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Title:  It’s All About the Blood  (October 5, 2004)

Season IV

Rating: NC17

Word Count 24,779

Disclaimer: Don’t own them. They belong to Joss, ME and who knows what other corporations

Distribution: Sure, just let me know where it goes

Feedback: an important major food group....

Author’s notes:  This follows the episode “Something Blue”, but goes seriously AU and into Spuffyland immediately. Please don’t try to find anything canon in it, including the timeline for some incidents.  It is not in any way connected to my other Season IV post “Something Blue” fics.  It is its own little Spuffy story.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BLOOD

 

Chapter One

 

The vampire chained up in the bathtub startled awake as the Slayer burst through the bathroom door. She went directly to the sink and looked in the mirror, poking at the corner of her mouth.

 

            “Ow!”

 

            Spike raised an eyebrow in question.  “Somethin’ wrong, Slayer?” 

            “I just bit my cheek,” she mumbled, pushing her tongue against the throbbing, bleeding spot in the corner of her mouth.  “It’s bleeding.”

 

            “Gotta watch that Slayer strength around doughnuts, pet. It’ll get you every time.”

 

Spike sincerely hoped that his sarcastic teasing would hide his reaction to her bleeding cheek.  He wished he had his duster on to help him hid the bulge in his pants caused by the scent of her blood and the sight of her tongue moving around inside her mouth.

 

            “Very funny, Spike,” she growled. “Like everybody hasn’t accidentally bitten themselves at least once. “

 

            She ignored the look on his face as she continued pushing against the sore spot.  When her blood-tinged tongue slid out of the corner of her mouth, Spike’s demon began to howl and he turned away so she wouldn’t see his fangs descend.  When he turned back, she was pulling on her lower lip, turning it inside out in an attempt to see the bite in the mirror.

 

            The vampire groaned and forced his demon back as he leaned closer to her.

 

            “You’re killin’ me here, love,” he said softly without taking his eyes off the exposed wound.

 

 He could almost taste the elixir that was her blood as he stared at the small tooth marks at the corner of her mouth.  His world narrowed to the sight and smell before him; he was oblivious to the fact that Buffy had turned around and was staring at him curiously.  As soon she realized what he was so focused on, she shuddered and yelled at him.

 

            “Spike? Spike?  SPIKE!”

 

            “Ow! You stupid bint!  Vampire hearing, here. You almost broke my eardrum.”

 

            “Well, you were lost in la-la land – and you were drooling,” she defended herself.

 

            “I do NOT drool!”

 

            Buffy smirked at him and knelt down near the tub.  She slid her tongue around her cut again, then stuck it out at him and leaned forward.   He stared at the drop of blood on her little pink tongue and whimpered as he leaned toward her.  She allowed him to get close enough to really smell and see the blood, then sat back abruptly and pulled it into her mouth.

 

            “See?” she said smugly. “Drool.”

 

            The chained demon snarled and yanked on his chains futilely while Buffy laughed at him.  When he realized his snarled threats weren’t frightening her, in fact were making her laugh harder, he calmed down and waited in a sulk for her to stop rolling on the floor.

 

            “And you say I’m evil,” he growled when she finally stopped laughing and leaned back against the sink, breathing hard.  He tried not to stare as her clearly braless breasts moved up and down with each breath.  His erection was pushing painfully against his zipper and he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do more – kill her or shag her into the ground.  

 

             Shag first, kill later he decided.

 

            Buffy sat up and spat blood into the sink.  Ignoring the renewed whimpers from the vampire, she rinsed her mouth out several times, grumbling when her cheek continued to bleed slowly.

 

            “I could fix that for you, you know,” Spike offered hopefully.  “I can make it stop.”

 

            “What? How?  By draining me?  I don’t think so!” She stared at him with disgusted surprise.

 

            “No, you uneducated, ignorant....” He paused to get control over his temper.  “My tongue can do what yours can’t.  Make the bleeding stop.  Something in our saliva....”

 

            “You want to stick your tongue in my mouth?” Her voice sounded more like a squeak than the quiet disgust she’d intended.  “You want me to let you lick me?”

 

            The effect of her disbelieving words was lessened somewhat by the speculative look on her face.  She flashed back to a few days ago when they had been “engaged”, thanks to Willow’s spell.

 

             It’s not like his tongue hasn’t been in my mouth before... felt pretty good then.

 

Spike looked at her hopefully and as though he could read her mind, he said slowly, “You didn’t mind it so much a few days ago, Slayer.  Would only take a second....”

 

            “Well,” she breathed as she leaned toward him again, “ it IS really bleeding a lot...” 

 

And I am NOT doing this because I want his tongue in my mouth again.  This is strictly first aid.

 

“Can’t have Slayer blood all over the place,” he encouraged.  “Might attract nasties and your friends might get hurt.”  He leaned as close to her as the chains would allow, his lips slightly parted and his tongue just barely visible.

 

“I can’t do that – put my friends in danger, I mean.  I guess I’ll have to....” The rest of the sentence was swallowed up as his soft, cool lips barely touched hers and he snaked his tongue into the corner of her mouth.  He ran it around the bite, gently licking the blood off.  The wound stopped bleeding almost as soon as he touched it, but his tongue continued its gentle caress of her cheek, sliding around her teeth and the inside of her lips.

 

            “Wha- what are you doing?”  Buffy murmured against his mouth. 

 

            Whatever it is, don’t stop.

 

            “Just makin’ sure I got it all, pet.  Don’t wanna leave any behind.”  Encouraged by her continued cooperation, Spike began to apply more pressure with his lips and allowed his tongue to explore deeper into her mouth.

 

             OK, this is waaay too much like kissing – what is he....?  Oh! Definitely kissage now.  Time to stop, Buffy.  Time to move away from the sexy vampire.

 

            Spike had given up any attempt to pretend he wasn’t kissing her and he smiled mentally as her heart rate sped up and her body temperature rose.  When he realized she was kissing him back and that he could smell arousal, he was so surprised he abruptly pulled back to stare at her.

 

            When the lip-to-lip contact was broken, Buffy came out of the lust-filled daze she’d been in and shrank back in dismay, her hand to her mouth.

 

             Ohmygod! I was kissing Spike!  Without a spell to blame it on.  I must be crazy.

 

            Bloody hell! I’m a stupid git! Should never have stopped.  If she has time to think about what we were doing....

 

            He leaned toward her again, hoping she would let him continue, but she recoiled and looked at him with such abject horror that he sighed and slumped back into the tub.

 

             Guess that’s that, then.  No way Miss Goody Two-shoes is going to repeat that performance.

 

            He tried to ignore the little stab of pain he felt at the disgusted look on her face.

 

            Buffy stared at the dejected vampire for a minute, then whirled and left the bathroom with slayer-speed.

 

            The following day, Xander, Anya, Willow, Giles and Buffy were sitting around eating doughnuts and discussing what Buffy suspected about Riley’s other “job” and the commandos.  Spike was lolling on the couch in front of the television idly flipping through the channels.  Giles had finally released him from the bathtub so that he could take a shower and with the vampire’s promise to stay put, he had allowed him the freedom of the house.

 

            Buffy had just finished telling everybody how her cheek was still swollen from her biting it last night, carefully leaving out Spike’s role in stopping the bleeding.  She firmly avoided looking in his direction as she talked.

 

            “Oh, you’ll need to be careful, Buff.  You know how those bites swell up and then you keep biting them cause they’re sticking out, and then they get bigger and sorer and then you bite them again and then...” Xander stopped when he realized he was babbling.

 

            “Ok, no more sugar for you, mister!” Willow said as she moved the doughnut box away from his reaching hand.

 

            Buffy huffed indignantly, “Of course I’ll be careful, Xander.  Do you think I’m stupid?  I know – ow! Dammit!”

 

Xander tried to look sympathetic and smug at the same time, but only succeeded in smug. Everyone else winced in sympathy for Buffy as tears of pain filled her eyes and she grabbed the side of her face.  On the couch, Spike had frozen in place. 

 

With his lack of breathing and complete lack of movement, he closely resembled the corpse he actually was.  Fortunately, everyone was looking at Buffy and no one noticed the intent look on the vampire’s face as the scent of Buffy’s blood reached his nose.  As Buffy again rushed to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth, he almost groaned his regret at not being still chained to the tub.

