All About Spike - Print Version
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Battle Stations
By VicNoir

Disclaimer: I own none of it, save for the actual prose and dialogue. Joss and his minions own all.
Timeframe: mid season 5--no spoilers to speak of
Pairing: S/B
Rating: NC-17
Feedback: please

Chapter One

He watched her silhouette against the window shade. Even in low light and at a distance he could make out the curve of her breast as she lifted her arms to change her blouse. The pile of butts beneath the tree was growing--he'd been there three hours, waiting for her return. She'd been with the schoolboy again; he could smell him on the air as she made her way up the walk.

His frustration was like a corked volcano. How Harmony had laughed when, during their last encounter, he'd murmured the Slayer's name at a crucial moment. Since then he'd avoided Harmony, and even that release was lost to him.

If he'd known to whom he might pray for deliverance, he would have pleaded for the release of his demon, that he might battle the Slayer and kill or be killed. But the bit of technology buried in his brain removed any hope of such a simple catharsis. He closed his eyes and recalled his favorite fantasy--the one where she chose him over the schoolboy, her little soldier-man, that guileless hunk of muscle and sincerity that regularly partook of the only thing he burned for these long nights. He'd lost his appetite and grown thinner--even the freshest butcher's blood had lost its savor.

It wasn't like him to miss her approach. Leaning against the tree, his eyes closed in reverie, he hadn't noticed the front door open. In the last second, when it was too late, he'd caught her scent. The Slayer greeted him with a sharp cuff to the jaw that sent his head back into the tree's trunk.

"What's up, Spike? Dawn says you've been out here for hours. Something I can do for you, besides end your miserable excuse for an un-life?"

He rubbed the back of his head ruefully. "Certainly can't say you haven't had your chance. When'll you finally get on with it, Slayer? Your threats are old and I'm beginnin' to think you've not got the wrinklies for the job."

The Slayer took two steps forward and in an instant had a handful of that very part of Spike. His eyes widened and he swallowed a groan, afraid it would sound more like pleasure than pain.

"My wrinklies are in fine working order tonight, Cadaver Boy. Now, let's start again. WHY have you been hanging around my house? And don't play games, I'm not in the mood." She punctuated this statement with a less than gentle squeeze.

Spike gasped and grimaced, fighting for control.

"Let go, Slayer. I won't say it again."

"Is that so? I rather think you're not in a position to be making threats." Her grip tightened once and then released, but she did not step away. At that moment, the clouds shifted, and a nearly-full moon revealed the expression on Spike's face. He struggled to hide the burning in him, the desperate ache that threatened to bring him to his knees.

The Slayer saw it there, only for an instant. She was confused and suddenly frightened. Something vibrated within her. She recognized it and it angered her.

She lifted her fist to strike again, but she was off balance. Spike ducked and pivoted, and the Slayer found herself flattened face-first against the tree.

Spike leaned forward, tentatively at first, then pressing himself full-length against her. She did not struggle, but was strangely still. The tension was exquisite in that moment. She felt the bark of the tree against her cheek, the solidity of its trunk against her body, and her mind went to ancient things that had always been and would always be.

He pressed closer and she awoke to other sensations. His lips, his teeth, so close to her skin, yet she felt no alarm. His arms about her, nearly protective in their grasp. And something elsea rising hardness against her lower back. She smiled shamelessly and arched herself against him. Her power over him at that moment was great, and she reveled in it.

Spike's body tensed in agony. The very real danger of his position was clear to him, and his instinct for survival begged him to flee. But other instincts were stronger, and when she moved against him, he could not control his response. A low growl rumbled in his chest.

He pressed ever closer, knowing that in a moment it would end. She would knock him back, throw him into the bushes, and--if he were very lucky--dust him dead.

"Bitch." His voice was hoarse with desperation. "Stake me. Finish it. I can't bear it any longer."

"Well, Spike, you never cease to amaze me." He loosened his grip and she turned to face him. There was a flush on her cheeks and triumph in her eyes.

Her words were taunting. His desire was clouded by anger and he grabbed her and forced her back against the tree. He dropped his lips to her ear and whispered.

"So sure of yourself, sweet Slayer. But why don't you kill me, then?"

Her breath was soft, but her answer stung. "I'm not into to slaying cripples."

He gasped and his fingers bit into her arms. The chip gave a warning spark, which he ignored. Still, she did not fight.

"A cripple, am I? Careful, pet. Provoke me one too may times and we'll see how crippled I am. I expect you'd be surprised."

The Slayer knew that it was time to end the dance. And yet she persisted, failing to recognize the peril in her tacticsand refusing to acknowledge the heat that she felt between them.

"Go ahead, Spike. Surprise me. I'm game."

His lips on her flesh were, at the same time, icy and melting, as they searched for and found the sensitive spot at the base of her throat. She felt his teeth graze her neck but registered no fear, realizing that her blood was not what he sought. He pressed her back against the tree, grinding himself into her with an intensity that stopped her breath, and when he touched her mouth with his, she knew she was lost. The very hard, very cold tip of his tongue made feather-like circles on her own, and she felt her entire body clench.

Finally, he pulled away, and the cool air on her face was a shock. He looked at her closely. His body was taut with the need to continue, but he had no desire to take her by forceeven if the chip in his head would allow it.

She dropped her eyes to hide, and he leaned in one final time.

"Oh, Slayer, what we couldn't do together. I've lived a long time and I know what makes a man a good lover."

"You're not a man--you're a monster."

He chuckled softly. "You have me there, pet. But I could make you cry for me like a child--and forget that smug schoolboy forever. I could make you lose yourself in pleasure--drown in it, 'til you didn't know your own name."

His words were taunting, but his tone was oddly tender. Still, she was humiliated by her own weakness, and rage coursed through her, obliterating desire. Her head made solid contact with his chest, and he went reeling, back into the bushes. She was on him in an instant, stake drawn, ready to end it.

Spike sprawled in the bushes as she straddled him. He lifted his head to meet her eyes, and in his face she saw his hunger, coupled with a longing for death. She could not do it, but neither could she admit to herself why she could not finish him.

"I could kill you now and no one would care, Spike. Not anyone, alive or dead, would mourn you. How does that feel, knowing that you are so utterly alone in the universe?"

"Yes, go on, be a bitch, make me feel bloody awful, but please do get on with it, won't you?"

"You'd like me to make it quick, Spike? Just when I'm enjoying your misery so much?" The Slayer leaned over him, grasping him tightly with her legs, noting with satisfaction that he remained hard within his jeans. He groaned in defeat.

"You want me to beg, is that it? Is that how you get your jollies, you silly bint? All right, so be it. Please kill me. Please."

The intensity of his plea stopped her cold. She leaned in closer, until she was nearly lying on top of him. Her breath came fast on his face, and he shuddered in an exquisite agony.

"No, Spike, I don't believe I'll kill you tonight." Her whisper was barely audible. "I like this new side of you I'm seeing, all vulnerable and humble. And I like to see you suffer." She leaned in and bit his lower lip hard, tasting it with the tip of her tongue. Spike jerked and bucked forward, throwing her off and jumping to his feet.

"I'm no cripple, Slayer. I don't need your pity. And someday very soon you'll know it. When I finally take you, you'll know very, very well."

"Oh, Spike, you're pathetic." But she couldn't meet his eyes as she tucked her stake away into her jacket and readjusted her clothes.

He straightened with wounded dignity. He had lost this round, as he had so many before, but he sensed a change between them.

She lifted her face into the dim light for one moment, and what he saw surprised him. There was no pity there, only confusion, and for a moment he felt sorry for disrupting her grip on reality. But he knew that this burning between them was not to be denied for much longer, and even as he turned to leave, her words echoed in his mind: "Go ahead, Spike. Surprise me. I'm game."

And indeed, the battle was joined.

Chapter Two

She couldn't believe she was doing this. WHY was she doing this? She should let him get what was coming to him, the stupid undead jerk. Still, she quickened her pace toward the cemetery.

Giles's call had come at the end of a particularly nasty argument with Riley--one of a series they had been having lately regarding the direction of their sex life.

She needed more. More than the formulaic 'kiss-kiss--touch-touch--flip-her-over-and-pound-her-into-the-mattress-a-few-dozen-times' that had become their regular routine. The boy had the stamina of a bull--she had to give him that--but he lacked creativity and seemed perplexed by her desire to experiment.

The incident with Spike a few weeks earlier beneath the tree in front of her house had awakened in her a curiosity about the male body--what made it respond, what made it shudder and squirm--that Riley had no interest in satisfying. Just a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, her boyfriend, with no desire to be made vulnerable. He didn't even like to be teased. It was only her genuine affection for him that made her keep trying to improve things between them.

When the phone rang, Riley had been telling her that maybe she had a problem--some sort of kinky hang-up that would be better explored on a therapist's couch than in their bed. She could have killed him for that little suggestion. As it was, she left his apartment without another word to him, not even bothering to tell him where she was going. Let HIM be curious for a while.

And now she was off to the crypt of her nemesis, her foe, her...her what? Spike really wasn't any of those things anymore. Their relationship lacked definition, but that was ok. She was sick of drawing lines around everyone and everything in her life, categorizing each interaction. This is what she knew: Spike was potentially in danger, it was her job to help, and help she would. Simple. Clean. Yeah, right.

She turned her thoughts to the task at hand: warning Spike that his old "buddy" Butch was in town. Giles had reported that Anya had overheard some whispered conversation in the alley behind the Magic Box between a couple of lesser, nuisance-demon types regarding a new gang of vamps on the Hellmouth led by a rival of Spike's from his Euro-trash days. Butch had the usual pretensions toward being a Master someday in the near future, and he apparently thought that taking out the local Big Bad was an excellent step in the direction of his goal.

The moon had just breached the horizon when the cemetery came into view. Buffy had an uneasy feeling for no good reason she could name. Drawing her stake, she hit the gates at a jog. A few yards past the entrance, she heard the unmistakable sound of Spike's voice raised in a shout of pain.

The Slayer broke into a sprint and hit the crypt door with a flying kick from five yards back. It flew open with a crash, and the scene within was revealed. She allowed herself a moment for absolute rage to wash over her.

Spike had very apparently been caught unaware and unprepared. Barefoot and dressed only in his jeans, he hung by his hands, suspended from a chain looped through the chandelier at center of the crypt ceiling. A sqat, homely little vampire, who could only have been the aforementioned Butch, stood next to him, and several others lounged at a distance--Butch's gang, out for a night of sport.

At the center of Spike's chest there was an angry red mark that was the exact size and shape of the end of the lit cigar that Butch held in his hand. The skin there was still smoking.

Five vamps taken by surprise by a Slayer on a mission. Then just three, as two were dusted on their way out the door. Finally, just Butch remained, a perplexed look on this face. He'd seen Slayers in action beforebut THIS bitch was like a demon herself and obviously took more than a professional interest in her work.

She circled him slowly, wondering how she could best take him out. He wasn't a Master--not nearly as old or experienced as Spike--but dangerous just the same. She was a breath away from leaping at him when Spike yelled a warning--as a sixth, previously unseen vamp emerged from underground to take the Slayer. She whirled, she kicked, she spun, she staked--he was dust. But Butch was gone, taking the opportunity to make his escape through the still-open door of the crypt.

She turned to go after him, then considered her options. If she left Spike here, dangling like bait, Butch would probably return--she could take him then. If he didn't return this night, well he'd be back at some point. She turned to look at Spike.

"You OK?"

"Ta, pet. Had visions of a...blistery...sort of evenin' 'til you arrived."

There was something about him hanging there like that, feet barely touching the floor, all the muscles in his arms and chest revealed and pulled taut by gravity. It made her think things.

"Bit of help here, ducks?" His voice was subdued--he was embarrassed by his position and excited by her nearness at the same time. Couldn't get much more vulnerable than that...or so he thought.

"You want me to let you down?" There was a smile behind her words, but her face remained innocent.

"No, by all means, luv, let me hang here all night...maybe Butch'll come back and roast me good an' proper."

"Now, why would I let him do that after I took the time and trouble to save your sorry undead ass?" She stepped closer as she said this, circling him. Suddenly, she was fascinated by the quality of his skin--it glowed ivory in the dim light and appeared to have the texture of velvet. She stood behind him briefly and reached out to touch his back. His intake of unnecessary breath was a hiss.

She circled around to the front again and leaned in to examine his wound.

"Hurt much?"

"S'fine." He swallowed the large lump in his throat and hoped she didn't notice the larger one growing in the front of his pants. "Let me down now, Slayer."

"Mmhm, yeah, ok, just a sec." She leaned in blew gently on the red mark at the center of his chest. He closed his eyes and hung there--what else could he do?

He felt rather than saw her retreat. When he looked again, she was removing her jacket, then her boots and socks. Barefoot, as he was, in a thin white tee-shirt and black slacks, she glanced around the room, finally spotting a small metal stool in the corner. She retrieved it, set it down about six feet directly in front of him and perched on it. She said nothing.

He tried to speak--nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again. 'Slayer...what's this about then? Let me down now." He tried to look stern. "I won't say it again."

"Mmmm...where have I heard that before?" She stood up and approached him again, very, very slowly. She saw his eyes widen. "Scared, Spike?"

"What?! Scared...of you? What I am' a might'... I want you to let me down."

"What if I won't? Whatcha gonna do about it, you big...bad...vampire?" With each word she took a tiny step closer until he could feel the heat of her body beneath her clothes.

He knew this game--had played it himself a more than a few times. Dru was always one for kinky, and chains and ropes and blindfolds and gags had been some of her favorite toys--but Dru had preferred to be the one tied up. She had rarely been interested in restraining him--it took more energy than she was inclined to muster.

A part of Buffy's mind remained detached and horrified at what she was doing. But it was a small part, and she shut it up with threats of violence. Her curiosity was too great to pass up this chance. What could she do to this creature? How far could she push him? She had seen the bulge in his jeans immediately, and knew she was having some effect...and THAT was having an effect on her, in turn. She hadn't stopped to put on a bra before leaving Riley's apartment, and now she could feel her nipples swelling and hardening beneath her tee-shirt.

Her hands snaked around his waist and she pulled him off his feet to grind his pelvis against her. His head fell back, exposing his throat and she fastened her lips there, licking and nibbling. Abruptly, she let him go and returned to the stool. He swung limply, trying to process the experience and decide how best to react.

Once seated, she watched him struggle to control his response. Finally, he lifted his head to meet her eyes.

"Never had you figured for a bondage freak, Summers." He fought to keep his tone light. He was afraid to reveal the depth of his arousal--it would have given her too much power, and she had more than her share as it was, given the circumstances.

"What can I tell you, Spike? I'm on a voyage of self-discovery...and you are coming along for the ride, so to speak." She gave him a grin that could only be described as evil.

Spike's head dropped back again and he let slip a moan. He was beginning to think that he had been safer in the clutches of Butch than in the hands of this girl, on this night.

Still perched on the stool, she considered her next move. Didn't want to push him too far, too fast--might as well make it last, since there wasn't liable to be a repeat performance.

"Are you really hungry, Spike? I mean, can I get you something, make you more comfortable" Her voice trailed off as she realized the absurdity of her question. He looked at her oddly.

"Well, luv, to be honest...I've known more comfy restraints...perhaps you could loosen..." He looked meaningfully upward at his hands.

"Yeah, right. I loosen, you escape, there goes all the fun and games for the night. Don't think so, but nice try." She followed his glance upward. "But I suppose I could take some of the pressure off your arms."

Leaping up gracefully onto to large sarcophagus that served as his bed, she loosened the chain from the chandelier, allowing him to drop his weight fully onto his feet. She heard him sigh with relief. Leaping down again, she approached him.


"I s'pose...but how 'bout a drink, then? There's a bottle of bourbon around here somewhere" He motioned with his head. She searched briefly, finally finding it among his stash of personal items. With it, she found several magazines of the pornographic variety.

"Why, Spike, you pig!"

"Oh, I'M a pig! Look who's got who chained to the ceilin'!"

"But I FOUND you this way." They smirked at one another. Then a rather evil glimmer--one that made him decidedly nervous--found its way into her eye. Very deliberately, she unscrewed the bottle and upended it briefly down the front of her shirt, soaking it to near-transparency. He watched, transfixed.

