getting the Bot to do this, but Buffy had seemed just as frightened of her when they were in the car. In addition, he was afraid the Bot might be too rough or hurt Buffy further while trying to restrain her.

When Spike captured her again, Buffy let out a keening, forlorn wail of what Spike took to be a mixture of pain and desperation. Spike’s tears came harder as the sound pierced and bled his broken heart. He had let her down royally; completely failed to keep her safe. His promise to her had been a farce and she had paid a horrible price for his stupidity.  He felt the guilt and pain of every bruise, every cut, scrape, and burn on her body – and he knew there was a whole other world of pain inside her that he couldn’t see. He felt that unseen pain even more acutely, right to his very bones.

After struggling with him for about five minutes, Buffy’s energy and adrenaline finally waned. She gave up and stood rigid and resigned under the shower spray, waiting for what she knew would come, what she’d been unable to fight: the pain.

Spike was finally able to peel his duster off her. He tossed the soaked leather onto the floor then turned back to Buffy. Her entire body was shivering violently. Spike checked the water again, but it felt plenty warm to him. Then, as the stench of the last few days was washed from her skin, the aroma of her fear reached his nostrils.

“God, Buffy, what did they do to you?” he whispered, although he had an all too clear idea of what they’d done. They’d loaded her up with their drugs and made her weak and helpless. They’d abused her, tortured her, raped her in every way imaginable and she’d been powerless to fight it. A powerless Slayer was the perfect recipe for mental collapse, even more so than a normal human – as if her heart and soul hadn’t been through enough already.

“I swear to God and the Devil that they’ll pay for this, Buffy. They’ll pay,” he assured her, his voice an angry, savage growl. “If there’s one thing I bloody well know how t’ do, it’s deliver retribution. I'll 'ave their bloody guts for garters.”



At his snarling declaration, Buffy backed away from him, her eyes searching wildly for an escape or a place to hide. Her arms were wrapped around her torso, crossed over her stomach as if in pain there. She didn’t even try to cover her breasts or hide her dark triangle of curls from Spike, and he worried that she was injured internally.

Spike made a concerted effort to calm his voice and spread his hands in a placating gesture. “Sorry, luv. Didn’t mean t’ frighten you. Let’s get ya clean and see about some food. Are ya pecki … errr … hungry?”

Buffy didn’t answer, she just continued to look like a frightened rabbit that had been cornered by a fox, desperately seeking an escape but finding none. Spike sighed heavily, grabbed the washcloth and soap, and began cleaning her skin and wounds as gently as he could while being as thorough as possible.

He spoke to her the whole time. He kept his voice level and as calm as he could, and warned her before he touched a different area. Buffy jumped every single time he touched the cloth to skin, no matter how gentle he was or how much warning he gave her. Spike could smell her fear and hear her heart lurch in her chest with each touch, and it twisted the dagger of guilt in his gut.

“Buffy, I know you don’t want me t’ do this, but I’m gonna have to clean your … privates,” he said finally, having done all the rest of her body, including her hair. “I won’t hurt you, pet. I bloody well promise I won’t, but we gotta do this.”



Spike steeled himself and lifted one of her legs to rest her foot on the edge of the tub so that her knee was bent. He lathered up the cloth with soap and gently ran it along the thigh of the bent leg toward her apex. He felt her stiffen and her chant of ‘no’ begin again, but he pressed on, talking to her reassuringly the whole time.

Buffy’s eyes clenched shut almost painfully, and her hands tightened into fists as he cleaned the crusted blood, spunk, and dirt from her genitals. As he worked, careful to be as gentle as he could, her chant changed.

“Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t…”

“Not gonna hurt you, pet,” Spike assured her. “No one’ll ever hurt you again.”

“Please … please don’t hurt my baby. Please, I’ll be good, I’ll do anything, just don’t hurt my baby. I can scream … I’ll scream for you … anything … please,” she begged.

Spike looked up at her, his eyes wide as he searched her face, trying to confirm what he thought he heard. “Your baby? What are you on about? What baby, Slayer?”

“Please, just don’t hurt my baby,” she repeated. “It’s all I have. Anything … I’ll do anything.” Buffy seemed to melt down into the bottom of the tub, curling into a protective ball around her stomach. Spike just watched her, not making any move to stop her from pulling away from him, as his mind whirled.

“What bloody baby?” he asked again, trying keep his voice calm as the water showered down on her prone body where she was curled into a ball in the bottom of the tub. “Whose baby is it? Slayer, what are you on about?” he demanded as he stood over her.



Buffy didn’t answer, in fact she’d stopped saying anything at all.

Spike’s mind whirled, his emotions, already jangled, began to clank and clatter as well. Too many thoughts raced through his mind, everything from the utterly ridiculous, that she was carrying his baby; to the infuriating, that she’d slept with someone else during their time in Vegas; to the most probable, she was pretending to be pregnant in hopes the monster would leave her be, or the wanker-rapist had told her she was up the duff just to make her more vulnerable and, in her weakened state, she believed him. Of course, it was obvious that the sadistic bastard had done his level best to make sure it was true.

Spike's blood boiled. He didn't know what to believe, what to think. His mind tried to go down too many paths at the same time and was overwhelmed with the possibilities.

He tried to gather his wits about him, taking one thing at a time. The first possibility to be dismissed was that he could be the father. That, he knew, was simply impossible. That had been nothing more than an emotional knee-jerk reaction and, now that he'd engaged his brain, he could drop that off the list of considerations.

As he thought, he realized there was another thing he could rule out right quick. Spike turned and stormed out of the loo, dripping water across the floor as he went. “Bot! You know anything about Buffy being preggers?”

BuffyBot looked up from where she was unpacking her charging system and frowned. “I do not understand the question. Please restate.”

“Buffy. The Slayer,” Spike repeated, jabbing a finger toward the bathroom. “Preggers. Up the duff. With … child,” he clarified through clenched teeth.

“No. I have no knowledge of this. However, she has had copious amounts of unprotected sexual intercourse over the last weeks. That is, as I understand it, conducive to becoming … duffed.”



Spike growled. “Who was she havin’ this bloody unprotected sex with?”

“You. And me. Although I do not produce semen, so I am relatively certain that I am not responsible for duffing her.”

Spike ran a frustrated hand through his wet hair. “Who else?”

“I did not observe her fornicating with anyone else. Was she supposed to?”

Spike's jaw ticced and he suppressed a growl. "Nooo," he answered very slowly, drawing the word out.

“She show any special interest in any other blokes when I wasn’t there?” Spike tried.

“Oh, yes. She was quite smitten with one male that we spent time with at the Mirage," the Bot offered brightly.

“Who?” Spike growled, stepping closer to the Bot, his hands clenched at his sides as he tried to contain his hurt, fury, and jealousy.



“Hae-won. She was quite fond of Hae-won – she had her picture taken with him. I believe the photo captured their kiss. She was particularly pleased with that photographic memento and filed it with the others.”

Spike spun on his heel and grabbed Buffy’s original suitcase – the one he’d packed back in Sunnydale – his emotions reeling. He opened it and dumped all the contents onto the bed. Clothes, photos, and stuffed toys fell in a heap on the bedspread. He began digging through the stack, searching for the photo of this Hae-won wanker.

“Where is it?” Spike demanded angrily when he didn’t immediately find anything, his eyes flashing amber and his control slipping dangerously.

The Bot stepped forward and began searching, finally finding the photo. She held it up to him, smiling proudly at her success.

“What the bloody hell is that?!” he snarled, looking it.

“Hae-won. The male we spent the day with at the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. We were his trainers for a full day. Dolphins are very intelligent, however they smell rather fishy. I am certain that she told you about it in great detail. She was very fond of him.”



“Arrrrrgggh!” Spike roared in frustration, and perhaps a little relief. He ran his hands over his face and through his hair again, then he shook his head, letting the tension in his body go.

“Probably not preggers at all,” he muttered to himself as he turned to go back into the loo. “Told her that t’ help control her, make ‘er more vulnerable, they did.”

**~**

A couple of nights later …

Buffy blinked at the man across the table from her, trying to get her mind to focus. He was trying to get her to eat some food. Her stomach grumbled hungrily, but she refused. Trick. Spike’s dust. Hallucinating. Monster.



She hugged her arms around her stomach and leaned forward protectively. What did he want now? Not screaming. He wanted screaming before, but not now. Her stomach rumbled again. She could smell the food: chicken soup. Not Campbell's ... something else. He wanted her to eat the soup. But what was in the soup? She’d just started to be able to focus again, get a little of her strength back, what if it was a trick? What if the soup was drugged or poisoned? What if it would make her abort the baby?

He sounded so much like Spike; looked like Spike. She must be hallucinating. She closed her eyes and tried to think. Maybe it was a trick. Everything was jumbled up. She remembered that Spike was dust. She could see the dust in the carpet at the hotel; see the people walking through it, grinding it into the pile until it was completely gone. She remembered that she was pregnant with Spike’s baby. It was all she had left of him. Had to protect it. The soup might hurt it. Was it drugged? She was so hungry.

God, she wished this monster would just stop talking! Stop talking like Spike! Stop looking like Spike! How could she think with it doing that, taunting her like that?

Oh, God … Spike. Tears began to leak from her eyes as her emotions and confusion raged. She missed Spike – she’d gotten him killed … dusted. She … she should’ve told him sooner that she loved him. He’d died trying to protect her, she’d stolen his soul to save Dawn, and she’d been too selfish to even give him those words the first night she realized it. She’d withheld it too long, only telling him because it slipped out accidentally. Selfish. So selfish.

**~**

Spike sighed as Buffy closed her eyes and curled around her stomach as she sat in the chair across from him. She hadn’t eaten anything since they’d rescued her, even though it was clear that she was ravenously hungry. He was going to have to take her to the hospital if she didn’t start eating soon; there would be no choice. She was wasting away, much too thin, and still afraid of him and the Bot.



He tried one more time, inching the spoonful of chicken noodle soup near her face, which was bent down, her chin on her chest.

“Stop it! Monster! I know what you are! You’re a monster!” she screamed at him, knocking the spoon out of his hand and sending it skittering across the room.

The dagger in Spike’s heart twisted. He was a monster and now she remembered it all too well. He’d fooled her into thinking he was a man – deluded himself into believing it – but he was nothing but a monster.

“Buffy, luv …” he cajoled, his voice breaking with emotion.

“Stay away from me! Don’t touch me!” she continued, scrambling out of the chair and away from him. “Stop being Spike! Just stop it!”

Buffy backed to the furthest corner of the room and huddled beside the bed. She keened softly as she re-curled her arms around her stomach, holding herself in a tight, protective embrace.

Spike huffed out a forlorn breath. “I wish I could, pet. Wish I could be someone you deserve, someone you could count on.”

**~**

The next day …

Spike awoke near mid-day to the sound of the top being popped off one of the cans of soup that sat on the table in their room. He blinked and looked around. The Bot was standing guard near the door to the room while he slept to make sure Buffy didn’t leave or do anything to hurt herself. Spike followed the Bot’s eyes to the source of the sound: Buffy.



Spike watched as Buffy tipped the now open can of soup up and drank it down like glass of water, pausing only momentarily to chew some of the bits of chicken and the soft noodles. She finished the first one and opened another, devouring it greedily. Spike dared not move or speak or ask her if she wouldn’t rather have it warmed up and properly diluted. She was eating! Thank the bloody devil.

The next can she opened held raviolis in tomato sauce. She ate that more slowly, having to chew the little squares of pasta stuffed with meat. When she was done, she went to the sink in the bathroom and got a glass of water to wash it down.

While she was in there, Spike rose, dressed in only his jeans, and he stood waiting for her when she returned. Buffy froze when she re-entered the bedroom area of the hotel room, the glass of water in hand, her eyes locked on Spike’s. He could hear her heartbeat lurch and speed up, feel her anxiety heighten.



“Why are you doing this? Why are you torturing me?” she ground out, anger and fear warring inside her for dominance. The glass in her hand shattered as she gripped it too tightly, sending shards of glass and water flying. She jerked her hand back in surprise. Blood poured from a cut across her palm.

“Buffy!” Spike exclaimed, his eyes wide with fear that she’d cut herself badly.

He rushed over to her, carefully avoiding stepping on the broken glass, and took her hand in his to examine it. As soon as he grabbed her wrist to look at her hand, Buffy wailed in terror and tried to pull away from his grip. Spike realized his mistake and released his hold almost immediately, but it wasn’t soon enough to keep her from being again consumed by her fear. Buffy nearly fell as she scrambled away, retreating to the safety of the bathroom, begging him to ‘stop, just stop’ the whole way.

Spike followed behind her slowly, trying not to panic her further. He found her crouched in the tub, her eyes were locked on the blood on her hand.

“Blood … so much blood,” she muttered, staring the crimson that dripped from her palm. “Dawn … oh, Dawn … no…”

“Buffy, stay with me, luv. Not Dawn’s blood,” Spike assured her as he stepped forward slowly. Buffy’s eyes shot up to him, frightened, terrified orbs of green, and her heart-rate spiked again.

Spike held his hands up in a placating gesture and took two more slow steps up to her. “Buffy, luv,” he began gently. “Need t’ see it, pet. Need t’ wash it off so I can see … ‘ere … in the sink,” he cajoled, waving a hand slowly at the sink to his left.



Buffy’s eyes shifted from the sink, to her hand, and back again.

“It’s not Dawn’s blood, pet,” Spike assured her again. “Let’s just get it washed off so I can see how bad it is.”

Buffy’s chest heaved with apprehension as Spike reached his hand out and carefully closed it over her wrist again.

Not Spike. Monster. Not Spike. What does it want?

“Not gonna hurt you,” he continued as he pulled gently, coaxing her to her feet. “Jus’ come over ‘ere to the sink, pet.”

Spike didn’t need his vampiric senses to know that Buffy’s heart was about to pound out of her chest with her fear; he could literally see her sternum vibrating beneath her shirt with the power of her terrified pulse. He pulled a tiny bit harder, a gentle pressure on her arm, trying to ease her out of the tub. After a moment, Buffy followed on wobbly legs, her eyes again focused on the blood that dripped from her hand.



Holding her bleeding hand over the sink, he removed a couple of slivers of glass that had embedded in the wound and then ran the cut under the water.

Buffy watched as the blood swirled down off her hand, into the sink, and down the drain. A déjà vu moment came over her – she’d done this before, seen this before. When? Oh yeah, in Vegas … in that diner. Her heart constricted when she thought of Vegas and … “Spike,” she muttered forlornly, watching the blood washing away.

“I’m ‘ere, luv. It’s not bad, no worries. Just bandage it closed, we will, and you’ll be alright,” Spike assured her, still talking as calmly as he knew how. So absorbed in tending to Buffy was he, that Spike didn't even notice that his demon never made a single attempt to rise, even with Slayer blood being wasted, washed down the sink. Had even his demon been repulsed and sickened by what Buffy had endured?

Buffy looked up at him, her eyes wild, caught somewhere between fear, anger, and misery. Why wouldn’t the monster just stop being Spike!? Stop torturing her!? What did it want? She’d give it what it wanted if it would just stop being Spike.



Spike lifted his gaze to hers, his blue eyes deep pools of regret and concern, and Buffy’s breath caught in her throat. She looked away quickly. Not Spike, not Spike, not… Her internal chant stopped abruptly when she looked in the mirror. She was alone. She looked back – the monster was still there … but the mirror … Her eyes darted back and forth between the mirror and the hallucination in front of her. But, no – not a hallucination, he was solid – she could feel its hands on hers. The monster was playing tricks…

Spike tilted his head and studied her confused expression, then he looked into the mirror and nodded, understanding. “Vampire,” he explained simply, as if she could’ve somehow forgotten that he was a soulless monster.

Buffy shook her head, trying to make sense of it. No … no, that was wrong. The monster was … human. Not a vampire. The monster ... its eyes were soulless, but it was … human.

She lifted her eyes to his again, searching for the truth, willing her jumbled, exhausted mind to function properly. He looked so earnest, so concerned. Was the monster even capable of looking like that? His eyes were so blue, such deep, soothing pools of comfort. Could the monster veil himself that well?

“Spike?” Buffy asked, her voice quivering and unsure. “Spike … is that … really you?” she asked between gasping intakes of breath, teetering on the verge of hyperventilating.

He gave her a small, sad smile. “’Course, who else, pet?”



“But … I saw you dust … You were dust … in the carpet. You were gone … shoes trampled you … I saw … I … thought...” Buffy rubbed at her forehead and eyes with her free hand, willing energy into her brain, forcing her thoughts into cohesiveness. Had she actually seen that? She remembered it vividly, dust grinding into the carpet, but …

“No … no … wait.” She looked back up at him, her eyes wide with realization. “They said you were dust … stomped into the carpet. But I could see it so clearly ...”

“Rumors of my ultimate death ‘ave, apparently, been greatly exaggerated,” Spike quipped flatly, reaching a hand out to touch her face, still holding her injured hand in his other.

Buffy flinched involuntarily away from him and he stopped, his hand frozen in mid-air. Everything stopped for a time – a second, a minute, an hour, Buffy wasn’t sure – and they both stood perfectly still. She focused on his eyes, trying to see the truth, willing her brain to believe what she saw. But she’d seen him dust, too – she’d been so sure. What was real? She couldn’t tell. She couldn’t believe what her eyes told her – they lied to her brain. But … it looked so much like Spike and there was no reflection.

“W-when was ... when was the first time you told me you loved me?” she asked hesitantly.

Spike dropped the hand he had near her face as he winced and looked away from her. He pursed his lips and fought back the flood of shame that rose up inside him at the memory.



“Spike … if it’s you … tell me. I can’t … my mind … it’s … Please, just tell me so I know it’s you,” Buffy pleaded.

Spike took a deep breath, still holding her one hand over the sink, and said, “Tried t’ tell you on the stake-out, when we were checking out that vamp nest – but ya wouldn’t let me get the words out. The first time I actually said it to you was when I had ya shackled in my crypt … with Dru.”

“Oh my God,” she whispered, her eyes not leaving his. Buffy pulled her hand from his, wrapped her arms around his waist, and pulled him into a hesitant embrace. “Spike. You’re alive.”

Spike stiffened as she hugged him. The guilt and pain of what she’d been through, what she was still going through, cutting him to his very core. Monsters who had failed the woman they loved didn’t deserve hugs, they deserved stakes to the heart, and that’s exactly what Buffy’s embrace felt like. After a moment, he forced his arms to tentatively return her hug. As he expected, Buffy started and her pulse quickened with fear when his arms closed around her. He quickly pulled away and stepped back out of her personal space, lest he send her skittering away in a panic.

“Well, still undead, at any rate,” he confirmed dryly, forcing his hands to his sides. He wanted nothing more than to pull her to him and wrap her in a protective cocoon of love, but he could feel her body tense, smell her fear rise sharply every time he touched her. His heart ached for her, but he had no idea know what to do to help her. He was relatively sure sending her scrambling into a corner by frightening her wouldn't help.

Buffy stared at him, confused again. It was really Spike, wasn’t it? But why was he so cold and distant? Maybe it was the monster, fooling her. Was he trying to drive her insane? Was it some experiment to see how much a Slayer can take before she snaps? Were the Watchers living up to their name and watching? Buffy looked around the bathroom, searching for little hidden cameras, but didn’t see any.



She looked in the mirror again; the man before her had no reflection. Even a magical veil couldn’t do that, could it? Buffy turned unsure eyes back to him.

“When … when did I first tell you I loved you?” Buffy asked, confusion etched in her features.

Spike gave her a sad smile. His throat tightened with emotion and he had to clear it twice before he could speak. “Ya let it slip out when you and the Bot were giving me my … surprise.”

Tears of relief stung the back of Buffy’s eyes and she let out the breath she’d been holding. She began to step forward again, back into his protective, comforting embrace, but, before she could move, Spike abruptly turned on his heel and stepped out of the bathroom.

“That nosh must’ve helped, eh? Been trying t’ tell ya that for days, pet. Helped wash away the drugs, I reckon. Maybe get some life up to them gray cells,” he said as he walked away.

Buffy took a tentative step after him, still confused by his less than enthusiastic response to her epiphany. “I … I thought you were trying to drug me. I thought you were … the monster,” she explained hesitantly.

Spike shrugged as he began to dig in one of the suitcases for the first aid kit. “Yeah, well, got part of it right, didn’t ya?” he agreed dourly.

Spike knew she was right to flinch away from his touch – he was a monster. His embrace didn’t comfort her, it terrorized her. God, what she must’ve been through to become so skittish. Spike didn't even have time to focus on the fact that she was at least talking to him rationally before he grew angry again, the rage burning in his belly like a wildfire, threatening to engulf him. He was angry with himself for not protecting her, and with the Council for having people like that on their payroll, and with the monster that had actually touched her. He fought to keep the growl out of his voice, lest he frighten her further. He couldn’t force his tone back to comforting, the best he could do was steady and level.

“Let’s get that hand bandaged.”

Buffy stared at him, dumbfounded. He spoke like they barely knew each other, like they were casual acquaintances, his tone flat and business-like. Maybe she was still … confused. That must be it. She was just … perceiving things wrong. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to touch her. He wasn’t pulling away because of what the monster did to her … right? It wasn’t because she was permanently stained with the monster’s filth … right?



She closed her eyes and shuddered, remembering.

Oh God … please no.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Dazed and Confused, Led Zeppelin on YouTube  }}

Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and few of them know
Soul of a woman was created below, yeah

You hurt and abuse tellin' all of your lies
Run 'round sweet baby, Lord how they hypnotize
Sweet little baby, I don't know where you've been
Gonna love you baby, here I come again

Every day I work so hard, bringin' home my hard earned pay
Try to love you baby, but you push me away
Don't know where you're goin', only know just where you've been
Sweet little baby, I want you again

Ah ahh...
Oh yeah, alright
I don't want your lovin' this time yeah
Oh don't leave me so confused, ah
Ohh baby

Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you
Take it easy baby, let them say what they will
Tongue wag so much when I send you the bill?
Oh yeah, alright

Oh oh...
Chapter End Notes:
Well, the good news is, Buffy's not in a fugue state like she was before. The bad news is, she's suffering from post-traumatic stress and panicking if she's touched or grabbed. Spike is walking on egg shells, trying not to panic her or scare her, but she doesn't understand his actions and motivations. How will they each get past their own inner guilts and demons so they can move on? And what will happen when Spike discovers she really is pregnant (with what he's sure is another man's child)? We'll find out ... Next update on Tuesday.
Misunderstood by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Warning for this chapter: Angst and misunderstanding. Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Buffy watched as Spike bandaged her cut hand with detached efficiency. He didn’t speak or drop a kiss atop it or … do anything that would suggest that he even knew her. He could’ve been a stranger off the street. Maybe … maybe it wasn’t Spike after all. She shook her head, no … the monster wouldn’t have bandaged her hand. Or would he?



If he was trying to pretend to be Spike but didn’t really know how to be him… But, he knew about the crypt and the shackles and the declaration of love. But that hadn’t exactly been the best-kept secret in her life at the time. But he also knew about when she’d told him that she loved him, and that had only been between him, her, and the Bot. There was no way anyone else could know that – could they? Could someone have hacked into the Bot and … read her bytes or bits or something?

Buffy cleared her throat as he finished. “Ummm … can I … go outside?” she asked, her eyes darting to the door and freedom beyond.

“Reckon so. But the sun’s up,” Spike-but-possibly-not-Spike told her. “Can’t go with ya. Ya want the Bot…?”

“No! No … just … me,” Buffy hastened, backing away from him, her heart-rate climbing nervously.

Spike furrowed his brow worriedly. “Dunno if those Council wankers are lookin’ for us or not,” he warned. “Might be best t’ stay inside.”



Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. Maybe this wasn’t Spike after all. “Just for a minute. Haven’t seen the sun in … years,” she pleaded.

Spike rubbed at his eyes, hiding his disappointment. His heart wanted to rejoice: Buffy was talking in full sentences! She seemed coherent and lucid, there was only one problem: she couldn’t bear being near him. Even when he wasn’t touching her, she couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with him. And how could he blame her? She’d been reminded of the truth of him in the harshest way possible: he was a monster, a soulless demon. No matter how hard he’d tried, the fact was he’d broken all of his promises to her. He didn’t deserve her affections. He was so far beneath her that he could barely even see the light of her soul any longer.

Spike blinked back his emotions and forced a smile to his lips. “Right … just for a bit, then. But it’d be best t’ keep back away from the road, yeah? Just in case.”

Buffy’s brows went up in surprise. Was he really gonna let her leave without an escort? She moved quickly toward the door, expecting him or the other one that looked like the Bot, to stop her. Neither did. She yanked the door open and escaped quickly, striding down the walkway outside as fast as she could without actually running. She ducked around the corner of the building and stopped, pressing her back against the wall. After a moment, she dared a quick look back around the corner. No one was following her.

Buffy frowned and again tried to make sense of what was going on. The monster would not have let her go, even if he was trying to pretend to be Spike. She tapped her fingertips against her forehead, trying to think. How could she find out what had happened back in Vegas? How could she be sure Spike was or wasn’t dust?



“Opie… I’ll call Opie. No … that wasn’t his name. What was his name?” The tapping of her fingers on her forehead got almost painful before it came to her, “Richard … Rick.”

**~**

Buffy hung up the phone in the hotel’s office with a heavy sigh. She’d gotten in touch with ‘Opie’ at the MGM Grand. He’d relayed the story to her – which everyone there knew whether they’d seen the shoot-out and abduction or not – it was all anyone was talking about. Spike had not been dusted – he and the Bot had hurriedly checked out of the hotel within a day of the incident.

Buffy thanked the motel owner for letting her use the office phone and signed the paper to have the charges put on their room’s bill. Outside, she stood with her eyes closed, her face tilted up to the late-summer sun, and tried to understand why Spike was acting so strangely.

She shuddered and ran her hands up and down her arms, trying to wipe away the unclean feeling that seemed to ooze from her pores. Tears burned her eyes behind her closed lids – of course Spike could smell it on her. He could smell the monster, smell the filth that she’d been rolling in. If she’d only fought! She could’ve escaped, stopped it. Why didn’t she fight harder? It was all her fault. She’d given up, let the monster take what it wanted and Spike knew it. He knew she was foul … polluted. Unworthy. Her very soul felt stained.

Buffy heard footsteps approaching and knew immediately who it was from the purposeful strides. She sniffed back her tears and shame, and pulled a mask over her broken heart, then turned to face the Bot.

“Spike asked me to make certain you were not injuring yourself or in any danger.”

Buffy nodded and unconsciously laid a hand over her abdomen. “No … I … I won’t do that,” she assured her twin. “And … I didn’t go near the road – no one saw me.” Buffy swallowed nervously and asked, “Is Spike … mad at me?”

The Bot tilted her head, considering. “He has been in a very contrite and tense mood for several days. I believe if he did not have the behavior modification chip, he would’ve killed many humans while you were not in our company.

“He was also quite furious when he informed me that you were duffed, but I am not entirely certain why this caused anger.”



Buffy looked at her with confusion. “Duffed? … Does that mean … dirty or… used?”

“With child,” the Bot replied. “It was a new term for me, as well.”

“Oh,” Buffy breathed forlornly, again touching her hand to her stomach. “How did he know?”

“You told him.”

“Oh.” Buffy sagged. She felt like the world was pressing in on her, crushing her from all sides. Of course he’d be angry that she was duffed. Hadn’t he told her as much several times? He didn’t want children. He didn’t want all that responsibility and the tying down and the ruining of Big Bad’s reputation.

“So … he was uber-mad about that, huh?” Buffy asked her twin as she chewed her lower lip worriedly.



The Bot nodded firmly. “He seems firmly opposed to you copulating with other human males.”

Buffy nodded forlornly as she walked over to the nearest wall. She leaned her back against it and sank down onto the walkway. She pulled her knees to her chest and covered her head with her arms as the weight of the world continued to press down on her.

Her heart cracked open inside her from the unbearable weight, and everything good and happy that she’d ever felt seem to leach out and evaporate. Every laugh, every joy, every happy memory, every drop of love, every ray of hope simply floated away on the breeze, leaving her feeling empty and hopeless.

That overwhelming urge to give up began to assert itself again. She felt so empty, so alone … so dirty. All that was left was the mission; everything else was gone. She had to persevere for Dawn – she’d promised her mom and she would do it, but she knew now that she'd completely lost Spike.

She consoled herself with the knowledge that she had been going to leave him anyway. He didn’t want her now. It made sense, why would he want someone that had ‘copulated with another human male’? Even she could smell the rot of her tainted soul. Spike loved the Champion … the Slayer; Buffy was neither any longer. What would’ve been a heart-wrenching step, a step she’d been having a hard time taking back in Vegas, would be easier now. She just needed to get her feet back on solid ground and she would go. She’d take the burden of kicking her, and the baby he didn’t want, out off of his shoulders.

“You will be satisfied to know that Spike was very pleased with my performance during our mission to liberate you from the Watcher’s Council headquarters,” the Bot offered as she sat down next to Buffy.



Buffy wiped her eyes and turned her head, which still rested on her knees, to look at her twin. “Was he? What did he say?”

“He said I acted more like the Slayer than the Slayer, which I find redundant since I am the Slayer. But I believe he meant it to be a compliment, so I did not point out the error in his logic.”

Buffy nodded, the side of her head still resting on her knees, and blinked her tears back as the last few drops of hope fell from her broken heart and splattered on the sidewalk. Spike had, apparently, done what she’d wanted: he’d transferred his feelings for her to the Bot. That had been her plan all along – so why did it hurt so much now that it had worked?  

“I don’t think I thanked you for getting me out of there. Thank you,” Buffy offered, her voice thick with emotion.

“It is not necessary. Like Spider-Man, action is the Slayer’s reward,” the Bot replied, smiling brightly.

Buffy nodded again. She remembered that feeling – she didn’t feel it anymore. She just felt empty, alone, and afraid of the future. She really had passed her full Slayer mantle on to the Bot, including Spike’s love and respect.

That night …

Buffy stood on the bow of the small boat as it chugged across the channel to France. The water was choppy and the deck heaved and swayed beneath her feet. When Buffy had complained of queasiness, the captain had sent her out here into the damp, fresh air, and told her to keep her eyes on the horizon. That was easier said than done – inky darkness was all she could see in all directions at this time of night. Once in a while a light from a buoy or perhaps another ship would reflect in the water, but that was about it.