 

Buffy stayed in the bathroom as long as she could, trying to make the bleeding stop and trying not to think about how easily she now knew it could be done.

 

Not thinking about sexy vampire lips and tongue. Nope!  No more vampire tongue. No more tongue of Spike.  I can handle this myself.

 

When she emerged some time later, cheek even more swollen and still slowly leaking blood, she was surprised to see that everyone except Giles had left.

 

“Where – where is everybody?” she asked, looking everywhere except at the expectant vampire at the other end of the room.

 

“Ah, there you are, Buffy.  I thought you were going to stay in there all day,” Giles began.  “The others had to get to work and class.  We agreed to reconvene tonight to compare notes and determine how we are going to infiltrate this group.”

 

He turned to the vampire on the couch and said sternly,  “Come on, Spike.  I need to go out for awhile so you’ll have to...”

 

“Bloody He—”  Spike's complaint was cut off as Buffy interrupted both of them to say, “It’s OK, Giles.  I – I don’t have to leave for a while.  I’ll chain him up before I go.” 

 

She carefully avoided looking in the vampire’s direction as she assured her watcher it was all right to leave him loose.  She knew Spike would be able to tell if her heart rate went up, so she concentrated on breathing in and out slowly, using the techniques Giles had tried to teach her to control her body.

 

            No way am I going to let him know – er – think, let him THINK, that I’m doing this so that he’ll kiss me again.  I just want it to stop bleeding and heal.  That’s all.  No kissage required. Just a quick lick....

 

She blinked as she realized Giles had been speaking to her without her having heard a word he said.   She stared at him blankly and responded, “Huh?’

 

Shaking his head in exasperation, the older man repeated his instructions. “Just don’t leave him loose in the house, Buffy.  I don’t want to come home and find all my good scotch gone.”

 

“Oh!  Ok, sure, Giles.  No problem.  Chain the vampire in the bathtub when I leave.  I’ve got it.  You can go.  I’ve got the whole thing under control.  Yessiree, I’m all about the control.  I’m control girl....” she trailed off as she saw her watcher looking at her with growing curiosity.

 

With a last, puzzled look at her and a warning glare at Spike, Giles left the apartment and Buffy was alone with an expectant vampire.

 

“Come here, Slayer,” he ordered as he kept his eyes on her mouth.  “I know what you want.”

 

            At least, I hope I do.  If I’m wrong it’s going to be dusty Spike in a few minutes.

 

What does he mean, ‘he knows what I want’?  I don’t know what I want!  How can he? What DO I want?

 

When she didn’t move from her place on the far side of the room, Spike gave in and moved silently across the carpet.  The look on his face could only be called predatory, although Buffy found herself not at all concerned for her safety as he stalked over to her.

 

“Well then, Slayer?” he challenged her.  “Are you just going to stand there and bleed, or are you gonna let me fix it?”  His eyes glittered as he waited for her answer.

 

“A… all right,” she whispered.  “But just lick it until it stops.  No....” She didn’t finish her sentence; not really sure what she was going to say.  Spike didn’t seem fazed by that as he leaned in closer and breathed, “Alright, luv. No....”

 

When his cool tongue touched her lower lip, she relaxed her mouth and allowed him to slide it in to caress the inside of her cheek.  As it had the day before, the bleeding stopped immediately and for several heartbeats they stood like statues, neither one pulling away.   Just when Buffy was wondering how long they could remain standing like that, lips barely touching, Spike’s tongue in the corner of her mouth, she felt his tongue slide out and with a light caress to her lower lip he brought his head back just far enough to look her in the eye.

 

The look on his face and in his startlingly pretty blue eyes was one she had never seen before.  She was reminded of Willow’s spell and the softness of his expression when he looked at her then.  Her eyes were drawn to his full lower lip and she admitted to herself that she had not been ready for those lips to leave hers yet.

 

“I... I... think it might still be bleeding..” she whispered.  To her surprise, instead of immediately fastening his lips on hers, Spike tilted her chin up and forced her to meet his eyes.

 

“No, Slayer.  No pretendin’.  Either you want me to kiss you or you don’t.”

 

Buffy could feel her heart beat go off the charts as adrenaline flooded her body.  She was sure she was wearing her “deer in the headlights” look as she tried to deny what she knew was true.

 

Damn vampire!  What’s wrong with him?  Can’t he just accept a good excuse and go with it? This is Spike, for god’s sake.  I can’t tell him I want to kiss him.  I DON’T want to kiss him.  Do I? Oh god, I do.  Can’t though.  Bad Buffy.  Bad Slayer.  Can’t kiss the sexy vampire.  Evil, soulless, undead creature.  With such pretty eyes.  Such soft, sexy lips.  Argh!

 

Spike watched the internal war being waged behind those huge green eyes and mentally sighed as he released her chin and stepped back. 

 

Right, that’s it then.  No way is she ever gonna admit she might want me. We’ve had our moment.

 

            He tried to keep the disappointment off his face as he put his smirk back and sauntered back to the couch. 

 

Buffy stood frozen where he left her, unable to comprehend what had just happened.

 

            Did he just walk away from me?  Spike just turned me down?  Spike, the leering, innuendo making, pig just walked away from a chance to kiss me?

 

            Since to admit she was disappointed would be to admit how much she had wanted him to kiss her, she opted for her usual response.

 

“Get yourself into the bathtub, Spike.” She snarled at him, eyes flashing with barely controlled anger.  “I’m leaving now.”

 

Instead of making the expected bondage innuendos the sight of the Slayer holding chains and issuing orders usually evoked, the vampire just looked at her sadly and walked into the bathroom.  Buffy followed him at a distance before realizing that she couldn’t very well chain him up without getting much closer to him than she wanted to at the moment.  She hesitated for a few seconds, then ordered him into the tub and threw the chains at him.

 

“Here, put these on,” she snapped, staying safely out of reach.

 

Spike cocked his head at her and asked softly,  “That afraid to get close to me, are you, Slayer?”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she spit out.  “I’m not afraid of you! Never have been, never will be.”

 

“Didn’t say you were afraid of me, pet.  Said you were afraid to get near me. Different thing entirely, innit?”  He raised one eyebrow at her and waited for the punch he was sure was coming.  To his surprise, instead of hitting him, she moved closer and yanked the chains out of his hands.

 

“Hold out your hands,” she ordered without looking at him.  When he complied, she clamped the hand restraints onto his outstretched wrists, then leaned into the tub to wrap the chains around the pipes.  Too late she realized that put her head right in front of his face and allowed her breasts to brush his outstretched arms.

 

She fought the urge to turn and look into those perceptive eyes as she struggled to tighten the chains without touching him any more than she had to.  She was very conscious of his cool breath on the back of her neck.

 

And why is the vampire bothering to breathe? He’s just doing that to get to me.  But it isn’t.  I am totally not reacting to the feeling of his breath on my neck.  Nope.  No reaction here.

 

Spike almost groaned as she brushed lightly against him.  He inhaled her unique scent –a mix of herbal shampoos, floral soap and Slayer essence.  He fought his demon, which wanted nothing more than to sink his teeth into the neck in front of him.  Instead, he leaned toward her ear and breathed into it,  “Buffy?”

 

The Slayer trembled.  She couldn’t recall his ever using her real name. If he wasn’t calling her “pet” or “luv”, he called her Slayer.  The sound of her name in that deep, warm voice was her undoing.  She turned slowly to meet his gaze and found herself only inches away from the mouth she was trying so hard to avoid.

 

“Wh- what?” she practically whispered.  “What do you want?”

 

He bit back the “You” that wanted to fall from his lips, and instead just leaned into her mouth, saying so softly that she could barely hear it, “Please?”  By the time he finished speaking, he was kissing her and she gave up any attempt to pretend that wasn’t happening.  With a small moan, she gave in to the desire that she’d been fighting and ground her mouth into his.  Their tongues met and tangled, alternately fighting for dominance and stroking each other gently. 

 

The kisses went on, the intensity ebbing and flowing as they explored the sensations they were creating in each other.  When, during one of their short pauses to allow Buffy to breathe, Spike brought his chained hands down over her head and around her shoulders, she had a brief moment of panic which quickly dissipated when he slid his hands lightly up and down her back.

