All About Spike - Print Version
Love is Blind
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S/B, NC-17 (eventually), Prologue/24
SPOILERS: Season 5, up to "Listening to Fear". It would also help to
have seen the Angel episode "The Trial", as I stol...er...borrowed elements
from this. OK, I borrowed the entire last act. When you care enough
to steal from the very best...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: To my beta reader, Linda Campbell, who knew that Spike
was a hottie, long before I did. What can I say? Better late than never!
:) Oh yeah...and for the awesome beta reading.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Not mine. 'Nuff said.
"For love is blind and lovers cannot see"
-- William Shakespeare
Well, this is pretty strange. Plus, I'm not certain this thing is working.
It sounds like it is but I can't really be sure. I hope so. It would be
too ironic if my last words wound up as just a bunch of static on the tape.
Oops. Gave the ending away there, didn't I. Sorry. Still, it's not like
you didn't see this coming, right? We both know this is bad. Actually I
think I've reached a whole new level on the Buffy bad spectrum.
And it's not going to get any better, is it?
Poor Giles. You've been trying so hard to sound upbeat and positive
around me. But...well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you're
a really bad liar.
Or maybe it's just that you can't lie to me.
Not that I don't appreciate you trying, really. It gave me a nice couple
of days, where I could pretend everything was going to be all right, that
my eyes would somehow get better, and we'd all live happily ever after.
OK, back to what I was saying. Since I can't tell when the tape is about
to run out, I'd better get to the important stuff sooner rather than later.
First of all -- this wasn't your fault. Please don't blame yourself
(and don't tell me you're not -- I can hear it in your voice). You gave
me plenty of warning -- I distinctly remember the words "...and be careful
Buffy. Don't forget it can spit acid...." And how revolting is that anyway?
(the acid, not your warning).
I did listen to you, honest. But I was...well, not overconfident, exactly.
More -- distracted, I guess. Too much going around in circles in my mind.
I should have known better, especially after that vampire skewered me with
my own stake. Guess my heart wasn't really in it that night. Too worried
about my mom, wondering what I was going to do about Dawn, thinking about
Glory... And besides, it was just a little demon -- relatively speaking.
But then its really, really big cousin showed up and... well, you know
what happened next.
I know I killed the small one while I could still see a bit, but the
other got away. Actually, I'm kind of surprised it didn't stop and kill
me on the way, but maybe the wound I gave it was more serious than I thought.
Still, that means there's an injured monster roaming around out there...and
no Slayer to stop it.
You've all done a great job of patrolling and keeping things under control,
really you have. I know I shouldn't blame myself for what happened to Willow.
Yes, I know she'll be all right, and that we're all lucky that it was just
a broken arm and all, but still...
It was my job. I'm the Slayer. I'm the one who's supposed to
be out there keeping the night safe, not sitting here, all sheltered and
warm. And I keep asking myself -- what's going to happen when Glory crawls
back out from whatever rock she's hiding under? She wiped the floor with
me before - you guys won't stand a chance.
So -- where does that leave us? The doctors weren't exactly holding
back with the naked truth. I'm never going to see again, not even with
Slayer super healing powers. Just too much damage. I know there's no magical
cure either -- we already had this conversation when my Mom got sick. And
I'm not sure I believe in miracles -- at least the good kind -- anymore.
So what's left? I know - I'm being way rhetorical. And probably pretty
pretentious. Must be all those Psych classes at College. But I'm just trying
to prove that I really have thought all this out, that I'm not just doing
this on some suicidal whim.
Sorry. Poor choice of words there. I don't have a death wish, really
I don't, no matter what Spike said (and why am I even thinking about him
right anyway? Sometimes I worry about my psyche...) Anyhow, I really have
thought this through and we both know there's only one answer.
The world needs a Slayer. And...and I can't be her anymore.
So I'm going out tonight to hunt down the demon that helped do this
Don't get me wrong. I know I don't have a hope in hell. I'm not blind.
Well, OK, I am. But you know what I mean. I know what the odds are and
how this is all going to end. It's pretty much a given. But maybe, just
maybe, I can take the demon with me. Give Willow a little goodbye vengeance
present. And keep the night a little bit safer until... ...
...until the next Slayer comes along.
Poor little Slayer. Doesn't seem fair to load all this on her somehow.
I know how tough it was when I was just starting out, and I had Merrick
and then you and all my friends to help me.
I hope she has someone.
I don't know if you'll be her Watcher. There's a lot of stuff I never
asked, although I always wondered. Just seemed like it would be too painful
to talk about somehow. And the time was never right. Well, it's definitely
too late for twenty questions now. But -- if you do get to meet her, the
new Slayer I mean, will you ask her to watch out for Dawn for me? I still
don't know what or who she is, but I know she's important. Besides, she
feels like my little sister. I love her, even if she is annoying
pretty much all of the time.
So, where was I? Oh yeah, Buffy's famous last words.
Er...drawing a blank. How about if you just think of something clever
and pretend I said it?
Anyway, you do understand why I'm doing it this way, rather than in
person, right? For starters, I know you guys wouldn't let me out of your
sight if you knew what I was planning to do. Which is why I had to wait
over a week until you all let your guard down a bit.
Still, I got a week. More time than most Slayers do, probably. And I
got to say goodbye to everyone, in my own way. I don't think anyone suspected
what I was planning, although I could be wrong. It wouldn't surprise me
if you knew, or at least guessed. You could always see right through me,
couldn't you? No pun intended.
Today was nice. A day in the sun with my Watcher and all my friends.
Will you tell Riley that I'm sorry for snapping at him? I didn't mean to,
it's just he seems to like me so much better helpless, like he wants to
protect me and look after me and... ...
...and I am so not going to discuss my boyfriend with you. Besides,
I can tell him everything on his own tape. Just forget everything I just
Except...you will look after him, won't you? And Willow and Xander and
all the rest? And my mom and Dawn? They're going to need someone.
OK. I'll put the other tapes in the top drawer of my nightstand. They'll
be labelled, although it's kind of hard to write when you can't see. Not
that my handwriting was ever that great to start with. Still, I'm sure
you'll figure out which is which. You'll make sure my Mom and the others
get them, won't you? Thanks.
I...I guess there's nothing more to say.
Thank you for being my Watcher. I love you.
"Ever wayward, weak and blind"
-- Gustave Nadaud
Everything was harder when you were blind. Even the simplest things
became more difficult, more time consuming. Things like getting dressed.
Sneaking out her bedroom window. And navigating. Yeah, navigating
definitely had them all beat. Buffy didn't really care if she was
wearing different socks or if her clothes clashed -- although looking frumpy
on the last night of her life was a pretty big downer. And climbing
down the tree outside her window hadn't been all that hard really -- it
had mostly been a matter of hugging the trunk for dear life and trying
to figure out when it was safe to let go -- OK, she had misjudged that
one a bit...but finding her way through the night, all alone in the dark...that
was a bit much, even for her.
Forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty. Buffy came to an unsteady halt
and stretched a cautious toe forward, feeling for the curb. Feeling
This was ridiculous. If you had asked her a week ago, she would
have said she could have found the cemetery blindfolded. All those
nights of patrolling, all of those evening trips to and from the graveyard
-- she should have been able to close her eyes and find the way without
even thinking about it.
Only it hadn't quite worked out like that. She had crept out at
just after midnight -- somewhat startled to discover that she knew exactly
what time it was, despite the fact that she couldn't see any of the clocks
in the house. Somehow, she had been able to tell the time by the
level of darkness pressing upon her, as if she could sense how far away
the dawn was and how long ago the sun had set. 'I wonder if the vamps
can do this?' she had thought, then had shuddered slightly at yet one more
example of how much her life had changed since becoming the Slayer, and
how closely her world was entangled now with the other creatures of darkness.
As if that wasn't depressing enough, it had started to rain. Hard.
The most difficult part (besides not being able to shake the feeling
that she was completely and irreversibly lost) had been trying to look
as if she could see, as if she knew exactly where she was and what she
was doing, in case someone did spot her and wonder what a blind girl was
doing wandering about at this hour. The streets were pretty much
deserted -- she hadn't sensed anyone since she had left her own neighbourhood,
but that didn't mean there weren't people out there. She was almost
as worried about running into a good samaritan as she was about the vampires
and demons. Well, almost. Still, her spidey sense wasn't tingling.
That was a good sign. She would know if there were people -- or monsters
-- about. Really she would. She drew in a quick, somewhat shaky
breath. She had to trust her remaining senses, and that other
sense deep inside her, the one that made her who and what she was.
After all, it was all she had left.
Buffy hitched her weapons bag a little higher on her shoulder and shook
her head, feeling raindrops spray around her with the movement, and an
icy tendril of water roll down the back of her neck. Shivering slightly,
she crossed the road then turned right. The cemetery was close...
maybe. Still, it was a small town. She'd find it eventually.
She hoped. Or the monsters would find her first. She reached
a cold hand inside her bag and checked that her weapons were all within
reach, reminding herself where everything was stashed. She had just
brought the basics - a couple of stakes, a long, wicked-looking knife,
and a crossbow -- although she wasn't sure how much use the last one would
be. She didn't think she could hit the side of a barn right now (not
that there were a whole lot of barns that needed slaying within Sunnydale
city limits) let alone a moving target. Maybe if she asked nicely
the demon would stand still while she shot at it...
Buffy sighed, then trudged onward. Nobody had ever said this would
be easy, after all. At least the weapons check, plus her constant
tension, blended with just a little bit of fear and a whole lot of frustration,
kept her mind off other, more unpleasant things. Like how she didn't
want to die. How she really really didn't want to die.
Not tonight. Not any night, actually, but especially not tonight,
and not like this -- blind, soaking wet, and probably wearing mismatched
socks. 'I wanted to be the first Slayer to retire. I wanted
to graduate College. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to
have a life..." Misery welled up within her.
"This is so not fair," she thought as she took another step forward...
...and promptly fell over a tombstone.
With a startled yelp, the Slayer found herself over-balancing and falling
forward, only reaching out to slap the ground with her hands and cushion
the fall at the very last second. She still landed jarringly hard.
For a moment she lay motionless, wincing as a shaft of pain shot through
her arm, starting at her elbow and working its way up.
She was lying on a newly dug grave, Buffy realized (which beat lying
in a new grave, but not by much). The rain had turned the
earth to a sea of mud and she could feel it plastering her body, coating
her like... well, like mud. With a sound of disgust, the Slayer reached
up to scrape a large clump of dirt off her forehead and out of her eyes.
Not that it made any difference, sight-wise, but it was stinging.
Then she sighed and hauled herself slowly to her feet, checking for any
major damage. Nothing. Just a few more bumps and bruises to
add to the collection she had started when she had fallen out of the tree...plus
a funny bone that was feeling pretty un-funny.
Rubbing her elbow, Buffy turned slowly, unsure of her footing, making
sure the bag was still looped around her neck. She pushed ineffectively
at the mud caking her shirt and pants with one hand -- it felt like she
was wearing half the graveyard -- and suppressed a shudder as yet another
gallon or so of rainwater ran down her back. 'I do not believe this,'
she thought miserably as she prised one foot out of the ankle-deep mud,
trying not to lose her shoe as she did. "Life just sucks," she said
"That is does, darlin'."
The voice came from behind her and a little way to the right.
Buffy gasped and spun around, her feet sliding a little on the wet ground.
Nevertheless, in less than a heartbeat she was in a defensive stance, weight
balanced on both feet, knees slightly bent, crossbow in one hand and knife
in the other while her heart hammered wildly as she tried to lock in on
the other presence. The driving rain was making it difficult, the
water messing with her senses and throwing her off balance. There
was definitely something out there, she could tell, and it wasn't
human. But other than that... If only she could see.
Buffy caught her breath then stilled, blinking away the raindrops running
into her eyes. And listened.
There. He...it...whatever it was, was moving toward her.
Slowly, unhurriedly, as if it had all the time in the world. And...it
was familiar. She knew it. Him.
"Look like you've seen a ghost. Feeling jumpy tonight, are you,
Slayer?" A pause, then: "Gotta say I'm loving the wet t-shirt
English accent. Taunting overtones. Sexual innuendo.
Buffy's shoulders abruptly sagged with relief. Not a demon (well,
yes, technically he was, but not a threat to life and limb. Maybe.)
She lowered the crossbow and knife before he could see how much her hands
were shaking as a single thought flashed across her mind. 'Don't
let him know.' Buffy wasn't quite sure why, but there was definitely
something inside her that did not want the vampire to know that she was
blind. Not questioning the instinct, the Slayer turned her head to
where she thought he was and said flatly: "Spike. What
are you doing here?"
"I live here, remember?"
She must be near his crypt then. Good, that told her where she
was...more or less.
"Haven't seen much of you lately," he was saying. He made it sound
as if it was because she was wearing too much clothing, not that she hadn't
been around the cemetery, and suddenly Buffy became acutely aware of how
much her wet shirt was clinging to her. Resisting the urge to fold
her arms over her chest, she put the knife away, though keeping a good
grip on the crossbow, and turned fractionally to follow the sound of his
"Too busy with Captain Cardboard to come out and kill the bad guys,
is that it? Lad seems pretty high maintenance to me. Wonder
what your Watcher thinks about all this shirking..."
"Flattered as I am that you seem to be so worried about my job and
my love life, I really don't have time for this, Chip Boy." Sarcasm
dripped from her voice and for just a moment Buffy felt better, probably
the best she had felt since she had been blinded. Somehow, trading
veiled -- and not so veiled -- insults with Spike, not having to worry
about his feelings or be treated like a piece of glass that was liable
to break at any minute...it was refreshing. And she had missed it.
And for just a moment, she could almost believe that things would be all
right, that everything would work out in the end, somehow...
And then he was at her back, one hand seizing her right wrist, the one
holding the crossbow, while his other arm snaked around her waist, pulling
her tightly against him, his grip like iron. She hadn't even heard
him move. Her heart, which had been slowing, jolted painfully and
resumed a frantic pace. He would be able to hear it, Buffy knew,
would know just how frightened she really was. Anger flashed through
her instantly at the thought and she struggled against the vampire's grip.
Nothing. She could get no purchase on the wet mud, her feet slipping
beneath her, while he seemed to be rooted into the Earth itself, solid
as a tree trunk behind her.
"Ken doll is obviously a bad influence on you, Slayer." Spike's
voice said in her ear. If he had breath, she would have felt it along
her neck, he was that close. "You're all distracted," he continued.
"You'd never have let me get this close before."
"Maybe I just let you get close so I could do this." With that
Buffy lashed downward with one foot and jerked her head backward, feeling
a reassuring thud as the back of her skull impacted with his nose while
her heel drove into his instep.
"Bloody hell," Spike said, dropping her like a hot brick, both of his
hands going to his nose while he teetered precariously on one foot behind
The Slayer spun, her actions coming fast and automatic. A stake
was in her left hand, the crossbow pointed unerringly at his heart -- she
didn't need to see to know where it was pointed. She just knew
-- and the adrenaline rushing through her was helping, rather than hurting
her fighting skills. Another joyous rush went through her.
She was still the Slayer. She could still kick major vampire ass...
...and then a demon launched itself at her out of the night and she
flew backward beneath its weight.
"The night has a thousand eyes and the day but one"
-- Francis William Bourdillon
The demon was big, scaly, and seemed to have more than its fair share
of claws and teeth. And it smelled. A lot. "There's
just no excuse for not flossing," Buffy said breathlessly as she fought
to remain upright, her feet skidding on the wet earth. But then the
demon's full weight was on her, razor scales pressing against her skin...and
she no longer cared about the smell.
Buffy tumbled to the ground beneath the monster, its weight driving
all the air from her lungs and for a moment it was all she could do just
to breathe. It reached for her throat with its fangs -- and even
oxygen didn't seem all that important anymore. The Slayer rolled
aside, evading the teeth, and reaching out desperately for a weapon --
any weapon -- but her fingers encountered only empty air. The creature's
first rush must have sent them flying -- and she couldn't see where they
had gone. Unless she rolled over them by accident, she realized grimly,
she wasn't going to be getting them back in a hurry either.
This was bad.
Gasping, the Slayer lashed upwards with both feet -- and missed.
By a mile. She tried again and managed to land a weak blow on the
demon's -- shoulder? -- which it ignored, backhanding her so that she found
herself flying through the air, hitting the ground even harder than before.
Very bad. Badness on a cosmic scale.
Buffy sensed movement and rolled again hastily, barely avoiding the
demon's raking teeth. One tooth-edge caught her along the back of
the hand, drawing a thin line of blood, but she ignored it. Instead
she aimed another kick up at the monster.
She might as well have kicked one of the tombstones. The demon
rocked back slightly from the impact then lunged for her again, roaring
in what she could only presume was fury. 'Great. Guess I made
it mad.' Together Buffy and the monster rolled down a slight incline
with it, their limbs tangling.
"Very nice," she heard Spike say distinctly as she fell. "Slayer
mud-wrestling. Wish I'd known ahead of time. Could've sold
Buffy came to a stop on top of the demon and, for just an instant, she
had the upper hand. But no weapons. With a frustrated curse
Buffy settled for hitting the demon as hard as she could. Maybe she
could beat it to death...
Or maybe it would die of boredom. Her blow had no effect at all,
at least not on the monster. Her own arm went slightly numb from
the impact though, as her fist connected with its jaw. It was like
hitting a slab of concrete. Big, angry concrete with fangs.
With an ease that was frightening, the demon threw her off and she landed
hard again, several feet away.
If she had injured it in her previous fight, the monster certainly wasn't
showing the effects now. Which meant that it healed fast. Or
was pretty much impervious to whatever she could throw at it. And
it was fast. The Slayer barely had time to get her feet beneath her
before the creature was on her again, roaring like a banshee and slashing
at her with both sets of claws. She aimed a series of punches at
it, driving it back a little by sheer force of will, but she was beginning
to tire...and it still seemed as strong as ever.
* * *
What the hell was she playing at? Spike frowned and moved closer
to the two combatants. He had been keeping out of the way, enjoying
the fight...and the view. Wet, muddy Slayer, with bits of clothing
starting to come undone... very nice. But she kept leaving herself
open to hits that a child could have avoided, and passing up obvious opportunities
to go in for the kill. And why she refused to use her weapons when
they were so close was beyond him. As he watched, the Slayer reeled
back from another blow and Spike's frown deepened. This was just...weird.
* * *
Buffy was still hitting the demon with everything she had, but all it
was doing was making her arms ache. Whereas, when its blows connected,
it felt as though buildings were falling on her. Big, bricky buildings.
Her breath was coming in ragged gasps -- on the upside, at least she could
breathe again -- and her reactions were beginning to slow. Actually,
everything seemed to be slowing, the Slayer realized distantly. The
world around her, what she could still sense of it, was fading, as if time
itself were coming to a halt. For a moment, alarm darted through
her...and then recognition banished the fear.
She had experienced this sensation before -- just a few times, true,
but often enough that she recognized it for what it was. She had
felt it when she had faced the Master, and when she had gone up against
Adam. Had felt it at the moment when Angelus had had her cornered
and defenceless. 'Take everything else away,' he had said then, mockingly,
'and what's left?'
'Me.' She had answered. Buffy.
No, not Buffy.
And, as simply as that, she forgot the rain, forgot her blindness, forgot
where and when she was...forgot everything except the battle. And
She was the Slayer. And she would not go down without a fight.
* * *
'Atta girl,' Spike thought, as Buffy surged back to her feet, landing
two swift hits on the demon and following up with a roundhouse kick, one
foot connecting squarely with its chest. 'That's the Slayer we all
know and hate.' He took another step closer...which was when he noticed
She was fighting with her eyes closed.
* * *
The end came suddenly, unexpectedly. An unseen, unsensed
blow caught Buffy across the chest and she found herself sailing backwards,
crashing into a nearby statue, hard enough to crack the marble. And,
for just a moment it felt as if something else, besides the statue, had
As quickly as that, it was over. The trance -- whatever it was
that she had been in -- ended and she was suddenly all too aware of her
body again, of the burning in her lungs and the way her muscles were trembling
with fatigue. And most of all, of the pain shooting along her shoulders
and down her back, over her right thigh and hip, and across the back of
her hand. Once again she was aware of the cold rain pouring down
on her and the ambient noises surrounding her...
The demon howled, as if sensing its triumph and then, to Buffy's complete
and utter lack of surprise, it came at her once more. Only this time
the Slayer couldn't seem to move. Her battered body refused to surmount
the wall of pain that had risen up around her. She managed to get
her hands up in time to grasp the creature by the neck and hold it away
from her, but that was all. She could do no more. And she couldn't
keep this up much longer...
* * *
Spike was becoming seriously worried. Stupid git was going to
get herself killed. And she wouldn't even ask him for help.
Bloody arrogant Slayer. He should just walk away and let the demon
finish her off. Serve her bleeding well right...
Only...he couldn't. Much as part of him would like to, he couldn't
really let her die. Could he?
* * *
Buffy's fingers were starting to cramp, the muscles in her arms and
back screaming from the strain of holding the demon back, and her tired
mind was all out of options. She couldn't let go of the monster or
it would kill her. On the plus side, the demon could get no closer
while she had it by the throat. So the only question was which one
of them was going to weaken first. And, given the way Buffy's arms
were trembling, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which way
the fight was going to go.
The impasse was finally broken when the demon suddenly did the unexpected
-- pulling backwards and breaking her grasp. Before she could move
again, before she could even think about moving, the monster was
lunging at her, raking downward with one set of claws...
...and the world stopped.
The horrible sound of something tearing...
Something warm and wet pouring down her left arm, mixing with the rain...
The feeling when the body knows that it has been injured but the pain
hasn't had time to travel up the nerve-ends to the brain yet...
And then the agony. Like a wall of flame, tearing through her
body, burning every nerve end and scorching her soul. 'Didn't think
it would hurt this much,' Buffy had time to think...and then her eyes were
sliding shut as the world around her began to fade away.
* * *
Spike was already in motion. He had begun moving the moment that
the scent of the Slayer's blood, sharp and metallic, had pierced the night
air. As the demon's claws were ripping down the length of her left
arm, starting at the collarbone and ending just above the back of her wrist,
he was launching himself through the air toward the monster.
Once, Spike would have stood back, admiring the details as he watched
the Slayer die. He probably would have applauded...or helped.
Or he might have attacked the demon himself so he could be the one to finally
end her life. He had fantasized about this moment so many times,
had visualized what it would be like to stand over this Slayer while her
blood poured out onto the ground and the light faded from her eyes.
He had dreamed about it, had envisioned every nuance, every motion, every
But never once had he pictured himself leaping into the fray to save
her. To save the Slayer.
Spike's rush hit the demon with enough force to send it staggering to
one side, away from Buffy. His game face on, he threw everything
he had at the monster. Just keep it on the defensive, keep it moving
away from her...but then it hit him on the jaw and the vampire's goal changed
to merely staying conscious. Damn, the thing was strong. Spike
ducked another blow and backed up a step, wondering what to do next.
In his right mind he never would have taken on something this big.
At least not without a hell of a lot more reinforcements and/or weaponry.
Yeah -- heavy ordinance would be good. And a plan. Definitely
a plan. Like running. Spike had never had a problem with running
away. Live to fight another day, or at the very least come back and
stab the enemy in the back -- that was his motto. Well, one of them,
anyway. He could just go, take to his heels -- odds were good the
demon wouldn't even follow him. Only...
"Stupid bloody pillock," Spike snarled to himself as he launched himself
forward again and swung another punch at the demon. "Bleeding soft-hearted
prat." He punctuated every word with a hit to the creature.
"It wasn't bad enough you went and got this sodding chip in your head,
that you're about as scary as Donald-Bloody-Duck now. But no, now
you have to go and risk your stupid un-life for the stupid bloody Slayer.
Isn't that just great? How pathetic can you get?"
On the other hand -- it did feel kind of good to finally have something
on which to take out his frustrations. A little violence to take
the edge off. Couldn't hurt, could it? For just an instant
Spike found himself grinning as the demon reeled back under his assault.
But then it struck him in the middle of the chest...and the vampire's grin
Spike went down like he had been hit by a wrecking ball, enveloped in
pain. For a moment the world spun and it was all he could do to keep
his eyes open...to see the monster reaching down for Spike's head with
both sets of clawed hands.
The vampire's mouth went dry as the demon took a good grip on both sides
of his head...and began to twist. Fear tore through him. The
sodding demon was going to rip his sodding head off and smile at him while
it did it.
Spike was struggling frantically -- and futilely -- reaching for something
to use as a weapon when the creature suddenly stiffened. A surprised
look flitted across its face and then its eyes rolled back in its head.
A thin stream of dark blood trickled out of its mouth...and it collapsed.
Right on top of him.
Well, that was unexpected.
Hesitantly at first, then with more force Spike reached up and shoved
the creature off then put a hand that was shaking slightly up to his neck,
as if to reassure himself that his head was still attached to the rest
of him. It was. Oh good.
Another movement caught his attention and Spike looked up, blinking
away the rain that was running into his eyes. Someone was standing
over him, he realized, a long silver knife held in a bloodstained hand.
"Is it dead yet?" Buffy managed to ask, her voice reed thin and
shaking. And then she too crashed to the ground beside him, her legs
crumpling beneath her.
"Comes the blind fury"
-- John Milton
Spike didn't catch her before she fell. He didn't even try.
He was still flat on his back, trying to make the pain go away and hoping
the world would stop spinning, when Buffy collapsed. For a long moment
he stared across the soggy grass at her, blinking in surprise, then he
hauled himself upwards slowly. Or tried to.
It hurt. That last hit from the demon felt like it had broken
a few ribs. Actually, it felt like it had broken a whole lot
of ribs. Damn. Spike hated broken bones. They hurt
Still...he had other things to worry about. The ribs would heal
soon enough, but not if the demon got back up and continued with the killing.
And then there was the Slayer, who might or might not be dead. Or
at the very least, bleeding to death beside him.
No. There. He could hear her heartbeat through the rain.
It was a little weak, but even and steady. She wasn't dead.
Or even dying. Not yet. Relief poured through him, followed
by a chaser of annoyance at yet more evidence of how much he cared, despite
his best efforts to the contrary.
"Damned Slayer," he muttered as he climbed painfully to his feet, holding
his side with one hand. "This is all your fault. Couldn't even
kill one demon without getting yourself all shredded. Not to mention
me." Stiffly he walked over to her then bent down and pulled the
knife from her limp grasp. Narrowing his eyes, he turned and moved
towards the demon, kicking the unmoving creature in the side and enjoying
the solid thump of his boot on its hide.
"As for you," he said, hefting the knife in one hand. "Let's see
how you like this..."
With that, Spike bent down and, with relish and a certain grim sense
of satisfaction, hacked off the demon's head.
* * *
It didn't take long. Once Spike might have lingered over the task,
enjoying himself, but he had more important things on his mind. Like
the fact that he had an unconscious Slayer to deal with. And how
anyone could come along at any time. Her friends would probably jump
to the wrong conclusion -- what else was new? -- and stake him on the spot,
whereas his friends...er...acquaintances... fellow creatures of
the night -- whatever -- would try to finish her off. And him too
if he got in their way. Besides which, she was still bleeding.
The scent was wafting around him like honey and clover -- and probably
drawing every creature within a five mile radius. Slayer blood.
The ultimate goal of half the undead population of Sunnydale.
Scratch that. The entire undead population of Sunnydale.
Including him. His fangs had descended again, unbidden, at the thought
of all that lovely hemoglobin, just laying there. Spike licked his
lips...then shook his head. He didn't need the warning tingle from
the chip in his head to stop that line of thought in its tracks.
No. It was...
It was one of those emotions that Spike had decided he wasn't going
to think too hard about. He glared down at the unconscious Slayer.
"I should just leave you here," he said out loud. "You're more bloody
trouble than you're worth..." Nevertheless, with a sigh he straightened,
wincing, then crossed to her side.
Her heartbeat was still steady and the bleeding from the wounds on her
arm had slowed a little. When Spike laid one palm along her cheek
though, her skin was cold and she did not move at his touch. "Probably
get sodding pneumonia, you will. And find a way to blame me
for it." Swearing under his breath, Spike shrugged his coat off,
wrapped it around her, then, bracing himself against the pain in his ribs,
bent down to pick her up.
