Payback by dreamweaver

1. Chapter 1 by dreamweaver

2. Chapter 2 by dreamweaver

3. Chapter 3 by dreamweaver

4. Chapter 4 by dreamweaver

5. Chapter 5 by dreamweaver

6. Chapter 6 by dreamweaver

7. Chapter 7 by dreamweaver

Chapter 1 by dreamweaver
Author's Notes:
Okay, parts of this story are a tad not politically correct. If anyone has problems with that, please do not read. That’s the way the story insisted on being written, so don’t yell at me, guys. You have been warned! :D
The gorgeous banner is by Julie A.
R19BestDrama

Chapter 1


Tie her up, torture her until she liked him again.

Yeah, that was the way. Dru always loved being tortured. That was what he should have done. Been the man he was, the evil vamp she’d been with for a hundred and twenty years, instead of weeping and crawling and blaming everyone else. He’d just been so shocked by her dumping him like that, had just fallen apart. Wanker! Should have shoved a red-hot poker through her. She’d have fallen on his neck. Should have remembered she liked things raw. Hearts freshly ripped out of chest cavities and still steaming and dripping blood were the gifts she liked, not diamond necklaces.

Too bloody romantic, that was his problem.

Even after seeing the Slayer and the ponce making googly eyes at each other last night. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Stomach turning, that sight had been! Spike shuddered and tossed back his mescal. That should put him off romance for a century!

And they thought they could be friends. Amazing what people can delude themselves into. He’d laid it out for them.

‘You’ll fight and you’ll shag and you’ll hate each other till it makes you quiver,’ he’d said last night, ‘but you’ll never be friends. Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will.’

God, didn’t he know that! That was the way it was for him.

So why was he sitting in this flea-bitten Mexican cantina instead of roaring on down the road to Dru?

Because of what Dru had said. The excuse she had come up with for dumping him.

‘I can still see her floating all around you, laughing,’ she’d said. ‘You’re all covered with her. I look at you...all I see is the Slayer.’

The Slayer! Just the thought made him want to hurl. Except that would be a waste of that pretty Mexican chiquita he’d eaten just a while back. Laughing? Yeah, the Slayer would’ve killed herself laughing if she’d heard Dru say that. Bust a gut, she would. So why wasn’t he laughing as well? Guess the thought was too sick-making for that.

The filthy, sawdust covered floor was rising and falling under his feet as he headed back to the bar. He wished it would stay still. He wasn’t that drunk.

Uno más. Ah, hell, just give me the bloody bottle,” he said as the bartender started to pour the drink. “No, that full one over there.”

Con gusano,” the bartender warned.

“Yeah, yeah. Worm and all.”

Worm meant cheap, meant rotgut. The better brands didn’t have the worm. It was just for show, for those nancy-boy frat gits who wanted to say they ‘ate the worm’. But rotgut was what he wanted right now, pouring like lava down his throat. He upended the bottle for a long slug, tasting the mescal harsh and smoky and peppery on his tongue, then sneered at the worm floating at the bottom. The worm sneered back.

Okay, maybe he was drunker than he thought.

He slumped back into his seat at the long plank table. The demons next to him didn’t give him a glance, which was what he wanted, why he had stopped at this particular cantina. It was a demon bar and no one would care if he accidentally slipped into gameface if he got too squiffed. A couple of Nouris just a little down from him were already betraying their snake faces.

“...Makes me feel all slimy,” the demon next to him was saying. He was a pinched, scrawny, little sod in surprisingly good clothes and he looked human even with that lugubrious, hound-dog face of his. Only the demon vibes Spike could pick up told what he really was—a Hvroth.

The male vengeance demon opposite him shrugged. He was blond and had a young-looking, vapid face like those nancy-boy frat gits Spike despised. “So don’t do it.”

“They pay. You have no idea how many people want to know their futures. I keep putting the price up and still they come.”

“I should have your problems,” muttered the vengeance demon and Spike grinned.

The two were severely spifflicated, even worse than Spike and the Nouris, and not holding it well.

“You wouldn’t say that if you had to do it. Why can’t I be like that Deathwok demon in L.A.? What’s his name? Krevlornswath. Lorne. Has a bar called Caritas. Karaoke bar. All he has to do is get them to sing. Must be nice.”

He waved at the barkeep who came over and poured him something that was purple and smoked. And stank. Spike hurriedly took another slug of his mescal to keep himself from heaving.

“So what do you have to do?” asked the vengeance demon without real interest, pushing back a little to get away from the stench and almost falling off his chair as he did so.

“Go into their heads. Not their heads here. Their heads in the future. I get in there and that gives me access to their memories and I know what’s happened to them by that point. Then I come back and tell them what that’s gonna be.”

“They still in there when you pop in? Don’t they notice? Some guy drops into my head, I’m gonna notice.”

“Nah. My being there shoves their consciousness out for the count. Once I leave, it wakes up again and they don’t have a clue I’ve been there. I know. I’ve checked.”

“So what’s the big?” asked Spike irritably, wishing he’d get to the point. “Sounds like easy money to me.”

The Hvroth jumped at the unexpected interjection, then gave him a rancorous look. “Have you ever been in somebody else’s head? It’s disgusting! All these ugly desires and hatreds and resentments. And that’s not even the demons! Demons with the raw evil are bad enough, but humans are vile! They’ve got all this whiny crap like love and conscience and regrets mixed in. Sticky, gooey stuff. Yechh!”

He shuddered and swiped dramatically at himself, as if trying to wipe something off.

“Grosses me right out! I feel dirty all over.”

“Aw, poor guy!” said one of the Nouris, easy tears welling up with the amount of booze it had consumed.

The vengeance demon patted the Hvroth’s shoulder in alcoholic commiseration and the Hvroth gave them both a small, sad smile.

“Thanks for understanding.”

“Aah, quitcher belly-aching,” said Spike in disgust, drunk enough to be contrary. “You’re only in there for a minute. How bad can it be?”

“It’s bad. Believe me, vampire, it’s bad.”

“Pfft.” Spike grinned when everybody else glared at him. “Sounds like a piece of cake.”

“It’s not! Not even if it’s your own head you’re going into. And I’ve got to do other people’s disgusting heads.”

“Other buggers, maybe you’ve got a point.” Spike upended his bottle again, then sneered. “But taking a look in your own head? That can’t be that bad. Wish I could do that.”

“Wish you could,” said the Hvroth bitterly. “That’d show you.”

“Well, why not?” said the vengeance demon. “See how you like it.” And flung his arms out drunkenly in a wide, sweeping arc.

Spike suddenly felt as if he were whooshing along through the air. For a moment he thought the booze had finally gotten to him. Then suddenly he was standing beside a bed and he wasn’t drunk anymore. He was completely sober.

The shock to his senses was dizzying. He swayed giddily, then lost his balance and fell on the bed.

“What the fuck?”

***

He stared upwards. The ceiling was made out of earth, not wood or plaster, and there were roots twisting through it. He turned his head very slowly and cautiously to look around. The whole room seemed to have been dug out of the earth. But there were rugs and candles and furniture and a lot of books and LPs in shelves all around. The light came from a bulb in a tattered lamp on a night table, so the place had electricity.

It was clearly someone’s home.

He sat up warily and looked down at himself. Black duster, black tee, black jeans, Docs. His own familiar hands when he held them up in front of his face. Okay, this was him. Spike.

Then realization hit him.

That motherfuckingcocksuckingmangyfat-arsedhyena-facedsonofasoddingbitch!

He was in his future body! Had to be! He was going to tear that vengeance demon apart when he got back! The asshole had no right! Didn’t matter how drunk he was. No one messed with Spike! He’d teach that bastard for daring to play games with a master vampire!

He jerked to his feet, stomped over to one of the bookcases and yanked one of the LPs out. It was ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’ and the cardboard sleeve had the worn places and the small rips and tears he remembered. It was his LP, all right. The one he had owned since November, 1977.

Which meant that this dump was his place.

He cursed furiously, then whirled and glared around him. There was a ladder to one side, leading up to an open trapdoor and another level. He shot up it.

The upper level had stone sarcophagi, urns, benches, candelabra and, incongruously, a fridge. He flung the wooden front door open and found himself staring at a cemetery.

“What the fuck am I doing living in a sodding crypt?” he yelled.

He had always had money for decent digs, took it off the people he ate or ripped it off whenever he had the opportunity to get at a bundle.

The question delivered up a memory.

Chipped?

Memories cascaded. A cold, sterile lab with tile and glass walls. Half-baked soldier boys and sick little gits in lab coats. The Initiative. Gone now, so no revenge possible, sod it.

More memories. Of breaking free. Trying to eat that bint, Willow. Failing. The agony whenever he tried to feed, caused by that chip in his head. Having to go to the Slayer for help just in staying alive.

A blind fury was threatening to take over his brain.

The humiliation! Begging the Slayer for help? He should have died first!

No, he wouldn’t. He was a survivor. He’d do whatever was necessary, suck it up and deal, wait for that moment when he’d be rid of the chip and be able to get his own back. Spike gritted his teeth. Looked like he had a lot to revenge himself for.

Pictures, feelings, helpless frustrated angers crowded his brain. Being treated like a thing by the Scoobies, used with contempt and derision by people who would have peed their pants if he had been free of that chip and still been the lethal master vamp he was without that thing lodged in his brain. Being shoved around by that wanker, Harris, that wimp he had given a concussion to and tossed into a heap in the factory just last night in his own time period. Should have ripped the loser’s throat out instead while he had the chance.

And the Slayer! Having to take all the shit she handed out because he couldn’t fight back, getting his nose busted whenever she was in a bad mood and felt like taking it out on him, being treated like dirt by her—that stuck up, intolerant, self-righteous prig!

He slammed the crypt door shut so hard that it nearly fell off its hinges, then flung a candelabra against the wall to relieve his feelings, candles flying everywhere.

That bitch!

Then he froze, his eyes widening as other memories flooded in. In love? With her?

“Oh, please, somebody stake me!” he snarled.

It wasn’t possible! He couldn’t have been as stupid as that! He sorted through memories and winced in mortification and revulsion. God, no! He couldn’t have acted that way!

Begging for any crumb, totally whipped, turning into a sponcy, crawling, no-balls wimp. Far worse than even with Cecily and Dru! He nearly threw up.

There was a bottle of JD still a quarter full standing beside the fridge. He grabbed it and took a long slug to blot out those horrific recollections.

Oh, there were going to be changes made! He’d remember all this. Get out of this future self’s head and back to himself again, and he’d make sure things took a whole different turn. Wasn’t ever gonna get to this point, this nadir of his existence. He’d change things. By every sodding deity in the pantheon, he would. Bloody hell, he’d stake himself before he allowed himself to end up like this!

Love’s bitch? Yeah, he was. But he wasn’t ever going to wind up the Slayer’s bitch.

And why was he still here anyway? Didn’t that little weasel of a Hvroth say it was only for a minute? It had been a hell of a lot longer than a minute already.

A little trickle of ice-water ran down his spine. Sodding hell, he couldn’t be stuck here, could he?

How had that vengeance demon worded it? Spike realized that he didn’t know. All that fucker had said was, ‘See how you like it.’ The spell itself could have been worded any way at all. A moment, a day, a year, forever. God, to be stuck here forever!

God, no!

Spike fell into his worn green armchair, hugging the bottle of booze to his chest. Life couldn’t be that unfair!

Wait though. He wasn’t that sappy ponce he’d turned into. He was himself. Spike. From before he’d gone insane and fallen for the Slayer.

He took a sip of JD and rolled it across his tongue thoughtfully. The only real drawback to being here was the chip. But there were ways to work around it. The reason his future self hadn’t made use of them was because the Slayer had already turned him soft, gotten to him before he even realized it. Wasn’t going to happen this time.

And the Slayer herself? He could hit her, couldn’t he? After her resurrection. After she’d come back wrong. They’d found that out last night.

In love with pain, was he? Boy, did she ever have that wrong! Dru was the one in love with pain, twisted that way by Angelus. Spike had never been. He was neither masochist nor sadist. He could endure pain and his future self had done so, hoping he could make the Slayer love him by enduring every fucking thing she chose to dish out. No more.

She was the one in love with pain. She was the one who’d been ripped out of Heaven and found she couldn’t feel after that. Was desperate to feel anything. Oh, yeah, he’d give her what she asked for. He’d make her feel. But he didn’t think she was gonna like what she was gonna feel.

He grinned nastily. It was payback time.

And he’d be getting something out of it too. He’d just remembered all of what his future self had experienced last night. The way they had fought, bringing that house down around them. The way she had ripped down his zipper, impaled herself upon him. Those Slayer muscles of her sheath clenching upon him, milking him. The heat and the passion and the raw greed.

An animal in the sack was Buffy Summers once the Slayer in her was released. And she didn’t even admit it to herself, didn’t even really know it. Angel had never released it, the way Spike understood things; Angel had stayed human the one time he had slept with her. And those two nancy-boys, Parker and Finn, hadn’t been anything but human and so couldn’t release it. She’d have held that part of herself back, forced it under, terrified of breaking them in half. But no human could ever satisfy a Slayer, so she had never found out what she was capable of.

She’d found out last night. Spike didn’t break and so she’d been able to cut loose. Screamed like a banshee, she had; damn near eaten him up alive. Yeah, that had been great sex. Wouldn’t mind getting more of that Slayer tail. Something to look forward to, that was. Real enjoyable.

Blamed it all on him this morning, of course. Denied it all, her own involvement, everything she’d done, all the many nasties they’d indulged in and the way she’d enjoyed them. Wasn’t her fault, oh, no. She had just succumbed to his evil desires.

‘A’ vampire got her hot? Only one vampire? Yeah, right. He knew better. If he hadn’t got her hot, she wouldn’t have turned into that snarling, clawing, insatiable lustbunny she had been last night. Hung up on Angel, she might be, but he had never gotten to her the way Spike had. Her shock last night and her horror this morning told Spike a lot.

‘You were just...convenient,’ she’d flung at him, trying to pretend that last night had been nothing out of the ordinary for her. Rushing right back to the Nile, where she and the Scoobies owned massive real estate.

His future self had been bitterly hurt, but this Spike saw right through her. Spike was the last person anyone could call convenient. He was always irredeemably inconvenient. And he was going to prove it.

Maybe this was going to turn out to be a win-win situation. Go back and he’d change things; stay here and he’d...change things. Teach her a lesson. Give her what she bloody deserved.

He finished the bottle and tossed it aside. Might as well get some kip. This body was knackered. He leered smugly. It had been a long and very satisfying night. Maybe when he woke up, he’d be back in his own time and place. That was what he desperately wanted. Then he could start figuring out how to fix the Slayer. Because there was a lot she had to pay for and he had never been a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy. More a pay-you-back-in-spades.

He stripped off and fell into bed without bothering to turn out the light.

He woke up with a jerk when something thudded painfully into his stomach. His vamp senses knew immediately that it was past eleven p.m. and that the Slayer was in the room.

She was standing several feet back from the foot of the bed and what had hit him was a heavy pillar candle. She had thrown it at him. Couldn’t come up and politely shake him awake. Oh, no. She had to lob that candle at him. His lips drew back in a snarl.

Then he couldn’t help grinning when he looked her over. She was buttoned up right to her throat, completely covered up. Boots, jeans, prissy black knee-length coat over a black sweater with long sleeves and a rollneck that went right up to her chin. Even her hair was pulled back into two tight, ugly braids down her back. It was a style that didn’t suit her. She looked a lot better with her hair loose and tumbling over her shoulders.

But glamor wasn’t what she was trying to convey right now. ‘I’m a chaste, modest, prudish, virtuous, vestal virgin,’ she was trying to say. “I’m not capable of doing any of those dirty, disgusting things I did last night. Never! Look at me, all schoolmarmish and severe, hardly an inch of skin showing. I’m a good girl, I am. A freaking nun.’

He laughed and she glowered at him. She had another fat candle in her hands ready to throw at him, but she put that down now, seeing that he was awake.

“God, do you sleep through anything!” she snapped. “I was like yelling, and nothing.”

Another lie. She hadn’t yelled. He’d have woken if she had; he’d just been sleeping, not out cold.

“Always good at the big lies, aren’t you, Slayer? Always the hypocrite. Wrapping yourself up like that won’t work, pet. I know where you live now. I’ve seen the nympho inside.”

He fired the pillar candle back at her with all his force. It hit her right in the pit of her stomach, knocking out all her breath. The look of shock on her face was priceless. Spike grinned.

Show time.


TBC
Chapter 2 by dreamweaver
Chapter 2


What was going on?

Buffy recovered herself and stared at Spike, who was now sitting sideways on the edge of the bed, smirking at her. Okay, maybe she shouldn’t have thrown that candle at him. But she hadn’t been able to bring herself to touch him or even come near his naked form as he lay on the bed. It would have been way too much of a temptation. Seeing him like that brought back every single moment of last night.

The things he had done to her. The things he had made her do. The things she had done. Just looking at him brought all of that back. His weight upon her, the scent of him, the taste of him, the hard thickness of his cock driving into her...

God, no! She wasn’t going to think of that! She couldn’t believe how she had acted last night! She had behaved like a ho! It had been a horrendous mistake and she was never going to let it happen again.

Besides, look at him. So smug and smirking. Was it something about her that the guys she slept with turned into assholes the next morning? But then Spike always was an asshole. The monster.

There was something different about him. It wasn’t the Spike she was used to in the last couple of years, the Spike who said he loved her, expecting her to believe that when everybody knew vamps couldn’t love. This was more like the Spike he had been before the chip, the Spike who hated her guts.

Yeah, Spike was a monster, without a soul, and his ‘love’ was not love but obsession. Still, now that she started thinking about it, started seeing this weird difference, she realized that he had mellowed a little after getting that chip. Been hurt this morning when she had rejected him. She had a moment’s compunction about that. She had done to him what Angelus had done to her. Far worse, really.

She set her jaw. It didn’t matter. He was a vamp and he was a monster. He didn’t have feelings.

“Get dressed,” she said harshly. “Dawn’s missing.”

He frowned and his gaze slid sideways. For a moment he stared into space oddly.

“Oh!” he said suddenly. “Right. Your sister. Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

“We’ve got to find her!”

“Ever think of a LoJack for the girl?” He smirked at the look she gave him. “Why come to me? All you have to do is get your little Scooby gang to fan out over Sunnydale and bellow her name a few times. Don’ need me for that.”

“She went out with Willow.”

“And so? Red’s a Scoob. Kid sis is safe as houses. Kind of a sorry excuse to come by.” He leered at her. “If you want the touch, all you need to do is ask.”

She glared at him. “Willow’s into something. She and Dawn have been missing for hours. There’s this guy named Rack...”

His gaze unfocused itself again. “Rack?”

“Yeah. He’s some sort of warlock or black magician...”

Spike nodded abruptly. “I know who he is. Deals in black magic, the really dangerous kind. Part demon he is, how much nobody knows.”

“I’ve been all over downtown and I can’t find his place.”

“That’s because he cloaks it. Moves it around so no one can find it unless you’re into the big bad—a witch or a vampire or a demon.”

Buffy scooped up his jeans from where they lay on the floor and threw them at him. “So let’s go!”

“I don’t take orders, pet. You want a favor? Try asking.”

She stared at him. “I thought you cared about Dawn.”

He looked at her with cold eyes. “I’m a vamp. A monster. I don’t care for anybody, remember? Ask, Slayer.”

She snarled, then gave in. Dawn’s safety was on the line. “I want you to find Rack’s place for me.”

“Rephrase.”

“What?” But the tight, cold smile on his face was answer enough. She bit her lip. “Will you find Rack’s place for me?”

“Still waiting.”

She gritted her teeth. “Please.”

He laughed. “That hurt, dinnit? So used to throwing your weight around. Being a little tin god.”

She couldn’t believe the way he was acting. What had gotten into him?

“But since you asked so...nicely, I’ll help.” He stood up.

She turned her gaze away hurriedly from that spectacular, naked body.

“Oh, that’s right,” he scoffed. “Hide your blushing eyes. Purse your face into prim and prissy.”

He was suddenly right up in front of her.

“There isn’t an inch of me you haven’t seen, pet. Not an inch you haven’t tasted.” He grabbed her hand and raked it down his torso, closed her palm around his cock. “You’ve had that in your mouth.”

Boiling with fury, she tore her hand away and punched him in the face with all her strength. This morning when she did that, he hadn’t retaliated, just wiped away the blood and looked at her with eyes that held hurt behind the defiance.

This time he hit back, a powerful backhand that knocked her clear across the room. She staggered to her feet, gasping.