 

The need for more contact was becoming overwhelming and she finally slid over the edge of the tub and down onto his body. As she stretched out against his length as much as was possible in a bathtub, his groan of pleasure sent a shiver through her body. 

 

When Buffy began running her hands up under his shirt and stroking his chest, Spike couldn’t stand the chains any more and he growled and rattled them until she broke their latest kiss.  When she realized what he wanted, she hesitated for just long enough to worry the frustrated vampire.

 

“Buffy,” he begged. “Please luv, unchain me.  Need to feel you.  Want to touch you...”

 

“I don’t think so,” she gasped out and she pushed away from his body.  “No touching – not by you, anyway.”  As she spoke, she pulled his shirt up and ran her lips over his nipples.  She smiled when he hissed and arched into her mouth.

 

“No, I don’t think you’ll be touching anything.  You just lie there like a good little vampire while I....” She nibbled on one nipple, then slid over to the other.  Running her lips and hands all over his torso; she gradually worked her way down to his muscular abdomen.  His jeans rode low on his hips and she could see the sharp bones on either side slanting down into his pants as though pointing the way.  Toward what, Buffy tried not to imagine.  She was shocked at the incredibly strong urge she had to follow those hipbones with her hands and mouth.  She settled for running her tongue along his stomach, just above the waistband of his pants and well below his navel. 

 

Spike was hissing and groaning and pleading with her to let him go, let him touch her.   Buffy ignored him and continued her exploration of the lean muscular body beside her.  She resolutely kept her eyes away from the alarmingly large bulge she could see in his jeans.  She did, however, allow her hand to graze the bulge as though by accident and was rewarded with a long string of British profanity.

 

She was finding it harder and harder to resist the desire to reach into those jeans and actually put her hands on what was in there.  She ran one hand down the silky skin on Spike’s stomach and when she reached the waistband of his pants he sucked his stomach in with a gasp, allowing her hand to slide down into the space created by his clenched stomach.

 

No underwear... Spike doesn’t wear underwear.  Why doesn’t that surprise me?

 

Her fingers became tangled in the soft hairs at the bottom of his abdomen and she gently played with the short curls for a minute.  Spike had gone completely silent, waiting to see what she was going to do.  As much as he had been begging and pleading with her to release him, he was actually enjoying her teasing and exploring.

 

            Silly bint tried to tell me she wasn’t into bondage.  Took to this like a duck to water.  Knew the Slayer would get off on it.

 

The feeling of her warm little hand gently playing with his pubic hair was making him so hard he was sure his cock would break in half if not released soon.  He groaned and sank down in the tub even more, pushing his hips up toward her hand.  His pants were so tight, Buffy couldn’t pull her hand out, nor could she move it any further. Using her other hand, she fumbled with the button on his jeans, finally popping it off in her frustration.  Before she could chicken out, she quickly unzipped him and reached in to pull him out.

 

Spike gave a sigh of relief and mumbled, “Thank you, luv.  Thought for awhile there you were just gonna let me strangle.”

 

The sound of his normal speaking voice snapped Buffy out of the lust filled daze she’d been in as she explored his body and teased him into a frenzy.  She suddenly realized what she had been doing, her face flaming a bright red.  With a gasp, she quickly let go of the hard column of muscle covered with silken skin that she found in her hand. 

 

Ohmygod!   I went from refusing to tell him I wanted to kiss him to... to... oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

 

The vampire saw the look of horror on her face and understood that the fun was over for a while.   He bit his tongue to keep from begging as he waited, not moving a muscle, for her to decide what to do.  He knew anything could happen.  She could stake him; and very well might if she was sufficiently embarrassed by what she’d been doing to him. She might just bolt from the room, leaving him chained and half-naked.  Or, unlikely scenario, she might unchain him and let him finish what she’d started.

 

He was afraid to move or speak.  It wasn’t lost on him that it was the sound of his voice that had brought her back to reality and he had no intention of opening his mouth and making any more mistakes.  While he kept a grip on his urge to coax her to continue, his eyes were pleading silently for her to stay.

 

Although she had released her grip on his cock, she hadn’t moved otherwise and was still half-lying, half-sitting in the tub with him.  He could feel the warmth of her body all along his side and hear her heart beating frantically.

 

Something about the obvious fear and disgust on her face tore at this heart.  He knew without asking that she was less ashamed of what she had been doing than she was to whom she’d been doing it.  With that knowledge, he closed his eyes and stopped silently begging her to continue. 

 

“Go on then, Slayer,” he said quietly.  His head was resting against the back of the tub and he resolutely kept his eyes shut so he wouldn’t see the expression of horror on her face.  He fought back a whimper as she slowly pushed herself up and away from him. He felt her feeble and unsuccessful attempts to fasten his jeans without actually touching his rapidly softening cock.

 

 “Just leave it,” he ground out.  “Just go.” 

 

She stepped from the tub and stood beside it for a minute, confusion all over her face.  She’d never seen the blond vampire so quiet and she couldn’t read his face at all.  Guilt over what she’d started and stopped so abruptly kept her pinned in place for another minute and she even began a tentative apology.

 

“Spike... I’m sor—”

 

“Get. Out.” He didn’t raise his voice, but the tone reminded her of exactly who and what she’d been crawling all over and why the chip in his head was a good thing. With one final look at his expressionless face, she whirled and ran from the room and the house.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

            If Giles and her friends wondered why Buffy insisted that Spike leave the Watcher’s apartment, they gave no sign of it.  Xander agreed, reluctantly, to allow him to stay in his basement bedroom until they could decide what to do with or about him.  Guilt made Buffy insist that they couldn’t dust him now that he was harmless. 

 

It IS guilt. Guilt for leading him on.  That’s all it is.  Just guilt.  It’s not like I would miss the bleached nuisance if he wasn’t around.  Okay, I might miss fighting with him. He’s the only vampire I’ve met since Angelus that can challenge me.  But, hey, he can’t fight me anymore anyway, so no missage there.  Nope, just guilt, and the chance that he might be able to remember more about the Initiative.  Nothing else.

 

            When they stopped the Hellmouth from opening, and Spike discovered he could hurt demons, his attitude improved immediately.  He exulted in the joy of pummeling the other demons, disappointed when there were no more left to hurt.

 

            The sight of Riley in his fatigues immediately destroyed his good mood, triggering unpleasant memories of his time in the Initiative labs. He growled low in his throat when he recognized the scent of one of the commandos that had captured him weeks ago.  Mingled with Riley’s own scent was Buffy’s.  To the vampire, a tell-tale sign that they were together.  Only his highly developed instinct for self preservation prevented him from vamping out and testing the chip’s limits as he surprised himself with the instant urge to rip out the man’s throat.

 

            He forced the demon back down as he got behind Xander and pretended to be another Scoobie while Buffy and Riley exchanged lies about what each was doing there.  He doubted Riley would recognize him in Xander’s dorky clothes, but adopted an American accent just in case. He tried not to think about the implications of his reaction to Buffy’s scent on the man.

 

Must just be a carry-over from the spell.  Soddin’ demon still thinks we’re engaged.  That’s got to be it.  Not like I actually care what the Slayer does or who she does it with....

 

               Once he realized he could fight and kill other demons, Spike insisted on patrolling with Buffy so that he could get his “daily taste of violence”.  She wasn’t comfortable having him along, but since she had no desire to let her friends get any inkling of why that would be, she had to settle for walking as far apart from him as she could.

 

            Until the inevitable night when no one else could go with her.  She groaned mentally as she saw Spike bouncing up and down eagerly as he waited for her at the graveyard gate,

 

            “Oi!  Slayer!  Let’s get to it!”

 

            “What!” Her voice was a shrill squeak and she felt her heart rate double.  “Let’s get to what?”

 

            Spike looked at her, picked up the increased heart rate and the panicked look on her face and smiled to himself.  He glided toward her, not stopping until we was almost touching her before he rumbled in his sexiest voice, “Why, to the demon huntin’, luv.  What else would I have meant?”

 

            “No... nothing,” she stammered.  “I thought that’s what you meant.”  She knew her heart was hammering as he stood there, well inside her personal space, and she knew he could tell. 