She was surprisingly light, the vampire found as he lifted her.
There was so much strength that emanated from her, so much force of mind,
that he tended to forget just how small she really was. Now though,
her body limp and cold in his arms, she seemed almost...
Actually, she seemed pretty much like she always did. Only unconscious.
And bleeding. He had to get her out of here. Neverthless, for
the briefest of moments, Spike allowed himself to savour the feeling of
having the Slayer in his arms. He swallowed once, deeply, then straightened
and, ignoring the fire that was burning a path along his right side, carried
her off into the night.
* * *
Buffy was dreaming. She was on a boat sailing away from something
or someone, the spray from the water lashing her across the face and the
even motion of the craft making her faintly nauseous. Besides which,
she was cold. And her arm hurt where the giant tuna fish had fallen
on it. And why the hell was Giles dancing with an octopus anyway?
OK. This was way too bizarre. Time to wake up. But
then the dream changed and she was underwater, miles beneath the surface,
the light swiftly receding. There was something else with her in
the dark, something that grabbed her by the ankles and was trying to pull
her even deeper... Buffy kicked out desperately with both feet, fighting
to get back to the light, but it was no use. A fish, or another creature
altogether brushed by her, its skin cold against her own, but she couldn't
see it, could see nothing except the inky blackness surrounding her.
Then, even the fish was gone, and she was all alone. In the dark.
Panic ripped through her, and she flailed out with both hands...
...and hit something solid. Buffy's eyes flew open -- and met
only darkness. Suddenly the terror from the dream became real.
She was trapped in the dark, couldn't see, couldn't...
"Quit bloody struggling, will you?" A voice said, sounding slightly
winded. "I'm trying to help!"
Buffy stilled, her heart thudding as reality crashed in around her.
"S-spike?" There was a faint quaver in her voice, one that she couldn't
"No, it's bleeding Prince Charming. Who do you think?"
Buffy blinked as the last traces of the dream faded. She gradually
became aware of her surroundings. The scent of leather and stale
cigarettes. The sound of rain falling. Cold water running down her
face and neck. Something warm and soft enfolding her -- Spike's
coat, her mind supplied -and her cheek resting against something cool and
solid. The sensation of movement... He was carrying her.
Buffy jerked once in instinctive reaction and Spike's grip around her tightened.
"Are you trying to make me drop you?" he snarled.
Buffy stilled, but it wasn't because of Spike's words. No, it
was the pain that was rising up inside her with every movement. Her
left arm felt as if it were on fire and she could feel blood dripping down
her fingers onto the ground below. And, for the first time, she was
glad to be blind -- she so did not want to see how bad the damage was.
The rest of her wasn't much better either -- pretty much everything hurt.
A lot. That demon had really done a number on her.
The demon... Buffy tensed slightly, ignoring the various body
parts that shrieked at her and the wordless growl from the vampire carrying
her. "Is it dead?" she asked, her voice a little breathless.
It wasn't from fear though. It wasn't. And neither did
it have anything to do with the fact that she was cradled against Spike's
chest while he carried her to god knows where...
"Yeah, it's dead," he said.
She could almost sense his grin. "Pretty sure."
Buffy frowned, but let it go as relief began to cascade through her,
leaving her weak and shaken. It was over. The demon was dead.
And she was still alive.
She was still alive.
Not quite certain how she felt about that, Buffy turned her mind to
other things. Like the fact that she was in Spike's arms...and wrapped
in his coat. She twitched. "Put me down," she said, her voice
as steady as she could make it.
"Oh sure. So you can fall on your face before you get three steps.
Not bloody likely."
"I can walk..."
"Sure you can." With that he moved his left hand, the hand that
was beneath her shoulders, and squeezed her left arm, just above the elbow.
She didn't quite pass out, but it was a near thing. The pain became
agony, sweeping all the way down to her toenails, and she couldn't stifle
the gasp that rose to her lips. The world rocked for a moment and
she distantly realized that Spike's chip had kicked in with his actions.
He staggered briefly then righted himself and kept going. 'Serves
you right,' she thought hazily.
"Sure you can walk, Slayer," Spike was saying, an echo of pain still
in his voice. "Run a bloody marathon, you can. I'll just leave
you here then. Let you find your own way home."
"So why don't you?" Her voice was tired, bleak, and wracked with
agony. "Why are you helping me anyway? Why didn't you just
let the demon kill me?"
He didn't answer her. Instead, there was a brief silence then
he said shortly: "We're here."
"Where?" Buffy whispered, the agony in her arm beginning to abate, just
a little. But not enough. Not nearly enough.
Sensations sweeping over her. No more rain. Damp earth.
A sense of great age. A small, enclosed room. Spike's crypt.
He was telling the truth.
Something deep inside in the Slayer loosened, some tension that she
hadn't even known was there until it was gone, vanished. She knew
where she was. With that knowledge came a sense of relief -- and
she began to shake, her body trembling violently within the folds of Spike's
coat. It wasn't because of her injuries or the cold, she knew.
It was...everything was beginning to crash down upon her. The aftereffects
of the battle with the demon. Shock probably. Surprise that
she was still in the land of the living -- more or less. And...and
something else altogether.
For just an instant she felt Spike's arms tighten around her...and then,
without warning, he let her go. Buffy tensed, expecting to hit the
ground hard. Instead she found herself being deposited fairly gently
on the top of the marble tomb in the middle of his crypt. He set
her down...and she immediately began to topple over to one side, just managing
to brace herself with her good arm so that she remained upright -- weak,
dizzy, blind, and shaking like a leaf. But sitting up. Yay
"You okay?" Buffy heard the scratch of a match, then a wreath
of smoke wafted toward her. She shifted uncomfortably, trying to
find a position where her arm didn't hurt quite so much.
"Yes," she said firmly, keeping her gaze levelled downward so he couldn't
see her eyes, wishing the trembling would stop. "I'll be fine."
"Good." With that he seized her, holding her firmly by both wrists,
ignoring the way she flinched as his fingers closed on her left arm.
"Then do you want to tell me what the hell that was all about?" There
was real fury in his voice and Buffy leaned backwards, trying to free herself.
"Let me go!"
The vampire ignored her, his fingers tightening around her. "Are
you trying to get yourself killed? 'Cause if you are maybe you could
let me know ahead of time and I won't bother to save your sodding life
At that moment something broke inside her. Later, Buffy would
say that it had all finally become too much. Her blindness, the battle,
everything that had happened to her up to that point... She had finally
reached breaking point. The straw that broke the Slayer's back.
With what was probably the last of her strength, she wrenched loose from
the vampire and shoved him violently away with one well-placed fist, sliding
down the tomb until her feet reached the ground. Her legs held her
"I never asked you to save me!" Her voice was choked with emotion
and she swung her right arm, desperately wanting something...anything to
fight. Something she could actually defeat, someone she could beat
into the dust until it all went away... Fury was running through
her in torrents, wiping away the pain and the memories and leaving only
rage behind. Pure, unsullied rage. Buffy aimed another blow
at the vampire. "I was doing fine on my own. If you hadn't
interfered I would be..."
Spike evaded her with ease then moved forward again, shoving the Slayer
violently back against the side of the tomb and pinning her hips with his
own. He caught both of her wrists and forced her arms behind her
back, holding on to them both with one hand. Then he reached up with
his other hand and seized a fistful of her hair, tilting her head back
as far as it would go, baring her throat to him. She struggled, but
he held on, moving even closer so that the full length of his body was
pressed tightly against hers.
"Dead," Spike said menacingly in her ear, listening to the pulse of
the vein beating beneath the skin of her throat as he held her. "Dead
is what you would have been if I hadn't interfered. What's
the matter, Slayer? Sacred duty finally got too much for you?
Got a little taste of that death wish and you want more? Well, just
give the word, girl, and, chip or no chip, I'll still..." But then
his voice trailed away as what his brain had been telling him for several
minutes now, finally began to sink in.
The Slayer was still fighting to get loose, though her efforts were
weaker now. Her heart was fluttering against his like a wounded bird
and her entire body was shaking, with more than cold. But that wasn't
what had stopped him. No, it was her eyes. And their complete
and utter blankness. The way they weren't focused on him and
the way they didn't follow his every movement. Almost as if...
Spike dropped her abruptly and stepped backwards, stunned. Blind?
He must have said the word out loud because her shoulders sagged, all
the fight abruptly going out of her. Buffy collapsed back against
the tomb as if it were the only thing still holding her up, and dropped
her head, no longer meeting his gaze. There was a long moment of
silence, then she said wearily: "Yes, I'm blind."
"Before mine eyes in opposition sits grim Death "
-- John Milton
"Yes, I'm blind. Happy now?" At that moment, Buffy's knees
abruptly gave way and she found herself sliding down the side of the marble
tomb until she was sitting limply on the ground. With a shudder,
she leaned her head back against it and closed her eyes. Waiting.
Silence. Spike hadn't moved. A few more heartbeats passed
then the stillness finally became too much for her shattered nerves to
bear any longer. "Well?" Buffy asked tautly. "Aren't you going
to say it?"
"Say what?" Spike's voice sounded odd. Flat somehow.
"I don't know. Some crack. How this really makes your century,
maybe. I don't know..." Her voice trailed away and she shifted
a little, cradling her left arm in her lap, wishing the waves of pain that
were rolling across her body would go away for a while. Wishing he
would go away...
"How?" Spike's question abruptly brought her wandering mind back
to the present.
Buffy didn't pretend not to know what he meant. "Acid-spitting
demon. Ducked right when I should have dodged left. End of
He really was a vampire of few words. Or syllables. "Last
Tuesday. And no, there's nothing anyone can do. I'm blind.
For life. However long that turns out to be." This time her
words were laced with bitterness.
She heard him shift his weight, sensing the slight movement of his feet
on the hard-packed dirt, and braced herself for the...no, not sympathy.
She didn't expect sympathy from Spike -- despite that moment on her mother's
porch a week ago when he had...when he had been kind. No. She
couldn't deal with any more kindness right now. She'd had more than
enough from her friends and family, and it was killing her. Insults,
threats, demons trying to murder her -- those she could handle. But
not kindness. Not now. And not from him. Buffy opened
her eyes -- not that it made any difference -- and straightened her shoulders.
"And don't bother saying how sorry you are, because I won't believe you,"
There was another long pause and then: "Not likely. I was
just going to say that you're bleeding all over my bloody... uh...coat."
Oh. Buffy reached up with one hand to the leather that was still
wrapped around her. For a moment her fingers tightened around one
edge, then she doggedly began to pull it off, trying to jar her left arm
as little as possible. A moment later hands were touching hers, helping
to slide the leather duster off her shoulders.
"Always figured I'd get to undress you one day," he said tauntingly.
Buffy tried to bat the vampire's hands away but failed miserably.
"In your dreams," she muttered.
"Yeah," he breathed, so quietly that she almost didn't hear him.
And then he was pulling the coat aside, causing a fresh wave of agony to
shoot through her, and she decided she had misheard.
"Can you stand?" Spike's voice was calm, matter-of-fact, as if
he didn't care one way or the other. He probably didn't.
Buffy frowned, then shook her head, not even trying to make the effort.
She knew she couldn't stand. The dizziness was back with a vengeance
and she was colder than ever. So cold she felt as if she were turning
to ice. Buffy the Snow-Slayer. Funny. She could no longer
feel the ground beneath her, she realized dimly, and the world was becoming
distant and remote. Blood loss and shock, part of her mind supplied...but
she couldn't really find it in her to care. Maybe this was
it. This was how she would die -- not in battle as she had always
thought, but bleeding to death in Spike's crypt -- which was ironic in
a way that pretty much redefined the word 'irony'. Still, maybe that
would be ok. She didn't think she'd ever have the courage to try
this again. If it didn't end tonight... Buffy's eyes began
to flicker shut.
A resounding cuff across the face banished the oblivion that was beginning
to enfold her and the Slayer's eyes flew open again. Without warning
she found herself being dragged to her feet then tossed roughly onto the
top of the tomb. Buffy gasped, wincing at the pain in her jaw which
now rivalled that of her arm. "Ow. What are--?" she started
to say, but Spike's words overrode hers.
"You are so damned...pathetic, do you know that? God, any more
nobility and self-sacrifice around here and I'm going to throw up."
"What..." she tried again but he ignored her, reaching out to give her
a shove so that she fell backwards, laying full length on the top of the
"Just shut up and keep still," he said. His voice was practically
vibrating with fury and for a moment the clouds in her mind rolled away.
Chip or no chip, Spike was still dangerous. Always would be.
Buffy froze as she sensed him moving closer...but then he went around the
tomb, heading across the crypt where she could hear him rummaging for something.
Then he moved back towards her and she tensed again, wishing for the millionth
time that she could see what was happening.
"If you think you get to bleed to death here you're off your rocker.
I don't want your gang of Scoobies staking me because I let you die.
And I certainly don't want the next Slayer coming along, out for revenge
and a little Spike-slayage -- not while I've got this chip in my head at
"So throw me out in the rain and don't get involved," she said weakly.
"Don't tempt me. No, I'm going to patch you up -- only to keep
you from dripping blood all over my floor, mind -- and then I'm taking
you home where you can be somebody else's problem. Anybody
"No!" Buffy tried to sit up but he held her down easily.
"Spike, you don't understand..."
"Don't I?" He reached for the collar of her shirt, yanking open
the top button. "And before you get any ideas, I'm taking this off
so I can fix your arm, is all. So don't get excited."
"Like this would excite me. Listen, you don't know..."
He undid the next button and then the next, wrenching her shirt open.
Buffy flinched and her shivering increased as a cold draft played over
her bared skin.
"How 'bout I tell you what I know," Spike was saying, pulling her right
arm through the shirt sleeve. "Like how you probably spent the last
few days deciding that the world needs a Slayer, a new Chosen-bloody-Whinger.
Since the other one's, what? Doing ten to twenty for murder?"
He succeeded in freeing her right arm and moved on to the left. "So
heroic little Buffy decides to go out and get herself killed so the next
Slayer can be called and fight the forces of evil, blah blah blah.
How'm I doing so far?"
She said nothing. Partly because he was right, partly because
she was in too much pain to do more than clench her teeth and try not to
scream -- and partly because she was way too aware of the fact that
Spike was undressing her. Which was more than a little surprising,
given that she was in agony, frozen to the marrow, and hanging onto consciousness
by a thread. What the hell was the matter with her anyway?
Spike's fingers brushed against her bare stomach and she inhaled sharply,
then shook the bizarre thoughts away, concentrating instead on remaining
He was still talking. "Bet you planned everything," he said derisively.
"Wrote all the Scoobies tragic little goodbye notes. Probably shagged
your boyfriend one last time and then went out demon-hunting. Right?"
A small shaft of anger went through Buffy and for a moment she forgot
everything else. How come Spike got to be the one who could always
get inside her head? Why could she fool everyone else but not him.
Never him. It wasn't fair...
"Well, am I right? I like the lacy lingerie, by the way," he added,
almost as an afterthought as he pulled her injured arm through the shirt
sleeve then let the blood-soaked garment drop to the floor.
Buffy didn't answer. Couldn't. The sudden jolt of pain in
her arm was overwhelming and she felt as if she were being pulled backwards
and downwards, sinking ever deeper into shadows. 'Can't faint,' Buffy
thought desperately, a tremor going through her. 'Won't...'
But her grip on the world was failing. For a fleeting moment the
Slayer thought she felt something soft brush against her hair -- Spike?
-- and then even that was gone and she was alone in the dark.
"Winged cupid painted blind"
-- William Shakespeare
Something twisted inside Spike as he watched Buffy lose consciousness.
Unbidden, his hand moved forward to touch her hair then he snatched it
back as if he had been burned. 'Just do this quick,' he told himself,
'while she's still out.' He knew just how fast a Slayer could recover,
even from the worst injuries, and he didn't want her coming around and
instinctively trying to kill him before he was done. And this way
she wouldn't feel any pain...
Ignoring the irony of the thought of a vampire wanting to spare a Slayer
pain, Spike unrolled a length of bandage and moved closer to her.
He had begun keeping a small supply of bandages and other such when he
had started getting staked, shot, and stabbed on a regular basis.
'Never thought I'd be using it on her though,' he thought grimly.
Then, no longer hesitating, he picked up a nearby bottle of alcohol, uncorked
it with his teeth, and tossed a substantial amount of the fluid over her
Buffy stirred, moaning, as the alcohol ran over her bare arm and shoulder,
washing away much of the blood and revealing the full extent of the damage
to Spike. He stared at it for a moment. Three deep parallel
gashes ran down the length of her arm, starting near the collarbone and
ending just above the back of her wrist while another, lighter slash ran
across the back of her left hand.
Even as he watched blood welled up again in the cuts...and as quickly
as that, bloodlust was surging within him like a tidal wave, blurring his
vision and filling his senses. Spike's fangs descended unconsciously
as the reality of the situation struck home. The Slayer was here,
unconscious and helpless, her blood dripping down the side of the tomb,
the scent of her filling the air. It was everything he had ever dreamed
of, everything he had wanted since he had first come to Sunnydale.
To sink his teeth into her, to feel her convulse around him while he drank
her lifeblood, to go over that dark precipice with her in his arms...
It would be so easy. All he had to do was bend his head and drink,
to sink his fangs into the perfection of her throat and...
Only...he couldn't. Even though the very core of his being was
screaming at him to just take her, his body aching with raw desire...he
couldn't. Something inside wouldn't let him. And it wasn't
the chip in his head either. Spike shook his head, trying to force
his face to resume its human form, trying to will the bloodlust away.
Just then, Buffy stirred, her head turning to one side, unconsciously baring
even more of her throat to him. The vampire gulped then ran his tongue
over his fangs. On the other hand, he could still have just a taste.
Just a little. He had wanted, no, needed this for so long,
and it wouldn't hurt her, not really... Unable to resist the craving still
tearing through him, Spike slowly leaned forward, losing himself in the
scent of her blood...
...then yelped as a shaft of blinding agony tore through him.
Spike jumped backwards, almost falling, clutching his head with both hands
as his lust and hunger turned instantly to fury. And, not for the
first time, his self-control threatened to slip. It would be so easy
to give into the rage that almost consumed him every time he thought about
the chip in his head, to fight against it until it killed him... But he
wouldn't. He wouldnt. No, he was smarter, stronger than
that. And he wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
Besides, there was the Slayer to think about.
She needed him.
Shaking, Spike leaned on the tomb, eyes shut and fingers clenched, one
hand on either side of the unconscious Buffy. Waiting. Finally,
his fangs receded and the desire quieted. Just a little. But
enough. With hands that were shaking only slightly, he poured more
alcohol over her wounds then began to wrap the bandage around her wrist,
trying to take his mind off...other things.
She was lucky the demon had got her on the back of the arm, Spike decided
as he worked his way upward, his seething emotions finally beginning to
cool. If it had clawed her on the inside of her wrist and hit the
veins... Well, she'd be dead by now. End of story. Would probably
have bled to death out there in the rain. Spike's heart contracted
at the thought and another tremor went through him, one that had nothing
at all to do with the chip in his head this time. He glanced up at
her ashen face and his jaw tightened. She was so beautiful, so helpless,
'So likely to sit up and break this bottle over my flipping head,' Spike
thought, self-derision lancing through him. The Slayer was about
as fragile and breakable as a jungle cat. A cranky, bad-tempered
Except she was blind. And either completely suicidal, or near
enough as made no odds. The bands around Spike's heart tightened
even more. She had come here to die and as soon as she woke up she'd
probably be heading back out into the night to finish the job...unless
he did something about it. But what? For an instant the surreal
-- and incredibly erotic -- image of tying her up with the spare set of
chains and holding her here until she came to her senses, was pretty damned
appealing...on a multitude of levels.
Nevertheless, he discarded the notion. Enjoyable as it might be,
it wasn't very practical. She'd break free and stake him. Her
friends would show up and stake him. Someone would show up
and stake him. Guaranteed. Whichever way he played it in his
mind, every scenario still ended up with him as a big pile of dust.
Spike cast a quick glance down the length of the Slayer's body, taking
in the smooth skin and lacy bra, the blood pulsing just beneath the paleness
of her throat...and swallowed deeply. 'Might be worth it in the long
run though,' he thought unsteadily.
* * *
Spike tied off the bandage and stood back to survey his handiwork.
The Slayer was looking a lot better -- and slightly less mouth-watering
-- now that she wasn't bleeding all over the place. Not that he wouldn't
bite her in a heartbeat...if he could. But he couldn't, so he might
as well think about something else. Like what he was going to do
'Can't let her go back out there,' he thought. Not tonight.
He damned well would chain her up, if it came to that. She
wouldn't stand a chance, alone and sightless. She'd be a nice snack
for the first nasty that came along. And if he couldn't have her
for dinner, then nothing else was bloody going to either.
Likewise, he couldn't just send her back to her so-called friends and
family. They'd already proven they couldn't keep her safe, couldn't
protect her from herself. Pillocks. No, if he took her back
to them she'd end up just as dead. Maybe not tonight, but soon.
He had to do something. Unfortunately, nothing brilliant was coming
to mind. Spike sighed then straightened, wincing as pain stabbed
him again in his right side, then walked around the tomb and picked up
his leather coat, surveying it for a moment. Blood, drying slowly
now, coated the inner left side. Still, it was all he had in the
way of a blanket, so it would have to do. Be just his sodding luck
if she caught pneumonia, after all he'd done.
Walking stiffly so as not to further aggravate his injured side, the
vampire picked up one of his spare black shirts then returned to the tomb
and leaned over the Slayer. There was a bit more colour in her face
but her skin was still cold to the touch. With another sigh, Spike
began threading her unmoving arms through the sleeves of his shirt, trying
not to do any further damage to her injuries. 'Hope you appreciate
all this when you wake up,' he thought crossly.
* * *
Buffy was dreaming again. She was still underwater, but somehow
the dark and cold seemed less frightening this time. Maybe because
she could sense that she wasn't alone. There was someone in the darkness
with her, someone who didn't mean her any harm. She didn't know how
she knew. She just did. Buffy stretched out a hesitant hand
-- and the sea answered it. It was ageless. Powerful.
Inhuman. And...welcoming. For the first time in a very long
while, she felt safe. Protected. Like she could just surrender
to the waters around her and...
...and there was something above her. Buffy opened her eyes and
looked up. A light was shining dimly in the distance, faint and golden,
miles away above her head. She frowned. Was she supposed to
try to reach it? It was too far, she would never make it. She
would drown first...
The moment that thought entered her mind, the Slayer was suddenly aware
of her body's raging need for air. Fear tore through her. She
didn't belong here. She had to get to the surface...or die.
Fighting down the panic inside her, she began to swim upward, her eyes
focused on the distant light. Around her she sensed consternation,
concern - and something else -- from the being nearby, but she ignored
it. It wasn't important. Nothing was. Only reaching the
The light was too far away. She wasn't going to make it.
Already her lungs were burning, her heart pounding, her limbs weakening.
And the undertow had returned, trying to pull her deeper again, preventing
her escape. Buffy struggled desperately, risking a quick look at
the darkness below. It was powerful and endless, and she knew that
if she gave into it she would be lost. Forever. With one final,
desperate lunge, she threw herself to one side, breaking the thing's grasp
on her and...
...and landing with a jarring thud on hard earth. She could see
nothing in the darkness, but sensed instantly that somebody -- some thing
-- was standing over her. 'Vampire!' her Slayer senses screamed...and
adrenaline flooded her system. In a heartbeat she had gathered her
feet beneath her and was surging to her feet, vaguely aware of pain in
her left arm. The vampire took a step toward her...and the Slayer
came up fighting for her life.
"Heav'n but the vision of fulfill'd desire and Hell the shadow
of a soul on fire"
-- Omar Khayyam
Everything happened very quickly. One moment Spike was leaning
over Buffy, tucking the leather coat around her, the next she was flinging
herself away from him, off the top of the tomb and onto the ground...and
the moment after that he was flat on his back halfway across the crypt's
floor where she had thrown him. And there was a very angry -- and
dangerous -- Slayer on top of him.
Still slightly stunned, Spike gazed up into Buffy's unseeing eyes.
She was sitting on his chest, pinning him to the ground while she reached
automatically for a weapon. There was no recognition on her face,
no sense that she even knew where she was or who she was sitting on.
Instead, something primitive and ferocious burned behind her eyes...
...something that Spike recognized, that caused the demon within himself
to leap forward in welcome.
He must have moved without thinking because Buffy snarled once, soundlessly,
then lashed down at him with one fist. Spike dodged the blow then
surged up, sweeping her off so that they ended up rolling along the crypt
floor together, their limbs tangled.
Part of the vampire was enjoying this to the hilt, even though his broken
ribs complained with every movement. The length of her body against
his...having the Slayer in his arms, even like this...it was probably as
close to heaven as he was ever going to get. But another part of
him was busy worrying about her injuries. Just then, though, she
rolled on top of him, certain parts of her anatomy pressing against certain
parts of his...and Spike told the second part of himself to bloody well
They came to a sudden stop beside the tomb, rolling into its side with
such force that the impact jarred them both. On top, at least for
the moment, Spike took advantage of the Slayer's momentary pause and reached
out with lightning speed, seizing her wrists and pinning them to the ground.
Buffy fought him wordlessly, furiously, but could get no leverage to free
herself, his weight trapping her beneath him. Finally, after what
seemed like an eternity, she stilled, her chest heaving. There was
a long pause and then an emotion he did not recognize flickered across
...and everything changed. Slowly, purposefully, she shifted,
arching upwards just a little. Just enough. And Spike caught
fire. Or at least, that's what it felt like. Desire was suddenly
coursing through him like an inferno, answering the change in her mood,
while the air around them seemed to crackle with electricity.
The Slayer sensed it too. No longer struggling, she stared sightlessly
up at him while the tip of her tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip.
Spike groaned. Then her legs slid slowly upwards, bending at the
knees, her inner thighs caressing his hips, and he could take no more.
His self-control completely gone now, he lowered his head and met her lips
with his own, roughly forcing them apart with his tongue. After a
moment, he let go of her left hand to seize her by the hair, tilting her
head back so that he could deepen the kiss.
He could die happy now, Spike thought distantly as the Slayer's tongue
entwined with his. He could turn to dust tomorrow and still be a
happy man. Her free arm had slid around his back, pulling him even
closer, and she was writhing beneath him, her hips grinding against his
own. 'A very happy man...'
Which was when he became aware of it. Distantly at first, then
more urgently he realized that something was poking into his back.
Something sharp. The haze surrounding him receded a little and he
recognized it for what it was. A wooden stake.
Spike broke the kiss abruptly, pulling back enough to gaze down at the
Slayer. She stared blankly back up at him, her lips slightly swollen
from his kiss and the echoes of passion still radiating from her eyes...but
the hand holding the stake at his back was motionless and there was a hint
of ice behind the passion...
Spike froze. And remembered. After the fight with the demon
he had picked up the stake. It was in the coat. She was wearing
the coat. Meaning she was armed. And blind. And confused.
And severely hacked off, from what he could tell.
A long moment passed in which neither of them moved, then Spike swallowed
and said carefully: "You don't want to do that, pet. I helped
She frowned, as if trying to recall but not quite succeeding.
He tried again. "Remember the demon? In the cemetery?
I helped you kill it." He softened his voice even further.
"I saved your life. Brought you back and wrapped up your arm for
Her frown deepened and she moved her left arm slightly, as if testing
the truth of his words. Spike's mouth went dry at the feel of the
stake sliding across his back and a tremor went through him, despite himself.
The Slayer felt it, her eyes flickering back up to meet his own, even though
she could see nothing. There was confusion in her face now and an
odd blankness, as if she were still asleep. But he was getting through
to her, he could tell. He only had to keep talking...
"Come on, Buffy. Put the stake down, love."
* * *
Buffy. It was the sound of her name that finally brought the Slayer
back to complete awareness. When she had first emerged from the dream...it
was like she hadn't truly been awake. Or as if her body had been
on auto-pilot. She had known, in a distant, detached way what she
was doing, but it was almost as if someone -- or something -- else had
been pulling the strings. Something primitive and violent.
Something she had encountered once before, also in a dream. The Slayer.
The first Slayer.
Buffy shuddered, then fought the reaction down. No. Don't
think about it. Focus on the here and now, rather than on the what-ifs.
