All About Spike

Who Am I?
By Herself

Sequel to Listening to Garnetta; part of The Bittersweets Series

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Buffy doesn't think she knows. Spike hopes she'll figure it out.

Author Notes: This is the fourth in the BITTERSWEETS series, following "Listening to Garnetta." The BITTERSWEETS are set in a AU season 6 verging off of "Wrecked."

Dedication: As always, for Kalima first and foremost. Also for the Bitches, and Deborah M.

Completed: January 2002.

Disclaimer: Joss creates, I borrow

This begins later the same day of my previous story, “Listening to Garnetta.”

“Spike. There’s something I want to tell you.”

He glanced up from the telly. Man United were well ahead, so he could afford to miss a little of the action.

Buffy had been messing about for the last two hours at the desk nearby. Maybe trying to figure out how to pay the cable bill so he could go on watching the footie whenever he fancied, but that wasn’t his problem. She’d gone out for a few minutes, and now she was back, standing just inside the open front door, bathed in the slanting light of late afternoon.

“I wrote to Giles.”


“Signed, sealed, mailed. Just now.”

Hello. She didn’t just mean written to Giles. She meant, written to Giles. He killed the volume on the TV. “What did you tell him?”

She gripped her hands in front of her and looked up at the ceiling. “That . . . I . . . that we . . . .”

He waited, with interest but no hope, to hear what circumlocution she’d come up with to describe this business. Theirs was an affair of expediency, he knew that. He was just lucky to have had nothing to do with bringing her back, and hadn’t otherwise abandoned her since. Attrition, that’s what had done it in the end. Her move to tip off the Watcher had him, frankly, gobsmacked.

“I said . . . I said that . . .” She sprang to the desk drawer, pulled out some folded sheets. “Here, read it yourself. I copied it over from this, this wasn’t neat enough to send. But it’s what I wrote him.”

Scrawled on the black-edged writing paper left over from answering the condolences for Joyce. How appropriate, Spike thought. And cripes, what a mess. Every second word scratched out, and not just with a line through it but obliterated under layers of furious ink. The three pages he held would’ve come down in the end to one side of the small notepaper.

Before he could begin to read it, she snatched the sheets away from him, and crumpled them into a tight ball. “I told him that since I . . . got back . . . that you’d been kind to me . . . sometimes . . . and honest with me . . . all the time . . . and . . . that things were different now, and so . . . you and I had an understanding.”

Spike ran this back through his head with the stutters and ellipses taken out, and then cracked a smirk. “Slayer. An understanding? Was that the word you used?”

“Yes. Yes. It was the word.” She opened the ball of paper in her fist, consulted it officiously, and balled it up again. “I said we had an understanding and that you were helping me meet my responsibilities.”

She was a romantic little thing, his Slayer. So full of fey flights of passionate poesy. Responsibilities. Understanding.

He grinned at her, grabbed his crotch. “Got quite an understanding of this, it’s true, love.”

“Spike. Gross.”

“So, are you gonna tell the effin’ Scoobies that we’ve got an understanding?”

“. . . yes. Yes, I think I should.”

“They’ll throw us a party.”

She sagged, and turned away from him. “Okay, let’s keep it a secret. That always turns out well, every time I try it.”

“What turns out well?”

Xander. He must have let himself in through the kitchen. Now he stood in the living room doorway, giving Spike that raised eyebrows look that said I’ve never trusted you and why are your feet on the coffeetable I made and why don’t you just die?

“What turns out well?” Buffy was flustered. “Tuna noodle casserole. Mom’s recipe. Gonna make that for dinner. Always. Turns. Out. Well. I hope you’ll stay.”

“Is he invited?”

“Never touch the stuff.” Spike got to his feet. “Right. I’m off.”

“What’s he doing here, anyway?” Xander said. “I don’t like the idea of him wandering in and out of here whenever he likes.”

Buffy glanced from Xander to Spike. Spike raised an eyebrow at her. She blushed, looked at her boots.

He decided to rescue her. Because for once, he could. “I’m just paying a call, ain’t I, mate? Leaving a card on the lady of the house.” Stepping around Buffy without touching her, he went to the door. He was supposed to hang around again after Dawn came in, so Buffy could patrol, but if she didn’t even have the courage to tell Harris on his own, now she’d supposedly made up her mind, he wasn’t going to play faithful watch dog. At least, not tonight. So he’d go off and have a pint. Or ten.

“Spike’s here because he’s my lover.”

His hand slipped from the doorknob. Goddamn. Well, she wasn’t the Slayer because she was a bleeding coward, after all. Turning, he saw Xander go dead pale under his construction tan, his mouth drop open. Then, he giggled. “Joke. Right? Big unfunny joke. Tell me. Please.”

And there was Buffy, looking straight at him, all tense and fiery. “Not a joke. And nobody’s going to make it a joke. Because somehow nothing’s much of a joke for me these days.”