Walking over to stand before him, she brought the bottle to his lips and tilted it, giving him a long and much-needed gulp. Then she poured the remainder of the liquid down HIS chest.

"OWWWW!! You stupid bitch, that hurts!" He screeched as the alcohol seeped into the burn on this chest.

"Oh, God, Spike, I'm sorry...I wasn't thinking" Doing the only thing she could to relieve his pain, she leaned in and affixed her mouth gently to the red mark on this skin. Sucking at it tenderly, she felt a strange rush of emotion--almost warm and fuzzy--toward this creature of the night.

Licking the wound clean of all alcohol, she finally soothed him and stood. Looking down, she noticed that the pain hadn't erased his erection. Smiling slightly, she stepped forward and put a very tentative finger on one dark, round nipple. His reaction was most gratifying, so she increased her pressure, pinching and rolling the nub between her thumb and forefinger.

If he had needed to breathe, he would have been out of luck. The sensation sizzled from her fingers down through the pit of his stomach to the tip of his cock and back again. His erection pushed painfully against the buttons of his jeans, and for the first time in years he wished he owned a pair of underwear.

She didn't stop. Instead, she added her lips to the mix, affixing them to the other nipple, gently at first. Then she bit down on him and pinched hard at the same time, wondering how much was too much. Apparently, not that much. He gurgled in the back of his throat helplessly.

She let go abruptly and stepped back. When she walked, she could feel the swelling between her legs. This was way too much fun. Seating herself again, she let her hands slide gently over her wet torso, noting that that Spike licked his lips when she did. She stripped off her tee-shirt. Her nipples were nearly as dark and hard as his, and when she squeezed them she heard him make a rumbling noise in his chest.

"Spike? Tell me what you want."

He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He tried again.

"Please..." It was a whisper. "Pants...too tight."

"Oh!" She stood up quickly, but when she was directly before him, she became shy. Reaching for his belt, she wondered if she should call a halt to it now, before they were both too far-gone. Glancing down indecisively, she saw that his hips were straining forward towards her hands, and she knew that she had to continue, if only to understand the power of her own sexuality for once and for all.

His belt off, the buttons undone, his cock sprung loose in a manner that almost frightened her. It certainly wasn't the polite penis that Riley sported. She should have expected Spike to be uncircumcised--Angel had been, although she had never really gotten a very close look at him.

Interested--fascinated, in fact--she knelt to tug his jeans from his hips. Her breath on him there made the room swim in front of him. He lifted his feet mechanically to kick off his jeans and lost his balance, falling against her. His cock brushed her hair and the smooth skin of her face and he cried out. She jumped back in alarm.

"Are you OK? I mean, maybe we should stop"

"Please...Buffy...I need you to touch me...anywhere...for pity's sake, girl!"

She felt a mix of confusing emotions. On one hand, her inexperience and lack of knowledge was never more apparent to her than at this moment. On the other, she felt a surge of power, and an evil urge to torment this monster as he had tormented her in his pre-chipped days. She stood and moved away from him. He groaned.

"Are you suffering, Spike? Do you like it?" She decided in that instant to keep this night in the arena of gamesmanship. Something told her that if she allowed any deeper emotions to be accessed, they would both pay for it later.

The moon had risen high and cold light spilled in through the open door. She stepped outside for a breath of air and looked at the ground around the crypt. There, in the grass, she found a long, stiff crow's feather. Perfect.

She was holding something behind her back when she returned to him. He watched her warily as she approached. Her naked breasts glowed, and his bound hands opened and closed in frustration, aching to touch her. Then she produced the feather.

He started in real fear. As a child and a young man, before he was turned, he had been exceptionally ticklish. It had shamed him, this unmanly bodily response, and he had learned to steel himself against soft caresses for that very reason. Now, in this vulnerable state, he knew that he would be unable to control his reaction.

"Wha...what are you doin'?"

"I'm going to touch you. Isn't that what you said you wanted?"

"NO!!" He kicked at her blindly. She jumped back in surprise.

"Hey! Cut it out, Spike! You act like I'm going to pour acid on you or hold still." She gripped the muscle at his waist firmly, and then surprised him by planting a friendly kiss on his lips. "It's OK. If you hate it, I'll stop, I promise. OK?"

He looked into her eyes and saw that he could trust her...perhaps the very first person he could trust in his entire existence, living or dead. He nodded and steeled himself.

She ran the tip of the feather slowly from a spot behind his ear down over his ribs and abdomen and hip. He shuddered and bucked, but not in discomfort. He was surprised at the pleasure that surged through him at the soft touch of the feather as she circled behind him and began the stroke again on the other side. At the same time, he felt his frustration mounting. It had been at least half an hour since this little scene had begun, and except for some incidental contact, nothing yet had touched his aching cock.

Then she stood behind him and coaxed apart his legs slightly, giving one of his buttocks a gentle squeeze. She stroked the tip of the feather from the place where his nearly white hair met the skin of his neck, down the center of his back and between the cheeks of his ass. As she did it he shuddered, so she did it again, more slowly this time.

She had begun to find her own pants to be slightly uncomfortable. His response to her ministrations was so gratifying that she had a wild desire to unchain him and let him take her--but knew that she wouldn't. Not this night. Most probably, not any night. But that didn't mean she couldn't give herself some relief and heighten the stakes for him at the same time. Returning to the stool, she unzipped her slacks and peeled them off, checking to see if he was watching.

"Pink cotton, Slayer? And here I was anticipatin' a black leather thong on a kinky bird like you." He chuckled deep in his throat, staring intently at the few curls that escaped around the elastic edges of her panties and wishing with all his heart that x-ray vision was part of the vampiric special-powers package. He took a deep, absolutely unnecessary breath in order to catch her scent, and was rewarded by a soft muskiness that was the unmistakable clue to her arousal.

Seated again on the stool, she dragged the black feather down between her breasts and dropped her head back, concentrating intently on the sensation. As if of its own accord, her right hand found itself pressed against her crotch. She spread her legs wide to give herself better access and him a better view and began stroking her clit lightly through the soft cotton cloth. She heard him growl and opened her eyes.

"If you'd let me go, I could do that for you, Slayer. I'd do a good job." His voice had a pleading, ragged edge to it, and she noticed that his hips had begun to thrust ever so slightly in time with her fingers' strokes on her clit.

"No, Spike. Sorry. Stop talking now. Need to concentrate." She dropped her head back again and her hand began to move faster. Soon he could see a dark spot of moisture forming beneath her hand, and the scent of her filled the room. Her body was growing tense, but she wasn't ready to finish yet.

Sighing, she stilled her hand, and slowly removed the now sopping panties. Dropping them to the floor, she walked slowly over to stand before him, both of them totally nude. The nearness of him made her skin jump. She wanted to wrap her legs around him, lower herself onto his cock and ride away into oblivion.

Instead, she dropped to her knees and began again to stroke him with the feather. He hadn't been expecting it, and when she dragged the soft tip of the feather from his ankle up to his inner thigh, he hissed like a trapped animal and tried to kick at her again. She caught his calf in a killer grip that stilled him and forced him to endure it again, and then again on the other leg. Then she backed up several inches and began to contemplate his cock and balls. Her face had an intent, almost academic look as she studied him.

He swallowed thickly. "Cor, Slayer, you look as if you've never seen a hard-on before." He struggled to keep his tone even and failed.

"Well, I can't say I've ever seen one this...fancy...before. So many moving parts." She was fascinated by the way the rose-colored head protruded from beneath the foreskin.

"Yeah, well, I've one of the old-fashioned models, I suppose. It's a bleedin' shame the way they hack 'em up these days." He tried to laugh and found he couldn't.

Slowly, she raised the feather and touched the tip of it to his balls, making small, deliberate circles.

He couldn't stand it. He pushed away from her with both feet, bending at the waist, desperate to escape.

"Stop it, Spike. Hold still, or I swear I'll walk out of here and leave you like this." She didn't mean it. She wouldn't do it. But he didn't know that.

He forced himself back into position, grinding his teeth as she began again to stroke his inner thighs and balls with the feather. "There, now that's not really so bad, is it?" He shuddered violently in response.

The drops of pre-cum that had been forming all the while finally spilled over the edge of his foreskin and dribbled down the shaft of his cock, soaking the tip of the feather. She discarded it, realizing that his torment was extreme and that her own was reaching the point of no return.

She lay down on her back at his feet and stared up into his face, which was twisted into a sullen pout. Bending her knees, she spread her legs wide and dragged her hand up and down her slit.

"Stick out your tongue, Spike." Her voice was thick with desire. "Let me see your tongue."

"I'd rather let you feel it, Slayer." But he did as he was told. At the sight of it, she shivered and began stroking her clit double-time. Within seconds she was at the edge of orgasm. As she tumbled over, she opened her eyes wide and stared into his. She saw wild golden sparkles shoot over the surface of his corneas and the planes of his face shift slightly. She felt rather than heard a growl vibrate through him, and watched as his cock swelled even larger and grew an angrier shade of purple.

The spasms broke over her again and again and she rocked against her hand like a thing possessed. He rocked too, thrusting blindly against the air, praying that she would find it in her merciful heart to give him some release before he simply blacked out.

Then she was still. One hand remained buried in her slit and the other clutched one breast. Never before had she come like that. Her heart continued to pound in time with her throbbing clit, and she fought the urge to simply curl up and sleep there on the cold stone floor.

Finally, she looked up at him. He was staring at her in mute agony. The pre-cum that had been several drops only minutes before was now a small, clear puddle between his feet. His balls were a deep shade of blue, verging on navy, and she knew he must be in pain. She was sorry, and now she intended to fix it.

It took her a moment to find her feet. Steadying herself, she leapt up onto the sarcophagus again and disengaged the last of the chain from the chandelier. Without the chain to support him, he stumbled, nearly falling. She jumped down and grabbed him about the shoulders, removing the chain from his wrists and massaging them gently. She led him to his bed, such as it was, and helped him to lie down.

"'re leaving?" He steeled himself for her response.

"No. Not yet. I just need to catch my breath, OK?"

She sat on the edge of the sarcophagus for a moment and stroked his hair absently. The scent of her was intoxicating to him, and he shivered. She glanced over and noticed how hard he was trying to remain calm, patient, even respectful.

She urged him to slide upward a bit to give her room to maneuver. Propping herself up on his only pillow, she began to gently nuzzle his inner thighs and balls with her mouth and tongue.

His response was instantaneous. Every muscle in his body, every nerve ending began to sing. He had to bite down hard on his own tongue to keep from crying out.

She slid up a bit and, bracing the shaft of his cock against two fingers, she made the tip of her tongue into a hard point and inserted it gently into the tiny slit at the tip of the head.

His hips jumped off the stone once, twice, three times as she held her tongue there and wriggled it ever so slightly. The room began to spin around him and a burning sensation spread throughout his body, much like he experienced at the moment of a kill.

She took the entire head of his cock into her mouth then, sucking gently and chewing softly on the foreskin. He began to sob with pleasure. She continued, taking more of him into her mouth, nibbling and sucking while squeezing his balls and shaft with one free hand.

Her strokes became more aggressive and insistent. His cock was large, larger than Riley's, and she couldn't take the entire thing without choking--at least not without some practice. It didn't matter. He was too far-gone and her mouth and hands were too sweet and hot for him to bear much longer. He tried to hold back and make it last, knowing it might be the last time they would ever be that close. He sat up slightly and tangled his hands in her hair.

The muscles in his abdomen clenched into a white-hot ball. The spasms began at the soles of his feet, traveling up his legs to break against him in wave after wave of the most intense pleasure he had ever experienced in his existence, living or not. He fought to stay conscious, not wanting to miss a moment of it. He fought to keep his hips from bucking too roughly, not wanting to hurt her. Finally he gave into it, riding it out, and allowed his beast to emerge as he ejaculated a monumental amount of seed into her mouth.

She was amazed at his orgasm. It seemed to go on for a full minute, and when he finally released his icy load, she counted no less than twelve spurts. Luckily, she was ready for it, and found the taste of it to be more pleasant than she expected--less bitter and more refreshing. But maybe she was just thirsty.

He fell back onto the stone with a thud and lay there like the dead thing he was. She realized after a few moments that he was unconscious. She untangled herself from him with a sigh--male things were all very much the same after all. Finding her clothes, she dressed quickly, wishing she had worn a watch.

She was pulling on her boots when he awakened.

"Slayer?" His speech was slurred, drugged sounding.

"Yes, Spike?"

"You alright?"

"Fine. And you?"

He sighed and stretched, turning onto his side. "Hhmmmhmmm." It was a rumble and a growl and a purr and a moan all in one. She turned to smile at him.

"I have to go now."

"Have to?"


"Absolutely must?"

"Yes." Her voice was determined.

"I generally fancy a cuddle afterwards...don't you?"

She didn't answer him. Instead, she picked up his jeans and tossed them to him. "Here, you'd better get dressed."

He looked at her in surprise.

"Well, you can't stay here. Butch might come back, and I can't hang around all night waiting for him."

"Are you laborin' under the impression that I look after myself, Slayer?" There was an edge of irritation in his voice. She was pleased. Things were getting back to normal right on schedule.

"Look, Spike, you can stay here and wait for Butch and whoever he might bring with him, or you can come home with me and hang out on the sofa. Your choice. But I'm not going to stand here and argue anymore--I've got class in the morning." She gave him a pointed look. "And as for looking after yourself--well, think about what might have happened if I hadn't shown up here tonight."

"Oh, perish the bleedin' thought." He grinned at her and tugged on his jeans. In a few moments he was fully dressed, including his duster, and they were making their way through the cemetery.

As they walked through the entrance she rather casually questioned him, "Do you always make those...noises?'


"Yeah, you know, when you..." Suddenly she was shy again, and he was enjoying it. After the torture she had put him through earlier, he thought he deserved a bit of his own back.

"What do you mean, noises?"

She took a deep breath. "When you came. You made these noises. Like different animals."

"Oh, I see. Well, that's to be expected, darlin.' The beast in me, an' all that. I suppose I howled?"

"Yes and barked at one point I think. And roared like a lion towards the very end."

He stopped and turned to face her. "I BARKED???! AN' ROARED!?!?"

"Yeah. It sounded like you were channeling a petting zoo there for a few seconds."

He threw back his head and laughed at the sky. Then he tossed an arm about her shoulders and gave her a hug that was pure affection. She returned it without thinking.

"Full marks, pet. Can't say that's ever happened before."

They walked the rest of the way home in companionable silence.

Chapter Three

She hadn't slept well, knowing he was down there on the sofa, channel-surfing, maybe raiding the fridge during commercials. Not that her mom was likely to stock the O-neg, but she'd seen him tuck into a platter of wings often enough to know that he could get friendly with the people food.

When morning light finally broke, she crept downstairs to check on him. She found him sleeping, curled beneath his duster, the TV still on but muted, and an oddly contented look on his face. She watched him for a long minute, listening to the voices in her head tell her what a fool she was for letting him anywhere near her or her family. But she didn't feel foolish...she felt...what the hell DID she feel? Powerful. Yeah, that was one thing. The way he responded to her, the way he hungered for her made her feel more powerful than all the dusty vamps and averted world-endings of the last few years combined.

But there was something else.

She stood at the foot of the sofa, noting with surprise that he'd bothered to remove his boots before lying down. Well, perhaps he hadn't actually been raised by wild beasts after all, despite all the interesting sounds he'd made last night when he...oh, let's not go there.

He was awake then, and looking at her. So still, his face, as if carved from the finest marble. Her breath caught in her throat when he spoke.

"Mornin,' pet."

"Spike. Sleep well?"

He didn't answer. He'd only really been asleep for a few minutes, just long enough to dream a sweet dream in which she was touching him again, only this time his wasn't suspended from the ceiling, and she was allowing him to touch her back.

"You need to get downstairs before the sun starts blazing in here. I don't have time to vacuum up your dirty ashes before I leave for class, and my mom has strict rules about leaving dusty vampires on the carpet." Her words were bracing, but her smile was sweet.


"Yeah, as in basement, as in you, as in now."

"How 'bout I just borrow a blanket and toddle on back to my crypt instead? Don't mean to reject your kind invitation, but, really, luv, I'm fairly certain Butch won't be around. He's no bigger fan of the sunshine than I am. Besides, I'm half-starved."