That was what Giles had taught her. Concentrate on what she could
see...hear...feel, and worry about the rest later.
OK. See. Nothing. Hear. Her own heavy breathing
and racing heart. Feel. Hard, slightly damp earth beneath her.
And...someone laying on top of her. Completely on top of her.
Spike. Recognition came with a shock, like a bucket of cold water
being thrown over her, and the last of the cobwebs in her mind cleared
instantly. Spike was laying full length on top of her, one
of his hands tangled in her hair, the fingers of his other entwined with
hers. Both of her legs were wrapped tightly around him and... Oh.
Aroused Spike. Very aroused Spike. And it all came flooding
back to her...
He had kissed her. And she had kissed him back. With enthusiasm.
And major tongue action. She had kissed him. Kissed
Spike. Buffy blinked. What the hell was she thinking?
And, for that matter, why was she still just laying here beneath him, not
Well, she couldn't answer the first question, but she could definitely
do something about the second. Tightening her jaw, she said, as firmly
as she could. "Get off."
Buffy felt some of the tension ease from the vampire -- No! That's
all wrong. There will be no relaxing on top of Buffy! -- then he
leaned forward a little and said, a mocking edge to his voice:
"Love to pet, but in case you hadn't noticed, you're the one who's all
wrapped around me."
That was true. She still had both legs around him and her left
arm was curled up around his body, holding him close to her -- and holding
a stake on him.
Spike stirred slightly, drawing her attention back to his lower body.
"You planning on using that Slayer?" he said. "'Cause if not, I know
a lot better uses for that hand..."
That did it. Buffy shoved him away, untangling herself hastily
from the vampire. Then she clawed her way back to a sitting position
and transferred the stake to her right hand, wincing at the pain in her
left as she did so. "You're a pig, Spike," she hissed. "Just
stay the hell away from me."
She could almost see the taunting grin she knew would be on his face.
"Hey, you're the one who had your tongue down my throat! Not that
I'm complaining, mind you, but just so we're clear on who was doing what
Yeah, right. "You kissed me first!" she said furiously.
"Well...yeah." A pause. "So you do remember it all then?"
His weight pressing into her...his lips on hers, rough and hard...raw,
sexual energy consuming her... Oh yeah. She remembered it.
All of it. And it was disturbing on practically every level.
Spike? Wanting and needing Spike? What was that about?
She had a boyfriend. And there was nothing within her that was even
remotely attracted to Spike. There. Just. Wasn't.
In the end, Buffy fell back on denial. "I am not going to talk
about this," she said firmly, trying to calm her racing mind. "In
fact, I am not even going to think about this. Ever, ever again.
It so did not happen."
"Fine." She heard him climb to his feet then move towards her.
"I'm gonna help you up. Don't stake me." Was that a hint of
anger she heard in his voice? But then his hands were on her and
he was pulling her to her feet...and all thoughts of what happened between
them faded as pain took their place.
It hurt less now, Buffy realized, but that wasn't saying a lot.
Her arm still felt as though...well, as though it had been clawed by a
demon. It was bandaged, she noticed, and the bleeding seemed to have
stopped, but even the slightest movement was enough to set waves of agony
crashing across her body. For a moment the world spun and she swayed.
If she hadn't been blind she would have been seeing spots, she knew.
Despite her best intentions, her knees began to buckle.
* * *
Spike saw the Slayer start to fall and cursed under his breath...then
he reached out and caught her, holding her tightly against his chest.
'Why me?' he thought as he held her. 'Why do I have to sodding care?'
The old Spike would have just let her fall. Hell, the old Spike would
never have been in this position in the first place. For a moment
he yearned for the old days, before the Initiative, before the implant
in his head, before he ever came to Sunnydale... He had been happy
back then with Dru, wreaking havoc on the world, doing what he wanted,
when he wanted...to whom he wanted.
Now though...now he was reduced to this. Living off discarded
butcher's blood. Following the Slayer around night after night just
to catch a glimpse of her. Risking unlife and limb for her.
Sod it. Who was he kidding? It was enough to just be here
like this, holding her so up she wouldn't fall on her stupid Slayer face.
Enough to know that it was him she needed, even if it was just for now.
And as for the kiss... There had been something there,
something real, no matter how much she might try to deny it. They
had both felt the heat. It had been fire and sunlight, all...
Oh god. Poetry. He was bloody thinking in poetry now.
That was... He was...
"Be to her faults a little blind"
-- Matthew Prior
"Spike," Buffy said at last into his shoulder, her voice muffled.
"Uh...what exactly am I wearing?"
"One of my shirts. And my coat."
A brief pause, then:
"Put me down."
For the second time that night, Buffy felt his hands on her waist and
then she was being lifted onto the tomb again, her legs dangling over the
side. She took a deep breath, trying to ignore the dizziness...and
the quivers that kept going through her body every time he touched her.
It was just Spike, for god's sake. Spike the soulless, evil
demon. Spike the undead. Definitely not quiver-worthy.
Not even human. But it made no difference. It was as if her
body had suddenly decided to fixate on him, despite what her brain kept
saying. Buffy's jaw tightened. 'Fixate on someone else,' she
told herself fiercely. 'Get a grip!'
Of course, she had had a grip on pretty much all of him not long ago...
Buffy shook her head, forcing her thoughts away from that image
through sheer willpower. Instead, she focused on her injuries.
And there was a lot to focus on.
The dizziness was still there, although it had abated a little, she
realized. Her head still swam if she moved too quickly but she didn't
feel as if she was constantly on the verge of passing out anymore.
Her arm continued to throb and pain pulsed across her back and down the
length of her right leg...but overall she felt better. Probably a
five plus on the battered-but-better-Buffy scale. Maybe even a six...
Now if she could just shake the memory of rolling around on the ground
As the thought flashed through her mind, Buffy became vividly aware
of just how close the vampire was standing. When he had lifted her
up he had somehow manoeuvred it so her legs were on either side of him,
his hips fitting snugly between her knees. And he was still holding
her, both hands on her waist. Buffy swallowed. Hello!
Personal space issues!
"What are you doing Spike?" She was proud of her voice this time.
It was cool and steady with just a hint of steel beneath the words.
"Keeping you from falling on your face," he said matter-of-factly, making
no attempt to move...except for his hands, which shifted slightly as he
Buffy's breath caught in her throat...but then sanity reasserted itself
and a sense of outrage finally overwhelmed the other, more erotic
feelings shooting through her. Hastily Buffy knocked the vampire's
hands away and leaned back. "I don't need your help," she said, her
voice cold. "So back off Fang Boy. Right now."
There was a long pause then Spike did step back...and for a moment she
missed his proximity. But only for a moment.
"Oh yeah. I forgot. I'm 'beneath you'." Spike was saying
scornfully from a few paces away. "Well, we won't get into
who was beneath who a few minutes ago. 'Course you don't need my
help. The mighty Slayer doesn't need anyone, does she? You
can go and get yourself killed all by yourself. Certainly don't need
me for that."
"Shut up, Spike. You don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh don't I?" He stepped forward, crowding her again and she fought
the urge to shove him back...violently. "The fact that I saved your
life means bugger all to you, doesn't it? Fact is, you probably wish
I'd let that demon finish the job..."
"Stop it." This time she did shove him away, using both hands
and a great deal of force.
It didn't help. A moment later he was back, closer than before,
seizing both her wrists as he had done earlier, ignoring the stake still
clutched in her right hand.
"Ruined your little plan, didn't I?" Spike continued, pressing his verbal
attack. "Thought you were going to go out all noble, didn't you?
Be the right little martyr. Well, let me tell you this, Slayer --
I've seen martyrs in my time. Killed a few of them myself.
And you know what? In the long run, at the end of the day...all they
got was dead. Didn't make a blind bit of difference what they did.
'cept to them of course."
Buffy shook her head violently. "That's not true."
"Sure. Say it's not true. Say you can make the world a better
place by not being in it -- and who am I to argue? But it's just
you and me here. So let's be honest, right? You weren't going
out to save the world -- you were running away from it. Come on,
admit it -- you gave up. The going got tough and little Buffy ran
away and hid from the big bad world. Tell me, were you thinking of
anyone beside yourself when you decided to go out and off yourself?
That family of yours, f'rinstance?"
The anger that had been steadily growing inside her suddenly blossomed
into an inferno and Buffy ripped her hands free from the vampire's grasp,
not caring how much the motion hurt her wounded arm. "I am
thinking about them," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "I
can't protect them like this. The world needs a Slayer, and I can't
be it! Not anymore!"
"So...what? So you just give up, is that it? The baddies
win and the world gets a new Slayer?"
She was on her feet now, standing in front of him, not caring how she
had got there. "Yes!" she shouted, her self-control completely shattered.
"Yes, I came here planning to die tonight. Yes, this time I'm going
to let the bad guys win so the world gets a new Slayer. One who can
see, one who doesn't need help just to get dressed... Is that what you
wanted to hear? Does it make you feel good to hear me say it?"
Buffy's voice was shaking, along with the rest of her, and it was taking
all of her willpower not to hit him, not to use the stake on him...not
to take out all her fear and frustrations on the one being she knew could
"No," Spike answered her quietly. "But you needed to say it."
Disbelief went through her. "Oh that's just great," she snapped,
acid bitterness etched in her voice. "Psychiatrist Spike is in.
What a good idea. Get Buffy to admit she's suicidal, make everything
all better by talking about it. Well I've had the shrink job already
thanks, from people who actually care..." She stopped, swallowed,
then went on.
"You just don't get it, do you? None of this is going to make
any difference. We can talk about my feelings all you like.
Hell, we can pound on each other till dawn if that's what you want, but
nothing's going to change. When the sun comes up I'm still not going
to be able to see it, no matter what you say or do, no matter how much
I wish otherwise. I am blind, Spike. I'm a blind Slayer.
And I can't do my job, not like this. I can't...I..."
To Buffy's complete horror her voice suddenly broke and tears welled
up in her eyes. No. No! She would not do this.
She would not cry in front of Spike. Especially not in front
of Spike. Taking a deep, ragged breath, she spun around and leaned
both hands on the tomb, blinking fiercely, willing the tears not to fall.
He was right behind her. She could feel him, unmoving, a solid
presence at her back. Buffy swallowed, desperately fighting the emotions
that were threatening to overwhelm her. "Look," she said shakily.
"You saved my life. Fine. Thanks very much. But I want
you to leave me alone now so I can do...what I need to. So just...just
let me go, ok?"
"No, pet. I won't."
Buffy sagged and for a moment she thought she was going to burst into
hysterical laughter...or turn around and sob on his shoulder. 'Can't
do that,' she thought disjointedly. 'I'm the Slayer. Have to
be strong. Have to do this by myself. Have to...'
But then Spike was reaching out, pulling her back against him and wrapping
both arms securely around her waist. Buffy tensed, half-heartedly
trying to break free, but his grip around her only tightened...and somehow
she couldn't find the strength to struggle anymore. It was as if
all the energy had drained out of her, leaving her weak and exhausted,
as if she were being sucked deeper into something that was cold and dark
and she no longer had any strength left to fight it. Her dream flashed
through her mind again and she remembered the cold presence she had sensed.
Buffy tried once more to free herself then gave up. "Let me go,"
she whispered weakly, her hands resting limply on top of the arms that
were holding her.
He shook his head, his face brushing her hair. "No Slayer," he
said, his lips close to her ear. I won't. Maybe you're right.
Maybe this is the only way out. You want to get yourself killed,
I'm not gonna stop you." There was a pause, and when he spoke again
it was in a whisper, so soft she could barely hear it. "But you don't
have to be alone..."
Yes. Yes, she did. Everyone needed her. She had to
be strong for them, for the whole world sometimes. Not the other
way round. Not...
But, standing there with Spike's arms around her, she could almost believe
him. There was something comforting, even protective, in the way
he was holding her, and her body relaxed, just a little. It would
be so nice to let go, to stop being the Slayer and just be...
Hesitantly, as if expecting him to pull away at any second, Buffy slowly
allowed her head to lean back until it was touching Spike's shoulder and
then, with a long quavery sigh, she closed her eyes, feeling the tension
flow out of her.
* * *
Spike swallowed. It wasn't possible to feel such ecstasy...and
so much pain. Buffy was finally in his arms. Willingly.
Not struggling, not fighting. Relaxed. And it was sweeter than
heaven. But it was hell too. Because try as he might, he couldn't
delude himself that he was the one she really wanted to be with, that she
would be with him at all if anyone else was around. Soldier Boy...the
Watcher...her gang of Slayerettes. It didn't matter. Any of
them would do, better than him.
He was...he was convenient, was all.
But then again...did it matter if he was only a poor replacement for
the others? After all, she was in his arms right now.
And now was all that mattered. 'So just enjoy it while you can,'
he told himself fiercely, 'and stop bloody brooding about it.' He
closed his eyes, listening to the Slayer's heartbeat, feeling her warmth
against his chest -- and a feeling of desperation went through him.
There had to be a way. Something the Scoobies hadn't thought of,
didn't know about... With that thought, Spike's eyes flew open and
Maybe, just maybe, there was.
"If the blind lead the blind"
-- New Testament
Buffy sensed the change in Spike's mood and a faint tremor of regret
went through her. For the first time in...well, ever...she had felt
safe. Secure. Protected. It had felt so good to just
let go, to lean on someone else for a change. She knew it was temporary,
knew that it couldn't last. It never did. But, for a moment
--just for a moment -- she had been able to convince herself that it would.
That this feeling didn't have to end. But then she felt Spike's arms
stiffen around her, the sudden tension in his body...and she sighed.
Spike. Weird. It seemed as if she had spent more time in
his arms than out of them tonight. And, for the most part, enjoying
it. It didn't make any sense. They had been mortal enemies,
reluctant allies...and everything in between for the last few years.
He had fought with her, kissed her, lied to her, and almost destroyed the
most important things in her life. He had hurt her...and been kind
to her. He had almost killed her...and had saved her life.
More than once. Not even counting tonight. Buffy sighed again,
her head still resting on his shoulder. I don't understand you, Spike.
"And you probably never will, love. But I know you."
She must have spoken out loud, Buffy realized. She opened her
eyes. "What do you know?" she asked wearily, not moving.
One of his hands moved up to caress her hair and it was a true measure
of her exhaustion that she just stood there and let him. "I know
you don't want to die," he said. "I know you're not ready to dance
that dance yet. That's why you fought that demon instead of just
letting it kill you. Hell, if you'd really wanted to off yourself,
there's lots easier ways. More certain. Less messy."
"Maybe I was afraid." Her voice was bleak.
"To die? Could be. Or maybe deep down you think you're not
done with the living yet. Maybe you're too busy just trying to keep
your head above water that you can't see the big picture."
Her dream. Endless darkness beneath her. Distant light above.
And Buffy, caught in the middle, unable to reach the one, unwilling to
give into the other. Trapped.
With a shudder, Buffy pulled free of the vampire and turned around to
face him. "So what is the big picture, Spike? What is it I'm
not seeing...besides everything?"
She heard him move slightly, his hands sliding into the pockets of his
jeans. "Choices," he said simply. "Never looked at all the
choices, did you? So busy trying to fight everything on your own
it never occurred to you to ask for help. You know what it is that
makes you different from all the other Slayers, pet?"
What? Buffy frowned, trying to keep up with the way the conversation
kept changing gears. "No. But I'm sure you're going to tell
"It's all those friends and family you've got hanging 'round.
Told you that when we first met. You've got all these people around
you -- even me now, thanks to this bloody chip. But in the end, you're
still alone. Too afraid to reach out to others, 'cause that makes
you vulnerable, doesn't it? It's safer to go out and take on a demon
by yourself than to ask for help. Because the worst the demon will
do is kill you. But if you open yourself up...well, then you run
the risk of having your heart ripped out. And that's a whole lot
worse than death, isn't it?
"What do you know about it Spike?" she whispered, a lump forming in
There was a jagged, self-mocking edge to his voice. "You'd be
surprised. But you know I'm right, Slayer."
Yes. She did. He could read her like a book. A large
book with big print and lots of pictures. He was right. She
didn't want to die. But she didn't know how to live either.
The thought of rejection, of asking for help and not getting it...it was
terrifying. On the other hand -- so was the idea of dying alone in
the dark. And there was more to consider here than just herself.
Spike was right. She had family and friends who loved and needed
her. More than that, she loved and needed them.
The dream kept intruding on her thoughts. She hadn't been able
to reach the surface by herself, no matter how hard she tried, she remembered.
But maybe she wasn't supposed to. Because there had been something
else in the water with her. It was dark and scary, but it was all
He was all she had...
An eternity seemed to pass while the thoughts whirled around inside
her. Finally Buffy drew in a deep breath, her heart pounding painfully,
so loudly she knew he'd be able to hear it. Then, fear twisting snake-like
inside her, she said softly:
"Will you help me Spike?"
Another eternity went by. And then:
"Yeah, love. I will."
* * *
She had asked him for help. Not G.I. Joe. Not her
whiny friends or poncey Watcher. But him. Spike. And
better yet, he actually had some help to give her. He knew how to
get her sight back.
Well, he didn't really, but he knew somewhere they could go. Some
place that might be able to help her. It was a shot in the dark --
no pun intended -- but it was better than nothing.
"You're gonna have to trust me," he said fighting to keep his voice
Buffy didn't move. "OK," she said.
"'OK?' That's it? No sarcastic remarks? No insults?"
She shook her head slightly. "No. Sarcastic Buffy is on
vacation. This is the new-and-improved, non-scathing Buffy."
"Right. For what -- the next two minutes?"
She frowned. "I'm trying to be new and improved here. You're
"Just 'cause you're in touch with your inner self right now doesn't
mean I have to be. Then again...getting in touch with the inner Buffy
could be fun..."
Spike grinned as first awareness, then embarrassment flashed across
her face. "You are...disgusting," she said, hitting him on the chest
with one fist. But it was a half-hearted blow and they both knew
it. Still, it helped to relieve the tension. The emotions
that were running between them were too strong, too raw. Better to
fall back on insults and violence. At least those were familiar.
And at least it wasn't the hand with the stake in it that had hit him.
"I am at that, darlin'." Spike agreed cheerfully. "That's why
you like me."
"I happen to like nice men," she snapped.
Spike seized her right hand, pulling her towards the exit. "I'm
a nice man," he said as he led her back outside, into the darkness.
* * *
"So where are we going anyway?" Buffy asked, stumbling a little
as she stepped up onto a curb.
"What happened to the trusting me?"
"Oh, I'm trusting you all right. This is me being all trusting...and
gullible and naive and blind as a bat!" Her voice began to rise,
becoming louder and louder as she walked alongside him. "And if you
don't stop letting me walk into things I'm going to..."
"Going to what? Stake me? Won't be much use to you then,
will I, blondie?"
"You drive me crazy, you know that?"
"Yeah, well, right back at'cha. At least you're not the one holding
hands with the Slayer. Hope no one I know sees me..."
"Tell me about it. And where are you taking me?"
Spike didn't answer right away, shaking some of the water out of his
hair instead. It was still pouring bloody cats and dogs and he was
getting soaked. Again. He shot a quick glance at the Slayer.
'Course, she was all warm and dry in his duster, wasn't she? Meanwhile
his sodding jeans and t-shirt were...bloody sodden. Typical.
Irritation flashed through him -- and something inside the vampire welcomed
it with a sense of relief. It was better than the other feelings
that had been welling up inside him, back there inside the crypt.
Dangerous emotions that he hadn't felt in a very long time. Emotions
he'd be just as happy doing without.
No. Think about something else. "It's called the Trial,"
he said abruptly.
"You're taking me to court?"
"Not that kind of a trial, you daft git."
"I am not a...whatever that is. Just tell me about this trial..."
"It's a..." Actually, he didn't know what it was. Precisely.
Sure, he'd heard a few rumours, a bit of hearsay here and there, but that
was it. Still, beggars couldn't be choosers. "It moves around,
I'm told." Spike continued. "You don't find it. It finds you."
"So we're what? Walking in circles until some -- thing -- finds
us? Good plan. Is it too late to go back to the cemetery and
look for another demon?
"No. Yes," Spike said indignantly. "And I do have a plan.
Actually, I've got an address."
"Uh huh. And what happens when we find it -- excuse me -- when
it finds us?"
"We ask them to give you back your sight."
There was a long silence, then Buffy finally said, in a small voice.
"They can do that?"
Spike nodded, then remembered that she couldn't see him. "Yeah,"
he said. "I think so."
* * *
Still, it could be worse. 'Maybe' was better than no way in hell.
'Maybe' was better than a whole lot of things. Besides which, 'maybe'
was all she had.
The Slayer shivered briefly, then winced as she stumbled again, her
arm jarring against her side and sending a stabbing pain into her shoulder.
Silently, Spike reached out to steady her...and she felt him flinch too.
Buffy blinked, momentarily forgetting the pain in her arm. "What's
wrong with you?" she asked sharply.
"I'm sure you're going to spend the rest of the night telling me."
"No, I mean -- Are you hurt?"
A pause, then: "A few broken ribs. From killing your
Oh. She hadn't realized he had been injured. How could she
not have realized? And because of her... "Sorry," she said quietly,
wondering all over again at the incongruity of this conversation.
Apologizing to Spike. Walking hand in hand in the rain with Spike.
Asking Spike to help her...
"Why are you doing this?" The question came out slowly, almost
She could sense his surprise as he turned to look at her. "Doing
Buffy started to wave her free hand then stopped as pain tore through
her arm once more. OK. Rule of the evening number 28 -- no
gesturing with the left hand. She tucked it slowly and painfully
into the pocket of his coat. And rule number 29 -- try to ignore
the fact that you're wearing his clothes.
"All this," she said, a little unsteadily. "Taking me to this
trial thing. Helping me..."
He sighed, sounding annoyed and...something else. "Because you
sodding asked me to," he said. "Happy now?"
She swallowed. "Oh."
There really wasn't much to say after that, Buffy decided. So
she said nothing, walking on in silence with him instead.
"Charms strike the sight
but merit wins the soul"
-- Alexander Pope
"Where?" Buffy's voice seemed as controlled as ever, but beneath
the words lay a note of strain and exhaustion. Spike glanced at her,
noting the paleness of her skin and the tense way she was holding her arm.
It had to be hurting. She was probably hurting all over. Even
Slayers don't just walk away from a beating like the one that demon had
given her...not without scars. 'Course, the real question was whether
they were on the outside or not...
Come to that, he wasn't feeling that great either. Hiking in the
rain with broken ribs wasn't his favourite thing. And neither was
this. Spike turned back to the swimming pool beneath his feet.
It was large, lavish...and empty. The only thing between him and
all that concrete...was thin air. 'Really not lookin' forward to
breaking any more bones tonight,' he thought unhappily.
"Well?" The Slayer sounded impatient. "Where are we?"
Spike shifted slightly. "We're gonna have to jump," he said, not
answering her directly.
Buffy swallowed. "Up or down?"
"Down," she repeated. "How far?"
"You're lying through your teeth, Spike."
"Yeah...well...OK, I am. Look, do you want to get your bloody
sight back or not? 'Cause I don't have time to play twenty questions
with you. You're just gonna have to decide whether you trust me or
not. Your choice, Slayer."
* * *
Trust him. Trust Spike. Before tonight Buffy would have
burst into hysterical laughter if someone had suggested that to her.
Because if ever anyone was untrustworthy, it was the bleached blond vampire.
She still hadn't fully forgiven him for what he had done to her and her
friends last year...
And yet -- he was different tonight. He had saved her life and
gotten himself injured in the process. He could have left her bleeding
in the graveyard; instead he had brought her back to his crypt and bandaged
her up. He hadn't even taken advantage of her or made fun of her...much.
And, of all the people who were close to her, he was the only one who had
managed to break down her barriers, to see through the lies and to keep
pushing until she had finally done the unthinkable and ask for help.
Ask him for help.
True, he was annoying, arrogant, and way too sure of himself.
And dangerous. Don't forget dangerous. He might have a chip
in his head that prevented him from acting out his violent impulses, but
she knew they were still there. She had seen that look in his eyes
all too often...when she could still see, that is. One day he might
even manage to remove the implant. And where would they be then?
He'd go back to his old ways and she'd have to kill him. Or he'd
kill her. Either way, it wouldn't be pleasant. And, for the
first time since Angel, the thought of dusting a certain vampire was...distressing.
It would -- it would hurt, to have to kill Spike...
And she was so never going to tell him that. 'That's all I need,'
she thought bitterly. 'Give him another weapon to use against me.
Good plan, Buffy.'
Only -- only he wouldn't, would he? He had proven that much, at
least. And what about last week, when he come after her with a shotgun
after their confrontation in the alley? The alley. Buffy closed
her eyes briefly. What she had said that night, the words she had
hurled at him in anger and pain... She had been wrong. He wasn't
beneath her. He had proven that tonight, a hundred times over.
And she had to tell him. She owed him that much at least.
"Well?" he was saying irritably. "Are we going to do this or not?"
Buffy opened her eyes and swallowed deeply. "Spike," she said
quietly, concentrating on the feel of his hand in hers.
"I didn't mean it."
"What I said. Last week -- in the alley. I...I'm sorry.
And I wanted to say thank you. For what you're trying to do.
The vampire said nothing, his hand cold and motionless in hers.
An eternity seemed to go by.
"Spike?" Buffy said finally, biting her lip a little.
At last he stirred, shifting beside her. "Oh. Well.
That's all right then." For a moment he sounded -- almost embarrassed.
Sheepish. Sheepish Spike? The world just kept getting stranger
Suddenly self-conscious and not really understanding the sudden tension
that had filled the air between them, Buffy turned back to the -- whatever
it was that lay ahead of her -- and said with false brightness: "So,
are we going to jump or what?"
This time there was a hint of pleasure in his voice. "You trust
me?" Spike said, pulling her into his arms.
She didn't fight him. "Yeah. I do. Call me Demento
Girl, but I trust you."
"Good. After you then." And with that he gave her a hefty
shove in the small of the back, stepping forward with her...and together
they fell, the ground vanishing from beneath their feet.
* * *
Only Spike saw how they crashed right through the concrete on
the bottom of the empty pool, as if it didn't really exist. They
fell together for several more feet and then Spike was tucking and rolling,
and springing back to his feet with feline grace.
Buffy wasn't quite so lucky. Unable to see where the floor actually
was, she couldn't anticipate her landing. She managed not too badly
thanks to her Slayer instincts, but she nevertheless hit the ground pretty
hard. For a moment she lay unmoving at Spike's feet and fear sliced
through him. What if she were badly injured? Hastily the vampire
reached down toward her...only to be shoved violently away as the Slayer
climbed to her feet, unaided.
"Next time I decide to trust you, Spike," she snapped, rubbing her knee
with one hand, "remind me to bang my head against a wall until the feeling
"That's my bad-tempered Slayer," he said absently, no longer listening
now that he was sure she was all right. Instead he pivoted around,
surveying the room.
It small, poorly lit, and devoid of furniture. Torchlight flickered
off stone walls, giving it a medieval look. Shadows cast by the flames
stirred in the corners, but there was no other movement. And no people.
"I am so not your anything," Buffy was saying peevishly.
"And where the hell are we, anyway?"
"This is the place of the trials, my dear." The voice came from
directly behind them. Where there had been only emptiness a moment
ago. Buffy and Spike both spun toward the sound, the vampire instinctively
morphing into his game face. "Who the bloody hell are you?" he growled.
A smallish man stood before them, wearing slightly rumpled, old-fashioned
clothing and an expression of slight distaste. "Please, sir.
"Sod my flaming language. Who the hell are you?"
The man drew himself up, holding onto both lapels. "I am...why,
I suppose you could call me the Valet. I am here, after all, to make
sure things go as...smoothly as possible." He had a distinct English
accent, similar to Giles'. "And you are..." the Valet looked
down at a tiny leather notebook in his hand, "William the Bloody, also
known as...er...Spike, and Miss Summers. And you are here to restore
Miss Summers eyesight. Quite a laudable goal, really. For a
As he spoke, the little man moved towards Buffy. Without warning,
he placed both hands on either side of her head and she yelped in surprise,
pulling away from him.
In an instant Spike had interposed himself between the Slayer and the
Valet, shoving the man away from her. "Touch her again and I'll..."