 

            Except for the necessary exchange of questions and answers that they’d had when he whispered to her that Riley was one of the commandos that worked at the Initiative, they hadn’t been alone or spoken to each other since Buffy had picked up her fluttering virtue and run out of the bathroom.  The urge to flee again, as fast as her Slayer speed could take her, was almost overwhelming.  Almost as overwhelming as the urge to move even closer to him and indulge herself in more bone-melting kisses.

 

            Oh my god! What is wrong with me?  I have a perfectly nice, normal – well, okay, he’s a commando and works for a secret government agency; but hey!  In my world that’s pretty close to normal.   Anyway, I have a boyfriend.  And we have perfectly adequate sex.  Often.  Way often.  So, why am I not pushing this annoying vampire away?

 

            Forcing herself to step back and resist the soft, talented lips that were inching their way toward her face, she whirled and began striding into the cemetery without looking back.  When she was sure she could speak without stammering, she threw over her shoulder, “I’m patrolling in here tonight, Spike.  Why don’t you get one of the other cemeteries?”

 

            Disappointment battled with relief as the vampire just stood where she had left him.  He was still leaning slightly forward as though he was going to kiss somebody, but his face was impassive and he made no attempt to follow her.

 

            There, see? That wasn’t so hard.  Nope, not hard at all, not even as hard as.. .gaah! Not thinking about... hard... things.  Except maybe my boyfriend’s hard thing.  Yes, Riley’s hard thing.  That’s what I’m thinking about.  And I’ll see him later tonight.  So, lot’s of... of adequate... sex later tonight. Something to look forward to.  Sex with my nice, normal boyfriend.  Perfectly.. .adequate sex.   No! not adequate!  Good!  Good sex.  That’s better. Lots of good sex with my perfectly adequate boyfri— argh!

 

          Just as she reached that less than satisfying point in her internal monologue, a fledgling vampire had the misfortune to think she looked like an easy meal.  He was so focused on biting her, he completely missed the joyful gleam in her eyes when then saw him.

 

          “Who does he think he is?” she asked rhetorically as she kicked the fledgling in the chest.  “He can’t kiss me!  I’m the Slayer for freak’s sake!” She waited for the newbie to get up so that she could punctuate her sentence with a punch to his face.  As she grabbed him and threw him into the side of a crypt, she continued to yell at him, ignoring his bewildered expression and frantic attempts to escape what was now clearly an insane as well as incredibly strong human.

 

          “I have a perfectly... good... normal... breathing... heartbeat having... boyfriend!” Each adjective was emphasized with a punch to some tender portion of the vampire’s anatomy.  By the time Buffy got to, “And I don’t want any part of an annoying, bloodsucking... vampire!” the fledgling was lying semi-conscious on the ground waiting for her to put him out of his misery. “No matter how good a kisser he is!” she finished as she plunged her stake into his heart.

 

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much, Slayer,” Spike whispered from the shadows where he had watched and listened to her one-sided confrontation with the fledgling.  As much as he wanted to approach her and force her to acknowledge the attraction between them, one look at her still-angry face told him that could be a one-way ticket to dust.

 

He melted back into the bushes, intending to do as she’d asked and patrol throughout the other graveyards, when the sound of stealthy feet caught his attention.  He froze where he was, confident his preternatural stillness would make him invisible to almost anything.

 

He had to smother a growl as a small band of commandos entered the area and spread out in an arc, guns at the ready.  They were dressed all in black, including the caps on their heads, but his nose told him one of them was Riley.  With his vampire hearing, he was able to hear the conversations as they whispered back and forth to each other.

 

“I see something up ahead,” the one in the lead said softly.  “It’s got a heat signature, so it’s not a vampire.  Human or demon – one or the other.”

 

“I see it,” replied the man on the right flank.  “It’s... it’s a... girl?  A blonde girl?”

 

Riley shouldered his way to the front of the group and pushed their guns down toward the ground.

 

“Be careful with those, men.  That’s... Buffy?”  His voice rose as he got close enough to recognize his girl friend.

 

Buffy whirled at her name, her stake in her raised hand.  “R-Riley?  What are you doing here?” 

 

She looked behind him at the black-clad men accompanying him and knew that Spike had been telling the truth about Riley’s involvement with the Initiative.  Since he’d seen her, stake and all, she decided not to lie to him and waited for his response to her presence in the graveyard.

 

“I’m working, Buffy.  The question is, what are you doing out here by yourself in the middle of the night?”

 

“Well, I’m working too.”

 

He looked from her open face to the wooden stake in her hand and shook his head.

 

“You need to leave this kind of thing to the professionals, Buffy. I don’t know how or why you and your friends became involved in demon-hunting, but you don’t have to do it anymore.  Let us handle it.”

 

“Why?” Buffy asked quietly. “So you can run experiments on them in your lab?  Or incapacitate them so they can’t feed or defend themselves?”

 

Spike’s unbeating heart jumped in his chest when he heard the disapproving tone in her voice.

        

Is she sorry that I’m chipped?  Is she scolding them for what they did?

 

The big commando gaped at her and asked, “How do you know about the labs?  Or Hostile 17?  Have you seen him?”

 

“Hostile 17?”

 

“Yeah,” one of the other men put in.  “Vampire, about my height, bleached blond hair, major attitude problem.  He escaped with a $40,000 electronic chip in his head that we weren’t finished testing.”

 

Buffy shuddered as she listened to them discussing Spike as though he was a lab animal.  She suddenly hoped he had done as she asked and gone to another cemetery.  Without examining her reasons, she knew that she did not want these men re-capturing him.

 

“Have you staked him, Buffy?” Riley inquired.  “Because if you have, I’d like to know where so we can look for our chip.  It should be lying in the dust...”

 

“He isn’t dust, Riley.  And there’s no reason for him to be.  Now that he’s harmless-“

 

“He was never meant to be released, Buffy.  The chip is a prototype. We have no idea how well it works, or for how long.  We can’t just leave him walking around.”

 

“You can if I say you can,” she said flatly. 

 

There was a muffled laugh from one of the men as Riley gawked at her and said,  “If YOU say we can?  Buffy, don’t you think you’re taking this whole ‘we protect Sunnydale’ thing a little too far?  Exactly who do you think you are?”

 

“I can’t believe you haven’t figured it out yet, Riley.  Or is your organization so into technology that you can’t be bothered learning anything about your enemies... or their enemies?”

 

“Their enemies?  What enemies do vampires and demons have besides each other?”  He looked around at his men for support and noticed one of them raising a tentative hand.  “Johnson? You’re our resident vampire lore expert.  Do you know what she’s talking about?”

 

The man he spoke to ignored Riley and studied Buffy carefully before asking slowly, “Are you her? ” 

 

Buffy nodded her head at him, then turned to Riley.  “Well, it’s nice know at least somebody bothered to do some research.”

 

Riley looked back and forth between Buffy and Johnson in bewilderment as he shook his head.  “Will one of you please tell me what you’re talking about?”

 

Johnson cleared his throat and said, “She’s... she’s the Chosen One.  The Vampire Slayer.”

 

“The what?”

 

“Slayer. The.  Look it up, Riley.  I’ve got work to do and I want to get at least a little bit of sleep tonight.”  Tossing her hair, she turned her back on her thunderstruck boyfriend and started deeper into the cemetery.  “And leave Spike alone!” she yelled as she stalked away.

 

From his hiding place in the bushes, Spike was torn between unexpected delight that Buffy was trying to keep him alive –or at least, undead – and his raging demon which wanted nothing more than to fly into the group of commandos and rip them to shreds for what they had done to him.  Unfortunately for the demon, every time a violent thought started to turn to movement, the chip gave a warning jolt that kept Spike immobile and fuming.

 

Since he couldn’t attack the soldiers, he settled for listening to them and what he heard chilled him.  He heard Johnson explaining to Riley and the rest of the squad about Vampire Slayers and trying to answer their questions from what was obviously a very small store of knowledge.  He told them that the general consensus was that the Slayer was myth.  Something used to frighten the things that go bump in the night.  He also offered some other “facts” about Slayers that would have had Spike laughing aloud if he hadn't been worried about being caught again.