"Don't be an ass, Spike. I'll stop back at lunchtime and bring you some blood. In the meantime, get some sleep. You'll need it."

"Yeah?" He waggled his eyebrows at her. "More plans for me, darlin'? Can't get enough of the trussed and helpless thing, eh?"

She didn't bother to blush. That was one of the things that was nice about her relationship with Spike...she didn't have to pretend that she was remotely innocent. Riley--now HE was big into the whole sweet and almost-virginal routine, and was not a happy camper when she let that mask slip, which she had been doing far too often lately.

She walked around the sofa to stand at his head, so that he was looking up at from an acute angle. Gently, she ran her hand through his blonde curls, then grabbed a handful and yanked sharply. Leaning down low, she looked directly into his eyes. He didn't look away.

Her hair fell on either side of his face. Her scent was of sleep, and dreams, and the soft cotton nightgown she wore was very thin.

"I mean that tonight we're taking out Butch and the rest of his gang, assuming there are more of them." She grasped his hair more firmly and darted toward him, capturing his full lower lip between her teeth and sucking it into her mouth.

He lay frozen on the sofa, except for the sudden and extreme hardening in his pants. She released him all at once and turned to go. He stopped her with his words. "Buffy?" She looked back at him. "Have a nice day, luv."


He had been quite deeply asleep when she'd left the mug of microwaved blood at the top of the stairs for him. By the time he awakened and found it, it was cold, but he didn't want to risk startling her mum or the kid by showing up in the kitchen to nuke it again, so he drank it that way. Besides, he'd often wondered if the waves of radiation did something funky to the blood...destroyed something he needed from it.

Late in the afternoon, the slamming of the back door awakened him again, and he listened intently to hear who had entered. It was Buffy, accompanied by the school-boy. Joy to the friggin' world.

They were arguing. Moving from room to room, often just out of earshot. He crept up the stairs to listen at the cellar door.

"I'm just saying that I wish you would have told me where you were going last night. I waited up for you for hours."

"Look, Riley, I said I was sorry. I meant it. Now drop it, please. I have things to do"

"What things?"

"I told you. There's a new vamp gang in town. Spike and I are taking them out tonight. In the meantime, I need to shower, and make dinner for Dawn because Mom is working late again."

"Yeah, that's another thing. Why are you and SPIKE working together on this? Why can't I help you take these hostiles out?"

"I told you that too. Spike has a history with the leader of this group. He knows his MO, and besides, this vamp is gunning for Spike. I need to take care of it."

"The vamp is gunning for Spike and you need to take care of it? I don't get it, Buffy, why the hell don't you let Spike deal with it by himself? What's the worst that could happen? Spike gets dusted? Now, THERE'S a loss."

Spike couldn't hear her answer because she didn't have one. He did hear Riley moving across the floor. Then: "Come on, Buffy. At least let me shower with you. We haven't made love in almost a week. I need you."

"Yeah, well, I need some stuff too."

"I know. How about this--I'll let you do whatever you want, OK?" Even at a distance and through the door, Spike could hear the tone of condescension in his voice. Simperin' prat.

"Don't do me any favors, Riley."

"Come on, Buffy. Please? I'll know...go down on you if you want."

"Like I said, Riley, no favors. Don't knock yourself out on my account." Spike could hear the anger and humiliation in her voice. "You should just go now. Call me tomorrow or something. I gotta get moving."

Spike heard her start up the stairs. He heard Riley sigh dejectedly and slam out of the house. He heard the shower two floors up turn on. And then he sat down on the steps to think.


The phone began to ring just as she stepped out of the shower. She let the machine pick up.

"Buffy, it's me. I'm staying over at Carrie's tonight to study for Algebra. I called mom already--she's ok with it. See you tomorrow."

Ok, well that was one less thing she needed to worry about.

The entire time she had been in the shower, her thoughts had ping-ponged back and forth between her latest argument with Riley and the fact that there was a vampire waiting for her in the basement. AND the fact that the vampire in the basement made her feel better about herself than Riley did. How could that be?

But now she was dressed and had some time to kill. Since she didn't have to cook anything nutritional for Dawn, she could make with the junk food, and maybe catch the news while she and Spike worked out a plan for tonight.

She stood in the kitchen, in front of the cellar door, undecided. After all, he WAS a guest and she should probably knock, but that just seemed silly. Still...

The door flew open in front of her and he stepped out, holding the empty mug.

"Thanks for the snack, pet. What's the plan for this evenin'?"

She looked at him sharply, expecting to see his usual suggestive leer. It was absent.

"Um...thought I'd eat something, then maybe we could talk about it--that sound ok?"

"S'fine. You didn't by chance bring anymore of this, did you?"

He walked to the sink and began washing out the mug.

"Um, yeah, in the fridge."

"Ta, luv." He turned to look at her. "How much do I owe you?"

She was mesmerized by his very normal, relaxed demeanor. "Huh?"

"The blood, ducks. How much do I owe you for the blood?"

"Oh. Oh, don't worry about's's..." WHAT the hell was she babbling for?

"Right, then. 'Preciate it. Now, could I trouble you for a shower?'


"A shower. I know, you probably think all us vamp-types enjoy bein' down an' dirty an' all---but I've never fancied stinkin' up the place, an' after last night..." He didn't finish. He just looked at her. And she wasn't embarrassed, and she wasn't ashamed, and it was just OK. Just really OK.

"Upstairs. You can use the guest bathroom, last door on the left. There should be towels and stuff."


She watched him walk out of the kitchen, and heard him climb the stairs, and tried not to think about him after that. She tried really, really hard.


He came down the stairs a short time later to find her flipping between Headline News and
Entertainment Tonight
. The sky had finally darkened enough that he didn't need to avoid the living room picture window, so he joined her.

He smelled clean. Not that he had reeked before, but now his skin and hair had a fresh scent that was extra-appealing.

"Um, Buffy?"

She looked at him.

"I'm goin' out back to have a smoke, alright?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Did you smoke in our basement? I'll KILL you if you smoked in my house!" Why was she suddenly so pissed at him?

"No! I haven't had a cig all day, cross my dead, unbeatin' 'eart." He looked at her with as much sincerity as he could muster.

"OK. Go ahead, but make it quick. We need to plan."

He stood on the back porch, dragging hard on his cigarette. The time had come. He ground out the butt beneath his boot heel and made his way back through the kitchen.

"OK, Spike, let's figure this out. What do you remember about this Butch vamp that we can use?"


She looked up at him. His eyes searched her face so intently.

"Before we start with the game plan, luv, I need to say something."

She had a sinking feeling that she wasn't going to be pleased by whatever he had to say.

He joined her on the sofa, without an invitation.

"Look, pet, I heard you and Soldier Boy this afternoon. I heard what he said to you."

'You heard? ALL OF IT?" Her humiliation came crashing back in on her, and her first instinct was to take it out on him. "You sneaky, eavesdropping, filthy...after I saved you last night...after I...after I let you stay here to keep you DARE you?"

He let her sputter to a stop. Then, still looking intently into her face, he began.

"First of all, I THANKED you for saving me, I'm MUCH OBLIGED, more than you know, BELIEVE ME. An' what happened after, well, frankly, I haven't really let myself think about it too much--afraid it'll turn out to be some sort of wanker fantasy of mine. An' as for the other, I apologize for the eavesdroppin.' I DO know the difference between right and wrong, but I have to tell you that my sneaky ways aren't really the trouble you should be addressin' here, luv."

"Oh, and I suppose you're going to tell me what problems I SHOULD be addressing?"

"Well, for openers, there's the little matter of the boyfriend who doesn't have half the brains God gave cabbage."

"Shut the fuck up, Spike."

"I will not." She saw the surface of his face ripple slightly, and bright yellow sparkles shot across his eyes. She realized that he was genuinely enraged.

"What the bleedin' hell is wrong with the poncey prat anyway?" He began to mimic Riley's patronizing tone. "I'll let you do anything you want. The sod will LET you? He'll LET you?!?
The pillock should get down on his bleedin' knees and thank whoever it is he prays to that you take the time to LOOK at him!"

She was surprised. And strangely grateful.

"Buffy, tell me you don't allow that fool to make you feel badly about yourself? About what you need?"

Suddenly, she felt her lower lip begin to tremble. Great, Buff. Burst into tears, why dontcha? That oughta be good for a chuckle or two.

The sight of her hurt feelings seemed only to fuel his rage. "BLOODY HELL!!!"

Suddenly, he was up and pacing, swinging his arms around to punctuate the longest, most graphic string of curses she'd ever heard.

"Doesn't he KNOW? Doesn't he CARE? For pity's sake, there you are, out there, bein' a student, a big sis, yer mum's been sick, savin' the world right an' left, takin' time out to rescue MY sorry ass...although I don't suppose he'd be much impressed by that...and he can't find it in his heart to love you like you need to be loved...what a waste, what a sinful waste of a beautiful woman..."

He stopped. He'd gone too far. He hadn't meant to let his own feelings for her get tangled up in his diatribe against Riley.

"Sorry, pet." He came to sit down beside her on the sofa. "Didn't mean to get all worked up. My point--an' I DO have one--is that you mustn't let him make you feel dirty about what you need. He's the one with the problem, not you. An' you sure as hell shouldn't be goin' about lookin' for thrills in the darker corners of our fair city. You'll get yourself hurt, an' then where will we be?" His smile was tender, but the golden sparkles had not yet left his eyes.

She stared at him in wonder. Her brain was in serious danger of shutting down completely.

"Buffy. Luv. Whatever it was that happened with us last night, whatever that was about for you, you shouldn't have to come to me for it. You should be able to go to him."

"I can't." And now the tears fell. "He doesn't want it. He can't handle it. He's got all these ideas about what sex...what it's supposed to be, what it's not supposed to be. He always wants it to be romantic."

Spike slapped his own face in his frustration. "That soddin' git wouldn't know real romance if it reared up an' bit off the head of his dick."

Something about that image made Buffy begin to giggle. The last of the tears squeezed out of her eyes and down her cheeks as she held herself and rocked back and forth. Spike relaxed a bit.

Finally, she stopped. "Oh, Spike, thank you. Thank you for not making me feel dirty and disgusting because I don't want it always to be about flowers and moonlight. And I'm sorry about last night."

"Sorry? Pet, you've nothin' to be sorry about. My god, do you KNOW what you did to me? Nearly twenty-four hours later and my balls are still achin'--in a good way." Now the evil grin that she had grown used to was back. The moment had lightened considerably.

"We should get going."

"Yes, pet, but one other thing."

"Hmmm?" She was slipping on her boots.

"Did I hear that idiot prat say that he would consider goin' down on you--like it was a special prezzie or somethin'?"

Buffy winced at that. It hurt to know Spike had heard it, but they were well beyond pretense now.

"Yeah. What can I tell you? It's not his thing."

Spike reached out and grabbed her tightly by the shoulders, forcing her to meet his eyes.

"He's a fool, Slayer. Any man in his right mind--any monster, for that matter--would jump at the chance to please you that way. I know I would." There was no smirk on his face. He was deadly serious.

She didn't answer for a long moment. "Well, honestly, I've never really understood what all the fuss was about...I mean..."

He dropped his hands from her shoulders and fell back onto the sofa. "Lord, pet, then no one's ever done right by you, have they?"

"I don't know, Spike. How would I know?"

He shifted his glance to her face. She was looking at him with the same curious, intent expression she'd had the night before.

"Maybe sometime you'll let me show you?" It was a shot in the dark, and if he'd had any breath, he would have held it.

"I don't know, Spike...I'm very big with the confusion right now."

He sat up and turned toward her again. "Right, then. We should get a move on." He stood and reached for his duster. She grabbed his hand before he could move away from the sofa.

"Thanks, Spike. I feel better."

His eyes had reverted to their human shade of blue. His smile was sweet, but his words burned through her body.

"I want to make you feel more than better, Slayer." He leaned closer. "I want to make you feel things you didn't know were humanly possible. I'm very good, you know. Had decades to perfect my technique." He showed her the point of his tongue peeking from between his very white teeth. "Never had any complaints."

All the blood that had been swishing about in her brain made a beeline for parts south at the sight of his tongue and the sound of his words. She was paralyzed.

"But now, luv, we've got a mother-ugly little vampire to track. Although I believe I may take half a mo' to thank Butch before you dust him." He picked up his duster and stalked out of the room, leaving her vibrating on the sofa, one boot still in her hand.

Chapter Four

Buffy lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. Nothing had gone well after they'd left the house that evening. Patrolling the cemetery had been a bust. Hanging out at Spike's crypt, waiting for Butch to show, had only made her uncomfortably horny, remembering what had happened there the night before.

Spike had remained strangely distant the entire evening, as if he were uncertain how to treat her. Now he was watching TV on the sofa again, alone. He'd wanted to stay behind at his crypt, but she'd insisted that he come home with her again. She wasn't sure why. She knew he could handle himself now that he knew Butch was after him. She just wanted him in the house. So I could lie here alone and think about him lying down there alone, right? This whole situation was beginning to give her a major wiggins, and it was nobody's fault but her own. She sighed and turned over again. In her hand, she held the crow's feather that she had retrieved from the floor of the crypt.

Spike had muted the infomercial that he hadn't really been watching after the third time he heard Buffy's bedsprings squeak in as many minutes. She wasn't sleeping. He wanted to go to her...and do what? Invite himself into her bed? Right, you wanker, too bloody smooth. As if Soldier Boy an' his self-righteous twaddle hadn't given the poor little twit enough of a complex, what she needs is you an' your ragin' beastie hormones creepin' up on her in her bed. Enough to turn a bird off sex for good an' all.

When he heard her soft footfall on the stairs, he froze, hoping that she would believe him to be asleep. He felt rather than saw her enter the living room and peer over the back of the sofa at him. He heard her sigh and turn away.

Buffy went into the kitchen and stood for a moment at the window, staring out into the back yard. The quiet was endless. The window was open several inches and a slight breeze lifted tendrils of her hair from her neck. She was dressed in a white cotton nightie, softened and thinned from much washing. It was a comfort item, scented of sunshine on the line. She wore it when her mind was troubled. It had seen a great deal of use.

Suddenly, a horrible, wretched squall pierced the silence. The tiny hairs that covered her body stood at attention, and she recoiled from the window in terror.

Spike was poised in the doorway of the kitchen before he even realized he'd left the sofa, in full game face and ready to rip to shreds whatever demon had threatened the Slayer with that sound. Buffy cowered against the stove, panting in momentary fear, before regaining her senses.

They eyed each other and waited. The squall came again, longer, drawn out, agonized. It sounded less threatening this time. Then came another, closer, at a different pitch, and Buffy realized what it was.

A cat, in heat, calling for a mate. How appropriate.

She sunk back against the stove and chuckled. "Oh, God, I'm in bad shape if I let some poor kitty-cat flip me out."

"Well, luv, seems you're in good company." He allowed his demon visage to slide away and smiled at her from across the room. She looked so small and vulnerable in her white nightgown, her hair a tangled mess and her eyes still dark and wide from the adrenaline coursing through her. He was afraid to say more, afraid to move from the spot he was standing in. He knew he couldn't be counted upon to maintain control.

"Spike." Her voice had a strange quality suddenly...almost sleepy. Surely it was a reaction to the momentary fright.

"Yes, Slayer?"

"You came to save me from the kitty-cat, didn't you?"

He didn't answer, just stood there, looking sheepish.

"Didn't you?"

"Well, to be fair, luv, I didn't know it was a kitty-cat..." He realized, when the words were out of his mouth, how ridiculous they sounded. They laughed at one another from across the room.


"Yes, Slayer?"

"Do you know why the kitty-cat is crying?"

"I believe I do."

"So do I." She was moving toward him then, slowly, dragging her fingers along the surface of the counter, the table; whatever she could touch, she did. He felt every touch in his own body.

Then she was in the doorway with him, looking up at him. Her hands were clasped behind her back like a child's, but the look on her face was like nothing innocent. Another yowl of pained yearning split the air.

"The kitty sounds desperate, doesn't she, Spike?" Her voice had grown husky. "I know how she feels."