Unconcernedly the man shrugged off the vampire's hand and straightened
his waistcoat. "Oh not to worry Mr...ah... Spike. I'm only
checking to make sure we really can help her before the trial begins."
He leaned a little closer, ignoring the fangs, his voice dropping conspiratorially.
"Just between us, we had a bit of a...situation...recently. One of
the supplicants actually managed to pass all his trials, but we weren't
able to grant his reward due to a...an unfortunate mix up. All quite
"Who was it?" Buffy asked curiously.
"Another vampire, oddly enough. Needless to say, I've been ordered
to check first and make sure we can keep up our end of the bargain.
After all, we do have a reputation to maintain. So..." He took
a step forward, shooting a cautious glance at Spike who was still hovering
protectively over the Slayer. "...if you will permit me..."
Buffy swallowed then nodded hesitantly. Once more the Valet reached
out for her and closed his eyes. Several seconds ticked by and then
he stepped back, smiling and looking pleased.
"Yes. We can definitely do something about that. No problem
at all. So now there's just the matter of the trials..."
Spike didn't stir from Buffy's side, although he did allow his face
to morph back to his human appearance. "What exactly does she need
to do?" he asked, shooting a concerned glance at the Slayer.
"Miss Summers?" The Valet glanced at Buffy in some surprise then
his gaze returned speculatively to Spike. A cold sensation began
to crawl up the vampire's spine.
"Miss Summers?" The man said again. "Why, nothing at all."
"No, it is you who must undergo the trial."
"The end in sight"
-- Robert Browning
"What?" Buffy took a quick step forward, actually running into
Spike as she did. She hadn't realized he was standing so close.
Swearing briefly she stepped around him to where she thought the Valet
was. "No, he can't," she said sharply. "This is my problem,
not Spike's. I should be the one to take this trial, whatever it
"Now now, my dear." The Valet gave her an avuncular pat on the
shoulder. "Haven't you ever heard of 'an eye for an eye'?"
"An eye for... What are you planning to do? Blind him too?"
Alarm coloured her voice and Buffy reached out a hand to the vampire's
arm, holding on to it tightly. She barely noticed when his hand come
down on top of hers.
"Blind him...?" The Valet laughed. "Oh, that's very good.
No, Miss Summers. We have no plans to blind your young champion here
-- although accidents have been known to happen. No, the trials are
a matter of life...and death. If young Spike should succeed, you
will regain your eyesight."
"And if I don't?" the vampire asked harshly.
"Why, then I'm afraid Miss Summers' life will be forfeit. You,
of course, will already be dead."
* * *
'Well, isn't this just sodding special?" Spike thought. The night
kept getting worse and worse.
Actually that wasn't quite true. Things had been getting steadily
better, from the moment he had first noticed the Slayer in the cemetery,
right up until a moment ago. True, he'd gotten a few broken ribs
for his pains...but that was a small price to pay, really. She had
kissed him. Apologized. Not staked him in the back.
And he'd seen her half-naked. Yeah, not bad at all.
But this... This was more than Spike had bargained for. When he
had brought her here he hadn't realized that he'd be gambling with both
their lives. And, while she might be willing to die tonight, he certainly
wasn't. 'I've got an unlife to live," he thought resentfully.
'Things to do, places to go...'
Only...what would life be like without her? Spike had no doubts
in his mind that if they left here tonight and the Slayer was still blind...then
she would die. And probably sooner rather than later.
So it came down to this: How much did he really want to keep her
alive? And how much was he willing to risk?
Slowly, the vampire turned his head, registering the way Buffy's hand
was still resting on his arm, seeing the anxiety in her expression as she
looked sightlessly up at him...
...and he swallowed, letting his eyes drift slowly shut. The answer
was everything. He would risk everything for her.
* * *
"But...but he's got broken ribs," Buffy was saying, trying to think
of a way out of this. She couldn't let Spike do this for her -- not
that he would he agree to it anyway. But still...
"And you are blind. What, as you Americans say, is the point?"
There was a note of impatience in the Valet's voice now, as if he were
growing tired of the conversation.
Spike broke in abruptly. "I'll do it."
"What?" Buffy turned to him in shock, her fingers unconsciously
tightening around his arm. "Spike, no."
"Buffy, yes," he said mockingly. "Look, this is what we came here
for. You didn't think anything called a 'trial' was going to be easy,
did you? So let's just get the bloody thing over so I can get you
back to your sodding life and out of mine. I've got my own problems
to worry about, remember?"
Buffy frowned, not buying his act. He had just offered to risk
his life. For her. But why? What did he have to gain?
One possible answer flickered briefly through her mind but she discarded
it as impossible. Not that it mattered anyway. She had no intention
of allowing him go through with this.
"I won't let you," she said firmly, her fingers digging into his arm.
One of his hands touched her hair. "And you plan on stopping me
how, Goldilocks? You're blind, remember? Couldn't even kill
one little demon without my help."
"It was a big demon," she said, a trifle shakily. "and I don't
understand why you're doing this. We hate each other..."
"Yeah, Slayer. We do." And then he pulled her roughly forward,
pinning her against his chest...and his lips descended on hers.
* * *
The kiss was even more powerful than the one in the crypt. Partly
because she was fully conscious this time...and partly because Buffy could
sense more than a little desperation fuelling it -- on both sides.
Spike was kissing her as if nothing else mattered in the world, as if he
expected her to push him away at any moment...
Only she couldn't. His tongue was moving sinuously against hers,
his hand going around her waist to pull her even closer so that she could
feel every inch of his body through the soaking t-shirt and jeans, could
feel his arousal pressing against her -- and she couldn't do it.
It felt too good. Too real. Too necessary.
Nothing else mattered, only this moment. Only him. Instinctively,
Buffy reached her good arm up to hang onto him, her fingers tightening
in the wet material of his shirt as she tilted her head back, allowing
him to change the angle of the kiss, to deepen it as his hands roamed freely
across her body...
* * *
Inevitably, the end came too soon. Far too soon. Something
was tapping Spike on the shoulder, although he barely noticed it at first
through the red haze obscuring his senses. But there it was again...
With a silent snarl, he wrenched his head up, breaking the kiss but not
letting go of the Slayer.
"What?" he growled, looking back over his shoulder.
"Ahem." It was the Valet. "While I can quite understand
your...er...ardour sir, there is still a series of trials to undergo.
And time is passing. Rapidly." The little man pulled out a
gold pocket watch on a chain and waved it under Spike's nose. "If
you wish to do battle for the lady's favour then I suggest you put her
down and GET ON WITH IT." The Valet folded his arms and waited, glaring
at the vampire impatiently.
Spike sighed then turned back to Buffy. She was looking thoroughly
surprised...and thoroughly kissed. Her lips were swollen, her hair
dishevelled, and there was an expression in her sightless eyes that sent
a wave of pure self-satisfaction coursing through him. He had kissed
her. And she had kissed him back. Life was good.
"You don't have to do this," she said, her voice a trifle unsteady,
her heart racing against his.
"Might as well," he said off-handedly, making sure the emotions that
were rolling through him weren't echoed in his voice. "Nothing better
He cut her off, kissing her again, fast and hard this time... and then
he stepped backwards, out of her arms. Instantly she and the Valet
began to fade. Spike watched them go, trepidation already beginning
to replace the passion within him, then he took a deep breath and said
aloud: "Be seeing you, Slayer."
And then they were gone and he was all alone.
And then a door swung open behind him...and he wasn't.
* * *
Buffy staggered as the world reformed around her, but the Valet put
out a helpful arm, steadying her. "What happened?" she said in alarm.
"Undergoing the trial."
"I want to see what's happening!"
The Valet chuckled shortly. "Yes, well that is rather the point,
isn't it? If he succeeds you'll get your eyesight back soon enough."
"And if he doesn't we'll both die." Her voice was laced with frustration.
"Yes. Quite. Cup of tea?"
The Slayer ignored him, moving forward as she tried to sort out her
surroundings. Her toe caught on something...a chair. "Where
am I?" she asked, turning slowly.
"The antechamber. Please, have a seat."
"I'll stand. And where is Spike? Specifically?"
"Specifically?" The Valet paused, as if consulting something.
"He's still on the first challenge. Doing quite well too, I must
say. Not as well as our last supplicant, but still...not bad at all."
He crossed the room toward her and pressed something into her hand -- a
cup and saucer full of something hot. "It's Earl Grey," he said.
"I hope you like lemon. And do please sit down. This could
take a while."
For a moment Buffy debated throwing the cup, tea and all, at him, then
decided against it. She needed information, after all, and Jeeves
here was the only one who could help her. Might as well try to be
polite. She could always beat him to a pulp later.
"So what is the first challenge?" she asked, sitting down carefully,
holding the teacup with both hands.
"He must walk through a door."
Buffy narrowed her eyes. "No way is it as easy as that."
The Valet sat down beside her in another chair. "Of course not.
You're very astute. But it's no good...ah, how do you put it?
'Pumping me for information'. It's quite against the rules for me
to tell you anything else, I'm afraid. Sugar?"
Buffy shook her head. "Why?" she said flatly.
"It will make the tea sweet."
"No. Why can't you tell me what's going on?"
"Ah. As I said. Rules. Surely as the Slayer, you understand
the importance of regulations?" He paused and she could feel his
gaze on her, boring intently into her. "Or perhaps you don't."
She frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, you are here with a vampire as your champion, after all.
Which is, to put it baldly, simply not done. And then there was the...ah,"
he coughed delicately. "The... er...farewell embrace. Also quite
surprising for a Slayer."
Anger flickered within her. "What do you know about Slayers anyway?"
she said, gamely ignoring the reference to the kiss.
"Quite a lot, actually. Still, mustn't..." The Valet abruptly
"What?" Buffy said, alarm in her voice.
"Excuse me a moment, will you my dear? Duties to tend to..."
He stood and she could hear him setting his cup and saucer down on his
vacated chair...and then he was gone. One instant he was there, the
next he was not.
Buffy surged to her feet, her tea spilling down her leg. She
ignored the momentary pain though, instead stretching out with her senses
to detect the Valet's presence. Or anyone's presence, for that matter.
Nothing. "Come back here," she shouted abruptly. "Come back
and tell me what's going on!" But there was no answer.
She was all alone.
"None so blind as those that will not see"
-- Matthew Henry
Buffy closed her eyes, rubbing her temples with her right hand, wishing
the headache that was gathering behind her eyes would go away.
'I need an aspirin,' she thought unhappily. 'I need Giles to tell
me more about this place. I need to know what's going on.'
'And I really need to hit someone.'
Unfortunately, it didn't look as though she was going to get any of
the above, at least in the near future. She had made her painstaking
way around the entire antechamber only to find that there were no exits.
At all. No doors, no windows, no grates in the floor...not even a
handy ventilation duct. 'There's never a good ventilation duct around
when you need one,' she thought sourly. The walls themselves were
made of thick stone, she had determined, and the only things inside the
room were the two chairs, a small table with a teapot on it, two cups of
tea (one spilled)...and Buffy. Absolutely nothing she could use to
help her escape. The room was Houdini-proof.
Frustration growing within her, Buffy rose again and began to pace,
albeit carefully. It wasn't fair and it wasn't right. Spike
was out there risking life and limb while she sat here like...like some
pathetic damsel in distress. All she needed was a long dress and
a simpering attitude, and she would be just perfect for the role.
'Helpless,' her mind whispered tauntingly. 'Completely helpless.
Counting on your mortal enemy to save you...'
With a curse the Slayer flung the teapot across the room, listening
to the resounding crash with a grim sense of satisfaction. First
thing she had done all night that had made her feel good...
Well, OK. There had been the kiss. Kisses. Actually,
now that she thought about it, Buffy seemed to have spent a significant
portion of the night up close and personal with Spike...either clinging
to him like a vine or letting him kiss her senseless. And, to be
completely honest...kissing him back.
But why? Why now? And why Spike? Yesterday Buffy would
have said that she didn't even like him, but today... Well, it was
obvious that some part of her found the vampire attractive, at least on
a basic, hormonal level... Hormones -- that was it. Well, bad
hormones! Bad! Icky Spike. Dangerous Spike.
Exciting Spike. Exhilarating Spike. Being with him was like
playing with fire. Living on the edge. Skating on thin ice.
And pretty much every other cliche she could think of...
...much more exciting than Riley...
Feeling like a traitor for even thinking it, Buffy leaned her aching
head back against the chair. This was pointless. Her
mind kept going around in circles, always coming back to the same thoughts
-- none of which were going to help her to get out of this place alive...or
help Spike. 'If only I knew what this trial was,' she thought dismally.
"I would offer you more tea, but there appears to have been an...um...accident...with
the teapot." A voice said suddenly, mere inches away from her ear.
Buffy jumped violently, her heart hammering in her throat as her body moved
automatically and instantly into a defensive position.
"So sorry, Miss Summers. Didn't mean to startle you." It
was the Valet. Again.
Buffy took a deep unsteady breath then let her hand fall back down,
waiting for her heartbeat to regain its normal speed. "How did you
get in here?" she said accusingly.
She could hear the smile in his voice, could almost imagine him winking
knowingly at her. "Ah. Trade secret, my dear. I just
came to see if you were all right. Not too bored, I hope? Of
course, I see you've been amusing yourself by flinging the crockery about..."
"How's Spike?" Buffy interrupted, half dreading the answer.
"On the second challenge as we speak. Only one more to go.
You chose your champion very well, I must say."
"And...and he's all right?"
"Erm...I wouldn't go that far. But he's still standing.
And conscious. So, really, he's about as well as can be expected."
Buffy swallowed, a sick feeling going through her at the thought of
him being hurt. "Call this off," she said resolutely. "Right
now. I wouldn't have come here if I had known..."
"If you had known that someone else might have to suffer for your sake?"
The Valet asked gently, covering her hand with his own.
She didn't bother to pull away. "Yes."
"You really care about him that much?"
"I..." Did she? Did she care about Spike? Buffy suddenly
had the feeling she was standing on the edge of a precipice. If she
admitted that it was more, that it wasn't just her hormones controlling
her...then there'd be no going back. And things would never be the
same between them. Her mind shied away from the thought.
"I don't want him to be hurt," she said finally, skirting the question
"Too late for that, I'm afraid. Still, perhaps it will make you
feel better to know that he is doing this willingly."
It didn't. Because...that meant that he cared for her. On
some level, Spike truly cared. And that wasn't possible, was it?
He was a demon. He had no soul. He couldn't care, couldn't
Except...except he had loved Drusilla. He had been devoted to
her. And devastated when she had left him.
The Valet leaned closer and whispered, as if sensing her thoughts:
"Demons can feel love too, you know."
Yes. They could. They weren't all evil, emotionless creatures.
She knew that. But vampires? The only one she had ever met
who wasn't truly bad was Angel, and he had a soul. So -- where did
that leave Spike? Was the chip in his head changing him somehow,
or was it all just an illusion? Some kind of complicated trick?
No. It couldn't be. He had nothing to gain from doing this,
and everything to lose. And how could the chip in his head be responsible?
It might prevent him from hurting people but it certainly wasn't forcing
him to help her. Was it?
No. It couldn't be. So it had to be something else.
Something more. Which brought her right back to where she had begun
-- with the notion that Spike truly cared for her. Maybe even...
'So not gonna go there,' Buffy thought determinedly, hunching her shoulders
as a small shiver ran down her spine. She wasn't going to do this.
Not again. She would never fall for another vampire. It was
wrong and it was pointless -- and it was dangerous. Very dangerous.
'Been there, done that, got the emotional scars...'
"I rather think it's too late for that, Miss Summers."
No, it wasn't. And besides, she had a boyfriend. A nice,
safe, normal boyfriend who loved her...
And then she realized... Buffy turned back to the Valet with a
frown, shoving the disturbing thoughts aside. "Are you reading my
mind?" she asked coldly.
"Well yes I...er...that is... Oh." He paused. "So sorry.
That was very impolite."
"Yes," Buffy said, crossing her arms and glaring at him. "It was.
So read this." She thought a phrase and felt him start beside her.
"How rude," he said. And then, in an eyeblink, he was gone.
Buffy put a hand on the chair, feeling to see if he was still there,
then groaned aloud in frustration. "Stop doing that!" she said to
the empty air.
Only silence answered her.
* * *
This time, when the Valet returned, Buffy was ready for him. The
moment she felt his presence in the antechamber she seized him by the throat
with her right hand, holding the stake in her left, trying to ignore the
waves of pain that rolled up her arm with the motion.
"Do you mind?" the little man said, unruffled, trying to slide her hand
"Yes," the Slayer said, tightening her grip on his throat. "I
mind a lot. I'm all out of patience. As of now, I'm patience-free.
So you're going to do two things for me or Mr Pointy here gets to meet
the inner you. You're going to get me out of this room. And
you're going to end this trial before Spike gets himself killed.
The Valet did not move. "Yes, I understand. But it's too
late for that, I'm afraid."
What? Too late? But... Then it sank in. Spike
was dead. Oh god. Abruptly she released her hold on the Valet,
her left hand dropping to her side, her suddenly numb fingers barely maintaining
their grip on the stake.
Dead? He couldn't be dead. Not this way. Not because
of her. And not now. Not when she was just figuring out that...that
she didn't hate him. That... Oh god. Spike.
Pain hit her then, driving all the breath from her body. For an
endless moment Buffy felt only anguish...and then even that faded away...leaving
behind a cold sense of anger. And determination. She lifted
her head slowly, unaware of the feral glitter in her eyes. Her hand
tightened around the stake. "If he is dead," she said flatly, "then
so are you."
* * *
It hurt. Actually, hurt wasn't a strong enough word. A holocaust
of pain was burning through Spike with every breath he took. From
the deep gashes in his right leg to the many burns on his feet, chest,
back, and hands, the cut just under his left eye, to the metal chains biting
into his wrists...no, there was no part of him that wasn't in torment.
Including his heart. He couldn't even lie to himself anymore now,
thanks to this sodding trial. Not after what he had just gone through...and
what he had just done.
He had offered his life for the Slayer's. And the fact that he
wasn't dead -- yet -- didn't mean a bloody thing. As the Valet had said,
it was all in the journey, all in the willingness to make the sacrifice.
For her. For Buffy. His Slayer.
He loved her. Enough to die for her.
Spike closed his eyes. The thought hurt, even more than the physical
pain sweeping across his body. His injuries would heal...eventually,
but the agony inside him wasn't ever going to go away. Because he
loved someone who would never love him back, who would never look upon
him with anything other than hatred, or at best polite indifference.
And he couldn't even delude himself anymore, couldn't tell himself that
it was only her body he lusted after...
'Should've killed me after all,' he thought bitterly -- and then the
chains around his wrists abruptly vanished. And Spike found himself
falling as the world around him disappeared...
"Closed his eyes in endless night"
Spike hit the stone floor hard, not having enough strength left to even
try to cushion his fall. Not that it would have done any good if
he had - his left hand was so burned from the holy water that had engulfed
it earlier that even the air dancing across the back of it was enough to
ignite every nerve end on it. As for the right one -- there were
multiple cross-shaped burns on the palm, matching the ones on his back,
chest, and feet. And meanwhile blood still coursed from the wounds
on his leg while grey fog was beginning to gather on the edges of his vision.
Slowly though, random images began to filter into his consciousness.
Cold stone. He was laying on his back on a stone floor, he realized.
A cool draught was playing over his naked chest, tracing lines of agony
across the burns. And there was light. Flickering shadows.
Torches, that was it. He was back in the first room, where he and
the Slayer had entered...
Buffy. A small jolt of alarm shot through him. Where was
she? Gritting his teeth, Spike struggled to lift his head -- and
groaned. Even that one small movement was almost too much, the fog
around him growing thicker.
He should welcome it, he knew. Should welcome anything that would
make the pain go away, welcome the oblivion that was waiting to take him...elsewhere.
But -- but not just yet. He had to find the Slayer first...
Probably wasn't going to get the chance though, he realized remotely.
The darkness around him was growing, all sensation washing away on a tide
of pain. 'Sodding hell,' Spike thought dimly as the realization
hit him. He knew what was happening. He was dying.
It hurt more than last time, though.
* * *
Buffy smelled the blood first, its metallic tang sharp in the air, so
thick she could almost taste it. Lots of blood. And there,
on the floor... 'Vampire,' her Slayer instincts told her helpfully.
'Spike,' she corrected them.
Buffy darted forward, crossing the room to kneel by the vampire's side,
the stake forgotten in her left hand. "Spike?" she said, reaching
out to him tentatively.
His only answer was a low moan when her fingers brushed against bare
skin. Hastily Buffy snatched her hand away, not wanting to cause
him further pain, then she sat back, wondering what to do next.
"What's wrong with him?" she asked tautly over her shoulder.
"He's dying." The English tones were cold and indifferent now,
all hint of any prior emotion long gone.
Dying? How could he be dying? Vampires didn't die like this.
Not slowly, in pain and bleeding. So how...?
"This is the Trial, Miss Summers. The rules are different here."
The man must have been reading her mind again, but Buffy no longer cared.
"Well damn your rules," she said grimly. "And damn you! What
more do you want? If you wanted him dead then why do it this way?
Or is it me you want dead? Well fine," she continued, climbing to
her feet and taking a menacing step toward him. "You want me, then
come and get me. But unless you're really willing to take on one
majorly pissed off Slayer, I suggest you stop quoting some damned rulebook
and help him! Because I so meant what I said earlier."
"And what about your eyesight, Miss Summers? And your champion's
choice to sacrifice himself for you?"
"It's not his choice to make," Buffy said flatly. "It never was.
And you know what? I don't even care anymore. I don't want
my sight back if it means somebody else has to die for it."
"Are you certain?" There was an edge of -- something -- in his
tone. Tension maybe? Or anticipation?
"Yes. I am. After all -- what would be the point in being
able to see again...if I couldn't look at myself in the mirror? So
just...just end this. Now."
There was a pause, and then: "Only you can do that, I'm afraid."
Huh? Buffy frowned, turning back to Spike. How? What
was she supposed to do? What could she do? He was in
so much pain and there was so much blood... It was soaking into her
shoes, the smell of it filling the air until she thought she would choke
A shudder went through her. She couldn't. She couldn't
"There has to be another way," she said, almost to herself, more a plea
than anything else...
"Oh will you just shut the bloody hell up and stake me already?"
Buffy jumped. It was Spike's voice, wracked with agony and barely
louder than a whisper, but he was awake. Just barely, but awake.
Which meant he had heard everything that had been said... Buffy swallowed
then sank slowly back to her knees again beside him. "What did you
"You heard, blondie... Get it over with."
She shook her head violently. "Are you crazy? I'm not going
to kill you. Well, not today anyway."
"Stubborn...bloody...woman. Year ago you wouldn't have so much
as batted an eyelid. Would've staked me as soon as look at me.
And you know you still want to..."
With an effort Spike managed to raise his upper body slightly, reaching
out with unsteady fingers for her. Buffy didn't move away, didn't
even flinch as his hand closed around her left wrist and pulled it forward
until the stake in her fingers was resting against his chest, the point
just over his heart.
"You said it before, Goldilocks. World needs a Slayer. And
with this chip in my head I'm just a waste of space. Be doing me
a favour, really. So just...bloody do it!" He tightened his
grip on her wrist.
Buffy closed her eyes and for one instant -- just one -- she actually
considered it. With one move she could have everything back, could
regain everything she had lost when she had first felt the demon's acid
burning in her eyes. Her sight. Her life. Her future...
But she would lose too. Self-respect. Peace of mind.
And Spike. She would lose Spike.
"Stupid vampire," the Slayer said savagely, wrenching her arm out of
his grasp and pulling the stake away from him. "Much as I would love
to stake you into dust right now, I'm not going to."
"Slayer..." his voice was weaker now.
"And don't 'Slayer' me, either. Who was yelling at who about choices
earlier tonight? You can dish it out pretty good, Spike, but can
you take it? It takes a lot to live. I should know. Dying's
easy, but living...living is hard and painful and everyday. And it
doesn't ever get easy. The hurt and the loss and the pain don't ever
go away, whether you live to be twenty, or a hundred and twenty.
But, if you're really, really lucky, you get a few minutes of happiness
too, mixed up in all that pain."
"And you know what Spike? Those few moments make it all worthwhile."
"You don't understand..." His speech was slurred.
"No? You don't think I know what it's like to feel helpless?
Defenceless? Weak? Dependent? Feel free to stop me at
any time. Well, big surprise, Fang Boy, but I do. I know exactly
what it's like. So you've got a chip in your head that won't let
you kill people. Well forgive me if the sorry just keeps eluding
me. You've still got a life, Spike. And you can't tell me there's
no joy in it anywhere, even if it's just in the little things..."
Buffy's voice softened. "'Cause sometimes the little things are
all we have left."
"Nice speech, Summers." Spike's voice was still frighteningly
weak, but he somehow managed to inject a note of scorn into it. "Not
exactly life-changing though. 'Cause like it or not, I'm still gonna
die. It's just gonna take longer unless you stop mucking about and
bloody do it!"
Buffy closed her eyes briefly, a tremor going through her. But
the decision had already been made. She opened her eyes again.
"Look," she said softly, leaning closer to him. "You need blood.
And I've got it. So...so just go for it. Drinks are on Buffy.
Only...try not to take too much, OK? The Slayer supply is running
kinda low right now."
Which was true. Actually, now that she thought about it -- really
thought about it -- Buffy was still far too weak to even be considering
this. The blood she had lost earlier, combined with her injuries...well,
she just shouldn't be doing this. If she did, it could kill her.
But if she didn't, it would kill him. And besides, it was
too late to back out now. Far too late. Better to just get
it over with, before she started thinking too much...and before he died
and made the whole thing pointless anyway.
Licking suddenly dry lips, Buffy leaned further over the vampire, bringing
her neck even closer to his mouth. "Do it Spike," she whispered.
"You finally get what you've always wanted...and it's probably not even
Nothing. No answer, no movement. Buffy frowned. What
was he waiting for? Had he passed out? Or...? Her frown
deepened. No, he was still conscious. So what was the holdup?
Another tremor ripped through her. If she had time to think about
what she was doing, time to let the fear that was gathering in the pit
of her stomach take control...then she wouldn't be able to do this.
As it was, her fingers were already beginning to shake at the thought of...of...
It wasn't like she had never done this before, Buffy told herself firmly.
She had. The Master, Angel, Dracula... For a Slayer, she had
spent way too much time with fangs in her throat. But she
had always walked away before, one way or another. This time though...this
time she wasn't sure she would. Because she was already so weak.
And because this was Spike. Former mortal enemy number one, head
of the Slayer most wanted list... Only it went deeper than that now,
didn't it? And maybe, just maybe it was more frightening than all
those other times...because he was most wanted in more ways than one...
Buffy swallowed deeply then forced the thought aside. "Do it,
Spike," she said again.
"Love to pet." His voice was barely a whisper now. "But
Oh yeah. Buffy paused, holding herself just above the vampire's
prone body. The chip. Then she shook her head slightly, feeling
her hair brush against his chest. He didn't even flinch, was obviously
holding onto consciousness by a thread. "Doesn't matter," she whispered
softly. "Remember? You told me the chip works based on intent.
If you don't plan to hurt me then it won't hurt you."
He didn't answer. Buffy sighed softly, wishing she didn't have
to say this, wishing there was some other way. Any other way.
But there wasn't. And she was all out of time. And options.
So...time to bare her soul along with her neck.
The Slayer leaned closer until her mouth was right beside the vampire's
ear. "I've been bitten before, Spike. And we both know that..."
her voice quivered, but she went on resolutely: "that if I want
you to do it, that if I want you, then...then it won't hurt me.
That is -- it will hurt...but I'll enjoy it." A pause. "And
Spike? I'm going to enjoy it."
And then there was only the sensation of fangs, tearing through skin
and sinking deeply into her, a lean, cool body beneath her own, and an
arm coming around her to pull her even closer...
And Buffy was right. She did enjoy it.
"The sight of you is good for sore eyes"
-- Jonathan Swift
It was primal. Passionate. An inferno of flame tearing through
her body, leaving her scorched...and wanting more. As if sensing
her need, Spike bit even deeper, one hand going up to the back of her neck
to hold her steady while the other moved slowly down the length of her
back, over her behind, then back up again, under her shirt this time, caressing
the bare skin of her back. Buffy whimpered, deep in the back of her
throat, and twisted desperately on top of the vampire, trying to get even
closer, trying to...