Of course Harris couldn’t withstand that look. Spike saw him swallow hard, drop his eyes, shuffle backward. He almost felt sorry for him—he was always getting thrown for a loop, the sap. And he was always the man Buffy didn’t want.

But then Harris rebounded. “Buffy. Speaking as your friend. Let’s be serious now. Do you really think that’s wise? I mean—“

“No, I don’t think it’s wise. But it’s a fact.”

Spike leaned against the door, admiring her. She wasn’t really sticking up for him, was she? But for herself.

Good on her.

“Well.” Xander plunged his hands into his pockets. “So I guess, in that case, you don’t need me to—you probably want to be alone with—I’ll just go get on with my life. Since I don’t happen to be undead.”

And plunged out the way he’d come, slamming the kitchen door with a resounding crash.

Buffy stood and stared at where he’d been.

Spike detached himself from the door. Caught her arm just as she tried to swing out of his reach. Pulled her against him. She resisted, but not very hard. Had she really wanted to, he wouldn’t have been able to hold her.

“I don’t know if I want to lose all my friends over this.”

Friends? Spike thought. Lose?

“Go off after him, pet. You know he’ll make a bee-line for his demon, and it’ll be all ‘round the town in ten minutes. They’ll all be assembled when you get there. Go slay ‘em. I’ll wait for the Little Bit.”

“I hate them.”


“I hate you.” She laid her forehead against his neck. He was about to turn her face up to kiss her when she grabbed his wrist and gave his arm a hard, sharp twist.

“Owfuck! What was that for?”

“I’m trying to stay in touch with my feelings.”

That was almost a Dru move. Barmy. He wanted to retaliate, but he’d heard enough from Dawn about how they couldn’t afford to wreck the house anymore. Anyway he didn’t feature the Niblet walking in to find them playing at shuttlecocks with each others’ heads. “I’d say you’re in contact, yeah,” He nursed his arm and looked at her.

She didn’t answer. Just grabbed up her jacket and walked out of the house.

“Are . . . are you going to live with us now?”

He was very fond of the kid, but this was too much. He couldn’t have this. Whatever he was to the Slayer now, it wasn’t a husband, no way no how, and he wasn’t going to be any daddy to Dawn.

“Vampires don’t live in houses.” They don’t look after any sodding children.

She frowned, and he could tell she was trying to assemble counter-examples. “Doesn’t Angel live in—“

“I’m not bloody Angel!”

“Well, what about Dracula? A castle is just a big house, isn’t it?”

The rage that stabbed up through him seemed to come from nowhere; certainly it wasn’t his conscious intention to roar at her in full-on fang-face, to make her scream and scramble out of the kitchen, trip over the runner in the hall and go sprawling. And her with an arm in a sling. Nor did he feel any satisfaction at all when she screamed again as he bent over to pick her up, even though he’d shaken his demon down first. But damnit, he was a vampire. Chipped, true, in love, fine, but still what he was. Not a domestic animal.

“Don’t mind me, precious, guess I’ve got the rag on,” he mumbled, turning his back on her once she was on her feet again, lighting a cigarette even though he knew he shouldn’t smoke in the house. “Better get to bed now.”

She escaped to her room, and he took his fag out to the front porch. Hours since Buffy had gone haring off after Xander, to beg his pardon. Excuse me for living. Who was he to judge, making the beast with two backs nightly with an ex-demon who had no more remorse about her past than he did. They were both creatures of expediency—things changed, different loyalties formed. But regrets? Backpedaling? Not in the manual. Demons live in the present-tense. If Xander imagined she wouldn’t take her powers back in a red second were she given the chance, he was an even bigger fool than advertised.

God, their tortured self-righteousness was better than a play. Looking from face to face around the research table, Buffy wondered when exactly they’d all gotten so seedy. Xander was puffing and blowing like Principal Snyder. Willow, her eyes practically bugging out of her head, was spluttering about how there were no judgments here and how they just wanted to help her, while the fear and dislike and defensiveness poured off her in waves. Tara—who’d dragged her over here?—sat half-turned away from Willow, red-faced, sunken in embarrassment. And Anya, with those glittering chipmunk eyes glued on her, held Xander’s arm and nodded along with his every pontification.

So what was she waiting for? Absolution? A catastrophic burst of group-mind-change, followed by the cathartic group hug?

She’d told them.

Spike is my lover. Get used to it..

And they hated it. Oh, loud and clear. The grave-robbers hated it. Two suffering creatures who’d dug their way out of their own coffins couldn’t have a mutually agreeable sexfest without the approval of the Mighty Scoobies. Which was Denied. Denied. Denied.

Oh, deny it all.

She’d thought there was some point to this, letting them, her trusted associates, hear about it face to face, but now it seemed like sending out a memo would’ve been a better idea. The longer she stood here listening to them harangue her, the more they might imagine she owed them anything anymore, after what they’d put her through.