A battle raged within him. He knew what she wanted--or what she thought she wanted. But he also knew that if he took advantage of her desperation, it could erase any kind feelings she had for him once she regained her sense of balance. The moments of bliss would not be worth the eternity of contempt--would they?

Her eyes drilled holes into his. "You said you had something to show me. Won't you show me, Spike? Please?"

It was the "please" that broke him. The edge in her voice when she said it spoke more of her need than anything ever could, and he could only serve her need in that moment.

He swept her into his arms and carried her, cradled against his chest, up the stairs to her bed. As he deposited her there, he saw the lights of her mother's car as it swung into the driveway.


"Stay here, luv. Be very still."

"You'll come back?" Her voice caught at the back of her throat.

"Shhhh. I'll be back."

Silently, he made his way back to the living room and with speed that surprised even himself, he gathered up his boots and coat, turned off the TV, and was back up the stairs like a very determined shadow.

He stood in the darkness for several minutes, waiting for Joyce to check on Buffy and turn in to bed herself. Patience...long moments of tormented patience for them both.

Finally, the house was silent again. Moving with as much stealth as he could, he made his way from the corner shadows to her bed. Perhaps she had fallen asleep. He knelt by the bed and listened for her breathing.

As soon as Spike approached, Buffy sat up and reached for him, pulling him into her arms with a desperate tug. He realized she had removed her nightgown, and was now trying to strip him of his tee-shirt.

"No, luv, no, lie back." He captured her wrists in one hand and tried to force her back onto the bed. They struggled for a moment, then stilled, staring at one another.

"Please, Spike."

"Slayer, just be quiet for half a moment, can't you?" He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat and fought urge to run his hands over her naked torso. "Are you sure this is what you want, pet? I'm more than willin' to oblige, but I must know that you're sure..." His voice trailed off as his eye was caught by the long, black crow's feather lying next to her pillow. He recalled what she had done to him with that feather the night before. Everything in his body that hadn't already been throbbing with longing awakened at the thought, and he squeezed her wrists together almost painfully.

"Oh, Spike, just take off the clothes alreadyI need to feel you--"

"No. No, ducks, the clothes stay on tonight." He dropped her wrists and moved to sit at the edge of the bed, watching the moonlight play across her skin through the filmy curtains. "This time is just for you. If I lose my trousers, I'm very bloody likely to lose control as well." He reached out and brushed her hair from her forehead, allowing his hand to travel down her face, down her throat, over her breast to her waist.

She surged upward to meet his touch, and the sound she made was very like a quieter version of the kitty's yowl. His hand returned to her face and covered her mouth. He leaned in and spoke urgently. "You must try to be quiet, luv. Can't have your mum come flyin' in here to see what the trouble is."

He removed his hand. "It's Ok. Mom has one of those...those white noise machines. To help her sleep. Don't think she can hear us." She was panting between her short sentences.

"Still an' all, we mustn't take any chances. The shock of finding me in her sweet daughter's bed might set the good woman back weeks of recovery time." He was looking around the room as he spoke, finally spying something hanging from the closet doorknob. "Trust me, pet?"

Buffy nodded, following his gaze. He rose from the bed and retrieved the blue bandanna. She sat up and allowed him to tie it firmly in place around her mouth. She lay back on the bed and lifted her arms over head to rest them against the headboard, her wrists crossed.

Seeing the way she offered herself to him like that made him dizzy with wanting. He knew in that moment that he could do anything with her--anything he fancied. A lesser man--a lesser monster--would have simply taken her then, slamming into her, knocking her back into the headboard, plundering her of everything she had to give. He chose better, because he WAS better.

Gently, slowly, he lowered his mouth to one breast, cradling it in his hand as his lips found her nipple. From that moment forward, all coherent thought was lost to her. There was only physical sensation and torrid emotion, each taking turns in controlling her.

His tongue made soft circles at first, waiting to gauge her reaction. If his many, many years of experience had taught him anything it was that every woman was different, needed different things to reach satisfaction--needed different things from day to day, night to night, sometimes even moment to moment.

He felt her relax into the mattress and at the same time felt the temperature of her skin begin to rise beneath his hands and mouth. Using the flat of his tongue, he applied more pressure to the nipple, sucking on it slightly, and was rewarded by a low, gurgling moan in the back of her throat. He bit down lightly and she shuddered and tensed. He brought his hand to her other breast and began teasing her there as well.

After several moments of this, he noticed that she had begun to twist her hips toward him, searching for contact. Without removing his hands or mouth, he stretched out full length and allowed her rock herself against him. He knew it wouldn't be enough to bring her off, but he enjoyed the feeling of her need. Finally, taking pity on her, her removed one hand from her breast and began to drag it up and down her belly with a feather-light touch, growing ever closer to his ultimate goal.

She had begun to whimper and gnaw at the gag. Her eyes were squeezed tightly shut and her head was thrown back in anticipation of that first touch. He made her wait, as she had made him wait the night before.

So cold, his fingers and lips and tongue were so cold. Her flesh broke out in tiny bumps and she shivered in delight. "Oh, my sweet Slayer, I've fixed you good an' proper, haven't I? Can't even beg me--can't even say 'pretty-please' can you?" His eyes gleamed yellow for a moment in the darkness, and the evil satisfaction in his voice frightened her. Then her returned his mouth to her skin and she forgot her fear.

Dragging his tongue from beneath her breast to her navel, he allowed his hand to brush against her curls for a moment, causing her to jump against him. Then he began to stroke her inner thighs with his cool fingers, kneading them tenderly, increasing the pressure incrementally until it was verging on painful. He forced her legs apart, lifting her knees and moving down low into position.

The aroma of her arousal filled his senses. Gently, and with exquisite slowness, he parted her outer lips to reveal her most private self. She was swollen and slick with desire, already throbbing, although untouched. He blew softly on her, causing her to shudder convulsively.

"Very pretty, pet. Very nice, indeed."

She lifted her head and stared at him, pleading with her eyes.

"Yes, luv, I know. All in good time." He released her, pulling away from her as she fell back against her pillow in frustration.

His own excitement had become painful for him. He stood and unbuttoned his jeans, but left them pulled up about his hips, needing only to relieve the uncomfortable pressure. Then he lay back down between her legs, sighing slightly as his engorged member made contact with the cool sheets.

Spreading her outer lips again with the fingers of one hand, he very softly began to trace her inner contours with the index finger of his other hand, making certain that it was properly lubricated. She immediately began to shudder and buck beneath his touch, and he stilled her with a firm command. "Lie still now, ducks, or this won't work. Try for me, won't you?"

She bit down hard on the gag and trembled as he continued his exploration. He studiously avoided any direct contact with her clit, and she wondered if he did this to torture her. Finally, he leaned in and gave her clit a single, soft kiss, his cool lips nibbling at it briefly.

Tears sprang into her eyes and she began to sob for release behind the gag.

"Shhh, there now, don't fret, luv."

He pulled his face away and very softly, in order not to startle her, he placed two fingers at the outside of her swollen opening. Gently, with little force at first, he pressed them forward and into her. Her hips lifted from the mattress slightly and met his forward thrust and as they did, her hands came crashing down on either side of her body to dig into the sheet.

Softly, sensuously, he fucked her with his hand, mimicking the thrusts of his fingers with the rocking of his own hips as he rubbed his cock against the sheets, trying hard to maintain his own composure.

Then he stilled his hand as it remained buried deep inside her, palm facing upward toward her navel. Curling his fingers forward, he searched for and found a small, engorged area on her slick inner walls. He caressed it expertly.

A sensation like none she'd ever experienced engulfed her. Suddenly, she couldn't breathe, and felt panic rising in her chest.

He felt the change in her immediately and froze. "That can't hurt, can it, pet?" One never knew with the female anatomy.

She took a second to catch her breath and then looked down at him and smiled around the gag, shaking her head. He resumed his soft circles within her and she began to adjust to the new sensation. Heat poured out of the center of body, down his hand and arm. He was astounded at the extreme warmth from inside her and couldn't help thinking what it would feel like to...No, you wanker, get your bleedin' brain out from between your legs and back in between hers. You've a job to do here.

Once he was certain that she was entirely comfortable with what was so obviously a new experience, he lowered his head and began tracing her inner lips with his tongue. She whimpered and thrust upward to meet his mouth, begging him to touch her clit.

He had intended to draw it out, not so much to torture her as to show her how it could be with someone who genuinely gave a damn for her pleasure. But his fine-tuned senses had begun to pick up on a truly frenzied note of desperation in her movements and soft sounds, and he knew that it would only be unkind to continue teasing her.

Reaching up again to spread her outer lips wide apart, he began to make tiny, light circles around and over her clit. She sobbed with relief before burying her hands in his hair. He increased the pressure of his tongue while increasing the pressure of his fingers on the sensitive spot within her.

She felt nothing else, just his tongue and fingers. They were the world, the universe, nothing else existed. The first spasm clenched her womb like a vice, nearly doubling her into a sitting position and causing a strangled cry to escape around the gag.

When he felt her orgasm begin to roll through her, he took all of her into his mouth, her inner lips and clit, and sucked hard and fast, driving his tongue against her. She rose up off the bed again and again, grinding her teeth into the fabric of the bandanna until she felt herself biting through it.

The spasms lessened in intensity, and he softened his onslaught somewhat, allowing her to gather herself. She fell back for a moment until she felt him pull away. Looking into his face, she saw that he was struggling with his demon. Finally, forcing it back, he came at her from a slightly different angle, catching her by surprise as he sucked her into his mouth again, his fingers still deep and tickling inside her. She could feel him thrusting himself against the mattress and it excited her to know that he needed her.

Seconds later, a second orgasm enveloped her, less intense than the first, but warmer, sweeter, more drawn out. Indeed, her worked hard to draw it out, with gently licks and nibbles that kept her coming and clenching around his fingers long after she would have thought possible. Finally, her body stilled and she lie back against the heated sheets, panting and trying to remove the gag with clumsy fingers.

"Here, luv, let me get that." He moved to her side and removed the bandanna from her face, noting with satisfaction that she'd very nearly bitten it clean through it. His game face slipped back and forth over his human visage as he struggled with his own need.

She held out her arms to him and he lay down next to her, battling the urge grab her and slam himself into her. "Buffy" The word came out in a growl, and he began to think that he'd have to leave before the demon broke through completely and ruined everything.

She felt him vibrating against her, knowing that his body demanded release. Her hands were still clumsy, her brain still slow as she reached for him, sliding her fingers around the base of his cock and squeezing hard.

The beast came roaring forth and he thrust forward into her hands, burying his savage face in her shoulder and holding on for dear death. She pumped him hard, using his pre-cum and the juices that still ran down her legs and puddled beneath her as lubrication. She felt his fangs graze her skin and she squeezed harder, feeling how close he was to coming.

Then he was there, rocking violently against her as the spasms gripped him, growling hoarsely and raking the tips of his fangs down her shoulder. Several spurts of icy fluid splashed over her hands, and then he was still.

They lie together for several moments. He listened to her heart slow and waited to see what would happen next. Slower, slower, then her breathing softened, then her grip on him lessened, and then he knew that she was asleep.

He waited long minutes until he was sure she was deeply under. Then he gently disentangled himself and surveyed the damage. Not good. Bit of a bloody mess, in fact.

Moving quietly to her bathroom, he found a clean washcloth, ran it beneath the warm water, and did his best to clean up. First, the scratches and tiny punctures on her shoulders, then the puddles of cum and her juices all over the sheets. Finally, he covered her tenderly and brushed a kiss against her forehead.

"See how it can be with someone who loves you, pet?" Noting that the crow's feather remained in its place beside her pillow, he searched for and found the nearly shredded blue bandanna. Stuffing his trophy into the pocket of this duster, he left her room and then her house. His heart was lighter than it had been in many years.

Chapter Five

As soon as she opened her eyes, she knew Spike had left the house. Sunlight streamed in the window to her left, warming her beneath the single sheet that covered her skin. She stretched slowly and snuggled into the bed, taking a few moments to recall the final details of the swirling darkness, his touch, his cool weight next to her.

She wasn't surprised that he was gone, and she wasn't sure where they would go from that point onward, but she was very grateful to him for the feeling of almost perfect satisfaction and contentment that coursed through her.

It lasted for another forty-five seconds, and then the phone rang. It was Riley.

"Buffy? You awake?"

"I am now."

"Can I see you this morning?"

"Not if we're going to argue again."

"No arguments. I promise. We...we need to talk."

"Yes, we do, Riley. We really do."


Then: "Meet you at the coffee shop in an hour?" He sounded very unsure of himself.


"See you then."

Her hard-won good feelings had shriveled. How did he do that in one short conversation?

Her gaze fell on the crow's feather next to her pillow, and she began to search the bedclothes and floor for something else. The bandana was missing.

Smiling to herself, she stripped the very used sheets from her bed and made her way to the bathroom.


The coffee shop was crowded. They found a table near the back. Riley ordered a large breakfast, complete with all the food-groups. Buffy ordered a glass of juice.

"That's all you want?"

"Yeah." She paused, not knowing how to begin the conversation. "Riley, I'm wondering if maybe we should take a break for a little while."

He looked shocked. "You're breaking up with me?"

"Did I say that?" She was instantly exasperated with him. "I just need some sort some things out." How could she make him understand, when she didn't comprehend it herself?

"I don't get it, Buffy." It was his favorite phrase. "Why does everything have to be so complicated? I love you, you love me...let's just be happy already."

The waitress served them.

"I'm sorry IS complicated. I can't just snap my fingers and PRESTO--simple life."

"OK, I know, the whole Slayer gig--but that's just your JOB, Buffy. That's not who you ARE."

She dropped her head to the table in frustration. He really DIDN'T get it. And she was running out of patience.

"That's just it, Riley, the Slayer IS who I am. It's not like I'm working at Dairy Queen, or the Gap. I'm the Slayer twenty-four/ class, at the movies, in the showerand in bed."

He flinched when she said that. "Here we go again with the sex stuff. What are you, nympho-girl all of a sudden?" He'd meant it to come out as a joke, but it sounded bitter.

She could feel her temper rising. "You know, Riley, I was called when I was fifteen. It's not like I didn't exist before thenat least some of the stuff that's going on with me has to do with ME--not just the Slaying. Is it so unusual that I might want to experiment in the romance department a little bit...does that really make me a perv?"

He ignored the last part of her question. "OK, now I'm confused. First you're all about being the Slayer, and now you're telling me that some of it is you, separate from the Slayer--which is it Buffy? Don't you know?" His voice had taken on that patronizing, I'm-a-psych-major-and-I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself tone that she always found so attractive.

"Look, Riley, I'm asking you to give me some space. Can you do that for me?"

He was silent for several seconds. Then: "There's somebody else, isn't there?"

She startled inwardly, wondering if he could smell it on her

"God, Riley, THAT'S what you got out of everything I just said?"

"'Cause if there's some other guy, Buffy, you gotta tell me now."

She closed her eyes and had an involuntary vision of Spike's face. He was smiling at her, and there was a promise in that smile.

She took a deep breath. "Riley, what if there is some other guy? How does that change anything? We haven't been connecting for weeks--I'm not giving you what you need, and you aren't giving me--"

"Who is it? What's his name? Is he a student?" He had begun looking wildly around the coffee shop.

She nearly told him. The only thing that stopped her was the fear that he would do something stupid...and since a chipped Spike was a defenseless Spike, and a defenseless Spike was most likely a dusty Spike, and a dusty Spike could never again make her feel like she felt last night...

"It doesn't matter who it is." She grabbed his hand across the table. "Riley, listen to me. I...I care about you. A lot. I don't want to hurt you"

"It's a little late for that, Buffy."

She flinched at the wounded bunny look on his face. "I know. I'm sorry. I really don't know what's the matter with me. But you've got to understand...this...thing with this other guyit doesn't mean anything."

"How can you say that?"

"It's true! Really, Riley, it's just something I need to get out of my system. It's just" She felt her face begin to turn red, but she forced herself to continue. "It's just sex. That's all it is. It doesn't mean anything."

He just sat there, looking at her. She noticed that even with all the angst in their conversation, he'd managed to consume his entire breakfast. Her juice remained untouched.

"Buffy, I've got class. I gotta go. Wewe'll talk some more later, OK?"