Buffy did her best to think non-sickening thoughts, but her heart really wasn’t in it. The last few days had taken their toll on her mind and heart.  She was jumpy and nervous, she was depressed and heartbroken, Spike was distant, she wondered if she’d ever be able to wash Weatherby’s stench off her body and out of her mind, and now, just to make her entire existence complete, she was gonna hurl.

It hit her like a bolt, the rumbling unease in her stomach suddenly turning into a tumult of bile at the back of her throat. Buffy instinctively leaned over the railing as far as she could, unable to stop what was coming.

As she flung her upper body across the railing, the ship hit a particularly large swell, and the deck was suddenly ripped from beneath her feet as she was pitched forward. She grabbed for the railing and gasped in surprise, but began to choke on the contents of her stomach that refused to be hindered from its mission to escape her body. She felt herself falling forward toward the cold, black water and panic took hold as she fumbled weakly against the railing, trying to push herself back onto the deck.

In the next moment she felt strong hands grab her hips and begin to pull her away from the water. A new panic replaced the old one in a split second. Soulless, coal-black eyes filled her vision; they were laughing at her, jeering, threatening, taunting her cruelly. Buffy began to kick and tried to scream past the dry heaves that had followed the contents of her stomach up to her throat. She felt her jeans sliding down her hips as the hands fought against her. Fingers dug into her flesh painfully as they tugged in earnest to get her back onto the deck.

“Nooo! No! No!” she finally managed to shriek as she landed hard on the deck.

“Buffy … luv,” Spike began as he released the hold he’d had on her hips.

She kicked at her attacker with all her strength and scrabbled away from him, shuffling like a crab across the rolling, shifting deck.



The sole of her Converse tennis shoe smacked Spike in the jaw as he tried to follow her across the deck and he stopped. In her weakened state, the only thing actually hurt was his heart. He could smell her fear, her terror, even out here in the open air. Buffy was afraid of him … afraid of being touched, of being held – and it was his fault. How could he ever make amends for failing her so horribly? The answer, he knew, was that he couldn’t.

Buffy stopped when her back hit the railing on the other side of the small bow. She curled herself up into a ball, her knees to her chest, as she pressed against it. As she’d done in the cell and in the car, she appeared to be trying to melt into it and disappear.

“Buffy? You alright, luv? You hurt?” Spike asked as he moved a little closer to her, but not so close as to seem threatening.

Buffy nodded, her head against her knees, never looking up at him.

“Which is it, pet? Alright or hurt?” Spike tried to clarify, his head tilted in concern.



Buffy nodded again, then shook her head, still not looking up.

Spike sighed.

“Be just another fifteen minutes or so and we’ll be there, luv,” he continued. “Do ya … need anything? A drink o’ water?”

Buffy shook her head against her knees.

“Ok, pet … Didn’t mean t’ frighten ya. Thought you were … going overboard into the bloody drink,” Spike explained gently, backing away from her further.

Buffy took a few deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She forced the vision of cruel, coal-black eyes that had flashed in her mind away. She realized now that it was only Spike that had grabbed her, trying to save her from falling overboard – it wasn’t the monster. Finally, with that realization settling in, she felt herself calming down.

“I know. It’s … okay. I’m … okay, I’m sorry,” she said finally. She forced a small, apologetic smile to her lips and reached her hand out to Spike as she lifted her head up from her knees. Her forced smile fell into a grim frown when she found herself alone on the deck.

An icy fist closed around her throat, threatening to suffocate her. She blinked back her tears as she saw Spike back inside the small cabin of the boat. He was talking to the captain, smoking a cigarette as if nothing had happened, not even looking at her.



Buffy dropped her head back down against her knees as lost, lonely tears trickled from her eyes and the boat rocked beneath her. Even Spike’s love wasn’t strong enough to endure the filthy stench of the last few days that oozed from her very soul.

Of course, her mind knew this already, but she hadn’t been able to kill the small flicker of hope that Spike might be able to find a way to forgive her which clung fiercely to her heart. He’d probably never love her again, probably never be able to touch her, but maybe … one day he wouldn't hate her for it.

**~**

“I paid you a bloody fortune ‘cos you said this little piece o’ shite could handle the crossing covert-like,” Spike growled at the captain back inside the cabin. “Ya got my woman sick and nearly tossed over the bloody side!” he ranted at the man. “I’ve literally killed people for less!”



Spike lit a cigarette with shaking fingers, the flame wavering before finally igniting the tobacco, and took a long drag to try and calm his nerves. He glanced over at Buffy through the cabin’s window, his expression somber and worried, but she hadn’t moved. Her head still rested atop her knees, her body plastered against the cold, metal railing. His heart ached for her. He wanted to hold her and take her pain away, take her fear away, take those days away from her and bear them for her, but his touch only seemed to frighten and hurt her more.

Although she was lucid, the fire seemed to have gone from her heart, and he had no idea how to rekindle it. Nothing he said, nothing he did seemed to make any difference. He was lost – he couldn’t touch Buffy, couldn’t be near her without frightening her, without reminding her of his failure and the price she’d paid for it. He felt like he’d been set adrift in a vast ocean with no idea how to reach her or even what direction to swim. She was his heart and soul, and she was lost to him, beyond his reach.

“I assure you, monsieur,” the French captain of the small vessel replied, pulling Spike’s attention back to him. “The ship is quite capable. I do apologize for your chérie’s upset, but the weather is out of my control, no?”

Spike sighed and ran a hand back through his hair. They really had no option but to take the small ship across the channel. The captain assured Spike he could get around customs and immigration, since they didn’t have any passports.

“‘S alright,” he sighed, inhaling more of the calming nicotine from his cigarette and looking back at Buffy, who still hadn’t moved.



All he could do was keep trying. Give her time, give her space, and be there for her when she finally came to him. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her or frighten her more than she’d already been hurt and frightened.

**~**

Spike unlocked the door of the bungalow and opened it, ushering Buffy and the Bot in ahead of him. They all carried bags and suitcases and began plopping them down on any flat surface as they entered the small, one bedroom, efficiency cabin on the beach.

Buffy took the suitcases that held her and Spike’s clothes into the only bedroom and set them on the dresser before coming back out to help Spike and the Bot with the rest. They had groceries as well, since the cabin had a kitchenette, and blood for Spike.

As she and the Bot started putting the groceries away, Spike went and retrieved the bag that had his clothes in it from the bedroom and set it on the floor next to the couch, then took the Bot’s suitcase and charging equipment and put them in the bedroom.

Buffy watched him surreptitiously as she put his blood in the fridge, and that small flicker of hope that had been clinging to her heart withered. She could feel it dying, guttering out, shriveling up painfully in her chest. She wasn’t confused now or panicked or frightened. She hadn’t misunderstood his coldness the last couple of days: Spike had rejected her. She’d made it clear that she wanted to be with him by purposely putting both of their bags in the bedroom, but he’d dissed her again. There was no way to refute it now: he didn’t want her anymore; he didn’t love her. Her time as a captive and the baby in her womb had changed everything.

He caught her watching him and ran a hand nervously back through his platinum locks, ducking his head like a schoolboy caught snitching a cookie from the jar.



“Thought I’d … take the couch,” he explained lamely. He waited for her to object, to say she hadn’t put his bag in the bedroom by mistake, but she didn’t. Of course it had just been a mistake. If she’d had her full strength, she would’ve taken his head off a few hours ago on the boat. His touch, his very proximity, horrified and terrified her. With Buffy seemingly lucid and sane, it seemed clear that she was only tolerating his presence because she needed him, and the money he’d won in Vegas, to help elude the Watchers. One day, he knew, she’d ask for her share of that money and she’d be gone. He’d let her down too horribly for her to stay. He'd failed her.

Spike blinked back tears of frustration and anguish, wishing for some epiphany to strike him and tell him what to do to reach his Slayer, what magical words he should use to make her forgive him and love him again, but none came. The best he could hope for was that his little sparrow would need some time to heal her wings before deciding to fly away. He clung to the hope that those perfect words would come to him in that time, words that would show her how sorry he was, how much he needed her and loved her.

Buffy turned away from him and pretended to be reading a label on something – which she knew was ludicrous because it was in French – but it allowed her a moment to swallow back her tears.

Oh, God – he really didn’t love her anymore! No matter how many times that realization came to her, it still hurt just as much. She was stained, spoiled, soiled, dirty. The monster had used her up and turned her into something Spike couldn’t bear to touch.

Spike watched her turn away from him, literally and figuratively, and his regret and heartache became more than he could possibly contain. The last days had been too much of a strain, and he felt the thin threads of his emotional control unraveling. He turned abruptly and headed into the loo where he could drown his sorrow and guilt in the lonely spray of the shower. He couldn’t wash it away, he knew, but at least he wouldn’t frighten Buffy further by having a breakdown in the soddin’ living room.

“Would you like me to translate the nutritional information for you?” the Bot asked helpfully, taking the container, which happened to be mustard, from Buffy’s hand.

“No … that’s ok,” Buffy assured her. “I was just …”

“Concealing your disappointment that Spike no longer wants to touch, copulate, or even sleep in the same room with us,” the Bot filled in.

Buffy looked around wide-eyed, but Spike had gone into the bathroom – the shower was running, he hadn’t heard.

“Yes,” Buffy admitted, turning back to the Bot. “But … don’t tell him how much it hurts. It’s not his fault. I just don’t think he … likes me anymore … not since …”



The Bot nodded knowingly. “Since another other human male copulated with you.  Spike was extremely angry when we discovered you in that condition.”

Buffy’s tears became more insistent and she blinked to try and stop them, but they fell anyway.

“Yeah … I got the memo.”

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  The Animals, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood on YouTube  }}

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I feel real bad.

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry
And then you're bound to see my other side

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy, I want you to know,
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has its problems, and I get my share,
And that's one thing I never mean to do

'Cause I love you,
Oh,

Oh, oh, oh, baby - don't you know I'm human
I have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I find myself, Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some little simple thing I've done

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

FADE
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good

**~**

Special Announcement ...

James Marsters' band, Ghost of the Robot, is giving an online concert on April 6th. Tickets are 'pay what you can', suggested $5. If you haven't signed up for this YOU NEED TO! Even if you can't listen to the concert, a $5 ticket gets you access to a chat room where the band stops in. So far, we've had JAMES, Charlie, and Sullivan stop in to chat and kid around with us! I'm serious! This is too fun! You'll find fanfic writers in the room and just lots of fun Spuffy fans! It's totally worth it! The convos are a riot! Here's the link:  
{{  Click here to check out GOTR on STAGEIT  }
Chapter End Notes:
Oh dear ... and round and round they go ... where they stop only my evil muse knows! I don't think the Bot was extremely helpful, but she did try, bless her heart. More on Saturday! Stop in and tell me how evil I am ... I can take it!
Push and Pull by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Warning for this chapter: Uber-angst.
**
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
{{  Click here to hear  Nikka Costa - Push & Pull  on YouTube  }}

Mr. Nothing's got a lot
He's got a lot to say
He's good at being what he's not
Gives nothing away
Another day goes on by
And he never speaks his heart
He takes his chance with what he's got
It's too late now to stop

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It's tying you up while you're fadin'
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round 'till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It's tying you up while you're fadin' into your lie

Mr. Nothing is late
He's running out of time
He questions whether chance or fate will ever show a sign
Looks to the sky above
For a glimpse of what it means
And never never never make
Make no sense to him

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It's tying you up while you're fadin'
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round 'till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It's tying you up while you're fadin' into your lie

You push and you pull it


**~** 

Time moved on, as time tends to do. Two months passed in a slow, painful dance. Tides of hope washed over their lives, but each time hope swelled for either of them it inevitably retreated, the promise unfulfilled. When Spike reached out, Buffy couldn’t stop her re-programmed fear-reflex from flinching away; when Buffy steeled herself and reached out, Spike unknowingly thwarted her, afraid of causing her more harm.

They danced together, but to completely different music, so close and yet so far away. It was as if neither could actually see their partner. They danced blindly, passing close but rarely touching, like mimes who were just performing a parody of a dance in complete and utter darkness.

At times they would nearly meet, nearly touch, nearly see how hard the other one was trying, but their own guilt, remorse, fear, and heartbreak kept them from truly seeing what was right in front of them. As time went on, hope dwindled and frustration grew on both sides. Past deceptions took on lives of their own inside their minds. The harder each one tried to do what they thought the other wanted and needed, the wider the chasm between them became until the tide of hope was swallowed before it could even reach them.


You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It's tying you up while you're fadin' into your lie



**~** 

A couple of months after arriving in France …

“Breaking News Update! With the shocking attacks on the World Trade Center in New York barely twenty-four hours ago, an explosion this morning at the oldest security and consulting firm in London is thought to be another act of the same terrorist group.

“The explosion at the Watcher’s Council headquarters building this morning could be felt ten kilometers away and broke windows up to a kilometer away from ground zero. Experts are saying that the bombs were set to explode at 10:30a.m, presumably to produce the highest possible collateral damage within the ranks of the firm. Authorities have not released the exact death toll, but it is thought to include the head of the firm, Quentin Travers as well as ...”

The Bot frowned as Spike cut the volume down on the television. “They are taking credit away from you and giving it to terrorists,” she complained.



“All the better,” Spike assured her as he stared out the large picture window above the television. “Least they won’t be lookin’ for us while they’re chasin’ bloody ghosts.”

"But your planning and execution were so bloody brilliant," the Bot pouted. "It is not fair that you went to all that work and expense, and you do not even receive a mention by the politically-controlled, yet inane, media."

"'S alright, pet. Don't need the accolades; the result's all that makes a bloody damn. Killed the wankers, didn't I? Foolin' this chip ain't as hard as it looks. Put the explosives in empty boxes o' chocolates and it don't know the soddin' difference. Shoddy workmanship's what it is. 'Course, anyone that'd have Captain Cardboard as a leader ... well, it's to be expected, I reckon."

“Do you believe the man with crushed genitals was in the building when it exploded?” the Bot asked.

Spike shook his head. “No. Made sure of it. Got different plans for him, I do. Getting’ blown t’ bits is too good for that wanker.”

Spike’s eyes came to rest on Buffy, who was sitting in her normal place in an Adirondack chair on the white sand beach outside their small, rented bungalow. The Mediterranean Sea stretched out beyond her, bluer than the sky, and sparkling like diamonds in the autumn sun.



This ‘campground’ in the south of France had been a perfect hiding place for them during the summer with tourists constantly coming and going. Now, though, the beaches and most of the bungalows near them were nearly deserted as summer began to fade into fall. Buffy didn’t seem to notice the cooling temperatures or the thinning crowds. She didn’t seem to notice much of anything these days, truth be told. She spent her days on the white sand beach outside their backdoor, swimming, walking in the surf, or just sitting and staring at the blue, crystalline sea.

The baby she was carrying was just starting to show on her thin frame now – she hadn’t been wrong or lying about being pregnant. Spike looked down at the three home pregnancy tests that stayed on top of the TV, and idly straightened them each with a finger. When Buffy missed her period a couple of weeks after they'd arrived in France, he’d sent the Bot to the store to buy one. When he’d finally been able to convince Buffy to pee on the stick – something she had been vehemently opposed to doing – it came back positive. Not believing it, he sent the Bot back to the store for another one – a different brand – and then another one. They all came back positive. Buffy was, indeed, pregnant.

They had an evening appointment next week with an English-speaking midwife in the nearby town of Perpignan. The midwife worked with an OBGYN, but had assured Spike on the phone that, as long as the mother was healthy and there were no complications, a home birth was no problem. Spike didn’t want to take Buffy to the hospital for many reasons, not the least of which was her hatred and fear of them. Buffy had calmed down considerably since being here – fewer things seemed to utterly unhinge her – but he didn’t know what would happen if she got truly scared again, especially now that she had her full strength back.

Spike looked up from the three test sticks and back at Buffy. The breeze off the sea was billowing through her long, flaxen hair, her skin had regained a deep golden tan from the weeks spent in the sun, and all the wounds – at least the external ones – that had been inflicted on her, had healed. She looked like the picture of health … except for her eyes. Anyone that didn’t know her might not notice, but Spike did. The fire was gone from her eyes. The fight, the vitality, the passion that had been in them had died. Everything that made Buffy Buffy had been extinguished.



Spike had seen that look before in the eyes of two other Slayers – just before he killed them. They had given up, welcomed the end of the fight. He had seen in it Buffy before, also – while she was in her ‘fugue’ state after Dawn had died. She’d just gotten past that, gotten her guilt and despair under control when the Council’s Wet Works team had tricked Spike, used him as bait, and snatched her.

He had hoped that she could break out of her depression, but so far – nearly two months later – she hadn’t. This time it was different than before. Now she was a walking, talking shell; an animated corpse. She could understand you when you spoke to her and she could reply coherently, but there was nothing of the Buffy he knew left: no quips, no smart-ass remarks, no jokes, no laughter, no indignation. She had two modes: frightened beyond all reason or relative indifference to everyone and everything. It was like her heart had simply shut down.

Spike had given her space and given her time, but she never came to him. The few times he’d instinctively reached out and touched her, she’d flinched and pulled away, leaving him even more guilt-ridden than before. He told Buffy that he loved her every day, but it didn’t seem to register with her. He knew she could hear him, knew she could understand, but the declaration fell on deaf ears, and was never returned. Of course, he didn’t really expect it to be returned – he knew he was undeserving of her love.

As obscene as it sounded even to his ears, he was a little bit thankful for her depressed state, it had kept her from flying away from him – at least physically. He knew that when she was stronger she'd most certainly leave him. He knew that he didn’t deserve either her affection or her trust. She was using him now, biding her time. It hurt ... a lot. There was a dagger in his gut that twisted constantly with that knowledge, but it was better than the alternative: not having her at all.

Still, his poet’s heart refused to give up completely, so he kept trying everyday, hoping against hope that one day she'd say the words back to him again. His heart had always been foolish.

The Bot came up behind Spike and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her head on his shoulder-blade. She slid one hand down and cupped his penis through his jeans with her warm palm. “Can I love you today?” she asked, giving his genitals a soft squeeze.

Spike pulled her hand away. “Not today,” he replied, his tone flat, almost bored. He’d stopped getting angry with her for it. She asked him every day without fail since Buffy had been taken.

“Buffy said I should love you for her if she was gone,” the Bot reminded him again, as she did every day.

“She’s not gone,” Spike growled back at her through clenched teeth, never taking his eyes off Buffy.

The Bot backed away from him, her features sullen. “It appears that her circuits were overheated and badly damaged. It is as if she is gone. I promised her that I would love you for her. You are not allowing me to keep my promise.”



Spike closed his eyes and took in several deep breaths as he fought the tears back. “She’s … not … gone,” he repeated emphatically, his voice cracking with the emotions he tried so hard to contain. “Now drop it,” he snarled at her as tears leaked from behind his closed lids.

“I will go take Buffy a glass of milk. I calculate that she is not consuming the recommended amount of calcium a gestating human should receive,” the Bot offered, before turning and heading to the small kitchenette in the bungalow.

Spike opened his eyes and blinked to clear his vision. Only then did he realize he had clenched his fists so hard his nails had drawn blood on his palms. He flexed his hands and wiped the blood off on his jeans, trying to get his pain and frustration under control.

He watched the Bot go out into the sun and bring Buffy the milk. The Slayer made a face, and a moment later the Bot came back with it.

“She would prefer chocolate milk,” the Bot announced when she came back into the bungalow.

“There’s chocolate syrup in the fridge,” Spike told her, never taking his eyes off of Buffy. “Don’t use the whole bottle – read the bloody directions this time.”



His mind went where it did at least a thousand times a day: who was the father of Buffy’s baby? He’d asked Buffy point-blank who the father was, but she’d only given him a tight-lipped, blank stare in reply.

At first he thought it was the bloody psycho that raped her, but now that it was clear how far along she was, that just didn’t add up. And, on top of that, why would she want to protect his child? And one thing that could get her riled up faster than anything was any danger to the fetus. Even the mention of terminating the pregnancy, which Spike had done when they’d first confirmed it, drew an immediate and unmistakable objection from the Slayer. She’d physically attacked him when he suggested it. The Bot pulled her off, and Buffy didn’t hurt him beyond a bloodied nose, but she’d made her feelings perfectly clear. Spike had never suggested it again. The idea of her having another man’s baby tore Spike up inside. It made that knife, which already twisted in his gut with guilt and heartache, burn with the fire of jealousy and betrayal.

The Bot insisted that she had never seen Buffy giving any attention to any other human male when they were in Vegas, and she wasn’t far enough along for it to belong to Captain Cardboard. It had to have happened while they were in Vegas – there was no other possibility.

Spike was perplexed to say the least; at worst he was heartbroken, jealous, and angry. She’d told him that she loved him and then obviously went off and screwed someone else. Had she, even then, still considered him to be a monster? Had she just been using him all along, right from the very beginning? She taken the love he’d given her in such earnestness and trampled it like it was nothing, like it meant nothing. He’d told her once that she wasn’t like Dru, but he’d been wrong – she was, apparently, just exactly like Dru.

The horrible irony of it was he still loved her. He couldn’t blame her for thinking him a monster – he most certainly was. He’d failed her, he didn’t deserve her, but, God help him, he still wanted her. He wanted her heart to heal and for her to be herself again. He wanted her to be happy and healthy, he wanted her to smile and dance and call him a pig; he wanted her to be Buffy. He was still Love’s Bitch; it didn’t seem to matter how many times he got kicked in the balls, he just kept coming back for more pain and heartache.

He’d hoped that, with time, her Slayer healing would find a way to fix whatever had snapped inside Buffy and destroyed her heart. His only other hope was when she gave birth that perhaps the sight of this child that she protected so fiercely would give her a reason to live, bring some spark back to her heart.

Before, he’d thought that having her back for short periods was worse than not having her at all – now he knew different. This was worse. What he'd do when she actually flew away from him, he had no idea. Mostly likely he'd crumble into a billion motes of dust.

Spike was lost and more than a little conflicted. Nothing he’d tried made any difference to her mental state. He tried talking to her, he’d tried being silent. He’d suggested going other places – to Paris or Madrid. She’d just shrugged; nothing piqued her interest. The few times he’d touched her, usually as a simple reflex, she’d flinched away from him. So, despite longing to hold her in his arms and comfort her, he’d given her space, never pushed, but she never came to him, so he let her be. He may be a pathetic, soulless monster, but he refused to act a cad and remove all doubt.



He was at once angry at her for using him, for cheating on him after she’d told him she loved him, and heartbroken that he’d lost whatever love or affection she might have felt for him. His emotions were up and down like a rollercoaster – feeling undeserving of her love one moment and furious at her for using him, for lying to him about her feelings the next.

Now, he watched the Bot take the chocolate milk back out to Buffy where she sat in the sun – the one place Spike could not join her, he noted sourly. Buffy drank it down in several long gulps and handed the glass back to the Bot, then she turned her eyes back to the sea – her favorite, pretty much only, pastime of late.

Spike sighed heavily, and headed for the couch, turning the volume back up on the TV as he went. He lay down and closed his eyes, resting his arm over them to block out the indirect light coming in through the windows. The newscaster began talking again about the terrorist attacks and the increased security being instituted at all airports in the wake of the hijackings in New York.

They would have a much harder time sneaking onto airplanes from now on, Spike surmised.

When he heard the Bot come back inside he said, “Gonna get some kip. Keep an eye on ‘er for me and wake me up if she does anything at all.”

“I will do so,” the Bot replied as she rinsed the glass out in the sink, then went to stand in front of the window where Spike had been to keep a watch over Buffy.

**~**

Buffy drank the chocolate milk that the Bot brought her, and then turned her eyes back to the blue water that sparkled into infinity in front of her. The sun felt warm on her skin and she wished, as she did every day, that it would find a way to melt the ice crystals that had formed inside her bruised and battered heart.



Her body was healed, but the feeling of shame never left her, and Spike’s rejection only served to fuel and harden the glacier inside. Even casual touches between them seemed to make him pull away further, as if he could still feel the dirt lingering on her skin, the disgrace shrouding her soul.

She thought of the few times he’d actually reached out and touched her. It usually startled her, he did it so rarely, but when she’d turn to him to try and give him a smile or a touch back, the look in his eyes of shock and disgust made her back away. She could see it all in his expressive eyes: see the giant disappointment that she was to him.

He’d learned the secret of her in those few touches: she hadn’t fought against the monster hard enough; she’d given up, given in. She wasn’t the person he used to love; she wasn’t the Slayer, wasn’t strong, wasn’t anyone that was worthy of his love. Just like every other man that had ever tried to love her, she had ruined it, and he had turned away.

Oh, he said the words everyday at least once, ‘I love you.’ Sometimes he’d go on and on, but she wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince: her or himself. But Buffy knew the truth. She could see it in his eyes. Spike’s eyes were the window to his true heart; he spoke volumes with those blue orbs. If a picture was worth a thousand words, then the expressions that blazed through Spike’s eyes were worth a million. The love and adoration that had been in his eyes had been extinguished – her anchor was gone. She knew she had lost his love, no matter what his mouth said.

As she listened to the waves lap gently against the shore, she rolled her eyes, remembering the three pregnancy tests. One right after another came back positive. She knew they would, of course. She’d tried to avoid peeing on the stupid things, but in the end, what did it really matter? Spike already knew, all they would do was confirm his worst nightmare: he had a morose ex-Slayer on his hands who was pregnant with a child he did not want.



The worst part, of course, was the hurt and anger that blazed in Spike’s eyes when he saw the positive tests.  He’d demanded to know who the father was. He was so upset – furious really. How could she tell him what he didn’t want to hear? What if he kicked her out right then and there? She’d be pregnant, penniless, and stranded in a foreign country without anything or anyone to help her.

She knew she needed a plan, a way to make some money so she could go. She was frightened Spike would kick her to the curb before she could figure anything out. Unfortunately, the icicles that now resided in the spot where her heart used to be made rational planning nearly impossible. She just kept going in endless, hopeless circles, unable find any solutions.

So, she did the only thing she could do, she just kept sitting in the sun, staring at the blue sea, and waiting for something to melt the listless depression that burned her with its icy fingers. Buffy felt like an iceberg adrift in the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean and not even the Mediterranean sun could melt her prison of ice.

**~**

“What’s the matter, luv?” Spike asked Buffy later that night as she ate the dinner that BuffyBot had cooked for her.

Spike had purchased some books about pregnancy, since he’d never actually been pregnant before or known anyone that was. The selection included a ‘healthy pregnancy’ cookbook, and the Bot had taken it upon herself to learn to cook and make meals for Buffy from the book. Since Spike wasn't pregnant, he'd been spared; he just had a mug of blood.

Buffy had been shoving the food around on her plate for about ten minutes, but had yet to eat any of it.



“You feelin’ alright? Not got that mornin’, noon, and night sickness again, do ya?”

Buffy shook her head, studying the food, never looking up at him. She shuddered at the mention of the month-long hurl-fest that had begun on the boat on the way over here. She could go forever without experiencing that again.

“What’s wrong then?” Spike wondered, tilting his head to try and see into her down-turned face.



Buffy looked up at the Bot and then at Spike. “I … don’t think this is … supposed to touch.”

“Whaddya mean?” Spike wondered.

Buffy waved her fork at the salad in front of her. “Things are touching that shouldn’t touch.”

The Bot frowned. “I made it exactly according to the directions in the book. Watermelon, arugula, feta, and mint salad tossed together with dressing made with onions, lime juice, olive oil, and olives. It has been arranged and presented exactly like the photographic representation of the final product in the book.



“Watermelon helps with bloating because it is a natural diuretic and has fiber,” the Bot continued brightly. “‘This salad has an amazing flavor, combining the sweetness of watermelon with savory elements from the feta, and the herby tang of the mint and lettuce. Because of the low calories, you can eat as much of it as you want’,” the Bot professed, quoting from the cookbook.

Buffy looked back down at her plate, her face impassive. “I’ve eaten all I want,” she said flatly. “I’d like some ice cream now.”

“Buffy, luv, even I know you can’t live on ice cream and chocolate milk,” Spike chided her.

“When you have finished the salad, I have mushroom quinoa risotto as the next course. Quinoa is a super food because it’s a great source of protein, fiber, and iron,” the Bot offered cheerily, clearly pleased to be able to contribute to the household and Buffy’s well-being. “And then the main course is Korean beef broccoli. After that, you can have a moderate-sized bowl of ice cream for dessert.”

“Ya gotta think of the little bit, eat healthy, get lots o’ vitamins and whatall,” Spike encouraged her. “You want t’ do what’s best for the bit, yeah?”

Buffy sighed and laid her left hand over the small bulge in her stomach, clearly torn. After a few moments she stabbed her fork into a piece of the watermelon in the salad and grudgingly brought it to her lips.

As she began chewing, her face was perhaps the most expressive Spike had seen since rescuing her. It contorted into something almost painful as she chewed, swallowed, then took another forkful of the salad. The second bite had to be washed down with water in order for her to actually swallow it, but she managed. From there, each bite got progressively smaller and apparently more painful to chew and swallow. If Spike hadn’t known better, he would’ve thought she was putting on and laughed at her machinations, but he was sure she was not joking – at all.



“That’s probably enough o’ that, then,” he offered, finally showing some mercy when half the salad was gone. “Maybe try some o’ that … mush stuff ya got,” he directed the Bot.

The Bot frowned. “I do not have any ‘mush stuff’. The next course is mushroom quinoa risotto.”

“Right,” Spike agreed. “Let’s try that.”

Buffy washed the last bite of salad she’d taken down with a large drink of water and rubbed her hand round and round over the small bump in her abdomen.

“I’m sure the bit ‘preciates the sacrifice, luv,” Spike offered.



Buffy simply nodded as she waited for the Bot to bring the ‘mush stuff’.

Spike automatically reached out to give her hand, which was resting on the table, a reassuring squeeze, but he caught himself in time, and pretended to be picking up a bit of food off the table instead. He left his hand there, just inches from hers, for several moments, waiting, praying for her to take it, to touch him. But Buffy didn’t move her hand to his or even seem to notice. He sighed and pulled it away, back into his own space.

He knew better than to hope for any show of affection from her. She didn’t love him anymore – if she ever had – but his foolish heart kept hoping for her to toss him a teeny-tiny crumb. It was all he needed to ease the pain, just a crumb. But it didn't come.

Spike gave Buffy a small, encouraging smile and wished he hadn’t taken the salad away. Even seeing her face contorted with what apparently was distasteful food was preferable to the flat stare. He stabbed a fork into the remains of her salad, took a big bite, and immediately began to choke.

Buffy watched him choke and chew and finally force the bite down, but made no remark, she didn’t even smile. She should’ve said, ‘I told you so,’ at the very least – but no quip or smart-ass comment flew from her lips. Nothing.