Willow was waving her hands, saying “This is. . . is . . . is . . . only a reaction, a maybe pretty extremely wrong bad reaction, true, to . . . to the cataclysmic change you— It’s important to remember that it’s just temporary. As you get integrated again . . . reconnect to your environment, you’ll—“

“It’s not a reaction. What it is, is one fantastic fuck after the next. Oh, and hours of mind-blowing oral sex. Spike never needs to inhale, do you realize? Orgasms for days. Which takes my mind off how incredibly dreary, blah and awful everything else is around here.”

The expressions on their faces after this speech indicated that further communication was out of the question. So she didn’t throw in her other point, about how Spike never took it upon himself to deliver diagnoses of her, to tell her what she ought to be thinking and feeling. I can imagine you love me too . . . Well, almost never. His record was way better than theirs anyway.

Buffy got as far as the hardware store down the street before the headache began, pounding behind her eyes. What had become of them all? Her devoted, funny, resourceful, loving friends? Her self? She felt older than Garnetta, older than Spike, older than fuck.

Came back wrong. So what was she now, exactly? It was true, she didn’t feel quite real.

Her memories were all intact, but they seemed to belong to someone who was not quite her, the way in a dream you might see Cary Grant but know full well he was really Xander, even though when he opened his mouth, it was your old biology teacher’s voice that came out of it.

Some part of her was bent or missing or flipped over. The joins that glued her mind to her body to her soul—did she have a soul now?—were sloppy; she could feel them chafing. Not integrated, wasn’t that what Willow had said?

Spike knew it; at first he’d taunted her with it, but now he kept trying to yank her back as she started to float off into the ether. She felt sorry for him. No doubt: his love was real. Too bad he couldn’t fix it on someone else, who’d know what to do with it. He really thought his moon-calf expressions, his sexual voodoo, his intricate reassuring words, were going to make a difference in the end. Thought he’d teach her to love him. But he didn’t know that what they’d brought back wasn’t about loving. Love was somehow beside the point now.

Even when she’d seen Angel, even when he’d caught her up in his arms with the kind of intensity she’d thought was long over between them, the emotions that bubbled up felt weirdly blunted and second-hand.

Hard to feel like a real girl, when love seemed like nothing more than a silly conceit.

Beneath her now.

He was waiting for her on the steps; his cigarette end glowing.

“Go home, Spike. I’ve got a splitting head.” She pounded past him, the wood seeming to give way under her feet like rubber. Her ankle brushed the hem of his leather duster, but he didn’t put a hand out to stop her. The door slammed.

“Know the feeling, pet,” he murmured, puffing smoke into the dark.

He was starting to get it now. She wasn’t going to interfere with his fantasy that, in some deliberately undefined way, she returned his ardor. But she wasn’t going to pretend, either, in any way, shape, or form, that it was going to lead anywhere. Or that it made her happy. That anything did, or would. Happy wasn’t in the picture.

So what was it all about, then? If she was better off dead, didn’t he dishonor her by feeling joy in her arms? By feeling joy when she could barely feel anything at all? If there was nothing ahead but bleak and more bleak, did his “love” bring her anything except another burden of expectation to carry? Was he just being his usual arrogant self to believe the pleasure he gave her carried any sort of healing mojo at all? But if he left her alone, then what would she have? The Scoobies weren’t filling the breach. Buffy wasn’t exactly a social butterfly, ready to sail out and make new connections. It wasn’t good, Spike thought, to be alone. For vamps. Or humans. Or any creature on two legs, really.

He walked slowly through the cemetery, trying to puzzle it out. If she put him out of her life entirely . . . or if she died again . . . he’d have nothing to go on for. He’d always been a one-woman man. The pleasures of being a vamp were hollow if there was no one to hunt with, no one to bring the half-dead fibrillating game home to, to fuck and sleep with after in a tangle of limbs warmed by the blood of the prey. When Dru left him, and he’d had that bad luck with the Initiative, all the parameters of his being were ripped down. If he’d not thrown his lot in with the Slayer’s when he had, Spike thought, he’d quite probably be dead by now. Of boredom, if nothing else.

He’d do anything for that girl. Anything at all that she asked or expected or approved. But he didn’t kid himself he’d gone good, not like that poof in LA, poncing off after total strangers to offer supernatural assistance. But even so, if the chip came out tonight, he was afraid he’d not be able to return to the rough and tumble. He knew too much. Was too altered within himself. That happened, it would be time for the walk in the sun. No, he was all for her now, or for nothing at all. So if he couldn’t get her to Choose Life, and include him in it . . . well . . . they’d both be damned to hell.

He paused to light a fresh cigarette. Considered going back to Ravello Drive. He knew a trick or two for an aching head. Didn’t like the thought of her alone, suffering, going over whatever those friends had said to split her head in the first place.

But then he heard her voice again. Go home, Spike. No one but Buffy could spit his name at him with just that pitch of disdain. So, no. He didn’t hold it against her this time, they were both moody bastards. But no.

A couple of beers in the comfort of the crypt and so to bed.

It was then he smelled it. Fire. Fire in the cemetery? On a cool clear night, no lightning strikes to blame?