"Yeah, Riley, we'll talk. I promise."

She watched as he paid the bill and left the shop. Then she dragged herself to class, feeling a strange mix of emotions: partly guilty, for how she had hurt Riley, and partly dreamy, because she couldn't seem to get her mind off Spike. Every time she saw a blonde male out of the corner of her eye, she nearly jumped out of her skin, although her common sense told her that Spike couldn't very well be strolling about campus in the bright morning sunshine.

The day was very long. The evening proved longer, as she slogged her way through three hours of study in a nearly deserted library, trying hard to concentrate and failing. After that, a quick patrol through the cemetery and

Well, it wouldn't hurt to just check on him. Make sure he hadn't seen Butch anywhere around. See how his day had been.

The crypt was empty, upstairs and down. She tried to convince herself that the feeling in the pit of her stomach was hunger, and to that end she stopped at the all-night grocery a block from her house and picked up some fruit.

Her head was down and she fumbled for her keys as she made her way up the steps to the back porch. He was sitting in the shadows, so stillonly a flash of dim light reflected on his teeth as he smiled at her alerted her to his presence.

"Hello, cutie."

She took a deep breath and set the small bag of fruit on the top step. "Spike."

"Rough day?"

"Yeah, you could say that." She sat down across from him and reached for the bag. "Everything OK?"

"Why don't you tell me?" Then she saw that in his hands he held her shredded blue bandana. He was playing with it, drawing it back and forth between his fingers. She felt a flush touch her face.

He heard her breathing deepen, her heart rate increase, and his body responded.

They looked at each other in the half-light, taking measure. Then she reached into the bag next to her and drew out something small, round and deep red.

Looking directly into his eyes, she whispered, "Wanna cherry?"

He laughed, a guttural chuckle that she could feel all over her skin.

"Wish I could've had your cherry, pet. Willin' to bet Angel didn't do half right by you, your first time." He shifted slightly and leaned forward. "I'd have broke you in right, an' make no mistake. Wouldn't have left you there to rot whilst I ran off and got exorcised of my soul, either."

"Swine." She smiled as she said it.

"Oh, rough talk, Slayer. " He held out his hand. She leaned toward him and dropped a single cherry into his palm and watched as he brought it to his lips.

Never taking his eyes off of hers, he extended his tongue and caressed the firm red flesh of the fruit. Then he sucked the cherry partway between his lips and gave it a small, tender bite. Red juice spilled out over his lower lip.

Her own lips parted and she could feel herself moving toward him without ever making a conscious decision to do so. Dropping the cherry away from his mouth, he pulled her close and gazed into her face. His voice was beyond seductive.

"Slayer...we've been crawlin' all over each other like ants on a cupcake...not that it hasn't been glorious, mind you. But I'm wonderin' what you'd say to a proper' a proper kiss..."

His head lowered with excruciating slowness. She felt her lips part again, ready to receive him. And just as they made contact...

"HOLY CHRIST!! Buffy, what the HELL?"

Riley. Standing at the bottom of the steps. Looking at them with murder in his eyes.

Still seated and leaning in toward one another, lips touching softly, Spike and Buffy froze. She heard the cherry he'd had in his hand drop to the floor with a tiny thud.

Then they were on their feet. The three of them stood there, staring at one another. Buffy struggled to speak first.

"Riley..." His mouth hung open. Kind of like a carp. A very big carp.

She heard Spike mumble, "Luv, that's what you call 'gob-smacked.'" He gave a small snort of derision.

"Shut UP, Spike." She hissed it under her breath, as if they weren't all standing four feet apart and able to hear each other whisper.

She felt Spike's hand tighten briefly in her shoulder and then drop away.

She tried again. "Riley...this isn't...I mean...don't get the" Nope. No way out of this one. Better just plow straight on through.

She lifted her chin. "Riley, I know what this looks like, and I understand why you might be upset--"

He seemed to awaken from a dream at the sound of her words. "UPSET! You understand why I might be UPSET! I find you making out on your back porch with a VAMPIRE and you think I'm UPSET?" His voice broke all high and squeaky on the last word.

"We were NOT making was just one kiss...not EVEN one kiss..."

"Yeah, an' thanks for THAT, mate. Your timing is bleedin' impeccable." Spike's arms were crossed over the front of his duster, and his tone was relaxed, if sarcastic, but Buffy could feel the tension in him. She wondered if any of them would walk away from this unbruised.

"Damn it Spike, SHUT UP!" She turned on him and he flashed a smirk at her. He was enjoying this way too much.

"So THIS is the other guy you were talking aboutI can't believe this is happening to me." Riley dropped his face into his hands for a moment as if to clear his thoughts.

"You told him about us, pet? I'm right touched." Spike's hand was back on her shoulder. Buffy stood there, caught between the two of them, wanting to punch something very badly.

"Don't touch her, you scum-sucking piece of--"

"Hey! Now, Riley, you need to calm down. Spike, back off. Let's just try to get some perspective on the situation." Suddenly she realized that she sounded very much like Giles.

"I SAID take your FUCKING hand off of her--"

"Oh, this isn't my fuckin' hand, mate. I'm a southpaw, actually. Although I've been known to be ambidextrous when the circumstance calls for it." She allowed the meaning behind his words to distract her for a split second.

"You are SO dead, vampire." Riley took one step toward them. Buffy heard a low growl emanate from Spike and knew that she'd have to move fast to avert disaster.

"THAT'S ENOUGH! Riley, go home. We'll talk about this in the morning. Spike"

Riley cut her off by grabbing her wrist and yanking her off the porch. Spike immediately went to full game face, crouched and ready to spring. She twisted free of Riley and threw herself between them.

"I will kick the SHIT out of the first one of you who makes a move. I SWEAR I will." They stood there, the three of them, in a grotesque tableau. She could hear Riley panting, trying to maintain control. Spike continued to growl deep in his chest, his yellow eyes sparkling and rolling.

Finally, she felt Riley back away slightly. Refusing to look at Spike, he chose to address her. "So this is how it is, huh? A human male just isn't enough--you gotta fuck a vampire? That's disgusting, Buffy. I'm ashamed for you."

Her breath caught in her throat and she waited for the hurt to descend on her heart. It didn't come. Instead, she felt anger, outrage and utter irritation with this man and super-sized self-righteousness.

"What do you want the girl to say, Soldier Boy? You make her feel like dirt, she's gonna act dirty." Buffy looked up at Spike. His features had returned to normal, but his eyes remained rimmed with gold.

"I didn't do ANYTHING DIRTY!!" She wanted to shriek with frustration. This little testosterone-induced tug-of-war was getting way old.

"Of course not, luv, you an' I know that. It's the school-boy here that needs a lesson in what's shameful--as in the way he's treated you. Nothin' WE'VE counts as dirty, in my book."

Riley looked at Spike as if he represented everything that was wrong with the world. It was a look of contempt more extreme than any Buffy had ever seen.

"So Spike, how does it feel to be used like alike a living dildo? Except you're not even living. You're a dead dildo, aren't you? You're no better than something she could pick up at the local stroke shop--except maybe you save on batteries."

Buffy stepped toward him with a warning in her eyes. "Don't, Riley."

"Don't? Why not, Buffy? You said it yourself--it doesn't mean anything. It's just sex. That's what you said." A small smile of satisfaction appeared on Riley's face as he said these words.

She turned and looked up at the vampire on the porch. He was frozen in place, staring at her intently. One tiny muscle in his jaw twitched.

Then he was off the porch, blowing by her and Riley on his way down the street, his duster swirling behind him.

"Spike, wait..." It came out strangled, choked by pain. She'd seen his eyes.

That's when Riley grabbed her by the shoulders and propelled her onto the sidewalk for his version of a heart-to-heart talk. She allowed him to do it only because her mind was racing down the street after Spike.

"OK, Buffy, this is it. This is where it ends."

First things first. She looked him full in the face, then noticed where they were standing--directly beneath the large tree in front of her house. It was the same tree that had witnessed her little scene with Spike a few weeks ago--the beginning of a battle, although she didn't know it then.

"You're right, Riley. This is where it ends."

"Good. I'm glad you agree with me. I think the first thing we need to do is get you some help--real professional help. I think the college counseling office might be a good place to start."

"Really? You think so?"

"Yes, I do. Next--and I don't want you to argue about this--I think it's time we ended Spike's little reign of terror. I know you feel sorry for him since he can't fight back, but he's obviously manipulated you. I should have dusted him months ago, and I'm gonna do it for real this time. Don't worry, I'll make it quick--he'll never know what hit him."

Unfortunately for Riley, he DID know what hit him--the heel of Buffy's right boot, in a straight shot to his solar plexus. In a lucky break for him, she pulled the kick at the last moment, or he would have died right there on the sidewalk. As it was, he went down like the sack of wet cement he was at heart. Right before he passed out, he saw her standing over him. When she spoke to him, he believed her words, which was his second lucky break of the evening.

"Stay away from me, Riley. Far, far away. Don't call, don't visit, don't write notes. As for Spike, you'd better hope he lives a long and satisfying un-life, 'cause if anything happens to him--anything at all--I will hunt you down and break every bone in your body." He flinched, gasping for air, as she leaned over him to remove the cell phone from his pocket. She dialed a number and spoke curtly into the phone. Then she tossed it back to him.

"Your buddies will be here in five minutes to pick you up. Remember what I said, Finn." But he was already unconscious.

Then she took off down the street toward the cemetery.

Chapter Six

He cursed himself over and over as he gathered his few belongings and stuffed them into the worn duffel bag. Bleedin' idiot...made a soddin' fool of yourself this time...Peaches'd be proud...maybe you should go look him up and see if he won't teach you the proper way to be a bleedin' pouf...

His emotions swung from rage through wounded pride to despair and back again. A younger man--a greener monster--might have broken down beneath the weight of the pain, but he had played this scene before and knew the remedy--escape. Fast and clean, and don't look back. He was glad he had enough cash saved for gas and a little liquid refreshment for the road.

His bag packed, he stood in the center of the crypt, staring about him at what would no longer be his home. He let his mind wander briefly to the scene they had played out here...only two nights ago? He felt as if he'd lived his entire un-life over in the space of that time...only to be brought to this.

His back was to the door when it slammed open. He'd half-expected the Soldier Boy to show up at any time. In truth, that's why he'd taken his time packing, hoping for a real confrontation. He knew how it would finish--something quick and dusty in a size 'Spike.' He turned, ready for the end.

She stood in the doorway, entirely unprepared to face him. The sprint to the cemetery had given her time to think...of nothing but how badly she'd handled the situation and how confused her feelings were.

He felt a painful twist in his chest at the sight of her. Then he forced his face to become the blank mask that had covered his pain for more than a century. He took measure of her as she paused in the doorway, sucking at her with his eyes, absorbing every detailt...he very fibers of her skin committed to his memory.

"And where do you think you're going?" She'd intended it to come out as a simple inquiry, but it sounded like a challenge. Everything between them was a challenge, a battle of wits--always had been. Why should this scene play out any differently? Except that there was a difference, and perhaps the time had come to admit it--if not to him, no, never to him--then at least to herself.

"I thought it time to take my leave, pet. The charms of dear old Sunnyhell have suddenly grown a bit stale."

She winced at the implication. "Don't do this, Spike. What Riley said--"

"What the boy said was no more nor less than the truth, Slayer, an' I would have hoped you'd have the grace to let me slink away into the night without a final game of kick-the-Spike, but I can see I'm mistaken."

"He had no right--"

"Oh, but he had, pet. He had every right. You're feelin' sorry now? Don't. Save your regrets for those that need 'em." He settled his bag more firmly on his shoulder and took a step toward the door.

"I won't let you just take off like this."

"You won't let me? Is it to be more chains, then? Delightful as that sounds, ducks, I believe I'll take a pass."

If he had been all bluster and beast, she would have known what to do. This quiet determination of his confused her and she felt panic rise in her chest. She knew she couldn't stop him if he were intent on leaving. Chipped or not, he had always been a master at escape. She went to the only place she had any strength left--straight to her battle station.

She dropped into a crouch there in the doorway. "Come on, Spike, make a move. I'll knock you flat on your ass."

He looked at her as if she had lost her mind. "Luv, this isn't necessary. Just let me go."

"I won't. You'll have to hurt me to get out of here."

He dropped his head. "Not fair, pet. You know I can't."

"Why, because of that stupid chip? I thought you were stronger than that, a master vampire--maybe you're losing your edge."

He lifted his face and she read the truth. Chip, no chip, monster, man--no matter. He couldn't hurt her--not anywhere near as badly as she had already hurt him. Still, he dropped the bag and slid out of his coat, and the dance began again.

He waited for her to make her move, fully intending to slip past her at the first opportunity and out into the night. She could keep the bag and the duster--as mementos, trophies, or more likely as trash for the dustbin. He wanted only escape now.

She wasn't moving. She was just crouching there, watching him watch her.

"Thought you wanted to dance, Slayer. Let's go--give it me good. I've places to be before sunrise."

"You won't be going anywhere, before or after sunrise."

"So says you. I'm done here. Had a bellyfull of this town."

"I've heard that before."

They had begun to circle one another. She was aware that, if given the chance, he'd bolt. She needed to get closer--if she couldn't block him, she could catch him.

Spike bobbed gracefully on the balls of his feet, falling naturally into a boxer's stance. He feinted left and dove for the door. She flew halfway across the room in a single leap, desperation fueling her. She caught him at the waist and brought him down hard, her face buried in his back. The scent of him brought instant tears to her eyes.

He lay there beneath her, savoring the moment--their last embrace. Only fitting it should be this way--ultimately, they were destined to fight more than to love.

She felt him relax and loosened her grip, only to be flipped onto her back and held down by his weight. She didn't struggle, just looked up at him, sorrow turning her eyes a deeper shade than he'd ever seen in them before.

"I'm sorry, Spike. I didn't want it to go this way."

"I know, luv. No harm, no foul." He began to pull away, but she grabbed his shirt and held him fast.

"Don't go. Stay. Can't we...can't we make this work somehow? Come to some sort of...arrangement?"

"What do you suggest, Slayer? Shall we be like the whelp an' his demon bird? What does she call 'em? Orgasm friends?"

"Well...isn't that pretty much what you do with Harmony?"

Ooops. Wrong thing to say. Those little golden sparkles, that vibrating rumble--yup, she'd pissed him off again. But it was worth it to see the apathy drop away from his face--to know that she could get a response--any response.

"Is that what you want, you silly bint? Some pet demon on the side to keep the fire in you damped down so you won't go 'round scaring the boyfriend? Might I suggest you just go 'an find yourself a better man in the first place--one who won't wet his trousers every time you wanna be on top."


"NO! I won't do it, Slayer. Much as I enjoyed it, I won't hang about waiting to stick my tongue up your quim every time you've got an itch."

She slapped him hard. She saw the ripples beneath the skin of his face, saw his eyes shoot yellow fire at her. And she saw him push it back, repress it. The mask had returned.

She let him go. He stood and straightened his clothes, smoothed back his hair, and faced her, helping her to her feet. Ever the gentleman.

"Buffy. Luv, what you need is a man that understands you. Who appreciates the bright an' the dark in you and can match 'em both with his own. Your soldier boy isn't that man--not his fault, just his misfortune. 'An yours, if you insist on tryin' to make it fit."

"I won't be. Riley...he's gone for good, I think."

"Sorry, pet." He smirked. "Well, that's a fib, an' I expect you know it. But you deserve better."

She took a step towards him and then another. "Do I?" He was inches away, his face filling her vision, blocking out the dim light.

His voice was warm again, with a tenderness she'd first heard in her room the night before. "Yes, Slayer. You do. Now I've taught you a bit about yourself--how you respond to the right touch--I expect you'll find someone to fill the job."

That painful twist in his chest returned as he thought of her happy and satisfied with another man.

"What if--"

"Shhhh." He placed his palm against her mouth. "Time for me to go, luv. My work is done here. Strains of William Tell, an' all that."


"The William Tell Overture...the Lone Ranger? Mythical white-hat of the American west? Oh, never mind." He sighed and dropped a gentle kiss on her forehead.



"On the said something about a proper shag and a proper kiss. Do you have time...?"

"Oh, ducks. Hauulin' out the big guns now, are we?"