“Well then, that was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” Spike offered, sliding the rest of the salad away. “Let’s take that one off the menu, pet,” he instructed the Bot as she set a bowl of the mush stuff … errr … mushroom quinoa risotto down in front of Buffy.

“The salad does not have an amazing flavor?” BuffyBot asked, perplexed.

“It’s amazin’ alright,” Spike muttered. “Just a little too amazin’, I reckon.”

 **~**

A few days later…



“What the bloody hell is that?” Spike questioned suspiciously, his brows furrowed as he looked at the blurry, black-and-white image on the monitor. “Looks like one o’ them bloody big-eyed aliens!”

The French midwife spoke English well enough, but with a thick accent that made her a little hard to understand at times. Her laugher, however, needed no interpretation. “Tweens,” she said, still smiling.

“Tweens?” Spike repeated in the same thick, French accent, trying to process the word. “Twins!?” he realized, his eyes growing wide. “She’s having twins?”

“Indeed, Papa. Congratulations, no?” she asked, her smile still wide.

The midwife was in her late forties or perhaps as old as her mid-fifties, Spike guessed, and on the plump side, although quite pleasantly. She had an easy smile, twinkling green eyes, and thick hair the color of rich copper that fell in soft waves to her shoulders, framing her round, friendly face. Her name was Marie-…lise Simon and, according to the licenses and diplomas on one wall of her office, she’d been licensed and practicing midwifery for twenty years. Based on the photographs of babies and whole families that plastered the other three walls, she had brought her share of children into the world.

“No, I’m not the fa…” Spike started, then stopped. “Errr … I mean, yeah, brilliant.”

Spike looked down at Buffy and asked, “Did ya hear, luv? Tweens. Two little bits.”



Buffy’s eyes were glued to the monitor; she didn’t answer him or even seem to hear. Even so, for the first time in what seemed forever, Spike thought he saw a flicker of emotion pass behind the dull green façade that used to be her glittering, emerald eyes.

“A boy and a girl,” Buffy mumbled flatly, not really speaking to anyone in particular, or moving her gaze from the blurry image.

“Ahhh, it is much too soon to tell, mon amie,” Marie-…lise replied in her thick accent. “But certainly it is possible.”

**~**

“Twins,” Spike muttered to himself as he drove the rental car back from the midwife’s office to their cabin by the sea, his hands tightening on the wheel involuntarily.



“Did you know?” he asked Buffy, giving her an oblique glance before looking back at the road.

“No,” she replied blandly.

“Then why did ya think it’d be a boy and a girl?” he wondered, suspicion tingeing his words. She knew more than she was saying, that much was certain. Her stubborn silence drove the dagger deeper into Spike's gut, ripping him to shreds.

Buffy shrugged.

“Slayer, I wish you’d tell me who the father is. I promise I won’t … be brassed off … for too long … or hurt … much. Won’t go off killin’ anyone or ripping lungs out … right away, or do anything … daft. Won't yell or scream ... rant or rave. Just ... for the love of bloody God, tell me.”

Buffy hugged her arms over her stomach, turned her face away from Spike, and looked out the window to her right at the dark landscape passing by.



“Not good enough,” Buffy said to the window in a monotone.

“Bloody right, he’s not,” Spike agreed heartily, his ire growing with each passing second. “What kinda tosser did you find t’ screw that knocks ya up – with twins no less! – and just buggers off …” Spike stopped ranting when he caught movement from Buffy, she was shaking her head in disagreement.

“What? You defendin’ him now?” he asked tersely, leaning forward, trying to see her face. All he could catch were glimpses of her reflection in the window when a passing light illuminated her features.

The knife that twisted his guts day and night began to expand its reach, cutting into his dead heart and releasing the hurt, jealousy, anger, and frustration that he kept contained there most of the time. Spike felt himself beginning to tumble out of control. He suddenly snapped. He'd been pushed the the brink and the Slayer had shoved him over the side. He fell onto the jagged rocks below, breaking open like Humpty Dumpty, and he was powerless to put himself back together again. All his emotions, his disappointment, his jealousy, his rage, and wounded pride poured out of him in that moment like a flood that had been held too long behind an ever-weakening dam.



“Whaddya think, Slayer, that your Prince-fucking-Charming’ll be riding up with a glass slipper for ya? Take you away to his soddin’ palace and you’ll live happily ever-bloody-after?”

She was still shaking her head negatively. “Your promise. It’s not good enough.”

Spike pursed his lips, his anger and hurt wrestling control of his mouth away from his brain and his heart. A muscle ticced in his jaw as every bit of frustration he’d been feeling boiled over, scorching everything in its path. The volcano inside him erupted in a ruthless tumult of pain aimed right at Buffy.

“Yeah, well, it’s all I’m givin’. You knock boots with some git and tell me I’m not bloody good enough? I get saddled with a boatload, a bloody double-boatload of manly responsibility and I’m not good enough?

“Didn’t see him carryin’ you outta that prison cell! Didn’t see him taking you to the doc. If I didn’t love you, those bits woulda been down the bloody toilet long ago. Don’t need it, I don’t.

“Face it, Slayer, you’re stuck with me. A bloody monster, the evil undead. Get the fuck used to it or get the fuck out! It’s what you want anyway. Why the bloody fuck do ya keep hanging about twisting this knife in my gut? We both know ya don’t want t’ be here. Fucking go, already. Put me outta my bloody misery!”

Buffy nodded, never looking at him, as the icicles in her heart stabbed painfully against her ribs. I’m trying, Spike. I’m trying so hard, she thought as a single tear slid down her cheek.



They drove the rest of the way home in tension-filled silence.

When they got back to the cabin, Spike was still seething. He strode inside ahead of her, still hurt and angry with her betrayal and secrecy. His heart ached, his pride stung, and his anger burned white-hot inside his gut. Buffy didn’t love him, that much was abundantly clear. He’d given her space, given her time, given her everything he knew how to give her, but it wasn’t enough to make her truly love him. She’d just been using him, trampling on his heart, on his love, just like Dru had.

There was just so much a monster could take. Well, he was done. Done being a doormat, done being a whipping boy, done being Love’s Bitch; his patience and understanding and hope had reached their limits. He was done being ‘not good enough’ for the bloody bitch Slayer. He was just done.



He went over to his suitcase, slid his fingers in between the lining and the outer-shell, and pulled out a double-handful of hundred-dollar bills. He turned and tossed them on the floor at Buffy’s feet. “There. That’s what ya want, yeah? Don’t need this monster skulkin’ about at your heels anymore. I’m not bloody good enough, eh? Fine, Slayer, go find someone that is so I can pull this soddin’ knife outta my belly. I’m dying by inches, here … death by a thousand cuts – and you're the soddin' blade.”

Spike turned abruptly, his duster swirling around his legs, and headed for the bedroom. “C’mon,” he demanded sharply to the Bot who had come out of the bedroom when they’d arrived. “Buffy’s on the couch t’night,” he said, grabbing BuffyBot’s arm and pulling her toward the single bedroom that Buffy and the Bot had been sharing while he slept on the couch.

“I do not understand,” the Bot complained as she followed in his wake.

“You wanna love me? Brilliant. Let’s go,” Spike clarified as he pulled her into the bedroom and slammed the door behind them.

Buffy stood in the center of the living room, looking blankly from the closed door to the money at her feet. A moment later her pillow and a blanket were tossed out, and the door closed again, slamming even harder this time.



Buffy bowed her head, knelt down, and slowly picked up her pillow and blanket from the floor. She gathered up the cash that Spike had tossed at her and stuffed it into her pillowcase as tears welled in her eyes and her frozen heart cracked painfully in her chest. When she was done, she sat down on the couch, clutching the pillow and blanket to her body as the Bot’s excited voice drifted to her from the other room, “Oh, Spike!”

Buffy curled up on the couch, still hugging the bedclothes to her chest. More painful tears fell from her eyes as she listened to the plan that she’d concocted so long ago come to fruition: Spike was over her, he had a lover, he wasn’t alone; she was. Be careful what you wish for …

**~**

Spike pulled the Bot into the bedroom and slammed the door behind them. He flung her by the arm, sending her stumbling across the floor before landing on the bed. He stalked after her, his frustration and rage burning a hole in his chest, right through his heart.



“Thinks I’m not bloody good enough,” he muttered to himself darkly as he grabbed one of the pillows and a blanket from the bed and tossed it back out to Buffy, slamming the door closed again.

“Fine. That’s just bloody fine. Don’t need her bleedin’ games, I don’t,” he grumbled, shrugging his duster off his shoulders and dropping it to the floor.

BuffyBot had just started to sit back up from where she’d landed on the bed when Spike put a knee on one side of her and crushed his mouth to hers in a vicious kiss. He began tugging her shirt off in a feverish rush as the adrenaline-powered kiss intensified.



“Oh, Spike!” she exclaimed when the kiss broke long enough for him to pull her shirt over her head. His mouth was on hers again a second later as he pressed her down onto the mattress, covering her body with his, devouring her lips and tongue in an angry, hungry kiss.

The Bot’s arms went around his back and began pulling his shirt up as he’d done hers.

Suddenly, a muffled sob broke from Spike’s lips and his entire body sagged, all the anger-fueled adrenaline seeping out of him in a single moment. Spike’s hands stilled and he gently broke the connection of their lips.

“Stop, pet,” he whispered to her, his voice barely audible, his breath cool against her fevered lips.

He dropped his head and buried his face in the crook of the Bot’s neck as he began to sob against her in earnest.

BuffyBot’s hands stilled, still clutching his shirt in her fingers as she searched her files for the appropriate response. After a moment she patted Spike’s back tentatively as she’d seen done on numerous TV shows.

“I’ve lost ‘er,” Spike wept against her warm skin. “I’m a buggering idiot and … I’ve lost ‘er.”



The Bot furrowed her brow as she continued to pat a hand down on his back in a steady, unaltering rhythm like a metronome. “Who have you lost? Provide me with a full description and I shall initiate a thorough and logical grid-like search pattern. I have excellent auditory, optic, and olfactory senses and am confident that I can locate the lost individual in a satisfactory time period.”

Spike shook his head as his body shuddered against hers with uncontrollable sobs. “It’s too late, pet … too bloody late. Buffy’s right … I’m not good enough. Was a fool t’ think I could be good enough for ‘er.”

**~**




Chapter End Notes:
Gah! **Sob**

The good news is ... it can only go up from here, 'cos I think the car we were riding in on the roller-coaster jumped the tracks and we crashed and burned... :( I promise that there is something left in the wreckage to salvage. Stay with me ... have faith in them to stumble into each other while dancing in the dark.

Next Update: Tuesday.
Amazed by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Warning for this chapter: Angst and rape references/memories.
**
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
The next day, near midday…

Buffy moaned in pleasure as Spike’s mouth touched down atop hers. His lips were soft and giving against hers, a gentle kiss, a soft seduction. She felt her whole body relax against him, soaking up the love he was pouring over her, taking it into her frozen heart and melting the painful ice crystals that had formed there. His arms wrapped around her, and she felt safe and adored. She wasn’t dirty anymore; he’d somehow washed away the shame of her failure and the guilt of her lies.



“Love you so much,” his voice rumbled against her hot skin as his lips and tongue trailed down her neck, nibbling and licking a burning trail of need across her body.

“Spike … please … love you, want you so much,” Buffy moaned back to him, her hands dancing across his strong shoulders and arms as he moved lower. His body was like ivory and rose petals; soft and hard at once; rigid and pliable, smooth and beautifully rounded in just the right places.

“‘Course you do,” came a taunting, cold reply. “Always knew I could make a Slayer-girl scream. Scream for me,” he purred as he pressed the hard knife-blade against her abdomen.

Buffy’s eyes flashed open within her dream-turned-nightmare and her vision was filled with the gaunt, cruel face of her tormentor. She screamed within in her dream and the panic reached her actual vocal cords as she thrashed wildly against the nightmare image. Black eyes blazed with evil glee as she struggled in vain to get away from the skeletal, hideous monster. She was back in the cell, suddenly weak again, dirty, filled with horror and shame and hopelessness.



Buffy fell off the couch and onto the floor, still kicking and screaming in terror.  When she hit the floor, her eyes burst open to the late-morning light in the bungalow, breaking the connection with the nightmare that had been attacking her in her sleep. But the primal fear conjured by the vision, and the voice in her dream, sent Buffy’s mind whirling back in time. Those cold, black, cruel eyes filled her waking vision as she scrambled up to her feet, searching frantically for an escape.

How’s it feel, bitch? How’s it feel to be fucked by a real man? You’ll never forget this feeling, will you? C’mon – show me how a Slayer screams.

Buffy’s heart raced in her chest and she suddenly couldn’t find enough air to fill her lungs. “No … no,” she cried, trying to push the monster away, but her hands met nothing but empty air – and he was still there.  Barefoot, but still dressed in the clothes she’d had on the previous night, she hurtled herself toward the door of the bungalow, she had to get away. Get away from the pain, away from the monster, but he followed, undeterred.

“Buffy?” Spike called through the closed bedroom door after being awoken by the commotion in the other room.

Buffy didn’t hear him. “Please, no!” she screamed as she yanked the front door open and stumbled through it, her eyes wild, blurred with fear and panic. She bumped into a heavy Adirondack chair on the deck, and instinctively grabbed it up.

She began swinging it in a wide, wild arc all around her. “NO! Get away! NOO!”

But nothing worked. Those eyes, deep and dark like a bottomless, soulless pits loomed in front of her, no matter what direction she turned. She could feel the man’s icy, hard hands on her, groping, pinching, hitting, she could feel his knife at her throat … at her abdomen, against her thighs.

“Slayer!” Spike’s surprised and worried voice came from the now open bedroom doorway, but she still couldn’t hear him or see him in her panic. All she could hear was the monster. His ragged, excited gasps too near her ear, his rancid breath choking her, his lighter burning her skin, his knife cutting her, forcing her legs apart and then …

“NOOOOO!” she screamed again, hurling the chair at him and through the window of the cabin as she turned and sprinted away.



“Buffy!” Spike called again as he hurried out of the bedroom and toward the open front door. All he could do was watch Buffy’s retreating back as she sprinted down the bright, sunny beach where he could not follow.

“Spike? Last night you said that I could love you, but you still have not spilled your sweet semen in to my tight, hot quim,” the Bot called from the bed.

“Sod that! Go see if you can find Buffy,” he barked at her. “Make sure she doesn’t do anything to hurt herself or the bits … or anyone else for that bloody matter.”



The Bot stood up and pulled her shirt back on from where Spike had removed it the previous night. She slid into her shoes, straightened her clothes primly, then strode out, unruffled. “Shall I attempt to bring her back?”

“No … just watch her – unless she does something to herself, then get help for her and come tell me, ya got it? I’ll find you when the sun goes down.”

“I understand,” the Bot assured him with a firm nod and headed out into the light in the direction Buffy had gone.

**~**

Spike slammed the door behind the Bot, nearly taking it off its hinges, and roared in frustration. Emotions bombarded him from all sides. Anger … no, fury, foremost in his mind. He was furious with Buffy for screwing around on him, furious with her for not telling him who the father was, furious at her for not stopping him last night when he took the Bot to the bedroom.



And, to add to his turmoil, he was furious with himself for being furious with her, furious with himself for giving into his anger and frustration, and using the Bot to try and get back at Buffy for her silence and betrayal. He was furious with the Council, furious with Buffy’s ‘friends’, furious with the man – no, he was no man, he was an animal – that tortured and raped his Slayer, that took all her power away, and took her heart away with it.

Standing in formation behind his fury, ready to take their turn, were: frustration, heartache, pain, worry, desperation, misery, loneliness, and just an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. He just wanted things to go back to the way they were before, when Buffy loved him, in that time when she thought he was a man, not a monster. He wanted to take her pain away – he’d gladly bear it himself if he only could. He just wanted her to hold his hand, look into his eyes, and tell him she loved him again. Despite all his posturing and empty, angry words, he just wanted to be Love’s Bitch again – be hers.

But it was clear that she either couldn’t, or just didn’t, love him anymore. He hadn’t kept his promise, he hadn’t kept her safe. He’d rescued her, but too late. Any affection she’d had for him was gone; he’d lost her in those few days. The Bot, for once, was right. Even when Buffy was sitting right in front of him, she was gone.

Spike sank down into one of the kitchen chairs and laid his head down on the table. “God, Buffy, I’m so sorry. Please don’t leave me. I love you so much. Please, please tell me how t’ be what you need. I’ll do anything.”

**~**

Buffy ran in a wild panic down the beach, dodging around other tourists, sometimes splashing in the shallow surf and other times struggling through deep sand. She ran and ran and ran, constantly turning back to look over her shoulder for her captor, her tormentor. She thought she saw him following a time or two and ran harder, drawing angry exclamations from others on the beach as she kicked sand or water on them, or bumped into them in her mad dash.

When Buffy hit a tall, cement breakwater wall she stopped. It was too high for her to climb and she was too exhausted anyway. She pressed her back against it and turned to look behind her, searching for her pursuer. Her chest heaved with exertion, her heart pounded painfully against her ribs, and her pulse sounded too loud and too fast in her ears. She continued to gulp in deep breaths of air as her eyes scanned the beach, watching each person, studying each face for those soulless, black eyes, but she didn’t see him.

Finally, she sank down, utterly exhausted, into the sand, her back still pressed against the wall. She continued to scan for her nightmare, but he was gone. She’d lost him. She sighed in relief, leaned her head back against the cool, hard wall, and closed her eyes as she tried to get her breathing under control.



The sun warmed her skin and bounced off the water that was only a few feet away. She could see the brightness of it even through her closed lids. The sound of the water lapping against the shore soothed her, and muffled the sounds of some children playing with a soccer ball on the beach nearby.

“Spike hates you,” she heard an eerily familiar voice say – the voice of a ghost.

Buffy blinked her eyes open, raising a hand to her shield her eyes from the bright sun. Buffy saw Dawn sitting in a low surf-chair in the shallow water not far from where the Slayer sat in the sand. Her dead sister looked older than Buffy remembered, well into her teens. Dawn’s face held the promise of a beautiful woman just waiting to bloom – a promise unfulfilled, a promise that Buffy now carried in her womb. Her sister was wearing a sparkling, jewel-encrusted, red, silk evening gown and black, four-inch spiked-heel Louboutins, all of which was getting wet and ruined in the surf and sand.



“I know,” Buffy agreed, closing her eyes again and leaning her head back against the wall.

“You should just tell him the truth about me and little William,” Dawn advised.

“Why? He hates me. He doesn’t want kids,” Buffy asserted. “You heard him, they’d be down the toilet. He doesn’t want all the manly-responsibility.”

“You’re not being fair,” Dawn asserted.

“Life’s not fair. He’s a vampire. He doesn’t want a kid … or two kids,” Buffy defended, never opening her eyes.

“He always liked me. He was like … my big brother.”

“Who you had a total crush on,” Buffy pointed out, still not opening her eyes.

Dawn shrugged. “Yeah, well … he didn’t crush back. But he was nice to me; he didn’t treat me like a freak. You know he only ever had eyes for you.”

Buffy snorted. “He loved the Slayer; I’m not that person anymore. He hates me; he thinks I screwed around on him. Fine, let him think that. He won’t have to feel any obligation to them ... you ... whoever – the babies.”

“So, what are you gonna do? You’re in no shape to raise us. You’d be cute running out of your house, trying to escape a nightmare, and leaving me and little William alone. That's like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum.”

“I’m working on it,” Buffy retorted tersely.

Dawn scoffed. “You’ve been sitting out here looking at this ocean…”

“It’s a sea,” Buffy corrected, still leaning back against the wall with her eyes closed.

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Whatever! … Looking at this sea for two months, and the liveliest conversation you can carry on is with your imaginary, though quite stylish, dead sister. It’s not the blue that you used for your focus, it’s his eyes – it’s the love in his eyes. Focusing on the ocean is not working to get your head out of your ass,” Dawn informed her tersely.

Buffy opened her eyes and scowled at her sister. “Don’t use that language, young lady! And my head is not in my ass! It’s just …”



Buffy’s bravado faded and she sighed heavily. She raised a hand up to cover her face, letting her eyes fall closed again. “I can’t see his eyes anymore. They’ve … changed. Since I … since … the monster … Spike doesn’t … look at me the same anymore. There’s no love in them – it’s gone. I drove it away just like I have every other man that ever thought they could love me,” Buffy told her sister, tears welling behind her closed lids.

“I’m just a burden now … a responsibility. He doesn’t even touch me. He did that cute, French, cheek kissage thing with the midwife lady, but he won’t even touch my hand if it’s right next to him. I’m like … the plague or smallpox or … or holy water or something. He hates me.”

“You don’t let him love you! You don’t let him touch you. God, Buffy! He’s been trying to give you space and not freak you out. How can you be so stupid?”

Buffy’s eyes shot open again, anger flaring in them. “I’m not stopping him from touching me! I’m right next to him, but he won’t even …” A sob choked off her words. Buffy’s tears burned her cheeks as they rolled down and fell onto the white sand beneath her.

“It doesn’t matter. I can’t be what he needs anymore. It’s over. That monster … he took too much. Spike knows it … he knows I’m … used up. He’s just been too good to toss me out with the rest of the garbage. I’m working on it … I’ll get my stuff and leave tonight. I'll pull the dagger out of his belly like he wants. I never meant to ... hurt him like this.”



“Oh, God! What is with you?” Dawn exclaimed, tossing her hands in the air in frustration. She stood up from the low chair and began pacing in front of Buffy – quite a feat wearing four-inch spike heels in the sand.

“You always want to decide what’s best for everyone. What is that, some kind of Slayer thing or just a character flaw of Bossy-Buffy? You’re doing to him exactly what Angel did to you … locking him out for his own good. Deciding for him.

"You’re a piece of work … and like … shoddy, Chinese, child-labor work, not … you know, sturdy, Amish furniture work,” Dawn insisted, stopping in front of her sister and glaring down at her.

“And fudge. They're awesome at making furniture and fudge,” she added after a brief pause.

“That’s ridiculous!” Buffy objected, returning the glare.

“It is not! Have you ever had Amish fudge?” Dawn wondered, planting her fists on her hips and scowling.



“Not that! Jesus, Dawn! I’m nothing like Angel! I’m doing what’s best for Spike! It’s what he wants – he said so!"

"He said so based on faulty information, half-truths, and outright lies! That doesn't count," Dawn insisted. "You can check the rulebook. Totally inadmissible evidence."

Buffy continued scowling up at her sister. "Well ... it’s for his own good!" she argued. "I … I …” Buffy blinked, her expression softening as she looked at Dawn. “Oh my God … you’re … you might be … right.”

“Well, no duh! Of course I’m right. I’m the one in Louboutins, aren’t I? You don’t have any shoes on at all. That makes me the only sane one here.”

Dawn’s voice and expression softened and she knelt in front of Buffy, putting herself nearer her sister’s eye level. “He still loves you, he just doesn’t know how to reach you,” Dawn assured her. “He watches you all the time, trying to puzzle you out, trying to figure out how to love you, you have to know that.”



Buffy chewed on her bottom lip, considering her sister’s words. “But how could he think I slept with someone else? Doesn’t he know how hard it was for me to love him? Does he really think I’d willingly sleep with someone else after … after giving him my heart? He doesn’t trust me. He doesn’t even know me if he thinks I’d–”

“What’s he supposed to think?” Dawn cut her off. “He’s a vampire. He’s just trying to make sense of it. Tell him, Buffy. Trust him. Stop choosing for him, he’s earned that much,” her dead sister advised. “What do you have to lose? If he actually kicks you out, you’re no worse off than you are now. Maybe … maybe you can get your heart back, get your anchor back.

“He’s just confused and afraid … afraid of hurting you. Little Dawnie and William need you, Buffy. So does Spike. And you need him.”

Buffy laid her hand over the small bump in her stomach. “That’s why there were two lights that came down that night. They didn’t just get your soul from Limbo, but they grabbed the rest of William’s soul from the ether, too.”

Dawn shrugged. “Seems like.”

“But … he won’t even touch me,” Buffy protested again. “That … animal …” Buffy clamped her eyes closed against her tears, her emotions tightening her throat.



“I feel so dirty, and Spike won’t even touch me. He … can still smell it on me: the filth. He thinks I’m just … trash now. Foul, used … garbage. And he’s right. I should’ve fought harder … I should’ve done something. There had to be a way to stop that … monster, but I … didn’t. I just … gave up.”

“Oh, please! You’re the Slayer, not Wonder Woman … or … who’s stronger than Wonder Woman? Ummm … Superman? Is he, like, the strongest superhero ever? Or would, like, Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien’ – you know, when Riley’s inside that big cargo-mover thing be able to beat–”

“Dawn! I’m sure there’s a point you were heading for. Maybe you could find it in that scrambled, teenage brain of yours,” Buffy suggested sarcastically.

Dawn huffed out an irritated breath and rolled her eyes. “Fine – my point is: you were shot with a tranq dart, then you were chained up and held in an armored truck. They told you Spike had been dusted – not the cheeriest of news after all you'd been through. After that, you were drugged with that Slayer Circumcision stuff …”

“Cruciamentum,” Buffy corrected.

“Seemed like a circumcision to me ... but, whatever! ...And tossed in an escape-proof prison cell,” Dawn finished.



“Just exactly what more do you think you could’ve done? You did what you had to to survive. You’re trying to take the blame for something a monster did to you. Is that another Slayer thing? Taking the blame for stuff that you had no way to fight, prevent, or control?

"You did the same thing when I died. Here's a news-flash: that was not your fault. I chose. Me. Not you. And I was right. I did the right thing. I did what you would've done if you were in my shoes. Which, you're not ... 'cos ... not sharing these babies with anyone. Not even you," Dawn quipped, reaching down to caress the expensive footwear.

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"I know you’re a guilt-trip Double-Platinum Frequent Flyer, but your plane’s gone way off course lately," Dawn continued, looking back up at her sister.

“And, point number two: Spike just doesn’t know what to do to help you. You have got to talk to him. What do you have to lose?” Dawn asked again. “Your overused, Summers’ Stubborn Silence, patent pending, has already sent him into the Bot’s arms.”

Buffy rolled her eyes again. “That, by the way, was my plan all along. So, yay me.”

Dawn snorted. “Yeah, right,” she agreed sarcastically. “Tell me another one.”

Buffy looked down at the sand and began drawing idle circles in it with her fingers.  “I’m … scared.” Buffy admitted finally. “I took three years of high school French and I still sound like a retarded monkey with a hair-lip when I parlez-vous – there’s no way I could get a job here. I have no idea how to get home … Hell, I probably don’t even have a home to get home to. Plus, I don’t know if the Council is still looking for me. I couldn’t take it if …” Buffy shuddered and wrapped her arms around her torso as a chill ran through her despite the warm sun.

“I’m … so alone – and I know … ‘Slayer and alone’ is kinda not newsworthy, but … I’m scared. I … need him. I even need the Bot … I’m so afraid.”



“Would you stop borrowing trouble?” Dawn advised. “If you’d just talk to him, ask him for help, tell him you need him, then he’ll help you! He can’t not help you! He’s, like, got a … Victorian gentleman underneath that punk rocker, bad-boy exterior. It’s a thing, like laying his coat down over a mud-puddle so you don’t get your shoes dirty when you walk across. He has to do it – it’s ingrained in him.”

Buffy rolled her eyes again. “I can safely say he’d never lay his precious duster down in the mud for anyone to walk on.”

Dawn heaved a loud sigh and waved her arms out to the side in disgust. “That’s just an example. Victorian men just can’t help themselves from trying to save the damsel.”

“Isn’t Angel Victorian … you know, underneath his broody-pyre exterior?” Buffy wondered, looking at her sister doubtfully.

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Fine,” Dawn spat. “Derail my logic-train. How’s this? Spike can’t help himself from trying to save you. He loves you.

“Ya know, you’re a real buzz-kill,” Dawn informed Buffy harshly. “And you have no decent shoes. I would’ve kicked your miserable ass out weeks ago.”

Buffy shrugged, unable to argue with any of that. She closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the wall again, and wiped the tears from her cheeks with her fingers.



“Buck up, little camper,” Dawn urged Buffy, giving her sister a strong, encouraging fist-pump. “Oh, and by the way, I heartily approve of this campground. I mean … if I’d known they had campgrounds like this, I would’ve totally stayed in Girl Scouts.”

Buffy nodded her agreement. “I know, right?” she said, opening her eyes again, but Dawn was gone.

“You’re completely mental,” Buffy informed herself aloud, as if that were some grand epiphany.

That familiar feeling of despondent gloom settled over Buffy now that her sister was gone. It wasn’t as bad as the shroud of blood that she’d fought for so long, but it felt heavy and hopeless. It took so much effort to talk that she just abstained most of the time. She simply didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Her heart, fairly literally, wasn’t in it; it had been shattered into a thousand icy, painful shards by Spike’s rejection. It was a struggle to get the words out, as if each thought had to be pried from her dark, misery-soaked brain and forced through too small an opening to emerge into the light on the other side.



Buffy looked at the beautiful, aqua-blue water that seemed to go on forever. She’d tried to use that blue as her focus, as a replacement for Spike’s eyes, to heal her heart and lift her gloom, but it hadn’t worked. She knew now that it wasn’t the blue of his eyes that had helped her pull out of her fugue state before, it was the emotions that shone in them … it was the adoration and love. And that look had faded from Spike’s eyes. She only saw pain, worry, sometimes anger, and often hurt in them now – the exact things that she’d never, ever wanted to see.

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she let her eyes fall closed again. She knew imaginary-Dawn was right; she’d have to talk to Spike and tell him the truth. She really didn’t have anything left to lose. She’d already lost him, lost his love, lost her anchor, she’d even lost herself – all she had left were the babies in her womb.

She’d just rest here a little while and try to think of what to say to him. There had to be some way to present it that would keep him from hating her even more than he already did. Some way to spin it so that the knife in his belly didn't plunge in even deeper. She just needed to find the right words, the perfect words ... magic words … any words.

**~**

Buffy felt a shadow fall over her as she sat on the sand, her back still pressed against the concrete barrier, trying to think of the perfect words to say to Spike. She blinked her eyes open to find the Bot standing over her.

“Spike asked me to make sure you were not hurting yourself or others. You do not appear to be in any imminent danger, unless the tide rises considerably and at a rapid rate. I believe that to be unlikely, barring a tsunami caused by an offshore earthquake. I estimate the probability of that to be minuscule, although not impossible.