Ah. Of course.

There they were, waiting for him. Hadn’t wasted any time after getting the bad news. Willow, Xander, Anya. Standing around, stakes in hand, watching the bonfire. That they’d made. Of his things.

The door of his crypt was wide open, and every movable object he owned was on the flaming heap. Clothes, furniture, bedding, the telly. And the metal lock-box that contained his only irreplaceable possessions.

“You fucking bastards!” He vamped and charged in among them, hoping to confuse them long enough to grab the box out of the conflagration and scarper with it before they could fall upon him with their stakes. But with a fire that big in the middle of a melee, the odds of him not getting thrown—or knocked—into it weren’t good. Still, the box was important. The remnants of twelve decades of travel and kills were in it. A piece of the sheet, stained with his own blood, on which Angelus had relieved him of his virginity. One of the black silk stockings Dru had been wearing—all she’d been wearing—when he first clapped undead eyes on her. A coil of black hair, taken from the Chinese Slayer. Some little leather-bound volumes of Keats and Shelley and Wordsworth so rubbed and foxed they felt like suede. William’s pathetic diaries, written in purple ink with too many curlicues, now faded, but not enough to make their idiocies illegible. A cracked porcelain head from one’s of Dru’s dolls. Postcards scrawled by Darla or Angelus, bragging about mayhem and conquests, postmarked across Europe and Asia. Grinning photographs of Spike and Dru taken in every decade, in every place they’d been, the pair of them always young and beautiful and damned. He wouldn’t let all that go without a struggle.

Xander grabbed the tail of his coat and yanked; suddenly Spike was down, and they were on him, knees on his waist and arms, a stake at his heart, faces right up against his, and the fire so close it had to be scorching them as much it did him. Although they had less to worry about from leaping sparks. Which were everywhere.

“You really have gone too far this time, Fang Boy,” Xander said, bearing down on him. “This is the only warning you’re gonna get.”

“Buffy doesn’t know what’s in her best interests right now. So we have to act for her,” Willow said. “And we’re not going to let you take advantage of her while she’s vulnerable. You leave town tonight. We see you again, you’re dust.”

“You have nothing left to stay here for,” Anya added. “Your goods and chattles will soon be ash. And Buffy does not really care for you. So you can depart now.”

The fire gave off a great crack and half-collapsed. Embers danced through the air, and Spike shouted as they touched down on his clothes and hair and face.

That was the armchair and most of the headboard gone. He could still see the metal box, out of the corner of his eye. Half sticking out from under some branches they’d heaped up to get the fire started. Throwing them off would give him the big argh, and then they’d just be on him again before he could scramble up and grab it. Christ. Fuck the bloody-fucking chip.

“Hey— Hey. What’s going on?”

Willow started up, and suddenly he had an arm free. “Dawnie. What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out at—”

“Don’t you talk to me! I’ve had enough of you!”

Spike craned his head back and saw her, all eyes and vehemence in the orange fire light, so like her big sister. Facing down the big bad witch like a champ. Still, what the fuck was she doing out here? It was after eleven.

“I don’t have to listen to any of you! I’m here to find Spike. What are you doing to him?”

“Just . . . talking.” And there was Xander’s knee off his chest.

Spike rose, slapped himself down. Mud on the leather. “You found me, princess.” Things were come to a pretty pass, now the Niblet was rescuing him. The heat his worldly goods gave off was intense; he shuffled away from the flames, towards her. Noticed Xander take one menacing step forward. Decided to ignore him.

“Shouldn’t be out alone. Not at this hour. What’s it about?”

Dawn glanced at the others with an uncertain air, then stepped up to him and pitched her words to his ear alone. “Buffy’s in her room crying, and she won’t answer when I knock, and the door’s locked, and I thought you’d know what to do, but you don’t have a phone, so I came to find you. You need to get a phone, Spike.”

“I need to get a lot of things, yeah.” He shrugged towards the blazing fire. Dawn blinked, taking it in.

“But . . . but that’s your stuff.” She gazed at the fire for a moment, and then at the Scoobies. “You guys did this? You are so in trouble with Buffy!”

This pronouncement, which made Spike want to laugh and cry at the same time, provided just enough of a diversion to allow him to make a try for the box. Owwww hothothot! He caught his hands back. Damn. The box had moved a bit, but not enough. And shifting it brought the blazing TV down with a crunch and a whoosh of blue and yellow flame. Leaving him worse off than before.

Spike turned to Willow, who was giving Dawn the hairy eyeball.

“Oi, witch. My memory box. Give it me or else no one’s going anywhere.”

Willow glanced around slowly, and her eyes in the firelight were spooky with barely-thwarted power. “You want your box, Spike? Okay. I’ll give you your precious box.”

She said a couple of words he couldn’t catch, raised her hand, and the box shot out of the flames.

When he was able to sit up, groaning and clutching his dented chest, there were ten Dawns marching round and round, but no sign of anyone else. The heavy lock-box lay nearby in the grass where it felled him.