“Not gonna be your punching bag anymore, Slayer. Hit me, I’ll hit back.”

She stared at him in disbelief as he yanked on his jeans and pulled his tee-shirt over his head, then reached for his duster.

“Well, get the brakes off, Slayer. Thought you were in a hurry to find Kid Sis.”

He strode off, leaving her to follow in incredulous silence.

It didn’t take long for him to find Rack’s den. Spike wondered whether his future self would have found it so easily, sappy as he had turned, no longer pure evil. But this Spike was still a big bad.

Slayer stared around in bewilderment when he said, “Here it is.”

All Buffy could see was a long stretch of empty alley. “There’s nothing here.”

Spike grabbed her hand and held it up, moving her palm back and forth over air which rippled at the touch.

“It’s invisible. Can you feel the mojo now?”

“I feel heat,” she realized.

He nodded. “Energy expended in keeping it cloaked. Come on.”

The air shimmered again as he stepped forward. Spike abruptly vanished, the hand gripping hers the only part of him still visible. She stepped forward under his pull and was suddenly in a dingy waiting room. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the closed door that she had come through was still wavering after her passage. Then it stabilized and looked like any other door.

Inside, the place was fairly run-down, the chairs and sofas and lamps shabby. A seedy looking man took one look at her, then dropped his cigarette and ran. The door slammed behind him. A couple of tense young girls just barely out of their teens stared after him, but stayed on the couch where they were sitting and waiting. They looked strung out.

“Users,” said Spike with a scornful glance.

“Drugs?” Buffy exclaimed, shocked.

“Magic. Can be just as addictive. Rack’s a pusher. That black magic, it can give you a real high. Lot of power there.”

“Willow’s into this?”

“You’re asking me? Seems so.” Spike shrugged. “You’re the one who wanted to come here. What tipped you off?”

“A witch called Amy. I think she’s the one who brought Willow here, got her hooked.”

A man came out of an inner room and stopped, his brows rising. His eyes pointed in different directions, he had a scar on his face, long stringy hair, an amulet around his neck, and he gave off an aura of pure sleaze.

“I thought I felt power out here,” he remarked. “The Slayer. What brings you to my humble abode? Or need I ask?” He gave Spike a dangerously menacing look. “You should have known better, vampire.”

Spike shuddered dramatically. “Got me just shivering in me Docs here, wanker.”

“Is Willow here?” Buffy demanded, cutting across both of them impatiently.

Rack gave her an expressionless glance. “What makes you think she’s here?”

Buffy sighed. “Look. Don’t make me give you grief. I know she comes here. I want to know where she is. Tell me and I’m out of here.”

Rack considered for a moment, then shrugged.

“Come inside,” he said, then blocked Spike from following Buffy. “Not you, vampire.”

“Can’t pass up a chance to see the inner sanctum, now can I?” Spike gave him a wide smile that showed fang. “You really don’t want to try to stop me.”

“And you really don’t want to take me on,” hissed Rack.

“You don’t know me very well, do you?”

It was never a good idea to challenge Spike, Buffy thought. He never could pass up a challenge. It looked like Rack was starting to realize that.

After a moment, Rack shrugged and stepped out of the way. “It doesn’t matter. Come in if you want to.”

The outer room had been something like a trashy version of a dentist’s waiting room. The inner was a little more plush though still tacky, with sofas around its perimeters and a round table surrounded by cushions at its center.

A drop of something fell past Buffy’s shoulder and joined a red puddle on the floor. She looked up sharply.

A young woman floated against the ceiling, her head and limbs and long black hair hanging downwards limply. She was very dead.

Spike reached out, collected some of the dripping blood in the palm of his hand and lapped at it with relish. Buffy recoiled in distaste and he gave her an amused glance.

“Witch, huh? Can taste it. Lot of black mojo, she had.”

“But not enough. She came here to kill me. Don’t touch the athame, vampire,” said Rack sharply as Spike bent to pick up a knife lying on the floor below the body.

“Rather not,” Spike agreed. The athame was a wicked looking thing—a long, sinuous, pointed dagger with strange, sharp protrusions and with arcane symbols inscribed on the dully gleaming, black blade. “Sacrificial knife? And enspelled.”

“She made it specially to kill me. But I was ready and waiting.”

“You can pat yourself on the back later, warlock,” said Buffy sharply. “What I want to know is where’s Willow?”

“Is she always bossy like this?” Rack asked Spike.

“Oh, yeah.” Spike had started wandering around the room, picking up and replacing objects restlessly. “It’s a thing with her. This is mild. She must like you.”

“How could she not?” purred Rack and smiled lasciviously at Buffy. “You’ve got no magic. Not a spark. But that Slayer side of you. That has power. You burn with power. We’d make a good team.”

Buffy shuddered. “Eww! Gross. Put that thought right out of your head.”

“Yeah,” said Spike. “There’s only one big bad can make her scream.”

Buffy flushed hotly and glared at him. “Shut up, Spike!”

Rack looked disgusted. “You’re throwing yourself away on him? A goddess like you? What a waste!”

“No, no.” Spike smirked at Buffy. “Really hits the heights with me, she does.”

Buffy made a strangled sound, speechless with rage. How dared he humiliate her like this?

“I could give you power,” murmured Rack insinuatingly into her ear. “Power to rule the world. Power beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of. Intoxicating power you’ll feel like fire and wine and honey in your blood.”

He rubbed his hands together and sparks flew off them.

“Let me show you.”

“No.” She was glaring at Spike who grinned back. If only she didn’t need him to find Dawn for her. She could have staked him then. Maybe she would when all this was over. “All I want is to know where Willow is.”

“Not here. You just missed her.” He was circling Buffy slowly. “She tasted of strawberries. I wonder what you would taste of.”

“You’ll never know. Do you know where she’s gone?”

“No.” Rack brushed that away impatiently. “You have no idea what real power could be like. Let me give you a taste. Let’s both of us have a taste.”

He raised his hand, fire flickering upon his palm.

“We done here?” Spike asked Buffy.

She gave Rack an exasperated look. “Looks like.”

“Good.”

He sliced the athame across Rack’s throat from ear to ear. Buffy leaped back as blood sprayed. Rack fell, his eyes wide and horrified, trying desperately to gurgle spells through the blood flooding his mouth from his windpipe, its corrugations clearly visible now that it was in two separate pieces .

“Wasn’t ready this time, was he?” Spike remarked with satisfaction. “Nice blade that witch made. Curbs his power. No one takes what’s mine, wanker.”

“Spike!” gasped Buffy in shock.

“Was enough of a demon for me to be able to kill him. And I really was in the mood to kill something. You gonna waste time whining over him, Slayer? I just did all those pathetic little users out there a favor, including Red.”

Buffy stared down at the body spasming in its pool of blood on the floor. It finally stopped twitching and lay still, its eyes staring blindly at the ceiling. The body of the witch fell to the floor.

“I guess you did,” she said at last.

The room around them rippled, then abruptly vanished. They were standing in the alley again, in the midst of a clutter of sofas and cushions and other furniture. The two young girls in the waiting room had been knocked sideways on the couch they had been sitting on and were now staggering to their feet. They stared at the two bodies lying on the ground in front of them, then turned and ran.

“Put the word out,” Spike called after them. “Rack’s history. Going to have to find your black juice somewhere else.”

“Now how are we going to find Dawn?” groaned Buffy.

“We follow Willow.” He was sniffing the air. “She was here, so I should be able to pick up her trail. Yeah, here it is and she was with your sis. This way.”

They ran down the sidewalk. Some distance down the street, Spike came to an abrupt halt.

“They got into a car. All cars smell the same. Of exhaust and gas fumes.”

“Willow doesn’t have a car.”

“Then she ripped one off. Good for her.” He grinned when Buffy frowned. “Hey, what can I say? Evil here.”

“Now what?”

“We follow the demon. Come on.”

“What demon?” Buffy exclaimed, racing after him.

“The demon chasing them.”

“There’s a demon chasing them?” They were both running flat out now.

“Something Red cooked up by the smell of it. Her signature’s on it. I’ll bet Rack tricked her into it somehow. It’s not something a witch like her would normally summon.”

Both Slayer and vamp hearing suddenly picked up a scream.

“Sounds like your brat,” remarked Spike. “The trouble she keeps getting into, guess she has a lot of practice squawking. That way.”

Buffy was already tearing in that direction. Down an alley, into an archway...There! A car had been crashed into a concrete pillar and now stood with its front end badly crumpled. Beyond that was Dawn with a scarlet skinned demon leaping at her. There was blood on Dawn’s face where it had clawed her and she was cradling her left arm as if it hurt.

“Dawnie!”

Buffy tackled the demon, carrying it away from Dawn. Spike watched them slug it out for a minute, then shrugged and walked over to where Dawn was slumped on the ground.

“Something wrong with your arm, kid?”

“Don’t touch it!”

“Wasn’t going to. Busted, is it?” he asked without interest.

Dawn nodded, tears pouring down her face.

“What happened?”

“That demon was chasing us,” wept Dawn. “It said Willow summoned it. We stole a car to get away from it and Willow drove by magic. Something went wrong and we crashed and, when I crawled out, the demon grabbed me. I don’t know where Willow is and...”

The tumbling stream of words broke down into sobs.

“Yeah, yeah. Turn off the puling waterworks, kid.” Spike sat down comfortably beside her, an elbow across his upraised knee, and watched Buffy and the demon batter at each other. “It all just sounds par for the course.”

“Aren’t you going to help?”

“Why? She’s the Slayer. She can handle it.”

“But you always help!”

“And never got thanked for it.”

Dawn stared at him as if this were an alien concept.

“But...” she mumbled and he gave her a sardonic look.

“It’s finally occurred to me that being a nice guy doesn’t work with you lot.”

The demon had suddenly stopped short and begun to tremble. Spike watched it with one eyebrow raised. Buffy too was giving it a bemused look.

Now you’re scared?” she said to it, then shrugged. “Better late than never.”

The demon screamed, steam coming off it, then dissolved into a shower of sparks and smoke. Behind it, Willow’s form became apparent, magic still crackling from her fingers. Her eyes were completely black.

“Oh, yeah, better late than never,” agreed Spike dryly. “Seems like Red finally pulled herself together.”

He slid back as Buffy ran over to Dawn and started fussing over her. Dawn pulled away as Buffy reached out to her.

“I need to see,” Buffy insisted. “Let me see your arm.”

But Dawn had got her arm at an angle that gave her the least pain and she was terrified that being touched might make it hurt more.

“No, don’t!”

Willow came rushing up. “Dawn! Oh, God, there’s blood!”

“We’ve got to get her to a hospital,” Buffy said to Spike.

He nodded brusquely, then lifted Dawn smoothly to her feet with one hand under the elbow of her undamaged arm and the other about her waist. She gasped, but he had taken all her weight and she had not had to flex any muscle that might give her pain.

“Dawnie!” Willow was reaching towards Dawn. “Dawnie, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. It was an accident! I didn’t see...”

“Stay away from her!” Buffy said in a cold fury, getting between them as Dawn recoiled.

But Willow ran around her to get to Dawn. “Dawnie, I didn’t mean any of this to happen!”

To Spike’s appreciative amusement, Dawn slapped Willow across the face as hard as she could.

“Dawnie!” Willow exclaimed in shock. “Dawnie, don’t!”

Dawn ignored her and wavered towards the sidewalk under Buffy and Spike’s guidance, bent protectively over her arm. Behind them, Willow went into meltdown, collapsing onto the ground and crying wildly. Spike glanced over his shoulder at her with unwilling understanding. He’d made wrong choices himself, wasn’t going to cast any stones. He paused and looked at Buffy.

Buffy stared back inimically for a moment, then let out an exasperated breath and turned back. Her meaningful glance at him said, ‘Take care of Dawn,’ and he nodded resignedly. Guess he was stuck with the little bint.

Still, he was kind of pleased with the kid. She had gumption.

“Well, you whacked Red a good one, didn’t you?” he said, amused, as he led her down the street.

Dawn gave him a scowling, unrepentant glare. He grinned. Bitty Buffy.

“She deserved it!”

“I’m sure she did.”

“She left me sitting in that waiting room for almost two hours with this way creepy guy! And then when she came out she was really mean, making fun of me for wanting to go home and saying I was too chicken to play with the grownups. And she drove by magic, except she did it crazy and crashed the car. And that demon! She made it! And...and...Oh, Spike, it was horrible!”

“Sounds like.”

He stroked her hair lightly and comfortingly, then realized what he was doing and jerked his hand back sharply. He didn’t feel anything for Dawn. His memories said that he had been very fond of her, that a lot of things had happened between them over the last summer when the Slayer had been dead. But memories were just that—memories. They had no reality, were like some movie playing in the back of his head. The feelings that had once been behind that movie didn’t exist. Future Spike had experienced them, but he hadn’t. It was just a gesture, to get her to stop whining. That’s all.

She had been the best of the lot though, except for Joyce. He was sorry when the memories told him that Joyce was dead now. He had liked Joyce who had given him hot chocolate and listened to his troubles and had seen him as a person not a thing. Joyce had been one classy lady. She had reminded him of his own Mum, who had been sweet and trusting too, and had cared. The Bit cared too. Dawn had tried to support and defend him. Guess she had earned a little help back.

So he took her to Emerg, sat with her until she was finally taken away to be looked at, and yawned through the wait while they fixed her up. Turned out she only had a fracture, though it would take her some time to heal, being human and not a vamp or a Slayer. Would keep the little bint out of everybody’s hair for a while. He wondered, amused, how Buffy was getting on. He had the easier job, having to deal only with the kid, not a hysterical Red. Even if the Slayer hadn’t been blaming Red for Dawn’s injuries, she wouldn’t have much sympathy for Willow anyway, not having all that much to spare from whining over herself.

Buffy herself was realizing that she was having trouble dredging up any concern for Willow. She got her home and put her to bed and knew all the while that all she was feeling for Willow was a vague sense of duty and irritation. She shouldn’t be this way. Willow was her best friend and Willow had gotten herself so addicted to magic that Tara who truly loved her had finally walked out on her in a desperate attempt to force her to come to her senses. But even that hadn’t worked. Willow was drowning and Buffy hadn’t even noticed.

Part of it was anger. Resentment that Willow had pulled her out of Heaven and now almost got Dawn killed. But the real truth was that Buffy didn’t care. Not about Willow; not about anyone. Except maybe Dawn, who was innocent. And even that was a lukewarm feeling compared to the fierce love and protectiveness she had felt for Dawn before Buffy had died and been resurrected.

After the perfect peace of Heaven, this world was Hell. The sounds and noises, the demands of living impinging upon her. She cringed from that, all of it—life and the things she had to do and the responsibilities heaped upon her. She wanted that peace. That perfect peace of death.

Everything was gray. She felt nothing. Not for anyone. Felt neither joy nor sorrow, just a tremendous apathy.

Somewhere back in the far recesses of her mind, not even really admitted to herself, she had hoped that Spike—that monster, the one vampire she allowed within killing distance of her—would actually kill her. But he hadn’t. Instead he kept insisting that he loved her. As if a vampire could love! The more he said it, the more she hated him for it. For lying to her, for lying to himself.

But Spike was the only thing who could make her feel. Lust. That shameful, white-hot lust that broke through the gray and made her feel alive again.

“It took me away from myself,” Willow was saying. “I was...free.”

Buffy jumped, then hid it. “I get that. More than you...” She broke off abruptly, looking away. “But it’s wrong. People get hurt.”

The thing was, sleeping with Spike didn’t hurt anybody but herself. Not even Spike, though she would be using him. A vampire had no feelings, so couldn’t be hurt.

Willow pulled her blanket tighter around herself. Tears were still seeping slowly down her face.

“If something had happened to Dawn tonight,” she whispered. “Something worse...”

“It didn’t.”

“I-I was out of my mind. I-I did things I can’t even...”

Out of sight, Buffy’s nails dug into her palms. The things she had done with Spike!

“It won’t happen again,” said Willow intensely. “I promise. No more spells. I’m finished.”

“I think that’s right. To give it up,” Buffy said slowly. “No matter how good it feels.”

There was the sound of a car stopping outside the house. Buffy looked out of the window. It was a cab, with Spike stepping out of it. She looked at the cab with surprise, then realized why he had taken it when Dawn got out and sagged against him. Dawn’s arm was now in a sling and she looked as if she would have fallen onto the ground if Spike hadn’t been holding her up.

“Dawn’s back. Will you be all right while I go see to her?”

Willow nodded.

“The E.R. doc gave her something for the pain,” explained Spike when Buffy came down and reached worriedly for Dawn who collapsed against her groggily. “It’s knocking her out.”

“Sleepy...” muttered Dawn.

“I’ll take her up,” nodded Buffy. “You can show yourself out.”

But he was still there, sprawled into an armchair and calmly watching TV when she came back down after putting Dawn to bed.

Buffy frowned. “Why are you still here?”

He gave her an amused glance. “You owe me for the cab fare, Slayer.”

“Oh!”

“Why should I shell out for you lot?” he mocked and she compressed her lips tightly as she went to dig the money out of her purse.

He had never asked money from them in the last year since he had started believing he was in love with her, though he wasn’t above filching it from Xander just to piss him off.

“Here,” she snapped, thrusting a twenty at him. The cab ride couldn’t have cost anywhere close to that much, since the hospital was not that far away. “Keep the change. Call it a tip.”

He came and flicked it out of her fingers.

“Thanks. Tip for what? Satisfying you proper last night?”

Her fingers closed furiously into a fist. He laughed.

“Yeah, hit me, Slayer. I’ll fucking do you right here on the floor. Make you scream again the way you did last night.”

“Shut up!” She glanced involuntarily over her shoulder. “Last night didn’t happen!”

“Oh, it happened, pet. And it’ll happen again. You’ve got a yen for it now.”

“I have not! Last night was the most...perverse...degrading experience of my life!”

He leered at her. “Yeah. Me too,” he purred.

She snarled. “That might be how you get off, but it’s not my style!”

“No, it’s your calling. Gave me a run for my money, Slayer.”

She bit her lip. They both knew how she had acted, the things she had done.

He looked her up and down scornfully. “Nice disguise you’ve got going there, even without that tacky coat. Hair scraped back like that, sweater covering everything up from chin to fingertips. Seen Salvation Army cows have more sex appeal than you do right now. But that was the idea, wasn’t it? So that no one, not even you, would ever believe you could do the things you do.”

She flushed. She had just yanked on these clothes this morning after she had stripped out of that lacy blouse and leather skirt she had worn last night and hadn’t really admitted even to herself why she had chosen them. Of course he had seen right through it. Spike always saw things that she and the Scoobies foolishly took at face value.

“Miss Priss. Yeah, right. You may fool yourself, Slayer, but you don’t fool me. I’ve seen what an animal you are underneath. I’ve tasted it.” His tongue curled meaningfully against the edge of his teeth. “So raw.”

“Get out!”

“Too late. It’s not gonna be so easy getting rid of me. Don’t you know the old saying? Give the devil a finger, he takes the whole hand. I’m in your system now, pet. You’ll come crawling.”

“Never!” She gave him a contemptuous glance. “You’re the one who crawls, Spike.”

He smirked. “That was before. I admit it. You’ve had me by the short hairs. Thought I loved you. Don’t anymore. Got my rocks back. New man here. Or old. However one looks at it. And this man’s got what you crave.”

He ran his hand deliberately down his torso to his groin.

“Fucked your brains out last night and you loved every nasty second of it. Can do it again. But this time you’ll have to ask. This time I’ll make you say please. Make you beg. And you will.”

She swung at him, almost out of her mind with fury.

He ducked the blow and slammed her up against the wall. Then his mouth was on hers, his tongue invasive, thrusting within, the way his hips were thrusting, grinding into her. She could feel him hard and aroused against her. In horror, she felt her own involuntary response, felt last night’s heat rising.

It didn’t help that she was now aware of how beautiful he was. She hadn’t seen him naked before last night. Hadn’t seen those smooth, rippling muscles, that sixpack, hadn’t felt that skin satin against hers, hadn’t watched his stomach muscles flex as his cock thrust into her. Every bit of last night’s excesses came surging back with the pressure of his body on her and the taste of his mouth and the scent of his skin.

She tried to tear her mouth away. “Don’t!”

“Stop me.”

She couldn’t. Her mouth responded helplessly to him, answered every demand of his, twisted against his, tongue thrusting back, body arching to his, hands clenching on the smooth leather of his duster.

“You want it,” he said with satisfaction.