“Do you anticipate that you will be in danger or causing danger to others in the near future?” she asked.

Buffy snorted and shook her head. “No, not in the near future. You can relax.”

The Bot smiled. “Thank you. I anticipate that you will soon become dehydrated. Would you like some liquid refreshment?”

Buffy licked her lips. “Margarita?” she suggested.

The Bot frowned. “That is not advisable in your condition.”

Buffy raised her brows. “My condition? Crazy people who talk to their dead sisters and run from nightmares can’t drink Tequila?”

“Gestating humans should not over-indulge in alcoholic beverages,” the Bot clarified. “It may also be harmful to crazy humans if they are taking medications for their insanity. It would depend on their exact diagnosis and the drug interactions and medical warnings.”

Buffy snorted and laid the side of her head down on her knees, which were pulled up against her chest, closing her eyes. “In that case, maybe just water.”

**~**

Buffy sipped at the bottle of water the Bot brought back to her. Her brain hurt, her heart hurt, and she still hadn’t figured out what to say to Spike to make him not hate her.

“So, I guess Spike’s still really upset with me, huh?” Buffy asked after a few moments.



The Bot nodded. “He was quite upset when you shattered the window and sprinted away. He was also extremely troubled last evening.”

“I guess … you made him feel better though, huh?” Buffy wondered. “Last night, I mean.”

“I did my best to bolster him and provide exceptional comfort,” the Bot replied.

Buffy sighed and felt the ice in her heart shatter painfully. “Was he … did he … seem … better afterwards?”

“Yes, I provided an abundance of soothing succor. He fell asleep after two hours and thirty-seven minutes in my embrace. I continued to hold him through the night. I have previously observed that he took pleasure in this behavior when you would not allow him to move during sleep.”

Buffy nodded as tears prickled her swollen, tired eyes. She rubbed them with her fingertips, willing the tears not to fall. She was a little surprised that what she felt wasn’t jealousy, but envy. She envied the Bot; Spike would touch her. Spike still loved her. Spike actually liked her.



He could stand to be in the same room with her, in the same bed … in her arms. The Bot wasn’t covered in the shame of giving up; she hadn’t rolled in the filth and allowed it to stain her soul … or whatever Bots had instead of a soul. Maybe a microprocessor with little a little LED light that changed colors based on their mood … like a mood ring for robots. Yeah, that’s what they had in place of a soul, a little light inside that shifted through all the colors of the rainbow depending on what they were doing, feeling, or thinking.

Buffy imagined what color her microprocessor-soul would be. Black, came back the immediate and definite answer. Buffy shuddered and felt pieces of her ice-crystal heart break away and tumble into the bottomless blackness of her lost soul.

“Can I ask you something?” Buffy wondered after a few minutes, looking up at the Bot, who stood over her protectively.

“I do not know. Your vocalization process seems unimpaired. You appear fully functional and capable of voicing a query,” she replied, tilting her head inquisitively as she looked down at Buffy.



Buffy rolled her eyes. Grammar Nazi. “May I ask you something?” Buffy corrected.

“Yes,” the Bot replied brightly.

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I need to find some perfect words,” she explained.

“Words are neither perfect nor imperfect, they are all equal when used properly,” the Bot informed Buffy. “And it is not the word’s fault if it is used improperly; it is the fault of the one who misused it.”

“Right,” Buffy agreed flatly. “Well, I need to find the exact right words to use and the exact right way to use them. Will you help me?”

“Of course. I am always pleased to help you. You are my friend. People believe we are sisters, but being friends is better. Friends are the life-forms you would choose to be your family if you were given the choice at inception."

Buffy gave her doppelganger a small smile. "I'm glad that you're my friend."

The Bot smiled widely. "I am glad I am your friend, also."

“Ok, so, what I need help with," Buffy continued. "Can you give me some other words for … ummmm … ‘sorry’?” Buffy wondered. “Maybe something stronger than ‘sorry’ … what word would be stronger than ‘sorry’?”

“Regretful, apologetic, repentant, remorseful, penitent …”

**~**

The last vestiges of twilight still colored the sky in jewel-like hues of indigo blue and deep purple when Spike found Buffy and the Bot later that evening. Buffy had run over five miles down the beach, only stopping, apparently, when she came to a breakwater barrier that was too high and steep for her to climb and which jutted out into the water too far for her to swim around.

Now she sat with her back to the buttress, her knees pulled up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them. She had her chin resting on one knee and she was looking out at the quickly-darkening sea. There was a half-empty bottle of water next to her, presumably supplied by the Bot, since Spike knew Buffy had no money to buy anything – she’d left the pillowcase full of money on the floor near the couch. The Bot stood not far away from her, leaning against the barrier and watching Buffy closely. She looked up when Spike approached and strode up to him sharply.

Spike almost felt like he should salute and ask for her report. The Slayer’s personal guard: a too-literal sentient android and a muzzled vampire. Bloody brilliant.



“She has not moved or said anything in the last three hours, twenty-two minutes and forty-five seconds. Prior to that, she asked me to provide all possible synonyms for eleven different words. She has not attempted any harm to herself or the bits,” the Bot reported. “I have assured that she has remained hydrated, although she would not eat the vegetables I brought her.”

Spike cocked a scarred brow at the Bot. “I’m almost afraid to ask,” he muttered when the Bot produced a turnip from behind her back.

“The vitamin C in raw turnips assists the human body’s iron absorption capabilities, which is very important for gestating human females. They include B vitamins as well, including vitamin B-6, folate, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid,” the Bot began to explain. “In addition …”

Spike stopped her with a wave of his hand. “Good job. I’ll take it from here,” he told her. Spike looked at Buffy, who was still staring at the now dark sea, ignoring her honor guard. “Go on back and start dinner. Maybe you can … do something creative with that root.”

The Bot beamed. “I will check the cookbook.” Then she side-stepped him and headed back down the beach to their cabin.

Spike sighed and rubbed tiredly at his eyes, then closed the short distance between himself and Buffy with three long strides. He squatted back on his haunches very close to where she sat, close enough that his knees would touch her if he leaned forward even the slightest bit.



“Buffy?” he asked gently. “I’m … sorry, pet. I just … I was just … frustrated and acted like a daft git. Don’t really want ya t’ leave, but don’t blame ya if you do.”

He sighed and ran his hand back through his hair, letting his head fall back so he was looking up at the star-filled sky. “I love you and I miss you,” he said to the open air above them. “I need you so bloody much it hurts and … I can’t bear that you …” His words were choked off, swallowed by the tears that leaked from his eyes. The anguish rolled down his cheeks as he stared unseeing at the heavens, praying for some sort of salvation.

“They’re yours,” she said when he paused, her voice barely a whisper.

Buffy, with the Bot's help, had searched all afternoon for the right words, the perfect, magical words that would make him forgive her and love her again. She’d never found any – she had nothing but the cold, hard truth to offer him. She just prayed somehow he could feel how sorry she was for all she’d done, since there were no words yet invented that could express it.

Spike dropped his face back to look at her. She had turned away from the water and was looking at him, her green eyes solemn. “What?” he asked, not sure he understood her.



Buffy swallowed, but forced herself to hold his gaze. “The babies, they’re yours. I didn’t … do … what you …” Buffy’s jaw clenched and she closed her eyes against the twisting in her heart. “I didn’t ‘knock boots with some git’ – well, not counting you, I guess.”

“What?” Spike repeated, quickly becoming gobsmacked.

Buffy took a breath and opened her eyes to look at him in the dwindling light. “That night – you remember, the one you said I shouldn’t expect to happen again? That’s when it happened. It was … magic – as in actual magic. The monks – the ones that created Dawn – they …” She shrugged. “…did something and … created her again … here.” Buffy dropped her knees down from in front of her torso and shifted into a cross-legged sitting position, then laid her hand on her belly.

“What?” Spike’s eyes were growing wider even as the furrow between his brows deepened. How did he do that?



Buffy cleared her throat uncomfortably. “See … ummm … when they made Dawn they made her from my blood, but they needed a soul and …” Buffy exhaled heavily. “And well, they … well, they took half of yours from the ether and used it, along with little pieces of my soul, and mom’s, and bits of all my friend’s, to make Dawn’s.

“When Dawn died, her borrowed soul was stuck in Limbo because you were still … here. To get it out, they did something when we … you know … and ta-da.”

“What?” Spike asked again, his voice breaking and rising several octaves, just as confounded as he’d been from the beginning.

Buffy sighed and closed her eyes, trying to pluck up enough courage and strength to continue. Of course he was mad, she hadn’t found the perfect words to make him want kids, to make him forgive her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know they’d stolen your soul for Dawn. I … when I was dead again … you know, when I did this.” Buffy opened her eyes and turned her arms over to show her scars. “I talked to Mom and she said the monks could fix it, I could get her out … by making a baby with you.”

“What?!” Spike’s voice was even squeakier now than it had been the last time he’d asked.

Buffy flinched and her chest tightened at his tone. He was beyond angry now, nearing furious – and she couldn’t blame him. “I know … I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I … it wasn’t my place to … I just thought … and then … and Angel did the same thing to me and … God, I can’t believe I did that to you,” Buffy stammered. Her ability to hold her train of thought on the tracks had been stretched to its limits as her fear of his final, brutal rejection hung over her, poised to fall like the Sword of Damocles.



“They’re … mine?” Spike’s voice had dropped to a whisper, his eyes as wide as saucers. He reached a hand out to touch the bulge in Buffy’s abdomen, but stopped just short of actually touching her.

Buffy winced again. A whispering vampire could not be of the good. He was just trying to hold his rage in check, trying not to scream at her again. She almost wished he would scream at her, somehow it would be more fitting than that soft whisper. The sword inched down nearer; Buffy braced herself for the final blow.

“Yes … they’re yours … and … and I know you don’t want them. I just couldn’t leave Dawn’s soul there, and I couldn’t stake you, and I promise I’m trying sooo hard to get my head out of my ass so I can leave. You don’t have to be ‘manly-responsibility man.’ I just need a little more time and maybe a little money, not all that from last night – just a little. I swear I’ll pay you back – and …”

“Mine? The both of ‘em?” Spike asked, interrupting her rambling, his eyes wide and focused wholly on her abdomen.



Buffy bit her bottom lip and blinked back her tears. “Yes,” she said gently. “I … I think the monks took the rest of your soul from the ether and … made another baby with it. I’m … so sorry. I didn’t know they would do that, I swear. I know how angry you must be, but if you’ll just give me a little more time...”

She held her breath and waited. The thread holding the sword was unraveling quickly now, she could feel it. He’d start ranting and raving any moment and then it would be over. She hadn’t found the right words…

Spike finally looked at her face. “What?” he asked again, this time with a bit more conviction and less shock.

Buffy blinked and her heart-rate sped up. He’d gone into ‘William the Bloody’ mode. He was so calm, so … calm and deadly. She knew he couldn’t physically hurt her, but his words of absolute rejection would be painful enough.



“I said … I’m sorry,” Buffy repeated. It was the only thing she knew to say; it was the truth, it was all she had. “I never meant to saddle you with this. You don’t have to … I just need a little more time to figure stuff out and try to get my head … straight. Please just … I’m begging you for a little more time.”

Spike drew his hand back from where it hovered over Buffy’s stomach and settled both of his forearms on his thighs as he squatted on his heels in front of her.

“Slayer, I …” He stopped and ran back the conversations they’d had about children and families in his mind and his heart sank. This is what she had been trying to ask him about – obviously. And he’d rebuked her every single time. And then the argument they’d had on the way back from the midwife, his promise wasn’t good enough because he’d never promised to take care of the babies. In fact, he told her if it was up to him he would’ve flushed them from her body.

“Bloody hell,” he murmured to himself, shaking his head. Then he met her gaze again, “You should’ve told me, Buffy.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I promise if I can just get a little better I’ll leave,” she assured him, her voice growing dull and lifeless. The truth hadn’t worked. It was over. The game was up.



“Think that’s wise, pet?”

Buffy shrugged. “I’m just trying to … do the right thing.”

“For who?” Spike wondered.

Buffy shook her head and tears began to trickle from her eyes. “Everyone. You, Dawn … little William.”

Spike nodded solemnly. “What about you, luv? What’s right for you?”

Buffy shook her head forlornly, letting her eyes drop to the sand, and shrugged again.

“I know ya been … hurting, luv. Been through a lot, you have. I know I failed ya, didn’t keep you safe; didn't keep m' promise. Don’t blame you if you can’t forgive me. Don’t reckon I can ever forgive myself. Know I’m a monster. I understand why you … don’t trust me, why you don’t love me anymore.”

Buffy’s head shot up to meet his gaze. The moon had risen and cast the beach in a silver glow. The light reflected off the sand beneath them and illuminated his features. He looked drawn and miserable, but not exactly mad.

“I never said that.”



“Well, truth be told, you’ve said more to me in the last ten minutes than you’ve said the last two months, pet. Been havin’ to read between the unending bouts o’ meaningless prattle and silence. I know you were afraid when we first got you out, but I thought maybe, with time … Been waiting, but ya never …” Spike’s voice trailed off and he shrugged.

Buffy furrowed her brow, her head tilting in confusion. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I miss you, Buffy. I love you and I miss you and … and … I’m gonna be a bloody father! That’s … Bloody hell! I’m gonna be a father!” Spike exclaimed, his smile growing wider with each announcement. He suddenly stood up and shouted into the night sky, “I’m gonna be a father! Twins! Bloody twins!”

Buffy looked up at him in shock and disbelief. Her mouth gaped open as he continued to yell his pronouncement to the world.

She pushed up to her feet and watched as he spun around, shouting the announcement in every direction. When he finally stopped spinning and stood facing her, he looked like he’d just won the super mega-ball lottery.



“I … uhhh … think typically the announcements are mailed out rather than shouted,” she stammered.

His face suddenly fell into a mask of shocked solemnity. “Did you just … drop a quip?”

Buffy furrowed her brow, trying to remember what she’d said. She gave a quick shrug of her shoulders. “Maybe.

“Are you saying you’re … happy about the babies? What happened to all that manly-responsibility and Big Bad’s image, and …”

Spike shook his head and waved his hands as if brushing his previous declarations away. “It was all bollocks! I was just … covering,” he admitted, ducking his head and rubbing a self-conscious hand over the back of his neck. “Didn’t think it was possible, so it was easier to not want it. I’m chuffed t’ bloody bits over the bitty kidlets. I love you, Buffy. You’ve made me the happiest demon in the whole fucking world tonight.



“I wish you’d stay … forever, pet. If … you still … feel anything for me. Do ya, Buffy? Do you … love me at all? Can you love a monster?”

“Oh, God, Spike,” Buffy sighed, rubbing at her swollen, bleary eyes with her fingers. She looked up at him and nodded. “How could you think I didn't? I love you. I’ll always love you. I was only gonna leave ‘cos I thought you didn’t want them … didn’t want me. I was trying to do what I thought you wanted.”

“So, you’ll stay, then?” he asked, his eyes growing wide, half-afraid he hadn’t heard her right.

“If … if that’s really what you want,” she stammered, still a bit befuddled by his sudden change of attitude.

Not thinking, Spike pulled her into a fierce hug and began to swing her around in joy. “God, Buffy, I missed you so much, pet. Missed your bloody stupid quips and your smile. Missed your lips and your touch and …”

Buffy’s body tensed and stiffened in his embrace. Despite her logical mind knowing it was just Spike and he wasn’t going to hurt her, her body reacted instinctively to the touch and the feeling of being captured and held prisoner in his arms.

Spike suddenly sobered, stopped spinning, and set her down on her feet gently. He pulled his hands away and dropped them to his sides, balling his hands into fists to keep them there. “Sorry, pet … didn’t mean to …”



“Touch me?” Buffy filled in, wrapping her arms around her torso and backing away from him. “Is it because of … what happened?”

“Yeah,” Spike answered gently, wanting desperately to touch her face, but forcing his hands to stay by his sides.

“Because I’m … dirty now. Trash. You can still smell it, can’t you? I’m used up and … I didn’t fight hard enough.”

“What? No … Buffy, no,” Spike cajoled, his face etched with confusion and concern. He began to take a step forward to be near her again, his hand uncurled and lifted from his side, longing to touch her, to hold her, but he forced both his feet and his hand to stop their forward motion.



Buffy didn’t seem to hear. “I’m sorry, Spike. I … I thought you were dust and I didn’t fight him. I just let him … I thought he’d kill me and it would all be over – I just wanted it to end – but he didn’t. And then I couldn’t fight. I just did what he wanted, and now … I understand why you can’t touch me. You can still smell it, can’t you? You don’t want to touch the filth. I don’t blame you…” she finished, her eyes focused on the ground in shame.

“Buffy … Slayer, no,” Spike repeated emphatically. He allowed himself to reach out and lift her chin with a single finger until she was looking at him. She tensed slightly, but didn’t flinch away from his touch this time. “That’s bollocks – I never thought that, pet. You’re not the one that’s dirty, Buffy, that bloody pillock that hurt you … he’s the filth. The bloody devil incarnate, he is.”

“You … don’t think I’m …” Buffy’s heart ached and her chest heaved for air. “…garbage?”



Spike huffed out a shocked breath, shaking his head in earnest before answering in a single empathic word. “No.”

He sighed when she looked hopeful but not convinced.

“Buffy, you are the bravest woman I’ve ever known. I’m nothing but amazed by you, luv. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. Your spirit shines so clear and bright that sometimes I think it’ll dust me. You’ve been through so much, moved bloody mountains, fought gods and survived devils.  You’re a treasure – a beautiful, pristine, sparkling jewel. A helluva woman is what you are, Buffy Summers.

“Didn’t want t’ frighten you or … push or hurt you is all,” Spike explained. “But I want to touch you so bad it hurts, luv,” he admitted. He took a tentative step forward and slid his hand up from her chin, gently cupping her cheek.

“I’m just lost, pet. I … I don’t know what to do, how to treat you, how to touch you … how to reach you … how to love you. Know I’m not a man, I’m a monster, but … can’t help it. I love you so bloody much.”

Buffy closed her eyes and leaned into his hand. “I missed your touch,” she whispered, laying her hand over his.

Spike stepped closer and brushed his lips against her forehead. “I missed yours,” he murmured against her warm skin.

Buffy pulled back a fraction and opened her eyes to meet his gaze. And there it was: her anchor. The concern wasn’t gone, but the anger was. The  adoration shone in his eyes again and there was large helping of joy in them now. She took it in as if taking in a breath of fresh air after too long in a dirty, smog-filled city. She let it center her, focusing her mind, easing her heart.

“Spike, I can’t always control … I get these panic attacks … and nightmares and I … Spike, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be what you need again,” Buffy admitted, tears stinging her eyes anew.

“Buffy, just being near you is all I’ll ever need. I don’t give a bloody damn about…”



“Spike,” Buffy interrupted him, shaking her head. “I know better. And I’m not saying I’ll never be able to make love again, because … I want to. I want your arms around me so badly it hurts, but it scares me at the same time. And those games … the handcuffs … and…” – Buffy’s voice broke – “I can’t without seeing ...”

“Shhhh, pet, it’s alright,” Spike soothed, pulling her into a gentle hug. “Don’t need any o’ that. Just need you, Buffy. Just you.”

For the first time in a long time, Buffy’s body didn’t tense up when his arms encircled her. She sobbed against his shoulder as he held her, stroking her hair and back gently. They stood there on the moonlit beach for a long while before Buffy’s tears abated. She let herself get lost in the feel of his arms around her, their strength, their confidence, their love. He hadn’t touched her like this for so long, she’d forgotten how it felt to be in his arms. She’d missed him so much. That SOB, Weatherby, had taken so much away from her, so very, very much.

“I fucking hate him,” she practically snarled against Spike’s chest, simply assuming he would know who she was talking about. He did. “I want to … to … strip his clothes off, string him up, and pour red ants all over him, then put him in a room with a hive of hornets until they sting every inch of his slimy skin, and then bury him up to his neck in the desert and let the buzzards peck his horrid eyes out and eat his brain.”

“Then we will,” Spike assured her, dropping a kiss atop her head. “That’s a promise I’ll keep if it bloody kills me.”



**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Lonestar - Baby I'm Amazed by You  on YouTube  }}


Every time our eyes meet,
There is a feelin inside me
It’s almost more than i can take
Baby when you touch me
I can feel how much you love me
And it just blows me away
I’ve never been this close to anyone
Or anything
I can hear your thoughts, i can see your dreams

(chorus):
I dunno how you do what you do
I’m so in love with you
It just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life
With you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Baby I’m amazed by you

The smell of your skin
The taste of your kiss
The way you whisper in the dark
Your hair all around me
Baby you surround me
You touch every place in my heart
Oh … it feels like the first time, every time
I wanna spend the wholez night..in your eyes

(chorus):
I dunno how you do what you do
I’m so in love with you
It just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life
With you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Baby I’m amazed by you

Every little thing that you do
Every little thing that you do
I’m so in love with you
And it just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life
With you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Every little thing that you do

Baby I’m amazed by you…
Chapter End Notes:
FINALLY! Talking! With words and every thing! Will have more - next update Saturday. You know I love hearing from you!! My evil devil of a muse is sitting here on pins and needles just waiting for your comments!

I think I might've gotten carried away with the pictures in this chapter... Were there too many?
I Won't Give Up     by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Uht-oh ... I got no warnings to post for this chapter! I hope that doesn't mean it's boring! eeek!
**
As always, thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
A little while later…

The Bot looked up from her cooking when Buffy and Spike came in some time later. “You have timed your arrival fortuitously,” she announced brightly. “The nourishment will be at the proper serving temperature for ideal human consumption in three and one-third minutes.”

Buffy sighed. “Why did you buy her that book?” she grumbled to Spike under her breath.

“She’s just tryin’ t’ help, pet,” Spike whispered back.

“Is it customary for me to act as if I do not hear your conversation when you are over seven feet away and speaking at a level below twenty decibels?” the Bot asked, looking from one to the other of them.

“Yes,” Buffy replied to the Bot. Then, looking back at Spike, she chastised, “You had to give her vampire hearing?”



“I am actually equipped with an omni-directional, biauricular stethoscope pinhole microphone with telephonic pick-up. I can hear much better than a vampire,” the Bot explained amiably. “Are you ready to consume the well-prepared, flavorful sustenance? Going too long between proper meals is not recommended for gestating humans as it may increase the risk of gestational diabetes.”

“Sure,” Buffy agreed somewhat reluctantly. “What’s for dinner?”

The Bot smiled widely and began placing serving bowls on the table as she announced, “Buttered turnip puree and sesame beef stir-fry, and for desert there’s lime-banana smoothie.”

Buffy tried not to make a face. “Ummm … couldn’t I just have a hamburger and French fries? We are in France, after all. Don’t they have French fries in France?”



“French fries in France are called ‘frites’,” the Bot offered helpfully.

“Okay … then why can’t I have some frites and hamburger-ites?” Buffy wondered.

“They aren’t in the book,” the Bot explained simply.

**~**

After having dinner, including buttery, pureed turnips – which, to the Bot’s credit actually weren’t that bad – and getting a shower, Buffy took a bowl of ice cream out to the deck. While she'd been gone, someone had cleaned up the broken glass and put a sheet of plywood over the window she’d broken earlier.

She took a seat in the glider under the other, unbroken, window. Buffy curled her legs beneath her, leaning against the cushioned arm of the seat-swing, and watched the moonlight dance off the sea beyond the beach. The quiet sound of the gentle waves washing against the shore felt like a balm after all the talking she’d done during the last couple of hours.

As she ate her treat – which was mega-better than the lime-banana smoothie that the Bot had originally made for dessert from that stupid cookbook – she played back the conversation she’d had with Spike on the beach.

Tears stung her eyes even as a soft laugh came from her throat at the memory of his announcement to the world that he was going to be a dad. He wants them! He wants the babies!

Buffy felt a physical weight lift off her with that revelation. The pressure to get over her ordeal and get her mind straight was gone. She had Spike to help her … and BuffyBot. Provided Spike didn’t buy the Bot a cookbook for feeding children properly, this might actually work out alright.

And, to top it all off, the anger and distrust and hurt were gone from Spike’s eyes. The love that had helped pull her mind out of confusion and disarray before was back. She felt like she could reach out and hold onto it like it was tangible lifeline. She could feel it anchoring her to this world, to reality, to what passed for sanity in her life.

“I should’ve just told him,” she murmured to herself.

“Yeah, you should’ve,” Spike confirmed as he stepped out of the bungalow onto the deck.

Buffy looked up at him apologetically. “I’m sorry. I should’ve known.”

Spike shrugged and sat down on the other end of the swing, leaving space between them. “You believed my bollocks. I shouldn’t’ve lied. Was just so afraid that you’d want something I couldn’t give and … I’d lose you. Bloody ironic that I nearly lost you because of the lie.”



“You weren’t the only one telling lies,” Buffy excused apologetically.

Spike cocked his head slightly in acknowledgement before settling back on the swing and looking out at the waves. They sat in silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts, listening to the waves and the few calls of sea birds in the night.

“It hurt me that you thought I cheated on you,” Buffy said after a few minutes.

Spike’s mouth drew into a hard line. “Hurt me t’ think that too, but ya gave me no choice,” he retorted.



Buffy chewed on her bottom lip a moment, then sighed. “I wouldn’t do that – so you know. It … it took all I had to love you … I wouldn’t just …”

Spike eyes burned and he blinked back more tears. “Sorry for thinkin’ that, luv,” he whispered, his voice thick and rough with emotion.

“I’m not Dru. I … made mistakes, I admit, but I never meant to hurt you,” Buffy continued. “I would never intentionally hurt you. I only tried to do what I thought you wanted.”

Spike nodded, his heart had lodged in his throat, making it impossible for him to reply. Silence drew out between them again, their eyes focused far in the distance, on the dark sea beyond the beach.

Spike patted down his pockets until he found his cigarettes and lighter. He began to pull them out and have a smoke to calm his nerves, but remembered the Bot's lecture to him about the dangers of smoking around 'gestating humans'. Bugger!

Finally, Spike regained control of his emotions without the help of the nicotine and swallowed back the tightness in his throat. He changed the subject and the mood by saying, “Gonna need to decide where to go. Can’t stay here forever, pet. Need t’ settle down with the bits, give ‘em a safe place to grow up.”

Buffy nodded. She’d been taking smaller and smaller bites of her ice cream, trying to make it last longer, but she was down to the last couple of spoonfuls of melted slurry in the bottom now. She took an inordinate amount of time to clean the bowl, stalling for time, before setting it down on the floor and looking over at Spike.

“Do you think we still need to hide? I mean … I saw the news,” she said stiffly. “The Council’s … in little, bitty pieces all over the street – thanks to you, I’m guessing.”

“Got a chip, can’t hurt anyone, can I?”



Buffy cocked a brow and gave him a ‘yeah, right’ look.

Spike shrugged. “Reckon I didn’t get ‘em all, luv. Sooner or later they’ll reorganize and they’re gonna want their Slayer back – one way or another. Not much for them to watch without a hero-type t’ yank around on a leash.”

“They have Faith,” Buffy pointed out.

Spike snorted. “Don’t reckon she sees a lot of vamp action in the big house. They need you or they’re just a bunch o’ old men sitting around twiddling each other.”

Buffy made a face much like the one she’d made trying to eat the watermelon salad thing the other night. “Thanks for that very disturbing visual.”



Spike shrugged. “’S true.”

Buffy sighed and looked back out at the ocean. After a few moments of silence she said, “I don’t know where to go.”

“Could go anywhere in the world, I reckon, but … we’ve only got so much money. I’ll need t’ be somewhere that I can make more and that don’t cost a bloody fortune to live.”

Spike dropped a colorful pamphlet down on the seat between them. Buffy picked it up and read with the lights from the house at their back.

“Croatia?” she said with surprise, looking up at him, then back down at the flyer.



“Know you like the beach, and they got some o’ the most beautiful there are in the world,” he explained, watching her as she looked at the cover of the booklet.

Spike motioned with his head at the brochure, and Buffy began turning pages. The beaches were breathtaking; the water was the color of gemstones – sapphire, aquamarine, topaz, and azurite all blending together – and seemed to go on forever.



“Why Croatia? Isn’t there a war going on there?” Buffy wondered.

“War’s over – they’re rebuilding. Can find some decent houses there fairly cheap – at least in comparison to other beach-front property. Plus, I doubt Angel has any bloody contacts there. Think we’d be safe from … helpful friends.”

“Do you even speak … Croa-ish?” Buffy wondered. “Or read it? They have … funny letters,” she pointed out, holding up the brochure, part of which was in the native language.

“Croatian,” Spike corrected. “No, but I can pick it up,” he assured her.

Buffy cocked a brow at him. “You can ‘pick it up’?”

Spike sighed. “Buffy, I been around the bloody world ten times. There was a time when it was … necessary for me to speak the language of the country I was in. It’s hard to get an invite into someone’s home if they can’t understand you. Back then the whole bloody world didn’t speak English. I got decent at learning languages; the devil knows Dru couldn’t do it.”

Buffy dropped her eyes back down to the brochure uncomfortably.

“It’s what I was, Buffy. You know that,” Spike defended.



“I know,” she agreed in a small voice.

“Not who I am now,” Spike continued. “I’ve changed.”

“I know,” she agreed again as she continued to scan the booklet. Finally she looked up at him, a thought dawning on her. “You … you’ve been thinking about this for a while.” She waved the booklet in the air – something he would’ve had to have mailed to him. “You’ve been looking into places to go since before … before you knew you were the father.”

“What did you think, I’d just abandon you and the bit … bits?” he asked, a tone of hurt annoyance in his voice.



“You were so angry. You said … I figured …” her voice trailed off and she looked away from him, back out at the waves.

“I say things … get brassed off and say things I don’t mean, but I’ll never stop loving you, Buffy. I’d never abandon you. Told ya before, I’m Love’s Bitch – much as I wish I wasn’t and sometimes try not to be. I don’t walk away from the people I love.” Then, in a lower, forlorn voice he admitted, “They walk away from me.”

“God, Spike,” Buffy moaned, sliding across the short distance between them. She laid a hand on the back of his neck and pulled him to her. He dropped his head to her shoulder and Buffy wrapped her arms around him. “I’m sorry. I was just … stupid … and selfish. I never meant to hurt you.

“I guess we’ve both been abandoned before,” she sighed as she stroked his back soothingly. “I won’t walk away from you, William. I’m here … I won’t leave you. I need you. I love you.”



A sob shuddered through Spike’s body and he laid a gentle hand on the little bump in Buffy’s tummy. It was the first time he’d actually touched it, touched the babies … his babies.