Dawn held out her good arm to help him up.

“Are you going to—“

“Going to get you home. Before big sis notices you’re missing, if we’re lucky.” He picked up the box, tucked it under his left arm, and took her hand. Dawn craned around to watch the fire as they walked away from it.

“They were threatening you, weren’t they?”

“Doing their job . . . as they understand it. But about Buffy. She was crying?”

“All your things are gone.”

He tried to laugh. “Nothing in there I didn’t scrounge or scavenge or steal since I came to Sunnydale. Vamps travel light. We don’t get attached to things.”

“So what’s in the box?”

“Did you hear what she was crying about? Did she say anything to you when she came in?”

Dawn glanced at him; her face was clear and stoic in the streetlight beam.

“She hates being alive again. Doesn’t she?”

Spike searched for some answer to this.

“She hates all of us,” Dawn said.

“No, princess. She doesn’t hate you.” Hmmm, not quite right there. “I mean—she doesn’t hate any of you. She’s . . . there’s a difficult patch. To get over. When you come back from being dead.”

“What was it like for you?”

Sweet Jesus, the questions that came out of those innocent lips. “Not the same thing at all. I wasn’t given back to my grateful friends and relations.” Hallelujah for that. “I was turned into . . . into something else.” And so was Buffy. Only I learned the rules, and she doesn’t know what hers are. Maybe there aren’t any. “Whereas your sis

. . . is just your sis again, an’t she?”

Dawn squeezed his cold fingers. “I wonder about that.”

They’d reached the house. Spike paused on the porch. “Go on in.”

“What are you going to do?”

“You said she’d locked her door. I’ll check on Buffy another way. Here, bring this in, will you?” He put the metal box into Dawn’s good arm, and watched through the window as she wobbled with it up the stairs and disappeared.

Then he went around to the back. Relishing the chance to do a bit of stealthy vamp stuff. Leapt easily up onto the overhang outside Buffy’s window. Made not a sound. The shades were lowered, but one window was open, and he could tip the shade up a bit with one hand and see in.

She was lying on the bed in her clothes, flat on her back. Hands folded on her chest. The way they’d been when she was laid out, before her funeral. The memory of that seared his mind like a beam of sunlight.

But clasped in her hands was the toy pig. Mr Gordo. And her eyes were open, staring at the light fixture. Or at nothing. The crying spell had passed, anyway, and she had that look of preternatural calm that Spike had already come to fear. Maybe the better part of valor now would be retreat. He was about to fade back when he heard her voice.

“You might as well come in. Peeping Spike.”

He lifted the window sash higher and slipped through. “Little Bit sent for me. Said you weren’t answering when she’d called to you.”

“I think it’s her you really love,” Buffy mused, her eyes fixed on the ceiling. “But if you touch her before she’s twenty-one, I will stake you.”

“No fear.” He came up to the bedside, peered down at her. She still hadn’t moved. “Want to tell me anything, Slayer?”

She spoke without looking at him. “I’m trying to think of what I could be. Since I’ve come back wrong. Maybe I’m an immortal now. I’d lay odds on it, in fact. What do you say, Spike? You’re a betting man.”

He kept silent, watching her, that no-expression of hers creeping over and into him like a fog. Not just a fog, a real thick yellow London Particular. A choker.

“I’m pretty sure I’m right. Of course, there’s only one way to find out.”

Nothing I’ve done with her’s had any effect. She lets me have her, and she comes, and smiles like the queen of the May, and all the while inside she’s shut up tighter’n an oyster.

Buffy stared up for another few seconds, her gaze brutally bypassing his. Then her expression changed. She frowned. Sniffed. Got up on one elbow. “You smell . . . charred.” She leaned closer to him. “You reek of smoke.”

Now she looked up, and her face, that had been severe and closed off a moment ago, opened itself to doubt and interest. “Spike . . . .”

“S’nothing. Walked by a dumpster fire, stopped to warm my hands is all.”

“You’re lying to me.” It wasn’t a question. Suddenly she was on her feet, touching him, sniffing him, yanking off his duster and shirt in an anxious inspection.

“Did they try to set you on fire?”

“Did you tell them the coming back different part? The most important thing? Did you put it in your letter to Rupert?”

“They did, didn’t they! Oh, Spike—“

“If you don’t tell them that, love, how can they begin to get it all sorted?”

She pulled his head down and sniffed at his hair. “Goddamnit, you smell like a—“ Her breath was hot and charged against his face, and then her eyes were glistening. “They’ve gone too far!”

“Sssh, it’s nothing. See?” He stepped back, showed himself to her, half-naked as she’d made him. Not burned. And she dropped her head against his chest, her breathing ragged, and butted at him like an angry child. “Buffy, are you listening to me? You need to tell—“

Her hands scrabbled at his belt, his fly. Pushed his jeans down, surrounded his cock, which rose up at once to meet their heated handling. Buffy dragged her dress up, and toppled back onto the bed, pulling him down on top of her. “Right now Spike. Fuck me right now.”