 

The silent grin left his face when Johnson said to Riley, “You know, Professor Walsh is going to want to meet her.  She’s as unnatural in her own way as the demons are.  Maggie’s going to want to study her.”

 

Riley frowned at the men around him.  “Have you all forgotten that she is also my girlfriend?  I’ll talk to Maggie about her, and I’ll ask Buffy if she’ll come in to meet her; but there will be no ‘studying’ her.  Not on my watch!”

 

“Yeah, sure, Finn.  I didn’t mean we were going to taze her and bring her in in chains or anything like that.  Just meant, you know, Maggie’ll be interested in her.”

 

The men moved away, still discussing Buffy and what it meant that she was the Slayer, leaving Spike frozen in his hiding place.  He didn’t stop to wonder about the fear that gripped him as they continued to talk about how they needed to learn more about Buffy and Slayers.  He just waited impatiently for them to get far enough away that he could sprint after Buffy and warn her.

 

Her warm scent still hung in the air and he easily followed it until he heard the sounds of battle ahead.  He burst into a clearing to find Buffy fighting with a large, snarling demon that looked like nothing more than a giant rabid gopher.  Just as Spike realized Buffy had only her stake to use as a weapon, the demon grabbed her left arm in his mouth and lifted her into the air, shaking her like a rat.

 

Her agonized scream sent Spike leaping onto the demon’s back in an attempt to break its neck. He found it was too strong and had very little neck to twist.  Instead, he held its head still and shouted, “Slayer, his eyes!  Use your stake!” 

 

Buffy gritted her teeth against the pain in her arm and swung around so that she could drive the point of her stake into the eye glaring at her from the immobilized head.  With a shriek, the beast dropped her to the ground and ran toward the woods, with Spike clinging to it’s back and snarling as he sank his fangs into the creature’s shoulder.  He was enjoying the chance to work off his anger at the commandos so much he briefly forgot about Buffy until his sensitive hearing picked up her barely audible, “Spike.”

 

He immediately let go of the still running demon and raced back to the huddled form on the ground.  Blood was spurting from her arm, which looked like it had almost been severed by the demons teeth.  As Spike ran up to her, she lost consciousness and her head slumped to the ground.

 

Spike was an old vampire and he knew the sound of a laboring heart when he heard one.  He frantically racked his brain for what to do when you did NOT want someone to bleed to death.  One hundred, twenty-six years as a vampire hadn’t prepared him for saving lives, only taking them.

 

Think, you stupid git! Think!  Got to stop the bleeding.  Got to stop it now. She’s got an open artery.  Got to stop the blood from pumping into that arm.  Oh, god, love, don’t die.  Please don’t die, Buffy.

 

He looked at her shirt, which had been torn to ribbons by the demon’s claws and teeth and saw his solution.  Ripping it off her body without bothering with the few buttons left on it, he twirled it into a makeshift tourniquet and wrapped it around her arm just below the shoulder, twisting the ends to tighten down on her arm and stop the blood from spurting out.

 

As soon as the bleeding had slowed to a slow oozing, he pulled her into his lap and cradled her body against his chest.  He looked at the ragged gash on her arm and shook his head.

 

“Bloody hell, Slayer.  It’s a good thing we practiced on those little bites in your mouth.  Think this one’s goin’ be more of a challenge, eh, pet?”

 

As he spoke, he leaned down and ran his tongue around her arm, licking all the blood off the center of the gash.  He was so intent on stopping the bleeding and healing the wound that he barely noticed the way her blood was singing through his veins.  Slowly and methodically, he worked his way around and over the wound, licking all the blood off and watching the edges try to pull together as his healing saliva closed down the exposed blood vessels.  He briefly loosened the tourniquet to see if he had stopped the bleeding enough to convert it into a bandage and smiled with satisfaction when only a small amount of blood issued forth.  He gave a final lick to the new blood, then wrapped the shirt around the wound itself and stood up.

 

He listened carefully to her heartbeat and was relieved to hear it pick up a steady, although weak, rhythm.  But when a shiver passed over her body, he realized that between the blood loss and possible shock, she needed to be kept warm.  He took off his duster and wrapped her in it, murmuring to her the whole time. 

 

“I’m sorry, love.  I know bein’ on me didn’t make it warm for you, but it’ll help until I can get you to your watcher.”

 

He picked her up carefully and headed for her Watcher’s apartment with long, ground-eating strides.  He heard her heart beat increase several times as he strode through the town with her, but each time he murmured soothing things in her ear and she drifted back into unconsciousness.

 

When he got to Giles’ apartment he didn’t bother to knock, just kicked the door in and carried his burden inside.  The Watcher jumped to his feet as his door burst inward and he set down the guitar he’d been tuning to reach for a weapon.  When he saw what Spike was carrying, he leapt across the room to take her from him.

 

“What happened?” he demanded, taking in Buffy’s blood soaked clothing, the makeshift bandage and her pale face.

 

“Demon.  Bit her arm.  She needs blood.” Spike gasped out, not even realizing he was taking unnecessary gulps of air.

 

Giles pulled off the bandage and winced as he saw the magnitude of the wound.  Without the tight bandage, the wound began to ooze blood again and without thinking about who was watching him, Spike quickly leaned in and ran his tongue over the open area.

 

“What the bloody hell do you thi—” Giles’ outraged shout was cut off as he saw the blood stop flowing and the edges of the cut harden off.  He shot the vampire a hard glare as he quickly re-bandaged the arm.  He was trembling with barely suppressed anger at the sight of a vampire licking up his surrogate daughter’s blood, but had to acknowledge what his eyes saw.

 

“Is that why she isn’t bleeding now?” he asked in a neutral voice as he tied off the bandage and straightened up to look the vampire in the eye.

 

“Well, yeah.  Had to do something.  She was bleedin’ to death and the tourniquet wasn’t gettin’ the job done fast enough.  I did what I had to do.”  He stared defiantly back at the other man.

 

The staring contest between the vampire and the man who worked for the organization dedicated to killing his kind could have continued indefinitely, but a muffled moan from Buffy reminded them of their priority.

 

While Giles wrapped Buffy in a blanket and got his car keys, Spike went to the weapon’s closet and began rummaging around.  When he emerged with a broadsword in his hand and took a few practice swings, Giles asked him, “What are you doing?”

 

“Goin’ huntin’” was the terse reply as the vampire headed for the door.  “Get some blood into her.  Her heart beat still isn’t strong enough.”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

            Buffy insisted on leaving the hospital after her wound was dressed and she had received several pints of blood.  The emergency room doctor had been in Sunnydale too long to waste his time asking questions like, “How did this wound get closed so quickly?” Or, “how can someone so close to death be sitting up asking for pizza an hour later?”  He just signed her out, gave her painkillers, and told her to be more careful of “dangerous machinery” in the future.

 

            Since Buffy did not want her mother to know anything about her close call, and she still felt too weak to go back to the dorm, she ended up ensconced on the couch in front of Giles’ TV.  He listened to her description of the demon, but decided identifying it could wait until tomorrow.  Buffy sipped at the large glass of juice Giles had set beside her and they settled into an awkward silence.

 

            The silence was broken as Buffy set her glass down and asked quietly, “Where’s Spike?”

 

            Hiding his surprise that Buffy knew who had carried her unconscious body to safety, Giles answered her honestly. 

 

            “I can’t say for sure.  But I suspect he is knee deep in demon parts. I just hope he remembers to return my sword.”

 

            There was another silence, then Buffy said, “Stupid vampire. Never does what he’s told.”

 

            Her watcher just raised an eyebrow in question and she elaborated, “I told him to leave and go to another cemetery.  He wasn’t supposed to be there.”

           

           Giles took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose before he answered wryly, “Yes, well, in this case I think we should be grateful that he does not follow direction well, wouldn’t you say?”

 

            Buffy nodded her head briefly; then glanced at her arm and back at her Watcher. 

 

            “Giles? Why am I not dead?  I saw my arm.  It was almost bitten off and blood was spurting out of it.”

 

            Giles polished his glasses vigorously before he admitted, “It would appear that Spike administered first aid... of a sort.  He seems to have used his vampiric... gifts... to stop the bleeding and begin closing the wound.  He had to repeat it briefly here when I removed the bandage and I saw the results with my own eyes.  It would not have been, perhaps, my first choice of... assistance... but it was remarkably effective.   He, um... used his....”