She did want it. Even anger was welcome after the grays, hot and sharp and red. And lust was a blazing fire through her whole body, sparks flying along her every nerve as his hands slid over her, thrusting under her sweater to knead her breasts, shoving between her legs to knead her core through the denim of her jeans. He was too good at this game, a hundred and twenty years of experience behind that wicked tongue, those clever, knowing, inflaming hands.

For once she was alive. Awake and alive and burning.

“No!”

She shoved him away with all her strength. He let himself be shoved away, laughing as he staggered backwards.

“You’ll come to me, Slayer. And then...I’ll make you come. Again and again. For hours. You know I can. You know I will. Proved it last night, din’ I?”

He had. And for hours she’d been searingly alive.

“You’ll come to me,” he said with absolute confidence and swung on his heel, duster flaring, and swaggered out.

“I won’t!” she whispered desperately. “I won’t!”

And was horribly afraid that she was lying.



TBC
Chapter 3 by dreamweaver
Chapter 3


Garlic wouldn’t keep him away. Besides, she was in no danger in her own house where Dawn and Willow would come to investigate at the sound of any disturbance. She ripped down the ropes of garlic that in a panic she had hung all around her room. Stupid. Stupid. He wouldn’t take her by force. He didn’t need to. Not when all he had to do to turn her insides to molten lava was to touch her.

What he wanted was her surrender. For her to shamefully give in to her own desires, so that he could mock her for it after.

It was Saturday night. Anya suggested they all go to the Bronze and Buffy agreed because she thought everyone needed to lighten up a little after the tensions of the last few days. Willow almost refused to go, embarrassed at what the Scoobs might think of the way she had behaved, saying she would babysit Dawn instead and try to find out more on the internet about that frost demon who had frozen the guard at the museum and stolen that diamond.

“I’m letting Dawn go over to Janice’s place tonight,” said Buffy. Dawn was in a pissy mood over her fractured arm, angry not only with Willow who had caused it, but also with Buffy because Buffy hadn’t prevented it from happening. Though Buffy didn’t know what she could have done to prevent it. But Dawn was never one of the most logical of people. Buffy hoped that spending some time with her friends would make up for it.

“Still...” said Willow reluctantly, clearly believing that she didn’t deserve to have fun.

“Tara might be there,” murmured Buffy and, as could be expected, Willow capitulated at once.

Tara was indeed there. Willow went straight up to her.

“I screwed up,” Willow said. “Real bad.”

“Well, at least you finally see that, sweetie,” said Tara gently. “That’s a beginning.”

“I have to stop using magic. Will you help me, Tara? I need help.”

“Of course I will. Come and sit down and we’ll figure something out.”

“Now maybe we’ll get somewhere,” said Buffy, watching the two of them talking quietly at a secluded table.

“Cold turkey’s tough,” agreed Anya. “Tara might get her through it. But I wouldn’t count on it. Highs like that are really hard to pass up. So tempting.”

“Oh, yeah,” muttered Buffy. “Just have to focus on one day at a time.”

“Focus on the frost demon,” said Xander. “We’re still getting nowhere with that. Anya and I are going crosseyed wading through books looking for it. I wish Giles was here. He’d have found it right away.”

“You’re so right.” Buffy sighed deeply. Giles had picked the worst time in the world to return to England. Why now? With her just resurrected and struggling even to exist and endure the world around her. Would she have given in to her lust for Spike if there had been one other person around who understood and supported her? “I wish he were here too.”

But Giles wasn’t and Spike, that temptation, was. She jumped as she caught sight of him leaning against the wall a few yards away. He smirked at her and she turned a cold shoulder on him. Maybe it had been a mistake to come to the Bronze. It just gave him the opportunity to stalk her again.

“He might be branching out,” Xander was saying.

“Huh? Who?”

“The frost demon.” Xander gave her a puzzled look. “Are you listening, Buffy?”

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

“It was in the papers. An ATM got ripped off over on Dorset Street.”

Buffy frowned. “Sounds like a human, not a demon thing. Don’t they have security cameras blanketing those things? They should have a picture.”

“Yeah, but all the cameras caught was a blur, some dark shape moving really fast. They can’t make it out even when they go frame by frame. Then the whole front of the ATM was yanked off and the money containers taken. They found them later lying in a ditch with their lids smashed in. Money’s gone, of course. No fingerprints.”

“Iced up?”

“No. But still. It had to be a demon. No human could have moved that fast. And this frost demon seems to go after things like diamonds, so how much you wanna bet that’s what it was?”

Buffy caught sight of Spike out of the corner of her eye. He was grinning. A horrible suspicion entered her mind.

“Enough!” said Anya in exasperation. “No more about that frost demon. I’ve had it up to here looking through moldy books for that stupid thing! It’s Saturday night and I want to have fun. We’re going to dance.”

She grabbed Xander and yanked him onto the dance floor.

“Talk to you about it later, Buff,” he called over his shoulder.

“Tomorrow,” snapped Anya.

Buffy had already forgotten them. She was advancing on Spike.

“Tell me you didn’t rip off that ATM,” she growled.

“I didn’t rip off that ATM,” he parroted obediently in a singsong voice.

“Spike...!”

“Do you really think I’m gonna tell you different?” he mocked.

“Did you or didn’t you?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I said no, so why should I bother? Can I buy you a drink?”

“All of a sudden you’ve got money?”

“Luck was a lady tonight. Loaded dice come in so handy.” He waggled his brows at her, then laughed, giving her a sideways glance through half-lidded eyes. “Prove it, Slayer.”

“If I thought...”

“But you do think. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. But you’ll never know for sure. And I’m evil, aren’t I? All these months wasted trying to be good and never even getting a ha’penny’s worth of credit for it.” He laughed scornfully. “No more. Back to being bad again. Pays off a lot better and it’s more fun.”

“Is that why you’re stalking me again?”

“Again? Yeah, I’m stalking you now, but I wasn’t before.”

“Sure you were.”

“No, no. I was just watching your back. Thought I was in love with you. Turned me sappy, you did. Gotten over that now. Now I just wanna fuck you.”

He laughed at the glare she gave him.

“In love,” she said contemptuously. “Still stuck on that one note. Vampires can’t love, Spike. Everyone knows that.”

“Another pearl of wisdom from your Council of Watchers. Everyone meaning you and your Scoobies. The bunch of you who don’t know your arse from a hole in the ground. Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do, pet. I loved Dru for a hundred and twenty years. Even she tried to tell you demons can love. Not wisely perhaps, but well. But you know better, don’t you? You being such an expert on love, you with your three failures behind you.”

She flushed hotly. “You can’t love without a soul!”

“Bollocks. Angel can’t love without a soul. And we all know what a fine, upstanding bloke he is. You’ve always had a bleeding tragic taste in men, Slayer.”

“And you’re the unliving proof!”

“I’m not one of your men, pet. Not any longer. Maybe I was before I realized what a cold-hearted bitch you are. But that’s immaterial now. Not relevant. All we are to each other is a good fuck.”

There was no talking to him when he was like this. She spun on her heel and walked away.

He had actually made her feel guilty yesterday morning when she had called him ‘convenient’ and seen what she had thought was hurt in his eyes. Thinking he’d been hurt! Imagine! God, she was a fool! Thinking she had wronged him. Yes, she had used him, used the feelings he thought he had for her so that she could finally feel something, anything. She had regretted that and a lot of her anger the next morning had been to hide her guilt even from herself. Justify it. A common psychological trick. Hadn’t Professor Walsh’s lectures covered that? The guilty wriggling out of their shame by transferring it into resentment against the one who made them feel it.

But there was no need for guilt, was there?

She had never read people well, had always been someone who tended more towards action than introspection. But she had thought she knew Spike.

He had seemed, well, fragile to her ever since that time he had chained her up and tried to get her to say she had some feeling towards him. He had seemed vulnerable. She had denied it fiercely, denied his protestations of love, denied all the ways he had tried to help her ever since. Seeing him the way he was now made her realize that he really had been trying to do good this last year. She had relied on him to protect Dawn, turned to him for support after she had been resurrected, used those feelings he professed even while denying them.

Then that night had happened. And for him, it seemed, it had been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This was the real Spike, about as fragile as rawhide. She’d been fooling herself when she had thought, way down deep in the unacknowledged recesses of her mind, that he was anything else. Something in her mourned the loss of the steady support that he had been, that...friend.

A cool hand brushed her back, bared in the halter top she was wearing. She jumped a mile.

“No more pretense at lily-white purity, huh?” he purred in her ear. “Very nicely exposed once more. The real Buffy Summers. Pity you’re wearing pants though, instead of that very convenient skirt that you pulled up so fast.”

She flushed at the memory. He wasn’t letting her walk out on him this time, the way he always had before. She should have known that this Spike wouldn’t allow himself to be dismissed so easily.

“Shut up!”

A cool fingertip ran up her spine, sending a shiver of pleasure through her.

“Like your back, Slayer. Like seeing it all sleek and naked like that.”

She jerked away and swung to face him angrily. “Stop touching me!”

“Ah, but you like it. Saw goosebumps run right up your spine.” His fingertips brushed her throat and his tongue curled behind his teeth. “Skin like silk. Sensitive too, yeah.”

A fingertip stroked lightly at the hollow of her throat, then his palm settled on the curve of her breast where the vee-neck of the halter top exposed it. She struck his hand away furiously and he laughed.

“Like to taste that again.”

“Get away from me, Spike, or I swear to God I’ll...”

“What? Stake me? Not when I’m turning you on, pet.”

“You are not!”

“Liar. Your nipples are hard. That material’s thin and I can see them. You wet, Slayer?”

She snarled and drew back her fist, uncaring that the entire Bronze would see her hit him.

“For Pete’s sake, Spike!” exclaimed Xander behind them. “Are you still trying to mack on Buffy?”

Buffy jerked away from Spike, flushing vividly.

“Wake up already,” said Xander scornfully. “Never gonna happen!”

Spike looked at Buffy, eyebrows raised in amusement. Buffy gritted her teeth and glared at him.

“Only a complete loser would ever hook up with you,” said Xander, not noticing Buffy’s head whip around or that her scowl had transferred itself intact to him. “Well, unless she’s a simpleton like Harmony or a nut sack like Drusilla.”

“I’m going to get some air,” said Buffy through her teeth and headed for the door.

“Now you’ve insulted her,” purred Spike. He had no idea who this Harmony was supposed to be and couldn’t be bothered sorting through the memories. But from the context and the Slayer’s furious expression, she must be some ditzy bird he had ended up screwing.

“What?” In puzzlement, Xander as usual fell back on anger. “Leave her alone!”

“Or what, wimp? I’ll have you to answer to?”

Xander grabbed the front of Spike’s tee shirt and shoved him back hard against the wall. “Don’t forget I can hurt you now.”

“Yeah, you’ve got real guts, haven’t you, pansy? You’re real brave when it comes to beating on someone who can’t fight back. Time for a little lesson, I think.”

Xander sneered. “Oh, you’re going to hit me? It’ll hurt you a lot more than it’ll hurt me.”

“It’s not gonna hurt me one bit.”

Xander’s grip loosened in surprise and Spike pulled swiftly away with that smooth vampire speed and fluidity, and was abruptly standing out of reach.

“Don’ know why I haven’t taught you the facts of life yet. Slayer turned me into a sap, I guess. Those days are over.”

“Xander,” said Anya nervously, seeing the way Spike’s eyes had gone cold and hostile, “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

“Deadboy’s had his fangs drawn,” said Xander scornfully. “He’s gelded. Just a creampuff.”

“That you’ll choke on.” Spike gave him a wide, sweet smile that showed all his teeth. “Have a nice night, ponce.”

And stalked out, leaving Anya and Xander staring after him.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Anya.

“It’s all hot air,” shrugged Xander contemptuously. “He’s just like you now, Ahn. Can’t do anything a real demon can, not with that chip in his head.”

“I’m not a demon anymore, Xander. But Spike still is.”

“Aah, what can he do to me?”

“A lot,” said Anya worriedly. “A lot.”

Xander found that out that night. He woke in the middle of the night, feeling as if a heavy weight had settled on his chest. His eyes opened blearily, searching the darkness. There was something sitting on his chest—a dark shape about the size of a large dog. He gasped and it bent down and hissed in his face. Moonlight from the window glistened on two rows of sharp, fanged teeth.

Xander screamed. The thing leaped away and was gone, leaving a stinging pain on his chest.

“What? What?” gasped Anya beside him, jerking upright.

The bedside lamp flashed on. Xander flung his arm up against the sudden light.

“There was something in here! It was sitting on my chest! It...”

“You had a nightmare.”

“No! It was real!”

“Xander...”

“No! Look! Look!” Xander jerked his pyjama top open. There were three claw marks down his chest. “Its back claws raked me when it jumped away!”

Anya’s eyes widened. Then she frowned in concentration.

“It was a demon,” she nodded. “Not a big one. Just a little one. But still...”

“A demon! What was it doing here? What does it want?”

“It was probably just playing games.” Anya patted his shoulder. “The little ones like imps and gremlins do, you know. Get into places and cause trouble, then go away.”

The whites were showing all around Xander’s eyes. “What if it comes back?”

“Imps like that don’t tend to revisit, so I don’t think we’ll see it again.” She got out of bed. “We’d better clean up those scratches though. You wouldn’t want them to get infected.”

Xander was shuddering. “It was creepy! Horrible! It was sitting on my chest, Ahn!”

“Unpleasant,” Anya agreed. Having been a demon herself for a thousand odd years, demons didn’t give her the crawling horrors they did Xander. Bunnies did. She swabbed antiseptic over his chest, then taped the scratches. “There. That should do it.”

“Isn’t there any way to keep things like that out? Crosses or garlic or something?”

“That only works on vampires. It won’t come back, Xan,” she said soothingly. “Go back to sleep.”

She switched the light off. In the darkness, something sniggered, the sound like a trickle of dirty water.

“It’s still there!” Xander knocked over the lamp on his side of the bed in his haste to turn on a light.

Anya turned her lamp on once more. In the sudden brightness, they looked around. The room was empty.

“It’s here somewhere! Under the bed maybe!” He fell out of bed, got on his hands and knees and looked. Nothing. “Or in the closet!” He flung the closet doors wide. Nothing. “Where did you put that sword Buffy forgot?”

“In the hall closet.” Anya was leaning back on the headboard, a resigned look on her face.

Xander rushed out into the living room. Something giggled in the darkness.

“Oh, Christ!”

He slapped on the lights, grabbed the sword from the hall closet, then rushed around the whole apartment, turning on every light and probing under sofas and into dark corners and cupboards with the sword.

“That’s not going to do any good,” called Anya from the bedroom. “You’ll never find it if it doesn’t want to be found. Come back to bed, Xander.”

Xander came finally and huddled into bed beside her, clutching the sword. “I’m leaving the lights on!”

“If you want.” Anya reached into the night table beside her and pulled out a sleep mask. “You shouldn’t have pissed him off.”

“Him? Who him?” Xander gaped at her. “You think that...Spike?

“Remember how he gave you that weird smile when he wished you a nice night? This can’t be a coincidence.”

She shrugged ruefully as Xander’s eyes widened in fury.

“That...that...!”

Anya pulled the mask over her eyes and settled down on her side. “I’d apologize if I were you.”

Xander had no intention of apologizing and every intention of beating Spike’s brains in. In the morning, he stormed down to Spike’s crypt. But the heavy wooden door was securely barred on the inside and there was no way of breaking it down short of using a battering ram, by which time Spike would cheerfully make his way out through the sewer pathways that Xander knew nothing about. Xander had to content himself with waiting for nightfall and Spike’s emergence.

The moment the sun went down, Xander charged back into Restfield. He was just in time to catch Spike strolling out of the cemetery, the indirect light still in the sky no danger to him.

“Hey, you!” Xander yelled and Spike turned to grin at him.

“If it isn’t the wimp. Seem a bit cranky this fine evening. Didn’t you sleep well last night? Black dog on your back? Or a gray one on your chest perhaps?”

“It was you! You did send that thing!”

“Friendly little critters, the Firoud. Do anything for a nice cut of meat, they will.”

Xander paused, horrified. “Human meat?”

“Nah. Slayer might object to that.” Spike smirked. “But Grathar meat’s good eating for the Firoud. One carcass is like giving them a whole cow. They were properly grateful. You’ll be seeing a lot more of them. Tonight and tomorrow night and the next n...”

“Call them off!”

“Make me.”

“Wait till I get my hands on you!”

But Spike just slid away down the street as Xander rushed him. Even walking backwards, his vampire speed and agility still kept him just out of Xander’s reach without any effort at all.

“I’ll get Willow to do a spell to keep them out,” Xander panted.

“Willow’s off magic, remember?”

“Tara then.”

“But you’ll still have to come out at some point. Can’t stay in your place 24/7. And when you do, you become accessible. Construction sites are such hazardous places. So many things to trip over or get whacked over the head with.”

Xander looked panicked. “You wouldn’t dare kill me! Buffy would...”

“Kill? Perish the thought. And miss all those banana peel moments you’re going to have? Gonna be so much fun watching all the pratfalls. Charlie Chaplin’s gonna be nothing on you.”

Xander stopped short and contemplated that prospect with horror.

“Might also want to watch what you eat and drink. Just a friendly warning. Never know what might be in it.”

“What?” Xander liked his food and that thought was really scary.

“Wicked sense of humor, Firoud have. Bathroom humor. Laxatives in your drinks, chili powder on your donuts. That kind of thing. Inventive little sods. Never know what they’ll think up next. Seems they’re getting a giggle out of the whole thing. They think you’re funny.”

“You...you...Wait till I get a crossbow! See how funny you think it is then!”

Spike’s face lost its amusement and went cold and hard. “Dust me and every day of your life will be a living hell. They’ll make sure of that. Even if you live to be a hundred. It’s a game to them right now. Dust me and you cross the line. It won’t be a game any longer.”

Xander just stared at him.

“I’m tired of your crap, Harris. I should have done this ages ago. But I’ve got a forgiving nature.” Spike smirked. “Doesn’t have to be laxatives they put in your food, wanker. Could be something a lot worse. Think about that. Because I’m through being a nice guy.”

“Buffy will take care of you,” Xander muttered, wildeyed. “She’s the Slayer. She’ll...”

“Wouldn’t count on it.”

“She will!” Beside himself with fury, Xander grabbed up a crumpled pop can lying beside a sewer grating and fired it at Spike.

Spike just leaned sideways and it flew past his head to clatter on the pavement behind him. But in that moment a skinny, three-fingered, gray arm shot out of the grating. Claws raked down the back of Xander’s calf. Xander screeched.

“Really have a learning disability, don’t you?” Spike sighed. “You get physical, they get physical. That’s the way it works.”

“We’ll see what Buffy has to say about that!” snarled Xander through gritted teeth.

“Tell her she’ll find me at Willy’s.” Spike shot him the bird cheerfully, then disappeared into the shadows.

“Perfect place to dust you,” muttered Xander under his breath and limped off to the Magic Box.

The girls were all there, Buffy and Dawn peering into a large carton full of oddments like candles and crystals that Willow and Tara were holding for Anya to rootle through.

“Are you sure you don’t want any of it, Tara?” Anya asked.

Tara shook her head. “I’ve got my own.”

“I can put them up for sale on consignment. Is that all right with you, Willow?”

“Yes,” said Willow glumly.

“I can understand getting rid of charms and things,” said Dawn. “But why candles? Everyone has candles.”

Buffy sighed. “To you and me they’re just candles, but to witches they’re like...bongs.”

Dawn looked disbelievingly at Willow and Tara who both nodded. Anya lifted a fertility god statue out of the box.

“That’s not bad,” she said, looking it over. “It’ll fetch a good price.”

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Dawn. “Not Kokopelli! I love him! And he was Mom’s!”

“The next few weeks are going to be crazy hard on Willow as it is,” said Buffy. “We can’t have anything around our place that might, you know, cause her to give in to...temptation, any reminder of...of what it is that she’s trying to stay away from.”

“But...”

“Anya could store him for you, Dawn, and you can have him back when Willow’s over the hump,” suggested Tara and Dawn looked happier, though Anya’s face fell.

“Buffy?”

Everyone looked around as Xander limped across the store towards them

Anya frowned. “Why are you walking funny, Xander?”

“You’re hurt!” exclaimed Tara, seeing the torn leg of Xander’s jeans and the scratches beneath it.

“This...thing! This demon clawed me!"

Buffy turned at once. “What kind of demon? Where?”

“Something called a Firoud. It...”

“A Firoud! But Firoud are non-harmful,” exclaimed Anya. “They don’t bother humans. They just live in the sewers and eat mice and rats and things.”