Sensations. Almost too many to count. Cold fangs, deep in
her neck. The heat of her blood flowing over them and into his mouth.
His tongue, moving rhythmically against her skin as he drank. Her
heart, pounding harder against his chest, trying to keep up with her body's
sudden, new demands on it. And the scent of him, surrounding her.
In her. His arousal, pressing insistently against her, the way her
muscles clenched spasmodically with his every move...
Too many clothes. She was wearing too many clothes. There
was too much between them. But she could do nothing about it with
only one good arm, couldn't even focus enough to pull off the leather coat
she was still wearing. She tried, scarcely noticing how much her
hand was shaking, how weak her fingers were -- and failed. Frustrated,
Buffy whimpered, making another half-hearted tug at the edge of the leather.
Spike reached up for her hand, pulled it away from the coat...and then
flipped her onto her back, rolling on top of her, maintaining his contact
with her throat the whole while. If anything, the bite deepened,
now that he could get more purchase, a better angle... Buffy gasped,
then arched upward, straining desperately for more...more Spike.
Still drinking, Spike pulled the coat savagely from her shoulders then
down both of her arms. Pain stabbed through Buffy's left arm, but
the feeling was distant and barely noticeable so she ignored it, moving
closer to him instead, both of her legs curling up and around his hips
while her right hand went around his back to hold on desperately.
Finally the vampire managed to pull the duster free and fling it to one
side. Then he ran his hand back under the t-shirt, caressing her
Buffy convulsed, calling his name, her nails digging into his back...and
the world exploded. There was fire. Passion. Need.
Everything around her began to fade, the world vanishing on a flood of
desire. She was sinking fast, back into the dark waters she had dreamed
about. Only this time she didn't care, didn't even try to fight the
darkness. Because this time she wasn't alone.
She barely noticed as her hand slowly released its grip on the vampire,
sliding across his naked back to land limply on the floor. Didn't
notice that she could no longer feel the floor beneath her, could barely
even feel Spike's weight on her. Something, a last flicker of the
Slayer's survival instinct perhaps, tried to shout a warning, but it was
too far away...and she didn't want to listen anyway. Nothing else
mattered. There was only this moment. And these feelings.
"Spike," Buffy whispered...and it wasn't a plea to stop. It was
an entreaty not to stop.
* * *
The Slayer's blood was like nectar. Honey. Sunlight and
fire. Its heat warmed him, filling his cold body and engulfing his
senses. Lust and need were cascading through the vampire, one after
another, until he couldn't think, couldn't see, could do nothing but hold
on and wait for the flames to burn out, for the feelings to fade away and
Only they didn't. Instead, they got better.
Everything. This was everything he had ever wanted, everything
he had dreamed of...and it was better than he had ever dreamed. The
vampire swallowed deeply, savouring the taste of her blood on his tongue,
the texture as it slid down his throat. And the scent of her as she
surrounded him, the way her body felt beneath his own...
Except there was something he was supposed to remember. Something
he was supposed to do. Or -- not do.
Not kill her. Not drink until she died.
Not let his Slayer die.
He wanted to. Everything that made him a vampire, that had spent
the last century feeding, killing, and taking whatever and whomever he
wanted, when he wanted...it was all telling him to just do it. To
finish her off. To keep drinking until her heart beat its last and
her body went limp in his arms.
He wanted to so much.
But in the end, he didn't.
And it wasn't the implant that stopped him.
* * *
Buffy moaned as Spike broke away, his fangs slowly pulling loose from
her throat. No! She didn't want this to end, didn't want the
sensations to stop. Desperately she tried to reach up, to draw him back
to her, but her arms were too weak, her hands too heavy to lift...
...and besides...sanity was beginning to return. Slowly.
Reluctantly. But inexorably.
Hesitantly the Slayer opened her eyes, gradually becoming aware of the
sound of her own panting, the way her chest heaved beneath him as her starved
lungs struggled to draw air in. Her heart was fluttering like a bird's
and her body was shaking, she realized dimly, both from exhaustion, loss
of blood...and the aftershocks of the climax that had rocked her.
With difficulty, Buffy looked up, her eyelids weighted like stones.
There was blood on the vampire's lips. As she watched, he licked
it away...and, weak though she was, a faint tremor of desire went through
her. She still wanted him. God help her, she still wanted him...
Spike felt her quiver and for an instant their eyes met, awareness reflected
in each other's gaze...
...as awareness of another kind went through Buffy. She could
see. She could see Spike's eyes, his expression, see the torchlight
casting shadows on the angular planes of his face...
"I can see." She managed to say out loud, her voice a ragged whisper.
But she had no strength left for joy or relief. The best she could
manage was tired surprise. It was taking so much effort just to form
the words, to control her breathing enough to get them out... Too
much effort. Alarm buzzed faintly in the back of her skull.
Drained. That's what she was. In more ways than one.
But at least she was still conscious. He couldn't have taken that
much if she was still conscious... Right? Even though it was becoming
harder and harder to hang onto that awareness, to keep the darkness lurking
on the edges of her vision at bay...
"Miss Summers?" It was the Valet's disembodied voice, coming from
somewhere to her left.
Buffy blinked and, with a superhuman effort, managed to stave off the
shadows, at least temporarily. "I can see," she whispered again wearily.
"Yes, my dear. I'm afraid I wasn't completely truthful earlier.
The first part of the Trial was indeed Spike's three challenges...but the
last part was yours."
"Why?" Her tone was flat. Uncaring.
"Rules, Miss Summers. Rules. And now," he continued, more
briskly, "The Trial is complete. Thank you for your patronage.
Have a nice day."
And then the world began to fade around them and the stone chamber...vanished.
* * *
Spike almost had control over himself again, over the demon inside that
was still clamouring to sink his fangs back into the paleness of the Slayer's
neck, to take the last of the blood pumping through her veins and to continue
where he had left off...
No. No, no, and no. He wouldn't do it. It didn't matter
how much he wanted to, how much she might want him to even, he bloody
well wasn't going to do it.
Locked in his inner battle as he was, he barely heard the Valet's words,
scarcely noticed when the room disappeared and was replaced by wet grass,
sharp night air, and darkness lit only by starlight and a quarter moon.
What Spike did notice though, when he finally stirred slightly, was the
pain that came roaring back over him like a freight train.
He actually had been hit by a train once, he remembered. And this
felt pretty much the same. The first incredible agony of the impact
followed by a whole barrage of lesser torments that just kept getting worse
and worse. Oh yeah. Pretty sodding similar.
The burns were still there, he realized, as well as the gashes in his
leg, although those at least had stopped pumping blood. And the pain
had abated, just a little. He wasn't dying now, at least. That
much was certain. The Slayer's blood had done it, had saved him...
The Slayer. Spike blinked and looked down. She was still
beneath him, unmoving. Her skin ashen, her heart going a mile a minute...but
she was awake. Alive. And staring up at him with a faintly
puzzled expression on her face. Staring up at him...
He remembered. She could see. She had said so, just a moment
ago. 'Course, he'd been too busy trying to prevent himself from killing
her, for it to really sink in but now... Despite the pain, Spike suddenly
found himself fighting the urge to break into a grin. He had done
it. She could see.
There was a long moment of silence as the two stared at each other,
then Spike finally spoke. "You know, Slayer," he said, trying to
keep his voice from reflecting both his pain...and the pleasure.
"I could get used to this."
"What?" It came out in a whisper, as if she were only half listening...or
"Waking up on top of you. We keep on like this and I might start
thinking you want my body."
Some reserve energy seemed to return to her and she managed to push
at him, albeit weakly.
"Only for something to pummel."
'Atta girl,' the vampire thought. 'Take more than a little blood
loss to do you in...' Speaking of... His gaze sharpened as
his eyes fastened on the thin tendril of blood running down her throat.
Slowly, instinctively, knowing that he was playing with fire even as he
did it, the vampire lowered his head and ran his tongue over the rivulet,
licking it up...savouring the way she immediately gasped and stiffened
beneath him, the way her body arched up toward his... 'Oh yeah -
not so indifferent now, are we?'
Trouble was, he wanted more. A hell of a lot more. And unless
he was willing to kill to get it... No. Reluctantly Spike pulled
away, just enough, rolling the last mouthful of blood around in his mouth
to get the full flavour before swallowing it, a feeling of deep satisfaction
coursing through him.
He didn't say anything.
He didn't need to.
The moment stretched between them until he thought time might stop altogether,
but then the Slayer stiffened, the hands that had been running down his
sides now beginning to tense and push at him, this time with more force.
"That's what? Three, four times tonight you've said that?
That song's getting a little old, love. How 'bout we try a new one?"
"Sure. Do you know 'I'm going to get off Buffy before she stakes
Spike's tone became serious. "You won't stake me." It wasn't
a question. "Didn't then, won't now." Nevertheless, with an effort
he pushed himself aside and off the Slayer, rolling onto his back beside
her and stifling a groan as his burns protested. Loudly. Then
he lay still, waiting for the pain to recede while the stars whirled above
Another, longer silence fell between them. Finally, though, he
felt her hand move, sliding across the wet grass until it found his own,
her fingers entwining in his. "No," she said sombrely. "I won't."
She swallowed once then said:
"Thank you, Spike."
"You're welcome, Slayer."
"And sight out of blindness"
-- Sidney Lanier
At least it had stopped raining. The ground was still wet and
soggy, the tree overhead laden with water that kept cascading down on Spike
and Buffy every time the wind blew through its branches...but at least
it wasn't raining.
The Slayer lay motionless, a thousand thoughts going through her head
as she stared silently up at the night sky -- the sky she had never thought
she would see again. Stars glittered as the last of the rainclouds
scudded away into the distance, and the trees themselves seemed to shine.
It was beautiful.
And hard to believe. She had never truly thought she would get
her eyesight back. Not really. Yes, she had hoped and yes,
she had wondered...but she had never really believed. Not deep down.
Not on any level.
Spike had though. She turned her head slightly, even that small
motion enough to send waves of dizziness coursing through her, and looked
at the vampire laying on the grass beside her, his pale body glimmering
in the moonlight. He must have believed or he never would have gone
through all this. And now that her vision was back, Buffy could see
the results of that belief, the scars on his chest that could only have
been caused by crosses coming into contact with vampire flesh. Painful
contact. And many crosses. Buffy's jaw tightened. What
kind of hell had he gone through? Most of his clothes were gone,
only the black jeans left, his chest and feet bare. There were more
burns on his feet, she could tell, and probably on his back too, if the
way he had groaned when he had rolled off her was any indication.
Because of her. Her fault. She should have stopped the trial
earlier. Should never have agreed to go there in the first place...
But if she had done that, she would still be blind. Or dead.
And...and selfish though it may be...she couldn't say she was sorry.
She wasn't even sure she would change things if she could. No, she
liked being alive. And she liked being able to see again.
Her gaze went up to the stars again then back to the vampire...
...who was watching her now, a predatory, almost possessive look on
his face. Their eyes met...and a faint chill shot through her.
But it wasn't fear. No, it was almost as if she was afraid...of the
fact that she wasn't afraid. She should be, she knew. Spike
was still dangerous, despite the implant. He had proven that when
he had...when she had let him bite her. Her eyes still locked on
him, the Slayer's free hand drifted up slowly towards the wound on her
It hurt, she realized remotely, though the pain was small in comparison
with the rest of the agony that was sweeping through her. But now
that the passion and desire that had scorched through her like wildfire
were gone...her neck just plain hurt. She touched the place tentatively
"Quite the collection you've got there." Spike's voice still vibrated
with agony, but there was the usual mocking edge to it beneath the pain...and
something else altogether. Something that Buffy didn't recognize.
She stared at him blankly for a moment, then shifted uncomfortably, closing
Quite a collection. It was true. The Master. Angel.
Dracula. And now Spike. The Master's mark was barely noticeable,
she knew. His bite had been quick and clean, his fangs razor sharp.
The same with Dracula. Only a tiny mark still marred her throat where
he had bitten her. Angel's though...his scar was jagged and long,
the skin as much torn apart as bitten through. Of course, he had
been dying at the time, half out of his mind from the poison. Couldn't
really expect neatness under those circumstances. And what would
Spike's be like?, Buffy wondered. Would it be neat or ragged, large
'OK. Size so does not matter,' Buffy told herself firmly...or
as firmly as she could, given that it was taking a concerted effort just
to remain conscious. Shadows kept washing in and out on the edges
of her vision, like a dark tide threatening to engulf her. But she
wouldn't let them. There was too much to do. She had to get
home, and quickly. It was almost dawn. Her family would be
up soon, would find her gone. And Spike would go up in a puff of
smoke if they didn't make it back before the sun came up...
Buffy opened her eyes. He was still watching her, the hungry look
"Stop that," she said sharply. Or at least, it was meant to sound
sharp -- actually it came out sounding tired and pathetically weak.
"Stop looking at me like I'm something to eat."
He grinned wearily. "Hate to break it to you baby, but you are.
And very tasty too."
"Yeah...well...just don't go expecting any dessert."
A brief silence fell, then: "Why did you do it, Buffy?"
She blinked in surprise. Whatever she had been expecting from
him -- it wasn't that. For a moment the vampire had actually sounded
serious, solemn even, no hint of the usual derisive tones in his voice.
It was as if...as if he really wanted to know. Buffy's mouth went
suddenly dry. She couldn't tell him. Definitely not the whole
truth -- if she even knew what that was, anyway. And she couldn't
even begin to vocalize the emotions that had flooded through her when she
had found herself holding the stake against his chest... She couldn't.
So she evaded the question entirely by countering with one of her own.
"Why did you want me to kill you?"
"Told you. This chip..."
The Slayer shook her head slightly. "No. That's not it."
She didn't know how she knew that. She just did.
For a moment they stared at each other in frustration, all the things
unsaid hovering between them until the air became thick with tension.
Finally though, Spike looked away, turning his head to stare back up at
the stars. "Doesn't matter," he said flatly. "Forget it."
No. She couldn't leave it like this. Not after what he had
done. Buffy bit her lip, undecided, then finally opened her mouth
again. Maybe a half-truth would be enough.
"I didn't want you to die," she said at last. "Not after...what
you did for me."
Spike didn't move, his eyes still locked on the night sky. Buffy
swallowed then went on gamely. "You saved my life."
He did move at that, turning back to meet her gaze. Something
flitted briefly through his eyes, some emotion she had never seen in them
before -- and then it was gone, as quickly as it had appeared, and she
found herself wondering if it had really been there at all. Perhaps
she had imagined it. Even as she watched, Spike's lips were already
curling into the wicked grin she was so familiar with, the mocking light
back in his eyes. "Yeah, well, don't tell anyone," he said lightly.
"Never be able to live it down..."
"Tell me about it," she shot back, trying to hide just how shaken the
exchange had left her.
"Still..." he continued, the grin widening a bit. "Can't say it
Fun. Not exactly the word she would have used. Shattering.
Soul shaking. Unforgettable. Intense. But not fun.
A shudder went through Buffy. That made three times now that she
had willingly allowed a vampire to bite her, three times that... Oh god.
OK fine, she was the Slayer and her life was strange and bizarre on a multitude
of levels, but why did the most intense sexual experiences of her life
have to come with her clothes on? With a vampire's teeth in
her neck? What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she be
happy with a normal boyfriend? She had a normal boyfriend.
Riley. Oh god. She couldn't tell him about this. He
would never understand. She wasn't even sure she did. The pull
of the attraction between her and Spike, the desire to just reach out for
'La la la, so not listening,' she told herself firmly. 'Got a boyfriend.
Don't need Spike. Don't care that he's all sexy and...and sexy.
I don't want sexy, I don't want dangerous, and I definitely don't
want another vampire. I want human and safe and normal and not
sexy. I want Riley."
'OK,' Buffy paused, frowning inwardly. 'That didn't come out quite
"I don't want to talk about it," she said out loud. "And am I
the only one who cares that the sun is coming up? And...and where
exactly are we anyway?
"Other side of town."
"Great." Buffy shot Spike a quick glance, wondering if he would
be able to walk...wondering if she would. But then other images
began to flicker through her mind as her eyes ran down the vampire's prone
form, overlaying what she was seeing now. Images of what they had
done, of what had happened...and Buffy's mouth went dry, her heart beginning
to pound even harder. The look on Spike's face -- it was as if his
injuries were all that were preventing him from rolling over and taking
her here and now. And worse yet -- despite the fact that she was
so weak she could barely lift her head off the wet ground; that every part
of her was aching unbearably; that she was about to pass out at any moment
-- she wanted him too. And he knew it. She could see it in
his eyes -- he could probably see it in hers.
In the space of a heartbeat, the air between them was once more sizzling
with electricity. And Buffy realized with a sinking sensation that
the desire hadn't gone after all. Probably never would. There
was a link between them now --and it wasn't going to disappear, no matter
how much she might wish otherwise.
Tightening her jaw, Buffy managed to drag her gaze away, shutting her
eyes tightly. 'Why me?' she thought despairingly. 'I don't
need another vampire in my life. I don't want another vampire
in my life.'
But it was too late now.
* * *
In the end, they managed to get to their feet only by hauling each other
up then holding onto each other to keep themselves from falling back down.
And once more Spike found himself with the Slayer in his arms, her warmth
seeping into his cool frame while she clung to him -- and an unfamiliar
feeling went through him. If he didn't know better he would almost
have said it was...peace. Joy. Or it might have been if every
fibre of his being wasn't screaming out in agony until he wanted to grab
the stake and put himself out of his misery...
At that moment Buffy leaned her head against his chest.
His burned chest.
Didn't really matter though, Spike decided through the pain. Because
he was never going to get a chance like this again, so what was a little
torment, compared to having the Slayer in his arms? 'Course -- if
she kept leaning on him this much, he was probably going to tip
over backward. And he didn't think either of them would be getting
up again in a hurry, if he did.
No answer. Had she passed out? Trying to brace himself against
her weight, Spike raised one hand and tugged, not gently, at her hair.
"Summers! Much as I would love to get horizontal with you again,
I don't think this is the time. Or the place."
She stirred slightly, as if realizing what she was doing, then straightened,
easing her weight from him. "I really hate you sometimes, Spike,"
she whispered against his bare chest.
"Only sometimes? Must be improving then. C'mon. Let's
get outta here before something nasty comes along and eats us." The
vampire took a careful step forward then almost fell, his knees buckling
as the fire burning on the soles of his feet became an inferno. "Bloody
This time it was Buffy's turn to hold him up, her heart pounding with
the effort. "Don't you dare," she said through clenched teeth, her
fingers digging into his arms. "If you fall over, I'm not picking
you up again. Got that?"
Got it. It took a lot more energy and willpower than Spike wanted
to admit, but somehow he managed to keep his footing. And, after
a short lifetime or two, he even succeeded in standing back up and easing
a little of his weight off the Slayer's shoulders. Then they hung
there together, unable to move.
"Now what?" she said, exhaustion colouring her voice.
"Dunno. Think you can walk?"
"No. But I will anyway."
"That's my Slayer."
She took a cautious step forward, Spike doing the same beside her.
"Will you stop saying that?" she said in tired annoyance. "I'm not
"So the fact that I've got your claw marks down my back from when you..."
"Really, really hate you Spike..."
"I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame"
-- Old Testament
They stopped to pick up his coat. Actually, it was Spike that
stopped, braking suddenly and bending forward so that Buffy was almost
pulled with him into a nosedive back onto the grass. She braced her
legs, struggling to remain upright while still holding onto the vampire.
"What do you think you're doing?" she asked through clenched teeth, biting
back a curse.
"Getting my sodding coat."
For an instant Buffy seriously debated letting go, just dropping him
on his head and leaving him there. But she couldn't. He had
saved her life. Of course she had saved him too, so maybe they were
even. Life would be so much easier if...
At that moment, Spike straightened, his duster in one hand. Wordlessly
he pulled it on, flinching as the leather came into contact with his burns.
Buffy shot him a look. "Isn't that painful?"
"Well yeah. Why? Enjoying the view, were you?"
She purposely misunderstood him. "Unlike you, Spike, I don't enjoy
watching people in pain. Although I'd probably be willing to make
an exception in your case."
He laughed briefly then moved forward again, slowly and painfully.
"Looks like it's your night then. 'Cause I feel bloody awful."
"You look it."
"You're not exactly a picture yourself, darlin'."
That much was true. Buffy glanced down at herself, relishing the
fact that she could do so, that she could actually see again --
then sighed. She looked as bad as she felt. Her pants were
ripped, her shoes soggy, and the black t-shirt she was wearing was definitely
the worse for wear. On the plus side -- her socks did match,
she discovered. Her hair though, appeared to be one big tangle; multi-hued
bruises and/or bandages covered the bits of her body she could see -- and
probably most of what she couldn't...and then there was the bite
mark on her neck. Gonna be really hard to explain that one to Giles.
And to Riley...
Riley. A pang went through her. What was she supposed to
say to him? How could she ever explain this night? It was no
good telling herself that nothing had happened, that she had only let Spike
bite her in order to save his life. It wasn't true. Something
had definitely happened between them. A whole lot of somethings.
And Riley was already so twitchy about Angel...and Dracula. She couldn't
imagine what he would say if he knew that she and Spike had...
"Wondering what Captain Cardboard is gonna say about all this?"
Spike's voice broke in on her thoughts.
'What, can everyone read my mind tonight?' Buffy thought, a flash of
irritation going through her. "His name is Riley," she said out loud.
"Yeah. Whatever. So what's he gonna think about this then?"
He flicked the hand that was resting on her shoulders up to her neck.
"He'll...understand. He's very understanding."
"Oh yeah. Regular bloody saint, that one. 'Course, you ever
consider that a saint's just about the last thing you really need?"
"My love life is so none of your business, Spike."
He laughed once, sharply, then winced and held his ribs. "I'm
"You know," Buffy interrupted, her voice as calm as she could make it,
"if you irritate me enough I'm going to just drop you and leave you here.
You do realize that, don't you?"
"Think you'd make it back without me?"
"Actually, yeah. You're only slowing me down."
"Right then. Off you go." With that, Spike stepped aside,
removing his arm. With his presence gone, Buffy found herself staggering,
barely able to keep her footing. She hadn't realized quite how much
she had been leaning on him...and how weak she still was. A second
later though, he was back, his body preventing her from falling.
"You were saying?" the vampire said smugly. "Face it Slayer --
we need each other. Least for now."
She really, really hated it when he was right.
* * *
The journey back to the cemetery was a nightmare, the kind that went
on and on and didn't stop until you woke up in a cold sweat. The
kind where you seemed to walk forever but didn't make any progress at all.
Every step was written in agony until Buffy was almost reeling from it.
'We must be a sight,' she thought through an exhausted haze as they rounded
a corner together. Dirty, injured, staggering as if they had both
had too much to drink, and Spike half-naked under the coat. And barefoot.
"Why didn't the Valet give your boots back?" Buffy said abruptly, staring
blearily down at his feet.
"How should I know? Maybe he's got a fetish."
A pause. "Only about as much as walking on cut glass. Why?
Worried about me?"
No. It wasn't that. It was just... Buffy didn't know
what it was. Maybe the loss of blood was beginning to get to her
at last, or perhaps she was losing her mind. Whichever, it bothered her
that he had had to walk all this way with no shoes. And it bothered
her that she was bothered by this. And... No. She was
getting confused. Again. Dazedly, Buffy walked onwards, still
"We're here." His voice interrupted her thoughts.
With almost the last of her energies, Buffy looked up, trying to focus
on her surroundings. He was right. The cemetery was just ahead.
And not before time, she realized with a growing sense of alarm.
The pre-dawn light that had been growing steadily for the last while was
now so bright that she could see the shadows receding, almost before her
eyes, as a thin line of radiance glowed on the eastern horizon.
They didn't have much time.
* * *
Spike opened the crypt door with one hand and practically fell through
the doorway, dragging the Slayer along with him. He managed to stay
upright, but it was a near thing. With the very last of his strength
he tottered the final few steps towards the easy chair in the corner of
the room and collapsed into it...dragging the Slayer down too. The
vampire found himself looking down at her in some surprise as she fell
forward with him, ending up sprawled halfway across his legs. 'Must've
forgotten to let go,' he thought blearily. Still, this was nice.
Home again. Hadn't gone up in flames. Slayer on his lap.
Could be worse.
"I know, I know," he said, his voice practically shaking with exhaustion.
"'Let me go, get off me or I'll stake you', blah-bloody-blah. You
know, for someone who's supposed to hate me, you seem to end up on top
of me pretty damned often." A pause, then: "What say we call
a truce, blondie? You stop threatening to kill me and I'll..."
"I...uh...I don't know. You think of something. I'm just
gonna have a nap now." His eyes were beginning to close, almost against
his will, his arms tightening automatically around her waist. "Wake
me up later."
A thump on his shoulder. "I am not staying here with you,"
Buffy said, her voice almost as weak as his. "I'm going home.
"You'll fall on your face before you get three feet."
"And thank you so much for the vote of confidence."
Spike sighed, shifting in the chair a little, enjoying the feel of her
on his lap. "Nothing to do with confidence, pet. Facts are
"Yeah, well, fact one -- I'm going. And fact two -- you...you
really need someone to look at those burns."
"Why? You offering to play doctor?" He opened his eyes and
gave her a hopeful look.
"Spike, you are so..." Her voice trailed off, words failing her.
"Yeah. I am." His eyes began to slide shut again and he
abruptly let go, his arms sliding away from her waist. "Shut the
door on the way out," he said shortly.
* * *
That was it? No innuendo? No clever Spike quipage?
Buffy blinked. He must be in worse shape than she had thought.
She really wasn't surprised she had ended up on his lap again.
Not with the way the night had been going. This made -- what?
Three? Four times she had ended up in close physical proximity with
Spike? More? 'The Fates must really be getting a kick out of
all this,' she thought sourly as she tried to lever herself up and off
the vampire. Unfortunately, her strength chose that moment to desert
her and she collapsed back against his chest, unable to move, gasping for
air while the world spun in several directions around her. Oh yeah.
Definitely having fun at her expense...
For a long moment the Slayer considered just staying put, curling up
on Spike's lap and...
No! What was she thinking? Bad brain! Bad! Buffy
took a deep breath then, with a superhuman effort, hauled herself out of
the chair. Her legs immediately threatened to buckle beneath her
but she locked her knees and gritted her teeth, waiting for the dizziness
to pass. When it finally did she took a step towards the door...and
She wasn't sure what made her halt. Something inside her -- something
she didn't want to examine too closely -- was making her turn back to the
motionless vampire, her eyes running across his still form.
The coat had fallen open a little, enough to see some of the burns on
his chest. They were bad. Worse than bad. But -- they
were beginning to fade now. Weren't they? And surely the cut
on his eye was no longer quite as jagged, or as deep? He was healing.
She could go.
Any minute now.
He would be fine.
'Well, he should be,' Buffy told herself crossly, 'after a full-course
meal of Buffy.' Nevertheless, she found herself walking back toward
him, almost against her will. And the same something inside her made
her reach out to touch the side of his face, just beneath the cut.
He didn't stir. For several heartbeats Buffy stood there motionless
then she slowly pulled her hand away, swallowing deeply. "Thank you,
Spike" she whispered softly...and then she turned and headed for the door,
her legs unsteady but her shoulders set and determined. This time
she didn't stop and she didn't look back...
...and so she didn't see Spike's eyes open again, didn't see him watch
her as she went back out into the daylight... and didn't see the unguarded
look of naked longing on his face.
"The eye is not satisfied with seeing"
-- Old Testament
Spike was wrong. Buffy didn't fall on her face after three feet.
It was five.
Between one step and the next her legs suddenly buckled and she found
herself pitching forward to land face down in the cemetery's mud -- for
the second time in twenty-four hours. Swearing vehemently, Buffy
spat out a mouthful of dirt then clawed her way back to her feet.
She wasn't going to do this. She wasn't going to pass out, she wasn't
going to go crawling back to Spike's crypt...and she wasn't going to give
up. No, she had made it this far, and she would finish what she had
started -- even if it killed her.
OK. Poor choice of words there.
With a deep breath that sent the world spinning dizzily around her once
again, the Slayer tried to force her battered body back into motion.