Buffy smiled sadly. “You’ve got a family now – a real family. You’re not alone.”

Spike lifted his head and met her shimmering eyes with his. “I love you, Buffy. Love the little bits.”

Buffy touched her lips to his, a gentle, chaste kiss. “We love you too.”

**~**

Later, after putting her empty ice cream bowl in the sink, Buffy hesitated before heading to the couch where her pillow and a blanket remained from the previous night. Even with all they’d talked about, she wasn’t sure what Spike expected of her now – and she honestly wasn’t sure how much she could give. Perhaps it would be better if she just continued to sleep on the couch, and Spike and the Bot could have the bedroom and … do the things that Buffy wasn’t sure she could do yet.

She picked her pillow up from the center of the couch where it had gotten tossed at some point during the day and realized the cash Spike had tossed at her was still in it. She reached into the pillowcase, scooped out the cash, and dropped it all onto one of the end tables; Spike could put it away later. When she began to settle the now cash-less pillow on one end of the couch, Spike reached for it and stopped her. Buffy didn’t release her hold, but looked up to meet his eyes as they both held the innocuous bit of bedding between them.

“Bed’s more comfy,” he offered gently, tilting his head toward the bedroom.

Buffy swallowed and looked back down at the couch. “I … don’t… think…

“I mean, maybe you’d rather be with … the Bot. It’s really ok. I don’t mind … I mean … I understand. You have … needs and I get that you’d want to … you know … be with her again.”

Spike furrowed his brows, the meaning of her subtle innuendo slowly dawning on him.



“You think I … that we …?” he stammered, turning to look at the bedroom and then back to Buffy. He shook his head.

“No … Buffy, I … we didn’t shag. Was gonna but …” Spike sighed, his shoulders slumping. “Was brassed off, wasn’t I? Was trying to hurt you like you hurt me but … I couldn’t do it.”

Buffy's brows furrowed to match Spike's, confusion returning. “But … she said two hours and thirty seven minutes of …” Buffy stopped and thought a moment, trying to remember the Bot’s exact words. “... sucking and comfort.”

Spike looked away from her uneasily, the pillow still suspended in their hands forming a fluffy barrier between the two blondes. “She held me is all … that was the comfort bit. Wasn't any sucking ...wasn’t anything more, pet. Didn’t shag ‘er … wasn’t her I wanted.”



“Oh,” Buffy whispered, unsure what to think or do. She just didn’t know if she was ready to give that yet. Her heart was thawing, but it wasn’t healed. She longed to be touched, but what if she freaked out and hurt him? What if he wanted, needed, more than she could give?

“Just let me hold you, pet. Not asking for more. Just to feel you and the bits next to me,” Spike pleaded.

Buffy blinked tears back and nodded, looking back up at him. “I’d … like that. I’m sorry …”

Spike laid a finger over her lips gently. “Don’t be sorry, luv. Gonna let you lead this dance – I’m happy to follow, just to be near you.”

Buffy gave him a sad smile and let him pull the pillow from her hands. She picked up the blanket and followed him into the bedroom. The Bot was already ‘asleep’, lying on one side of the king-sized bed charging. Spike tossed Buffy’s pillow in the center and she crawled in, leaving room for Spike on her other side.

He began to unfasten his belt and drop his jeans, then thought better of it, and just climbed in with them on. Buffy wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or saddened, but she was touched by the gesture. When he’d settled, she pulled the covers up over them and curled tentatively against his side. His arm snaked around her shoulders and Buffy’s body tensed in a primal reflex as the feeling of being trapped came over her. Spike began to pull back, sensing her unease.

“No … it’s … just let me get used to it. It’s okay, I just need a minute,” she assured him, stopping his retreat.

Spike slowly wrapped his arm around her shoulders again and pulled her against him gently.



Buffy concentrated on her breathing and on her anchor as she let Spike pull her against his body. She pictured the joy that had been in his eyes when he realized the bits were his. In her mind’s eye, his eyes gleamed with adoration and love and hope. She could see it again, touch it again, and a feeling of belonging, of not being alone, surged through her. A comforting warmth welled up deep inside her, something that she’d not felt for a long while, melting the glacier in her soul.

“Thank you,” she murmured to him as she settled her head on his bare shoulder.

“For what, luv?” Spike wondered. He should be thanking her. Her warm, soft body felt like heaven curled against him, the little bulge that contained their growing babies pressing against his side.

Buffy snorted softly and shook her head against his shoulder. “Everything.”

**~**

When Buffy awoke the next morning, Spike was spooned against her back. One of his hands was splayed over their babies protectively, keeping them safe from the big, bad world outside. The Bot, who had been ‘sleeping’ on the other side of Buffy, was apparently already up. They were alone.

Buffy closed her eyes and chastised herself for buying the bullshit Spike had shoveled at her when she’d asked him about having kids. She also dismissed her own fabricated worry that he’d hurt them if the chip ever quit working. Spike was no ordinary vamp. He never had been. She’d known that almost from the moment she’d first seen him, although the width and depth of his … Abby-Normal-ness hadn’t become clear to her until recently. Even when he thought the babies weren’t his, when he thought she’d cheated on him, he had been making plans on how to best take care of them … and her.



Buffy felt tears well behind her closed lids. How deep his love and loyalty must be. She felt that warmth well in her heart again, as she had the previous night when he held her, not pushing, not demanding anything from her but the chance to be next to her. He’d looked at her like … like she wasn’t garbage, like she didn’t still reek of Weatherby’s filth. Could that really be true?

The warm-fuzzy feeling began to spread out from her heart and throughout her body as the possibility that it was true unfurled inside her like a dormant flower emerging from a blanket of snow. Buffy could feel it growing, soothing her, flooding her with warmth. She was surprised to feel that tingling fire of desire ignite in her loins as the cold darkness in her soul was slowly melted away and replaced with a bright, balmy sphere of hope. She had been afraid that that monstrous bastard had forever extinguished her desire and passion, had turned it into something hurtful and foul.

An epiphany came to her, crystallizing in her heart and mind in that moment: What Weatherby did had nothing to do with desire for someone you loved, and everything to do with power and control. What he did was so far removed from anything she’d done with Spike that it was like comparing apples and … spaceships.

Even the games she and Spike had played weren’t about control, but about trust. Buffy wasn’t sure why she hadn’t realized it before, but it was suddenly so clear to her: locking her love away, denying herself the pleasure of being with Spike because of what Weatherby had done would only give the bastard more power over her. Even though he was hundreds or thousands of miles away, he was still controlling her, still manipulating her, still in charge of her.

Well, fuck that! Hadn’t that bastard taken enough from her? From Spike? From all of them?

Buffy focused on all the emotions that were stirring and whirling within her. They were like a physical sphere of warm, golden sunlight in her heart, and she willed it to remain a bright and shining beacon for her disordered mind to hold onto. Spike loved her. She loved him. Making love with him had nothing to do with what she’d experienced at the hands of a devil. Those days while she was a captive were a battle, a fight, a struggle to survive. Except in its intensity, depravity, and duration, it was no different than a hundred other fights she’d had with demonic monsters over the years.

Buffy took a deep breath and blinked back the tears that had built behind her closed lids. She laid her hand over Spike’s where it rested on her tummy, curling her fingers between his. He responded immediately, folding his long fingers closed and holding her fingers gently. Her heart fluttered with nervous glee, like a girl on her a first date, as Spike’s lips touched her shoulder with a gentle kiss.



“Mornin’,” he breathed against her golden skin, his voice deep and gritty from sleep.

“Morning,” she replied, her voice rough as well, squeezing his hand a little tighter.

“Spike, can I ask you something?”

“Anything, pet.”

“Would you be … upset if I didn’t want to go Croatia? I mean … it looks beautiful and all, but …” Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’d just like to raise my … our kids in the states where I … know what’s going on, can at least speak the language, and where I’d have some chance of getting a job … or maybe even going back to college.”

“Don’t know if I can make enough for us to live near the beach in the states. Assuming you wouldn’t want me doing anything … questionable – which I’m guessing you’d frown on.”

You’re gonna be a father, Spike,” she reminded him. “You can’t be doing things that will get you dusted … or arrested. You have to set an example … a good example.

“I don’t care about the beach. As long as we’re together and the kids are safe and happy, that’s all that matters. We can be like normal people and just go to the beach on summer vacation. We can live in one of those states in the middle … I’ll go by a different name, disappear into the ‘waving fields of wheat’.”

Spike snorted. “‘Amber waves of grain’,” he corrected.

Whatever,” Buffy sighed. “What do you think?”



She felt him shrug one shoulder behind her. “Could do. Would you be happy with that life, luv? A normal, boring life living ‘somewhere in the middle’?”

“Would you?” she countered worriedly.

“Long as I’m with you and our bits, I’ll be the happiest vamp in the bloody world,” he assured her.

“Are you sure? A life in the ‘burbs, far away from the Hellmouth – it’s kinda … not very good for Big Bad’s image and all. Can you be happy living in the light with us, Spike?”

“Told ya before, Buffy: I’ve changed. Know ya didn’t believe me, but it’s true. Loving you has changed me, made me … want to be a man again, be a good man, be your man. I’d walk in the bloody sun if that’s what it took t’ show you that being with you and the bits is all I need. If I’m with you, I’m … I’m complete, pet.”

Buffy squeezed his hand again, her heart swelling with even more hope. “Me too … with you, I mean.”

He kissed her shoulder again. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”

“How are we gonna get back to the states? I’m pretty sure the Council won’t lend us one of their planes so we can skip immigration. I might be able to get one – like say I lost it or something – but you and the Bot don’t have passports at all…” Buffy mused aloud.



“Been traveling the world without a bloody passport for a century, luv. I reckon I can work it out. We’ll probably need t’ take a ship, though. With them plane hijackings, doubt we can sneak on a jet.”

“That’s fine,” Buffy agreed.

“You’re right about the name, though. Be best t’ change yours, it will. And we should probably get the Bot a new first name, too, if you want t’ try and fit her in in the ‘burbs. Don’t reckon ‘BuffyBot’s on the list o’ most common given names.”

“Joan. Her name can be Joan,” Buffy announced immediately. “I always liked Joan. So Joan … ummm …"

“d’Arc,” Spike supplied immediately. “Joan of Arc.”

Buffy turned her head and smiled back over her shoulder at him. “Ok, Joan d’Arc. A little pretentious, but, hey – what the heck.



“So, that leaves me and the babies … Buffy d’Arc doesn’t really have the same ring. What’s your last name?” she asked. “Pretty sure ‘the Bloody’ isn’t actually your surname.”

Spike chuckled. “No, not exactly. We can … errr … pick any name ya want, luv. What do ya fancy? Something French t’ match Joan? Dubois, or Bissette, Delacroix’d be right ironic … ‘of the cross’.”

Buffy furrowed her brow and turned in his embrace so she was facing him and could fully see his face. “You don’t remember your own name?” she asked, confused.

Spike rolled his eyes. “I remember it, just …”

“Then tell me,” she prodded. “These are your babies, William, they deserve to have your name, not something made up. I need to know it.”

Spike sighed and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. “Pratt,” he divulged reluctantly, never looking back down.

“Hey!” Buffy objected, frowning at him, her bottom lip coming out in a pout.

Spike sighed and dropped his eyes back to hers. “My name, pet … it’s ‘Pratt’.”

“Prat? Like what you call Xander all the time…?” she asked, confused.



“No, not the same – spelled different, it is. P-R-A-T-T.”

Buffy bit her bottom lip to hold back a grin. “But it sounds the same.”

Spike heaved a sigh. “Which is why I suggested…”

“No. I like it. William Pratt,” she said, trying it out. “What’s your middle name?”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Wesley,” he ground out.

Buffy’s smile widened. “You must’ve gotten beat up a lot when you were a kid.”

“You have no bloody idea,” he groaned in agreement.

“William Wesley Pratt, Jr. and Dawn Joyce Pratt,” she announced, trying the names out as she rubbed her tummy with his hand. “What do you think, Dad?”



Spike gave her a smile, his heart swelling with pride. “Brilliant.”

Spike noticed that she didn’t try her own name out with his last name, but he didn’t comment. Just the thought of her giving the bits his name was more than he’d ever hoped for. He figured she’d probably come up with something later on to use for herself in their new life.

Buffy pressed in and kissed his mouth gently, pulling away before it got too intense. “I love you, William Wesley Pratt,” she said, leaning her forehead against his.

“I love you, too, Buffy,” he replied, reminding himself that he promised she could lead this dance, regardless of how much he wished that kiss had lasted longer.

Buffy dropped her lips back to Spike’s, and pressed him over onto his back, following him over until she was atop him. She sucked his delicious lower lip into her mouth like a bit of rich, luscious caramel and nibbled on it gently. Spike wrapped his arms around her, running his hands up and down her back as he let her control the kiss, savoring the feel of her body against his, of her lips teasing his.

Buffy tensed slightly when his arms went around her, but only for a second. Spike’s hands slowed a moment, but then resumed caressing her when he felt her relax against him again.

Buffy released his lip and covered his whole mouth with hers, her tongue darting out to press between his lips and teeth. He met her tongue with his and they swirled around each other in a slow, gentle dance that belied the need she was building in him.

Spike longed to tell her how much he wanted her, how much he’d missed her warm body surrounding him, but dared not lest he push her away. Time seemed to slow as the kiss continued, languid and sensuous. Her body pressed against his seductively, driving Spike to the verge of madness.



Buffy moaned against his lips, and her hips began to grind slow circles against his groin, drawing a rumbling groan of need from Spike’s throat. Buffy broke the kiss just as gently as she’d begun it, and sat back onto his hips.

With her eyes locked on his, he saw his own desire reflected back from their green depths. There was no fear or trepidation in them – they were Buffy through and through. Spike’s chest heaved with unneeded breath as he waited to follow her lead, his mind wandering off down wonderful paths along which she might guide him.

Buffy reached for the hem of her t-shirt and had just begun to lift it over her head when the bedroom door opened. The aroma of breakfast cooking wafted in through the open door and both blonds looked to see the Bot standing there.

“Breakfast will be ready in five and one half minutes,” she announced brightly.

“Oh,” Buffy responded, annoyed as she dropped the hem of her shirt. “Ummm … couldn’t it wait another … hour or two?”

“It is best consumed at the proper serving temperature, which it will reach in five and–”

“What are you making?” Buffy cut her off.

“Egg-white and tofu quiche with spinach, turkey-bacon, mushrooms, shallots, and tomatoes. I also have decaffeinated coffee,” the Bot replied proudly.

Buffy fought not to make a disgusted sound.

“It will now be ready for consumption in precisely five minutes,” the Bot announced before turning and heading back to the kitchenette.

Buffy looked down at Spike with a scowl. “I blame you for this,” she informed him dourly, poking a finger against his bare chest. “You need to take that book away from her and burn it. I don’t know how much more healthy food I can choke down. I’m American. I don’t eat that … that healthy, French crap. Turkey bacon is just wrong. Bacon does not come from turkeys! Turkey comes from turkeys! Bacon comes from … bacony things!

“If I don’t have a real, honest-to-goodness, fried, greasy hamburger – made out of honest-to-goodness, fatty beef – in the next two days, I will kill someone. Possibly you.”



“Relative sure tofu isn’t French, pet,” Spike defended.

“What is it then?” Buffy wondered.

“Errr … not rightly sure.”

“Exactly. I’m done eating things that I cannot identify. I’m very sure my mom didn’t eat tofu and egg-whites, and look how well I turned out.”

Spike pulled his lips between his teeth to smother a laugh. “Uhhhh … right. Turned out brilliant, you did, pet,” he agreed, however his voice didn’t really convey conviction – in fact it sounded a bit sarcastic.

Buffy glowered at him.

“Just kiddin’, luv. I’ll … see what I can do. She’s just tryin’ to help,” he assured Buffy seriously, rubbing his hands up and down her upper arms.

Buffy sighed and looked out the door to where the Bot was busy in the kitchen. “I know,” she moaned in agreement, her resolve and anger waning.

Buffy leaned down until her mouth was near Spike’s ear. She flicked her tongue out and ran it along the outer shell of his ear, sending a flood of shivers down Spike’s spine.



“We’ll finish this later,” she whispered to him.

“Yeah?” Spike asked hopefully as she pushed up, her hands flat on his chest, and met his eyes.

Buffy gave him a shy smile. “Yeah.”

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up on YouTube  }}

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Well, I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work, we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn, how to bend, without the world caving in
I had to learn, what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
Still looking up.

Well, I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
Chapter End Notes:
More to come. Is the angst over? Uhhhh ... never, but there will be a lull in it. Hope you still enjoy the chapters, even if they aren't tearing your heart out. Next Update on Tuesday.
**
Isn't that a beautiful song??
Sometimes by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Giant hugs to all you wonderful people that left me love notes to say the last chapter was not boring!! You have no idea how much better that makes me feel! I always worry that it will be if hearts are not being ripped out. xoxoxoxxoxo

And thanks always to PaganBaby, my evil-twin and beta reader.
Later that day …

Buffy came in from taking a swim, still drying her hair on one of the beach towels that came with the bungalow, to find Spike on the room’s computer. She walked up behind him and looked over his shoulder, still dripping water onto the tile floor.

“Whatcha doin’?” she wondered as she looked at the screen.



“Just some … research,” Spike divulged.

Buffy cocked a brow at him momentarily. ‘Spike’ and ‘research’ seemed un-mixy, but then she remembered the stuff he’d looked up and info he’d gotten on Croatia.

“On what?” she asked.

“Best places t’ raise kids in the US,” he reported.

“And?”

“Well, we got Buffalo, New York …” he began.

“Too cold,” Buffy stopped him.

“Figured,” Spike agreed. “Reckon that also eliminates Albany, Syracuse, Rochester…”



“Seriously?” Buffy asked, frowning.

Spike shrugged. “Don’t reckon you want to go to Des Moines, Iowa, either.”

“Definitely not – Riley’s from Iowa. Who put this list together?” Buffy wondered.

“Forbes Magazine,” Spike told her as he continued scanning the list.

“No wonder – you need to find a list by some hippies, not suits,” she advised.

Spike turned his head and looked up at her over his shoulder. “Woodstock was in New York, too, luv,” he reminded her.

Buffy rolled her eyes. “I don’t do cold. Find someplace warm and fun and not all stuffed-shirty. Like Venice Beach, only without the beach and not in California.”

Spike went back to his search and clicked on another list of ‘best cities for families’ done by Parenting.com.



“Oh! Look! Austin, Texas. That sounds warm,” she observed pointing at the screen.

Spike clicked on it and began to read aloud, “‘Austin is a way-cool progressive city in a warm and sunny climate. City pools stay open year-round, and the bass are always biting at Town Lake.

“‘The self-proclaimed ‘Live Music Capital of the World’, Austin also hosts the annual South by Southwest music, film, and interactive festival. In recent years, some Austinites have adopted the unofficial slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’. This interpretation of the classic, ‘Texas-style’ sense of independence refers to the traditional and proudly eclectic, liberal lifestyles of many Austin residents.



“‘With an abundance of pediatricians, 27,000 acres of parkland, and plenty of farmers’ markets and food co-ops, Austin is a well-rounded, healthy hometown.’”

“Perfect,” Buffy announced as she wrapped the towel around her hair to get it to stop dripping. “Sounds like we’d fit right in.”

Spike swiveled the chair all the way around to look at her. “Jumpin’ to decisions pretty fast aren’t ya, Slayer?”

“What? It sounds perfect. They like weird, we’re weird. What else is there to think about?” Buffy defended. “Just forgetting a moment that you’re a chipped-vampire, I’m an ex-Slayer, and the Bot is a … bot, how do you think a threesome of one guy living with identical twins and raising two small children would fit in in some conservative northern town?”

Spike frowned and scratched his head. “Reckon ya got me there, pet.”

“Don’t over-think it. I always find going with my first instinct is best. When I start thinking, that’s usually not of the good,” Buffy advised profoundly.

Spike laughed, although he was sure she wasn’t joking – at all. “Right then,” he agreed. “Austin it is. Reckon I have the afternoon free now. Whatever shall I do t’ fill the time?” he wondered with mock solemnity, looking up at her with an innocent, little-boy grin.



Buffy looked around the cabin. “Where’s the Bot … I mean Joan?”

“Out on errands.”

Buffy cocked a brow at him. “For how long?”

Spike smirked. “Long.”

Buffy grinned. “Really?”

“Mmmmhmmm,” Spike drawled as he stood up in front of her.

“I’m … all salty,” Buffy breathed as his bare chest brushed against her wet bikini top when he stood, sending shivers through her body.

“Enhances the flavor,” Spike purred. He clenched his fists against his thighs, physically restraining himself from pulling her against him and crushing his lips to hers.



“It’s bad for your blood pressure,” she teased. Buffy’s heart leapt at the brief contact and that familiar tingling fire sparked to life in her loins.

“Lucky I don’t ‘ave any,” he replied silkily.

“Mmm, lucky.” She licked her lips nervously waiting for him to kiss her, to pull her to him, to lead – but he didn’t move.

Spike mistook her delay, thinking she had changed her mind about finishing what they’d started earlier. After a few moments he cleared his throat and ducked his head as he stepped to the side, out of her personal space.

“Sorry,” he murmured as he moved away. “Didn’t mean t’ push.”



Buffy reached out and grabbed his hand. “No, Spike – I’m sorry. I … I’m just a little nervous … I’m not sure I’m ready to lead this dance.”

Spike nodded and lifted her hand to his lips. He dropped a soft kiss on her small but deadly knuckles, intending to release her hand and move away – to wait until she was ready.

“Would you … lead?” she asked tentatively before he could let go of her hand.

He tilted his head and looked at her questioningly.

“I mean …” She swallowed hard. “I love you. I trust you. Would you … make love to me? Remind me that it’s … not … like…” Buffy felt her throat tighten and tears sting her eyes. She blinked them back rapidly and cleared her throat. “Make love to me, William Pratt.”

Spike felt his heart swell at her words. He gently pulled her to him with the hand he’d been holding, and touched his lips to hers.

Buffy melted against him. She didn’t tense up this time, but instead allowed the circle of his strong arms to be her refuge, her sanctuary. She was safe here, she was loved – she didn’t have to be anything she wasn’t, didn’t have to worry about any dangers. Her anchor wouldn’t let her drift onto the rocks and crash.

“I love you, Buffy,” Spike murmured against her salty lips before deepening the kiss by slow degrees. She lost herself in the feeling of sweet surrender, of letting her defenses down, and basking in his love. His tongue gently delved into her mouth and swept across her teeth, then found hers and caressed it softly, lovingly.

Spike pulled away from the kiss just as he’d deepened it: by slow degrees, leaving Buffy panting for air when their lips finally parted. He bent down slowly, and gently lifted her into his arms with one hand under her knees and the other behind her back. Buffy’s arms snaked around his neck and the towel fell off her wet hair as he began walking with her into the bedroom.

Buffy’s heart skittered in her chest as she nuzzled her damp head against his shoulder. She felt the thrill of goose-flesh wash over her in a flood of emotion, tingling her body from head to toe in anticipation. Her whole body shivered in an uncontrollable reaction to being in Spike’s arms and what she knew would follow.

“All ya have to do is say ‘stop’ and I will, pet,” Spike assured her in a whisper as he gently laid her down on their bed. “Doesn’t matter when – if ya change your mind, just tell me. Never want t' hurt you, pet ... never.”

Buffy gave him a grateful smile and nodded, but deep down she knew that wouldn’t be necessary. There was nothing about this that compared in any way to what Weatherby had done – it was as different as night and day, as love and hate, as giving and taking.

Spike stood back up and let his eyes glide slowly over her body. Her limbs were lean and golden tan, her breasts, still covered by her bikini top, heaved with her excitement. His eyes would’ve normally stopped there for a good while, drinking in every curve, noticing how her nipples were hard against the thin, wet fabric of the top, but today they shifted lower, to the cute little bump in her once-flat, golden-tan, stomach. If he hadn’t known what it was, it wouldn’t have even been enough to draw a second look – but he knew.



He couldn’t stop himself from leaning down and dropping a loving kiss atop it before resuming his mission. Standing beside where she lay on the bed, he gently hooked the fingers of each hand beneath the bottoms of her suit where it clung to her shapely hips, and began to slide the damp cloth down her legs.

Buffy lifted her hips to free the material, and more goose-bumps erupted on her skin and chased his hands down her strong, lithe, gymnast’s legs. Spike’s hands never left her body as he pressed the fabric down over her thighs, her knees, her calves, her ankles. He trailed all the way to her bare, sandy toes before his strong, gentle hands left her flesh, and the wet suit dropped unceremoniously to the tile floor.

Still standing beside her with his jeans still on, Spike began the trek back up her legs with his hands. Pausing momentarily to tease and tickle the soft flesh at the back of her knees, causing Buffy to squirm, and a giggle to grace her lips.

“So beautiful you are, Buffy,” he whispered to her as his fingers danced in a gentle glissade up her golden limbs to her apex.

Buffy moaned when his hands passed over her springy curls like a ghost, never touching her skin. He watched her face as he backtracked and slid over them again, and again. Each gentle pass drew a moan of pleasure from her which warmed Spike like a ray of sunshine. On the next trip back around, he touched down more firmly, grazing her skin with his fingertips and her moan turned into a gasp of blissful delight.

He wished she’d talk to him like she used to, but perhaps it was just too soon for that. Or, he realized, since he was leading this dance, perhaps it should be up to him to begin the conversation. “Love how you moan when I touch you, luv. So passionate you are. Can smell your desire, pet. You smell like heaven, look like a tropical angel with a halo of brilliant spun gold. Got no idea what you do to me, Buffy. No bloody idea how much I love you…”

“Oh, Spike,” she breathed when he continued teasing her dark triangle, never delving between her wet folds. “Feels sooo good. I missed your touch. Missed this … missed you.”

“Never left, luv. Never will,” Spike reminded and assured her.

Buffy looked up and met his eyes. “I know … I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice sad.

“Shhhh,” Spike admonished her gently, his hand moving up to touch her cheek lovingly. “Not your fault, luv. Past is past … let me love you now and forever.”

Buffy bit her bottom lip and nodded. “Now and forever,” she confirmed.



Buffy laid her palm over his and sat up slowly, dropping her legs over the edge of the bed and turning to face him. She showered the alabaster skin of his hard, flat stomach with gentle kisses as he stood before her, then moved her hands to the button on his jeans. She unbuttoned them easily, then slid his zipper down gingerly, freeing his urgent need from the confines of the denim. 

Spike moaned when she kissed the waving head of his cock while her hands slid his jeans down his slim hips. Spike took a reluctant step back so he could step on the hem of one leg of his jeans and lift his foot clear before repeating the process with the other, finally freeing himself of them completely.

Buffy smiled as she watched him shrug out of them deftly – he only swayed and almost fell once – employing decades of experience and vampire grace, no doubt. “You know, shorts would be lots easier to get out of,” she suggested.

Spike snorted. “Big Bad does not wear bloody short pants,” he retorted tersely. “That’s for poofters and Nancy boys … and UPS drivers.”

Buffy bit her lip to contain her grin. “I heard otherwise,” she teased.



Spike scowled at her. “That wanker Harris,” he snarled. “Told him I’d rip his bloody lungs out if he…”

“Xander didn’t tell,” Buffy cut him off. “It was Willow.”

Spike growled in anger and frustration.

“I think you’d look cute in shorts,” she continued.

“Big Bad is not cute,” he informed her angrily.

“Adorable even,” she continued, unfazed.

Spike’s growl deepened and Buffy let the laugh out that she’d been holding back.

Spike let his agitation fade as the sound of her laugher rang in the room like sweet, silver bells. If he had to wear shorts pants to make her laugh, then he’d wear them every bloody day.

“You’re just taking the piss outta me,” he accused after a moment.

“Moi?” Buffy asked, widening her eyes, lifting a hand to her chest, and feigning innocence.



“Careful, Slayer, gonna use up all your conversational French tossing it about like that.”

Buffy huffed out a sharp breath of disagreement. “I know lots of French,” she assured him. “In fact, I know all the French anyone needs to know.”

Spike cocked a skeptical brow at her. “Let’s hear it then,” he challenged.

Buffy shook her head. “Can’t tell you, have to show you,” she told him, crooking her index finger at him in a ‘come closer’ gesture.

She kept the curling motion of her finger going until Spike had knelt in front of her so that his face was nearly level with hers. Then she leaned forward and captured his lips with hers, sliding her tongue between them. Their tongues met and swirled in his mouth, then his arms were around her and he was pulling her against him. Buffy ravished his lips and tongue until she began to feel light-headed and had to pull away.

“What more … French does … anyone need … to know?” she panted.

Spike grinned and shook his head. “Reckon ya got me there, Slayer.”

“Of course I do,” she replied, finally getting her breath back. “You’ll probably be better off when you understand and accept my two life rules.”

“What are those, then?”

“Rule number one: I’m always right. Rule number two: If I’m wrong, refer to rule number one.”

Spike chuckled. “Cheeky wench, you are.”

Buffy lifted one shoulder in a shrug and tilted her head to that side, offering no argument to his contention. “Thought you liked cheeky.”

“Nope … love cheeky,” he admitted. “Wouldn’t say no to another French lesson,” he purred, leaning in to kiss her again.

“Mmmmm,” Buffy burbled against his lips as he resumed the lesson, parting his lips to let her sweet tongue slide into his mouth.



Spike’s hands wandered over Buffy’s back and up to the bow that held the straps of her bikini top around her neck. He found the ends of the bow and tugged lightly, unfastening the straps of the damp garment easily. His hands followed the strings down until his palms rested on the naked curve of her breasts.

Buffy’s back arched when Spike’s thumbs raked over her cool, bare nipples, hardening them into tight pebbles with barely a touch. Their kiss broke when Buffy’s body tensed into a bow. Buffy leaned back on her hands, reluctantly pulling her lips from his, as her breasts thrust forward into his touch.

Spike dropped his mouth down to suck one hard nipple between his lips, swirling his tongue over the hard nub and drawing more moans of pleasure from Buffy. His hand continued to tease the other nipple, rolling it gently between his fingers, not wanting it to feel neglected in any way.

Her body reacted to his touch as if no time had passed since they’d last done this – as if nothing had happened to her since Vegas. But he knew differently, and he carefully kept his lust reined in. This was no time for wild Slayer/vampire fortification; this was the time for William to make love to Buffy.