“It’s a demon! You’ve got to get rid of it, Buffy! It was in our apartment last night!”

“Oh, is that what last night’s visitor was?” Anya laughed. “Then there’s nothing to worry about, Xander. Firoud are mischievous, but they’re harmless.”

“Harmless! It clawed me!” He pulled up the leg of his jeans to show the scratches. “There and on my chest last night! It could have clawed out my throat! You’ve got to kill it, Buffy!”

“Oh, no,” Anya protested. “They don’t hurt anything.”

“It hurt me!”

Buffy was frowning. “I know about the Firoud. There must be a couple of hundred of them in Sunnydale, Xander, and...”

“What!”

“They breed as fast as feral cats and they’re all through the sewers. It would be a huge job getting rid of them and I wouldn’t want to because they cause no trouble and they’re actually very useful in keeping the vermin down. And it’s not fair driving them all out of Sunnydale just because one of them scratched you.”

“Hundreds!” said Xander blankly. “There are hundreds? That bastard!”

Everybody stared at him.

“What bastard?” asked Buffy.

“Spike!”

“Spike? What does he have to do with this?”

“Let me fix those scratches, Xander,” said Tara, bringing over the first aid box she had retrieved from under the counter.

He pushed her away impatiently. “Later, later...No, wait!” He grabbed Tara’s elbow. “You’ve got to do a spell! A spell to keep those things out of our apartment!”

Tara blinked. “Well, I can try, Xander. But that’s an awfully c-complicated spell.”

“Why should it be? It’s just like disinviting a vamp, right?”

“No, it isn’t. The pre-existing condition of any dwelling is ‘closed’ and people are able to come in because they’re essentially invited to enter by the owner, if you see what I mean. A public space like a mall or an arena is declared ‘open to all’ by its owners, so everyone is invited, including vamps. When you invite a vamp into your house, you’re really casting a spell on the house to allow that specific vamp. Disinviting him is just a return to the original pre-existing conditions and therefore it doesn’t need that much power.”

“My head hurts,” muttered Xander and Tara flushed hotly, realizing she might have sounded pedantic.

“She’s just trying to explain,” snapped Willow. “Disinvites use hardly any power. Keeping out a specific demon uses more. Keeping out an entire sub-classification of them, like all the Firoud, needs a huge amount of power.”

Tara nodded miserably. “And I d-don’t know if I...”

Willow put an arm protectively around her. “It’s okay, sweetie. It’s not like Xander’s in real danger.”

“I am!” yelled Xander. “Willow, maybe you...”

“No!” said everybody including Willow.

“What did you do to them?” Anya said suddenly. “The Firoud might play games, but they don’t actually attack humans. Did you hurt one of them, Xander?”

“No! I just threw a pop can at Spike! I didn’t even hit him,” said Xander bitterly. “But that thing clawed me anyway. Spike’s bribed them to attack me!”

Buffy spun. “What?”

“I told you to apologize,” sighed Anya.

“Apologize to him? For what?”

“For being such a jerk,” muttered Tara under her breath.

“Tara!” exclaimed Willow.

Tara blushed, but looked defiant when everyone stared at her. “Well, he’s always pushing Spike around and t-treating him so mean...”

“He’s a vamp!” snapped Xander defensively. “He’s just a thing.”

“He’s not a thing! He’s a person and he’s got feelings just like everybody else! You don’t have to act the way you do. I c-can’t really blame Spike for finally hitting back the only way he can.”

“Okay, everybody just chill,” said Buffy sharply as Xander opened his mouth to yell at Tara. God, Spike wasn’t even there and he could still get them at each other’s throats! “Let’s backtrack a little. Spike bribed the Firoud?”

“Yeah!” snarled Xander. “He said they’d do things to me on the site and...and put things in my food and...”

“Right,” said Buffy dangerously. “He just crossed the line. It’s not the Firoud I have to get rid of. It’s Spike.”

“Well, all right!” said Xander with deep satisfaction. “I knew you’d see it my way!”

Dawn tried to stop her. “Buffy, you can’t!”

“I’ve had it with him.”

All four girls were looking upset. She ignored them and stamped to the door.

“He’s at Willy’s,” Xander called after her.

He wasn’t at Willy’s. Willy told her that Spike had just picked up a couple of bottles of booze and left, saying he was heading back to his crypt. The crypt’s door was closed, but not locked when she got there. Buffy kicked it open and strode in.

“Come in,” said Spike dryly from where he was pouring himself a drink. “Don’t bother to knock.”

“This time you’ve gone too far!”

He laughed and sipped at his glass. “That pussy never can fight his own battles, can he?”

“Setting the Firoud on him! That’s low!”

“Shoving me around when I can’t fight back, that’s low. But you’re the real expert on doing that, aren’t you, cutie? What a shame it no longer applies.”

“I want you out of Sunnydale,” she said through gritted teeth. “Away from all of us, out of my life, off the face of the goddamned planet!”

“Don’t care what you want, Slayer.” He tilted an amused eyebrow at her. “How you gonna make me?”

“You get out or I stake you! Simple as that.”

“Is it? How you feeling, Slayer? All charged up? Blood running hot? Yeah. World’s got color now, doesn’t it? That’s why you’re really here. Because I make you feel. You don’t like what you feel, but what’s that got to do with anything? Hatred’s a feeling. Anger’s a feeling. Lust. Pain.”

He saw too much, knew too much.

“You won’t dust me, pet. What, and lose all that? I’m the only one who can make you feel. We both know why you’re really here. You’re here because you wanna get fucked.”

She snatched out her stake and flew at him, snarling.


TBC
Chapter 4 by dreamweaver
Chapter 4


As fast as she was, she still missed him. He swung sideways blindingly fast and the stake slashed through the air where his heart would have been.

“You really would have dusted me,” he said, shaking his head reprovingly. “You’d kill me before you face the truth about yourself.”

She whirled on him, the stake poised underhand the way an expert knife fighter would hold his weapon, deadly and deliberate.

“No more talk. I’m not listening to anything you have to say.”

“When do you ever? Steady on, pet,” he mocked, jumping backwards as she sliced at him again. “You might hurt something.”

“Just you.”

She had him backed against the counter now. He reached for something under it, his shoulder brushing the bottle of Jack Daniels that stood on top, so that it rocked wildly and almost toppled over. But he was trapped and his chest was right there, wide open and unprotected. She smiled coldly and lunged.

Something hit her. She felt a thud and the next thing she knew she was lying flat on her back on the floor, totally disoriented. Her muscles didn’t work; her wits were scattered. Consciousness was suspended. She didn’t even know who she was, floating somewhere in a dream state.

Time passed in slow motion. Several millennia perhaps. She was aware of being lifted with an odd sort of gentleness and moved through space, set down again on something soft. Metal was clasped on her wrists and her arms were raised above her head.

Spike’s face floated in front of her. She blinked and it came slowly back into focus.

“Wha-at...?”

“You back, pet?” He was crouched on his heels in front of her, holding a strange rod across his knees. “You should be familiar with Dru’s little toy by now.”

“C-cattle prod.” Her tongue felt thick in her mouth. The words came in a croak. “Stun gun.”

He nodded and held the rod up so that she could see the operating end of it. It had two short flat metal prongs about two inches apart. He pressed a switch at the other end and an electric spark leaped between the prongs, fat, bright blue, and crackling.

“Dru gave you five thousand volts for three seconds. That knocked you cold for twelve minutes. I gave you two thousand for one. Figured that was good enough and it was. Didn’t quite knock you out, but made you malleable. Want some water?”

He tossed the rod aside and held a glass to her mouth. Ice water. She gulped it greedily. Her wits started to pull themselves together again.

He withdrew the glass as she turned her head to look around. She was sitting on the floor on a cushion, her arms above her head. She tried to draw them down and couldn’t. Looking up, she saw that her wrists were handcuffed to a chain that went around a stone pillar.

“What do you think you’re doing? Let me go!”

Her legs were free. She raised them to kick at him, but he had already risen and was out of reach, moving to set the glass on the counter.

“Want to talk to you.”

“Oh, like the last time?” she sneered. “Chain me up until I give you a crumb, tell you I feel something for you? It didn’t work that time and it won’t work now.”

“Don’t give a fuck about crumbs or what you feel. Told you. I’m not in love with you any more.”

“Then what the hell is this all about?”

He brought a kitchen chair around and set it in front of her just out of reach of her feet, then swung a leg across to sit straddling it backwards, his arms crossed upon its high back.

“Got something to say.”

She glared at him. “I’m not going to listen to anything you have to say!”

“That’s always been your problem, pet. You never listen.”

“Not when I’m chained up like this! Unlock these handcuffs!”

“Not till I’m done. I know you, Slayer. Bloody spoiled-rotten little brat. You’ll try to kill me or have a tantrum or run out of here or even just sit there with your hands over your ears. You just won’t listen. Always have to mouth off instead.”

“If you think I’ll...”

“Aah, shaddup, pet. God, I get tired of listening to you throw your weight around. The bunch of you strutting around like little tin gods and never taking responsibility for your actions. Never ever thinking about consequences. You make me sick.”

“I’m not going to listen to your insults!”

“Oh, yes, you are. It’s time someone told you a few truths about yourself. Gonna get a few things off my chest and you’re gonna listen and not say a word. Or I’ll gag you. Slap some tape over your mouth. Don’t think I won’t.” He nodded to where a roll of duct tape lay on the counter. “Want me to do that?”

She glared at him inimically.

“Thought not.” He settled himself comfortably on the chair. “Right then. Let’s start with the Watcher. At least he’s got some excuse, indoctrinated as he is by his Council. Can’t think outside the box. That’s excusable. What’s not is that the minute things get really tough, he cuts and runs. Leaves you all in the lurch.”

Buffy bit her lip. It was what she had felt when Giles left, but hadn’t admitted to herself.

“Picks his moments, doesn’t he, with you just resurrected and going into meltdown ’cause you can’t handle being alive again, and Red powertripping ’cause he never taught her or got someone to teach her how to handle her magic the way he should have. He knows both these things. I heard him talking to Willow, talking to you, bloody hell, you sang it at him, Slayer. It’s not like he didn’t know. But does he try to fix it? No. He skedaddles back to England so he won’t have to deal with it.”

After a moment, Buffy muttered, “He said I had to learn to stand on my own feet...”

“Sure, but the time to take away the crutches is not when the patient has two broken legs.” He let that sink in for a moment. “Willow. Bird with a massive inferiority complex suddenly finds she’s got power coming out the wazoo. Uses it to make everybody do what she says. Doesn’t care what anybody else wants. Walks into their heads without asking, changes their memories without their permission. Kind of a rape, if you ask me. Uses that mind-rape magic even on Tara who loves her and who has already been damaged that way by Glory. God knows how Tara felt having Willow do that to her as well.”

“Horrible,” whispered Buffy. “That’s why Tara walked out.”

“Yeah. Red finally got her arse kicked. Then Rack did to her what she was doing to everybody else, so now maybe she knows what it feels like. Might shape up. Unlike Harris.”

“Oh, everyone knows your opinion of Xander,” she said bitterly. “Let’s just take it as a given.”

“He’s a beaut, in’ he? A big pile of nothing and he knows it. Lives to put everyone down with that motormouth of his so that he can seem better than they are. Bullies those who can’t fight back. Hides behind your skirts when they can. No cojones. No balls at all. But he’s got a soul, hasn’t he? That’s why he’s such a determined demon hater, so bigoted. Only thing he’s got, that soul that lets him tell himself he’s better than a whole class of beings. Even stomps on Anya all the time, ’cause she used to be a demon and doesn’t have the social smarts not to say exactly what she thinks. Tell you, Slayer, the things Anya says might embarrass you, but at least they’re honest and forthright, unlike the bile that wanker spews.”

Buffy looked away. “You’ve always hated him.”

“I despise him, Slayer. He’s not worth hating. I’ve come to the end of my rope with him. You tell him to stay away from me or my mates will make his life a living hell.”

“The Firoud.”

“He gives me grief, they give him grief. He doesn’t, they won’t. Simple as that.”

“I thought you prided yourself on fighting your own battles.”

“I would if I didn’t have this chip in my head. There wouldn’t be anything left of him then, not even an oily spot on the ground. If I could catch him of course. He’s got a yellow streak a mile wide and he’d be sniveling like a whipped puppy behind your skirts if my chip were out. But your erstwhile buddies of the Initiative have made that impossible. And you were wrong about them too, weren’t you, Slayer? You’ve got some record, judgment wise, haven’t you?”

Her lips tightened and she scowled at him. “Are you done?”

“Not half. Now we come to the fun part. You.”

“A demon’s opinion of the Slayer.” She sighed dramatically. “Like that will be something new.”

“You’re a coward.”

She caught her breath in outrage.

“Oh, not about the fighting part. You’re always a bloody good fighter. But about everything else. Any of your good buddies even frowns at you and you fold like limp spaghetti. You make wet kleenex look like granite. Everybody’s opinion before your own, right, Summers?”

“I happen to agree with them!”

“Yeah, sure. Take this resurrection business. The bunch of them pull you out of Heaven without even bothering to check where you were. Bloody stupid thing to do. I’d have kicked their arses for it. Why didn’t you? Didn’t want to hurt their poor little feelings? Shyeah.”

“They meant it for the best!”

“Sure. But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t resent it. That’s only natural. Shoulda yelled at them, whacked them upside the head, got it out of your system. Woulda done all of you a power of good. ’Cause once you’d done that, it would all have been over, in the past. You’d feel better, they’d feel better. But no, you go into martyr mode to make them feel guilty instead.”

“That’s not why...!”

“Oh, right, you got depressed. Poor little you. Pulled out of Heaven like that. Having whatever Powers exist think you’re more useful here being their Champion. You’ve been cheated. You’ve got to go on living. Like the rest of the human race.”

“You don’t understand!”

“So sad that you’ve got to do your four score and ten before you can finally be gathered to your fathers. Really unfair that you have to be like everyone else. But while everyone else just hopes there’s a Heaven, you know there’s one. And, unlike everyone else, you know now you’ll end up there.” He gave her a twisted smile. “There’s a lot of us who won’t. But you only have to wait a while. Just like the rest of humanity.”

“That’s not fair!”

“Yeah, you don’t feel anything. Depression. Possibly clinical depression. See a shrink, Slayer. Not the usual ones who don’t know resurrections can happen. But somewhere among the Wiccas that your Watcher has access to has to be a witch that can help. Find her. But you’d rather whine than do something constructive.”

She looked at him with hatred. “You really are a monster.”

“And you’re afraid you are. Because you can’t feel anything real. Because you’re dead inside. Isn’t that right, Slayer? You call me a monster, but the truth is that you’re afraid you’ve become one. I’m the only one who can make you feel and that scares you because of the implications. You know why you really hate me? Because I haven’t killed you yet.”

She flinched.

“Yeah,” he said softly. “You want to die. You’ve got there at last. Like the others. You’ve finally got that death wish. Now you know what it’s like to die and where it leads you. And you want it. That peace. I’ll give it to you, pet, if you ask it. Ask, and I’ll have myself that real good day.”

“No,” she whispered. “No.”

“Ask and I’ll make you feel. Ask and I’ll make you die. I’ll give you whatever you want. Haven’t I always given you what you want?”

She shook her head dumbly, trying to reject everything that he was saying.

“Sorting through the memories, I finally figured out why I fell for you. Because you were the best and I have a fatal attraction to the best. The brightest and the bravest. And that’s what you were, Slayer. But you’re not anymore, are you? You’re a bleeding disappointment, pet. Sure don’t love the whiner you’ve turned into.”

He rose and came to stand over her, looking down at her scornfully.

“Everyone’s been pussyfooting around you. Too gutless or too guilty to tell you the truth. Thought someone should. You really needed a slap upside the head.”

He unlocked her right wrist, then tossed the key into her lap.

“Time for the funeral service? That’s a pun, in case you didn’t get it.” He grinned at her, then turned and went to the counter for the drink he had laid aside. “Up to you now, what kind of service you prefer.”

She was shaking with fury, almost unable to unlock her left hand. She succeeded at last, ripped the handcuff off and shot to her feet.

“I should kill you!”

Laughing, he ducked the key she flung at him. “Wanna dance? I love dancing with you. You like it too. Both ways. Like us fucking. Like me beating you up. Even pain feels good, doesn’t it? I’m not the one in love with pain, pet. You are. It’ll be a pleasure giving you that, payback for all the times you’ve kicked me around since I got this chip. It’ll be a pleasure either way. Happy to service you, pet, whichever way you want it.”

She was too enraged right now to have felt pain. She had gone beyond that, was in this white-hot blaze of rage and humiliation, just wanting him to not exist, to silence him, wipe him and his mockery right off the face of the earth.

But she could see that was just what he expected her to try. He had some other trick up his sleeve, not just that cattle prod. No, it was simpler than that: he knew she wouldn’t fight well when she was this angry, knew he would easily get the upper hand and was looking forward to kicking her ass. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

She gathered the tattered rags of her dignity around her, spun on her heel and stalked out. She could hear him laughing behind her. It was a retreat and they both knew it. She ground her teeth together viciously.

She went home to Revello Drive, hoping that the others would all still be at the Magic Box. But they were at her house. It was too painful for Willow to be at the Magic Box long, with all its tempting paraphernalia around her, so they had all come here to wait.

Xander leaped eagerly to his feet when she walked in. “Did you dust him?”

“No.”

His face fell. “But...”

“I missed him,” she lied. “Maybe tomorrow.”

The girls all looked relieved, especially Dawn. Xander was furious.

“But tonight! Those Firoud!”

“They won’t bother you if you don’t bother Spike.”

“You mean you’re going to let him get away with it? Buffy!”

She was suddenly sick to death of all the yelling and the reproaches, just wanted to be alone for once without all of them clinging and yammering at her. She had been lectured enough for one night.

“Oh, shut up! You’ve been asking for it, Xander. If you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out!”

Xander swelled with affront, but Anya grabbed his arm, for once sensitive to someone else’s mood.

“We should be going. It’s late.” She tugged at Xander’s arm. “Come on, Xander. Buffy’s right. Spike said the Firoud wouldn’t hassle you if you didn’t hassle Spike.”

“But...”

Anya pulled him, still protesting, out of the door. Willow had already retreated precipitously up the stairs to her bedroom, in her fragile state not wanting to be anywhere near an angry Buffy.

“I-I’d better go too,” said Tara, heading awkwardly towards the front door.

Dawn hurriedly got in the way. “I thought you’d be staying with us again, Tara.”

“Not yet.”

“But Willow’s better! She’s not going to use magic. She promised. Please stay, Tara.”

“No.” said Tara sadly, but with determination. “The last time she promised to give up magic, she lasted only two days. All I asked for then was that she give it up for a week and she tried to magic me into forgetting I asked. This time she has to prove that she really means it.”

“You don’t have to be so hard! It’s mean! That’s not like you!”

“You don’t understand, Dawn. One can’t just keep forgiving someone over and over again. They never learn that way. Too much forgiveness can be as bad as too little. You’ve seen where it’s led to with Willow. Tough love’s sometimes the only way to help.”

“Willow has to learn that her actions have consequences,” said Buffy quietly when Dawn still looked rebellious. “I’ll walk you home, Tara.”

“Oh, there’s no need, Buffy,” said Tara, surprised. “Really.”

“There’s a need. Back in a few, Dawn, okay?”

Dawn nodded sulkily.

“I-is there some new demon around?” asked Tara curiously as she and Buffy walked down the street.

“No, just the same old one. Spike.” Buffy glanced uncomfortably at Tara’s confused face. “He can hurt me. Without his head exploding.”

“Oh, my God! His chip’s stopped working!”

“No, it still works. Just not on me. I-I need to know about the spell. The one that...brought me back. I’d ask Willow, but...”

Tara’s eyes widened. “You think it’s you!”

“I...He...” Buffy bit her lip painfully hard. “I think...maybe I came back wrong.”

“No, Buffy, th-that’s not...No. You didn’t,” said Tara firmly.

“Can you check out the spell? Just to see if there’s something that...Could you just check? Please?”

“I will,” Tara promised.

The worst thing was that a lot of what Spike said was true, Buffy thought, lying in bed that night, staring at the ceiling. He had meant to hurt, but there was an element of truth in the things he said, however much she tried to deny it. She hated him for saying it, but he did see things, had always seen things clearly while she and all the Scoobies except for Tara spent so much time on the Nile.

