Author's Chapter Notes:
A little more Spuffy... and OMG, fishing? You can only guess what will happen when these people go fishing!
That night had been the hardest Spike had ever tried to sleep through.

Buffy had quieted long into the night, her fever breaking and her restlessness becoming a peaceful slumber. Spike had placed his lips on her forehead and was relieved that, even though her skin was still somewhat warm to the touch, her fever had broken. She was still curled into Spike’s embrace, her clothes damp with sweat.

That had been only half of the worry. The other half, would she remember what she had said during her delirium? He wanted her to remember, needed her to, and he prayed she would. A great deal of his future lay with this little woman sleeping beside him and he hoped hers lay with him.

She snuffled and groaned into Spike’s shirt. “Mmmm, thirsty,” she said thickly, her throat parched.

“Here Buffy, you’ll need to sit up a bit,” Spike encouraged her as he handed her a bottle of water.

She gulped the water as if she had been traveling through the desert. “Woah, ease up there, ducks. You’ll drown if you keep drinking like that,” Spike admonished her.

She took a gasping breath as she finally stopped gulping the fluid. “Sorry, just so thirsty,” she apologized. She gave him back the bottle and looked at her surroundings.

Xander and Willow were out cold on the far side of the tent, lying haphazardly all over each other. Xander was softly snoring and Willow must have been having a dream, for every now and then she would giggle and move her legs like a dog being scratched behind his ears. She smiled awkwardly and lay back down beside Spike.

Spike had propped up his head on his left hand and just watched her in the darkness, making out small grimaces from the moonlight that had shone into the tent. “In pain, love?” he asked.

“A little, but not as bad as before. Have I been much of a pain to take care of?” Buffy asked quietly. She hated being a burden to anyone.

“Course not, don’t be daft,” Spike said, a little too harshly. He winced at the sound of his voice but wanted Buffy to understand that he’d take care of her, no matter what.

She glanced over at his insistence that she wasn’t too much of a bother to care for and she softly smiled. “You have such a way with words of comfort, you know?”

“You’re just too delirious to appreciate the true value of the man who now lays before you,” he half joked. He wondered if she knew even half of what he would do for her, but decided to keep silent on the matter because, even now, she was tiring again and her eyes drooped.

She turned her head and graced him with a full smile, at least as much as she could without making her face hurt too much. “I know your value, Spike…I’ve always known,” she murmured as she drifted off to sleep again.

Spike grit his teeth and had to physically restrain himself from shaking her awake to hear her explanation for that little tidbit of information. She was soon in a deep sleep and he was wide-awake to ponder the ramifications of all that had happened in the last 24 hours.

He didn’t fall asleep until somewhere near dawn and even then it was light and restless. He was rudely awakened by a kick to the back of his head from Xander’s misstep. “Oi, watch it mate!” Spike grumped.

Xander glanced down at what he had stepped on. “Oh sorry, Spike…gotta go!” he said as he quickly left the tent. Spike rubbed the back of his head and moved to get up and get the coffee going. However, that was more difficult than he thought, as Buffy had draped herself over his chest and legs sometime during the night.

“Oh sweet lord,” Spike muttered as his erection sprang to life. It didn’t help that Buffy’s knee was situated right at the juncture of his thighs, her bare foot caressing his calf in an unconscious gesture of intimacy. He needed to wake her up or move her, one of the two so he wouldn’t embarrass himself or upset her.

“Buffy, love…” he said softly in her ear, pulling her arms from where they lay on his chest.

She groggily opened her eyes and looked straight at him, all traces of the fever gone from them. “Hey handsome,” she whispered. Without thinking, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, then rolled over gently to get up off the bedding.

Spike touched the cheek she had kissed. She had never kissed him of her own free will and it was a heady thing. He couldn’t let her just walk away after that. “Buffy, I swear, if we were alone,” he started.

“What would you do? Ravish me? That would prove difficult, seeing as I have a semi-blistered body,” she said impishly as she put on her flip-flops to go outside.

“We’re going to have to talk about this, love, and soon,” Spike sternly told her, standing up himself, forgetting that he was sporting a raging hard-on. Buffy looked immediately to his groin and she licked her lips. He quickly moved to stand in front of her, lightly grasping her shoulders and leaning in close to whisper words across her sensitive skin.

“Do you have any idea what you do to me, Buffy?” his eyes pleaded with her to understand.

“What do I do to you?” she challenged.

He grabbed her small hand and brought it to his erection, making her grasp its length in a tight grip. “This,” he hissed as she slowly moved her hand up and down his shaft. “This is what you do to me, have done to me for so long,” he groaned.