No preliminaries; he found himself buried in her to the hilt, her tongue halfway down his throat, and—what was this?—pointy little Slayer-fingers digging into his arse. Fucking him. Holy cripes. The whole giving-the-whole-scoop-to-the-Scoobies thing could bloody well wait.

No no no no. It wasn’t enough. He was on her, in her, hard and heavy, cock, tongue, hands, body. Her fingers drilling his ass, raking his back, legs twined around him, crushing, intense, but it still wasn’t enough. She still wanted to scream and weep because he was too far away. She was still empty inside, still abandoned, alone, ignorant and unknown. Even if Angel, and Riley, and Parker and Xander were all standing around waiting to take Spike’s place when he slid off her in exhaustion, it wasn’t going to be enough. She wanted to open him up and crawl inside, to invade his sensorium, be in his mind.

See herself through his eyes.

Know what he thought he knew about her. Maybe it made sense to him.

How much better it would be to be Spike, who was getting what he’d wanted, or thought so, anyway. Who knew what he was and had no doubts or sorrows about it.

Who knew how to be in love.

“Tell me—“ she gasped, disengaging her mouth from his plunging tongue, even as she thrust her fingers farther up inside him, “tell me what you’re doing.”

“Fucking— I’m fucking your gorgeous hot cunny,” he babbled, “Fucking my darling love—fucking—Oh, your fingers, just there, oh my sweet God Christ—”

“Are you fucking the Slayer?”

“Fucking you—fucking Buffy. Oh God.” He trembled and bucked against her, and she thought he was starting to come, but then he went on in the same rhythm as before, and she knew it was an excess of emotion that had passed over him. He had his face buried in her neck, his hands wrapped around her head. Gasped with every thrust, and plunged at her like a sewing machine needle running up a fast seam. Her whole body was lit up, alive to the end of every extremity, craving his cock and having it and craving it and having it, her cunt a liquid vortex of shimmering desire—but it still wasn’t enough.

“Who’s fucking me? Is it Spike? Is it sweet William? Who’s there?” She crooned into his ear, and he lifted his head and looked at her with eyes that were unfocused and wild and smoky with sex.

“Your slave,” he murmured.

She flexed her muscles and caught him inside her; stilling him so he was tight against her, and her clit, mashed under his weight, sang and throbbed. She writhed around it, panting, watching him watch her, feeling him fight his need to move again, and then he dipped his head and caught her mouth, tongues twining. Still holding him in her inner grip, she went on thrusting in him with her fingers, until he began to tremble, and shimmy his hips, letting out a sound that she’d never heard him make before, a thin desperate keening that gave way to a helpless cry as he began to spend. His cool cum flooded her, and she loosed him to renew his thrusts. He came for a long time, moving up and back on her, his eyes closed, saying “Oh God Buffy “ over and over.

When his softened cock slipped out, she pulled her fingers out of his ass, and went on supporting his body with her own. She was still vibrating with her potential climax, lying still and letting it simmer inside her. After a few moments Spike lifted his head, and seemed to feel it too; he glanced at her, and lifting himself on his arms, moved to crawl down her length.

She grabbed his shoulder. “Stay here. Look at me while you bring me off.” She placed his hand on her mons. At once his clever fingers spread to their work; they seemed to bury themselves in her gooey flesh, as though she was made of something only semi-solid. As he caressed her, Spike looked into her eyes, and she wondered again who he thought he saw. Even as her breath sawed and her whole being coalesced around his moving fingers, she could not stop wondering why this somehow couldn’t mean much of anything to her, when so clearly it did to him.

“Who am I, Spike? Tell me who I am.”

“You’re Buffy. My mistress. My heart. My queen.”

As he said the words, she suddenly felt, poking against her hip, his new erection. Good God. How the hell would she ever be able to go back to mere human men, after—? She swung herself up, pushed him over onto his back, and climbed across him. Took his weeping cock head between her fingers and stroked her clit with it. So soft it was, the wet silky tip, over the hard shaft; she shuddered as she brushed it up and back against her pulsing flesh, and went off into a recurring wave of little rippling orgasms. Spike’s arms were over his head now, he hung onto the metal bedframe so tight it was a question whether he’d wrench it loose again; his expression as he watched her use his prick like the most delicate of digits was beautiful, haunted. He went tense beneath her like a strung bow. Taking pity on him, Buffy sank down on his cock, fucked herself on it, almost withdrawing each time so that he hissed and bucked to keep inside her. Then she stopped and held her hands out to him. After a moment in which he just gazed at her blankly, he let go of the bedframe and caught them. She brought his fingers with hers against her clit, guided their tight circular movements that made her gasp on every third breath. He watched her, his eyes full of worship and desire. His cock expanded in her as she rocked herself on it, with the most minimal movement, concentrating on the rhythm of their hands against her slick flesh. All the time, little orgasms took her like tiny strings of firecrackers popping off. She was making him delirious with the sight of her, and even more when she leaned over and presented him with her breasts. Spike kissed and mouthed them, his eager tongue going everywhere, nipping, licking.