Everything hurt, she found, and she had passed exhausted about an hour
ago. Exhausted would actually be an improvement right now.
All she really wanted to do was fall into a bed -- any bed -- and forget
that this night had ever happened. In fact, she wanted to forget
the entire week. Just let her get home so life could return to normal...school,
her friends and family; trying to protect the sister who wasn't really
her sister from a psychotic blonde force of evil; a little slayage; saving
the world in her spare time... Yup. Totally normal.
Trying not to whimper too loudly, Buffy slowly began to make her way
towards the graveyard's exit...and home.
* * *
Getting there was merely a matter of putting one foot in front of the
other and not stopping, Buffy discovered. Not so hard, really, not
put in those terms -- even though her arm kept throbbing unmercifully,
a killer headache was raging behind her temples, and everything else just
plain hurt. A lot. But she refused to give into the self-pity
that kept threatening to engulf her. No. After all -- life
was pretty good. She was still alive. Her injuries would heal.
And the sunrise was beautiful. But most of all -- she could actually
'When the sun comes up I'm still not going to
be able to see it, no matter what you say or do, Spike...'
Had she really said that, just a few hours ago? And -- had she
really been that desperate? That...suicidal? A shudder ran
down her spine and, for an instant, Buffy felt cold, despite the sun's
But...she hadn't been herself. The Buffy who had gone out to face
the demon and get herself killed...that hadn't been her. She had
been -- OK, let's just say it -- completely out of her mind. A prime
candidate for the loony bin. Three fries short of a happy meal...
Or -- maybe that was the real Buffy. Someone who gave up when
things got bad, who...
No. She wasn't a quitter. She wasn't. She had
proved that over and over. And she was the one who had killed the
demon. She had saved Spike. She hadn't quit, she had just...
...just been too quick to give up. Too impatient to take what
she had thought was her only way out. One week. One week was
all she had given herself, and it would have been even less if she could
have gotten away sooner. She certainly hadn't taken the time to explore
all her options, to look for another way out. It had taken Spike
-- Spike -- to give her back the choices she had thought were
No. Don't dwell on it. The past was just that -- past.
She couldn't change what she had done and brooding about it wouldn't make
anything better. If there was one thing she had learned over the
past few years -- it was that she had to live with her mistakes.
But a tiny thread of self-doubt continued to linger, even as she slowly
trudged the rest of the way home.
* * *
There was a red sports car outside her mom's house. Giles'.
Buffy hesitated, a tremor going through her. She wasn't up to
this. She barely had the strength to remain standing, let alone deal
with all the questions, the explanations. The whys and whens and
wherefores...when all she really wanted to do was fall over in a heap and
not talk to anyone, not even see anyone for at least a week...
But she didn't have that choice. Buffy could almost see the old,
familiar burdens beginning to gather around her as she stood there, staring
at the door. The need to appear strong and in control, to be what
they needed her to be, to... For a moment her spirit quailed and
she almost found herself wishing that she was back in Spike's crypt, back
where she could let down all her defences and just be herself.
But not quite. With a deep, steadying breath, Buffy reached out...and
opened the door.
* * *
Dawn was the first to see her. The teenager was crossing the hallway,
still in her pyjamas, a worried expression on her face. When Buffy
opened the door their eyes met...and Dawn let out a shriek, flying forward
to wrap her arms tightly around her sister. And then Buffy's mother
was suddenly there too and the Slayer was enfolded by both of them, both
talking at once.
Buffy almost went down under the dual impact, barely managing to keep
her footing. 'Great,' she thought distantly, 'I survive the demon
and the Trial and it's my family that finally finishes me off...'
And then Giles appeared, his clothes looking as though they had been
thrown on hastily, an anguished expression on his face. He saw her...and
As if sensing his arrival, both Joyce and Dawn pulled back at the same
time, releasing their holds on Buffy and stepping back, just a little.
Buffy stared back at the three of them, gratefully drinking in all the
details she had already begun to forget, even in the space of just a week.
Several seconds ticked by in silence. Finally though, the Slayer
managed to swallow around the lump that had formed in her throat.
"I can see," she said simply.
"Oh." Joyce put her hand to her mouth, reaching her other hand
out, as if she might fall. But Dawn moved quickly to support her,
even as she was staring back open-mouthed at her sister. Giles, meanwhile,
began to sink to a sitting position on the stairs, as if his legs could
no longer hold him.
'I know the feeling,' Buffy thought, staring blankly down at her Watcher.
If she didn't sit down soon she was going to fall down...
Something of what she was thinking must have been reflected on her face,
because the next minute Giles was back on his feet and Buffy found herself
being steered towards the place on the stairs that he had just vacated.
She sank down gratefully, wondering as she did how she was ever going to
get back up again -- and then Joyce was on her knees before her, both arms
going tightly around her daughter.
"Oh Buffy," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "I thought
we had lost you."
The Slayer hugged her mother back, one-handed. "I know.
I'm sorry." There were tears in her eyes now, threatening to spill
down her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Mom."
Joyce pulled back a little to look at her, both of her hands going to
Buffy's upper arms. "Don't you ever do that to me again, do you understand?
You scared me." Her fingers tightened.
"Uh, Mom? Sore arm..."
"Oh." Hastily Joyce released her, then gave her a crooked smile.
"Sorry honey. I'm just...I..." Her voice trailed away as pain
flitted across her face, and she put one hand up to her forehead.
"Mom?" Buffy reached out a hand to her mother, worry lancing through
Giles cleared his throat. He had stepped back, giving the two
of them some space while Dawn stood awkwardly nearby, but now he moved
forward again. "Dawn -- why don't you help your mother back to bed?
Don't worry," he said reassuringly to Joyce. "I'll look after her."
Buffy could see indecision on her mother's face, warring with the pain,
but finally the pain won out. She nodded slowly then stood, reaching
an unsteady hand for the banister. "Thank you. I...we'll talk
later, Buffy. OK?"
Buffy swallowed. "Sure Mom. Just...get some rest.
And don't worry. I'm fine. Really."
Dawn moved past the Slayer, one arm going around Joyce to help her mother
up the stairs. "I'm glad you're not dead," she said to Buffy over
her shoulder. "But does this mean I don't get your room now?"
"Yeah. Hands off." Buffy smiled at her faintly, craning
her neck to watch as the two of them moved away. It seemed to take
her mother a long time to climb the stairs, but finally they both disappeared
from sight. And Buffy's smile immediately vanished, her shoulders
sagging as anxiety poured through her, the pain of her own injuries momentarily
forgotten. Just how long did it take for CAT scan results to come
back anyway? Or...or maybe they had found out something, but
they hadn't told her while she was blind. Or...
The Slayer blinked then looked back up. Giles was standing in
front of her, his expression unreadable. As she watched he slowly
reached inside one pocket and removed something small, holding it up in
one hand. Not saying a word.
A cassette tape.
Buffy bit her lip, dropping her gaze, no longer able to meet her Watcher's
eyes. "I...I wanted to get back before you found that," she said
She swallowed. "Giles, I..."
And then he too was on his knees before her, pulling her into a warm
hug, his arms going tightly around her. "I thought you were dead."
His voice was muffled.
It was all too much. Too much emotion, too many things said and
left unsaid...Buffy closed her eyes as her right arm slid around her Watcher
and a lone tear spilled over her lashes and onto his shirt.
"I know. I'm so sorry." More tears were gathering in her
eyes and there was a scratchy feeling in the back of her throat.
And even more embarrassing -- she was starting to sniffle.
Hearing her, Giles gently released the Slayer, fishing inside his jacket
for a handkerchief -- 'colour me so not surprised that Giles uses handkerchiefs,'
Buffy thought randomly -- which he handed to her. Her own hand shaking,
she took it and wiped away the tears and blew her nose one-handed.
At last, she looked back up and gave him a watery smile, crumpling the
handkerchief in her right hand.
"Don't mention it." An awkward silence fell. "Right then,"
Giles said as he climbed back to his feet. "Let's get you cleaned
"Truth will come to sight"
-- William Shakespeare
"So...ah...how badly are you hurt?" Giles was suddenly all business,
the emotions that had been evident on his face hidden now. "Buffy?"
"It's not as bad as it looks." The Slayer glanced down at herself,
all muddy, dishevelled, and roughly bandaged. "Sorta.
Had an argument with a demon, got a little sliced and diced, but I'm OK..."
"I should take you to a hospital..."
Buffy shook her head violently. "No. No hospitals.
I just need some sleep and I'll be good as new. Shiny new Buffy."
Using the banister and her one good arm, she hauled herself to her feet
-- and almost fell as yet another wave of dizziness washed over her.
Hastily Giles stepped forward, catching her before she could hit the ground.
"OK. Might have lost a little blood too," she added weakly, leaning
on his shoulder.
The Watcher bit out a curse. Buffy blinked. "Giles -- I
didn't know you knew that word..."
"And you didn't hear me say it either. First aid kit?"
"Right. Come on." With that he helped her stand, one arm
going around her back to support her, the other beneath her right elbow.
Buffy closed her eyes and leaned into him, letting him do the steering,
finding his strength comforting. It had been a long night -- too
long -- and reaction was finally beginning to set in, her body starting
to shut down in protest of all the abuse she had heaped on it. Just
a little longer, she told herself firmly. Just need to hold on a
little while longer...
Silently Giles helped her towards the kitchen then set her down in one
of the chairs, shooting her a quick, worried look before turning toward
"Under the sink," Buffy supplied helpfully, content for the moment to
just sit there and ache quietly. Giles nodded, pulling out a medical
kit which he tucked under his arm. Then he turned to the fridge and
began to rummage inside.
Buffy frowned. "Uh...Giles? In pain here. Is this
really a good time for a snack?"
"Not for me. For you. You need to eat something, start replacing
some of the blood you've lost."
A faint quiver of nausea went through her. She really, really
didn't feel like eating...but she should, she knew. She would recover
At that moment Giles turned and thrust a bottle of -- something -- under
her nose, which immediately began to wrinkle with distaste.
"V8? Giles -- ick!"
"Yes, ick...and full of iron...I expect." He paused, shot a dubious
glance at the list of ingredients on its side then shrugged slightly and
handed it to her, followed by...was that broccoli? Raw broccoli?
Buffy stared down at it in disbelief.
"I think I was better off with the demon..." she grumbled quietly.
"Stop complaining and get that down you," Giles set the kit on
the table and pulled it open.
Buffy took a cautious sip of the vegetable juice, almost gagging at
the taste. "You know," she said through her grimace, "I think there's
a rule somewhere that says Watchers aren't allowed to poison their Slayers.
Or if there isn't -- there should be."
He gave her a look. "Vegetables or hospital. Your choice."
Hastily Buffy took a large swig from the bottle, shuddering as she forced
the clammy fluid down her throat. "Yum. Liquified vegetables.
All that taste of...green. Just gotta -- Ouch!" Buffy shot
Giles a baleful look as he unceremoniously reached out and began to unwrap
the bandage on her arm.
"OK, great bedside manner...not so much."
"Um...ah...sorry. This is probably going to hurt."
"And you couldn't tell me that before?"
"Sorry. But I need to..." With that, Giles removed the last
of the rough dressing that Spike had wrapped around her...and his voice
trailed off. Almost reluctantly Buffy turned her head, not really
certain she wanted to see what he was...
Whoa. That was...whoa. Buffy stared in sick fascination
at the three deep gashes running parallel down the back of her arm from
shoulder to wrist, the cuts dark with caked-on blood, the edges jagged.
"Well -- this is going to make an interesting conversation piece," she
Giles said nothing. He was staring down at her injuries with an
unreadable expression. Finally though, he wrenched his eyes away
and turned, ripping open a sterile cloth with undue force. He didn't
meet her gaze. And Buffy found herself watching him a little warily.
"Um...Giles. Are you mad at me?"
He turned quickly, surprise on his face. "Mad at you? No,
of course I'm..." He stopped, as if re-evaluating his feelings.
"Well, yes, actually, I am. Tell me -- did you even think about how
your mother would feel about what you were doing, or how...how I would
feel, for that matter?"
Odd, how much that echoed what Spike had told her earlier. Buffy
closed her eyes briefly, remembering, then turned and met her Watcher's
gaze. "But you...you do understand why I did it. Don't you?"
The last part came out sounding rather tentative.
"Yes, I understand. But that doesn't mean I condone it.
You should have waited, Buffy. We would have found a way to restore
your eyesight, given time. We could have helped you. But once
again you acted without thinking, didn't weigh the consequences.
A quick flicker of resentment shot through her -- partly because that
was precisely what she herself had been thinking earlier...but mostly because
he was right. Nevertheless, Buffy couldn't quite keep the undercurrent
of anger out of her voice. "Oh, I weighed, Giles. I weighed
everything. What do you think I was doing this past week? Learning
to crochet? Do you think I decided to do this on a whim? Do
you have any idea how hard it was to...to..."
Buffy's breath caught abruptly in her throat and she stopped, blinking
rapidly against the tears that were threatening to fall again. She
frowned, took a deep breath, then managed to say waveringly: "Uh...can
we maybe postpone the whole let's-argue-and-make-Buffy-feel-guilty thing?
'Cause my arm really hurts." She flashed him what she hoped was an
endearing smile. Or maybe pathetic. Right now she would definitely
settle for pathetic.
"I promise to let you yell at me as much as you want later," she added
The Watcher's face softened. "Yes, of course. You've been
through a lot. I didn't mean... Sorry." Then, more sternly:
"But don't think you're going to get off easily for what you put us all
"Got it. A stay of execution, to be followed by penitence, repentance,
and remorse. Check." Buffy hesitated. "Um --I have to
ask though -- does anybody else know? About tonight, I mean?
And...and did Mom and Dawn listen to their tapes?" Buffy held her
breath, half dreading the response.
"No and no. Dawn discovered you were missing just before...er....dawn,
and your mother called me right away. There wasn't a chance to telephone
anyone else before you arrived."
Relief shuddered through her. At least she had spared Willow,
Xander and the others the same worry. "And...the tapes?"
Giles didn't look at her, focused instead on digging through the medical
kit. "Still where you left them, I imagine. I'd only just listened
to...ah... mine, when you came in."
"Good." Buffy sat back, relief going through her. She wasn't
sure how she would have handled it if everyone had heard the tapes.
Some things weren't meant to be said until after...after... Then
she frowned as another thought occurred to her. Maybe she was wrong.
Maybe...maybe those were the things that needed to be said the most.
Hesitantly, the Slayer looked back up at her Watcher. Really
looked at him this time. The signs of what he must have gone through
were still evident on his face, no matter how much he might be trying to
hide them. Worry. Fear. Anguish. Grief.
Remorse filled her.
"Giles -- I am so sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone by this.
And..." Buffy stared down at her right fist, curled tightly in her
lap, then swallowed deeply and continued. "...and I meant it."
"What I said before. In the tape."
"Oh. Ah. I...I know. And...and I do too, Buffy."
Their eyes met, then the Slayer smiled, some of her distress beginning
to fade, just a little. "So," she said, lifting her left arm slightly.
"You gonna first aid me or what?"
* * *
A vast smile kept threatening to take over Giles' face. He fought
the impulse away as he sat down in the empty chair beside the Slayer, concentrating
instead on getting the bottle of disinfectant open and pouring some of
the liquid onto the cloth in his hand.
The relief was incredible. She was still alive. When he
had first found the tape in her room addressed to him, had listened to
her voice in the darkness, thinking he would never see her alive again
-- well, he never wanted to experience those feelings as long as he lived.
The thought of her out there, alone in the dark, dying...
Hastily Giles shook the grisly thoughts aside. It wouldn't do
to dwell on it. He couldn't, not and do his job too. It was
hard enough as it was just watching her go out night after night to risk
life and limb, facing dangers that would never end, would never...
No. 'Just focus on the task at hand, Rupert,' he told himself firmly.
Like cleaning her wounds.
And finding out what had happened...
"So, the demon that did this is...?"
"Dead. Hasta la bye bye."
"Ah. Quite. So...what happened? Exactly?"
Instead of answering him, Buffy looked away and took another swallow
of the V8. Giles frowned slightly. He knew her well enough
by now to recognize evasiveness when he saw it. She was hiding something.
"Well?" he prompted as he gently began to wipe away some of the
dried blood on her arm.
She flinched violently at his touch, gritting her teeth against the
pain. "God, Giles, do you have to?"
"Oddly enough, yes. There's a wonderful new medical technique
called washing. Perhaps you've heard of it?"
"Not fair. I'm all hurt and you're being Sarcastic Giles.
Where's the sympathy, the caring Watcher shoulder to lean on, the...?"
"Busy patching you back up. And you're avoiding the question."
"Yes you..." Giles caught himself in time, stopping the argument
before it could escalate, before she could distract him from whatever it
was that she didn't want him to know. He tried another tack.
"How much blood did you lose?"
Buffy took a deep breath then responded slowly. "Not sure.
I was kind of passed out at the time. Some, I guess."
He glanced up from her wounds, trying to read her expression.
And that's when he noticed it -- almost but not quite hidden by her hair.
The Watcher frowned, his gaze sharpening -- and cold fear ripped suddenly
through his body.
"I see," he said. Then, moving quickly, Giles reached up and flicked
her hair back, revealing the mark on her neck -- the twin punctures that
were so obviously the results of a vampire's bite.
"And this?" he said flatly, his fingers resting on her neck just below
* * *
Buffy instinctively pulled back, dislodging her Watcher's grip, her
own hand going up to cover the mark. She had forgotten about that.
How could she have forgotten? Her hair must have hidden it from her
mother and Dawn, but Giles had seen it. He knew. Oh god.
Suddenly cold, she looked up into his eyes...and met worry and anger.
Lots of anger. But she didn't think it was directed at her
this time. She hoped.
He was saying nothing, waiting for her answer, for some explanation.
For a brief moment Buffy considered lying, or at the very least glossing
over what had happened... but she couldn't. Not really. She
owed him the truth -- or at least the PG-13, heavily abridged version of
it. Some of what had happened -- like certain Spike-based activities
--she was never going to tell anyone. Ever. But as for the
rest...well, she owed him the rest.
"Spike bit me," she said at last.
Something snapped. Buffy jumped, startled, then looked down, frowning
at the broken bottle in Giles' hand and the knuckles curving white around
it. Then she looked back up...to see an expression of sheer homicidal
rage on her Watcher's face.
"It's not what you think," she said hastily, visions of a Giles-turned-Ripper
heading out to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Spike, going through her
mind. "Well, not exactly. It was...I mean...I kind of let him."
OK. So not handling this well. Unable to meet Giles' eyes,
Buffy looked away, staring at the toaster. She took a deep breath
then started again.
"He helped me kill the demon. He's the one who bandaged my arm
and stopped me from bleeding to death. And...and it was Spike who
helped me get my vision back."
"And the bite?" The Watcher's voice was vibrating with tension,
as if he was controlling his emotions only by sheer force of will.
"He was dying. After...after what he had done, I couldn't let
that happen. So I...he...you know."
Giles carefully loosened his hand from around the remaining fragment
of the glass and set it gently on the table. "So -- and I just want
to make sure I have this straight -- you're saying that Spike, also known
as William the Bloody, killer of two Slayers -- saved you from a demon,
patched you back up, and then somehow restored your sight? After
which you freely allowed him to feed from you? Is that correct?"
"Ah. I see."
Silence. Buffy stared worriedly at the man as he continued working
on her arm. "Uh...Giles?"
"Fine, thank you."
"A sight to dream of, not to tell"
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Spike was dreaming. It was another one of those dreams,
the ones he had been having all too often lately. The Slayer was
in it. At first they had been fighting, all sweat and violence and
bodies clashing with one another. And then it had changed -- and
it was still sweat and violence and bodies clashing -- only it was better.
Much better. Buffy was naked on top of him, riding him, her body
And then the door to the crypt crashed open with enough force to shake
the building, and sunlight poured inward, its rays reaching a short way
into the gloom. Blurrily Spike managed to open his eyes...in time
to see a furious Watcher haul him to his feet by the collar of his coat
then slam him against the crypt wall, one hand going around his throat.
And the vampire came fully and violently awake as the burns on his back
came into sudden and agonizing contact with the wall.
"Bloody hell! What d'you think you're doing, mate?" Which
was when he finally noticed the stake in Giles' right hand, levelled at
his heart...and the murderous intent in the Watcher's eyes.
"I'll tell you what I'm doing, 'mate' -- I'm putting down a dangerous
animal." Giles raised the stake, preparing to bring it down on the
"Wait a minute!" A frantic note began to creep into Spike's voice.
"Remember the chip? I'm not a sodding danger to anyone anymore.
So what's this all about?"
"You bit Buffy!"
Memories flashing through his mind. The Slayer's blood gushing
down his throat. Her body convulsing beneath his. Nails digging
into his naked back.
"Yes. That. And unless you've got a good explanation, you're
history, Spike. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say."
Spike reached up one hand, trying to loosen the fingers around his throat,
then gave up. He was still too weak. And oddly enough, he couldn't
seem to care much, either way. So what if he got staked into dust?
Might be better all round. For everybody.
"Fine," he said at last. "Go ahead. But just tell me one
Giles' eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Is the Slayer OK?"
* * *
Bafflement shot through Giles, momentarily outweighing his fury.
For a moment Spike had almost sounded...concerned. Worried even.
"She'll be fine," he said shortly. "No thanks to you."
With that, Giles suddenly released Spike then hit him on the jaw.
The vampire flew backward across the crypt to land hard on the dirt floor
while the Watcher stalked menacingly toward him.
"We both know that Buffy would never let you feed off her, at least
not in her right mind. So I want to know what you did to her, you
manipulative bastard. What hold you managed to gain over her.
And get up so I can hit you again."
Spike reached up with one hand, touching the blood that was beginning
to trickle down one corner of his mouth, but he made no effort to stand.
"What's the point?" he said flatly. "If you're going to do it then
just get it bloody over with."
With an inward snarl, Giles bent down and hauled the vampire back up,
holding onto him by the duster's collar. "She was injured and you
fed off her," he said furiously. "You could have killed her."
"Yeah. I know."
Giles paused again, blinking. What the hell was going on?
Was that really...remorse? There had been no hint of mockery in the
vampire's voice, none of his usual self-satisfaction. But if Spike
had somehow found a way to circumvent the implant, to feed on Buffy...then
surely he would be more pleased with himself. More smug. Doubt
began to rise within the Watcher.
And at that moment the vampire shifted slightly, his coat falling open.
Giles glanced down...and felt shock go through him. Burns.
Cross-shaped burns. All over Spike's chest. Wordlessly the
Watcher took in the cut on the vampire's cheek, the bare feet, also burned
-- and then he abruptly released him, shoving the vampire violently away.
Spike staggered, barely keeping his footing then he shot a venomous
glare at the Watcher before limping back to his chair and sinking into
it, holding his side tightly with one hand. Giles stared at him for
a long moment then slowly lowered the stake.
"What happened to you?"
"Nothing. And if you're not gonna stake me then sod off.
I'm busy." The vampire closed his eyes, determinedly ignoring the
Giles hesitated then walked over to the tomb and leaned against it,
the stake going back inside his coat pocket. He could always use
it later if he had to. But in the meantime...he still needed answers.
Buffy had been -- less than forthcoming. Before heading upstairs
to bed and some much needed sleep, she had given him a confused tale of
something called a "Trial" -- which he was going to have to do some intensive
research on as soon as he got back to his shop. But there had been
huge gaps in her narrative, most notably whenever Spike seemed to come
into the story. She was obviously hiding something. Something
important. He hadn't had the heart to push for more information though,
not when she was still so weak and exhausted. It was a miracle really
that she had managed to stay on her feet as long as she did. The
loss of blood, combined with her injuries...well, it was a wonder she was
alive at all... And as for the fact that she could see...
Which was why he was here. What had Spike done to her? And
what was this Trial? Giles had enough experience with the Otherworld
to know there was always a price attached to their gifts...and the more
miraculous they were, the higher the price. He had to know what had
happened. Without that knowledge -- he wouldn't be able to protect
"Let's start again, shall we?" Giles said, a very Ripper-like smile
on his face. "You're going to tell me everything that happened tonight,
Spike. And if you leave anything out you'll wish I had killed you."
* * *
Spike opened his eyes and stared at Giles with weary hatred. 'Why
me?' he thought. 'The rest of it isn't bad enough, now I've got her
flaming Watcher out for my blood too.' Life used to be so simple.
Eating people, a little carnage and mayhem, Dru always beside him...
So where had it gone wrong? When had it all gotten so complex?
'When I fell in love with the sodding Slayer,' he answered himself.
And what had that gotten him? Pain, ridicule, contempt, more pain
-- Buffy in his arms, kissing him, holding him -- saving him. Her
blood was coursing through his veins at this very moment, the taste of
her still in his mouth. She was part of him now, he realized.
He couldn't change what had happened, couldn't go back to the way he used
to be, even if he wanted to. But he couldn't move forward either.
He didn't know how. And he probably wouldn't live long enough to
try, if her homicidal Watcher had any say in the matter.
"Or you'll what?" he said out loud. "Torture me till I tell you?"
"Seems appropriate, doesn't it?"
The vampire shifted slightly. "It was Angelus that did the torturing,
mate. Not me."
"No. You just watched. Now are you going to tell me about
this Trial or do I show you a little of what I learned that night?"
"You don't have the stones."
"You think not?" Giles' voice was softer now. More menacing.
Spike stared at him for a long moment. "OK," he said at last.
"Maybe you do. But how 'bout you tell me something -- like
what did Summers have to say about all this?"
"I'm looking for the unabridged version, Spike. The whole truth."
The vampire raised an eyebrow. "The Slayer keeping secrets from
her Watcher? That doesn't sound good," he taunted. "In fact,
it sounds like you two have got some serious trust issues..."
He broke off abruptly, his body rocking back from the right cross Giles
had dealt him. For a moment the world spun, then Spike shook off
the effects and grinned, licking the blood off his lower lip. "Hit
a nerve there, did I?"
"It's not going to work this time, Spike," Giles said, more calmly now.
"I'm not going to let you try to drive a wedge between us again.
Not that you could."
"No? Did all right last time, didn't I? That was quite the
sight, the four of you at each other's throats, all..."
"Enough!" The Watcher pulled the stake out again, holding it up
slightly. "Tonight, Spike. I want to know about tonight.
And what you did to her."
Spike nodded at the weapon with derision. "Can't talk if I'm dead."
The Watcher seemed to hesitate. "Maybe it would be better for
her if you were dead."
Spike leaned his head back against the chair. "Yeah," he said,
his voice flat and lifeless now. "It might at that."
* * *
There it was again. This whole conversation was...off, somehow.
Something was different, something Giles couldn't quite put his finger
on. But he would figure it out, he knew. Sooner or later.
In the meantime though...
"Did you really save her life?" he asked, watching Spike closely for
any signs of evasiveness.
"Is that what she said?"
"Then I guess I did. Three cheers for old Spike. Saved the
"And then you fed off her."
"She tell you that too?"
"She didn't need to. I saw the bitemark."
Something flickered across the vampire's face, so quickly that Giles
almost missed it. Remembered pleasure. Satisfaction.
And -- was that...possessiveness? The Watcher's anger, which had
been slowly subsiding, began to simmer again.
"How did you get round the implant, Spike?" That was the most
important question, really. If the vampire had somehow found a way
to circumvent its effects -- then he died. Right here, right now.
"I didn't," Spike said at last, obviously deciding that the Watcher
wasn't going to go away until he got what he had come for. "Turns
out the chip works on intent. If I don't plan to hurt her then it
doesn't do a bloody thing."
"But you did hurt her."
"There's hurt...and there's hurt. You should know that -- Ripper."
The vampire shot a mocking look at Giles. "You really want all the
details? Like how she asked for it. How much she enjoyed
it. The way she came under me, begging me not to stop, till..."
Spike's voice broke off as he stared down in surprise at the stake that
was suddenly protruding from his chest. Then he looked back up and
for a long moment the two men stared at each other, Spike's face contorted
with agony and dread...until the realization finally hit. "You missed,"
the vampire coughed at last, his body racked with tremors.
"No I didn't." With a quick yank, Giles pulled the stake back
out, calmly watching the way Spike cried out and clutched at his chest.
"Next one goes through the heart," he said icily.