She had never gone in for self-analysis, always flinched away from digging up and facing her own hidden motives and emotions—which were of course hidden precisely because she didn’t want to face them. They all did that, all the Scoobies, even Dawn. Only Anya and Tara didn’t—Anya because she didn’t hide anything at all, upfront and forthright as Spike had said; Tara because she was clear-eyed and honest. The rest of them, they avoided looking at those shameful things, those discreditable impulses that everyone had. Buffy especially didn’t want to face hers. Until Spike flung them into her face, meaning to cut her up.

“I hate him,” she muttered. “I hate him.”

And she should. He was a demon, without a soul, evil. Everything she was fighting against. Everything it was her duty to fight.

Yet he was the only thing that made her feel anything. Ever since Willow had brought her back, she had been going through the motions. Nothing seemed to mean anything. Nothing penetrated her heart. Nothing seemed real. Not her life, not her friends, not even Dawn, her own sister. And Spike mocked her for it. She hated him for that.

But hate was a feeling. Anger was a feeling. Lust. ‘I just want to feel,’ she had sung to him. After he had told her to let him rest in peace.

But he didn’t want to be left alone now, did he? He knew that he had the upper hand, that he got to her. He was using her. So why shouldn’t she use him back?

That was wrong. That wasn’t the way she should be thinking. It had to be something in Willow’s resurrection spell. This wasn’t her. She had to have come back wrong. She clung to that, because that way it wasn’t her fault, and that way maybe it was something that could be fixed.

The next few days were tense. Dawn was being pissy. Willow was finding it hard not to use magic, since even searching the internet was proving to be a temptation when a snap of the fingers could bring up needed information a hundred times faster. Xander was sulking resentfully. No Firoud had disturbed his nights, but he was angry that Buffy had seemed to take Spike’s side when she had snapped at him like that. Tara was nowhere to be seen and Buffy had to keep herself by sheer force of will from banging on her door and shouting at her to hurry.

The next night she opened her front door to go on patrol and nearly bumped into Tara who was raising her hand to knock. Buffy grabbed her arm, then glanced over her shoulder at Willow and Dawn going into the kitchen.

“There’s a bench down the street where we can talk,” she said rapidly under her breath and Tara nodded.

“I’ve double checked everything,” said Tara when they reached the bench.

“And?”

Tara smiled widely. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Buffy!”

Buffy caught her breath. “Then why can Spike hurt me?”

“Well, you are a tiny bit different. Shifting you out of...from where you were, funneling your essence back into your body...it altered you on a basic molecular level. Probably just enough to confuse the sensors or whatever in Spike’s chip. But it’s all just surfacey physical stuff. It wouldn’t have any more effect than a...a bad sunburn.”

“I didn’t come back wrong?”

“No, you’re the same Buffy.” Tara laughed a little. “With a deep tropical cellular tan.”

Couldn’t blame it on anything physical. Buffy stared bleakly into space. Could only blame it on herself. The way she had let herself become, the things Spike mocked her for. Her own appetites, urges.

Why not use him? she thought after Tara had gone and she was walking through Restfield on her patrol. She glared resentfully at Spike’s crypt. She needed to feel, needed sensations to bring her back into the world. He could provide her with sensations. He could be useful for something.

She just had to be careful not to get emotionally involved. That was a no-no with a creature like Spike. But there was little chance of that when she couldn’t get emotional about anything. And even he himself admitted now what she had always known, that he didn’t love her. So even that tiny flicker of guilt was removed. She would be hurting no one, not even him.

The crypt door opened abruptly.

“Come in or haul ass, Slayer,” said Spike, amused. He wasn’t wearing his duster or his Docs. His feet were bare and the black shirt that hung open over his low-slung jeans revealed that sensational torso. “Make up your mind. Don’t just stand there with your thumb up your arse. The suspense is giving me a hard on.”

She snarled. “God, you know just how to sweet talk a girl, don’t you?”

“What do pretty words have to do with you or me? We’re way beyond that now. We’re down into the primal stuff. The part that’s all raw animal. The part that’s not brains, but blood.”

He laughed at the spasm of distasteful rejection in her face.

“That’s where you’re at, pet. Down to basics. Down to the base, brutal, reptilian depths of your brain. Got to get that sorted before anything else can happen. Otherwise you’re building your house on sand. Come on in and let’s discuss it.”

She hesitated and he shrugged.

“Or stay there and we’ll talk it out where anyone can hear.”

“Or I could just dust you!”

“We both know you won’t, pet. Not when I’m the only thing that can reach that side of you.”

She considered stalking off in high dudgeon, then felt foolish as he watched her calmly, smiling a little. After a moment, she shrugged and walked in. He closed the door behind her and dropped the bar into place.

“I told you about that once, about blood screaming inside you to work its will. But you didn’t understand then. You were still young, still full of light. You’ve seen the darkness now, looked it right in the face.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“There’s darkness in everyone, pet. That primeval, elemental thing that lies beneath. And until you understand that, accept it, you won’t ever be able to control it or rise above it. There’s a demon in you all right. It’s called the Slayer. That’s where your power comes from. That’s the heart of it. The driving force. That only another demon can match.”

“Is that why you think I need you?” she sneered.

“Don’t you? Only a demon can reach it. Only a demon would want to. All the rest of them, your good buddies, they’d run, wouldn’t they, if they saw it.”

“Angel...”

“He’d run fastest. He’s terrified of that side of himself, so much so that he denies it’s even him. He’s not Angelus, oh, no. He’s Angel. He’s a prime example of how denying it doesn’t work. Haven’t you seen that in the way he acts, the things he does?”

She bit her lip. Even she had to admit that a lot of Angel’s actions were questionable.

“He keeps screwing up because he doesn’t want to even think of his dark side, let alone accept it. He doesn’t want to think of you having one either. He wants you to be perfect. But there’s no such thing as perfection outside of Heaven. You should know that.”

She wasn’t perfect, didn’t even want to be. That was too scary a concept. That wasn’t real, wasn’t human. But:

“You just want me to give in to that dark side,” she flung at him.

“I don’t care what you do. I’m just telling it the way it is. It’s not going to break my heart if you walk out that door. You’re the one who’d lose by it and you know that. Otherwise why aren’t you fucking some guy off the street? You’d have plenty of takers, bint like you. But you know I’m the only one who can give you what you need.”

“I’d just be using you to make myself feel,” she said disdainfully. “Like some dildo or vibrator.”

“Why should that bother me? How many times have you told me I’m just a thing? Well, I’d just be using you for sex. So we’d be even. You’re just a thing to me as well, Slayer. A blowup doll. The Bot.”

Her eyes widened and he laughed scornfully.

“Don’t like the term when it’s applied to you. You can’t be a thing. You’re the Slayer, right? Sod that.”

“I shouldn’t have come here,” she muttered and turned to the door. “I should have known better.”

His hands slammed against the door on either side of her, keeping it shut. She spun to face him.

“And leave without what you came for?” he mocked.

“I thought you said you didn’t care if I walked out.”

“I don’t ‘care’. I just want to fuck you. You’re the best ride I’ve had in my unlife and I want more.” He grinned tightly and leaned upon her, the full length of his body against the full length of hers. “And you want it too.”

She did. Her whole body shuddered and clenched under his weight, the feel of him against her, the tempting cave of his open mouth only a breath away from hers. That promise of overwhelming sensation.

She opened her mouth to deny all of that and he took it with his.

God, the man could kiss! She was lost in a second, unable to push him away, drowning in feeling, in the thrust and slide of his tongue against hers, his body moving and pressing upon her, his hands kneading her flesh.

It was that way he had of submerging himself in the moment, where nothing else existed, past and future both thrust away, no other thought in his head but the present and this one bright instant of voluptuous delight. That was what made him such a fabulous lover. That concentrated focus where nothing existed except themselves and this intense sensation.

It was what she wanted, what she needed. ‘Make me feel.’ And he could; he did.

She didn’t have to think, didn’t have to care, not about anything. Not herself, not him. Just had to feel. It was liberating.

Her hands closed on the hanging edges of his shirt, pulled it off him. She felt the growl of pleasure and satisfaction vibrate through him. He shoved her leather jacket off her shoulders, caught at the curving neck of her tank top beneath, fingers going straight down into the front of her bra. He yanked and both tank and bra ripped away.

All violence. Hands tearing each other’s clothing off, mouths devouring each other’s flesh, bodies thrusting and straining against each other. And God! she was alive, alive, pleasure inundating her, wildfire burning across her every nerve, electrifying, inflaming. His hands tangled in her hair, dragged at it, arching her backwards for his mouth to close upon her breast, suck it in strong pulls that went right down to her core. Her back bowed, pushing her breast into his mouth, her whole body flaring into white heat.

They were heading towards the floor, both stark naked now.

“Not again,” she muttered. “My ass still hurts from all that rubble we were lying on before.”

“Your ass?” he retorted, aggrieved. “You were the one on top, pet. The ass on the planks was mine. After that, I made sure you had a cushion under you.”

They looked at each other for a moment of shared, helpless laughter. Unwilling connection.

“You’ve got a bed,” she remembered.

“Good thought. Hope we make it.”

They staggered sideways towards the open trapdoor, still tangled together and falling over each other’s feet, toppled into it. He landed on his feet like a cat, caught her with a jolt at the last second, then spun and tossed her onto the bed. The next moment, he was over her, braced on his elbows on either side of her head, his weight heavy upon her.

“Made it.”

“Handy,” she muttered, yanking him down harder upon her, her nails clawing his back.

He purred. They were both so aroused by now that the slight sting was only stimulation. His eyes went suddenly gold and the quiver of the nerves that she as a Slayer always felt when a vamp was near abruptly intensified.

“Hey!”

He hadn’t done that the last time, had stayed looking human with his vamp side revealed only in the strength and power that matched hers.

“You’ll like it.”

His head came down and his tongue rasped over her nipple. She caught her breath. That tongue had gone sandpapery, like a cat’s, and the sensation was incredible.

“There are advantages to having a vamp do you, Slayer,” he purred.

“Seems like,” she panted. That tongue was rasping over every inch of her skin, breast and belly and thighs, and her whole body was arching and writhing helplessly. “Come on, damn you, come on!”

“No.”

“Ohh...!”

Fangs had joined the golden eyes and raspy tongue, pricking and biting all over her, an unbearable stimulation at this point. She could see the triumph and the mockery in his eyes. He knew he was driving her insane.

“How’s that sensation thing coming along? Feel that, do you? Like it? Only a vamp can give you that feeling, Slayer.”

Her brain was blanking out into white fire and galvanic sparks. Exquisite torture. She couldn’t take any more, snarled and tried to roll him over and take control.

His hands caught her wrists and pinned them to the bed. His strength matched hers and at that angle, with him between her legs like that, she could not budge him.

“Not this time, pet. This time I call the shots.”

“Well, get on with it, damn you!”

His eyes danced. “You asking?”

She could feel how impossibly hard he was, rubbed herself deliberately against him and heard him catch his breath harshly.

“Guess you are.” He laughed, then came into her with one hard thrust.

Her throat arched back helplessly. He stretched her to her limit. She would never get used to the way he filled her, made her feel complete. Him. A vamp. But, oh, God, it felt wonderful!

Then he stopped. Balls deep within her, he stopped.

“What?” she gasped. “What’s wrong? Move, damn you!”

“Let’s have it in words, Slayer.”

She caught her breath. “You...you...!”

She hit his shoulders with her fists and he laughed, deep in his throat.

“Not gonna have you fool yourself into thinking you’re the helpless victim of my base desires. Not this time. Ask, Slayer.”

She clenched upon his thickness within her and saw his eyes close with pleasure, felt his breath shudder against her face.

“God, those Slayer muscles! They’re something else,” he muttered. But then he withdrew almost completely. “But still in control here, pet. I can pull out and leave you hanging. Ask.”

Asshole.

“Oh, shut up and fuck me, you bastard!”

He gave a snarling laugh. “Good enough. So long as you admit it, Summers.”

She cried out as he powered into her. Lost herself in sensation, in the driving rhythm of his body thrusting her higher and higher. Lost control and clawed and bit and panted. In flashes of sight as her eyelids shuddered closed and open again, she saw him lose himself too, eyes going blind, head flung back, heard the gasp of his breath, the little grunt of effort on every powerful stroke.

All ferocious, feral, violent passion. Exquisite, unendurable feeling, desperately desired.

Then his head came down and she saw something glimmer in his eyes. Purpose and mockery.

“What?”

He bit her. With shock, she felt his fangs slide into her neck, tried to shove him away.

“No! How dare you!”

She felt the breath of his laughter around the fangs in her neck. Then the draw started.

“Oh, God!”

Unbearable ecstasy thrilling through every nerve in her body, singing through every vein. A wondrous, unbelievable sensation. He had driven her so high already with his body. This took her to a whole new plane, his cock thrusting her higher and higher, his fangs forcing that glorious, indescribable rapture upon her.

“Spike!”

Her brain splintered and blanked right out.



TBC
Chapter 5 by dreamweaver
Chapter 5


She tried to get out of bed and his arms trapped her, his weight came across her back.

“Where are you going?”

“I should get home. I can’t leave Dawn all night.”

“It’s only one o’clock. And we’re not done yet.”

“You’re never done.”

He laughed under his breath and that raspy tongue explored her shoulderblade. She shivered involuntarily and felt him smile.

“Red’s there, isn’t she? The Bit’s safe. What’s the point of having the witch around except for babysitting? She doesn’t even pay her share of household expenses and she should. You need the money.”

“Will and Tara took care of Dawn when I was...gone. I owe them. And Willow needs help right now.”

“Don’t they owe you, Slayer? For their very existence.” His voice went suddenly grim and hard. “All of them. The Council, Ripper, your good buddies.”

“I was just doing what I had to do. My job.”

“But they’re not helping you with it, not any of them. Why do you let them use you?”

“You’re being too hard on them.”

“Maybe I am.” He rested his chin on the junction of her neck and shoulder, and sighed deeply. “All these interlinkages of right and wrong. I don’t really understand them. Unless one compares it to the responsibility we vamps have to those under our protection. Yeah, that might relate, I guess.”

“Responsibility? Angelus never showed...”

“Oh, Angelus,” he said scornfully. “Angelus never took responsibility for anything. The Master, Dracula, everyone else, we keep our obligations to those in our care, whether minions or the humans who help us, like Drac’s gypsies. It might be for self-centered reasons, but it’s out of duty too. Only Angelus was entirely selfish.”

“Duty?” she scoffed.

“You don’t believe vamps or demons have any? But any society has to have its rules of conduct, Slayer, even demons. Humans might not understand those rules, but that doesn’t mean they don't exist.”

She frowned, considering that.

“Those under your care,” he mused. “Okay, maybe there’s a correlation. Maybe I can see it. Only, there seems to be a breakdown somewhere in your lines of obligation. See, if we protect our minions, then those minions and gypsies are supposed to protect us back. But your dependants don’t. It’s all take from them and no give.”

“Spike...”

“No, make me understand. I’m having trouble here. Maybe because I’m a vamp. This Council of yours. You’re fighting their battles. Why aren’t they funding you? They’re living like fat cats, high on the hog. They’ve got the money and even a little would be an enormous help to you. Why do you let them get away with that? And then your friends...”

“We won’t discuss my friends!” she said sharply. “You don’t understand.”

“I do, you know. I saw it when I first came to Sunnydale. A Slayer with family and friends. I saw the difference that made. But things have broken down. They’ve become a drag on you, not the support they used to be. If a minion or a gypsy becomes a liability, we vamps take their throats out.”

“As an example,” she said dryly.

He grinned. “You got it.”

“It doesn’t work that way with us. If someone’s drowning, you don’t walk away. You throw them a lifeline, even if it costs you.”

“Willow,” he said accurately. “She’s the most understandable of you lot. She was tempted and she fell. Geek kid feeling like a nothing and nerdy and useless suddenly has power thrust upon her, suddenly is special. That’s heady stuff. It’s not her fault really. It’s your Watcher’s. She should have been taught, way back when she first showed her talent at it. He could and should have got her a tutor. Same as he should have stomped on Harris’ bigotry ages ago. That wanker was always weak, but he didn’t start out such a bad kid.”

“High praise,” she said acerbically and he laughed.

“Hey, I’m trying here. Bit prejudiced on Harris.”

“Ya think?”

“Watcher had his own problems though. Council indoctrination for one. But then he lost his job when the high school got trashed and you didn’t need him when you went to college. Hardly paid attention to him, too busy branching out. Your horizons widened while his contracted. He felt useless, started that downward spiral.”

“Is that what I did to him?” she whispered, horrified.

“Yeah, that one was your fault, Slayer. By the time you really needed him after your resurrection, he wasn’t used to being needed. Couldn’t take the responsibility. Cut and ran.”

“Why are you doing this, Spike?” she said angrily. “Does it give you that much pleasure cutting us up?”

“Yeah, it does,” he mocked. “Tara’s acting sensibly, but then she always does. She’s balanced. Anya’s always herself, in a way outside your group, not really caught up in it. But the rest of you? Shyeah. Even the Bit’s bloody selfish. There you are, giving up college, trying to find a job to keep food on the table and a roof over her head while still going out to slay—and all she can think about is that you’re not around to hold her hand all the time? Pfft! So her Dad’s skedaddled and she’s lost her Mum. Haven’t you?”

“Don’t,” Buffy muttered in pain.

“You drive me crazy, Slayer!” he exclaimed in exasperation. “So effing self absorbed, all of you! You don’t think. You don’t see. You just stare at your sodding navels, blind to everything else. The lot of you need your arses kicked.”

“And you’re going to kick them.”

“You could be so much more. You could be a shining light. You were.”

“I’m not listening to this anymore!” She jerked away and started to scramble out of bed.

“Facts are stubborn things, Slayer. They don’t go away just because you don’t look at them.”

He reached out and hooked a hand around her inner thigh and yanked. She lost her balance and fell onto her back on the bed and he was over her, holding her down.

“Passion doesn’t go away just because you’re afraid of it. It’s always there, waiting. The demon in the dark recesses of the heart.”

“The monster,” she flung at him.

“Yes.” His hand ran down her from breast to groin and he gave that snarling, triumphant laugh when her body arched involuntarily. “But the monster turns you on, doesn’t it? That darkness. Got two sides to it, passion does. Can be of the light or can be of the dark. Which side calls you, Slayer?”

“It’s all dark with you, isn’t it?”

“Is it?”

“Why did you force that bite on me?”

He smiled tightly. “You wanted to feel, didn’t you? And that was real feeling, wasn’t it?”

God, it had been!

“You’ve never really understood temptation. Like those people with low libidos who can’t really understand passion. You know now.”

And now the temptation would always exist.

“The blood is the life,” he purred. “Makes you warm. Makes you hard. For a vamp, the desire never goes away. The chip stops me from taking it, forces me to exist on cold, dead, animal blood. But it doesn’t change my nature. I’m a vamp. I want it. I’ll always want it. And now you know how that feels. To want something that badly.”

She would always want it. It had been cruel of him to show her.

But then the chip had been cruel. She was starting to see that now, when she had always thought it was necessary before, to contain him. She was starting to see what a violation it had been to him.

“But a Slayer’s blood’s even better. God, what a high! Won’t have to feed for days. And it’s an aphrodisiac too. Just like my taking it is an aphrodisiac for you.” His eyes had gone gold. He dropped his head and licked her neck with that raspy tongue. His fangs pricked lightly against her flesh. “Shall I take it?”

She shuddered, wanting him to.

“I’m dancing with death, aren’t I?” she muttered.

“Haven’t we always?”

His hands were moving over her, kneading and caressing, and her body arched involuntarily to his. She felt him smile against her neck.

“It excites you. You want it.”

“Yes,” she sighed.

He laughed and bit.

***

It was simpler when she hated him, when they were honest enemies. She had complicated things by allowing all this to happen. No, things had become complicated when he had started pursuing her all those months ago. And when she had started relying on him after her resurrection. He had found his balance now, was back to being her enemy, openly enjoying hitting out at her while savoring the perks this liaison brought him. She was the one who couldn’t find solid ground.

Darkness fell and there he would be, pacing her through the graveyards, that particular vibration of vamp presence so familiar to her now, always there on the edge of her awareness, a promise and a threat, creature of the night formed out of shadow and moonlight to plague her, tempt her, drag her down into that burning vortex of lust and sensation.

“Come,” he’d say, stepping out of the shadows at the end of patrol, and she’d go with him back to his crypt, furious at herself for her weakness, but unable to resist that lure, that fever dream, of passion.

Demon lover, monstrous, irresistible, frightening.

Even Xander was afraid of him now. They had come up against each other in the Bronze and Spike had smiled, just smiled with a hint of fang showing. And Xander had turned and walked away without a word. Which was, if one thought about it, something of a miracle.