Buffy reached one hand behind her back and tugged the bow that held the strap of the bikini top around her ribcage. It came free in an instant and slid to the bed. She didn’t want anything to hinder Spike’s wandering mouth or hands. She at once longed for his body to be atop her, for him to be sheathed inside her, and for him to continue doing exactly what he was doing.

His soft moans and murmurs against her salty skin made her feel beautiful, desired, wanted, and loved. His lips knew exactly where to touch her to make her body writhe and tremble. His hands moved over her body like a harpist’s ghosting over the strings; she could almost hear the lilting melody of heavenly angels ringing in her ears.



When his mouth moved away from her breast and he began to lick a line of tingling desire over her abdomen, Buffy’s breath caught in her throat. She watched him kissing and nipping and licking her golden skin as he moved down ever further, pausing only when he reached her navel to drop two soft kisses there, one for each little bit, before continuing his trek.

Kneeling in front of her, Spike pressed her knees apart with gentle pressure and lifted her legs up, draping them over his shoulders. He stopped a moment and inhaled as her pink, dew-soaked flower was opened to him. His eyes closed and he made the sort of sound in his throat she might make if she smelled brownies baking: a rapturous, orgasmic sound that came from somewhere deep down inside.

He opened his eyes and looked up at her. She was looking at him with a combination of giddy anticipation and amusement. “Got no idea how beautiful you are, do ya, Slayer? How heavenly you smell…” Spike asked as he slid his hands up her outer thighs from her knees, finally settling them on her hips.

Buffy’s smile widened, she couldn’t help it. She’d spent her life being grossed out by vampires and their overactive olfactory senses, but somehow Spike made it seem sexy. “From that sound you made, I’m thinking I smell like brownies baking … double chocolate with walnuts.”



Spike tilted his head and gave her that sweet, indulgent smile he had – the one that meant he thought she was cute, if a little barmy … or cheeky … or maybe it was shirty. Buffy wasn’t exactly sure what most of those things meant, but he’d called her all of them at one time or another.

“Not exactly,” he replied. “But definitely good enough t’ eat,” he agreed, curling his tongue over his teeth hungrily.

Spike leaned into her and slid his tongue between her folds, catching the drops of moisture that clung there as that same moan emanated from his throat again.

The blissful moan that fell from Buffy's lips mirrored Spike's. She lifted her legs so that her feet, rather than the back of her thighs, were on his shoulders so he’d have more room. Her flower blossomed for him when she did that, revealing the source of her heavenly aroma and sweet nectar to him.

“Oh, Buffy…” Spike rumbled as he touched his tongue down on her clit, circling it gently before sucking the hard, throbbing nub between his lips.

Buffy’s body shuddered as he sucked and nipped at her bundle of nerves. She remained propped up on her elbows, watching him, mesmerized by his passion and the zeal with which he delved into her. Each touch of his tongue or lips sent bolts of quivering electricity down her legs and into her core. Her thighs quaked and trembled as he made love to her with his mouth and built her desire for him even higher.

When Spike slid a finger into her aching channel, Buffy gasped in pleasure. “God, yes, Spike … so good,” she breathed as his tongue flicked against her clit and his finger slid in and out of her in a slow, steady rhythm. After a moment, he increased the friction by adding another finger, and Buffy’s eyes feathered closed in ecstasy. When he stretched her wider with a third finger, it only took a few gentle thrusts for her body to give him what he’d been longing for: her cum.

“Yes, yes, yes …. Spike, yes,” she chanted, her voice low and breathless. When the wave of euphoria hit her, she let out a choked gasp, and her head rolled back, her body tensing and trembling in blissful climax.

“Don’t hold back, pet,” Spike cajoled gently. “Let it out … love to hear ya … let go,” he encouraged. He’d almost said he loved to hear her scream – which he did – but thought better of it at the last moment. His desire to hear her scream was the polar opposite of Weatherby’s, but there was no way to convey that in these few moments.

Spike’s hatred for the man redoubled when he felt her holding back, when her joyful exclamation was thwarted and left to languish in her throat. He would track the bastard down before they went back to the states. Nothing, not even his chip, could stop Spike from exacting full and proper revenge on the monster.

Buffy collapsed back onto the bed, her breathing coming in fits and gasps, as she came down from the crest of the ride Spike had taken her on. Spike slowed his ministrations, but continued making love to her with his mouth and hands as she floated back down from heaven. As her breathing and heart-rate slowly returned to near-normal, Spike savored her sweet and salty nectar, and the way her legs shook and quivered with uncontrollable spasms of electricity.

“God, Spike … so good, baby. You make me feel so good,” Buffy breathed.

Spike caressed her trembling thighs, then showered the tender flesh nearest his mouth with kisses. He gently dropped one, then the other of her legs down from his shoulders as he worshiped them with his mouth and hands, then rose back up to his feet between her legs.

Buffy opened her eyes and looked up at him, her gaze locking onto her refreshingly blue anchor. The azure warmth of his love seemed to flood into her heart and pump through her veins, burning every part of her deliciously. She began to slide back further on the bed as Spike joined her, stalking forward on hands and knees, matching her slow pace, never breaking eye contact. When her head nearly touched the other side of the bed, she stopped and waited for him to catch her with his lithe, panther crawl.

Spike settled his hips between her legs and dropped down to his elbows. He held himself up off her slightly, not wanting to put any undue pressure on the little bits, but wanting to feel her softness heating his body as only she could. Buffy framed his handsome face with her hands, her fingertips settling admiringly on his high, sharp cheekbones as her palms cradled his cheeks.

She pulled his lips down to hers with gentle pressure and kissed him with downy-softness. If not for the emotions he could practically feel rolling off her, and their naked bodies pressed together, the kisses she smoothed over his mouth would’ve been chaste and innocent. When she’d thoroughly covered his lips with the sweet kisses, she spread out, touching her lips to his strong chin, the tip of his nose, then to each eyelid, to the scar above his eye, to his forehead.

“I hope he looks just like you, our little William,” Buffy murmured against his cool skin. “He’ll be so handsome.”

Spike’s eyes blurred with emotion and he blinked to clear them. “Not as beautiful as a bitty Buffy,” he replied as he turned his head within her hands’ embrace, and dropped a kiss on her palm.

“They better be really cute kids,” Buffy teased as he looked back down into her eyes. “Because they’re gonna be stubborn as mules and … cheeky, and shirty … and barmy … and possibly even bratty, if they’re anything like Dawn. Their cuteness may be the only thing that will save them from their parents’ considerable wrath.”

Spike smiled down on her. “Too right,” he agreed, still smiling. “Good thing their mum is the epitome of calmness and serenity.”



Buffy barked out a short, sarcastic laugh. “And their dad has the patience of Job and the tolerance of Gandhi.”

Spike bit his lip and shook his head in defeat. “We’re buggered.”

Buffy laughed and her eyes sparkled with joy. Spike thought he’d never seen or heard anything more beautiful. His own eyes shone, sparkling like sapphires, as he drank her in. His Buffy. His Buffy was here with him in this moment. He could do anything with her at his side – even be a patient and tolerant father.

Buffy slid her hands behind his neck and lifted her head up until her mouth was near his ear. Her warm breath tickled his skin as she whispered, “Make love to me, William.”

As Buffy settled back onto the soft mattress, Spike met and held her eyes with his. He slowly pushed up on strong arms to support his weight above her, never breaking eye contact with his beautiful, cheeky goddess. Buffy wrapped her legs around his hips as he shifted back slightly, then Buffy’s hand was between them guiding him into her welcoming warmth.

Spike moved slowly, perhaps more slowly than he had the very first time they’d made love, afraid of hurting her or frightening her. He knew she was healed physically from her ordeal, but her mind, he was sure, was still fragile, like a delicate, silvered glass Christmas ornament. He wanted this to be perfect for her, to show her that he’d never hurt her, he’d cherish her forever.



Buffy gasped as he pressed in, and her eyes fluttered closed, but she willed them open again, back to his loving gaze.

Spike stopped moving. “You alright, luv?” he asked gently.

“Perfect,” she replied, her voice thick with emotion. “I almost forgot how good that feels … that moment of connection. It’s like …” Buffy bit her bottom lip a moment, searching his eyes as if she’d find the perfect word floating in their cerulean depths.

“Love,” Spike provided.

Buffy tilted her head slightly in agreement, but added breathlessly, “It’s the summer sunshine on a clear, blue sea. It’s bright and dazzling … tingling hot on my body.”

Spike looked at her with a mixture of awe and disbelief. Had she actually remembered William’s poetic drivel that he’d prattled on about all those weeks ago?

Buffy smiled up at him. “Next comes the thunder rolling over a beach at sunrise,” she continued in the same quiet voice.

Spike waited, looking for the mocking glint in her eyes, but it never came. She wasn’t making fun of him and his bloody pathetic, poetic notions. “Didn’t know you were … really listening to that prattle. Kinda hoped you’d’ve forgotten,” he admitted after a moment, ducking his head a bit with embarrassment.



Buffy brought her hands down from around his neck to his face, and forced his discomfited eyes back to hers. “Didn’t I tell you that it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to me? Did you think I was lying? Did really you think I wouldn’t remember?”

Spike shook his head in awe, then took a deep, unneeded breath, and pressed into her a little more. “Paris in spring…” he murmured to her.

Buffy moaned her agreement. “Rio during Carnival,” she added as he continued his slow plunge into her warm, wet, soft depths.

“Like bein’ born,” Spike managed as his hips came to rest against hers, his hardness buried in her to the hilt, their eyes never wavering from the depths of the other.

“Like dying,” Buffy added with a moan, as shivers of fire raced through her body, raising a sheen of perspiration across her salty skin even as chilly, goose-bumps peppered her flesh. “Take me to heaven on earth, Spike …”

Spike began sliding out almost as slowly as he’d pressed in. The sensation sent morsels of pure pleasure ricocheting through Buffy’s body as she felt his shaft pulling against her body’s need to keep him inside. And then he was pressing back in, and her body rejoiced, clutching at his hardness, pulling him deep into her core with the ferocity of her need.

“Oh, yes, Spike. Nearly forgot how good … how you fill me, how you feel inside me – against me. So perfect.”

“You’re bloody glorious, pet,” Spike breathed back as the tempo of his hips moving against hers increased. “Never known a woman like you. Never want to lose you, Buffy. You make me feel … like a man.”

“You are a man, Spike. My man … our babies’ father. You aren’t gonna lose me. You’re my anchor. I need you … I love you,” Buffy assured him as she matched his new rhythm, lifting her hips up to meet his with each thrust.

“Love you, Buffy. Love you more than you can know,” he gasped back before both of them lost the ability to do more than murmur random words of praise and love, and moan the other’s name.



The hurricane, tornado, earthquake, and tidal wave that Spike had included in his list of how it felt to be with her, to be inside her, came upon them as gentle nudges at first. Like the pre-tremors before the quake, the breeze before the tornado, the gentle rain before the hurricane, the calm before the storm; the sensations built slowly but surely.

The two lovers were forces of nature all their own. When the full vehemence and power of their volcano erupted and added its power to the quakes and storms already brewing, it sent them both spiraling to the heaven that she’d asked of him. Together they flew up into the rapturous abyss to tumble between the stars, to glide along the Milky Way, to touch the sun, and blaze across the moon. Their bodies remained behind, helplessly intertwined in the primal dance of life and love and bliss that they brought to each other, while their spirits soared.



After reveling in the playground of the gods, they floated gently back to earth, like ashes from the explosion they’d conjured, back to their spent and gasping bodies.

As they came back to themselves, they were still helplessly, hopelessly, tangled, connected, clinging to each other. Buffy steadfastly held Spike to her, secure in the knowledge that his weight atop her would not harm the little bits inside her belly. Her arms clung to his back, her legs encircled his slim hips, and her womanhood held his spent cock inside her in a tight embrace.

Spike had been careful to not flop down on Buffy, but willingly accepted her gentle insistence on pulling his body against hers. His arms snaked beneath her shoulders, and his fingers curled in her golden tresses as he rested against her, his face buried against the thrumming artery in her neck.



“Warm, gooey caramel and soft, fluffy clouds,” Buffy rasped out, turning her head slightly so her breath tickled Spike’s neck.

She could feel him smile against her over-heated skin.

“Rain on a tin roof,” he countered, his voice a rumble against her neck.

“Snow on Christmas morning,” she offered.

“Undying love,” he finished, lifting up to touch his lips to hers.

“Undying love,” she whispered back against his luscious mouth.

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Britney Spears, Sometimes on YouTube  }}

You tell me you're in love with me
Like you can't take your pretty eyes away from me
It's not that I don't want to stay
But every time you come too close I move away 

I wanna believe in everything you say
'Cause it sounds so good
But if you really want me, move slow
There's things about me you just have to know

[CHORUS:]
Sometimes I run
Sometimes I hide
Sometimes I'm scared of you
But all I really want is to hold you tight
Treat you right, be with you day and night
Baby, all I need is time

I don't wanna be so shy
Every time that I'm alone I wonder why
Hope that you will wait for me
You'll see that you're the only one for me

I wanna believe in everything that you say
'Cause it sounds so good
But if you really want me, move slow
There's things about me you just have to know

[Repeat CHORUS]

Jest hang around and you'll see
There's nowhere I'd rather be
If you love me, trust in me
The way that I trust in you

[Repeat CHORUS]
Chapter End Notes:
{{  Click here if you want to find out if you are weird enough for Austin  }}


Okay, yeah, I know Britney Spears has become a joke, but I like this song and I think the lyrics fit where Buffy is ... so ... {shrug}. Coming up next Saturday: Spike and Buffy have fun in France (hopefully you will laugh), among other things.

Ok, I have a poll for you guys. You don't have to leave your name or anything if you don't want to, but let me know in your feedback if you'd like another threesome later in the story or not. I have a spot where one will fit in, but I'm just not sure whether to do it or not. What do you think?
Cheeseburger In Paradise by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Warning for this chapter: Artery-clogging grease!


Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile. All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
The next evening after dark …

“Oh. My. God! Seriously?! This has been here the entire time and I’ve been eating tofu!?” Buffy jumped from the car almost before Spike had it in a parking spot, and certainly before he had it stopped.



“The Holy Grail of American fast food was right here, not five miles from our house, and you let me eat freaking tofu?!” Buffy growled at him angrily as she came around to the front of the car and started for the door of the dining establishment.

Spike got the ignition killed and set the brake before joining her. “Not my fault, the Bo… Joan…” Spike began, immediately on the defensive.

“Oh, right, I forgot, Joan’s in charge of my dietary requirements. You had absolutely noooo say in the matter. One cookbook does not a connoisseur of American cuisine make – especially when the cook doesn’t even eat,” Buffy snarled back as she swung the door with the giant, yellow ‘M’ emblazoned on it open and headed inside.

She’d only gotten a couple of steps into the dining area when she had to stop. Her eyes fluttered closed and her knees even wobbled a bit in utter, gastrointestinal ecstasy. The aroma – oh, sweet Jesus – the aroma of fatty, fried burgers and deep-fried, artery-clogging potatoes swept over her like a long, lost lover. She closed her eyes and just … breathed.

McDonald’s.

She had an almost uncontrollable urge to drop to her knees and kiss the red tile floor – she was home. Or as close to home as she could get in France.

Spike came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, leaning his chest against her back. “Don’t forget who brought you to this Mecca of supersized pleasure,” he whispered in her ear seductively, then added, “And for God’s sake, don’t tell Joan! She’ll bloody kill me.”



Buffy laughed and finally opened her eyes. People in the booths and tables were looking at her like she’d lost her mind. She didn’t care. She was at McDonald’s! Her heart sang. Her stomach rumbled. Her taste buds tingled with anticipation. This was almost as good as sex with Spike. Okay, not really – but at that moment it was heavenly.

“Promise to bring me here every single day and I won’t tell,” Buffy offered slyly.



“That’s blackmail!” Spike accused, scowling at her, his fine sense of decorum severely affronted.

“Blackmail’s such a harsh word,” Buffy objected.

“How do ya feel about 'extortion', then?” he wondered.

“I prefer to think of it as incentive,” Buffy defended as she pulled away from him, took one of his hands in hers, and headed for the counter. Up at the front, she stood back a bit, studying the colorful menu above the cashiers.

Her face scrunched up in thought. Everything was in French. That is just so wrong. “Bagels?” she commented, looking at the pictures, “Burgers do not go on bagels!” she scoffed, clearly disturbed.

“What’re those?” she asked pointing to pictures of some wrap-type sandwiches.

“The Fish McWrap and the Goat McWrap,” Spike translated.

Buffy’s jaw dropped and she looked at him to see if he was joking. He wasn’t – she could tell, he didn’t have that evil glint in his eyes.

“Goat … goat?!” Buffy shuddered. “That’s just wrong.”

She looked back at the board again and her frown deepened. “Where’s the Quarter Pounder with Cheese?” she asked Spike.



“Errr … don’t see it, pet,” Spike confirmed.

Philistines,” she growled.

“Sorry, luv,” Spike offered. “Got Big Mac,” he suggested.

Buffy pouted. “It’s not the same. The Big Mac’s all about the special sauce – which is basically French dressing …

“Hey! What do they call French dressing in France?” Buffy wondered suddenly, looking over at Spike with seriously inquisitive eyes. “Do they just call it ‘dressing’? Is it the same as our French dressing: doctored-up ketchup? And do they have an American dressing? Or is our French dressing their American dressing? Or do they have American-French dressing, which would be different than French-French dressing? Inquiring minds want to know.”

Spike just stared at her blankly for several of her heartbeats. “Your mind’s a scary bloody place, Summers,” he deadpanned.



Buffy smiled and turned back to the menu, lifting her chin proudly. “Thank you.”

After studying the menu-board another minute, she stepped up to an open cashier and placed her order – in good ole American-English. This was McDonald’s, damn it! “Four double-cheeseburgers, a supersized order of fries – you do have Heinz ketchup, don’t you?” she asked worriedly.

The clerk nodded.

Buffy let out a sigh of relief. “Thank God,” she mumbled before continuing, “Ummm … a large Coke, and a hot fudge sundae.” Buffy turned to Spike, “Do you want anything?”

Spike choked. “Uhhh … I’ll just have some o’ your fries.”

Buffy turned back to the cashier. “Make that two supersized orders of fries.”

“Bloody hell, Slayer, you feeding a Mongol horde?” Spike asked as he pulled some cash from his pocket and handed the bills to the clerk.

Buffy rubbed the little bulge in her stomach and smiled demurely. “Pretty close.”



**~**

Buffy was giddy with anticipation as she slid into a booth with the tray of artery-clogging fast-food. She reverently peeled back the waxy paper from the first of her hamburgers as if unwrapping a jewel-encrusted Fabergé egg. Her mouth watered and she licked her lips as she took the top bun off the burger. She removed the pickles gingerly, barely touching them with the tips of her fingers, and setting them off to the side of the paper, before replacing the bun atop the burger.

Spike slid in across from her and watched her with amusement as she then opened a pack of Heinz ketchup – accept no substitutes! – with her teeth, and squeezed the contents out on the other side of the burger’s former wrapper turned serving platter. Next, she picked up three French fries, dragged the tips through the ketchup, and lifted them to her lips. She took a bite of the ketchup-coated fries, then lowered them and dunked them in the sauce again – yes, double-dipping is acceptable etiquette in McDonald’s – before finishing them with a glorious moan, licking the salt from her fingers. After that, she picked up the burger and took a large bite, following the potatoes with an all-beef-patty chaser.

"Can hear your arteries narrowing as we sit 'ere," he commented, watching her chew a large mouth-full of burger and bread.

"Everyone knows that blood flowing too freely is bad for you," Buffy retorted after washing her bite of ambrosia down with a drink of her Coke.

"That right?" Spike asked, quirking a brow at her suspiciously.

"Well, duh! If blood flowed too freely, you'd totally bleed to death from a paper cut! Geez, Spike ... I thought you'd know more about blood, considering your ... fascination with it."



Spike chuckled, shaking his head at her logic, and reached for one of her fries. She slapped his hand away adamantly. “Mine! Those are yours,” she informed him, tilting her head to the other order of fries on the tray.

“Touchy, you are, pet,” Spike complained, taking a few fries from his pack.

“Don’t get between a pregnant American and her McDonald’s fries,” Buffy warned, taking another bite of her hamburger.

“Words t’ live by, I reckon.”

Buffy nodded, switching back to devouring another trio of fries.

“Gonna eat them pickles?” Spike asked, eyeing the forlorn green discs on the paper.

Buffy scowled at him and wrinkled her nose. “Gross – no way. They’re … wilted.”

Spike laughed as he picked them up and popped them into his mouth. “Why don’t ya just ask for the burger without pickles, luv?”



“This is McDonald’s,” Buffy scoffed in explanation.

Spike’s brows furrowed, waiting for additional elucidation from her – nothing more came. He blew out a breath and shook his head as he ate more of his own fries. “You Yanks are a bloody strange lot.”

Buffy huffed out a breath. “At least we don’t have freaking goat wraps at McDonald’s.”

Spike shrugged. “Point.”

**~**

A couple of weeks later…



Buffy wandered in a seemingly aimless, meandering path through the hallowed halls of the Louvre, and Spike followed. Her eyes took in masterpiece after masterpiece, rarely settling on any one for long. She’d comment at times, but mostly she was silent as they literally strolled through history.

When even the Mona Lisa drew only gentle acknowledgment from her, Spike started to wonder if this had been a bad idea. She’d enjoyed the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and even that cheesy, tourist-y boat tour on the River Seine. Of course, none of those things seemed to move her quite as much as that first trip into McDonald’s. Yanks!

Still, it was possible they’d never be in Paris again, and he wanted to make sure she at least saw the high points lest she regret it later.

So, when Buffy finally stopped her amble, Spike took note. He stood next to her and a little behind where he could watch her face as much as look at the sculpture she was gazing at intently. After a full minute had passed in silence she remarked, “It doesn’t look like a shoe.”

Spike pulled his top lip between his teeth to smother the chuckle that threatened, then cleared his throat. “Nike was a goddess before she was a shoe, pet. The Goddess of Victory.”

Buffy looked at him a moment, her expression unreadable. “Oh. I knew that,” she asserted flatly, looking back at the giant, winged statue before them.



“This is called ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ – it’s Greek. Been here since 1884 – I remember Dru wanted me to steal …”

Buffy cocked a brow at him.

“Errrr …” he stammered, ducking his head uncomfortably.

“So, did you?” Buffy asked, giving him a suspicious look.

“Still here, innit?” he pointed out, waving a hand at the enormous marble deity. “Too bloody heavy.”



Buffy blinked. “So you did try to steal it,” she deduced.

Spike shrugged. “Didn’t ‘ave enough minions t’ carry the soddin’ thing,” he explained. “Don’t know what she wanted it for – said it spoke to ‘er. Good bloody thing Miss Edith came along, I’d a’ hated to lug that chunk o’ rock around the bloody globe with us.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and looked back at the statue, which seemed capable of taking flight at any moment. “That’s wrong on so many levels.”

“What? Do anything for my girl,” Spike reminded her.

Buffy shook her head. “Not that; the fact that Dru and I were both drawn to it. But it’s got … something…” Buffy furrowed her brow and tilted her head slightly as she tried to find words to describe what it was.

“Power? Elegance? Grace? Dignity? Grandeur? Exultation?” Spike supplied.



Buffy nodded absently, agreeing to all those, as she began to move around the colossal marble sculpture in a slow circle.

“A certain je ne sais quoi?” Spike offered when she didn’t actually answer. He began stalking after her, following in her awed wake.

“I don’t speak French … much,” Buffy reminded him, not taking her eyes off the sculpture. “But, it has a certain something … I don’t know what.”

Spike stifled another laugh with a cough. “That’s what ‘je ne sais quoi’ means, luv.”

Buffy looked at him. “What?”

“‘I don’t know what,’” Spike answered.

Buffy frowned. “If you don’t know what it means, then why are you saying it?”

Spike sighed and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “It means: ‘I don’t know what’,” he ground out slowly as if speaking to a dimwitted, perhaps comatose, puppy.

“You really shouldn’t say stuff in other languages if you don’t know what it means, Spike. I know in school, a kid got me to say–”



“Buffy,” Spike cut her off, his tone scolding. “I do know what it bloody means. It means ... ‘a certain something’. Literally, ‘I don’t know what.’”

“And again I say …” Buffy began, but a teasing smile quirked the corner of her mouth and gave her away.

“You cheeky wench,” Spike growled when he realized she was taking the piss out of him. He pulled her into an embrace and dipped his head to nibble on the curve of her shoulder where it met her neck. “I should drain you and leave you at the goddess’ feet for that,” he snarled against her skin.

Buffy laughed and, despite the searing bliss of his lips against her skin, she pushed him back. “People are looking,” she whispered, casting furtive glances around at the other patrons.

“Let ‘em look. Just jealous, they are. All they can do is look at the soddin’ sculpture, I got the real thing.”

Buffy couldn’t help the grin that spread over her face or the swell that filled her heart, which actually made it hard to breathe. She turned in his arms and looked back at the magnificent Goddess of Triumph, leaning against Spike’s strong back, and holding his arms around her tummy and their babies.

“I think it suits us … we won,” she murmured.

“We did, luv,” Spike agreed, nuzzling her neck gently. “That we did.”



**~**

A couple of weeks later, back in London…

Buffy stood as still as the statue that Spike had compared her to back in Paris, but she felt none of the overwhelming awe that it had inspired as she looked through the observation window and into the small room. Despite her stiff, perhaps even detached, stature, her heart was thundering painfully in her chest, threatening to break her ribs, and she could barely breathe.



“You alright, luv?” Spike asked worriedly, his words gentle and guarded.

She nodded. Once. A barely perceivable motion of her head only noticeable because of the slight shift of her hair. Nothing else moved.

“Breathe, pet,” Spike advised, moving closer to her and laying a comforting hand at the small of her back. Spike was afraid he'd made a terrible mistake letting Buffy talk him into bringing her here.

Another miniscule nod.

“He can’t hurt you anymore,” Spike continued, his gaze following hers through the reinforced glass to the blind man on the other side.

She did not nod this time, but did try quite resolutely to breathe.

“What happened to him?” Buffy wondered, her voice a bare squeak of breath through her suddenly dry lips.

Spike swallowed. “Doc says they found ‘im stripped, gagged, strung up, and locked in ‘is garage. Apparently a hive o’ angry hornets was left with him … and a bloody bucket-full o’ red ants … and a few crows. Did a bit of a number on ‘im, they did. Said he’d been in there a good, long while ‘fore anyone realized he was missin’. Shame that.”

Buffy slowly turned her head and looked at Spike, her eyes wide. Her words to Spike echoed in her mind, I want to … to … strip his clothes off, string him up, and pour red ants all over him, then put him in a room with a hive of hornets, and then bury him up to his neck in the desert and let the buzzards peck his eyes out and eat his brain.

“You.”



Spike pursed his lips and shook his head, tapping a finger to his forehead. “Can’t. He’s human … technically speaking, of course.”

Buffy looked back at her worst nightmare come to life, now broken, blinded, strapped to a hospital bed, and lost in catatonia.

“Joan,” she amended softly, remembering the three days Spike and Joan had been gone supposedly securing transport for the three of them back to the States. At the time he’d insisted that it would be boring, that the trip would be long and tiring, and he had suggested that Buffy just relax on the beach while he and Joan took care of it.

Spike shrugged noncommittally.

“Couldn’t catch any buzzards to put in there with him, huh?” she asked flatly. “I guess the crows worked.”

Spike shrugged again. “Dunno what you mean, luv.”

Buffy snorted a wordless scoff, clearly not fooled.

“What do ya want t’ do?” Spike asked, ignoring her cynicism.



Buffy didn’t answer. She just stared at the monster that had haunted her nightmares – both sleeping and awake – for weeks. The monster that had violated her, who she was sure had tried his best to make her abort her babies, who had weakened her and used her and humiliated her and …

She clenched her jaw and refused to allow the painful memories to bring tears to her eyes. She wasn’t weak anymore. She could smash through that window and crush the life out of him before any of the hospital’s orderlies could intervene. She felt rage surge up from her belly. Her body stiffened and she began to tremble with the depth of her anger. She fought against it just as she’d fought the tears, even as her heart hammered ever harder against her ribs, urging her to act, to exact the ultimate revenge, to kill the bastard.

“Buffy?” Spike’s voice was very near, very soft.

Buffy closed her eyes and forced a deep breath of the horrid-smelling air of the mental hospital into her lungs. As she continued to breathe in the sickly-smelling air, her trembling slowed and finally ceased, and her heart-rate began to pull back until it was a mere gallop.

“Nothing,” she said finally. “Leave him.”

Spike leaned forward so she could see his face. “You sure?”



She blinked her eyes open and was immediately blanketed by the cobalt blue depths of love and concern that were Spike’s eyes. The rage within her waned, replaced by the warmth and courage that Spike brought her. She nodded, this time more adamantly.

“I refuse to be turned into a monster like him,” she said after a moment, her words steeled with the strength of her anchor.

Spike nodded, and looked away, hiding a wince. And like me? he wondered grimly.

Spike turned back to look at the crazed skeleton that used to be a human. Its thin, pallid skin was covered with angry, red welts, pustules, and wounds from its ordeal in the garage. Its eyes were covered with formerly-white bandages, now stained brown with blood and other fluids that oozed from the empty sockets.

“Living like this is probably more punishment that I could’ve ever delivered anyway,” she continued, as her breathing and heart-rate both slowly came under control, and her adrenaline grudgingly waned.

She turned her gaze to Spike who stood beside her, his hand still resting gently against the small of her back. She knew he’d done it for her. He’d done it so she wouldn’t have to. He did it so she would never have to free the raging monster within her that wanted revenge, and then face that monster in the mirror every morning. “Thank you.”

Spike cocked a brow, slowly turning his face back to hers. “For what?”

“Putting him here.”

Spike lowered his eyes and gave her a slight nod. It would be the only acknowledgement on the subject that he’d ever give her.



**~**

Buffy woke the next evening with excited butterflies dancing in her stomach. They were starting for home – back to America – today. Spike hadn’t divulged much of the travel arrangements to her, other than to say they’d be sailing and passports wouldn’t be an issue. She was pretty sure she didn’t want to know any more, honestly. She loved him, but his methods were sometimes … questionable. She knew he didn’t hurt anyone to secure their passage, but being ignorant of just what he had done, she’d decided, was probably best.

Buffy had never sailed before – well not on anything as large and grand as whatever would cross the Atlantic – and she was giddy with excitement about the upcoming adventure.