 

            “He licked me,” Buffy said bluntly.

 

            “Ah, yes. So it would seem.”  Her watcher was surprised to see that not only was she not upset about the vampire’s version of first aid, she had a small smile on her face.

 

            “So, Spike saved my life.”  It was a statement, not a question.

 

            “I would have to say that he did.  There is no question you would have bled to death very quickly without his help.  Although,” he added thoughtfully, “I cannot imagine what his motive was.  I would have thought he would be delighted to watch you bleed to death.  Perhaps he was enjoying licking your blood and just accidentally closed the wound... although that wouldn’t explain the tourniquet or bandage...” His voice trailed off as he went over the vampire’s uncharacteristic behavior.

 

            “And now he’s gone after the demon,” she went on as though Giles hadn’t spoken.

 

             Ok, I will not wig out here.  Means nothing.  Probably means nothing.  He likes killing things.  Of course he went after the demon.  It’s what he does. Kills things.  He’s a killer.  Except – he didn’t kill me.  He saved my life.  Spike saved my life.  He saved my life and he’s a great kisser.  Gah! Things are getting complicated.

 

            “I am assuming so.”  The older man yawned and stretched as he stood up and suggested, “Why don’t you try to get some sleep here?  I can fix the guest bed.”

 

            “I’m fine here, Giles.  You go on to bed.  I’ll just curl up here on the couch and rest till I’ve got my strength back.”  She smiled up at the man who was her only father figure.  “I know you old people need your sleep.”

 

            “That would be amusing, Buffy, if it weren’t so true,” he responded ruefully as he headed for the stairs.  “Good night.  I’m glad you’re going to be all right.”

 

            “Yeah, me too,” she answered softly as she snuggled down on the couch.  “Me too.”

 

 

Chapter Four

 

            Buffy’s peaceful sleep was interrupted after an hour or so by a presence in the room.  Her instincts screamed, “Vampire!”, but before the adrenaline even had time to reach her system, she recognized which vampire and she relaxed back onto the couch.  It didn’t occur to her to question how or why she could separate Spike’s signature from all others.  She just knew she did and she let her eyes drift shut again.

 

            The next time she opened them, it was to find a pair of intense blue eyes only a few inches from her face.  The hand that Spike had been cautiously reaching toward her face was quickly withdrawn when he saw her looking back at him.  For several seconds they just stared at each other without speaking.  Finally, Buffy collected herself and said, “I thought I told you to go somewhere else to patrol.  Why didn’t you go?  You could have been caught by the Initiative again.”  The soft look on her face belied the angry words.

 

            Spike blinked at her in surprise then smiled and brought his hand back to her face to stroke her cheek. 

 

            “You’re welcome, Slayer,” he said softly.  She gave him an answering smile and leaned into his hand briefly before pulling back from him.

 

            He sat back on his haunches and studied her carefully; she was beautiful.  Her cheeks had their color back and her eyes were sleepy green pools. Her golden hair was spread out around her head and he had to resist the urge to run his fingers through it.  Something of what he was thinking must have shown on his face, as Buffy blushed and looked away from him uncomfortably.

 

             Watch it, mate.  The girl’s just getting her strength back.  She doesn’t need to see you lookin’ at her like she was a piece of candy.

 

          “Did you bring Giles’ sword back?” she asked abruptly.  He shot her a surprised look, wondering how she knew about the sword.

 

            “Yeah, pet,” he mumbled. “It’s back.”

 

            “Is the demon chopped into little bitty demon bits?” 

 

            “Very little bitty bits, Slayer.  He won’t be biting anyone else’s arm off.”

 

            “Good,” she said emphatically and smiled at him.  “The littler, the better.  And I hope it hurt!”

 

            “Well, aren’t you the bloodthirsty little chit tonight,” he grinned at her with delight.  “You sound almost like a vampire, Slayer.”

 

            “I SO do not!” she huffed; then grinned back at him. 

 

            They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes until Buffy asked carefully,  “Spike.  Why did you save me?”

 

            The vampire wore a look that could only be described as terrified.  He worked his mouth for a minute, trying to make something coherent come out while she waited patiently for his answer.

 

             Sod it all.  How do I answer that without getting myself staked or sounding like a nancy-boy?

 

            “Um, well... I came here to kill you, didn’t I?  Not much point in letting some overgrown gopher take the glory now, is there?” 

 

            He sat back and smiled at her, quite pleased with his explanation. The Slayer studied him closely for a minute; then shook her head and snorted, “Oh, well, I knew there had to be a good reason.” She continued to shake her head and smile.

 

            “Hey!  Are you laughin’ at me?  Don’t you believe me?  Why else would I save your cute little ass?”

 

            “You think I have a cute ass?” she pounced.  “Maybe that’s why you saved me.  You like to look at my ass.”

 

            The vampire rolled his eyes and growled.  “I didn’t mean that. It just slipped out.  It’s just an expression, Slayer. Don’t go making a big deal of it.”

 

            “So, you DONT think I have a cute ass?  Is that what you’re saying?  You don’t like my ass?”  She tried to look mournful, even as she smothered her giggles at his obvious frustration.  He stretched his neck out and rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relieve the tension there.

 

            “I’m crazy about your ass,” he surprised himself by admitting. “It’s your mouth that makes me want to kill you.”

 

            “I thought you liked my mouth too,” she said softly.  “Don’t you like my mouth, Spike?” she asked, leaning toward him slowly.

 

            The vampire groaned as he surrendered to his need to touch her and assure himself she was really all right.

 

            “I love your mouth, Buffy.  Just...” he brushed his lips over hers lightly, “not... “he applied a little more pressure, “when... words... are... coming... out... of  ...it.”  With each whispered word, he planted another soft kiss on her lips and moved slightly closer to her.  When he got to “it” he reached one hand to the side of her face and held her still as he deepened the kiss.

 

            Buffy felt herself melt into the couch cushions when his tongue began delicately swirling around hers and she reached up with her good arm to pull him closer.  Her fingers played with the soft curls on the nape of his neck as she let herself sink into the kiss.

 

            It wasn’t long before both human and vampire were breathing hard and craving more contact.  However, when Buffy tried to pull Spike up on the couch with her, the pressure on her injured arm was so painful that she gave a muffled scream.

 

            Spike was instantly repentant and he pushed her back onto the cushions, babbling apologies and kissing her face as he tried to make the pain go away. 

 

            “I’m sorry, luv.  I’m so sorry.  I’m a bad man.  Never meant to hurt you, Buffy.  I’m sorry.”

 

            Buffy was touched by the vampire’s obviously sincere concern for her and she touched his cheek soothingly as she said,  “It’s okay, Spike.  I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.  It... it was my fault.  I was trying to....” Her voice trailed off as she realized she wasn’t sure what she was trying to do, only that she wanted him closer.

 

            “I just wanted to be touching you,” she said shyly, refusing to meet his eyes.  “I wanted you to be close to me.  Guess it wasn’t a good idea, huh?”

 

            “I think it’s a bloody wonderful idea, sweetheart.  But you need to rest and heal.  I shouldn’t have—”

 

            The rest of his sentence was cut off as she pressed her warm lips to his in a chaste, but affectionate kiss.  “Just hold that thought until I’m better,” she breathed into his mouth before pulling back slightly and blushing at her boldness.

 

             Don’t know what I’m embarrassed about.  It’s not like I wasn’t all over him when he was in that bathtub.  I should have known we couldn’t start kissing without....

 

          When their mouths separated, he tipped his head to touch his forehead to hers as he traced her parted lips with one finger. 

 

            “I hope that’s not the drugs talkin’, pet.  Cause I’m plannin’ to hold you to that the minute you’re healed up.”  He straightened up and continued, “That said, you need to rest and I need to clean your watcher’s sword so he doesn’t get all pissy about how I took care of it.  Go back to sleep, luv.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

            He set a gentle kiss on her forehead and stood up to walk away.  Buffy’s eyes were closing before he had even turned away and she went back to sleep with a small smile on her face.

 

Chapter Five

 

            The following morning Buffy was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a large bowl of cereal and telling Giles about her meeting with Riley and the squad of commandos.