He’d stopped trying to help her on patrol. Previously she had become used to him constantly pushing himself into the fray even when she vehemently rejected his help. But that was before. Now he just watched. She was aware of his amused, sardonic gaze as she battled it out with vamps or demons, and was getting accustomed to the running commentary he shouted at her and the mocking cracks after. But she felt a niggling sense of loss, not for the help which she hadn’t needed, but for the support, the backing.

‘I’m getting too involved,’ she thought worriedly. She was starting to need him and that was scary.

A Chiriwan turned up unexpectedly at Restfield. That wasn’t usual. Chiriwans were rare, appearing in this world only when some warlock or adept accidentally caused a thinning of the walls between planes while doing some spell. It was huge and mindlessly ferocious and looked as solid as a bunch of boulders thrown together then covered with rubbery, gray, warty skin.

“I think I’m in trouble,” muttered Buffy. She only had a totally inadequate stake with her and this thing probably needed a bazooka to take it down.

The sense of Spike’s presence that she had been aware of on the edge of her perception suddenly vanished. She was surprised and obscurely hurt that he should desert her like this. He never usually dodged a fight. But then no sensible vamp would take on a Chiriwan.

The thing roared and slashed at her with four-inch, black talons. She ducked hurriedly. Those claws were poisonous. She somersaulted out of the way and it lumbered after her. She had to kill it, couldn’t just leave it wandering around even for the time it took to get to her arms chest and find some weapon that might work against it, a spear or a crossbow. The thing had no brains and would go blundering out of the cemetery and into Sunnydale, destroying any living being it found.

A spear...She flung herself lengthwise at the thick branch of a tree, the heels of her boots hammering into it with Slayer strength and breaking it off. She landed neatly, ducked that long, orangutan arm swinging at her and scooped up the branch. The end of it where it had broken away from the tree was satisfactorily splintered, might even penetrate that thick hide.

“Slayer!”

She spun at the sound of Spike’s voice and saw something flying at her. She caught it without thinking. It was a sword, the hilt smacking precisely into the palm of her hand. That’s where he had gone—into his crypt. He hadn’t deserted her.

Throwing her the sword had cost him though. He wasn’t able to duck the rebounding swing of the Chiriwan’s arm. It knocked him twenty feet backwards into an oak. She heard the grunt of his breath as he smashed solidly into it.

“Spike! You okay?” she yelled at him.

He recovered hurriedly, shoving away from the oak and flashing towards her. He had his own sword in his left hand.

“’M fine. Gotta get behind it, Slayer.”

“Hamstring it,” she nodded.

“Yeah.”

“It’s fast.”

For all its lumbering bulk, the Chiriwan still moved with surprising speed.

“Have to be faster. Go left, Slayer. I’ll go right. Stay low.”

They raced at it, then did identical diving rolls to get past it as it struck out at them. The moment they passed it, the swords flashed out, slashing into the backs of its knees. It roared in pain and crashed onto the ground, its legs no longer able to hold it up. Buffy and Spike both shot to their feet. Their swords hammered down together, precisely into the thing’s heart.

The Chiriwan dusted.

“No cleanup either,” said Buffy with satisfaction. She coughed, waving away the dust. “I wonder if there are any long term effects to breathing this dust all the time.”

“Lung cancer?” Spike grinned. “Not an issue. Slayers and vamps don’t have to worry about things like that. The cells heal too fast. Hundred and twenty years of smoking have never got to me. What I’d worry about is who’s doing spells.”

“Yeah, something thinned the walls between dimensions. Willow?”

“Doesn’t have to be. Could be someone miles from here or even on that thing’s plane.”

“True.” She gave him a puzzled look. “Why did you help me?”

He stopped short, an arrested look on his face. There was a perceptible pause, then he made an irritable gesture.

“Dunno. Didn’t think.” He scowled at her. “You’re my toy, Slayer. If anything kills you, it’ll be me.”

“Ah.” She couldn’t help smiling at the discomfort on his face. “Well, thanks anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“I’d better get on with the rest of my patrol.”

He flapped a hand in dismissal and stalked in the opposite direction, his movements jagged with anger and vexation. She grinned as she watched him go, enjoying being one up on him for once, for whatever strange reason.

Willow hadn’t done a spell. Neither had Tara, when Buffy asked her the next day.

“Well, there is a sort of...tinge of magic,” Tara said after checking. “But it’s very weak. I don’t think it’s been cast by someone in Sunnydale. It feels like a failed spell, watered down even more by distance.”

“Or by the barrier between dimensions?”

Tara nodded. “I th-think it was an accident. Someone trying something that didn’t work and was probably not even aimed at us.”

“That’s a relief. Keep a lookout though, Tara. Just in case.”

“I will.”

It was Saturday and the Scoobies went to the Bronze as usual that night.

“Bleach boy’s not here tonight,” said Xander with relief, then jumped as Spike suddenly materialized out of a dark corner behind him.

“Buy you girls a drink?” purred Spike, his glance clearly including Xander in that category.

“How come you’re so flush these days?” Xander snapped. “Thought you were stony broke and here you are throwing money around like there’s no tomorrow.”

“You all have such suspicious minds.” Spike grinned at Buffy. “Slayer asked me that too.”

“I don’t hear you answering,” Xander retorted.

“Don’t answer to you. Or to her. ’M my own man.”

“He uses loaded dice,” said Buffy hurriedly, trying not to think of that ATM. Spike did seem to have an unusual amount of money these days.

“Figures,” muttered Xander.

“Let’s dance,” said Anya and yanked him hurriedly onto the dance floor, casting a nervous glance at Spike. She didn’t want Xander’s mouth getting him into trouble again.

Buffy watched Willow and Tara drift away to a table. “Go away,” she said under her breath to Spike.

“Why?”

“They’re watching us.”

“They feel the heat, don’t they?” His glance slid appreciatively down her, over her silky halter top and narrow black skirt with its high front slit. “I certainly do. Did you dress that way for me, Slayer?”

He caught the way her color rose and her gaze avoided his, and laughed softly under his breath.

“You did. You wearing anything under that?”

She gave him a sideways, mocking glance. “No.”

“Is that so?” His eyes flared and a crease slashed down his cheek in laughter. “I’m gonna be thinking about that all night.”

“Do that.”

“You’re a tease, Slayer.”

“You like it. Now go away.”

“Come with me.”

“No. I have to spend some time with the Scoobies and, besides, they’d notice.”

“When then?”

“In a couple of hours. Wait for me. I’ll come.”

“Oh, you will. Several times.”

She laughed involuntarily. “Go away, Spike.” But her voice was softer.

“Going.”

But he didn’t. He simply went out of sight of the Scoobies. She could feel his vamp signature vibrating on the edge of her awareness. He was doing it on purpose, knowing that she would sense him. It was both pressure and promise, keeping her on edge all evening. She could feel the beat of her heart speeding up, feel herself dampening. Two hours had never seemed so long.

At last the party broke up, Anya and Xander going home, Tara coming with her and Willow back to Revello Drive.

“I think I’ll do a patrol,” Buffy said abruptly as they stepped out of the Bronze.

She saw Tara glance sideways at her and turned away hurriedly, flushing a little.

“Dressed like that?” said Willow in surprise.

“I’m warm enough.” She pulled the zip of her short leather jacket higher. “Don’t wait up.”

“Okay,” said Willow, not displeased at having a little time alone with Tara.

Spike was waiting for her in Restfield, calmly smoking and sitting with one haunch on a tomb and his other leg stretched out for balance. The line of his body in the moonlight, the platinum hair and strong planes of his face had a beauty she could not shut out however she tried, speeded her pulse and brought that shameful clenching within her.

He flipped away his cigarette when she came into view and rose, his face amused.

“More than two hours. Still fighting it, are you?”

“You like my fighting it and losing,” she said bitterly.

“The bleating of the lamb excites the tiger.”

“I don’t want to want it,” she said between her teeth. “It goes against every instinct I have. I hate it. I hate you.”

“I know. It adds spice.”

He reached out suddenly and yanked her to him, turning so that she was trapped between him and the tomb.

“Comes from being a vamp, I suppose,” she said scornfully. “You like that resistance.”

“Yes.”

“Like forcing that surrender.”

“Who’s forcing anything?” He pulled the zip of her jacket down, smiled down at her hardened nipples clearly visible through the thin material of her top. “You’re forcing it on yourself, Slayer.”

“I want...”

“To be enfolded, cherished, loved. Who doesn’t?”

“Not you.”

“What do you know about me?” His mouth twisted with some internal bitterness. “But I’ve never had it and I never will. One takes what one gets.”

She looked at him in surprise. But he was laughing scornfully and she didn’t know whether that scorn was directed at her or at himself.

“But be honest, Slayer. You don’t want that right now. You’d spurn gentleness, reject it. You need to be pushed right now, so you can pretend it’s not your fault.” His mouth raked down her throat and she shuddered and arched against him. “But that’s not the truth, is it?”

It wasn’t her fault. It was the fault of his hands sliding over her, his mouth avid on her breast through the thin material of her top. Not her fault that she couldn’t resist that intense sensation.

“Not here,” she muttered.

“Yes, here.”

“Your crypt...”

“Should have taken you at the Bronze. You’d have liked that. Wondering whether people would see. Wondering what they would think. That extra edge of risk and danger. That spice.”

“No!”

“Oh, yes. That dark side in you likes the thought. It turns you on.”

The worst part of it was that he was right. It did turn her on.

“I don’t want to be this way!” she cried.

“Then don’t be. There’s always a choice, isn’t there?”

But there wasn’t. Not when his hands had snapped the straps of her top and dragged it away, not when his mouth was moving and suckling upon her breasts, that raspy tongue driving her insane, the heat rising imperative and irresistible through her body.

He was pulling up her skirt and she felt the stone of the tomb cold against her backside.

“You really aren’t wearing anything under that,” he said in pleasurable amusement.

“What was the point?” she muttered.

“Yeah, I’d have it off you in no time,” he said and laughed.

Insupportable that he should be so smug. But she could have power over him too. She yanked down his zipper, found him, worked him.

He had her bent back over the tomb, his face between her breasts. Now she felt him shudder and surge against her, felt the gasp of his breath cool against her skin.

“God! Don’t stop doing that!”

She could have her own kind of revenge, tame him too. So. And so. And so. She snarled, her face rigid with passion, feeling him lose control, writhe and jerk against her.

Then he was striking her hands away, grabbing her hips, ramming into her in one hard thrust. She clenched fiercely upon the thickness of him within her, heard him groan with pleasure, cried out herself with the ecstasy of it, her voice soaring away across the silent graveyard as hoarse and raucous as the cry of a gull.

Battering at each other, all nails and teeth and that unbearably ecstatic violence, driving each other higher and higher. Then his fangs slid into her neck and that shattering rapture started. She came and came again helplessly, felt him jolt and shudder within her, felt the flood of his come cold inside her.

A long while later, he withdrew both cock and fangs, but his weight was still heavy upon her as she lay limp and exquisitely satisfied upon the tomb. She felt the prick of his fangs light upon her neck.

“I could keep going,” he murmured against her skin. “Drain you. Think, Slayer. That would be the easy way out, wouldn’t it? To die in ecstasy. Just slip away. Surrender to that temptation. It would all be over. So easily. So sweetly.”

And that was the real temptation.

“Do you want it? Shall I?”

There was a long silence. Then:

“No!” she breathed in sudden realization. “No. I...don’t want to die.”

She could have let that Chiriwan’s poisonous claws strike her and she hadn’t. She could let Spike drain her and she wouldn’t. Unknown to herself, she had somehow made a decision. Chosen to live.

He raised his head and looked down at her, smiling faintly. “‘Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

“That was what you were after all along, wasn’t it?” she whispered. He had dragged her back from that brink. Mocked, scorned and harassed her back, where gentleness would only have thrust her over it. “Why? Why did you do it?”

“I don’t like waste, Slayer.”

But that couldn’t be all of it. He saw the doubt in her eyes and laughed under his breath.

“I’m a vamp. I’m evil. There’s no fun in providing death to one who wants it. The fun lies in taking away what’s dearly desired.”

“So now you’ll kill me?”

There was a tiny pause, then he shrugged. “Now you’ll have to be on guard, Slayer.”

Now things might work out, thought Spike, lying in bed hours later after she had gone. Now maybe he could get what he really wanted from the Slayer.

He laughed wryly, then had this strange feeling. Of whooshing through space.

And then he was staring up into a familiar face. That of the young, blond, nancy-boy vengeance demon.

You sonofabitch!” snarled Spike.



TBC
Chapter 6 by dreamweaver
Chapter 6


Harghh!

Spike was on his feet, his right hand crushing the demon’s throat. His left hand ripped the man’s amulet away.

“No! Don’t!” the vengeance demon croaked desperately, clutching at it.

Spike swung his arm out of his reach, the amulet safely gripped in his palm.

“R-revenge is p-pointless,” pleaded the little Hvroth from behind him.

“But satisfying,” snarled Spike.

He looked around. From the magical artefacts and paraphernalia all around, he was in a mage’s or witch’s workroom. Aside from the vengeance demon strangling in his grip, there was the Hvroth wringing his hands together and a slender woman with long, black hair and the unmistakable aura of a Wicca about her leaning casually against a table loaded with tomes, candles and crystals. Spike looked down. He was standing in a pine box lying open on the floor. The box was lined with red satin and had a small, satin-covered cushion at one end.

“A coffin? You put me in a coffin? How B-movie can you get?”

“But appropriate,” murmured the witch.

It disarmed him and he almost laughed. She had a sense of humor that he could relate to. She was more plain than pretty, but she had an odd, irregular sort of face that was somehow attractive, alive with sardonic amusement as it was right now.

“Talk to me.”

“They couldn’t get you back,” shrugged the witch. “They screwed up the spell somehow and there you were with no mind. The Hvroth contacted me and I brought you over here for storage.”

“Storage,” he said in disgust.

“Call it safekeeping if you prefer.” She grinned a little. “You’ve got to give Chaif a little credit. He could have left you in that cantina. The barkeep would have just shoveled you out in the morning and you’d have caught fire in the sun. Chaif called me in instead.”

“Chaif?”

“The Hvroth.” The witch tapped her chest. “I’m Raelin. The vengeance demon is Treyvaden. Trey.”

“Justice!” croaked the vengeance demon, trying to pull Spike’s hand off his throat. “Justice demon!”

“Shaddap, you!” snapped Spike. “Wasn’t justice what you did to me.”

“We didn’t mean to!” squeaked the Hvroth, bouncing nervously up and down on his toes. “We were drunk!”

“Not drunk now, any of us. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I’m completely sober when I rip your hearts out.”

The Hvroth made a pitiful mewling sound rather like air escaping from a balloon.

“At least Chaif tried to do something,” the witch said. “Trey there was so drunk he just took off without even realizing what he’d done. We had the worst time tracking him down. You know how vengeance demons move around. It was months before we could reach him.”

Months? I’ve been out of my skull for months?”

Raelin nodded and the Hvroth folded down onto a chair and compressed himself into a tight little ball as if trying to disappear from sight.

For someone potentially immortal, losing a few months out of his unlife wasn’t really that bad. But Spike was still furious.

“The state you were in,” Raelin said, “it was rather like having a life size rag doll around. But you wouldn’t eat and we didn’t want you to die, so I just put you into stasis until we could reverse the spell. I tried, but nothing seemed to work.”

Spike remembered the Chiriwan and wondered whether the reason it had turned up was because one of Raelin’s attempts had caused that thinning of the dimensional walls.

“Then we finally managed to get hold of Trey and he brought you back,” Raelin finished.

“We didn’t mean to hurt you,” the Hvroth whimpered. “Honest we didn’t. I wouldn’t do that to anyone on purpose. I’m not that kind of demon.”

Spike looked at Chaif’s pathetic, hound-dog face. He really wasn’t much of a demon. All he seemed to be able to do was read the future. “Huh.”

“You should be grateful,” croaked Trey, then gasped as Spike’s hand tightened around his throat. “We brought you back, didn’t we? We could have left you like that.”

“He’s got a point,” said the witch.

“He sends me out of my body for months, I could have been shoveled into the sunlight and flamed, and you want me to just forget all about it?”

“Compensation,” yelped the Hvroth. “I’ve got some money.”

“I’ve got a different compensation in mind,” Spike purred and went into gameface. Both Chaif and Trey turned a sickly gray.

The witch sighed. “What I’d like to know is who’s going to compensate me for my time and trouble.”

Spike had to laugh. She gave him a wry shrug.

“One has to be practical.”

“You,” said Spike to the Hvroth. “You pay her. Then you’re off the hook. All you really did was give this wanker the idea. He’s the one who cast the spell and I’ve got a different penalty for him. One that’s really going to hurt.”

He tossed Trey away. Trey slammed into the wall and nearly fell, then recovered his feet, gasping and rubbing at his throat.

“I think I’ll crush your amulet,” said Spike, picking up a heavy crystal ball from the table. “That’ll turn you human, wouldn’t it? D’Hoffryn doesn’t like his people being careless and losing their power centers like this. He won’t turn you back into a vengeance demon for decades. If ever.”

“No! Don’t!” Trey screamed as Spike laid the amulet on the table and raised the crystal ball to smash it.

“Turning human would be worse than dying, wouldn’t it? Think I’ve picked the right penalty.”

“No! Please! I’ll give you a wish!”

“What?”

“Any wish! Any vengeance you want on anyone!”

Spike paused.

“You name it,” Trey pleaded. “Isn’t that a good deal for you? Think, vampire! Any wish at all!”

Spike considered that for a moment. It had possibilities. “Can you do a wish on a Slayer?”

Trey blenched. “A Sl-Slay...I can’t kill her! That takes more power than I have. Even D’Hoffryn wouldn’t be able to kill her.”

“You killing her wouldn’t be any fun for me. I like to do things like that myself.”

“I can do anything else, lay any kind of spell on her. You name it, I can do it. Just tell me what you want.”

“Oh, now that has potential,” purred Spike. “I’ll have to think about that.”

“Sure, sure. Take your time.”

“No, I mean really think about it. Don’ wanna waste a wish on something easy. Want something that will really have a payoff.” Spike frowned thoughtfully. “Gonna have to do a recce. Suss out how things stand.”

“Take all the time you want.”

“I’ll keep the amulet until I’m ready.”

“No! You can’t leave me powerless like this!”

“I give you the amulet, you take off for parts unknown. Sorry, mate. Not that dumb.”

“I can give you a token. You press it when you’re ready and I’ll come. I swear!”

“Yeah, right.”

“I will!”

“Make him swear on his amulet using the Asseveration Demonaia Infernum,” the witch murmured. “That oath will hold and his amulet would vanish if he breaks his word.”

Trey gave her a betrayed look and she shrugged, smiling. Spike laughed.

“Yeah, it would with a Great Oath like that. Come on, wanker. Let’s hear it.”

Trey swore reluctantly, the words of the oath having a rolling, reverberating sound as they were spoken, as if they were falling into a vast abyss. Both the Hvroth and Trey winced at the power implicit behind that sound, but Spike smiled and the witch laughed softly under her breath.

“It’s been heard,” she said.

“Token,” said Spike to Trey and snapped his fingers.

Trey handed over an inch long blue circle with a curious symbol incised upon it. “Press it and I’ll come. Wherever you are.”

“Good enough.”

And now for the Slayer, thought Spike. His car was parked in Raelin’s garage, in the same condition as he had left it months ago. He headed back to Sunnydale. Dru was no longer his primary concern. Buffy Summers was. His lips compressed grimly.

His plans in that future he’d been thrown into had been contingent on conditions there. It was a pity to be forced to leave them half done, but this way was better all around. This way he didn’t have the chip, could change things so that they went exactly the way he wanted them to.

A lot had happened in the intervening months while he was in stasis. It seemed the Slayer had graduated from high school and was now going to UC Sunnydale. The high school itself was a gutted ruin. The mayor of Sunnydale had apparently turned himself into some kind of snake demon, Kibble at Willy’s told him, and the Slayer had had to blow up the school to take him out. Things always were weird around the Hellmouth, Spike thought, amused.

Angel had cut and run for L.A. Couldn’t stand the heat, Spike guessed. Angel had always been a real pro at desertions. His departure was useful since the Slayer would be even more vulnerable if the poofter weren’t around. Not that Angel had ever really helped her, but she had leaned on him emotionally. Now she was all alone.

Dawn wasn’t even a gleam in a monkish eye yet and Joyce was still alive. Spike thought he’d keep her that way. He liked Joyce. It shouldn’t be too hard for a vamp to detect her aneurysm and have her get the surgeons to fix it when it showed signs of rupturing.