“How long?” she murmured, never taking her eyes off of his hard stare.

“Since I first saw your sweet face, angel. I was so lost, couldn’t bring myself to touch your innocence. But the more I saw you, the more I craved your soft touch. I waited for any word that might say I was worthy enough to grace your presence, but I became impatient, as we grew older,” he explained, caressing her face with his fingertips.

Buffy was stunned into silence at his admission. How long had they known each other? Buffy could barely comprehend the devotion this man apparently had for her. Was this the reason she never really felt the compulsion to date any of the men at school? Was this why she never felt comfortable around men except for Spike and Xander? Xander was like a brother to her, yes, but Spike…Spike was something else entirely.

“But why did you never tell me?” she whimpered, tears gathering in her eyes.

“I wanted to love you from afar Buffy, I swear I did…I tried so hard,” Spike managed, her tears causing him to get all choked up. “Guess that didn’t work so well.”

Buffy’s heart lurched painfully in her chest at his words. “You love me?” she whispered, the tears now falling down her bright pink cheeks.

Spike finally grasped that he had said too much. The cat was out of the bag now, and there was no going back…not that he’d even want to at this point. He stopped Buffy from stroking his eager shaft and stilled her hands. He then pulled her face close to his and looked deep into her eyes, forcing her to accept the truth of his words.

“I have loved you since I first clapped eyes on you. I fought it, I did.” He bent to rummage through his coat and pulled out the worn picture, showing it to her. “This? This is when you stole my soul, wishing I could follow you to where yours would fly. I want to go where you go, see the things you see, be all that you need,” he said fervently.

“I…I don’t know what to say,” she cried as she tried to back away from his admission. She couldn’t handle going from the nobody that lurked around the school halls to being someone’s everything in the blink of an eye. “I can’t do this, I can’t!” she said and rushed out of the tent.

“God damnit!” Spike swore softly. He ran his shaking hands through his blond locks and sighed heavily. This trip had turned into the biggest mistake of his life so far and he’d compounded the error by telling Buffy the long hidden truth. He carelessly shrugged on his boots and headed out of the tent to find the loo…or something good to aim at.

He left behind a very bewildered, barely awake Willow who just stared after him. Xander popped into the tent with a steaming mug of coffee and just looked at her. “What was that all about?” he asked.

Willow smiled crookedly and sipped her coffee. “Seems our little Spikey has been keeping a few secrets of the really devastating kind to himself and now Buffy is fully aware of them.”

“What? Did Spike put those nudie pics online or something?” Xander asked and got an earful of how dumb he was.

“No doofus! Spike has major crushage on Buffy, has for years it seems. And I wager she has it for him too. Just they’re too stubborn to admit it to each other,” Willow explained.

“Spike has it for Buffy? Really? How bad?” Xander said in amazement. Willow had decided that Xander wasn’t too dumb, just really unobservant.

“Bad,” was all she would say. “As in the big ‘I do’ sort of way.”

“Woah, that’s bad,” Xander agreed. “Glad we weren’t that foolish,” he offered referring to himself and Willow.

“Yeah, we’re paragons of noticing the truth,” Willow said sarcastically. “It only took us,” she looked at her watch, “oh, only 17 years to finally realize that we would fit together like a puzzle piece.”

Xander sniffed in disdain. “Fine, but I say we at least wizened up and got with the program.”

“True,” Willow acknowledged. “Now if we could only help Spike and Buffy…” Her mind was already going a mile a minute with ideas to help the lovelorn pair.

“How about fishing today?” Xander offered.

“Fishing? Only if you set up an umbrella to keep the sun off Buffy and me,” she countered.

“Not a prob. Besides, I’ll find a shady spot to set up…less sun that way too.”

“We’re not going on a boat are we?”

“Are you kidding? They won’t let us near the docks,” Xander said with exasperation. “I mean, it’s not like we tried to drown you or ourselves.”

Willow giggled and pecked him on the cheek, heading for the tent door. “We really need to help them Xander. He loves her so much, I almost started crying when he said it.”

“Spike said he loves her? Oh god, it IS bad!” Xander said in mock horror.

She slapped him on the arm and stepped out of the tent into the fresh air of the forest. Spike was sitting at the picnic table, staring out into the woods and Buffy was nowhere in sight. ‘Oh joy, this will be fun,’ Willow winced to herself.

“Well here goes nothing,” she muttered under her breath as she sat down at the table in front of Spike. He glanced at her and gave her a small smile. “What’s up Red?” he asked though she knew he didn’t really want to know the answer.

“I think we need to talk, Spike,” Willow said as if a parent to a child, and she watched Spike visibly cringe.

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