Spike's voice was weak. "What do you want from me? D'you
want me to say I'm sorry I did it? That I'll be a good little vampire
from now on and leave the Slayer alone? Well I'm not, and I won't.
You want to know about the Trial? Go back and read those bloody books
you're so fond of. 'Cause what happened is between her and me.
She wants to tell you, that's her business. But I've said all I'm
going to. So either kill me or sod off."
With that, he closed his eyes again, curling slightly in the chair,
his arms going around the chest as if he could make the pain go away by
sheer force of will, suffering apparent in every line of his body.
And in that moment the suspicion that had been steadily growing within
Giles over the last few minutes suddenly crystallized. In that instant
he knew why the vampire was doing this, why he had saved Buffy's life,
and her sight.
Spike was in love with her.
Blindly the Watcher put the stake down on the tomb, trying to come to
grips with this new and rather alarming concept. A vampire in love
with the Slayer? Well, that wasn't unique, certainly, but Angel had
had a soul. Spike didn't. He was a demon, through and through.
And yet... Giles closed his eyes briefly. Maybe he should just
stake him, for real this time, and go away. Problem solved.
"Does she know?" the Watcher asked abruptly.
Spike reluctantly opened his eyes. "What?"
Giles sighed then abruptly picked up his stake and headed for the door.
The vampire twisted around in the chair to keep him in sight, groaning
and holding his chest as he did so.
"Know what? What the bleeding hell are you on about?"
There was a hint of panic in Spike's voice now, as if he was desperate
to cover up whatever it was he thought he might have let slip.
The Watcher paused by the door, looked back at him for a long moment,
then shook his head. "You poor bugger," he said quietly.
And with that he was gone.
"I have thee not and yet I see thee still"
-- William Shakespeare
ONE WEEK LATER:
'You know you wanna dance.'
Buffy woke from the dream, sitting bolt upright in bed, her heart pounding
and her body drenched with sweat. Then she closed her eyes tightly,
resting her head on her knees while she waited for the shaking to subside.
Not again. This was the -- what? Fourth? Fifth time
this week? Every night it seemed, as soon as she closed her eyes
-- Spike invaded her dreams. Talking to her. Taunting her.
Fighting with her. Holding her and... and...well, let's just say
the dreams gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "impaled on a Spike".
Buffy found herself blushing at the thought of what she and the vampire
had done again and again.
'You know you wanna dance.'
'That's it,' Buffy thought angrily, flinging the covers back and standing
up. 'Get the hell out of my head!' Sure, Spike had saved her
life and her sight, but that didn't mean he could take up lodging in her
subconscious mind and...and proceed to drive her crazy.
But what if they were somehow prophetic dreams? What if...?
No. No, they weren't. It was only because Riley was gone
that she was even...
Buffy sighed as she padded to the bathroom, barefoot, feeling the familiar
pang go through her. Riley was gone. He had left, shortly after
she had returned from the Trial. She didn't even know where he was
-- some jungle somewhere, fighting demons. Or something.
It hurt. But not as much as she thought it would. She certainly
didn't feel as devastated as she had when Angel had left. So did
that mean that she had never really loved Riley? Or that she hadn't
loved him enough?
Probably, the Slayer decided unhappily as she stared at her reflection
in the mirror. What was it about her anyway? Why wasn't a normal,
kind, everyday guy like Riley enough for her? Why was she always
attracted to the monsters, the demons, the 'bad boys'? Was it because
she was the Slayer? Or was it something else altogether?
Hesitantly Buffy raised one hand, lifting her hair away from her neck.
The bite was almost completely healed now, along with the gashes down her
left arm. But both had left scars -- the physical and the
mental kind. The Slayer leaned a little closer to the mirror, staring
pensively at the mark on her neck. Whether by accident or design,
Spike had somehow bitten her directly over top of Angel's scar, obscuring
the older one completely. 'Was that supposed to be symbolic?' she
wondered gloomily. Had he done it on purpose?
'You know you wanna dance.'
It was true, Buffy thought with a sinking heart. She did.
But not in the way Spike had meant it, that night in the alley. Or...maybe
it was the way he had intended all along. Looking back, she
realized that there had been undercurrents swirling between them
that night, things she wasn't aware of, didn't recognize, couldn't understand...
She still didn't know what all of them meant, but she knew one thing for
She wanted him.
Hastily Buffy released her hair and stepped back, reaching for the toothbrush
instead. It didn't matter, she thought determinedly, squeezing some
toothpaste onto it. Just because you want something doesn't always
mean you should go out and take it. She had learned that much, at
least, from Faith.
On the plus side, though, her mom's operation had been a success.
The relief was so strong she could almost taste it. And, strangely
enough, Buffy had found herself wanting to go tell Spike, of all people,
once it was over.
Not that she could have, even if she had given into the temptation.
The vampire, who had previously been underfoot constantly it seemed, was
nowhere to be found. She had actually gone to his crypt, the night
after her return, to make sure he was all right, even though Giles had
assured her that he was fine (and speaking of undercurrents, that
conversation with her Watcher had been majorly weird). Spike hadn't
been there though. In fact, she hadn't seen hide nor leather duster
of him since that night. In fact, if she didn't know better she would
say he was avoiding her.
With another sigh, Buffy put the toothbrush back and headed back to
her bedroom. Sometimes it felt like she was the modern-day equivalent
of Typhoid Mary. Buffy Summers - scourge of vampires...and boyfriends.
Feeling more than a little dejected, she closed her door and began to dress.
* * *
'You know you wanna dance.'
With his own words ringing in his ears, Spike awoke with a start...from
yet another x-rated dream involving the Slayer. With a groan he rolled
over on the tomb, wondering if he could get the images out of his head
if he banged it hard enough against the wall. It wasn't fair.
Not only was she haunting his nights, but now he couldn't even get her
out of his mind during the day. She was everywhere. Dru had
He had tried avoiding her. Her and her sodding Watcher.
No more following her around like some bloody housepet, he had told himself,
no more larcenous trips to her house to paw through her clothes.
No. Time to have a little dignity. Let her come to him for
a change. If she wanted to see him, she knew where he was.
Except...when she had come, he had ran away and hid. OK, he hadn't
really ran away -- just walked rapidly in the opposite direction, skulking
back furtively only after she had gone. And he knew why, too.
It was fear. Not the old, adrenaline-filled rush that the Slayer
might kill him, if he didn't get her first. No, this fear was much,
much worse. It was the feeling that he wouldn't be able to hide his
emotions from her any longer if she came face to face with him. That
she would see what he was feeling in his eyes...and she would laugh at
"Bugger!" Spike lashed out with one fist at the marble tomb, succeeding
only in making his knuckles bleed. He licked half-heartedly at them
then sat up, holding his head between both hands. What was he supposed
to do now?
* * *
Buffy blinked, staring down at the book as it thumped onto the table
in front of her, then looked back up at Giles. "And this would be...?"
The Watcher sat down across from her, the pleased expression of a paleontologist
who has just found the world's biggest fossil, on his face. "Information
about the Trial."
Buffy's gaze sharpened. After almost a week of searching she had
pretty much given up hope that they would find anything at all. None
of Giles' books had contained even a syllable about the Trial, and it had
taken some creative interlibrary loanage with just a touch of blackmail,
from what she could gather, to get hold of this one -- which might or might
not contain the information they were seeking.
"And?" She stared at him expectantly.
"And...well, I think you should read it."
She stared at the book doubtfully, then flipped it open. "Hello
-- Latin. Unlike you, Giles, my knowledge of Latin begins and ends
with Antonio Banderas."
"Oh. Sorry. I meant this." He quickly handed her a
sheaf of papers.
"And...to repeat myself...this would be?"
"The English translation."
It was dauntingly thick. Buffy shot him a winning look.
"Couldn't you just tell me the Slayer-friendly, Cliff Note's version?"
"Ah...I rather think you'll want to read this yourself."
Buffy frowned. "Giles," she said slowly, "what aren't you telling
me?" Silence. "Come on. You've been acting wiggy ever
since I came back. What's going on?"
He turned away to fiddle with some books. "Ah...I..."
"All right." With that he turned back and met her gaze.
"Buffy -- what are your feelings for Spike?"
Her jaw dropped open. Whatever she had been expecting -- it wasn't
that. And...what were her feelings for Spike anyway?
Lust. Need. Dislike. Desire. Passion. And
a dozen more that she couldn't even put a name to. And none of which
she could tell her Watcher.
She swallowed hard. "Um...why?"
He nodded at the papers. "Just read those."
* * *
Buffy leaned back on her bed, letting the last page fall to the floor
as she rubbed her left arm absently. It had healed a little slower
than usual, she had found, and was still somewhat sore despite the careful
exercises that Giles had designed to strengthen it. And then there
were the scars... Buffy turned her forearm slightly. The gashes
from demon's claws had turned to three long lines, white against the darker
colour of her skin, running down the full length of her arm. A reminder
of what had happened.
As if she could ever forget. Buffy tilted her head back, closing
her eyes as she sifted through her memories of that night. Fear.
Sadness. Determination. Pain and blood. And then Spike.
Always there, never leaving her. He had saved her. From the
demon, from herself... But why? That was the one question he
had never really answered. Why had he done it? What possible
reason could a vampire have for saving the Slayer?
And...how much did he have to give up to do it?
Buffy leaned over and picked up the last page again, staring down at
it blindly. Most of the text had been pretty boring, she had found.
Guesswork mainly. Various scholars' attempts to record what they
thought the Trial was, speculation as to its true purpose.
But nothing useful. Except for the last page.
It was a relatively straightforward account of one champion who had
failed. Actually, most of them had failed, from what she could
tell (the author wasn't really big on details, despite his or her apparent
ardour for footnotes). But this story was different -- this one said
why the champion had failed.
Because he had not made the ultimate sacrifice.
Which, by extension, meant that Spike had. Made the ultimate sacrifice.
Which, again, brought her right back to the why. And the what.
The Slayer scowled, rubbing her forehead with one hand. This whole
thing was giving her a headache. First there was Spike haunting her
every moment, waking and sleeping, pervading her dreams so that
she woke up each morning feeling as if she had had no sleep at all.
And now this. Why did things have to be so complicated? Why
couldn't she just put it all behind her?
Because...because he had made an ultimate sacrifice for her. And
because he had kissed her.
And she had kissed him back.
So -- what were her choices really? She could go on as she was,
letting this slowly drive her insane. Or she could do something about
Which was no choice at all. And she had always preferred action
over the alternative.
'You know you wanna dance.'
Resolutely now, Buffy got up, pulled on her coat, tucked a pair of stakes
into her pockets, then headed for the doorway. Once there, she paused
briefly, as if debating the wisdom of what she was about to do...then she
opened it and headed out.
"If eyes were made for seeing"
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was easier than Buffy had expected to find her way back to the Trial.
In the end it had simply been a matter of going to the cemetery (carefully
bypassing Spike's crypt), closing her eyes, and trying to retrace her steps.
Fortunately it was dark and the streets were mostly deserted, so she didn't
look quite as foolish as she expected -- even when she did walk full tilt
into a streetlamp.
At least, she hoped she didn't look foolish.
It didn't seem to take as long either. In fact, the journey was
a lot shorter than she remembered. Granted, this time she wasn't
bleeding, blind, and in agony, but still... Of course, Spike had
told her that the Trial tended to move around, so maybe it had relocated
itself for her convenience tonight. Buffy had the faint but growing
suspicion that she could have walked in any direction, for any length of
time, and she would still have ended up precisely where she was -- staring
down at an empty pool.
'I trusted him and he made me jump into that?' was the Slayer's first
Her second was: "This had better be worth it."
Then, after one more moment's hesitation, she took a deep breath, closed
her eyes...and stepped forward, dropping like a rock.
* * *
Buffy landed gracefully, rolling across a stone floor in a torchlit
room that felt just the same as the one she had been in before,
coming back to her feet in one smooth movement.
"Welcome back, my dear," a familiar voice said.
The Slayer straightened hastily then turned, brushing her hair back
with one hand as she peered into the shadows. It was the Valet.
He looked just as she remembered him, from the one fleeting glimpse she
had had after her vision had been restored -- small, dark hair, and clothes
that looked as if they had been stolen from the set of Masterpiece Theatre.
"Welcome," he said again. "We've been expecting you. Although
I did think you might show up rather sooner." He pulled a gold pocket
watch out of his vest, glanced down at it then shrugged and put it away.
"Still," he continued. "Better late than never. I'm sure
you've been quite busy with the...er...slaying of things."
Buffy frowned. "Let's get something straight," she said.
"I appreciate what you did for me, but I still think your methods suck.
So why don't we skip the polite chitchat and just get on with it?"
The Valet nodded, staring at her appraisingly. "I quite agree.
Time is at a premium just now. But then, it always is. So --
you are here because you wish to know what your champion's sacrifice entailed
and why he was willing to make it for you. Correct?"
Buffy stared at him in consternation. How did he know that?
Then she remembered -- he could read her mind. For a moment hostility
flared within her but she forced her body to relax. What did it matter,
really? He could read her mind. Well, so what? If that's
what it took to get the answers she had come for...then fine.
Oh, who was she kidding? The thought of anyone sifting through
her head, reading her deepest thoughts, was enough to send her blood pressure
soaring. In fact, it made her want to kill things. Lots of
things. Very slowly and painfully. Buffy focused her mind on
the last thought, smiling slightly when the Valet paled and took a step
"Ah...may I remind you that violence is not be allowed on the premises?"
he said, a little nervously.
The Slayer bit back a laugh of disbelief. "Not allowed?
So last week was what? All-You-Can-Kill-Tuesday? Two for the
price of one?"
"And neither do we appreciate sarcasm. The Trial is...the Trial.
And I didn't hear any complaints from you at the time, as it happens."
"Well you would have heard them if you hadn't been so busy gloating
and pouring tea all over the place. I told you that..."
He interrupted her. "So are you saying that you wish to return
your prize, Miss Summers? Because we can certainly do that.
No trouble at all."
That stopped Buffy cold. She stared at him for a long moment then
shut her eyes briefly.
"No," she said at last. "I don't." She certainly wasn't
willing to give up her eyesight. One week of blindness was one week
too many. Her emotions beginning to cool once more, Buffy gave the
Valet what she hoped was an apologetic look (difficult, since she wasn't
feel in the least repentant) and said more calmly:
"No. I'll keep the...er...prize, and yes, I do want to know about
The man still looked cross. "Well did it ever occur to you to
just ask him?"
She shifted uncomfortably. "I did. He wouldn't say."
The Valet sighed. "Then it appears that our efforts on your behalf
were unsuccessful. Oh dear. This is quite unusual. I
told them dealing with Slayers was notoriously difficult, but they said
everything would work out in the end. They never listen to me, you
Buffy frowned. This conversation was becoming increasingly surreal.
They? They who? And what was that about Slayers?
"How many Slayers have come here?" she asked, genuine curiosity in her
The Valet was still frowning worriedly, his mind clearly on other things.
"Oh, not many," he said vaguely. "Most of them don't survive long
enough to need our services. In fact, most of them wouldn't appreciate
Enlightenment if it was handed to them on a silver platter. Ungrateful
lot, on the whole."
"Thanks so much," she said dryly. "Uh...enlightenment?"
His gaze suddenly sharpened, his attention focusing back on her.
"My dear Miss Summers -- did you honestly believe that the sole purpose
of your trial was just to give you back your eyesight?"
Buffy blinked. "Wasn't it?"
"No, of course not. Really, my dear. Do try to be less obtuse."
Another flicker of anger. "OK," she said sharply. "Why don't
you tell me what you're talking about then? And try not to use any
big words because I'm just a simple Slayer and might not be able to understand
anything with more than one syllable. Or maybe you'd like to draw
a picture for me with bright colours and funny animals..."
The Valet pinched his forehead. "Please. Sarcasm."
"Oh very well. I suppose we are obligated since your trial appears
to have been rendered null and void. We do guarantee satisfaction
after all -- can't have you sullying our good name."
"Yeah, certainly can't have that."
The Valet glowered at her. "This facility's purpose," he began,
his voice as near a growl as she had ever heard it, "is not for details
such as saving lives or restoring vision, although those are indeed useful
by-products of what we do. No, our purpose is Enlightenment.
Understanding. The promotion of self-awareness and perception.
"OK, can we fast forward past the infomercial? Because I get it."
"Slayers!" The Valet sighed again. "All right, Miss Summers.
Here is your answer in terms which even you will understand -- I hope.
The 'point,' as you would say, is that the Trial provides a means of understanding
oneself. Your champion, for example, learned something very important,
during the course of his trial. You were supposed to learn from it
as well, but it would appear that you did not. I suspect it was your
antipathy toward young Spike that contributed to that failure."
Buffy glared at him. "I am not antipathetic. And yes, I
do know what the word means."
"Then I can only conclude that it was due to your own natural stubbornness.
If you would just..."
"Enough already!" Suddenly the urge to just throw up her hands
and turn around and leave was almost too strong to bear. She didn't
need this. She didn't need this annoying little man and she certainly
didn't need the weirdness that had been besetting her for the past two
weeks. 'Why me?' Buffy thought bitterly. Why did things have
to get so complicated? All she had wanted was a few answers about
what had happened to her, a little insight into a certain bleached blond
vampire, maybe. But now it turned out she was supposed to find 'Enlightenment'.
"So what exactly was I supposed to figure out?" she asked drily.
"And what did Spike learn?"
"Two very interesting questions indeed." The Valet straightened
his shoulders. "All right, Miss Summers. As I said, we are
obligated to finish what we began. But do try to keep your displays
of temper to a minimum. I do not wish to have to replace another
"If you get anywhere near a point..."
"And please remember," the Valet went on determinedly, "that our dealings
are concluded after this. You will not be allowed to return here.
Because, quite frankly, you give me a headache."
Buffy shot him a look. "Likewise, Jeeves."
The Valet frowned at her then abruptly pivoted on his heel, heading
towards a small arched doorway that Buffy would have sworn wasn't there
a moment ago. She blinked, trying to see what lay beyond it, but
could see nothing but darkness and shadows, swirling like fog.
The Valet paused impatiently on the threshold and glanced back at her.
"Well? Are you coming?"
"What's through there?"
"Knowledge, my dear Slayer. Knowledge."
"My blindness is my sight"
-- Alice Cary
'Knowledge,' he had said. Buffy didn't want this kind of knowledge.
Didn't want to see the things she had seen.
Buffy still wasn't sure whether she had actually gone back in time,
or if she was somehow merely seeing the events that had taken place a week
ago. Whichever it was, she had somehow found herself back at Spike's
trial, watching events unfold but unable to intervene in any way.
Which she would have, if she could.
The first two Trials had been...blatant acts of cruelty. Spike
had been forced to take on a bigger, stronger, armed opponent, with
only his wits and his speed to rely on. That had been when he had
injured his leg. As for the second Trial -- asking a half-naked barefoot
vampire to cross a corridor lined with crosses and then have to reach into
a container of holy water for the key to open the door...
God. It was sick. A shudder of revulsion went through the
Slayer, along with a sense of shame at the part she had played in all this.
If she hadn't agreed to come here then none of this would have happened.
She wouldn't wish this torture -- there was no other word for it -- on
her worst enemy, let alone on...on whatever Spike was now.
He certainly wasn't her enemy anymore, Buffy thought bitterly, as she
followed the Valet through yet another doorway. If nothing else,
what she had seen here today had proven that. For the vampire to
go through so much for her, to endure such pain... No, they weren't
enemies any longer.
But, while she might know what he wasn't, she still didn't know what
he was. And that, according to the Valet, was what she was here to
Buffy bit her lip, her thoughts still racing, then came to a sudden
halt when she she realized that the Valet had stopped moving. She
looked up and saw...
Spike. A dozen feet away, half-naked, badly burned, and hanging
from two long chains that had him spreadeagled in the centre of the room,
his head lolling forward upon his chest.
Once again it was all she could do not to act, not to try to change
things. But she knew she couldn't. She was as insubstantial
as a ghost here. And the helplessness was driving her crazy.
To be forced to watch while someone suffered for her...it was horrible.
"I've had enough," Buffy said abruptly. "I don't want to see anymore."
The Valet -- the one from her own time -- turned to look at her.
"But there is still the final Trial to go."
"Unlike you, I don't get my jollies watching other people get tortured.
I've seen enough."
The Valet smiled coldly. "Actually, to paraphrase one of your
Hollywood icons, I believe -- you haven't seen anything yet."
The Slayer closed her eyes. Damn him. And damn her.
She should never have come back here. But she had and it was too
late now. She had to see this through, no matter how difficult it
might be. Reluctantly she opened her eyes and focused on the bound
vampire. The burns on his chest and back were clearer now than when
she had seen him last week, with only the quarter moon to illuminate his
injuries. So many burns. And so much pain. Why?
She must have asked the question out loud, or else the Valet was reading
her mind again, because he answered her softly. "It was necessary.
Now -- shhh."
Unhappily, the Slayer turned back to Spike, flinching at the sight of
the chains biting into his wrists and the blood soaking through the leg
of his black jeans, as she steeled herself once more to watch...and do
* * *
Spike was hanging limply in the chains, barely conscious. The
Valet from the past moved close beside him, gazing emotionlessly at the
"You've done very well to get this far," the small man began calmly,
"but you should end this now, while you still can."
Spike raised his head -- Buffy's jaw tightened at the livid cut just
under his left eye -- and met his gaze. "Does th' Slayer get her
sight back if I do?" His speech was slurred and laden with pain.
A pause. "Well, no. Not unless you pass the third test."
"Then bring it on. Gettin' tired of hangin' around here..."
"As you wish." With that, the Valet stepped aside and raised one
hand slightly...and the far wall that had previously been shrouded in darkness
began to move forward, just enough to allow the flickering lights to illuminate
the hundreds of wooden stakes -- all lined up in rows and pointing at Spike.
The vampire frowned at them blearily, trying to focus. "What am
I s'pposed to do now?"
"You're supposed to die."
Spike seemed to gather a little strength at the Valet's words, standing
a bit straighter in the chains. "That's the third trial?"
"Yes. A life for a life."
Spike shook his head, as if trying to clear his pain-fogged thoughts.
"But it's not a life for a bloody life, is it? 'Cause I'm not alive...and
we're only talking about her eyes anyway. Not her sodding life."
The Valet smiled slightly. "Semantics. We both know that
it is indeed Miss Summer's life under discussion here. You yourself
came to the same conclusion earlier tonight --if your Slayer does not regain
her sight she will die. So the choice is up to you.
Her life or yours. But you only have to say the word and I will release
you right now. You may leave us in peace."
Spike swallowed painfully. "What about her?"
"She will die of course." The Valet leaned a little closer.
"But really -- why should that matter to you? You are a vampire and
she is the Slayer. She cares nothing for you. One day she will
most certainly kill you. It's what she does, what she is. Wouldn't
you rather just end all this and walk away, free and clear?"
The man paused, then went on. "In fact -- because you have completed
the first two challenges, I can even offer you what you most desire...if
you stop this final Trial now."
Spike merely stared wearily at him, saying nothing.
"The implant." The Valet's voice lowered persuasively. "We
can remove it for you. Here and now. It will be quite painless
and I assure you there will be no lasting effects. You will be exactly
as you were before your capture. Come now -- is that not worth the
life of one Slayer?"
The vampire froze, staring at the Valet in disbelief. Buffy could
see various emotions warring on Spike's face - disbelief, hope, need...and
something else altogether, something she was afraid to put a name to.
And she found herself holding her breath, her fingernails digging deeply
into her palms, even though some part of her was aware that all this had
taken place days ago.
And that's when it hit. Realization. This was what
she had come here for, this was the answer she had been seeking.
But a tremor went through her. Did she really want to know?
If she did, everything could change. She wouldn't be able to ignore
the truth any longer, wouldn't be able to lie to herself...
Lie to herself. Was what she had been doing? Was it possibly
she had known the truth all along but was simply too afraid to accept it?
Beside her the Valet -- her Valet -- shifted, making a tiny self-satisfied
sound. Buffy glanced at him, frowning at the pleased smile on his
And then her attention was drawn back to the vampire in chains before
her who had still not moved or spoken. Hesitantly, Buffy took another
step forward, raising a hand as if to touch him, then let her arm fall
limply to her side. 'Spike,' she thought despairingly.
The other Valet was still waiting. A long moment passed then at
last the vampire shook his head.
"No," he said simply.
"You do understand the offer, don't you? The implant..."
"I understand your flaming offer, but the answer's still no. And
just get a bloody move on, will you?" Spike's voice was shaking now,
from both pain and anger.
The Valet did not stir. "You are refusing our offer, then, to
remove your implant and release you from this final challenge? And
you freely offer your life in return for Miss Summer's vision. Is
Another long moment passed. Spike did not move, did not even blink,
his eyes unfocused and distant. Finally though, something flashed
across his face and then was gone, as suddenly as it had appeared.
And he nodded once, slowly.
"Yeah," he said wearily. "That's right."
* * *
Buffy froze. She didn't -- couldn't -- believe it. Spike
would never give up his life, a chance at freedom, for her. And yet
he had. And...somehow she wasn't surprised. Not really, not
deep down. Because somehow, she had known all along.
The book had been right. This was all about making the ultimate
sacrifice. And Spike had just done that.
But why? For him to do that, to even consider it, that meant that...
Buffy shivered, her mind skittering fearfully away from the thought.
It couldn't be true. It couldn't.
Except it was. It had to be.
Spike loved her. Enough to die for her.
Buffy could feel the blood draining away from her face, shock and disbelief
pouring through her --
-- and the Valet leaned closer, whispering in her ear. "So
now your eyes are truly opened. Your Trial is now complete."
And with that, everything vanished. The Slayer blinked... and
found herself back in the first room, the torches still casting shadows
on the wall, the Valet standing beside her.
Buffy did not look at him, did not even move. She was too busy
trying to deal with the sudden maelstrom of emotions swirling chaotically
inside her. Too much. Too much information. She didn't
want to deal with this right now. Didn't want to have to face the
truth. Because if she did, if she admitted to herself that it was
true...then her whole world would change. If Spike, a soulless vampire,
was capable of so much love, of so much self-sacrifice, then...then she
had been wrong. Wrong about him. And about so much else.
"Ahem." It was the Valet. The Slayer turned to him, her
He gave her faintly sympathetic look. "Enlightenment is never
easy, is it?"
No. No, it damned well wasn't. But -- it was better than
"I need to go now," Buffy said numbly, not looking at him.
"Yes. Well...I wish you luck. And I do hope things work
out. Goodbye, Miss Summers. And remember -- your dealings with
us are now finished."
And with that, the world changed...
...and she was outside once more, standing in the cool night air beneath
the stars, staring down at the empty swimming pool. Everything was
exactly as it had been when she has first arrived...
...but nothing was the same anymore.
Nothing would ever be the same.
"I see thee better in the dark"
-- Emily Dickinson
Buffy found herself walking back to the cemetery, her mind whirling.
She had tried not to think as she had left the Trial, and she had tried
not thinking as she made her way back through the dark streets, but it
hadn't worked. Thoughts kept popping stubbornly to the surface of
her mind, flashes of memory going through her while she walked.
The first time she had met Spike, in that dark alley so long ago...
Her mom hitting him over the head with an axe... Spike, stopping
his minions from wreaking havoc when she had threatened to kill Drusilla...
Her uneasy alliance with the vampire and the bizarre image of him sitting
at her kitchen table drinking hot chocolate... The vampire chained
up in Giles' bathtub...almost destroying her relationship with her friends...and
saving her life. The moment when he had sat down beside her on the
back porch with kind words -- and a shotgun. The kiss -- kisses.
The memory of his weight on top of hers, his fangs locked in her throat...and
most of all, the image of his burned and scarred body hanging from chains
while he calmly gave up everything that mattered most to him. For
her. All for her.
He loved her.
Spike loved her.
Somehow Buffy couldn't quite make that sink in. She knew it was
true, knew that what her instincts had been telling her all along was correct,
but still...she couldn't make herself believe it.
Why? How? Why would he possibly...? No. Buffy
shook her head unhappily...then went back to the not-thinking.
It even worked for a while -- right up until the moment she found herself
outside Spike's door.
* * *
Spike twisted around in his chair, a warning tremor going through him.
She was here. Just outside the crypt. He could smell her.