She looked down and ran her fingers through her lover’s disheveled hair, spiking it up in places where the curls would allow. He looked so angelic, sleeping with his ear pressed against her abdomen, listening for their babies’ heartbeats. He said he could hear them sometimes, although at their last appointment before leaving France, Marie-…lise said it would probably be a few more weeks before they could actually be heard with a stethoscope, and that it was probably Buffy’s heartbeat he was hearing. Spike hadn’t argued with the midwife, but grumbled that he knew the bloody difference when he and Buffy were alone. Buffy was sure he was right – if anyone knew the difference, it would be Spike.

She’d awoken with him in this position on more than one morning, and it warmed the cockles of her heart … whatever they were. He was the strangest vampire she’d ever known or even heard of. That wasn’t a giant revelation to her now, of course, but it still made her smile thinking about her first meeting with the Big Bad. If she’d only known then what she knew now, how different would her life have been?

Buffy intertwined the fingers of her other hand with the hand Spike had resting on the slope of her tummy just under her breasts and was met with something unexpected: jewelry. He hadn’t been wearing any jewelry lately – or even painting his nails black, for that matter.

She lifted his hand up and looked at it. On his left ring finger was a plain gold band – a wedding band. Her brow furrowed. When the hell had Spike gotten married? And to who? Buffy shook her head, that was crazy. Of course Spike wasn’t married. But why was he wearing a …



“Mornin’ luv,” he murmured, his eyes blinking open as a wide yawn parted his lips.

“Something you want to share with the class, Mr. Pratt?” Buffy questioned, turning his hand so he could see the ring on his own finger.

Spike cleared his throat and sat up from his awkward sleeping position, where he’d been using her belly as a pillow. His back cracked and popped a few times as he straightened it. Then he tilted his head from side to side, eliciting more loud cracks of bone settling back into their proper alignment.

He was stalling. Buffy knew the tactic. She waited.

“Nothin’ to tell, is there?” he said at last, twirling the ring with his thumb. “Just thought it’d look better if we … well … didn’t want anyone t’ think … that the bits … that I didn’t … that you were … that …”



Buffy’s brows inched upward the longer he stammered. She let him keep on stuttering for a while before offering, “You didn’t want anyone to think I was an unmarried, shameless hussy carrying bastard babies belonging to some unknown father?”

“Well. Now that you mention it … yeah,” Spike agreed.

“So … you … what? Stole some…”

“Didn’t steal!” Spike defended. “Bought,” he assured her as he pulled two smaller-sized rings from the pinky of his right hand and held them out to her.

Buffy glared at him incredulously, ignoring the proffered jewelry: a small, almost infinitesimal, diamond engagement ring and a plain gold wedding band.

“Wow. That is soooo romantic,” she sneered at last, still ignoring the rings.

Spike’s eyes widened in surprise. “I … errr … huh?”

Buffy huffed out a disgusted breath and tossed the covers off. “Sorry to interrupt this farce, but I’ve got to pee,” she announced as she got up and stalked to the bathroom. The door slammed behind her, leaving Spike utterly confused in the subsequent silence of the hotel room.

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and waited for her to return, trying to suss out his hormonal Slayer. Not even half-way through her pregnancy and she was already driving him mad with her un-suss-able mood swings.

When she finally emerged several minutes later, he stood up and tried again. “I know the diamond isn’t much, luv,” he offered apologetically. “Can get somethin' nicer later, after we're settled. Thought you’d rather spend our money on a house for the bits than a little bauble for your hand. ”

“Did you? Well, that was very thoughtful, Spike,” she snarled back, walking past him to retrieve her clothes for the day.

He watched her sorting angrily through her suitcase – which had been neatly packed a moment ago – shoving things this way and that, to find what she wanted. After a moment, her hands went still and her chin dropped to her chest. He could just see a small quake of a sob shudder her shoulders.

Bloody hormonal woman, Spike thought to himself, but his anger lost its edge when he smelled her tears.

“Buffy?” he tried, his voice gentle. “What’s wrong, pet?” he asked, moving forward to stand behind her.



“Nothing,” she replied, her voice cracking with the tears he couldn’t see but could smell, and now feel, stab into his heart.

“Please tell me,” Spike begged, gently turning her around to face him. He touched one curled finger under her chin and lifted her face up to his. “Buffy, what did I do?”

She shook her head, unable to meet his eyes. “Nothing. It’s not your fault.”

“I’m sorry the ring’s not…”

She shook her head again. “It’s fine. It’s … There’s nothing wrong with the rings. They’re … perfect.”



“Then what?” Spike wondered, wishing she’d just for once in her bloody life not make him figure out what was rambling around in her scrambled, barmy, Slayer brain.

Buffy swiped angrily at her traitorous tears and took the rings from Spike’s hand. “Blame Walt Disney,” she said cryptically as she shakily slid the rings on her finger – they fit perfectly.

Spike was sure a day would come when his face would freeze into a permanent befuddled caricature of himself – it was only a matter of time – as he tried to understand his Slayer.

“You’re upset ‘cos I didn’t take you to Disneyland Paris?” he guessed.

Buffy choked out a bittersweet laugh. “No. It’s just …” she waved a hand vaguely – her left hand, with the rings. She sighed. “I guess I just always thought … one day … someone would … ask me to marry him and … it would be … not like this. Not a … lie – not an act.

“I thought there would be … little cartoon bluebirds fluttering around dropping rose petals on my head, and pounding, cartoon hearts bouncing around my chest, and … angels singing ... harps and trumpets. It’s just … stupid girl stuff. Fucking Walt Disney and his stupid movies,” she spat, turning back around to resume her search for something to wear.

Spike’s jaw dropped open. “Buffy … are you sayin’ … what are you saying?”

“I’m saying Cinderella is a skanky ho bitch who should die a horrible death, and I damn sure won’t ever let little Dawn watch any Disney movies,” she replied, keeping her eyes on her task. “They’re just … cruel … and … and heartbreaking when girls grow up and find out it’s all a horrible lie. Life’s not like the movies.”

“B-but …” Spike stammered, his heart suddenly in his throat. “You … I didn’t think you … when you were trying out the names for the bits … you didn’t … yours … you didn’t ever say … Buffy … Pratt. I didn’t think you … wanted to actually … marry …”



Buffy turned around slowly and looked at him.

“…me,” he finished, his eyes delving into hers, trying to see the truth.

“Oh, Spike,” Buffy sighed out tenderly, her shoulders slumping. “You are such a dope sometimes.”

Spike flinched like she’d slapped him. “I am not. You’re a bloody barmy, hormonal bird that the Amazing Kreskin wouldn’t be able to suss out!”



“What are you saying?” Buffy replied huffily, her posture straightening as she planted her fists firmly on hips.

“Saying that, if I’d known you wanted t’ get married, would’ve … done … this different, wouldn’t I?” he growled back, his hands mimicking hers as he leaned nearer to her.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah!” Spike asserted, his lips snarling away from his teeth. “Give me those, Fairy Tale Girl,” he demanded, reaching for her hand and practically yanking the rings off. “I’ll show you bloody Cinderella,” he growled more to himself than her as he stuffed her rings into his pocket along with his own.

“What are you doing?” Buffy nearly screeched as he took the rings back. “You’ve lost your freaking mind!”



“No doubt about that, Summers. Would happen to anyone that hangs around the likes of you for more than two days, I reckon.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and replaced her hand on her hip, resuming her annoyed stance. “Now you don’t care if people think I’m a skanky, preggo ho?” she wondered incredulously.

Spike smirked at her and took a step back. “Well, apparently, it was good enough for Cinder-bloody-rella, reckon it’s good enough for you.”

“Vampires!” Buffy exclaimed, rolling her eyes and tossing her hands in the air in defeat. “There's never a sharp, pointy stick handy when you need one.”

**~**

{{  Click here to hear  Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffett  on YouTube  }}


Tried to amend my carnivorous habits.
Made it nearly seventy days,
Losin' weight without speed-eatin' sunflower seeds,
Drinkin' lots of carrot juice and soakin' up rays.

But at night I'd have these wonderful dreams
Some kind of sensuous treat.
Not zucchini, fettucini, bulgar wheat, 
But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat. 

Cheeseburger in paradise.
Heaven on earth with an onion slice.
Not too particular, not too precise.
I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise. 

Heard about the old time sailor men,
They’d eat the same thing again and again;
Warm beer and bread they said could raise the dead.
Well, it reminds me of the menu at a Holiday Inn. 

But times have changed for sailors these days.
When I'm in port I get what I need;
Not just Havanas or bananas or daiquiris,
But that American creation on which I feed! 

Cheeseburger in paradise, medium rare with mustard be nice
Heaven on earth with an onion slice.
I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise. 

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good God Almighty which way do I steer 

For my cheeseburger in paradise
Makin' the best of every virtue and vice.
Worth every damn bit of sacrifice
To get a cheeseburger in paradise;
To be a cheeseburger in paradise.
I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise.

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good God Almighty which way do I steer
Chapter End Notes:
Short personal story: During college I went on a six-week tour of Europe. Back then ... oh, so many years ago, McDonald's restaurants were few and far between (we found two: one in Germany (don't recall the city now) and London). When these Meccas of American fast food were discovered, a bus-load of eighteen-year-olds descended on them like locusts on a wheat field. We were shocked by some of the offerings (beer in McDonald's?), but mostly we were just euphoric for that taste of 'home'. Ahhhh, heaven!

On the threesome-vote. First of all, I should've clarified that it's later in the story where I have a spot for it ... a few chapters away. In the voting, most people were either neutral on it or in favor of it, which doesn't mean my muse will cooperate, but it gives him a bit more incentive to, so we'll see how that goes. Thanks for the input from everyone!
Ginger or Mary Ann? by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
Thanks to YOU for reading and to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile. All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Later that same night…

The good mood Buffy had awoken with, that of anticipation and excitement for beginning the trip back to the States, had been replaced by a mixture of anger at Spike for his assumption that she wouldn’t actually want to marry him and sadness for the same reason. After all they’d been through, how could he think she wouldn’t want to be Mrs. Pratt? Mrs. Summers-Pratt? Hmmm … it sounded strange in her mind, but she supposed she’d get used to it – and anyway, that wasn’t the point. The point was: what the heck is wrong with Spike? Maybe it was him that didn’t actually want to marry her.

Buffy’s brain was trying it’s best to sort out the emotions and tangled signals from her … whatever Spike was, that she hadn’t really been paying a lot of attention as they walked down the long dock that jutted out into the harbor. All their bags were packed and everything they owned in the whole world was in them. They were going to the ship that Spike had arranged to take them back to America.

“Here we are, then,” he announced, stopping near the end of the long jetty.

Buffy blinked and pulled her mind back to the here and now. She looked around but saw only small boats; she looked out into the harbor beyond, but couldn’t make out much in the dark.

“Does one of these little boats take us to the ship?” she wondered, looking around at the boats at the dock.

Spike cocked a brow. “Nooo … this is it,” he informed her, waving a hand at the nearest berth.

Buffy’s brows shot up almost to her hairline. “This? This … little thing … this ‘Minnow’, is going across the freaking ocean? So, you’re … who? Gilligan? I’ll be Ginger, and Joan can be Mary Ann,” she scoffed. “I need few more trunks full of clothes so I can still be stylish and fashionable on the desert island we'll soon be stranded on! Or are you a Mary Ann guy? In that case, I'll need to get Joan some some gingham.”

“Bloody hell, woman!” Spike growled back at her in frustration. “It’s a fifty foot catamaran, not a dingy! This bloke’s been sailing across the soddin’ pond for forty years in boats like this. It’s perfectly safe.”



“For you maybe,” Buffy retorted. “You don’t have to breathe or worry about hypothermia when it sinks.”

“Actually, multi-hulled yachts are practically unsinkable,” Joan offered helpfully. “They are remarkably safe.”

“Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before – the Titanic was unsinkable, too,” Buffy shot back.

“Buffy,” Spike began, softening his voice. “We can’t take a big cruise ship back – we don’t ‘ave any bloody paperwork. This fella assures me he can … get around that problem.

“Trust me, I wouldn’t take you anywhere I thought wasn’t safe – for you and the bits,” Spike concluded, giving her a pleading look.



Buffy folded her arms under her breasts and rolled her eyes. She blew out a small huff of air in frustration, her chest heaving with disdain. Finally, she looked back at the boat and then at the yachts surrounding it.

It wasn’t that small, she supposed, compared to some. “How long will it take?”

“’Bout three weeks,” Spike answered. When she remained silent, just staring at the boat, he added, “We’ll have our own private room and loo. Got a decent kitchen in it, too. All the comforts o’ home.”

“Cabin, head, and galley,” the Bot … errr … Joan, corrected.

Buffy looked at her. “What?”

“The correct terms for bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen on a boat are: cabin, head, and galley.”

“Oh, that’s great!” Buffy groused, flinging her arms out away from her sides. “Another new language. Why can’t everyone just speak English like normal people?”

Spike pulled his top lip between his teeth to keep from laughing. “Does that mean … we’re going?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “I guess. But if I die, I’m gonna totally kill you.”

Spike let his smile show. “Only fair, pet.”

**~**

“Remind me to kill Spike,” Buffy groaned as she flopped back onto the deck of the boat. Her bright yellow, foul-weather suit was soaked with cold sea-spray, but at least she’d managed to keep her breakfast – which had been nothing more than a couple of ginger snaps and a few sips of Ginger Ale – off it this time.

“When would you like me to remind you?” Joan asked as she handed Buffy a warm washcloth to wipe her face with. “I will schedule it in my internal chronometer.”



“As soon as I quit throwing up,” Buffy replied as she accepted the cloth. “Unless I die first, then you kill him for me.”

“I am sorry, but that is a directive I would be unable to fulfill. I am unable to bring harm to you or Spike.” Joan furrowed her brow in thought a moment. “I will be pleased to remind you, but I don’t believe I could allow you to kill him either. I apologize for the inconvenience,” Joan replied seriously.

Buffy rolled her eyes. She regretted it immediately when the motion made her stomach lurch. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, trying to simply breathe through it. “I was just kidding," she assured Joan after a few moments. "Sort of," she added softly, blinking her eyes open again.

Buffy had been sick since the very first night onboard the ship. As the catamaran rolled over the dips and valleys of the waves on the open sea, Buffy’s stomach roiled in protest – constantly. That had happened on that little boat they’d taken from England to France, too, but she thought that had only been the beginnings of her ‘morning-noon-and-night’ sickness. Apparently not.

Now she lay on her back looking up at a cold, grey sky and tried to think non-hurly thoughts. There was nothing left in her stomach, but that rarely mattered to it. She thought, perhaps, it was trying to hurl itself off this godforsaken boat and commit suicide in the stormy depths of the ocean. She thought the idea had a certain appeal.

“Didn’ bugger up my boat, did ya, girlie?” came the rough voice of the ship’s owner and captain, Saul.

Saul was older than dirt, as far as Buffy could tell, and had probably been a deckhand on Noah’s Ark originally. He was grizzled and tan, as short as Buffy, but comfortably plump. His thick, white shock of hair left no clue as to its original color, and he kept it cut in a regulation-buzz – as if the style had been drilled into him from years in the military. He had an accent she couldn’t quite place, maybe Irish or Scottish ... Welsh? Some strange combination of the three? Even Spike wasn’t quite sure where Saul was from, and the old captain only admitted to being ‘an old Salty Dog from the sea.’

“No,” Buffy answered him as she sat up and put her back against the railing. “I’m getting faster … or it’s just projecting further.”

“There’s a good lass,” he replied, nodding approvingly, his bright blue eyes sparkling. “You jus’ keep with the ginger snaps and ale, and that feelin’ll pass.”

Buffy stifled another wave of nausea at the mere mention of anything food-related, but readied herself to lean over the stern again, just in case.



“It’s been five days, I don’t think it’s gonna pass,” Buffy pointed out.

“Aye, it’ll pass,” Saul called back from the cockpit, his tone confident. “Keep your eyes on the horizon and your face to the breeze – you’ll get your sea legs soon enough, lassie.”

Buffy sighed. She’d been trying to do that for five days and nights. She was exhausted, she’d barely slept at all, and felt like she’d been hit with a Mack truck right in her ribs and stomach. Every muscle in her torso ached with the strain of tossing her cookies over and over, and her throat was raw from the bile.

She’d seen little of the private cabin that Spike had promised; staying below was even worse on her revolting stomach. He, of course, had no choice but to stay below during the day. At night he kept her company on the deck, and took the night-watch so Saul could sleep. The vision she’d had of spending the days making love in their cabin when she’d first seen the small but comfortable room, vanished almost as soon as the boat was out of the harbor.

Slayers apparently had no resistance to motion sickness. The ginger ale, ginger snaps, and handfuls of hard ginger candy – which was supposed to be some sort of natural, never-fail cure – Saul had given her, had had no effect whatsoever. Even the Dramamine that she had brought with her was completely ineffective in quelling her roiling stomach.

Buffy longed for land; solid, unmoving, dirt under her feet. She didn’t know how she’d make three weeks like this or what effect it was having on the babies. Certainly they weren’t getting the nutrients they needed – she couldn’t keep anything down. But she also didn’t know of any other way to make it back to the States without her passport, and requesting a replacement from the American Embassy would alert anyone that was looking for them to their whereabouts.

She took a deep breath and relaxed back against the railing again, letting her eyes fall closed. The dizzy, nauseous feeling was worse with her eyes closed, but her lids were like lead – she was so tired and sleep-deprived. She tried to think of the roll of the boat as soothing, like a baby rocking in a cradle, or swinging in a hammock, but it did little good. This was yet another lesson in misery for her to endure, she supposed. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Buffy was starting to wonder just how strong the Powers thought she needed to be.

“Land ho!” the Bot called from near Buffy.

Buffy furrowed her brow and forced her eyes open. “Land? What land? I thought we were in the land of no land.” She stood up and looked in the direction the Bot was facing.



“What is it? Where are we?” she asked the Bot.

“We are at latitude North 36 degrees…” Joan began.

“Argh! No!” Buffy stopped her, turning to Saul. “What is that land?”

“Spain – Gibraltar to be exact – which is actually property of the crown … of England. It’s a bloody buggered up mess, if ya ask me,” Saul explained.

“B-but, I thought we were on our way across the ocean, how did we get here?”

“Sailed,” Saul answered simply, leaving off the ‘duh’.

“Sailed …” Buffy repeated, shaking her head with the absurdity of her question and his answer. She looked at the small dot of land in the distance, and longed to be on it. It was suddenly a toss-up which she’d rather do: eat or sleep. She could do either one on hard, dry land; she could do neither here on this floating roller coaster.

“Do you think we could … stop there for a while? A day or two?” Buffy asked the old captain hopefully.

Saul gave her a strange look which she couldn’t decipher, then nodded. “Aye – could do, lass. If that’s yer druthers.”

Buffy nearly leapt with joy, except her stomach chose that moment to mutiny again. She could do nothing but fling herself at the nearest railing and try not to ‘bugger up’ the captain’s deck, but at last there was some hope: land. Glorious land was in sight!

**~**

Buffy jumped off the catamaran the second it was close enough to the dock for her to safely reach. She squealed with delight at the unmoving planks beneath her feet as she caught the rope Saul tossed her and secured the boat in the berth.

Once the boat was secure, Saul headed into the town to pick up some more provisions. As she waited for sunset, Buffy sat on the dock near the boat. She ate ginger snaps and drank Ginger Ale, and it stayed down! Joan warmed up some soup for Buffy, and that stayed down. Joan brought up a pillow and Buffy was actually able to take a nap on the dock. When she woke up, Joan had some eggs, pancakes, and bacon for her. It all stayed down! Hallelujah! Thank the gods!

When the last rays of sun disappeared beneath the far horizon, Spike emerged from below-deck with their bags.



“You look a bloody-sight less green,” he observed, touching a kiss to her forehead as he gained the dock next to her. “Like it ‘ere, then?”

“I would like it anywhere that has solid ground to walk on – here is perfect,” Buffy replied as Joan joined them on the dock.

“Sorry, pet. Didn’t know you weren’t seaworthy,” Spike said as the three of them started walking; Spike and Joan carrying all their bags.

Buffy would’ve taken exception to that remark, but she really didn’t have a sea leg to stand on. She just let it go. “How long can we stay here?” she wondered. “Saul wouldn’t really say.”

Spike shrugged. “Long enough, I reckon,” he answered vaguely.

She felt sudden power flow through her when they stepped off the dock and onto the land. She wanted to jump for joy – it was heaven! It was glorious! It was solid, unmoving, unswaying, un-anything-ing! Land!

“Where are we going?” she tried next as they left the marina and began walking alongside a road.

“The hotel,” Spike replied.

Buffy furrowed her brow. The hotel … not a hotel.



“Fancy the rock?” Spike wondered, cocking a brow toward it, and not letting her consider the hotel further.

Buffy looked at the giant cliff-face of the famous Rock of Gibraltar – a landmark even she had heard of. Well, it was the logo for that insurance company, after all.

“It’s big … and rocky,” she observed. It was actually pretty amazing – overwhelming even – but Spike was being avoid-y, so she would be too.

Spike snorted. “Got an excellent grasp o’ the obvious, you do, Slayer.”

“The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules,” Joan interjected helpfully. “It was known to the Romans as Mons Calpe, the other pillar being Mons Abyla on the African side of the Strait. In ancient times the two points marked the limit to the known world, a myth originally fostered by the Phoenicians.

“It’s not actually solid. There are over one hundred and fifty caves within the Rock. The Ancient Greeks believed St. Michael’s Cave to be the Gates of Hades, an entrance to the underworld.”

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks, her jaw dropping open. Spike took another step or two and also stopped. Ahead of them, Joan kept walking and talking.

“The Rock's central peak, Signal Hill, stands at an elevation of 1,270 feet…”

“What? Wait!” Buffy interrupted her. “This is a Hellmouth?”



Joan stopped and turned back to face the pair. “Of course. Even my nerve-receptors can perceive the power emanating from it. Spike chose it because he thought it would be the best place for you to recuperate…”

Buffy whirled on Spike. “You chose it? I thought Saul … I … What the hell, Spike?”

Spike dropped the bags he was carrying and lifted his hands up in surrender. “Was pretty clear ginger and whatall wasn’t helpin’, pet. You needed to stop; this was just a … convenient harbor.”

“With a cozy Hellmouth on it to make the ex-Slayer feel all warm and fuzzy,” Buffy suggested, sarcasm dripping from each word.

“Well … the thought had crossed my mind,” Spike divulged, ducking his head slightly. He raised his eyes up to meet hers, looking at her through his lashes. “Did it work?”



Buffy glared daggers at him for several long moments, then sagged. She blew out a breath and rolled her eyes, her head shaking slightly in disbelief. “Yeah, I guess,” she admitted, looking back at the giant rock.

Spike smiled, clearly pleased with the success of his plan. “Brilliant! C’mon – got us a nice room on the beach. We’ll get some room service and … see what happens from there … now that you’re feeling better.” He wagged his brows at her suggestively on the last words, letting his eyes rake over her body, head to toe.

Buffy rolled her eyes but smiled and then waved a hand, inviting them to continue walking. “How did you set this up from out in the land of the waves? Did the Little Mermaid come and carry notes for you when I wasn't looking?”

“Salty bugger’s got a satellite phone on the boat. Bloody brilliant, that.”

**~**

The room, as promised, was at once cozy and modern. A full bath, a big bed, and she couldn't wait to see the view of the beach and water beyond in the light of day. And, best of all: nothing moved. Not the floor, or the bed, or the railing on the balcony. She could hear the water lapping gently against the beach, but it didn’t rock the ground beneath her feet. It was perfect.

Buffy began peeling off layers of clothing as she walked past the bed toward the bathroom. Another thing she hadn’t done in five days: shower. Fresh water was a premium on a boat, making showers a luxury. Spike asked Joan to order something from room service, then followed Buffy's trail of discarded clothing, adding his own to the hotel room floor. Buffy already had the water hot when he made it to the door of the bathroom, kicking his jeans off his legs.

Buffy looked back over her shoulder and gave him a coy smile just before she stepped under the hot spray. A nearly-orgasmic moan tumbled from her lips as the water poured over her head, rinsing off the crust of sea-salt and … more personal deposits from her body.



Spike was behind her in a moment, his body against hers, hard and sensual. She shivered despite the nearly-scalding water that poured over them both. His lips found her neck and he kissed a cool line of desire down from her ear to her shoulder. His hard cock pressed against her ass, and she pressed back, her own desire matching his. Another hunger they hadn’t been able to sate for five days was about to be quenched.

“Need you, Buffy. Want you so much. Goin’ mad without you, luv,” Spike rumbled against her skin.

“Take me, baby … God, I need you too,” Buffy agreed as she moved so her back was to the shower spray. Spike turned with her, his front still to her back, both of them now facing the wall of the shower opposite the shower head.

“You sure, pet? Like this?” he asked, his voice concerned but at the same time anxious and excited. In the last weeks, sex between them had been gentle and reverent, and limited to the bedroom; nothing that could be remotely construed as anything but ‘making love’.

“Yeah … I’m sure.” Buffy bent forward, supporting herself against a handicap safety railing, and opened herself up to him. “Take me, Spike. Need you – need you now,” Buffy whimpered, thrusting her ass toward him.

Spike's libido required no more invitation – his enchantress was leading this dance, and he gladly followed. He really was nearly mad with need for her as it was; he wasn’t about to argue with her now. He guided his cock into her from behind, pressing in slowly. Her slick channel throbbed around his length as he entered her and his knees trembled with the joy of her.

“Bloody fuck, Buffy,” he groaned as her body quivered and her pussy clenched around him. “So tight, you are. Always so bloody wet for me.”



Buffy gasped as he entered her, goose bumps raced over her skin – perhaps through the whole of her body – as the connection was made. She loved the feeling of him inside her. It made her feel somehow whole, complete – as if this is how it was meant to be. And then he began moving, his hands on her hips, guiding her movements, and she began to float on the rapture his body was pouring over hers.

“Harder, baby … need you. Need it harder, faster. Spike, please, baby – please just fuck me,” Buffy begged. The words came out before her mind could censor or analyze them, but once they were past her lips she realized it was exactly what she wanted and needed from him now.

Their times together since her days in hell at the hands of Weatherby had been gentle and loving. Buffy had needed that then, and she loved Spike all the more for it. But now she suddenly needed more than that. Perhaps it was the Hellmouth’s power driving her, perhaps it was five days of misery on that damned boat, perhaps it was just time to move past gentle touches and sate that feral need that Spike had awakened in her all those weeks ago back in Las Vegas. Whatever it was didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that Spike responded to her demands with the ferocity she longed for.

Spike’s leonine growl rumbled the very air around her as his flesh slapped against her ass urgently. His cock drove into her, deep and hard and … oh, my God, it was shamefully sweet! Small tremors of bliss rolled through Buffy, each small, shuddering wave taking her higher and higher, right to the top of that giant rock that was just behind their hotel.

The sound of wet slaps of flesh against flesh, of Spike’s growling rumble of pleasure and grunts of effort, of her own moans, hisses, and gasps, filled the small bathroom with a melody of lust. Buffy could feel the cliff ledge approaching and her breath caught in her throat in anticipation of the glorious plunge. Then Spike’s hand curled around her hip and his fingers circled her clit. He slammed into her from behind like a wild animal and then began tapping a finger against her clit with the same savage intensity.

The world burst into red-hot flames of joy.



The scream started so deep inside Buffy that it was barely recognizable as anything but a rolling wave of unimagined pleasure. She flew off the cliff and dove into a sea of bliss as the wave of pleasure rolled through her body, looking for escape lest she explode. She couldn’t have stopped it if she’d tried – and for the first time in a long time, she didn’t try.

Buffy’s body tensed and shuddered, her knees buckled, and if not for Spike’s support, she would’ve collapsed as her orgasm roared through her like a wildfire out of control. She was barely aware of Spike’s own howl of release as she floated weightlessly in the flames beneath the cliff she’d hurtled off of, her body burning spectacularly.

Buffy came back to herself slowly, and only when oxygen became an issue for her burning lungs. She returned to the shower, clutching at the cold, steel handicap support bar in front of her as Spike clung to her. She wasn’t sure who was supporting who, or perhaps it was simply that there wasn’t enough room for them both to collapse in the small confines of the shower.

As she gasped in the foggy, heated air, Spike’s lips began caressing her back with gentle nibbles and kisses. His mouth trailed down her spine, sending more shivering waves of bliss lancing through her body.

“Love you, Buffy. Love you so bloody much. So beautiful you are, pet. So goddamned primal – you burn me to my bones. Was afraid I’d never hear that rapturous scream again. A goddess, you are – a bloody dream,” he murmured to her as his lips roamed over her heated skin. “Wish I could stay inside you forever, luv – and then a hundred forevers after that. Right here … never bloody move. Just stay buried in your sweet quim and listen to you scream my name ‘til the end of the world.”

Then his hips began to move again. Buffy moaned in approval and renewed desire. He was still hard … still buried inside her, still unsated. So was she.

“Yes …” Buffy agreed. “Stay here forever … right on the edge of heaven. God, I love you, Spike. You make me feel so good. Take me there again, Spike. Need you so much, baby.”

**~**

Buffy wasn’t sure how long they stayed in the shower, sating their desires. An hour? Two? Three? They had finally found the soap and actually took a proper shower. Soft, reverent hands gliding gently over quivering, spent limbs until they both smelled of lavender rather than sea-salt and sex.

When they emerged – clean and happily exhausted – food was waiting for them. It had grown cold, but Joan didn’t comment on it not being the proper serving temperature. She hadn’t cooked it, she’d ordered it from room service, so apparently she didn’t take it personally when it went uneaten for so long. Even cold, it was delectable. Joan had ordered a smorgasbord of dishes from the hotel’s Italian restaurant since she wasn’t sure what her roommates would want. It seemed somehow wrong to Buffy to be eating Italian food while in Spain – or were they technically in England? – but Buffy didn’t complain, it was delicious.

Replete, their bellies heavy with copious amounts of pasta, and the fire in their loins reduced to barely-glowing embers, Buffy and Spike collapsed on the large bed to sleep in each other’s arms.

"You never did answer my question, ya know," Buffy murmured sleepily to him as she cuddled against his side.

"What question was that, luv?"

"Ginger or Mary Ann?"

Spike snorted a soft laugh. "Who could choose, pet? Both are bloody brilliant ... reckon I'd have to take 'em both."

Buffy shook her head against his shoulder and yawned widely. "You're such a guy," she commented as she drifted off. It was the first real sleep Buffy had gotten in days, and she couldn’t remember ever feeling quite as contented as she floated off to dreamland.