The Initiative was moving in though, staying under the radar and busy building their belowground bunkers. It was all construction crews right now. Walsh and her tame scientists and bullyboy soldiers hadn’t arrived yet and no one hadn’t gotten around to grabbing demons since their underground torture chambers weren’t ready. But Spike was keeping an eye out. He wasn’t going to get caught again and have them shove that chip into his head. This time if those sods jumped him, they’d get shredded and Spike would scatter the soggy pieces of their flesh all over Sunnydale.

But he had a grudge against them for having succeeded the last time. He was determined to get his revenge on the Initiative and what better than to prevent them from ever establishing themselves in Sunnydale. He made contact with several of the demon species in town, both the harmful and the non-harmful ones, and told them what was going down. Bunker construction suddenly came to a screeching halt. Weird things had started happening to their equipment.

He watched, grinning, as the construction gangs tore their hair and sent desperate smoke signals back to headquarters. The higher ups in Washington, including Walsh, responded by racing down to Sunnydale to scream useless orders and jump up and down. But the equipment continued to fail. All of it from pile drivers and riveting machines down to drills and nail guns. They would have to build the whole place by hand, using pick and shovel, hammer and nails, just the way they would have had to a century ago. It would take years and be prohibitively expensive just in labor costs alone. Any government agency existing would abandon the project rather than run that kind of expense. The Initiative would never be able to set up shop in Sunnydale.

It was a pity Riley Finn and his cohorts weren’t around yet. Spike kinda took exception to having plastic stakes driven through his heart when he couldn’t fight back. He would have loved to sic the Firoud on Riley, the same way he had threatened to sic them on Harris. Unlike Harris though, Finn’s pratfalls would not have been the merely humiliating ones Spike had planned for Xander. Finn’s would have been extremely painful, possibly even mutilating. And would have resulted in having him cashiered out of the military in the end. Ah, well. Couldn’t have everything.

Slayer was his focus though. Slayer was who he meant to get at. The Scoobies were also there, but they were unimportant. Get the Slayer and her friends could be taken care of at leisure.

He stalked her for a couple of weeks, watching her while carefully keeping out of sight. He knew her now, right down to the biblical sense of the term, but she didn’t know him. Her last contact with him in this time period was when he had come to Sunnydale, drunk and dangerous after Dru had dumped him, and had snatched Red and Harris to force Willow to do a spell for him. For Buffy, Spike was that lethal killer, that enemy it would be her pleasure to dust.

It was strange seeing her the way she was now. Still smug and self-righteous of course, but so much younger and carefree. The darkness hadn’t touched her yet. She hadn’t died and been resurrected, didn’t have the memory of Heaven to embitter her, hadn’t been damaged yet except by Angel.

That had been damage enough, it seemed. Spike could remember the first time he had met the Slayer, back when he and Dru had first come to Sunnydale, how lighthearted she had been then. Angel as usual had soured everything, given her that bitter edge. The first coating of ice had begun to build up around her heart. She had begun to distrust, to guard her emotions. Too many abandonments: her father; that previous boyfriend, Pike, who had run out on her; Angel.

And now she was setting herself up for another one. That soppy git with the ‘soulful’ eyes. Parker Abrams. Shooting herself in the foot once again in her useless quest for ‘normal’ that Angel had suckered her into. Spike watched her stretching her wings by going around with Parker who was busy doing his ‘sensitive’ schtick and giving her that wet, puppy-dog stare that had laid waste to so many females. Spike couldn’t really understand why. It seemed so obviously fake to him. But then a lot of birds were fools at that age.

Maybe Slayer needed that lesson. Might serve her right to have her teeth kicked in again.

His memories told him that he had been after the Gem of Amara at this point. He had wanted it so that he could kill the Slayer with the edge that the ring would give him. But he already had his edge with that wish he had in his pocket. The Gem could be left for another day.

That Harmony bint hadn’t turned up. And wouldn’t. The memories told him that he had picked her up after Dru had dumped him for good. But he hadn’t gone back to Dru this time. He had come to Sunnydale instead, so hadn’t met this Harmony. Which wasn’t much of a loss, though she hadn’t been a bad lay. He didn’t mind crazy, but he liked his women with brains. Or at least an IQ larger than their shoe size. Stupid got on his last nerve.

Slayer and the Parker wimp were heading for a frat party that night. He followed them, still trying to figure out the most effective wish to use on the Slayer. The party was loud and noisy enough that no one noticed when he had himself a nice snack. He left his meal alive though, tucked into a corner, apparently passed out. Dead bodies cluttering up the landscape would just get in the way right now.

A shadowy alcove beside the exit provided a convenient place from which he could watch the Slayer and the wimp. They were sitting on a couch and having a ‘meaningful’ talk, the kind Angel was so good at and it looked like Abrams was too—all bullshit while being what the bird wanted to hear.

He watched her sardonically while she flirted somewhat ineptly with Abrams. That git was making her do the running, playing the sensitive lad and getting her to do the seducing. It was a good trick if the girl was thick enough to buy it. And Slayer was.

At this point in her time frame, she was a novice, only one step away from virgin. So far she had only slept with Angel and that had been only the once. Her youthful hesitancy contrasted oddly with the savagely passionate woman he knew.

Towards the shank of the evening, the two of them were dancing and then kissing on the dance floor. Looked like Slayer had made up her mind and was on the fast track to being screwed. In both senses of the word.

He snarled a little. Slayer was his.

And then things clicked into place in his head and he had it. The one wish that would fulfill all the requirements.

He put his hand into the pocket of his duster and dug his thumbnail into the token.

“Not so hard!” Trey protested, suddenly very present beside him. With his blond hair and unlined face, he looked perfectly at home here among all the frat boys. “Sounds like a siren going off in my head. I said to press, not crush the hell out of the thing.”

“Like I care.”

Trey sighed, then looked around with interest. “Nice party with some nice scenery. Look at the pecs on that guy.”

“Business first, pleasure later.”

“Oh, all right. You made up your mind then?”

“Yeah.”

“So call it. Murder, mayhem, what?”

“Any wish on the Slayer short of death, right?”

“You got it.” Trey scanned the room and located the Slayer back on the couch with Parker. “Is that her?”

“Mm.”

“Whoa. Look at the sleaze she’s with. A player. With all the cute guys around, she picks that? Some taste she’s got.”

“You said it. But she’s not even twenty yet and tends to see things at face value.”

Trey shook his head in disgust. “I don’t think I was ever that naive even at twenty.”

“I guess one forgets things after the first five hundred years.”

“Hey, I’m only two hundred!” Trey protested, aggrieved, then frowned. “Do I look five hundred to you?”

“Concentrate. You mess this up, I’ll rip your nads off and shove ’em down your throat. After I crush your amulet.”

“Geeze, chill. I’m a pro. Just tell me what you want.”

“I want you to send her where you sent me, only into her own head.”

“Oh, come on! What kind of vengeance is that? Okay, okay,” said Trey hastily when Spike scowled. “Done.”

On the couch, Parker had turned to set down his drink and didn’t notice Buffy’s sudden immobility. A few seconds later, she jerked and sat bolt upright, her eyes widening.

Spike grabbed Trey’s amulet. “She’s back already! You’ve screwed things up!”

“No, no, wait! It’s the way it should be! Didn’t Chaif tell you it only takes a couple of seconds? She’s been a couple of hours in the other time.”

“What?”

“I sent her to the day after the night I pulled you out so that there wouldn’t be any time paradoxes or cross circuiting. And now she’s back at the point of origin. You gotta understand. The time spent there doesn’t relate to the time here. It wouldn’t have been months for you if I hadn’t been so sozzled and forgotten I’d sent you forward.”

“She was there a couple of hours?”

“Yeah. That’s the shortest period I can manage, not being a Hvroth.”

Spike scowled at him suspiciously. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“Look.”

Buffy was rising and stalking away from Parker who scrambled to his feet and ran after her.

“Buffy, wait! What’s wrong?”

“I just realized you’re a creep, Parker.”

“See?” said Trey, keeping his voice low since Buffy, heading towards the exit, was only a couple of yards away.

Parker caught her arm. “Was it something I said? I know maybe I was too forward in confiding in you, Buffy. But I thought we understood each other, that I could trust you with anything. I felt we were soul mates and...”

“Oh, give it a rest, Parker,” said Buffy scornfully. “All that’s just crap. You’re a user. All you want to do is score. I think you’re vile.”

“Buffy!”

She struck his hand away from her arm. “If it were up to me, you’d never score again in your whole life. I really wish that would happen!”

“Done!” said Trey triumphantly. “Now that was a vengeance wish if I ever heard one!”

Buffy suddenly saw him. “You’re a...”

“Justice demon, yes.” He bowed gracefully. “Oh, that was a good one. I really like it. If you don’t mind, I can use that in my repertoire.”

“Be my guest.” Buffy’s gaze had gone past him to Spike. They looked at each other guardedly and with a little hostility. “Things are starting to make sense. Spike.”

“Slayer.”

“We need to talk.”

“Why not? Buy you a drink?”

“Coffee?”

“Expresso Pump?”

“Sure.”

“You’re off the hook, mate,” Spike said to Trey, then grinned at Parker who was frowning at him resentfully, not understanding what was happening except that Buffy was going off with another man. “And you, wanker, had better get used to wanking because that’s all you’re ever gonna be able to do from now on.”

“You don’t mean...” said Buffy under her breath as he held the door open for her.

“Oh, yeah. You wished he’d never score again and Trey made it happen. Kinda balances the freebie Trey had to do for me, so he’s happy.” He glanced over his shoulder at Trey exchanging interested glances with a hunky frat boy. “Made his quota for the day and it looks like he’s gonna score as well, even if Abrams won’t. Ever again.”

Buffy giggled involuntarily, then bit her lip. “You owe me a few explanations.”

“Do I?”

“Damn right you do!” She pulled on her short, black leather jacket with an irritable jerk as they started down the sidewalk towards the coffee shop.

He gave her a dry, sideways glance. “And if I say I don’t care to explain, then what? You gonna stake me?”

“Maybe.”

“No chip. I’ll fight back.” He saw her brows flick together. “You understood that. The chip reference.”

“Yeah.”

“Guess you were there then.”

“I was there two hours. In my own head. In the future. Why was I there, Spike?”

“You were there two hours and you still haven’t figured out why?”

She was silent for a moment. “It’s a lot to process.”

“There’s time.”

“Two years.”

“Yes.”

They glanced briefly at each other, edgy, wary looks, then went the rest of the way to the Expresso Pump in silence. Even at this time of night, it was busy, but there were a few tables outside that were free. They took seats at the outermost one where they wouldn’t be overheard.

“It was you,” said Buffy. “When she...I...she...”

“Make it ‘she’.”

“When she noticed a difference. It was you. This you.”

He nodded. “It was an accident. We were all drunk and Trey granted a wish I didn’t mean to make.”

“So the day after...” She stopped abruptly.

“The night before?” he said softly and she flushed wildly. “Yeah, that was me.”

“You had a fine time, didn’t you?” she said bitterly.

“Oh, yeah. I enjoyed it. A lot.” He grinned tightly. “Really couldn’t pass that up, Slayer.”

She couldn’t meet his eyes. Until she had been forced forward in time, all Spike had been to her was the stranger she had fought at the high school, the enemy she had put into a wheelchair later, the reluctant ally against Angelus, the vamp who had kidnaped Willow and Xander. Brief encounters with someone who was essentially unknown.

But now she knew him. The memories she had picked up from her future self held meeting after meeting, all the long, twisted threads of their relationship culminating in those final intimacies that were so vivid in her mind.

“You took advantage...”

“Oh, no, no,” he purred. “Who jumped who, pet? Before I even got there. And after that, it was mutual, wasn’t it? Don’t start rewriting history to suit yourself. Haven’t you learned anything yet? The only way anyone can function is to look the truth right in the eye and deal with it.”

“Is that why you sent me forward? To learn?”

“Yes. There’s a lot of things you have to change. You see that, don’t you? Or do you want to end up the way you will?”

God, no! That desperate, conflicted, broken zombie she had turned into. The living dead. Even if she had finally come out of it with his help, all those things that had gone wrong—with her, with Joyce, with the Scoobs—all of that had to be changed.

“I’ve already started changing things,” he said and his eyes were cool and determined. “Not gonna have that chip in my head. That was step number one. The Initiative’s not going to happen. I’ve put together a coalition of demons and we’ve made sure of that. They’ll never get a foothold in this town. Do you consider that a bad thing, Slayer?”

“No. They were evil. But...”

“But what?”

“Why did you send me forward in time? You didn’t have to do that to avoid the chip or to get rid of the Initiative. All you have to do to change things for yourself is leave Sunnydale. Everything would be different for you then.”

He was sitting sideways, his arm outstretched on the table, playing with his lighter. Now he looked down at the Zippo he was turning over and over restlessly in his fingers, avoiding her eyes. The crease between his brows was very evident and his lips were compressed into a hard, straight line.

“You didn’t have to send me forward like that, Spike. Didn’t have to let me know the things that went wrong and what I have to avoid. You’ve helped me by doing that. Why?”

There was a long silence.

“He was there, you know,” he said slowly at last, almost under his breath. “The other me. My mind was holding his down, blanking out his consciousness. That’s the way it works, a Hvroth who does that said. But Chaif only stays there for a minute, so he isn’t affected by...”

He broke off and frowned at the lighter.

“Things seep through. Strong feelings. Emotions. They contaminate. And I was there a long time. So much of him came through. The other me, he loved Dawn, Joyce, y...He cared and it made me care.”

He put the lighter abruptly back into his pocket.

“Memories make the man. What’s a person except the sum total of the things that happen to him, the things that he remembers?”

His gaze came up and his eyes were all blue light and intensity.

“I’m him, Slayer. We’ve merged. Those memories. They’re part of me now. They’re me.”

Oh, she knew what he meant. Her memories from the future were part of her too.

And he was at the forefront of them, couldn’t help but be, with everything that had happened between him and her future self so recent and vivid in her mind. And behind those immediate memories, the others. That long chain of events and involvements that could be seen clearly and with dispassion now that the confusion of the moment was stripped away by distance.

“I too rage, you see, at the dying of the light,” he said. “It’s too beautiful to put out.”

She jerked to her feet. It was all too much. She had to have time to process.

“I have to think,” she blurted and fled.



TBC
Chapter 7 by dreamweaver
Chapter 7


Memories.

Too many of them. A tidal wave that she had to struggle to make sense of, almost overwhelming her. So many implications, ramifications. She sorted through them slowly, carefully. So much to deal with and she didn’t know where to start.

The simplest first perhaps. She went to see Giles.

“A tutor for Willow?” he said in surprise. “But she’s not really a witch, Buffy. She’s just playing, experimenting as so many people do. Just because someone lays out a Tarot deck or charts their horoscope doesn’t mean that they have a real gift for it.”

“Willow can float pencils. That may not sound like much, but it’s something most people can’t do. What if she really does have a gift, Giles? All sorts of things can go wrong if she does and no one shows her the proper way to use it.”

“Well, I suppose there’s no harm in bringing someone over to evaluate her. I do know of a couple of covens in the area who might be willing to help. If they say she does have potential, they might be able to recommend someone to train her.” He glanced at her dubiously. “If that’s what she wants. Surely she’s more interested in computers.”

“She seems to be branching out,” said Buffy dryly.

A quarter full glass of Scotch was sitting on the counter of the kitchen passthrough. She noticed it worriedly. It should have been a cup of tea, not Scotch at only ten in the morning. For Giles to be drinking at this time of the day was a bad sign. She remembered what Spike had said to her future self about Giles’ horizons contracting. Everyone needed purpose and Giles had none now that Buffy was learning to stand on her own feet.

“It must be boring having nothing to do now that the high school’s gone,” she said casually. “You should branch out too, Giles. Maybe get your own business. You know that magic shop on the main drag whose proprietor got herself eaten? She was only a ‘blessed-be’, but the store did make money. You should look into something like that.”

“Good Lord! Retail?” Giles stared at her. “I don’t know anything about sales, Buffy. Research is what I’m good at.”

“Well, how much do you have to know? You just put things out for people to buy and take their money when they buy it.”

“It’s not as simple as that,” said Giles patiently, taking off his glasses and starting to polish them.

Buffy grinned. “I know, Giles. I was kidding. But you could hire people who know what to do, couldn’t you?”

“Well, yes, but...” Giles put his glasses back on again and gave her a bemused look. “I don’t quite understand why you’re suggesting something like this.”

“Oh, well.” Buffy shoved her hands into the back pockets of her jeans uncomfortably. “It’s just with this research thing that you’re so good at, I don’t want you suddenly thinking you’re not needed here and going off to work at...at Great Britain’s Fantabulous Research Library or whatever it’s called. With all our apocalypses, we’re always going to need someone here to research about demons and stuff.”

Giles pushed his glasses higher with one forefinger. “Well, that’s true...”

“I need you, Giles. I know it may not seem that way, with me being so involved with college and all. But I need your support and your help and your integrity. I always will. I don’t want you going back to England, Giles. I want you here.”

Giles’ shoulders had straightened and he looked a lot happier. “I-I’ll stay as long as you want me to, Buffy. You can count on me.”

“I do, Giles. More than you know.”

“Retail,” muttered Giles as they both looked away awkwardly, embarrassed by the emotion. “One could have books even in a magic shop. Perhaps a...a lending library of demonology consisting of tomes too expensive or rare for the average practitioner to own. Yes. Yes, that has possibilities...”

Buffy left him happily digging out catalogues. She hadn’t put it very well, never being very good with words, but she had managed to get the idea across that he was needed. Which was no lie. He was and she should have told him so before.

Okay, hopefully she had Giles squared away. There was still Xander to be dealt with, and that was a matter of time and patience, calling Xander on his demon prejudice every time he showed it so that he would know it was not acceptable.

Anya...No, she didn’t have the right to interfere with anyone’s personal relationships. When Xander and Anya first got together, they had all thought that Anya wouldn’t be good for Xander, ex-demon that she was and unused to ordinary social niceties. And now here was Buffy thinking the reverse, that Xander wouldn’t be good for Anya. But maybe that too could be worked on and corrected.

And a tutor was only part of Willow’s troubles. The memories said that Oz would be leaving soon and that would devastate Willow. But nothing could be done about that. Oz had to find his own way around his werewolf problem. All Buffy could do was be there for Willow as she went through the trauma of his loss and hope that Tara would show up soon. Tara was what Willow really needed.

Being loved. Yeah, who didn’t need that? thought Buffy wryly. Even Spike said that. Even Spike lo...

She stopped the thought right there. But it kept coming back. She could see now what her future self had refused to see. Even Dru had said it, hadn’t she? Vamps could love—not wisely, but well.

Why had he dragged her back from the brink? Harassing her, challenging her, he had pulled her back into living, hadn’t let her give up. His methods had been crazy, but they had worked. But why had he done it? God, they had tried to kill each other how many times? He was her enemy. Even when he had first turned up in that future, he had been her enemy. He should have killed her. He’d never have a better opportunity and in the beginning she had even wanted him to kill her, until he himself had shown her that she didn’t want to die.

Somewhere in there he had started to change, become as conflicted as she was. Emotions seeping through. She hadn’t missed him betraying that the other Spike had loved her. It hadn’t just been obsession for that Spike as her future self had thought.

She sorted through the memories, seeing them now as she had never allowed herself to see them before. All that long history of conflict and involvement between them. In her present, he was essentially a stranger, barely known. But in her future he was always there, that fixed point, never wavering. Angel always walking away; Spike always there.

She caught herself up in shock. She hadn’t thought that about Angel, had she? But he had walked away and there was no future for them.

Wasn’t that what she had been trying to do when she had gone out with Parker? Find someone else, put Angel behind her and move on? Somewhere in this crazy mix of present and future jostling each other in her brain, she had ended up moving on.

Teenage love. Spreading one’s wings, experimenting, learning about oneself. Rose-colored and evanescent, not really meant to be taken as seriously as she had. Tall, dark and handsome, glamorous and enigmatic, Angel had been every teenager’s dream.

But adult love was raw and messy and complicated. And if one could take that, deal with it, one had something of real value, not just a dream.

She folded Angel away fondly into a compartment in her heart, the same way one ties a pink ribbon around old love letters and puts them away affectionately but with finality into some desk drawer.

Nothing rose-colored about Spike. Everything harsh and abrasive and all too real. And yet there had been a caring, a protectiveness behind his harshest words. All of it had been a slap upside the head. That old clichéd contradiction—cruel to be kind.