"Well, I 'spose there's always time for a proper kiss, provided you don't try to lure me into another compromisin' position..."

He lowered his head and she stretched upward, the distance between them measurable in millimeters. He watched her eyes close in anticipation and felt a stirring deep within himself. He wondered if perhaps, maybe...

"A touchin' scene, Spike, very touchin' indeed." They broke their embrace, startled apart by a figure in the doorway of the crypt. He was short and very homely. He wore a shapeless coat of indefinable fabric, and his baggy pants were held up with blood spattered suspenders. On his bullet-shaped head sat an old bowler hat, and between his stained fangs he held a stubby cigar. Butch. And he wasn't alone.

"Sorry to interrupt, m'dears, but we've a spot of unfinished business to discuss." Five or six vamps crowded into the doorway behind him, and Buffy could see at least that many pushing in from outside.

She felt Spike change behind her, transforming in a single instant from lover to demon. She had time to recognize the change, and feel a surge of pure desire for him, before slipping into fighting mode herself.

The pair backed away from the gang in the doorway. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Spike had left the trapdoor to the lower level open. She heard him growl low in her ear: "On the count of three,"Butch advanced, removing his cigar from his mouth"...two..."Buffy shifted her weight, preparing to pivot"...three!" They dove for the open portal, bypassing the stairs completely.

Spike grabbed for the door as he leaped, slamming it shut behind them and then dropping to the floor to roll next to her. Up in an instant, he had her by the wrist and was dragging her to the far wall of the basement level. Kicking aside a pile of scrap lumber and odds and ends, he shoved her through the opening of what appeared to be a tunnel. She helped him to replace some of the boards that had been covering it and the two slipped away into the darkness, with the sounds of Butch's gang tearing down the stairs echoing after them.

She allowed him to pull her along, since he seemed to know where he was going. Dodging in and out of various passages until the sounds of the vamp gang behind them began to fade, they stopped briefly in a small alcove where she took a moment to catch her breath. It was dark with a blackness that was almost tangible, and she felt smothered by the thick, rank air.

He could feel her fear mounting and he pulled her against him to calm her.

"Listen, pet, here's the plan. It's me they're after, so we'll need to separate soon. I'll guide you to fairly safe an' open area, give you directions to find your way out, and take off the opposite way. With a bit of luck, you'll be safe in your bed inside an hour."

She couldn't see his face in the darkness, but the tone of his voice had the protective, almost paternalistic quality that never failed to annoy her when Giles, Xander, Angel, Riley, or any other male being used it.

"Boy, you must really want to get away from me."

"Come again?"

"Love to. Maybe later. In the meantime, in case you've forgotten, I'm the Slayer. I don't run from vamps, they run from me."

"An' you're just itchin' to take on a dozen or so all at once, are you? An' in the pitch black to boot?"

"It wouldn't be so dark if you'd turn on your eyes--make with the yellow sparklies."

He laughed under his breath, and complied. Instantly, the alcove was dimly illuminated by a golden glow.

"Guess I'm good for something beyond dildo-duty after all, eh, pet?"

"You'll do."

"Glad you think so. But Buffy, you have to get out of here. We can't take 'em all without reinforcements--gather up the Scoobies an' come back, if you must. I think I can evade 'em for a bit. But go. Now."

"Sorry, Spike. No can do. Got another plan?" She smiled sweetly at him, but he recognized the intractable stubbornness in her voice.

He dropped his head into his hand in frustration, and the space became instantly black again. She waited, fairly certain that he would give in, but ready to defend her position if necessary. When he lifted his head, he looked resigned.

"Right, then. Take off your shirt."


"Just do it, an' be quick. They'll be on to us soon."

She removed the jacket she was wearing, then the cotton shirt beneath it. She wore no bra.

"Don't you ever go 'round in proper undergarments, Slayer?" His hands reached for her, sliding over her skin as he helped her back into the jacket. As she connected the zipper at the bottom, his cool fingers found her breasts, and she froze as he caressed her there, gently squeezing and rubbing. Then the sounds of many leaden feet came to them from a distance.

"Bugger." This time his frustration found voice in a growl. He removed his hands and she zipped the jacket, feeling the rough material rub against her hardened nipples.

She watched as he stepped away from her and across the passage, the light disappearing with him. When he returned a few moments later, the shirt was gone from his hands.

"I rubbed it about a bit on the floor an' walls, an' threw it a good ways down another corridor. At least some of them should follow the scent, if we've any luck at all."

"Smart. OK, now what?"

"Now we run, Slayer, an' I hope you've been keepin' up with your trainin."

Then he had her by the wrist once more and they were sprinting, dodging, and stumbling as the passages he chose grew rougher and more narrow. Often, she had the sense that she was breaking bones beneath her feet as she ran, as if this place were a huge underground cemetery that mirrored the one above it. But surely they must have been out from under the cemetery by that point--she felt as if she had run miles in the darkness with only his hand on her wrist to support her and the glow from his eyes to guide her.

They came to rest again and she leaned against him, breathing hard. They could hear no footsteps in the distance, but she couldn't feel safe. The longer they ran, the more disconnected she felt from anything real. The only difference she could sense between her frequent nightmares and her current reality was his presence, for in her nightmares she was always alone.

"Buffy, you alright luv?" He felt her clutch at him, and heard her heart rate increase even as she rested.

"Nope, not alright. Pretty damn far from alright, alright?" It came out snotty, with an edge of malice that she didn't intend. He took no offence, just held her closer.

"Spike, why are we still running? I want to stand and fight. And what is this place, anyway?"

"We're running in hopes that the pack of 'em will thin out a bit by the time we have to take a stand. As for this placeyou really don't know?"

She shook her head.

"Your Watcher's been fallin' down on the job, I see." She glared at him. "Alright, short version: you've heard of the catacombs of Paris?"

She looked at him uncertainly. Yes, catacombs, Paris, it seemed vaguely familiar--another history lesson she hadn't seen any point in giving her full attention.

"Lore has it that wherever there's a Hellmouth--be it Prague or Paris or sweet SunnyD--one will find catacombs beneath the streets. They're used as burial grounds, battle grounds, hiding places--a veritable city of the damned."

"There's a Hellmouth in Paris?"

"What, you thought the French were in love with Jerry Lewis 'cause they exist in such a stable, upliftin' atmosphere?"

"I guess it does explain a where are we headed?"

"To be honest, luv, I'm not entirely sure at this point. We're long past any area that I've explored."

"Are you telling me that we're lost?"

"I wouldn't say 'lost' so much as 'misplaced.' You're not frightened, are you, Slayer?" A teasing note had crept into his voice.

"No, I'm frustrated--I had better things to do tonight than race around in some dirty tunnel." She stamped her foot in frustration, and felt bones crumble to dust beneath her heel.

"Yeah? Better things? An' what would those be?" He settled her more securely against him, leaned in close and took her earlobe between two cool lips, nibbling gently.

She pulled away. "WHAT do you think you're doing?"

"Makin' the best of a bad situation, ducks. Now tell me, what are these better things you have waitin' for you elsewhere?" He began to explore the terrain of her neck with the tip of his tongue. Wherever he touched, he left a tingling sensation that reminded her of biting into a wintergreen Lifesaver in the dark.

"Well...there's a psych test next week...haven't done any of the reading...and Willow and Tara wanted to rent a movie..." She was babbling and didn't care.

"Red and her bird have most likely settled in for a nice snog by now, pet. It must be well after midnight." He unzipped her jacket. The sound it made seemed very loud in the confined space.

She struggled against him with very little conviction. "We can't do this. Not now."

One cool hand had found her breast again, and suddenly her head was swimming. She felt him shift against her, grinding himself into her hip.

"Spike. Stop. Please." In her head, her words sounded firm. In her mouth, they tasted weak as water.

"Alright, Slayer, I'll stop...since you asked so very nicely." He pushed her away from him slightly, and the damp air on her exposed skin made her shiver. "Now, I'll need you to remove your knickers--provided you're wearing any, of course."


"Your knickers, luv, your panties--same tactic as before, but stronger scent this time."

"You mean THAT'S why you..."

He favored her with his customized sardonic grin as he stepped away to give space.

She kicked at him once in a fit of temper--a kick that he neatly evaded--and then angrily stripped her jeans from her hips. Not bothering to step out of her boots or pants, she tore the scrap of cotton--blue this time--from her body and threw it at him. He caught it in midair.

"No need to have a tantrum, pet." He felt the torn cotton in his fingers, noting the dampness there. Giving a small grunt of satisfaction, he turned and disappeared into the darkness.

Irritation and humiliation coursed through her as she slid her jeans back over her hips and zipped her jacket. She was disgusted by the betrayal her own body had visited upon her, and hated the feeling of being bested by him in a game she hadn't even known they were playing.

The seconds ticked by and he didn't return. She began to become aware of the darkness in a way she never had before--as if it were an entity itself, stalking her.

"Spike?" She whispered it, but even her whisper sounded like a shout. She stepped away from the wall she'd been leaning against and immediately stumbled over a pile of...of what? Stones? Bones? Something else?

Her Slayer senses tuned in to a fine, high-pitched humming she hadn't noticed before. On full alert, her body sang with tension. Then a cool hand grazed her face, and she barely swallowed a scream.

"What took you so long?"

"Sorry, pet, didn't mean to give you a fright. Just doin' a bit of explorin' to see where we've ended up."

Her heart rate slowed and she ceased panting. "And?"

"You hear that hummin' noise?"

"Yes...what is it?"

"I believe it's electrical--think we might be beneath the power plant."

" far down?"

"Hard to say. Not too far, I think." He watched her as she gathered her hair off of her neck and pulled it away from her face. He saw weariness in the gesture.

"Are you ready to plow forward, luv?"

She nodded. He stepped closer for a moment and she fought the urge to sag against him.

"Just a bit further, then you can rest, I promise." He held out his hand for hers, and together they started again into the darkness.

Chapter Seven

Ten minutes later they were inside what had appeared at first to be just another corridor, but had turned out to be a sort of cave-like room, vast and dark and decorated by some previous occupant with the bones of many animals, demons, and not a few humans.

It had been nearly half an hour since they had heard anything from the gang that was hunting them. Buffy sat with her back to one wall, watching by the glow of Spike's eyes as he gathered up a small pile of rags and trash in order to build a fire. His movements were so sure and swift and she was mesmerized by himcouldn't drag her mind off of him, in fact, although she was supposed to be busy hatching a plan of attack. Instead, she sat there, watching him closely, wondering what she could do to convince him to stay once the immediate danger was past.

He threw a few small pieces of splintered wood on the pile and dug deep into his jeans for his trusty lighter. Damning the bad luck that had made him doff his duster before Butch had shown up--he badly wanted a cig, but they had been left behind--he knelt by the pile and held a flame to a bit of rubbish there.

Not really the fault of bad luck you've not got your coat or your smokes, mate, is it? It's her fault--like most everythin' else wrong with this bleedin' picture. He immediately felt guilty, almost disloyal, for having such a thought. Shut your hole, you pillock, an' be grateful you're occupyin' the same space, even if it's only 'til sunrise.

He felt her eyes on him and wondered what she was thinking. Most likely rehearsin' her 'let-the-demon-down-gently speech' for when we finally get out of this bleedin' mess. He had made a big noise with his earlier declaration that he wouldn't wait around for the honor of serving as her sex-toy, but he knew that it had been his pride talking. He would wait around for a good deal less than that, and he suspected that she knew it.

"Come here an' get warm now, Slayer."

She complied and he lowered himself to the floor next to her, not touching her. Taking a deep breath, she turned to him and spoke for the first time in several minutes.

"Don't you think it's time you told me about Butch?"

He was startled by the question. "Ahhh...don't know that I follow you, luv."

"Give it up already, Spike. It's SO not like you to be running from another vampireand dragging me along behind you, like I can't defend myself."

"Well, pet..." He stopped. He had very much hoped he'd never have to go too deeply into this subject.

"What is it, Spike?" There was impatience verging on crankiness in her voice.

Moving closer to her, he slipped one arm about her shoulders and leaned in to nuzzle her, hoping that it would be enough to distract her. He was stopped by a sharp elbow to his ribs.

"Nope. Sorry. Story first, smoochies later."

He seriously doubted that she would be in any mood for smoochies after hearing what he had to say, but he knew he couldn't avoid it any longer.

"Well, it's like this: Butch is not such an ordinary vampire. He's got some extra mojo goin'--you know what a sorcerer is?"

"You mean with the pointy hat and the dancing brooms?"

"Somethin' like that--anyway, Butch was sorcerer before he was turned, among other things."

"What other things?"

Spike looked uncomfortable. "Hmmm...rapist, murderer,' when a bloke like that gets turned--with extra powers to boot--just little magicks, nothing spectacular, not in Willow's league, but still..."

"Bad news, huh?"

"In a word, yeah."

"Who turned him?"

"Don't know...he was never very forthcomin' with the personal information. I've a feelin' whomever it was regretted it."

She shifted beneath the weight of his arm and he dropped it from her shoulders.

"OK--so he's the extra Big Bad. I still don't get why we're running. I can take him--I KNOW we can take him together."

"Glad to hear you're so confident. I'm not." He paused, wondering how much he should say. "See, luv, there's not much that's evil that I haven't seenor done, truth be told. But Butch...he's a special case. He disturbs me--always did."

She waited, knowing there was more.

"There was this one time, in Vienna, right 'round the end of the first World War. Came upon him lurin' a little lass into his dwellin.' Not to feed, mind you--Butch never fed off females. Said the stink of their blood made him want to puket--hat's a quote. Anyway...she was just a whore, but so young, an''re sure you want to hear this, Slayer?"

"Go on."

"He invited me in to watch the proceedins.' Next thing I knew, he was rubbin' some powders between his fingers and mutterin' some' the girl was paralyzed. Wide awake, but couldn't move a muscle."

"He raped her?"

"Ummm...well, another thing about Butch...before he was turned, he did some time in prison for rape or somesuch wickedness--but in Morocco. Bad business, getting' caught out in a country like that, back then. They...they burnt the guilty parts right off him, balls an' all. Used acid, I think. Left him with a stub that wasn't good for much."

Buffy's skin had begun to crawl. A tale like this one--even when told in a warm, well-lighted place--might give anyone the creeps.

"A big one for misogyny, our Butch. Hated women an' little girls, even female animals. Blamed 'em for his disfigurement. Took out all his frustrations on 'em." He paused, knowing that she would want him to finish the story, but unable to put into words the revulsion he felt.

"Tell me, Spike."

"He hurt that girl. Like I've never seen. An' I was pretty young then, still gloryin' in the wicked an' the bad for their own sakes. But this was different. This was worse than Angelus at his very worst, an' that's sayin' somethin.'"

He heard her make a small sound of pain, and instantly regretted his words.

"Sorry, luv. But it's the truth." He swallowed hard before continuing. "He cut her all over. Cut bits of her clean off--the bits with the most nerve endings, you know? Then he took this big knife--big as my forearm--an' he used it to...well, he DID rape her, I guess, an' then he cut her from the inside out. An' she couldn't move--couldn't even scream. But her eyes...Buffy, her eyes..."

He fell silent. Buffy had drawn her knees up to chest in an unconscious gesture of self-preservation. She clutched her legs nervously, her eyes skimming the walls of the room beyond the reach of the firelight.

"Couldn't feed for three days after I saw that--made me sick just to think of it. Still does." He looked at her. "Now you know. An' since I've no idea what mischief Butch has been up to in the last few decades, I'd just as soon you avoided contact with him, pet. In this case, it's better to run, an' live to fight another day--with all your precious parts intact."

"But that's where you're wrong, Spike. I have to fight him, now that you've told me what he is. How can I let him live?"

"Mmmm...was afraid you'd think that way about it. An' I see your point, luv, I truly do. But we need help--we need Red an' the Watcher in on this to counteract the sorcerer mojo. Otherwise, we're walkin' blind into a bad kind of trap."

"OK. You're making sense. Or maybe I'm just really tired." She stretched out on the floor next to him and rested her head in his lap. "Is this all right?"

He smiled at her. She stared up into his eyes, fascinated by the depth of their color. Very gently, she reached up and traced the scar on his eyebrow with one fingertip. He felt it everywhere in body.