His tongue. His hands. His cock. His hard shield of a chest and long white back. His hungry, devoted eyes. His unswerving attention. They might not be enough, not to resign her, or even to keep her in this life, but they were hers, and right now, she wanted them.

They were hers, damnit!

And they’d tried, her friends, to burn him.

To take all this sex and devotion and mysterious unfathomable love away from her.

That wasn’t their decision to make.

This time, she’d have the man as long as she wanted him, and not one moment less.

She sat up again, taking her languid ride, fingers of one hand laced with his as they rubbed her swollen clit, caressing her breasts with the other. Drinking in his face, his helpless open-mouthed blissed-out face. “Spike . . . Tell me . . . .”

“Yours, Slayer. Yours, Buffy. I’m yours.”

She leaned in closer to him, her breath catching with each circle his fingers made on her slippery flesh as she rotated her hips in time. “Tell me!”

“Never leave you. Never go ‘til you turn me out. Never leave—“ He was getting close too, the words coming on puffs of air as his body jerked under her.

“Tell me, William.”

“You’ve made me a man—can’t help myself—adore you—“

She caught her breath, froze for a long instant, squeezing him inside, pressing his fingers tight against her throbbing place, and then all her bones turned to jelly and she came.

Spike held her while she slept.

Buffy was dreaming; she ticced and twitched against him, sighing and murmuring. Nothing he could make any sense of, but he didn’t think she was getting much rest out of it.

Just as he’d thought, even though she’d come for a long time, shaking and gasping on top of him, calling his name, that he’d not really satisfied her.

Nothing was right, or easy, or peaceful.

Like you signed up for right, easy and peaceful when you drank Dru’s blood in that stinking alley.

Still, it was what he wanted for her, and it seemed it wasn’t in his power to bring.

Spike could smell the approach of morning long before the windows lightened. With the retreat of the dark he’d always felt at least a trickle of sadness, if not that sun-up was an outright cheat. Now, when the dawn chorus started up outside the windows, he experienced a stab of fear. They were out there, her friends, his enemies. The witch certainly was angry—and guilty and irrational—enough to do him harm, and unlike Xander and Anya, not so easy to shrug off. Hell, none of them were—they’d have had him last night, if not for the Niblet striding up like the cavalry coming over the rise.

If the Scoobies didn’t undergo a radical attitude adjustment, today, Sunnydale would be too hot to hold him. The idea filled him with rage. He wasn’t going to let them chase him off. Not after he’d promised in gasps and tears and jism that he wouldn’t leave her. Even though he was afraid every day that she’d leave him. Leave them all.

Besides, fuck’em if he’d start quaking in his boots over those self- righteous kids after all this time. Hell, he knew them. They weren’t all that. Didn’t know everything. Especially about Buffy.

But they could come at him with stakes and fire and there was nothing he could do to defend himself. He hated feeling like William again, tossed about by the whims of people who didn’t even really know him, and despised him anyway.

Buffy snorted in her sleep, and shifted against him, thrusting a thigh between his, burrowing her face into the crook of his shoulder. He stroked her hair, and feeling the sinuous thread of her pulse, kept his fingers against her neck.

Spike’s belly rumbled, and before he could catch himself, he was halfway into game face. Blood—live, moving blood. He wanted it. How long since he’d drunk from a human being? That girl Dru had sliced for him in the Bronze. Over a year ago, that was. Already dead when she was pitched into his arms, which took half the satisfaction out of it. Before that? He couldn’t remember the face of his last kill. Hadn’t known at the time it was to be his last, or else he’d have made more of it, perhaps.

So hungry.

It was a long cold walk down to the freezer in the kitchen. He didn’t want to leave Buffy’s heated side. Lying beside her, he was a man. Not a thing, a blood-drinker.

So he forced the demon down. Lifted his hand from the good place. He’d transcend appetite a while longer.

But. Maybe he should’ve bitten her when she asked him to.

Sired the Slayer. Had any vamp ever done that, in the course of history?

Would’ve solved a few of her more pressing problems if he had.

Although he was halfway sure her first act as a vamp would still be to stake him.

But probably not . . . he imagined driving cross country with her in the De Soto, taking her to New York. Every night leaving behind another small town with two or three fewer Pop. than when they drove in. And then Manhattan again! They’d live high there, two beautiful fierce creatures that they were. She’d have to kill all the prey they fed on, but that might not be so bad, in a way . . . would keep them close. Romantic, like.

No more understandings. No more responsibilities. She’d be his wild child and never leave him.

Suddenly Spike wanted a cigarette. A cigarette, and blood from a bag, and the mental image of bumpy-faced Buffy out of his head, because it sickened him.

God, it disgusted him.

His filthy mind.

Her eyes were open. She blinked, focused on him. Frowned. “What are you thinking about?”

It was as if she knew.

He pretended to be just waking up himself.