 

            “I told them to leave Spike alone, but I don’t think they’re going to.  Stupid soldiers.  Only one of them even knew what I was and he looked at me funny.

 

            “Funny?  You mean he laughed at you?” The watcher frowned.

 

            “No, that would have been Riley,” she growled into her corn flakes. “No, this guy was looking at me like I was a walking museum display or something. It was kinda creepy.”

 

            Whatever Giles was going to reply was interrupted by a knock on the door.  He sighed and got up to walk over and open it – which was not difficult as it was still damaged from Spike’s kick the night before.

 

            Standing outside was an agitated-looking Riley Finn.  “Giles! Have you seen Buffy?  I can’t find her anywhere and there was a girl fitting her description brought into the emergency room last night with....”  He stopped talking as he spotted Buffy calmly eating her cereal.

 

            “Bu-Buffy?  You’re here.  And alive.  And... you’re eating cereal….”

 

            He turned to Giles and said, “So I guess it wasn’t her last night. The report said the girl’s arm was almost ripped off and that she had lost a lot of blood.”

 

            Buffy stood up and waved at him cheerily with her bandaged, but much recovered arm.

 

            “Nope, it was me.  But how did you know about it?” she asked, suddenly suspicious.

 

            The big soldier looked temporarily embarrassed, then admitted, “We monitor all ER admissions for signs of vampire or demon activity.  When I heard about – I went looking for you but you weren’t in your dorm or at home and I didn’t know where else to check.  But if it was you... They said the girl was in critical condition; you look like somebody with a scratch on her arm.”  He shook his head in puzzlement and waited for her explanation.

 

            “Riley, I thought that other guy told you about me last night.  Didn’t you listen?”

 

            “Johnson?  Well he didn’t really know that much.  He said you were this ‘vampire slayer’ that is mentioned in the literature, and that you were enhanced in some way that allows you to fight the vampires on equal terms.  But he didn’t mention that you couldn’t be hurt!”

 

            “It’s called Slayer healing, Riley.  I CAN be hurt.  I can be killed, for that matter.  Most Slayers don’t live as long as I have.  They are killed by something before their eighteenth birthday.  But I AM harder to kill than a normal human.  And I do heal really, really fast, so...”

 

            “Maggie is definitely going to want to meet you,” Riley said getting excited at the prospect.  “She’ll be ecstatic to have something to study that’s on our side!”

 

            Buffy looked at him dubiously and Giles frowned.  “SomeTHING to study?” he asked pointedly, “or someONE to meet? Which is it, Riley?”

 

            “Oh, someone to meet.  Absolutely.  I didn’t mean to imply... But she may want to run some tests.  You know, just to see if you can really—”

 

            “Tests?” Buffy asked in a high pitched voice.  “There will be no tests.  I am totally no-test girl.”

 

            “They’ll be harmless, Buffy.  You know, just testing your strength and reflexes. Stuff like that.”

 

            “Like the ones you ran on Spike?” she asked quietly.  “Harmless, like that?”

 

            “Hostile 17 is a VAMPIRE, Buffy.  The strongest one we’ve run across yet.  We learned some valuable things from him before he escaped, and we could learn even more if you would stop protecting him.”

 

            “Leave him alone.”  She spoke softly, but there was no mistaking the steel in her voice and Riley suddenly had a quick glimpse of the Slayer.  Even as he told himself he wasn’t backing off from a girl half his size, his mouth was busy assuring her that they were not planning to touch Spike without her permission.

 

            “We’ll just monitor his actions as he goes about his business and see how well the chip modifies his behavior.  As long as it’s working, we know he can’t kill or feed off humans, and we can easily recapture him if we need to.  It’s not like he can fight back now.”

 

            Something in Riley’s smug tone rubbed Buffy the wrong way and she had to bite her tongue so as not to tell him how brave he sounded about taking on a helpless creature.

 

             Whoa! What’s wrong here?  This is my boyfriend. Spike is just... just the vampire who saved my life and kissed me and... hooo boy, could my life get any more mixed up?

 

            As soon as Riley felt he had control of the conversation again, he went back to his request that Buffy meet Professor Walsh in her other capacity as the head of the Initiative Lab.  Giles and Buffy exchanged dubious looks, but Riley’s honest face looking at her hopefully led her to agree to go with him later and meet Maggie Walsh as Slayer and scientist rather than coed and professor.

 

            Riley left the apartment with Buffy’s promise to meet him later at the Student Union and go with him to Dr. Walsh’s office.  Buffy took the hospital bandage off her arm and surveyed the rapidly closing wound. 

 

            “You know, Giles, I think this is healing even faster than normal.”  She looked at her Watcher and added with a twinkle in her eye, “Maybe I should have Spike lick me every time I get hurt?”

 

            “Oh good lord, Buffy!  Don’t say that even in jest.  There’s no telling what a regular infusion of Slayer blood would do to a vampire his age.  He could become incredibly strong... invincible even.  I shudder to think about it.  William the Bloody....” The watcher drifted off into visions of the havoc an enhanced Spike could wreak on the world.

 

            “Relax, Giles.  I was only kidding.  It’s not like I WANT Spike licking me, for heaven’s sake!” 

 

             Spike licking me. No, I don’t want that... not much I don’t.

 

            Buffy was very grateful that Giles didn’t have Spike’s ability to sense her arousal or hear her heartbeat.  She was pretty sure her face was flushed and she turned away so that the man who was like a father to her wouldn’t have any idea what the thought of Spike’s licking her was doing to her body.

 

************

 

            Buffy’s meeting with Maggie Walsh went much better than she’d expected.  The older woman was fascinated by the whole process of calling new Slayers.

 

            “And you say these are always teenagers?  Young teenagers?”

 

            “Yes, if a girl hasn’t been called by the time she’s eighteen, she’s home free.”

             

“But there’s no age limit to how long you can be a Slayer?”

 

            “No, but as a... friend... once said to me, we all come with an expiration date.  Very few Slayers live into their late teens or twenties.”

 

             Buffy saw Riley flinch at her honest answer as to how long she might live and felt momentarily sorry for the Iowa farm boy who was just realizing exactly HOW different his unusual girl friend might be.

 

              Maggie looked at her speculatively for a minute, then asked, “Is that the arm that was almost severed last night? “ She gestured toward Buffy’s injured arm, which was wrapped in a clean, much smaller bandage than it had been when Riley saw it in the morning.

 

“Uh, yeah, yes it is.  It’s much better now, though.”

 

“Do you always heal that quickly?” the older woman asked.  Buffy looked at her sharply to see if there was a reason she might be asking that question, but Maggie was looking back at her blandly, waiting for her answer.

 

“I heal pretty quickly,” Buffy answered noncommittally. 

 

When Maggie followed that with the off-hand observation that their studies showed vampires could apparently close the wounds they made by licking them, Buffy struggled to keep the panic off her face as she felt Riley’s furious eyes on her.

 

            There’s no way she can know about Spike or what he did.  She has to be fishing. I just have to keep my cool and not look at Riley until... Ok, no such luck.

 

            “Buffy!  Did you let that... that…. Did he touch you?”  Riley was on his feet, fists clenched at his sides, glaring at her.  Maggie leaned back in her chair with a small, satisfied smile on her face and watched the two young people.

 

            “Riley,” Buffy started calmly, “It’s not what—”

 

            “He tasted your blood?  That disgusting, bloodsucking creature took advantage of your condition to drink your blood!  And you don’t want me to take him in?  What is wrong with you?” 

 

The big man stood there looking at her and breathing hard.  Unfortunately for him, asking Buffy what was wrong with her probably wasn’t his best move.  She whirled on him, hands on hips and yelled right back at him.

 

“That ‘disgusting, bloodsucking creature’ saved my life last night, you moron!  If he hadn’t put a tourniquet on my arm, AND “ she glared at him, daring him to interrupt, “used his mouth and tongue to close the wound, I wouldn’t be standing here.  Somewhere in the world, another fifteen-year-old would be finding her life had changed forever!  Spike helped me get away, stopped the bleeding, got me to Giles, and went back and killed the demon that bit me. So, yeah, I want you to leave him alone.”