"It's shaped like a cross--funny, I never noticed that before."

"That's why it's still there. My first Slayer gave that to me. Took months to heal, because of the shape." He closed his eyes as she ran her fingers down the side of his face, past his jaw and down the strong column of his throat.



"I'm sleepy."

"Go to sleep, then."

"Are you sure?"

He opened his eyes and gazed down into her face. Her features had grown soft and drowsy.

"It's alright, pet. I'll keep watch--won't let anythin' wicked get at you."

"You're very, very nice."

"SHhhhhh...don't say such unkind things...just sleep now."

Her eyes fell shut and soon her breathing deepened. He continued to stare into her face as the minutes slipped past, all the while listening intently for any sound that might indicate the approach of danger.

The embers at their feet glowed red, and he gazed into them, thinking of the past two nights, wondering what was to become of them. The room, cavernous though it was, grew smoky, and she coughed in her sleep, shifting against him. Then she began to stir restlessly, and he realized that she was dreaming.

In her dream, she was alone in the dark, with no steady hand to hold, and no glowing eyes to light her path. She was stumbling and falling and crying out to no one...and then, he was there. She felt a cool hand on her face, and strong fingers pressed into the strip of skin between her jacket and her jeans. She lifted her own hand to her face to capture him there, and brought his fingers to her lips. They smelled of smoke and old things; they smelled like him. She slid the tip of one into her mouth and softly chewed at it, tasted it with her tongue. She knew she was no longer dreaming when she heard the rumble in his chest and felt a vibration that traveled from deep within him. Opening her eyes, she found herself gazing into his, as slivers of gold encircled the blue irises.

Removing his fingertip from her mouth, he pulled her into a sitting position and cradled her against him. When he kissed her, she could feel the restrained passion in him. Their tongues met and everything in her body clenched tightly.

He felt her shudder in response to his kiss, and broke it suddenly.

"Luv, this is no good---you don't want this."

She pulled back from him in surprise. "I don't? Are you a mind-reader now? 'Cause I gotta say, you suck at it."

"But here? In a filthy cave? Surrounded by the decomposin' bones of who knows what-all"

"What, not romantic enough for the evil vampire? You're starting to remind me--

"--DON'T say it--"

"--of Angel."

His voice deepened into an outraged growl. "TAKE THAT BACK!"

Hooking her hands behind his head, she brought her face to within inches of his and hissed a challenge. "Make me."

She hit the ground hard, barely missing the remains of the fire. He was on her, tearing the jacket from her body, mauling her breasts with rough hands. She arched herself into him, throwing her head back against the stone floor, glorying in the beastly way he pawed at her. Not like Angel, not like Riley. Then he was kissing her mouth, nipping at her lips. She responded, sliding her tongue beneath his to find the softest, smoothest part of his mouth.

She felt him tense and give an involuntary thrust of his hips against her. Sliding her hands beneath his tee-shirt, she dragged her fingernails lightly down the expanse of his back, then again with more force.

She began to rub her tongue against the underside of his in a plunging, rhythmic mimicry of what she wanted, what she needed. She heard him growl again and felt him press his hips forward into her, grinding something hard against her. She thought back--had it only been two nights ago?and remembered what it had looked like, red and raw and throbbing for her. She wanted to see that again.

Breaking the kiss, she wriggled beneath him, trying to get to his belt and buttons. He resisted.

"Take it back, Slayer."

" You'll have to work harder than that." His face was a study in determination as he bent his head to her breast.

Slow, soft circles. His tongue and lips brushed so lightly, she could barely feel them. Frustrated, she gripped the hair at the back of his head and forced his mouth down harder. She felt him suck the nipple between his teeth and bite gently, then harder. His other slid down, down, so slowly, and grabbed at the fleshy part of her inner thigh, squeezing it through the denim.

"Mmmmmore." She hadn't intended to say that out loud. His hand moved up a bit, searching, finding the damp spot at the crotch of her jeans. He pressed his fingers there and she bucked against them sharply, biting her lip at the same time.

He lifted his head and looked into her face. "Take it back."

"Nope. Won't do it. Try again."

Then her jeans were sliding off, past her knees, to get caught by her boots. She moved to kick them off, and he stopped her.

"Best not. We might need to leave in a hurry."

She nodded and fell back as his hands pressed he knees down and away, opening her wide.

His first cool touch on her bare skin set her trembling. She felt him lean over her and cried out sharply when he sunk his teeth gently into the flesh at the point where her hip and thigh connected.

Then his mouth was on her, his tongue stabbing into her, his hands holding her down. He licked upwards, catching her clit with the tip of it, and she pounded her head backwards into the stone.

He played there for what seemed to her like an eternity, finding a rhythm for a few seconds and then abandoning it when he felt her excitement begin to mount. She knew he was punishing her for comparing him to Angel. She knew he would force her to give in and withdraw the comparison.

He was using all his weight to hold her down. She wriggled helplessly, wanting to beg him, fighting the urge to plead.

Then she felt a pair of cool fingers pressing into her opening. She slapped a hand over her own mouth to keep from shouting as he slid them inside of her, curled them forward and began to tickle that spot, that new place he had found within her that she hadn't even known existed.

His mouth found her clit again and sucked it upward, lapping at it. Then he withdrew and she felt his fingers increase their pressure. The sensation made her weaken, made her limbs feel like jelly.

"What...oh, god...what is that...nobody ever..."

"Mmmm...didn't you take some human anatomy, luv--or don't they teach the important bits in the good ol' U S of A." He pressed harder, boring upwards with his fingertips and watched with satisfaction as her clit swelled a bit more, and her entire vulva flushed dark with blood. "Lot's of names for it, ducks. Some doc not too long ago named it after himself--called the G-spot--how's that for ego?"

" do you know?"

"I keep up with all the new developments--not that this is new--I've my own ideas about it, though. I believe that THIS," he punctuated his words with an extra firm stroke of his fingers, to which she responded with a stifled moan,"is really just the underside of THIS," he dropped his head and gave her clit a soft suck. "Just one lovely, sweet little apparatus installed by the creator to ensure the survival of the prey--I mean, the species." He dropped his head again, found a rhythm and kept it up until he felt her begin to tense beneath him.

"Please...ok? close..."

"Hhmmmmm...very nice, that. Hearin' you beg, I mean. But you haven't taken it back yet, that little comment about me an' my grandsire. Take it back, luv."

He folded the heel of his palm upward and pressed it against her vulva, rocking it back and forth ever so slightly. She tried to move against it, seeking more friction. It wasn't enough. He held her there, on the razor's edge. She struggled, not wanting to give in, dying to give in.

Finally: "I take it back. Not like Angel...nothing like Angel...never...never..."

He flashed a devilish smile that she couldn't see in the dark. "That's my girl." She felt his mouth latch on, sucking, and his fingers rubbing and probing, and then she was biting into her own arm to keep from screaming as her body convulsed. She climbed higher and higher still, farther than she'd ever been, and then she was sliding back down as he gentled his touch, and then all was blackness.

The next thing she was aware of was his hands as they slid her jeans back over her hips, lifting her to accomplish it. Had she fallen asleep or blacked out? Did it matter?

He crawled up to lie beside her, pulling her into his arms. He was trembling.

"Sorry...went bye-bye there for a minute."

"Yes, pet, you surely did. Thought I'd killed you." His eyes glowed yellow and she knew he was laughing at her.

Her hands felt heavy and clumsy as she fumbled at his belt-buckle. "Your turn to be the cupcake."

"Hmm?" He looked puzzled.

"Ants on a cupcake, remember? Can't you keep track of your own clever analogies?" The belt undone, she struggled with the buttons.

"Analogies? Ducks, you've been hittin' the books!"

"Shhhh...lie still." He obeyed, clasping his hands behind his head and settling into a comfortable position. "I'm gonna see if I can wake the zoo again."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah. I like it when you go all "Animal Planet" on me. Makes me feel..."


"How'd you know that?"

"Isn't much about you I don't know, luv."

She smiled as his cock finally sprung free from it's fabric prison. "We'll see about that."

What neither of them saw were the second pair of yellow eyes and the hot red tip of a cigar glowing in the blackness not fifteen feet away.

Chapter Eight

If his mind had been where it should have been--on their survival--he would have sensed Butch's presence before the little troll-like vampire had been within a hundred feet of them. But Buffy had lured him away from the business of staying alive by reminding him why life--or un-life--was so sweet to him in the first place.

Her hands and her mouth, so soft and warm, were on him. It wasn't the first time--it was the third, in fact--and yet each time he was surprised by his own response. Master vampires were models of self-control--had to be. One didn't stay undead for very long without the ability to control oneself. But the moment Buffy touched him in that intimate way, he lost all sense of mastery. He regressed from a highly evolved supernatural being into an animal in the blink of an eye...and that animal was the human in him. She made him feel human and, unlike Angelus, he loved her for it.

She progressed quickly from gentle, affectionate nuzzling to aggressive sucking and stroking, with no patience for teasing this time. She wanted to hear him sing out his pleasure; she wanted to know that surge of power again. He didn't disappoint her.

In under a minute he was grasping at her hair, his body taut and hips rocking in a steady rhythm as she ravaged him with long, firm strokes of her mouth and hands. When he came, it was with a crash and a roar that echoed through the cavern and out into the passages beyond.

His body still twitching and writhing with sensation, he pulled her up against him, his game face slipping forward and back in a way that nearly mirrored the throbbing in his loins. He struggled to settle himself, wanting to speak, needing to tell her what was in his heart.

If it hadn't been for the pounding in his ears, he might have heard the mumbled incantation. If it hadn't been for his eyes filled with Buffy, he might have seen the arc that the orange end of a stubby cigar made as it was flung away, or the small puff of powder that came from the same direction.

He felt her relax against him, and he believed her to be resting. He shifted her against himself, looking for a more comfortable position on the stone floor, and she fell limp. He wondered briefly at her ability to fall asleep so suddenly and completely and then--

And then his distracted senses finally picked up the scent that had been drowned out by bliss of her touch. A feeling of cold dread gripped at his throat.

Snatching his trousers up over his nakedness, he let her roll away from him and jumped to his feet. Revulsion at the idea that they'd had such a malevolent audience battled with anger at the violation he felt on her behalf.

Out from the deepest shadows and into the low glow of the dying embers stepped Butch. Spike pulled himself up to his full height, which towered over the repulsive little demon, and buckled his belt with slow determination.

"Butch. Enjoy the show?"

"Can't say that I did, Spike. I'm sorry to see that the rumors are true--you've gone soft, ol' boy."

"Don't make a mistake, Butch. This chip keeps me from my appointed rounds...but it won't protect the likes of you. Where went all your mates?"

"Sent 'em topside for a good feed. Won't be needin' 'em."

"You think not?" Sparing a single glance for Buffy, Spike noted that her eyes remained half-opened, if somewhat unfocused. "You'll be wanting to undo whatever hocus-pocus you've put on the girl before I start tearin' your limbs off."

"Stop right there. Take another step, I snaps me fingers. I snaps me fingers, all the involuntary-type muscular responses in the little chit's body cease--she quits breathin', 'er blood quits pumpin'--you get the idea?"

Spike froze where he stood. "You know who she is? She's the Slayer, you fool. You think you can harm her with your ratty bag of tricks?"

"You used to be a bettin' man, Spike. Wanna wager I can 'arm 'er...kill 'er if I fancy?" Butch smiled his satisfaction at the fear that flickered in Spike's eyes. "Didn't think so. Not after what I just saw. 'Ow long you been puttin' it to 'er, ol' boy? You stink of 'er, you know. 'Nuff to turn me stomach. Does your grandsire know what you're about?"

Ignoring the question, Spike's mind raced to come up with a way out.

"It's truly a shame to see what you've come to--you 'ad such potential when I knew you last. Now 'ere you are, dallyin' with ' a female, no less. Almost not worth me time to take you out--almost." Butch gave a cackling little laugh and rocked back on his heels.

"Your business is with me, then. Step up, Butch. Let's see what you've got." Dropping into his fighting stance, Spike circled away from Buffy's limp body, hoping to lure the demon into a dance.

"Don't think so, ol' boy. Never was one for 'and-to-'and combat. I prefer the subtler you should well remember." From the pocket of his raggedy vest, he withdrew a worn leather case, slightly larger than sewing kit. Spike recognized it immediately.

"Here, now! Put those bleedin' tools of yours away! D'you think I'll let you--"

"What are your choices, Spike? You can let me kill 'er, or you can let me 'urt 'er. I, of course, would prefer the 'urt, but I'll take the kill. Remember, you pillock, it only needs a snap of me magical digits, an' it's over for the slut--but in the end, she might thank you for lettin' it be quick." He fingered the leather case. "Pity I don't 'ave me good recall that one, don't you Spike? The big sharp blade?"

"To make up for your tiny, dull dick?" Spike thought that a bit of verbal parry might distract the monster from his mission.

"Shut your soddin' 'ole, you bugger--wasn't me lying on the floor with me head between the wench's knees--disgustin', I calls it. At least when I 'ad a proper tool to use, I used it properl. Didn't sully myself with all the 'slurp-slurp' an' 'give-the-cow-a-thrill' buggardly business this new generation is up to--debasin' an' degradin' an' for what? Could always find me another bitch when one wore out...not like anythin' female was worth the grit under me fingernails when I was through with 'em." He was off and running on his favorite subject and Spike was relieved to learn that Butch hadn't changed much.

"That so, Butch? An' how's that workin' out for you? Last time I saw you, you were lightin' kittens on fire just to watch 'em burn."

"Ah, Spike, you know what they say: evil is as evil does." Butch gave another cackle.

Spike let out a fake laugh in return, all the while aware that Buffy--strong, amazing Buffy--was fighting the spell that held her down and limp against the floor. From the corner of his eye, his saw her fingers scratch against the stone. Now, if I can just keep the soddin' git talkin'...

"Tell me, Butch, what've you been up to? Still have plans to take over where the Master left off?"

"That's why I'm in town, ol' man. But enough about me--let's chat about you an' 'ow you're gonna 'elp me rise to me rightful position--if you know what's good for you." He had removed a small, sinister looking pair of tweezers from his pouch. The tips had been filed to a pin-point, and the edges sharpened razor-fine. He ran them between his stained and nubby fingers, and then tested them against his own tongue, sucking on them thoughtfully as blood spilled over his lips.

"I'd certainly be willin' to assist an old friend in any way I could, Butch...providin' there was proper compensation." At the sight of the tweezers, Spike's eyes had glowed yellow. The last time he recalled seeing them, they were being used to--No, don't think about that, pillock, you'll only do somethin'' stupid...But he couldn't tear his mind away from the image of the girl on the floor in the house in Vienna all those years ago, and the agony in her eyes. His demon fought to break free--he wanted nothing more then to tear Butch's head clean from his body before he could make a move towards Buffy. He held himself in check, barely.

Butch was busy removing other small tools from his case and lining them up on the floor in some very specific order, fussing over them, caressing them with his gnarled fingers. Chancing another look at Buffy, Spike saw that she had stilled, but her eyes were wide open and staring straight at him. He thought he understood her message--he prayed he wasn't mistaken.

"What do you say to a change of locales, Butch? I've left my smokes behind--we could continue this fascinatin' discussion in the comfort of my lair. I've most of a bottle of bourbon..." As he chattered, he circled around, placing Butch between himself and the immobile Slayer.

"What's your rush, ol' boy? I'm preparin' to make with the artistry 'ere--watch carefully, now, you'll like this--I've refined me technique." He rose from a crouching posture and turned to stand over Buffy, straddling her body with his stumpy legs. Her noticed that her eyes were closed.

"Oi! Slut! Wake up! Neither of us will enjoy this if you sleep through--"

Her eyes snapped open at the same time her torso shot into the air, her head making solid contact with Butch's midsection. He folded in two with a harsh grunt, and then Spike, morphed to full demon mode, was on him.

She watched as Spike ripped into the smaller vampire, but was still too weak to assist. He began by crushing both of Butch's hands beneath his boot heels, thereby removing any lingering threat to her safety. Then he proceeded to inflict as much pain as possible upon the little demon, appearing in his rage and frenzy to enjoy Butch's screams.