“I’m not going to let them kill you. I’m not going to let them even think they could get away with that.”

As if she really knew.

He hated this. It wasn’t that she loved him. It was her pride talking, that was all. And it made his own shrink up to about the size of a pea.

“Can look after myself,” he grumbled. “Forget about that. Trying to tell you last night . . . you’ve got to own up to the Coming Back Wrong thing. Substandard witching practices, dangerous. Always bite someone in the ass. Usually several some-ones.”


Now it was Buffy who was quiet.

Why must he keep on about that? He was still fixated on ways and means, obsessed with getting to the bottom of it all. Rather like Giles, she thought, the idea startling her. In some other place and time, Spike might’ve made a good Watcher. He was tenacious, and far from stupid.

“What are you afraid of, pet?”

She blinked. Pressed herself against him, passed a hand down his chest and belly, brushed against the dormant cock. “You . . . with me . . . they’ll adjust to. I guess. But the other . . . .”

She couldn’t think how to say what was in her mind, or somehow why. Except that he was always waiting to hear the next thing she’d say, and he listened to her when she spoke with his head cocked like a good dog’s. Spike listened and did not interrupt, and she knew he heard her. The only one who did hear, since she’d come back, without a headful of preexisting wishful fantasies about her.

Had to honor that, somehow. Just . . . because.

“I’m afraid that I’ll never feel any different than this, this hollowness.” She shifted her head so she could look at him. “Sorry. I mean, I know that’s not what you want me to say.”

“Want you to say the truth.”

He did.

“And I’m afraid that Willow will try to fix me and make everything unimaginably worse. And . . . I also worry that . . . somehow . . . that it’s not me who’s broken . . . it’s everybody else.” She raised her head a little off the pillow, scanning him. “I mean—how do I know this is the same world I left? Are you the same Spike I knew before? He had his moments, but I don’t remember him being so nice as you . . . Maybe I feel so alone because this is not where I belong at all.”

She said the words and waited for the pang that didn’t come. That it didn’t come frightened her—God, where was she? The Buffy whose misery used to come in so many subtle colors? But maybe there was something to that, after all, that she could recall her old pain, miss it.

She could see it grieved him, listening to her grasp at straws like that. “Losing you changed us all. But we’re the same ones you left, yeah.” He tried to crook a smile. “I’m still Big Bad who never had a chance with you.”

His words stirred something in her—she reached towards the feeling with frantic hope. What was it? It seemed to skitter away from her just as she came close to grasping it.

Still not enough.

But here he was. She grabbed his hand and brought it between her legs. There, that was real. His fingers, her wet pussy, desire that kept renewing itself as if nothing else was out of place.

No friends. No family, the First Slayer had told her. But she’d not done without this. No, not her.

“You’re insatiable,” Spike murmured. “I like that in a girl.” But he took his hand away, and she trembled with wanting it. “Don’t change the subject.”

“Don’t you. I know you’re still trying to pretend nothing happened last night, that nobody threatened you.”

He reached across to the bedside table, lit a cigarette, and tried to shake off the look she gave him. “Who’d dare?”

“Uh, right. But promise me you’ll stick close and not go off where they can corner you when I’m not around. Until I can hash it out with them. Promise me.”

“Care you might lose me, do you Slayer? There’s progress.”

“I don’t want anybody doing anything they’ll regret later on. That’s all.”

Was that all?

He was hers.

She took his hand again. Put it on her breast.

“Spike, promise me.”

He gave her nipple a gentle rub with his thumb, so that it stood up, and her whole breast warmed in his hand.

“If you’ll promise to ring old Rupert today and tell him what’s been going on. Leave the witch out of it, you’re right to be cautious about her. But tell him. He’ll know what to do, or who’ll know.” He paused. “Anyway, you owe it to him, all he’s been through with you.”

He leaned over and kissed the nipple he’d just rubbed into life, whorled his tongue around it until she gasped.

Lifted his head and fixed her with his penetrating gaze. “Slayer. Say you’ll do it.”

“Yes. This afternoon.”

He brought his mouth back to her nipple, and slipped his hand once more between her thighs. She sighed and shifted to give him more room. Felt for his cock; found it hard and moist-tipped, and rubbed its cool velvety head against the ticklish palm of her hand. Spike grunted, and shifting on top of her, took her in one smooth motion. Began a liquid rocking she matched at once. Loose-limbed, drenched, climbing towards it again together.

But still she could not escape her thoughts. I’m not really here, this is not really me.

The reason his chip didn’t know her. Not really human. Not really alive. Just a sort of reanimated thing, a Buffy body with memories. Because otherwise, there’d be more . . . more something. Wouldn’t there? Wasn’t there once? She remembered all kinds of things . . . Just more. Instead of this emptiness.

Kissing, grinding slow and heavy and sweet, his voice in her ear telling her her beauty, his pleasure in her.

So good, he was, her demon, her man.

She was sure that Buffy, if she was here, would have fallen in love with him by now.


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