Spike dropped a kiss atop her head. "Well ... yeah," he agreed softly, hugging her against him tightly as his eyes also fell closed.

**~**



After breakfast the next morning, Spike retrieved several hundred-dollar bills from a hiding place in their luggage and handed them to Buffy.

“Get a new frock – a proper dress, fancy and frilly – and shoes and whatall,” he’d instructed her. “Thought we'd go out t’night – if ya want to, that is.”

Buffy’s brows rose. Did he think she'd turn down a new dress and a night on the town? "Will there be dancing?"

Spike smirked. "Could be ... if ya ask nice."

Buffy laughed and took the money from his hand. "Dinner and dancing. I haven't danced in ..." she shrugged. She couldn't remember when.

Spike gave her a smile and nodded. "Dinner and dancin' it is then, pet."

Within half an hour, she and Joan were headed for downtown Gibraltar.



Main Street was, well, cute ... or maybe 'quaint' was the word. Buffy was sort of surprised – everyone spoke English and there were lots and lots of shops of every description. She found out later that the shops were ‘duty-free’. Even though she was pretty sure they didn’t care about ‘duty-free’, since they weren’t planning on passing through customs anyway, she took the opportunity to buy Spike some whiskey and a carton of cigarettes. He’d promised to quit smoking as soon as they had their own house, but not before. He had, she’d noticed, taken to smoking outside away from her, however.

“So, how fancy a dress should I get?” Buffy asked Joan as they walked by a few shops, looking in the windows to judge their merchandise.

“I do not know,” Joan replied. “Is there a set scale? Fully defined levels of ‘fancy’?”

“Well, yeah,” Buffy replied. “There’s like … first date, decent restaurant fancy; there’s prom-night fancy; there’s debutant-coming-out-party fancy; there’s super-high-end Hollywood movie star dance-club fancy; and there’s meeting-royalty fancy.”

The Bot frowned thoughtfully. “Somewhere between ‘first date’ and ‘royalty’ would have the highest probability of being appropriate.”

Buffy sighed. “That doesn’t really narrow it down much. You don’t know where we’re going tonight?” Buffy wondered.

“I cannot say.”

“So you do know,” Buffy deduced, giving Joan an oblique glance.



“It is a surprise. Spike has tasked me with some missions which are classified as ‘need to know only’,” the Bot divulged.

“Well, there you go! I obviously need to know so I know what sort of dress to buy,” Buffy concluded logically.

“No. Spike was very clear and concise. You do not need to know. He said that you would attempt to break me, but I am not to give in to your ‘bloody warped logic, begging, pouting lips, or angry demands’ no matter how convincing or angry you became.”

“Warped logic? He thinks I have warped logic?” Buffy pouted.



Joan shrugged. “I believe that is why he prefers your company over mine. My logic is … logical; your logic is … distorted.”

Buffy started to argue, started to say her logic was not distorted, but was stopped by the Bot’s tone. She sounded … hurt, sad. “I’m sure that’s not true,” Buffy offered sympathetically. “Spike loves you just as much.”

“No, it is clear that he does not,” Joan replied, her tone forced back to neutrality. “He enjoys my company and was quite pleased in the past when we both pleasured him, but it is your strangely deviated mind that he loves. My mind is too … linear. We are, at best, friends … with benefits. You are truly lovers. He adores you.”

Buffy wanted to smile and cry at her twin-friend’s words. It made Buffy’s heart swell and fall at the same time. She was at once buoyed by the thought that Spike loved her mind – twisted though her logic-bone may be – and saddened that the Bot knew that, and was hurting from what must feel like unrequited love to her microchips.

Buffy took Joan’s overly-warm hand in hers as they walked. “He loves us both in his own way,” Buffy assured her. “He needs us both. I know he’s been kinda Buffy-focused lately, but, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you too. I’ve just been living on the needy side of the tracks. Actually, I've kinda been that girl tied to the railroad tracks, and he's been ... you know, Dudley-Do-Righting me.”



Joan looked at Buffy with utter confusion.

"Ok – that came out really wrong," Buffy admitted. "The point is: he loves and needs us both."

The Bot's expression turned hopeful. “Do you believe that to be true, or are you simply saying that in an attempt to defragment my sentient drive?”

Buffy gave her a reassuring smile. “I know it’s true. Don’t sell linear logic short – you’re able to keep us on the right path when all I do is get us lost in the woods.

“Plus, you cook way better than I do. You know what they say: ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’”

Joan returned Buffy’s smile. “I believe whoever said that was a few inches high in their estimation.”



“Joan!” Buffy exclaimed, her eyes growing wide in mock horror. “You naughty girl!”

Then Buffy laughed. “I think you’re right,” she admitted, leaning in near her friend conspiratorially. “Maybe we’ll test that theory again soon,” Buffy suggested.

Joan wrapped her arms around Buffy, pulling her into a nearly bone-crushing hug. “I love you, Buffy. I love Spike and I love you.”

Buffy hugged her twin back in the middle of the sidewalk. “Everything will be fine with the three of us, you’ll see.”

Joan released Buffy and pulled back, still smiling. “Do you anticipate being less needful of Dudley-Do-Righting soon?” she wondered. “My sensory preceptors have been under-stimulated lately. They emit a constant, distracting sibilation when they have been under-stimulated for extended periods of time. It makes it quite difficult to keep my cache clear.”

Buffy chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, I have that problem too. My sibilation goes totally wonky. It starts sibbing and lating all over the place. It's not pretty.

"C’mon – let’s check out this shop,” Buffy suggested, pulling on the Bot’s hand. “We should have enough money to get you a new dress too. Buying fancy clothes usually stimulates my sensory preceptors, calms down my sibbing-lators, and clears my cash ... at least for a while.”

Joan’s eyes widened with glee. “A new dress? For me? Do you think we have sufficient funds?”

“Totally – I took an extra handful of cash when Spike wasn’t looking,” Buffy admitted.

“May I purchase some affordable but stylish footwear also?” Joan asked hopefully.



“Well – duh!” Buffy replied. “You can’t buy a new dress without getting new shoes! It’s a law or something.

“This is all ‘need to know’, of course,” Buffy continued in a stern voice. “And Spike does not need to know!”

The Bot nodded decisively. “Affirmative.”

**~**

{{  Click here to hear the Gilligan's Island Theme on YouTube  }}

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this pos/gibrazrt
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.
 
So this is the tale of the castaways,
They're here for a long, long time,
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In the tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primitive as can be.

So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castaways,
Here on "Gilligan's Isle."
Chapter End Notes:
Their date will be coming up next.... Update scheduled for Saturday.

And, for those of you who have sent 'get well' wishes to my evil muse, he does thank you and would like me to assure you that he has not forgotten how to write angst nor is he on his death-bed. He's just lulling you into false sense of security as we climb back up to the top of the roller coaster. {{Eeek!!}}
Smile by Passion4Spike
Author's Notes:
I'm a little behind on replying to reviews, but I do read them and LOVE them all! Will try to get caught up this weekend. Thank you so much for reading and giving me feedback! {{hugs}}

Thanks to the wonderful PaganBaby for betaing this chapter and allowing me to borrow a couple of things from her and use here. She's made of awesome!
Later the same day, after the shopping trip …

Spike rented a second hotel room while Buffy and Joan were shopping and he’d moved all of his things a couple of doors down by the time they got back.

“You’re moving out?” Buffy asked, her tone somewhere between hurt and worried as she set the bags she was carrying down on the table.

“Just for a bit. Enough t’ give you some space t’ get ready,” he explained.

Buffy furrowed her brows and turned back to look at him as Joan walked past carrying two long garment bags. “Don’t you mean ‘us’? Give ‘us’ some space to get ready?”

Spike’s brows went up in surprise. “Errrr … no. Meant you, pet,” Spike clarified. "You and me ... dinner, dancing..."

Buffy grabbed his arm and pulled him back out the door and onto the covered walkway outside. “You said 'us'. I thought you meant ‘us’ … as in the three of us,” she whispered anxiously, pulling the door closed. “Joan … she’s … feeling neglected. We can’t leave her behind.”



Spike sighed and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. “Buffy, she knows it’s just the two of us t’night. Who do ya think’s been helping me get everything … arranged? She’s fine with it.”

Buffy bit her bottom lip and looked back at the closed hotel room door. “Are you sure?”

Spike heaved another heavy sigh and stepped past Buffy to open the door. “Joan,” he called into the room, stepping inside, Buffy right on his heels.

“Yes?” the Bot replied, coming back into the living area of the room after hanging the dresses up in the bedroom.

“Did you want t’ come tonight?” Spike asked her.

Joan looked at Buffy, who had come up to stand beside Spike, and then back at him. “That would be counterproductive to the mission.”



Spike looked at Buffy and made an ‘I-told-you-so’ face.

Buffy frowned, her bottom lip protruding in a pout. “I thought it was a date – not a mission.”

“Oh, bloody hell,” Spike groaned, his shoulders sagging. “To us, it’s a date; to C3PO 'ere, it’s a mission.”

Buffy looked at Joan. “Are you sure? Cos I thought it was the three of us…”

Joan nodded decisively. “I have researched this ritual extensively. I am certain that Cinderella, although aided in her journey by a powerful witch, attended the ball singly. I will await your return and you may relate the details of the evening to me at that time. I understand this is a custom of friends: to reveal inappropriate details about dates to each other.”

Spike cocked a questioning brow at Buffy. Buffy sighed and nodded. “If you’re sure...”

“Spike and I have gone to great effort to arrange this night. It would be counterproductive to destroy such well-laid plans,” Joan assured her.

“I’ll pick you up at dusk … would seven be agreeable?” Spike interjected quickly before anyone could change their minds or microprocessors.



Buffy tilted her head and studied him. There was something … off, or maybe not off, but different about him. “Seven-thirty,” she countered, just to see what he would do – if he would rise to the bait and bicker.

He inclined his upper body in a shallow bow. Buffy’s eyes widened and she had to press a hand to her mouth to stifle a girlish shriek of gleeful giggles at the sight. 

“At your service, milady. Seven-thirty,” he agreed amiably before heading out of the girls' room and down the hallway to his.

Buffy stared after him. “Who the hell was that?” she asked Joan as they watched his retreating form.

The Bot looked at Buffy like she’d lost her mind. “Spike,” she answered flatly. “Have you sustained a head trauma that I failed to observe?”

Buffy laughed as she closed the door to their room. “No … it was a rhetorical question.”

Joan frowned. “Rhetorical questions elude my linear logic. It must require someone possessing your abnormal reasoning skills to comprehend rhetoric.”

Buffy nodded. “Just call me Abby Normal.” A beat. “Not literally. That was of the rhetorical.”

**~**

Later…

Spike fumbled with the rented bowtie that came with the rented tux, his hands shaking uncontrollably. It didn’t help that he couldn’t use the mirror to see what he was doing or that he hadn’t worn a tie of any kind in nearly a century. It also didn’t help that he was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

He dropped his hands from the infernal scrap of fabric, took a deep breath, and tried to calm down. He closed his eyes and just breathed, clenching and unclenching his fists to try and get his hands to stop trembling.



“There’s nothin’ t’ worry about, you prat,” Spike admonished himself.

He opened his eyes, looked down at his William-esque formal attire, and sighed heavily. “Unless she thinks you look a right poofter and falls down in fits o’ laughter.”

**~**

With nervous butterflies fluttering in his stomach, Spike knocked on Buffy and Joan’s door at 7:30 on the dot. Joan answered it and invited him in.

“I think Buffy will be ready soon. I am not certain. She said something about it always being best to keep a date waiting. I’m not certain I fully understand this custom, despite my efforts to familiarize myself with all aspects of this mating ritual.”

Spike snorted ruefully. He plucked a white rose from the bouquet of pink ones he had with him, and handed it to Joan. “No worries, luv. Been waiting for Buffy for bloody years – a few more minutes won’t make any difference.”

“For me?” she asked, her eyes and smile brightening. She brought the rose to her nose and inhaled the sweet fragrance.

“For you, pet,” Spike confirmed. “The three of us’ll go out somewhere fancy one night, promise.”

Joan’s eyes widened in surprise and joy. “Oh! That would be wonderful! I could wear the new dress and stylish pumps that we bought for me today. Buffy said I looked …”



Spike’s brows rose up higher and higher in surprise the longer she spoke.

Joan stopped talking abruptly and bit her bottom lip. “Please disregard the previous subject matter. That was not to be divulged except to those that need to know. You do not need to know. Buffy would be quite upset.”

Spike chuckled. “Didn’t hear a thing,” he assured her.

Before Joan could argue that he most certainly had heard, otherwise he would not have been able to respond to her in a coherent fashion, Buffy emerged from the bathroom.

Spike turned at the sound of the door opening. His heart leapt up into his throat and all the butterflies in his stomach stilled. He was rendered speechless, utterly motionless – even his trembling hands froze.



Buffy was a vision, an earthly angel. Her hair was curled and piled atop her head in a way that made it look almost haphazardly windblown. A few tendrils framed her face, which absolutely glowed. She had on a light dusting of makeup, but what Spike noticed most was the natural beauty beneath it. Poets had written about the glow of a mother-to-be for ages, but Spike had never really witnessed it before – not like this, not in all its heavenly glory. Perhaps you had to be in love with the woman to really see the change it made in her – he could see it now in Buffy.

Her soft-pink dress highlighted the gentle glow of her skin.  It was a strapless, satin dress that hugged her bodice then flared out over her hips and tummy all the way to the floor. The bodice was heavily adorned with silver sequins, beads, and rhinestones in an intricate, yet random, design that was just as haphazard as her hairdo. The silver detailing spilled down onto the wide, full skirt, transforming as it went into the outlines of giant flowers – orchids, if he wasn’t mistaken.



Buffy blushed under his unabashed scrutiny, and forced herself not to fidget as she took in his very un-Spike-like attire. He was dressed in a classic black tux, right down to the bow tie, and looked like GQ personified. He’d even changed out his Doc Martens for spit-shine dress shoes. His only concession to color was a pink rose on his lapel – obviously from the bouquet of them that he held, forgotten, in his hand. There was little that you could dress Spike in that he wouldn’t make look good, but in a tux he simply oozed glamour and a Hollywood-esque sex-appeal.

The two remained frozen for many long moments, staring at each other, and then Buffy smiled. She wasn’t laughing at him, he realized after a brief moment of panic, but smiling approvingly – sweetly.

Buffy’s smile only intensified her glowing beauty. Spike was blinded by her radiance. It was like looking into the sun: warm and bright and dazzling – and it was shining just for him.

“I believe it is customary to greet your date and present the flowers to her now,” Joan reminded Spike, breaking the stunned silence that had engulfed the other two.

Spike jumped a bit and cleared his throat. He rubbed a hand on the back of his neck and looked down at his shoes dumbly, trying to recompose himself.

“Right,” he agreed after a moment, his voice a bit squeaky. He cleared his throat again, looked up, and took one long stride forward toward Buffy, extending the bouquet of dusty-pink roses to her.

“You look … gorgeous ... bloody ravishing, luv,” he said reverently as she accepted the flowers.

Buffy’s blush deepened, and she brought the bouquet up to her nose, just as Joan had her single white rose, and inhaled their heady perfume.



“Thank you,” she replied, smiling wider. “The roses are lovely, and you … look … pretty wow, yourself.”

“I will put those in water for you so they will not wither prematurely,” Joan offered, reaching for the bouquet in Buffy’s hand.

Buffy plucked a single rose out and handed the remainder to Joan with a grateful smile. “Thanks.”

Turning to Spike, Buffy said, “So … I guess without any male, father-figure types here, you got off pretty light. No embarrassing questions about what you do for a living, your aversion to sunlight, or what your intentions are with regard to their sweet, innocent daughter.” She batted her lashes at him coquettishly and gave him a coy smile, like a sweet, innocent daughter might.



Spike pursed his lips together to keep a straight face, and gave her another of those shallow bows like he’d done that morning. Once again his accent changed, softened to something Buffy could only liken to Giles’. It seemed incongruous coming from Spike’s lips and made her want to giggle, but she restrained herself. "I can assure you that my intentions are nothing if not purely and sincerely scandalous. I will, however, try to control myself and not sully that comely frock, my dear, Elizabeth.”

Buffy inclined her head and curtsied slightly. “Well, I couldn’t really ask for more than that, could I?” she replied, trying to mimic the snooty accent he’d used, but failing miserably.

Spike chuckled lightly at her lame attempt and extended his arm to her. “Shall we?”

“We shall,” Buffy replied stiffly, keeping the mockery going.

“I’ll have her back before dawn,” Spike assured Joan as he opened the door for Buffy to precede him.

“Is that appropriate for a first date?” Joan asked. “As I said, I have undertaken some research on this human mating ritual. Cinderella was required to be home by midnight.”

Spike tilted his head, considering that a moment, then nodded. “Too right. Midnight it is, then.”

**~**

Spike escorted Buffy to the parking lot of the hotel where a horse-drawn carriage waited for them. Buffy was shocked into silence as Spike gave her a hand up into the open carriage, then climbed in behind her. The driver already knew where they were going, apparently, as there was no conversation between the two men before the driver clicked his tongue and the carriage began moving.



“Tell me you didn’t conjure this from a pumpkin,” Buffy whispered to Spike as he wrapped one arm around her and tucked her against his side. “I didn’t see any horse-drawn carriages in town today.”

Spike snorted a short laugh. “Might’ve been simpler, but no … jus’ … arranged it. Still got a few contacts scattered ‘round ‘ere and there.”

Buffy looked at him with awe and wonder, shaking her head slightly in disbelief. All the work he, and Joan, apparently, had gone through to make this night happen was worth it in that moment. He dipped his head and touched her perfect, pink lips with his – a chaste kiss – a first date kiss.

“You're a vision, Buffy. Never seen anyone as beautiful as you are tonight,” he murmured to her as he ran a finger lightly down one bare arm.

She shivered from the touch, but pretended it was from the slight chill in the autumn air, and reached for the blanket that lay in the seat across from them. Spike helped her tuck it around them as the carriage meandered slowly through the streets of Gibraltar.

Buffy felt like a princess … a fairy-tale princess with her fairy-tale prince. Tourists and locals alike looked at them as they passed through the town. It was all Buffy could do to keep from waving at them, as if they were her loyal subjects. She couldn’t remove the ridiculous grin from her face if she’d wanted to – it was plastered on there ‘good and proper’, as Spike would say.



After a few minutes of comfortable silence she asked, “Did Joan tell you my dress was pink? Is that why the pink roses?” Buffy twirled the single rose she’d brought with her between her fingers and lifted it to her nose again. It smelled heavenly.

“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” Spike replied. “Hate t’ kill a girl on the first date. Rather gauche, don’t ya think?”

Buffy nodded. “Ahhhh … it’s another of those ‘need to know’ things.”

Spike inclined his head in silent agreement. “Do you like them, then?”

Buffy nodded, her smile never wavering. “Love them. They’re my favorite … the dusty pink ones. I’ve loved them ever since I was a girl.”

“That right?” Spike replied, his brows lifting slightly. “Lucky, that.”



Buffy looked at him suspiciously. “I’m pretty sure that Joan does not know that those are my favorite roses.”

“Doesn’t she?”

“Spike … how…?”

Spike shook his head. “Can’t expect a bloke t’ reveal all his secrets, can ya? What would life be without intrigue and mystery?”

Buffy sighed, shaking her head, but dropped it. Maybe he was right. After all, every fairy-tale had some intrigue and mystery … and even a pinch of magic to them, didn’t they?

“You know, I wanted to talk to you about the babies’ names. I mean, I sort of … jumped in there in full Buffy-mode and named them, but I never asked you.”

“What you said was brilliant, pet,” Spike assured her.

“Are you sure? I was thinking maybe you’d want your mom’s name as part of the girl’s name. I just didn’t know … I don’t know what her name is … or was.”

Spike looked out at the shops as they rolled down Main Street and became quiet for several long moments. Finally, his eyes still focused outside the carriage, he said in a quiet voice, “Anne. Her name was … Anne.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to … pry,” Buffy apologized sensing she’d brought up bad memories, the smile she thought couldn’t fade doing so immediately.



Spike shook his head and looked back at her. “Not prying. There’s nothing about me I wouldn’t tell ya, pet – if ya really wanted to know. Just some things I’d … rather leave buried. Some visions I’d rather the mother o’ my children not have dancin’ in her head.”

Buffy nodded but couldn’t help but wonder what he wanted to leave buried. Angel had killed his entire family – probably Spike had too; it seemed pretty status quo for vampires to do that. Is that what he didn’t want her to know? She thought about how Spike had gotten along with her own mother. Even before being chipped, he'd never offered to hurt Joyce. In fact, the elder Summers woman was the more dangerous of the two of them, having hit Spike over the head with an axe.

Buffy tried to picture Spike hurting his own mother, but she couldn't get her mind to conjure it. Maybe it had been Dru ... or Angelus. Maybe Spike didn't want her to know that he'd gotten them invited in and one of them had... Buffy shook her head, clearing her mind. Those images were far too easily conjured.

Buffy focused her gaze back on Spike's face, wiping the disturbing images away. Whatever had happened, the demon, the man, next to her wasn't that person anymore. “Sometimes I forget. I forget that you’ve lived so long before me, that you’ve had … more than one lifetime.”

“I forget sometimes too – when I’m with you,” Spike admitted. “Nothing that came before really matters when I’m with you. Everything’s different now.”

Buffy gave him a warm, reassuring smile. “Maybe we can both forget the past together.”

Spike inclined his head in agreement. “Sounds brilliant.”

**~**



Buffy tried to reserve a rash and harsh judgment on their final destination: the Hellmouth. Well, the sign said it was St. Michael’s Cave, but she knew very well – even if Joan hadn’t educated her when they’d arrived – that this was a Hellmouth. She could feel the energy of it prickle her spine more surely than if she was in a crypt full of vampires.

She bit her lip to keep from being negative about this. Did Spike think this was her natural habitat like it was his? Did he think she’d feel relaxed and at ease here – as if she’d come home? Well, she didn’t. She absolutely didn’t feel at home here. She was not a creature of the darkness. She wasn’t drawn to the Hellmouth like a demon. She wasn’t … she … damn it.

Buffy sighed to herself. As much as she insisted she was the ex-Slayer, she couldn’t banish that moniker from her soul with words. No matter how much she denied it, she realized in a moment of clarity that the tinglies down her spine did have an unsettling feeling of comfortable familiarity to them. Double damn it.

The cave was closed to tourists this time of night, but Spike had apparently made some special arrangements for them, as they were admitted without question by the solitary night watchman. Buffy curled her fingers tightly around the bend in Spike’s elbow as they walked down the long tunnel past rock formations that were undoubtedly centuries, perhaps eons, old.  The deeper they moved into the cavern, the more she could feel the power of the place buzz against her skin. She nearly stopped more than once, but honestly didn’t want to hurt Spike’s feelings. He’d obviously gone to some trouble to arrange this, the least she could do was endure a few wiggy tingles down her spine.

Finally, the walkway opened into a large, impressive chamber. The stalactites and stalagmites that covered the walls and ceiling looked exotically beautiful, all bathed in a subtle rainbow of colored lights. To add to the ambiance, there was music playing softly from unseen speakers. It seemed to match the majesty of the cavern perfectly – something orchestral that she couldn’t begin to name. Buffy did stop then just to take it all in. It was humbling in its rugged beauty. Awesome in the truest sense of the word: breathtaking, impressive, overwhelming.



Spike stopped beside her and watched her as she looked around the magnificent collaboration of man and nature. He couldn’t help the satisfied smile that curled his lips as he watched her grow from pensive and jittery to awed by Gibraltar’s mouth of hell.

“Wow,” she said at last, shifting her gaze from the rock formations to Spike’s face. “This is … the prettiest Hellmouth I’ve ever seen.”

“Seen a lot of ‘em, have you?” Spike teased.



Buffy shrugged noncommittally.

Spike chuckled. “Does that mean you’ll stay for dinner, then?” He waved a hand at a small, cozy table in the center of the enormous chamber. A white linen tablecloth covered the intimate table for two. Another pink rose, like the one she still carried in her hand, stood in a vase in the center.

Buffy gave him a smile and nodded. The tinglies down her spine had faded into little more than a background noise, like the hum of tires on asphalt, waves lapping on a beach, crickets chirping in the night, or wind through the trees.

Spike led her to the table and pulled one of the chairs out for her. Buffy smoothed her full skirt and took a seat as he pushed the chair in for her. He removed the tented, linen napkin from the table in front of his date and laid it gently in her lap, before taking his place opposite her.

He’d no sooner taken his seat than a waiter, dressed to the nines in a black tux and tails, appeared at the table with a bottle of very expensive-looking champagne and two flute glasses.

He showed the bottle to Spike, who approved with a nod, and then the waiter decanted the bubbly with a soft ‘pop’. Buffy fretted her lip, her hand going to her tummy, as she watched the waiter pour them each a glass before he departed as quickly as he’d appeared.

Buffy leaned forward as Spike reached for his glass. “I don’t think I’m supposed to drink that,” she whispered to him as if there was anyone around to hear her protest.



“Why not?” Spike whispered back just as quietly, amused by her quiet tone.

“The babies…” Buffy explained simply, still whispering.

“Ahhh …” Spike replied, nodding. “I called and asked Marie-…lise about it. She said a little won’t hurt the bits, just don't overdo. Also said as much in a couple o’ those books I bought.”

“Really?” Buffy asked, dropping the whisper as she reached for her glass. “You checked?”

“‘Course,” Spike assured her. “You think I wouldn’t?”

Buffy blew out a soft snort and shook her head. “No, of course you’d check,” she realized.

Spike lifted his glass for a toast. “To first dates and forever.”

Buffy gave him a shy smile and raised her glass to his. “First dates and forever,” she repeated as the glasses clinked together lightly.

After they both drank to their toast, Buffy looked around the cavern again, taking it all in. “This place is really amazing. Have you been here before?”

Spike looked around as well. “Yeah, long time ago. Wasn’t nearly as nice then. Peaches kicked me off that German sub during the war, had t’ swim for it. Twenty bloody miles, he said. More like fifty, it was! Had t’ fight off three soddin’ sharks on the way. Ended up ‘ere … barely made it into the cave ‘fore sunup. Bloody wanker.

“Lucky for me it was nicely stocked with warm soldiers t’ snack on.”

Buffy’s brows were back up near her hairline again by the time he finished talking. “Maybe we shouldn’t forget the past,” she suggested. “I think I’d like to hear how you and Angel ended up on a German sub during the war.”

Spike snorted. “Well, obviously, I was tryin’ to steal it for the King,” Spike lied …. errr embellished. “Peaches was tryin’ t’ steal it for the Yanks. Forgot where he came from, he did.”



Buffy cocked a brow at him. "You were stealing a sub for Elvis?"

Spike almost did a spit-take with his champagne, but managed to hold it in. Thank goodness for vampire strength. "No, pet, the King o' England. King George was the monarch at the time," he explained.

“Oh ... I knew that," Buffy insisted nonchalantly. "So, you were trying to steal it to give him a ... birthday present? Christmas? Or is giving a submarine something just celebrated in England ... like Boxers Day?”

"Box-ing ..." Spike began to correct stiffly, but dropped it, heaving a loud sigh. “Not the literal King; the Crown – the government, Churchill, the Union Jack, and all that rot.”

“Oh, you were a patriot. That totally tracks,” she agreed sarcastically, rolling her eyes to let him know he wasn’t fooling her. “I guess you lost,” Buffy deduced.

“Guess I won in the end, though, didn’t I?” Spike retorted. “Sittin’ here with you, ain’t I? Got my babies in your belly, don’t ya?”

Buffy’s smile faded. She felt her stomach coil into a knot and her heart clench in her chest. “Is that what this is? What I am? Just another contest between you and Angel?” she croaked out, her throat nearly closed up with choked-back tears.

“Buffy, you know it isn’t,” Spike retorted immediately, reaching his hand across the table, palm up. “Don’t take it like that. It … that came out wrong. I love you more than … more than the universe is wide. You gotta know that by now, don’t ya?”

Buffy sighed and laid her hand in his on the table. His fingers closed around hers gently as she bowed her head and closed her eyes to try and calm her run-away emotions. “Yeah, I know … I’m … I’m sorry. I’ve just been extra emotional lately and I feel like …”

“Feel like what, pet?” Spike prompted when she didn’t finish, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

She opened her eyes and looked across the table at him. “I feel like I’m gonna turn into this big blimp and … you won’t …” she shrugged one bare shoulder and looked down at her glass of champagne, unable to meet his eyes.

Spike’s brows rose. “You think you won’t be sexy when you’re further along?” Spike barked out a sarcastic laugh. “Couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful than your belly swollen with our babies, pet. Never stop wanting you, Buffy – never stop loving you.”



Buffy looked up at him through her lashes, her head still bowed. “You say that now…”

“I’ll say that in six months too … in six years, in sixty years when ya got our grandbabies on your knee.”

Buffy pursed her lips trying not to frown at the thought. “Thank you for that very disturbing visual. Grandma Buffy,” she said aloud, trying the feel of it on her lips. “I’ll be all old and wrinkly and you’ll be … horny and … handsome as ever. I’ll be downstairs sleeping in the living room ‘cos I can’t make it up the stairs anymore, and you’ll be up there with Joan…”

Spike shook his head. “Wherever you are is where I’ll be, pet. Love you for more than what’s on the outside – not that the packagin’ isn’t brilliant, mind you – but there’s more than that. If you let me spend my life with you, I’d be the happiest man in the world.”

“You love me for my brain?” Buffy asked skeptically. “That’s like saying you loved Dru for her sanity.”

Spike scowled slightly, though for which comment Buffy wasn’t certain – probably both.

“Don’t sell yourself short, Summers. Among other things, yeah, I love you for your brain. Love your heart, your determination, your fire, your passion, your wit; love the way you look at the world. Love your indestructible spirit. Never known anyone like you, Buffy.

“And, hard as she tries, Joan ain’t you. She’s a good girl, but you’re the one I love – the one I’ll always love. And when you’re gone, I’ll follow you, pet. I’ll lay you to rest in a beautiful cemetery – have a view of a lake with swans and flowers and whatnot – and I’ll lie down atop your grave and join you that very day. Let the sun take me off this earth, ‘cos I couldn’t bear a single day without you.”



“Spike, I …” Buffy’s heart caught in her throat, choking off her words. She shook her head and blinked back emotion-laden tears, but a small smile gave away her delight at his heartf