When each and every instrument of torture from Butch's case had been systematically imbedded somewhere in the demon's hideand several given a sharp twist for good measure, Spike turned from his victim. Snatching up a half-burned piece of wood from the dying fire, he offered it to Buffy. "Care to do the final honors, Slayer?" She shrank from him, shaking her head. He shrugged and strolled almost casually over to the bloodied lump.

Butch stared up at him. From within his shattered, pulpy mouth came a last cackle. "You think you're better than me--look at yourself. An' see the way SHE'S lookin' at you." Spike gave a glance over his shoulder, and caught the expression of revulsion on Buffy's face. With a howl of fury, he turned on Butch and finished him with a stab to the heart. Silence dropped like a stifling quilt around them.

After a few moments, he turned back to her, his demon visage sliding away. He found that he couldn't meet her eyes.

"Can you walk, Slayer?"

"I think so." She scrambled to her feet, refusing his offer of help. She noticed that the quality of light around them had begun to change. Looking out into the passageway, she could see a shaft of clean sunshine had dropped down from above.

"It's morning. I...I should go. My mom..."

He looked at her, wondering what was in her thoughts.

"Right, then." Following her into the corridor, he avoided the shaft of light that spilled there. She stood directly under it, staring up. The golden beam lit up her hair and face, making her appear angelic, as grimy as she was. He watched from the shadows.

"Maybe you could give me aa boost or something? I'm still feeling kinda..."

He said nothing, just stepped forward to the very edge of the pool of light. Clasping his hands, he motioned for her to place her boot there.

"Count of, two, up-you-go." He felt his skin sizzle slightly as the light made direct contact for a moment, and he stepped back into the shadows.

She grabbed for purchase on the rough walls, and then was pulling herself through the opening in the roof of the catacomb. When she was safely through, she looked down again. "You were right, Spike, we are underneath the power--"

But he was gone.

She gazed down into the shadows for a long time. Finally, she turned and stood, brushing the dirt from her clothes. Still feeling weak and unsure of herself, she began the long walk homeward.

Chapter Nine

She made it as far as the 7-Eleven on the north edge of town before exhaustion forced her to call Giles for a lift.

"Are you sure we shouldn't take you straight-away to a doctor, Buffy? After all, we have no idea what the side-effects of such a spell might be."

"I'm fine, Giles. A little wobbly in the knee area and my fingers are still all tingly, but other than that..." She shrugged and stared out the car window at early-morning Sunnydale.

"How did you manage to get yourself cornered by this creature in the first place?"

"Oh, well, I was in Spike's crypt--that is, I was talking to Spike about--anyway, Butch and his buddies kind of took us by surprise and we had to make a run for it...did you know there are catacombs under Sunnydale? And how come you never told me about the Hellmouth in Paris?"

Giles sighed as he turned the car onto Revello. "Perhaps if you paid more attention, Buffy or took notes..."

"Right. Well, anyway, we were running through all these tunnels, and then we found a place to rest and I...I guess I let my guard down, 'cause the next thing I knew--Quadriplegic Girl."

"And you say Spike was able to overpower this Butch fellow?"

"Well, it's not like I didn't help--I used that thing from the trainingt--he sound of one hand clapping thingy."

"The Zen technique?"

"Yeah, I guess. I was just lying there, listening to them talk, and then I made my mind go empty like we practiced...and the next thing I knew, I could move again. Not really well, but enough to surprise him--and then Spike..." Her voiced trailed off as she tried not to think about what Spike had done.

"Well, I suppose we owe him a debt of gratitude for that--but why on earth did he let you try to walk back home alone? Very inconsiderate."

"But it was morning, the sun was up. And anyway, I'm OK."

"Right then. Here we are." Giles looked up at her as she slid out of the car, still moving very slowly. "I suggest you skip classes today. Get some sleep. I'll call you tonight, yes?"

"OK. Thanks, Giles." She watched him pull out and drive away up the street.


Sleep was of the good. By the time she awakened it was after sundown and she felt renewed in body, if not in spirit.

The crypt was empty when she arrived. His duster was missing, but the duffel bag was lying on the center of the tomb, still filled with his belongings. She wondered if she should go look for him, or settle in to wait.

Then he was standing in the doorway, holding a package covered in brown paper and staring at her.

"Slayer. How're you feelin'?"

"OK. You?"

He didn't answer. Stepping around her, he set the package on the tomb and shouldered the duffel bag.

"'re leaving?"

He lifted his chin and looked past her, at some distant point over her head. "It's been a good ride, Slayer. Entertainin' an all. You'll bid farewell to the Slayerettes for me?" His wry grin didn't quite make it all the way up to his eyes.

"I don't want you to go."

He sighed and ran a hand over his face and through his hair. "Let's not do this again, pet. Just gets us into trouble. Let's just say goodbye with a little grace an' dignity an'..." He was amazed to see her eyes fill with tears. "Buffy?"

And then she was in his arms, her nose smashed up against the soft black leather, fighting back sobs. "Don't go. Stay. You can't--"

He dropped the duffel and pried her body from his chest. "Slayer, I have to. This...whatever...that's between us is no good. Not for me, an' certainly not for you."

She stamped her foot like a petulant child. "I'LL decide what's good for me--and what do you mean, I'm not good for you? I'm VERY good for you,, stupid, misshapen..."

"I get the general drift of your thoughts, luv, but it doesn't change anythin.' What happened last night--an' your reaction to it--will just keep happenin.' I can be a good boy an' keep my fangs to myself--not much choice in the matter--but I'll never be the fairy-tale prince you think you need. An' I won't torture myself or you by continuin' to try."

"But--" She stopped. Damn him and his way of cutting straight to the truth. "But--you promised me a proper shag!" It was out of her mouth before she had time to bite it in half and kill it dead.

She felt the muscles in his arms grow tense and then he was pushing her away from him.

"So THAT'S what this is about, then? Well, cutie, you hardly needed to go all soft an' tearful just for THAT." He stripped off his duster and reached into the pocket for his lighter. "Tell me, what sort of thing did you have in mind?" He took a seat on the edge of the tomb, lit a cigarette, and looked at her speculatively.

"I...what do you mean?"

"Oh, there's all varieties of shags, luv. There's the pity shag, the boredom shag," he counted them off on his fingers. "The apology shag, the hungry shag, the angry shag--that's a personal favorite--the farewell shag. You get my meanin'?"

"Stop it. Stop making fun of me."

"Stop it. Stop making fun of me." He mimicked her whine perfectly.

"I hate you!"

"Yes, there's the I-hate-you shag, but that usually comes after the--" He broke off his words when he saw tears fill her eyes again. "All right, pet. I'm sorry. Look, I brought you a gift to remember me by." Sliding off the tomb, he stepped forward and handed her the package.

She unwrapped it warily. Under the brown paper there was rectangular box covered in black velvet. Too heavy to be jewelry. She looked up at him with a question on her face. He motioned for her to open it. She did.

Lying inside the box was a very large, very shiny, very silver vibrator.

Rage obliterated every other emotion in her mind and body. She launched herself at him, kicking and punching wildly.

He'd meant for a joke, mostly. But there was a small part of him--a part that he had resolutely ignored while choosing and purchasing the offending item--that had wanted to hurt her, humiliate her, the way he had been humiliated. And of course he'd wanted her to use the gift and think of him.

He hadn't expected this much fury. Dodging and ducking about the crypt, he stayed low and out of the way, hoping she'd tire before she landed anything beyond a grazing blow.

But as the frenzy of her anger wore down, her swings and kicks became more accurate. He took a blow to the head and another to the gut. Then another. Then he grabbed her leg as she launched yet another roundhouse kick and threw her down onto the tomb.

The chip in his head made a warning chirp. The small shock of pain caused his eye to twitch.

He held her down, staring into her furious eyes. She was panting hard. He had her by the hips and his fingers bit into the flesh beneath her clothes. She licked her lips.

"Right then. Angry it is." He fell on her, assaulting her mouth, his hands ripping at her shirt. She struggled beneath him, scratching at his flesh, biting his lips. She wasn't sure if she was fighting him off or attempting to provoke him to more aggression. Then it didn't matter, because there was no longer enough blood left in her brain to consider it, as it was flowing through her veins straight down into the center of her.

Her shirt was in shreds and his mouth was on her breast, sucking hard. She cried out once and he lifted his head to look at her. She half-expected to encounter his demon, but the expression of lust on his human face was disturbing enough. Then his slapped his hand down hard over her mouth and pushed her back onto the stony surface of the tomb.

She continued to struggle, searching for a way out from under him, but with increasingly less conviction. His hand slid off of her face and began ripping at the button on her pants. His mouth moved from one breast to the other, biting harder, rubbing the surface of his tongue with building intensity over her nipples.

She groaned and he growled, and then his eyes flashed yellow and she sensed the demon in him approaching. It re-invigorated her will to fight, and she landed a hard punch to the side of his head.

He yowled in anger and tore her pants from the waist-band straight down the center, stripping her naked to the ankles in one movement. She kicked at him blindly as he pulled off her boots. He stepped back and grabbed her legs, trying to roll her. She fought harder, her heart in her throat, the dark room spinning before her eyes.

Finally succeeding in flipping her over, he shoved her fully onto the tomb. He placed a rough hand on her neck, forcing her head down. At the same time, his arm around her waist pulled the lower half of her body upward, so that she was resting on her knees with her ass in the air. She steeled herself, breathing hard, waiting.

She felt him climb on to the tomb behind her and heard the whisper of fabric as he dropped his jeans from his hips. Then he was leaning over her, the cool skin of his thighs in contact with hers. She felt his tee-shirt against her back, and then his mouth fixed itself on a spot below her shoulder blade and began to nibble and bite at the flesh there.

She felt his hand on her abdomen, pinching her roughly, and she squirmed in protest. Then his fingers were buried in the curls that covered her vulva and he was searching. He found his target, squeezing her clit firmly between his thumb and forefinger and then twisting it back and forth slowly.

She whipped her head back and let out a shriek. He pulled his hand away, and she felt something hard and velvety stroke her outer lips.


He froze, cock in hand, poised to enter her.

"No, Slayer?" His voice was a grinding growl.

"No...yes...I mean..."

"Well, what it is or yes?"

There was a long moment of silence. She could feel his insistent throbbing at her opening.


"Yes what?"

She knew what he wanted to hear. A battle raged inside herall her pride at war with how much she wanted him at that moment. Finally: "Yesfuckme."

He gave out with a long, low sigh as he pushed himself into her in one smooth motion. Once inside, he held still, pressing his pelvis hard against her.

There were bells, whistles and birdsong in her head. A strange thought occurred to her: if Drusilla hadn't been a lunatic when she met him, she certainly would have been driven blissfully mad by fucking him for a hundred-plus years.

He began thrusting, gripping her by the hips, and increasing the pace and force gradually. A rumble began deep in his gut. He screwed his eyes shut and concentrated on holding back his demon and his orgasm, in that order.

She scrabbled her fingernails along the stone cover of the tomb, trying to brace herself against his thrusts. A ball of heat and tension began to form around the place where their bodies connected.

He felt the tautness of her muscles under him and the swollen slickness of her walls around him and wondered if he would ever be himself again after this experience. He wanted to howl her name...he wanted to break down and sob that he loved her.

Suddenly, her upper body shot up, forcing him out of her. He lost his balance and toppled over backward, off the tomb and onto the floor. She was on him in a moment, yanking his jeans down past his knees and sliding his cock back into her and squeezing it there tightly.

She bent over him, placing her hands on either side of his head, and watched the flickers of gold play in his eyes. She began rocking back and forth gently, and then with more force. His face contorted with pleasure and his fingers found her clit again, pinching and rolling it, driving her closer to the edge of release.

Then, in an action that was an unintentional duplicate of a move she'd made not long ago beneath the tree in front of her house, she leaned in and took his full lower lip between her teeth for a hard bite and a firm lick.

It broke his control, and she was treated to a close-up of his demon side. She half-expected to see smoke and flames shoot from his nostrils. Instead, she was suddenly on her back and he was pounding into her and raking his fangs down the skin on her arms.

She gloried in the sensation of surrender. She felt the tension building, felt herself slipping toward the edge. She looked up into to his hot gold eyes and whispered, "Do it. Drink me."

He let out a strangled cry that was like nothing she'd ever heard, and fell on her neck. When his fangs pierced her there, she matched his cry, and slammed her hips up to meet his with a violence that would have seriously damaged another couple.

A passing stranger, unfamiliar with the rites of love on a Hellmouth, might have assumed that two wild beasts had wandered into the crypt and were dueling to the death. Perhaps a wolf and mountain lion, or something even more dangerous. The sounds they made as their bodies shook and convulsed were unearthly, but sweet to their own ears.

They rode it out, wrenching the last bittersweet spasms from each other, and then collapsed together, still entangled. She cradled his head against her chest as he licked away the small streams of blood that flowed there. Her breath was ragged, and her body continued to shudder and throb as his hands roamed over her.

After several long moments, they lay still. He could hear her heart slow from a thundering gallop to a contented trot. His dragged his fingers softly up and down the length of her torso and was pleased when she tensed, still not sated.

"So..." Her voice came out about an octave too high. She cleared her throat and tried again. "That was..."

"That, cutie, was an angry shag."

"I can see why it's your favorite."

" of my favorites." He was kissing her neck where his fangs had been, and his voice was muffled.



"Isn't this the part of the story where you declare your love for me and pledge your black heart to me forever?"

He let out a snort. "When did this turn into a bleedin' Barbara Cartland novel?"

"Good." She settled more firmly into his arms. "I was afraid..."

"What, luv?" He pulled back to look at her. "What were you afraid of?"

She sighed. She wanted to make him understand, but wasn't sure how to go about it. "I don't want things to change--between us--I mean, I know eventually they'll have to change, but for right now..."

"S'all right, pet. When it comes to the finer emotions, we'll just pretend we're the U.S. military--don't ask, don't tell."

"You're sure? And you won't leave?"

He was silent for a moment. Then: "I believe I can be persuaded to hang about a bit longer." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"Persuaded? What does THAT mean?"

He lifted his head and looked about the floor of the crypt, searching for something. "Where's your present, pet? I'll show you what I mean."

He reached for the black velvet box. She squealed and struggled out from under him as the sound of a low buzzing filled the crypt.

Fifteen minutes later, a couple strolling past the gates of the cemetery heard a female voice raised in a warble of unmistakable pleasure. The sound was joined by a low snarl and then a louder roar.

"How come WE never do it in the cemetery anymore?" Anya's voice was accusing.

As she pulled him inside past the gates, her hands already working at the buttons of his shirt, Xander thought, and not for the first time, "Ah, the perverse joys of life on a Hellmouth."


Two evenings later found Spike taking up his customary station beneath the tree in front of Buffy's house. He'd had time to light his first smoke of the evening when she appeared before him, dressed for dancing at the Bronze.

"You know, for a vampire, you're very dependable."

"Wouldn't want to disappoint, luv."

"Well, you can just take the night off--I'm otherwise occupied." She said it with a flip of her shampoo-commercial hair and a hand on her hip.

"Yeah? Found a new boyfriend already, have you? Another cardboard cut-out, no doubt. You an' your bleedin' tragic taste in men"

She shoved him back against the tree, and he felt something hard press into the spot over his heart.

"Don't push your luck, Bleach Boy. I'm not in the mood to listen to your stupid comments regarding my love-life tonight."

"Why don't you stake me then, Slayer? But I know you won't. You're all talk, you are."

They was a flash of silver in the half-light, and suddenly whatever was pressing into his chest began to vibrate.

"Oi! That tickles!" They grappled in the dark, and then he was kissing her. She allowed him to continue for several seconds and then ended the kiss by biting his tongue hard enough to draw blood.

"Bitch! I'll get you for that"

"Yeah? You and what un-chipped army?" She danced in front of him, daring him to take a swing.

"Hmmm...there's more than one way to skin a Slayer--ever heard of the vengeance shag?" He waggled his eyebrows and made a grab for her.

She laughed and hopped just out of reach. "Have to catch me first!"

She raced down the street toward the cemetery, vibrator still clutched in her hand. He took a moment for a last drag on his cigarette, stubbed it out beneath his boot, and took off after her, the light of the moon glinting off his grin of anticipation.

The End