He didn't need this right now. One look and she'd probably guess
everything. His feelings were probably written all over his face.
Wearing his bloody heart on his bloody sleeve, he was. Sodding wonderful.
Just what he needed.
But then again -- this was better than the alternative, right?
Hiding out in his crypt, diving around corners whenever he saw her.
No. Let her come. He wasn't William the Bloody Wanker, for
god's sake. He was Spike. And it was high time he started acting
The door swung open behind him but the vampire carefully did not move,
his gaze remaining on the TV in front of him. All his other senses,
however, locked on the Slayer the moment she entered, tracking her as she
stepped into the crypt, coming to a hesitant stop a few paces back.
"Summers," Spike said casually, not looking behind him. "Still
Buffy didn't answer him. Instead she moved forward, crossing in
front of him, then reached down and turned off the television.
"Hey! I was watching that!"
"Newsflash, Spike. The ship sinks. Jack drowns."
"And thank you very bloody much." He glowered at her. "So
what do you want now? More help saving the world? Battling
the bad guys? A few more lessons on Slayer slaying?" He paused,
a grin appearing on his face. "Or would it be Slayer saving this
She shifted her weight, looking uncomfortable.
"I need to talk to you."
"Well, since you just ruined the movie and the only other thing on right
now is 'Jerry Springer', which I'd rather be buried six feet under again
than have to watch, I'd say you've got my undivided attention. So
what's the topic of conversation gonna be this time?"
Buffy hesitated, then said flatly: "I went back to the Trial."
Spike froze, staring up at her in disbelief. "You what?"
"I went back."
She swallowed. "I...I had to know what you did. What your...sacrifice
Ice began to form in the pit of Spike's stomach and his mind started
spinning in circles. Big, violent, nerve-wrenching circles.
She knew? Bloody hell. What was he supposed to say now?
How could he explain?
He gave it a good try though.
"Well, don't flatter yourself, Slayer. It was...I was... just
wanted to make sure I'd be the one what finally kills you. Didn't
want some demon to get all the fun..."
Bollocks. That was terrible. He could do better than that,
right? He thought for a moment. No. No he couldn't.
And then he was on his feet, trying to put some much needed distance
between them while he attempted to figure out what to do, how to handle
"It's not all about you, you know," he said belligerently. "I
mean, it may have looked like I was doing it for you, but really,
I was just..."
"Spike!" Buffy spoke more forcefully this time, cutting him off
The vampire swallowed then turned and looked at her with just a hint
of trepidation on his face.
The Slayer took a step toward him, her eyes boring into his. And
she said, very slowly:
"Do you love me?"
* * *
Buffy stared unblinkingly at Spike, waiting. She knew the answer
already -- really she did -- but there was still that one small uncertainty
in the back of her mind. And she had to know. Somewhere along
the way she had decided, even if only on a subconscious level, that she
had to know the truth, no matter how difficult it might be. She had
to hear him say it. Only then would she be able to decide what to
do. Only then could she face her own feelings.
The vampire swallowed again, an expression of sheer panic flashing across
his face, tension written in every line of his body.
She shook her head. "No. Just one word, Spike. Yes
or no. Do you love me?"
Another endless pause. Buffy noticed distantly that her nails
were once more digging into her hands and she forced herself to relax.
Finally though, Spike's shoulders straightened, his chin came up...and
he met her eyes unwaveringly.
* * *
Time seemed to crash to a halt. Finally the silence became too
much for Spike to bear.
"I know you don't feel that way about me..." he began hesitantly.
Buffy shook her head. "No. I don't."
It shouldn't hurt this much. Really it shouldn't. He had
known all along that she didn't love him, probably never would...
But to actually hear her say it, to shred all his hopes -- and his heart
-- like this...
Anguish tore through Spike, ripping through every aspect of his being.
So this was what being staked through the heart felt like, he realized
distantly. He had suffered his fair share of pain in his time, a
hell of a lot of it in just the past week, but this...this was beyond words.
Nothing had ever hurt quite this much. Nothing. It felt as
though small pieces of himself were crumbling away, breaking off into some
void that threatened to consume him.
And suddenly the need to hurt her back was too much to bear. His
fists clenching, Spike took a step forward and said viciously:
"You really are a piece of work. A right little bitch. This
is all some game to you, isn't it? Make Spike admit he's gone all
soft then spit in his face. So what's next? You go back to
your little fanclub and you all have a good laugh together? Laugh
at the vampire that's got the hots for the Slayer..."
He ignored her, his voice trampling over hers. "You don't care,
do you? Just 'cause you've been hurt in the past, you think that
gives you the right to do anything you want, hurt whoever you like..."
Buffy took an angry step forward. "Will you let me finish?"
"Why? So you can twist the knife a bit more? No thanks.
I can see why Angel left you. Self-bloody-preservation..."
* * *
That did it. Without warning Buffy's fist slammed into Spike and
he crashed to the floor, laying still for a moment, slightly stunned.
Then she stepped forward and stood over him, speaking coldly.
"I'm going to ignore that last comment. And you're going to shut
the hell up so I can finish."
Spike raised one hand to his jaw, glaring up at her with something very
close to hatred in his eyes. But he remained silent.
This wasn't going the way Buffy had planned. Actually, she hadn't
planned it at all -- hence the problem. But she couldn't change things
now. All she could do was move on. And to do that, she had
to be completely honest with him. And herself. No more holding
back. It wouldn't be easy and it was probably going to hurt like
hell...but it had to be done.
After all, she had no choice.
"What did you expect me to say, Spike?" Buffy's voice was calmer
now, only a faint tremor in her body betraying the myriad emotions running
through her. "Did you really think I would declare my undying love
for you just because you saved my life? Well, I'm sorry, but that
sort of thing only happens in bad romance novels. One good deed isn't
enough to make up for 120 years of carnage. I can't just forget what
you are, what you've done."
He snarled up at her, pain etched on his face. "That's rich, coming
from you. You were all over Angel from the minute you met him, weren't
you? Never asked what kind of a monster he was. If you'd seen
some of the things he did, you'd..."
"Shut up," Buffy snapped. "When I said I didn't love you,
that was the truth. But...it wasn't the whole truth.
And...and you deserve to know everything."
She took a deep steadying breath, then continued.
"Part of me hates you, for what you've done to me and my friends, for
what you did in the past. I've read the Watcher's journals, Spike.
I know how dangerous you were. Still are. Part of me is afraid
of you, of what you might do if you ever get that chip out of your head.
And an even bigger part says you're not trustworthy and never will be."
He climbed to his feet slowly, glowering at her. "You're really
enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Not really," she said flatly. "And I'm not done yet. You
see, the part you don't know is that it...it's not just hate and fear between
us anymore, Spike. Something's changed. I'm not sure when it
happened. Maybe when you saved my life last week. Maybe earlier.
I don't know. What I do know is that you've always understood me
better than anyone else. More than my family, more than Giles even.
Definitely more than Riley ever did. You...you can see right through
me, see through all the lies I tell myself and no one else has ever been
able to do that. And while most of the time I hate that...sometimes
I find it comforting too. How strange is that?"
She smiled painfully, crookedly, then went on, not waiting for an answer.
"A lot of the time I think you're bad for me. But sometimes I
think you're the only one I can ever be with, should ever be with.
When I'm with you Spike -- I can be myself. I don't have to pretend
to be something I'm not. I can just let go. No one else has
ever done that for me. Not even Angel."
"So I guess it doesn't matter if part of me still thinks you're a killer,
if I don't know if I can trust you, or even if you're bad for me.
Because there's a much bigger part of me saying...saying..."
Her voice trailed off. She couldn't go on, couldn't get the words
out. Her throat was tightening, fear clenching in her stomach.
She couldn't do it. She didn't have the courage.
"Saying what?" The anger was almost gone from Spike's voice now,
only a faint residue of hurt still remaining. But there was something
else in his eyes...something that gave Buffy the nerve to take that final
step. The step that would change everything between them.
It came out as a whisper, so faint that only a vampire could have heard
"I want you," she said.
"Blind and naked"
-- Alfred Tennyson
"I want you."
Spike froze. "You what?"
Buffy licked her lips, having to force the words out through the fear
that was threatening to overwhelm her. She hadn't thought it would
be this difficult.
"I...I..." It wasn't working. She couldn't seem to make
herself say it. Not again.
Spike eyed her for a long moment, then slowly began to move forward,
the pain on his face beginning to dissolve. And something else was
taking up residence there. Disbelief. Shock. And then
anticipation. And hunger. A predatory gleam appeared in his
eyes and Buffy instinctively took a step back, swallowing hard. He
was stalking her, she realized, like some big cat. She moved away
again, her heart-rate increasing. This was a mistake. She should
never have come here. She should just go and...
...and then he was on her, moving as fast as she had ever seen him.
One hand twisted roughly in her hair, pulling her head back and baring
her throat to him while the other wrapped tightly around her right wrist,
holding away the stake that had suddenly materialized in her hand.
Buffy could have fought him, could have pulled free...but something
inside wouldn't let her. For a long moment she stared at him, frozen,
her heart racing -- then Spike gave the weapon a slow, sideways glance,
a wolfish grin appearing on his face.
"You gonna use that?"
Was she? No. Probably not. Maybe.
She didn't answer him. "Let me go," Buffy said instead, as forcefully
as she could.
He lowered his voice. "That really what you want?"
A long pause. A really long pause. Entire civilizations
rose and fell while Buffy stood there, her chest heaving. And
finally, staring into the vampire's eyes, the Slayer loosened her grip,
allowing the weapon to fall to the ground beside her.
And, as quickly as that, Spike had seized her and swung her around,
slamming her up against the crypt wall. Buffy gasped at the impact...then
froze as he traced one fingertip along the side of her jaw and down her
throat, dipping even lower until it was just inside her shirt. She
shivered but still made no effort to move.
"Tell me what you want," the vampire whispered, his voice hot and seductive,
his mouth close to her ear.
The Slayer licked her lips nervously, watching as he moved back enough
to look into her eyes... And in that moment she reached a decision.
"I want you," Buffy said at last. "Hard. Now. Inside
And, as if that was what he had been waiting for, Spike abruptly reached
for her shirt, yanking it over her head in one quick movement and tossing
it onto the ground. Cool air met Buffy's suddenly exposed flesh and
she shivered... the shiver becoming a deep shudder as Spike tore away her
"You want hard," he said, his voice rough. "I'll give you hard."
And then he bent his head to her breast, his mouth closing around it,
sucking and pulling, his teeth almost, but not quite, breaking the skin.
Buffy gasped, one hand going to the back of his neck, holding him against
her while his left hand plunged inside her leather pants, delving deeply.
Automatically, the Slayer spread her legs, just a little, giving him
better access. She was panting in earnest now, her heart pounding
as her body tried to keep up with this sudden assault on her senses.
The fingers of her left hand curled tightly in Spike's hair while her other
arm went across his back, running across his corded muscles. Then,
with no warning at all, he plunged two fingers inside her, as far as they
would go. Buffy stiffened and inhaled sharply, her head arching back
"That's not gonna save you now."
Spike withdrew his fingers part way, then plunged them into her again...and
tremors began to go through the Slayer, her legs starting to shake uncontrollably.
"Spike..." It came out as a moan.
He withdrew his hand, his fingers wet, and Buffy whimpered. Then,
not pausing, he undid her pants and yanked them, along with her underwear,
partway down her thighs.
She was almost completely naked, Buffy realized dimly, while he was
still fully clothed. Weakly she reached for his t-shirt -- but he
batted her hands away, his mouth descending ruthlessly on hers while his
hand went to the zipper of his own jeans.
It was a complete invasion. Spike's tongue was thrusting forward,
past her lips while his free hand returned to her breast, tightening around
it, almost to the point of pain, his thumb running over her nipple.
And then his jeans were undone, pushed down just enough to free his erection,
its hardness pressing insistently against her.
She wasn't going to be able to stop this, Buffy recognized distantly.
She was at a complete disadvantage, pressed against the wall like this,
her leather pants effectively binding her legs while Spike's weight held
the rest of her prisoner. She might be able to stop him, if
she really tried...if she really wanted to. He might even stop if
she asked him...but she didn't know for certain. And the not knowing,
the realization that she wasn't the one in control anymore, that he could
do what he liked...
Oh god. It was a turn on. And it was like nothing she had
ever experienced before. Angel had been a tender lover. Riley
had been kind and loving but had lacked her strength and stamina.
Parker was just a mistake. But this -- this was pure force and aggression,
primal in its intensity. Dangerous.
Moving even more swiftly now, Spike seized both her wrists, pinning
them against the wall beside her head...and then, with one savage move,
he drove himself completely inside her. The Slayer convulsed almost
instantly, calling out his name. Supernovae seemed to be exploding
behind her eyes while great tremors racked her body. And through
it all, the vampire held himself back -- filling her, stretching her as
she had never been stretched before...but hardly moving.
An eternity or two passed while Buffy was rocked with pleasure.
Finally though, the shocks began to subside, just a little, and she managed
to open her eyes, trying to focus. Her head was resting on Spike's
shoulder, she realized, her hands still pinned behind her...and he was
moving again now, withdrawing almost completely. Then he slammed
back into her so that her body rocked back with the force of it, her back
hitting the wall with each thrust. And Buffy moaned, unable to do
much for the moment except hold on.
* * *
Her heat was incredible. Spike felt as though he was standing
in an inferno, its intensity almost overwhelming. The flames were
threatening to consume him. But there were worse ways to die, he
thought raggedly as he continued his relentless barrage on her body.
To have this happen, to actually be the one...to be inside the Slayer,
to feel her disintegrate around him, his name on her lips...it was heaven.
Or as close as a vampire like him could ever get. 'Please,' he thought
incoherently, 'if this is a dream, don't let me wake up.'
After some time, Spike changed the rhythm, his thrusts becoming slower
but harder, burying himself as deeply as he possibly could with each stroke.
And slowly but surely, he could sense the pressure beginning to build within
her again. Well, good. He was going to make her forget the
poof, forget G.I. Joe, forget every man who had ever been between her legs.
Or in her heart. She might not love him -- but she sure as hell wasn't
going to be able to ignore him.
"Look at me," he growled at her.
Blinking a little, she did.
"Say my name."
"Spi-ike." It came out on a gasp, as he drove himself mercilessly
into her. And he even managed a triumphant grin, through the sensations
that were sweeping through him.
"This hard enough for you, Slayer?"
* * *
He was grinning. Smug bastard. Buffy could think now, just
a little, although her mind kept threatening to fly apart at any moment.
Conceited, self-satisfied vampire. Just because he had forced her
body's complete surrender, had made her experience the most blindingly
powerful climax of her life...didn't mean he got to stay in control.
Surrender might be exciting for a while...but it only went so far.
And it wasn't who she was. Buffy glared at him, saying through clenched
teeth even as she tried to fight off the waves of pleasure cascading over
"No. It's not."
Surprise flitted briefly across his face...even more so when she wrenched
her wrists out of his grip and tugged his t-shirt up. Then she dipped
her mouth to the vampire's chest, running her tongue across his skin while
she clamped down on him with her inner muscles.
Spike tensed, a startled look in his eyes. And Buffy began to
rock forward, her hips meeting his, every muscle working...and it was his
turn to groan.
"That the best you can do, Spike?" she whispered mockingly.
Their eyes met, challenge going from one to the other, and then Spike's
grin widened. "Not bloody likely."
With that, he bent slightly, pushing her pants down to her ankles, then
plunged brutally back into her again without missing a beat. Buffy
arched her back, trying to draw oxygen into her starving lungs, even as
she stepped awkwardly out of the leather and kick off her shoes.
And then both of her legs were up and around Spike's hips, her arms tightening
around his shoulders.
Oh god. If it had been good before, it was shattering now.
Buffy could feel herself hovering on the edge of another climax, shocks
going through her. Spike moaned, his body beginning to quake alongside
hers. And for just a moment, a sense of just how surreal all this
was struck her. This was Spike, for god's sake. She
had Spike inside her -- deep inside her, his body cool against her
warmth and his hands -- and everything else -- on her. And, for just
a moment, she wondered if she wasn't making a mistake...but it was too
late now. A lifetime too late. She had made her decision and
she was just going to have to live with it.
Long moments passed, while he continued to pound into her, his eyes
never leaving hers, the Slayer's gasps sounding loud in the silence of
the crypt. And then, just when Buffy thought she could bear the pressure
no longer, something went through the vampire's eyes...and he buried his
face in her neck.
Buffy tensed, expecting to feel his fangs rip through her skin at any
second...but instead his arms tightened around her with the strength of
desperation and he whispered her name against her skin.
Her eyes widened in surprise...and then he was spilling himself into
her, his body shuddering helplessly while he clung to her. And Buffy
found herself going over the brink with him, falling into some dark chasm,
only his arms around her still anchoring her to this reality. And
finally, slowly, silence descended upon the crypt.
"It is not love but lack of love which is blind"
-- Glenway Westcott
They slid to the floor together, Spike still inside her, both of them
shaking from the combined power of their respective climaxes. The
Slayer ended up on top, her forehead resting against the vampire's chest
while she struggled to draw air back into her oxygen-deprived lungs, waiting
for the trembling to subside.
It did, finally. And awareness began to flow once more through
Buffy. She had just had sex with Spike. Wild, passionate, violent
sex. Angry sex.
Really, really great sex.
But that's all it was. And she was so never going to do it again.
Hastily the Slayer pulled away, fiercely ignoring the part of her that
regretted the loss as she withdrew from him. Then she reached for
her pants laying nearby and pulled them on, not even bothering with underwear...and
not looking at the vampire beside her.
He was watching her though. She could feel his eyes on her as
she got to her feet, feel his gaze burning as she picked up her shirt.
Turning her back, Buffy pulled it on quickly, hoping he wouldn't notice
just how much her hands were shaking.
"So that's it then?" Spike said flatly, at last. "Got it all out
of your system, did you?"
Buffy froze. "Is that what you think I was doing?" she asked,
her voice taut with tension.
He climbed to his feet, the sound of his zipper going up shockingly
loud in the silence of the crypt.
"Wasn't it?" the vampire asked bitterly. "You had an itch and
you got it scratched. Now you can scarper back home and convince
yourself it was all just hormones. Or misplaced gratitude.
Temporary bloody insanity, maybe."
At that, Buffy did turn, chewing on her bottom lip as she gazed at him.
"Well, wasn't it?"
"You tell me."
No. She wasn't going to do this. She wasn't going to get
into a war of words with him. Not now. Not ever again, if she
could help it. Shivering slightly, Buffy bent, picked up her shoes,
then finally straightened...and looked him in the eye.
"You're right, Spike," she said at last. "It wasn't just hormones.
Or gratitude -- although I can't vouch for the sanity part of the equation.
And yes, it...it was great sex. But that's all it was. And
I...I just need to go now, get away from..."
You. She didn't have to say the word. It hung there, unspoken,
hovering between the two of them. The Slayer flinched inwardly.
She hadn't meant that to come out the way it had. She really didn't
want to hurt him. But neither could she deal with what had just happened,
what she had done. What she was.
"You're such a hypocrite, Summers."
Buffy blinked, starting slightly. "I'm a what?"
"You heard." Spike moved closer, crowding her. "You say
one thing but it's not what you really mean. So how 'bout I tell
you what's going on in your head and save you the bother?"
"How about you don't?"
He ignored her, forging onward as if she had not spoken. "It's
already driving you off your trolley," he said matter of factly, "how you
gave yourself to me and how much you wanted it. No hesitation, no
holding back. You asked me to take you and I did. And you loved
it. But now you're scared that maybe you loved it too much.
That maybe once isn't gonna be enough."
Buffy frowned. "Conceited much."
"Facts are facts, love. Speaking of...how 'bout the fact that
you just got all up close and personal with the enemy? The Slayer
having sex with a vampire, and him with no soul to justify it? Can't
tell me that one's not bothering you. What would your bleeding Watcher
say? Or the Slayerettes? The human boyfriend thing didn't work
out and now you're scared to death you're always gonna need the monsters.
Which makes you what? One of us."
Buffy stirred sharply, but he kept going, still not giving her a chance
"But you know what your biggest fear is, the one that's got you shaken
down to the bloody core? It's not that I love you -- so bloody what,
right Slayer? No, it's that maybe, just maybe, you love me back,
no matter how hard you try to fight it. And that scares you more
than anything. More than all the creatures in the night trying to
kill you. More than being blind. More than dying, even."
A pang went through Buffy but she closed her eyes, shaking her head.
"Am I?" he asked, edging closer, his voice softer now. "I know
you, Slayer. Said so yourself. And I know you would never
have done what we just did if you didn't have feelings for me in there
somewhere. Maybe not a lot yet, and probably buried pretty deep.
But they're there. And you know it."
She shook her head vehemently. "No."
Another step closer. "So if I do this then..." He leaned
over and kissed her lightly then moved slowly downward, his mouth tracing
light patterns against the underside of her jaw, just barely grazing the
"...So if I do this, it means nothing to you?"
Spike's lips found the puncture marks on her neck and traced them slowly
with his tongue. Buffy whimpered.
"No," she said breathlessly, a moment later, her hands curling into
fists with the effort it was taking to not reach for him.
"I can't do this, Spike. Not again."
Spike pulled back slightly and ran one hand across her shoulder, evoking
"No. 'Cause that would make it real, wouldn't it? Once --well,
you can write that off as a mistake. One-time deal. But twice...you
do this twice with me and it becomes real. No going back then."
Buffy shuddered. He was right. And she didn't want this
to be real, didn't want to feel this pull toward a vampire. Toward
this vampire. Once, and she could still pretend, could go
back to telling herself lies. But twice...
Something of what she must have been thinking must have shown on her
face, because Spike took a step backward, his hand falling away from her
"I want you to stay," he said simply. "But it's up to you.
You leave and I'm not going to try to stop you, not gonna let you convince
yourself later on that I seduced you into it. You stay...it's 'cause
you want to. Your choice, pet. Tell me what you want."
A sense of tired anger went through Buffy. Why couldn't he be
wrong? Just once? Was that too much to ask? Obviously
yes, because every word he had spoken was true. Which left her where?
As one of the monsters, like he had said. Incapable of ever having
a normal life, of loving someone normal, someone human. Of being
human. Self-pity hovered for an instant, but she banished it quickly.
So what if she couldn't have a normal life? She wasn't normal.
And she wasn't human, at least not in the regular sense of the word.
She was the Slayer.
So maybe it was time she started reaching out for whatever happiness
she could find, in whatever time she might have. Even if she did
keep finding it in the strangest of places...
And he did love her. If there had been any doubt left in Buffy's
mind, it had vanished the moment when the vampire's arms had tightened
around her, whispering her name and holding her as if she was the only
thing that mattered in his world.
Spike loved her. And...and she had feelings for him too.
They were too new and too deeply buried to bear much in the way of scrutiny,
but they were definitely there. So why not? Why not do what
she wanted for once? Be Buffy and not the Slayer. Just
for a while. What could it hurt?
Ignoring the part of her that instantly began screaming a long list
of all the ways it could hurt, Buffy took a step forward and reached
one hand out, holding it flat against the centre of Spike's chest, noting
once again the lack of a heartbeat and feeling the cool, hard planes of
his body through the thin material of his t-shirt. And she decided.
"I want to dance," Buffy said slowly, looking up to meet Spike's eyes.
And then she said nothing else, for a very, very long time.
* * *
It was slower than before. Gentler. As if Spike was trying
to prove that not everything he did had to end in violence. Eventually
they wound up on the chair, the Slayer on top this time...and then on the
tomb. And after that...
At some point Buffy lost track of things. All she knew was that,
for the first time in a very long while, she felt...calm. At peace
-- when her body wasn't convulsing furiously around his, that was.
But even then -- she no longer had to pretend to be something she was not,
didn't have to hold back or hide what she was. She could just be.
She had forgotten what that felt like.
* * *
Spike closed his eyes. He was -- well, the only word that came
to mind was content. Yeah, that was it. Perfectly content.
They had finally come to rest at last in the chair, the Slayer on his lap,
his lone blanket covering both of their naked bodies. Buffy's head
was resting on his shoulder, her hands resting on top of his arms which
were wrapped loosely around her waist.
"Sun's coming up," she said tiredly.
He opened his eyes. She was right. He could sense the nearness
of the dawn, feel the shadows outside beginning to recede. In his
arms, the Slayer stirred slightly.
"I should go," she said, a trace of reluctance in her voice.
"S'pose so." Spike turned to look at her, taking in the rumpled
hair and thoroughly satiated look on her face -- and a wave of pure self-satisfaction
went through him. He had done this. Him. Grinning slightly,
he ran one finger down her throat, towards the top of her breasts.
And, despite everything they had already done...and the number of times
they had done it...he could sense desire rising again within her.
It wasn't the only thing that was rising.
Smiling slightly, Buffy leaned forward and kissed him, her tongue going
forward to tangle with his, then she shifted so that she was straddling
him, parts of her body coming into interesting contact with parts of his.
"Of course," she said provocatively, "I could be persuaded to stay
a while longer..."
As it turned out, she really didn't need much persuading at all.
* * *
It was considerably after dawn that Buffy finally managed to
pull on her clothes again, wincing as certain parts of her body complained
with every movement. As workouts went, tonight's -- activities --
certainly ranked up there with going one on one with a demon. Which,
when she considered it, was exactly what she had been doing.
She cast Spike a quick look. He was standing by the tomb, watching
her, fully dressed. And several conflicting emotions went through
her. Lust and desire were foremost, despite the fact that even her
vaunted Slayer stamina wouldn't be able to cope with much more tonight.
A faint shiver of fear, which somehow made the desire taste even sharper.
And...uncertainty. That tiny flicker of doubt deep inside her that
refused to go away completely, that kept her wondering if she was making
a mistake; the doubt that said she should stop this now, while she still
Or could she? Did she even want to? No. It was too
late, had probably been too late from the instant when she had first stepped,
blind and frightened, into the cemetery, to feel Spike's arms slide around
her... Looking back, her body's reaction at the time made sense now.
As did everything that had happened since.
It had not been one, but an entire series of decisions she had come
to, Buffy realized. When she had let Spike bully her into telling
her what she had been planning, had confessed her suicidal intentions to
him. When she had gone with him to the Trial, tacitly agreeing to
place her fate in his hands. The moment when she had realized that
she couldn't let him die for her and had offered him her neck to avert
it. And when she had seen him sacrifice his chance to have the implant
removed, in order to save her. And all the moments since. Every
action, every conclusion, they had all been leading her here, to this point
But...while she might have to live with those decisions, it didn't necessarily
mean she was comfortable with them...or with where they were leading her.
Looking back though, she couldn't think of a single thing she would do
differently, a single moment she would change. But still...this was
no small thing she was doing. And not without its risk. Because
nothing had changed, really. He was still a vampire, still dangerous.
And he loved her.
And what was life without risk, anyway?
Buffy pulled on her shoe with one hand then straightened and headed
for the door. Spike didn't move, merely continued to watch her through
hooded eyes. Once there, though, she paused, turning slightly to
look back at him over her shoulder.
"Don't worry," he said before she could speak. "I'm not gonna
tell anyone I spent all night banging the Slayer. Still got my reputation
to maintain, after all."
"Love the pillow talk, Spike," Buffy said drily. "You're such
a romantic. But that's not what I was going to say."
"Yeah, well, I got it where it counts. And don't think I'm going
to change for you either," he added warningly. "I'm not gonna become
the Slayer's tame lap dog just because we got horizontal...and vertical.
Because we both know you don't want that. Face it, love --you like
the danger. It excites you."
The Slayer's eyes narrowed. "Has anyone ever told you how arrogant
He grinned. "Let me think. Oh yeah -- you." With that,
he moved forward quickly, caught her around the back of her neck with one
hand and kissed her, hard and fast, his body pressing hers against the
door, while her hands moved up his chest. Then he abruptly released
her and stepped away.
"And that's what you love about me, blondie."
Buffy tried in vain to hide her smile. "Still don't love you,
The grin widened. "You will." A pause, followed by:
"So what were you going to say then?"
She shook her head. "I'm not going to tell you now. Be seeing
you, Spike." And with that, she opened the door and went out into
the sunlight, closing it gently behind her.
Spike stared after her for a long moment then smiled and fished in his
pocket for a cigarette.
"Count on it."