The other Spike had loved her. She could see that now. All her memories of his actions, their long history, told her so.

‘I’m him,’ said Spike.

And how does one deal with that?

Walking through Tranquility cemetery on patrol that night, she picked up that particular vamp signature that memory made so familiar.

“Where are you?” she said. Silence answered. She sighed. “I know you’re there, Spike. Come out where I can see you.”

There was a hesitation, then he was suddenly there, right in front of her. Fledglings couldn’t do that, but the older and more experienced vamps could and he was one.

“Didn’t think you’d pick up on me,” he said ruefully. “Thought I was out of range.”

“I’m kinda sensitized to you right now,” she said, then flushed as he gave her a swift, flickering glance. “Are you going to be hanging around all the time?”

“Got nothing better to do.”

“You could leave Sunnydale.”

“I could.”

She scowled at him. “But you won’t.”

He shrugged, but didn’t answer.

“You’re always going to be around, aren’t you? You’ll never leave.”

“Do you want me to? I could be of use.”

“You’re offering to help? Like Angel?”

He made an amused, scornful sound. “How much help was that wanker to you?”

Not much, she realized. Now that she thought about it, Angel had only told her about things and never really fought the fight with her, and even the little information that he had given her had been grudging.

“Why should you want to help?”

He glanced sideways at her. “Why ask when you know the answer?”

She turned away hurriedly and was aware of him falling into step beside her. On her left because he was lefthanded and she right. It felt oddly right to have him there. Memories. She didn’t know whether they were a curse or a blessing.

“I’ve started making changes,” she said to break the silence. “With Giles and the Scoobs. I think things will work out. My Mom...”

“I’m keeping an eye on her, Slayer.”

“Thank you,” she muttered.

He made an uncomfortable movement, looking away. “Not doing it for you, Slayer. Doing it for her. I like Joyce. She’s a lady.”

“She didn’t treat you like a thing.”

“No.”

She stopped and turned to face him. “We did. Why aren’t you holding a grudge against us? You were angry when you first arrived in that other time period.”

“But you’re going to change that, aren’t you? It won’t happen now. Or will you be still seeing me as a thing?”

She looked down, embarrassed. “No. I can’t. I should have listened to Tara. Tara had it right all the time.”

He smiled faintly. “Glinda has the right instincts. She hasn’t been affected by your Council and their teachings.”

“Even Mom has it right. You’re not a thing, but a person.”

His hand lifted as if to stroke her hair, then he caught it back sharply.

“You’re making giant strides, Slayer.”

“A little late, but I’m getting there.” She frowned suddenly. “This year’s apocalypse was Adam and the Initiative. But that won’t happen now. You took care of that.”

“Glory’s the one to watch. But I’ll take care of that too.”

“How? She’s a god. You can’t kill her.”

“I can kill Ben.”

“Spike...”

“Watcher killed him in the future. Why can’t I? Watcher knew that the only way to kill Glory was when she was in her human shape. But Watcher left it until it was too late and by that time you were dead and a lot of people were damaged. Not gonna happen this time. I’ll take Ben out the moment he shows.”

It would prevent an apocalypse and save billions of lives.

“That future we were in, it’s not going to happen now. It’ll all be different. I’m gonna make sure of that.” He gave her a tight, wry, oddly self-mocking smile. “Not gonna let you die, Slayer. Not gonna let you be damaged. No resurrections this time. Not if I have anything to do with it.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” she muttered. “I’m the Slayer and you’re a vamp. You should want me dead. I’m your enemy.”

“You may be my enemy. But I’m not yours. Want to stake me? Go ahead. I won’t stop you.”

She shook her head helplessly. She couldn’t.

“I’ll always be here,” he said quietly. “Watching your back. Even if you don’t want me to. Not gonna let your light be put out. Neither by death nor by resurrection. Not even by yourself. Not gonna let it happen, Slayer.”

“Why?” she whispered.

He looked into the distance, smiling a little twistedly. The moonlight washed silver and shadow over the planes of his face, stressing its strong, clean bone-structure.

“You know why. Even Dru knew why. That’s why she dumped me. She said she could see you floating all around me. And, yeah, I couldn’t take my eyes off you. Right from the beginning. Because of what you are. A shining light. Because of the light in you.”

“Spike...”

“Didn’t even know myself. Fought it. But when I got there in the future and saw what you were doing to yourself, I realized. Couldn’t let you do that, Slayer. Couldn’t let you put out that light. And nobody was helping you either. They were all just making it worse. I had to do something.”

He was playing with his lighter again, turning it over restlessly in his fingers. He looked down at it in surprise, then made an impatient gesture and shoved it back into his pocket.

“Went about it a little rough maybe, but that was the only way I could think to do it. Shake you up, knock some sense into your head. That other me might have done it differently. I don’ know. But I don’t think you’d have listened to him, Slayer. You had him whipped. Maybe it was the chip. There is something in what Harris said about it gelding me. But you saw what I could do even with the chip. Could have killed you all if I wanted. He could have too, but he didn’t. He let you push him around because he loved you.”

He laughed a little.

“Women don’t respect a man they can whip. And there’s no love where there’s no respect. With that chip in his head, he couldn’t hit back. Then he realized he could hit you back and that set him free. And set you free too. That’s when you slept with him.”

She frowned. “Because he could kill me again?”

“Because he was your equal again. Maybe that’s the reason you’re so hung up on Angel and why your relationships with anybody human failed. They couldn’t match you.” He looked around at her challengingly. “Well, I match you, Slayer. And there’s no chip to unman me here. You won’t break me. And, unlike Angel, I’m not scared of any part of you. I see the light and I see the dark, and they’re both beautiful.”

His eyes were intensely blue.

“I love you, Slayer. He loved you and I love you. We’re the same. And don’t call it obsession. It’s not obsession. It’s because you’re the best and the bravest and the most beautiful. How could I not love you? You’re my light.”

“Are you feeding?” she asked abruptly.

“And there’s the rub.” He gave her a rueful look. “Can’t take that sodding pig’s blood, Slayer. Really can’t. But isn’t a compromise possible? I don’t have to kill them, you know. I can take a drink and let ’em go. They’d recover in no time. Even give them a happy if you like. You know I could.”

She did.

He grinned at her. “Or there’s Slayer’s blood.”

“We’ll go with catch-and-release,” she said repressively and he laughed, then went abruptly sober at the sight of her apprehensive face.

“Won’t jump your bones, pet. You don’t have to worry about that. Won’t even touch you. Swear. Not asking anything of you. Learned better, seeing the mistakes he made. I’ll do anything you want me to, Buffy. Except leave. I won’t ever leave. You’ll have to stake me to get rid of me.”

“I couldn’t stake you,” she said under her breath.

“Are you letting me stay then?”

“Can’t stop you, can I?”

“You’re taking a risk, aren’t you?” he said wryly. “You don’t know me.”

Oh, but she did know him. She knew the taste of his mouth and his scent and his skin against hers and his weight upon her and the way he would feel filling her. She knew him intimately.

And then there was the way he saw her more clearly than anybody else in the world. He saw both the dark and the light of her. Just as she’d seen both the dark and the light of him. They understood each other.

All her experience of him in her future self suddenly swung around a hundred and eighty degrees and assumed a different shape. Everything that he had said, everything that he had done. Not out of hatred, but out of love. Pushing her, goading her, driving her out of that darkness and back into the light.

“I do know you, Spike,” she said and laid her hand against his cheek.

He caught his breath and his hand rose to cover hers and press it against his face. Then he stopped himself a millimeter away, as if he were afraid to touch her. His eyes had gone a blazing, incandescent blue, their pupils widening over an intense, burning blackness.

But behind the heat, there was another look, of silken, helpless tenderness.

“I have to think,” she said and he nodded.

“If you need me, send a message to 207 Huron. I’ve got a basement flat there. Rented it from this Krasevic.”

“Send it by whom? The Firoud?”

They both grinned.

“Yeah, the Firoud.”

“I think I’ll have to get to know them. And the other non-harmful demons. I think what you did, networking like that, is a good idea.”

“Watcher won’t like it.”

“He’ll have to deal.”

They would all have to deal, she thought, back in the dorm with Willow sleeping peacefully on the other side of the room. Because Spike wasn’t going to go away. And she didn’t want him to.

She did know him. This stranger who was not a stranger, whom she had known for such a short time in reality, but years in her memory.

Why had she slept with him in that future? It would have made more sense to have found some human like that Riley Finn guy from the Initiative. She could have, easily. Riley had proved a broken reed, but someone else might not have.

You need your match, said Spike. But she didn’t think it was as simple as that either. She hadn’t gone out and picked some other vamp or demon off the street. It had had to be Spike. Because she trusted him, because for all that she had denied it she had known he loved her.

Her personal memory held the deadly vamp who had tried to kill her and the Scoobies several times over. Her future memories held another vamp and those memories were equally vivid.

Spike trying to kiss her in the alley behind the Bronze that night he had told her about his past. The hope in his face when he thought she might care for him and the devastation when she had rejected him so cruelly, both things her future self hadn’t seen at the time.

Spike chaining her up and pleading for a crumb. Hurt when she disinvited him from her house. Allowing himself to be beaten so brutally by a hellgod to protect her sister. Touchingly grateful when she had seen him as a man, not a monster. Fighting beside the Scoobies and caring for Dawn when Angel hadn’t that time she was dead. Looking up at her in awe and wonder and pure joy when she had been brought back from that death. Being the only one she could have told about being in Heaven. Supporting her when no one else saw or understood the trauma of her return. Stopping her from dancing herself to death. And, at the last, that helpless pleasure and hope when she jumped his bones that night and the hurt the morning after when she had dismissed him as only a convenience.

All vivid in her mind. All real, as real as her own memories. As real as this Spike forcing her out of her death wish. It was the same Spike and the same love and protectiveness.

She knew him. She knew him as she knew herself. And he knew and understood her the same way.

Killer, soulless, evil, Giles would say. And so had her future self. But he wasn’t just that, was he? The Scoobs had never looked, never seen.

The killer who cared. For her, for Joyce, for Dawn. Even for Tara and Willow and Anya. It wouldn’t be fair to expect him to care for Xander, she thought with wry amusement. The demon without a soul but with an astonishing heart, who so often ended up doing the right thing and even putting his unlife on the line because of that heart. The evil creature of the dark who was now choosing to aid and abet the light, to embrace it.

A quotation floated up from somewhere in the back of her mind: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ By his actions, that she had never looked at before.

Her future self had thrown away something of true value. She wasn’t about to make the same mistake.

He was what she needed and had looked for, but never found in Angel, Parker, Riley, who had all in their various ways let her down. Spike would never let her down. She knew that now.

He was deadly and dangerous and lethal. And he was hers. He’d made that plain. He would stand by her and help her and be her partner and her friend and would never ever abandon her.

Suddenly everything felt very, very right to her.

She was smiling as she went down to Tranquility that night.

Spike was sitting on a tombstone waiting for her, one knee bent and his other leg stretched out in front of him. The moonlight glinted on his platinum hair and silvered his face into an abstraction of beauty. He looked up as she came towards him and his eyes lit up.

“Slayer.”

“Hey, Spike.”

He smiled up at her, a little puzzled, as she stopped in front of him and looked him over thoughtfully.

“What’s up, pet?”

“Trying to figure out a way to change something.”

“Oh? Well, you know me. I lean towards direct action.” He grinned at her. “But that might not work for you.”

“Action is of the good. I’m not much for talking. Yeah, I like that. Good plan.”

She took his upturned face in her hands and kissed him.

He nearly fell off the tombstone. She felt the backwards sway of his body and the jerk as he caught himself, smiled against his mouth. Then his arms were tight about her waist and he was kissing her back devouringly.

“Not that I don’t like your version of direct action,” he muttered when he let her come up for air. “But what the hell is going on?”

She drew a much needed breath. “That should be obvious.”

“Don’t be literal. You playing games, Slayer?”

“But you like playing games, don’t you?” she mocked.

She could feel him shuddering as she leaned against him, dropped her forehead against his and felt his breath shake against her mouth.

“This one could backfire. Experimenting, are you? Trying out your wings. But I’m not Parker Abrams and I’m not ever gonna be that whipped dog you turned me into in the future. You’ve only made love once in this time period and I’ve got a very rapid boiling point. Some mild petting is not what you’re gonna get here. Push me and you’ll get a hell of a more than you bargained for.”

“Only made love once.” She laughed softly. “Maybe that’s true physically. But not mentally. You and I, we’ve made love how many times and in how many positions? Our future bodies got to know each other pretty well. I just thought, you know, that our present bodies should know each other too.”

He closed his eyes on a lost breath. “Sodding hell.”

“Of course, if you don’t want to...”

She couldn’t help grinning at the look he gave her.

“Fun-ny. You know better than that.” His eyebrow tilted challengingly. “My place is just around the corner.”

“So let’s go there.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I may have darkness in me, but not so much right now that I want to make love out here where anybody can see us.”

“We’ll have to work on that.”

They were both laughing. His eyes were shining and turning black at once, their pupils expanding over an intense darkness, his irises thin rings of burning blue.

“Don’ know what’s going on,” he muttered. “Don’ care. Not gonna ask questions.”

“Taking what you can get?” she said softly.

He looked up at her and she saw the yearning and the vulnerability and the resignation in his eyes.

“Yeah.”

“You ask too little.” Maybe this time she had something to teach him.

His flat was in the basement of a one storey house and had no windows, but the Krasevic who had rented it to him had arranged things so that it felt airy and open rather than confining. She got an impression of comfort and coziness, but wasn’t really looking around. That was for later. Right now there was only him.

No haste or violence or animalistic greed this time. He cupped her face in his hands and she leaned against him, her hands lightly on his hips, and they kissed and kissed. Exploring this new dynamic where they were no longer in conflict, but in communion.

She pushed his duster from his shoulders and he let it fall behind him, bent his head to allow her to pull off his tee. She ran her hands down the strong cords of his neck and across the straight line of his shoulders, a caress, enjoying the feel of his body. She felt him shiver against her.

“Will you miss it?” she murmured.

“What?”

“The violence. The dark side.”

“It will always be there, you know. The dark side. The rawness and the greed. We’re both violent people. But this...” He shuddered against her, his eyes half-closing as her hands stroked his face, slid down his torso. “This caring, this warmth. It’s so...”

He shook his head helplessly, words failing him.

“To be enfolded, cherished, loved,” she murmured. “You’ve wanted it.”

She saw him swallow hard.

“Yeah.”

Tenderness touched him in a deeper, more fundamental way than that primal passion had. He had needed it for all those decades of his unlife, never received it, yearned for it. She gave it to him now and saw it reflected back at her, saw that helpless, silken look of love in the intense blue of his eyes. They both needed it.

So different, now that there wasn’t that disconnection between them, now that they weren’t both rejecting emotion and determinedly focusing only on the physical. So different with his eyes watching her with tenderness and wonder, with his voice murmuring endearments just as she was whispering them to him, with their hands caressive and cherishing as they slid over each other’s bodies, stroked away each other’s clothes.

Skin against skin now, drawing each other down onto the bed, twisting and coiling about each other like snakes.

“So different,” he murmured.

“Better?”

“God, yes!”

It was better. That intense connection. Their mutual surrender. No longer in conflict, but in true union. And how much sweeter it was! Her other self had never let it happen, fighting herself, fighting him. And yet it had all been there, even on that first night, if she had only allowed it to happen.

His eyes were pure gold now and that raspy tongue was sliding over her body, working every inch of her. Exquisite, honied sensation that was at once so new and yet so familiar. Giving that sensation back with mouth and hands and the slide of her body, and feeling him shudder and surge against her. Exploring his body, at once unknown and deeply known, with hands that were at once expert and inexpert. Seeing the joy and the wonder in his eyes.

Inciting and inflaming, but not rough or hurtful, even when she caught at him and her nails dug into his flesh, the violence that was always there rising, but out of intensity not conflict.

She wound her arms convulsively around his neck, pulling his full weight down upon her. “Want you in me. Want you in me now, Spike!”

“Yes.” A lost breath.

She felt the broad head of his cock breach her entrance, then gulped at the deep thrust that filled her, stretched her to her limits, that went all the way in and then just that little bit further.

“Oh, yes!”

“So different,” he muttered again.

And it was. It was. For all the force with which they took each other, it was unbearably sweet. Lips clinging, faces brushing, breaths panted into the sides of each other’s necks, eyes going blind with pleasure but soft with love.

His lips brushed over the vein in her neck and she felt the prick of his fangs. Then he gasped, remembering himself, and jerked his mouth away.

She pulled his mouth back to her neck. “Take it.”

“But...”

“I want it. And you want it too. It’s mutual, Spike. Part of the way we love.”

“God, I love you so much!” he said and bit.

And that tidal wave rolled over them, shattering, devastating, that exquisite, unbearable rapture.

“Oh, God, I love you,” she gasped and then was swept away, fathoms deep and drowning.

She came back to herself eons later to find him leaning over her, his face tense and strained, his eyes black with intensity and terrible hope.

“What did you say?” he whispered.

Her brain was not functioning; it had blanked right out. She wound her arms around his neck and kissed him luxuriously, unwilling to relinquish the afterglow and the feel of their bodies easy and relaxed against each other in satiation.

“Say? When?”

The hope died. “You didn’t mean it then. It was just passion talking.”

“Mean what?”

Then, seeing the stillness and the withdrawal in his face, she suddenly focused. She had seen that in him before, too often in her memories, that impassivity that hid pain.

“Oh, you idiot! You idiot! Of course I meant it! I love you, Spike!”

Buffy!” His eyes flared into joy. Then he shook his head in confusion. “But you...can’t. How can you?”

“If you can, I can.” She pulled him down to brush her lips across his. “You’re part of me, Spike. So a while back, we were trying to kill each other. So a while back we were strangers. But we were not strangers really, Spike. We know each other better than any other two people in the world. We belong together. You’re in my heart. I love you.”

“Oh, God! If you only knew...A hundred and twenty years I’ve wanted...”

“To be loved? Well, you are.”

He dropped his face into her hair. She held him fiercely close, feeling him vibrating against her like a plucked guitar string.

“You still don’t believe me, do you?”

“It’ll take me a few decades,” he muttered.

“Want me to prove it? There’s something called a claim, isn’t there?”

“No,” he said at once.

“Why not? An unbreakable bond. I saw it in Giles’ books.”

“No. Your friends, your Watcher, the Council, they’d go spare.”

“Does that mean crazy?”

“Yeah.” He grinned a little. “Berserk. They’re gonna have a hard time enough with our being together without having you bonded to a vamp.”

“But they wouldn’t be able to hurt you if we were bonded. If you die, I die. Isn’t that the way it works?”

“That’s the way it works, but...” He stroked her hair back from her face tenderly. “I’m glad you want to, pet. Thank you. But no.”

“Don’t you want it?”

He drew a little harsh breath, but said nothing. He wanted it. His hunger for it was naked in his intense eyes. But his lips were compressed together tightly in rejection.

“You’re trying to protect me again, aren’t you?” she said with tenderness.

“Always.”

“I’m not going to lose you.”

He bent and kissed her painfully hard. “You never will. I’m yours. I think I was yours from the first time I saw you.”

“And I’m yours.”

“Mine,” he said under his breath. His eyes blazed. “God, Buffy!”

“Guess it’s gonna take a while for you to get used to all of this,” she said with loving warmth and amusement.

“Well, yeah. Only a little while back you were thinking of me as a disgusting thing.”

“It’ll work out,” she said, holding him close. “It’ll all work out. Giles and the Scoobs. We’ll make them see in the end. Mom won’t have any problems with it. She likes you. Even the people of Sunnydale are safe because you’re going to be drinking from me now, aren’t you?”

He laughed breathlessly. “Try and stop me.”

“All those apocalypses. Glory, whatever. The two of us together, we’ll stop them. The two of us together, we can stop anything.”

He kissed her. “Count on it.”

“I do. You’re the partner I always wanted. You’re the other half of me, Spike. We’re mates.”

His arms tightened fiercely around her.

“You like that word.”

“Yes.” A hiss of breath. That look of pure joy.

“One day we’ll do it, you know,” she said softly. “Make that claim. Make official what’s already there. We both want it and I’m gonna wear down your resistance.”

“Never could hold out against you. God, Buffy!”

“One day we’ll make that unbreakable link. Because we love each other that much.”

They’d come to loving from an odd angle, both of them, come around from a tangent, past and present and future all tangled together crazily. But they’d arrived at the right place—inextricably linked.

Heaven? It could wait. They were making their own. Right here.


The End


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