 

“No way,” he ground out. “He goes back into a cage or I dust him.  No way does he get to touch you like that.”

 

“I think that would be my decision, Riley,” she said in a much quieter and deadlier voice.  “Not yours.”

 

 Riley was too angry to notice the change in her demeanor, but Maggie leaned forward to study this suddenly lethal-looking young woman.  When Riley opened his mouth to reply, his boss interrupted with, “Agent Finn, I think that’s quite enough. I am sure Ms Summers is capable of making her own decisions as to what constitutes proper emergency care for someone of her... background.”

 

Years of following orders prevented the commando from following his inclination, which was to shake Buffy until she agreed with him, but it didn’t keep him from silently vowing to himself that Spike was going to disappear soon.

 

As though she could read his mind, Buffy fixed a cold eye on him and stated firmly, “I’m not going to say this again. Leave. Spike. Alone.” 

 

Without even acknowledging Professor Walsh’s presence, she strode out of the room, still fuming.  The urge to hit or kill something was almost overwhelming and it stayed with her all the way back to her watcher’s apartment.

 

She burst in the door, almost removing what Spike had left of the hinges.  The startled Scoobies looked up to see an extremely angry Slayer standing in the room with her fists clenched.

 

“Hey, Buffster, what’s up?”  Xander did his best to sound non-threatening and cheery.  Everyone else just stayed still, hoping not to be the focus of her wrath.  When she kicked a footstool across the room hard enough to put a dent in the wall, Giles recovered himself enough to ask, “I take it your meeting didn’t go well?”

 

“She knows,” Buffy looked at Giles.  “Somehow she knows and she set me up so that now Riley knows and he wants to kill Spike.  For saving my life! “

 

She walked over to the table and slumped down into a chair.

 

“Willow, isn’t there a spell that could, like, remove all the testosterone in the world?  I mean, wouldn’t that be like, a public service or something?”

 

The two Wiccas smiled at each other as Anya spoke up.  “I don’t want Xander to lose his testosterone.  It makes him want to give me orgasms.  That would be a bad spell, Willow.  Don’t do it.”

 

Giles tried to sooth Buffy’s nerves by offering, “Spike has been taking care of himself for a very long time, Buffy.  I’m sure, even with the chip, that he can handle this. All he has to do is keep out of their way.  If he stays in and keeps a low profile....”

 

Xander snorted and Buffy raised an eyebrow. “This is Spike, Giles,” she said quietly.

 

“Yes, quite.  Well, I suppose we could just try to see that he is always with someone when he goes out.  Surely Riley wouldn’t try anything if one of us is with him.”

 

“I hope you’re right, Giles.  I really hope you’re right.”  Buffy perked up a little and asked Xander, “Will you tell him, Xan?  When you get home, tell him not to go out unless one of us is with him.  Preferably, me.”

 

“Sure, Buff.  I’ll be happy to tell the bleached wonder that the Big Bad can’t go out without a bodyguard.  It’ll be my pleasure.”

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

As Xander and Spike were walking back from an evening trip to the butcher’s, scuffling sounds came from a narrow alley.  The unmistakable sounds of a struggle were coming from behind a large dumpster and they exchanged looks.  Spike raised his eyebrow questioningly and Xander nodded.

 

“Ok, if it’s demon, you’ve got it.  If it’s human, I hope it’s smaller than me!”

 

Carefully setting down his bag of pig’s blood, Spike went into game face and used his enhanced vision to look into the alley.  A muffled “help” was all it took to send both of them rushing to the rescue without waiting to see what they were stepping into.

 

As soon as they were well into the dark alley, they were surrounded by large men dressed in black.  “Get him! Now” came from a familiar-looking figure as the men attacked the vampire with clubs and tazers.  

 

Xander’s startled, “Hey!” was met with a strong shove that sent him careening into the wall hard enough to stun him for a moment.  In that length of time, Spike had attempted to retaliate against the men closest to him and was now on the ground, holding his head and moaning.  As the vampire huddled there in the dirt of the alley, the commandos began beating him with their clubs.  Slowly and methodically, they began at his head, worked their way down his body and back up again.

 

The young Scoobie flung himself off the wall and attempted to grab the arm of the man nearest to him.  The stronger-than-normal human commando turned around and with one punch, sent Xander back into the wall where he slumped to the ground, unconscious.

 

As his eyesight faded, he could see the men kicking at Spike’s now immobile body as he lay on the floor of the alley.  So much for using me as a bodyguard he thought wryly as he lost consciousness.

 

When Xander came to, it took him several seconds to remember where he was and what had happened.  When he finally remembered and opened his eyes, he almost wished he hadn’t.  Right in front of him, the commandos were still beating on Spike’s apparently life-less body.  The alley was splattered with blood from the vampire’s head and face. 

 

Before he could stagger to his feet and attempt to sneak away for help, he noticed that the men had stopped for a second.  The next thing he saw were commando bodies flying through the air and one extremely pissed off slayer wading into the group of humans surrounding the vampire.

 

Buffy wasted no time with sparring or feeling out her opponents.  She backhanded the first man away from Spike hard enough to send him into the wall next to Xander.  A well-placed kick to the chest of another sent him into the other wall to slide down it clutching his broken ribs and moaning. 

 

By that point, the others had recovered from their surprise and were moving toward the small blonde girl, clubs raised and tazers in front of them.  A strangled, “No!” from Riley, did nothing to slow them down as they approached the woman who had injured two of their comrades.

 

Buffy leaped into the air over their heads, flipping as she did so to land facing their backs into which she planted two stylishly clad, booted feet.  She wrenched the club from one of the men as she flipped past him and used it to break the arm of the man holding the tazer.

 

Xander had recovered his senses enough to pick up the club from the man lying next to him, who clearly wouldn’t be using it for a while, and he used it to crack the head of another commando trying to get to Buffy from behind.

 

Within a very few seconds, all that was left standing in the alley were Xander, Buffy and a thoroughly confused Riley.  Every military instinct he had honed over the last several years told him to retaliate against the person who had just single-handedly wiped out his squad.  But the Iowa farm boy who had thought he was falling in love with the beautiful little blonde in front of him was struggling to see Buffy as a powerful foe rather than a helpless woman.

 

His indecision probably saved his life, as Buffy’s attention went to the almost unrecognizable mass of flesh and bone at her feet.  When Xander followed her gaze to the ground, he had to turn away and fight the urge to empty his stomach.  With the exception of one small patch of bright blond hair, Spike’s entire head was covered with blood.  Both eyes were swollen shut, his nose was broken, his lips were split completely open, and there were two teeth lying beside his bleeding mouth.

 

The rest of his body was not in any better shape, although the duster he wore hid much of the bruising and bleeding, there was no disguising the awkward angles of the broken bones in his arms and legs.  There was no sign of life or movement, although Buffy reminded herself over and over that no dust meant he was still as alive as someone undead could be.

 

With the adrenaline from the fight leaving her body, the Slayer turned back into a young woman and she slid to her knees beside Spike’s body.  Totally oblivious to the dirt and blood staining her pants, she reached out a tentative hand toward his battered head; then drew it back when she couldn’t find an uninjured place to touch.  She raised tearful green eyes to Xander’s sympathetic gaze and waited for her friend to do what he did best.

 

“We need to get him out of here, Buffy.  Get him someplace we can clean him up and get some blood into him.  If you wait here, I’ll run get Giles’ car so we can move him.  I’d better get some more pig’s blood too.  I don’t suppose the stuff we bought is still –“

 

“It’s fine,” Buffy said dully as she continued to hover over the vampire. “That’s how I found you.  I saw the bag from the butcher’s sitting at the end of the alley.  Then I heard the sounds of....” She stopped talking to Xander and fixed her gaze on Riley again.  Although the big commando had not taken his mask off, there was no doubt in her mind who was behind the black cloth.

 

“Buff?  Don’t forget, he’s human,” her friend reminded her gently as he left to get help.

 

“Really?” she asked calmly as she stood up to face her former boyfriend.  “Is that true, Riley?  Because I’ve got to tell you, I’m having a real hard time believing a human could do something like this.  A really hard time.”

 

“He’s a VAMPIRE, Buffy!  You know, those things you’re supposed to ‘slay’?”

 

“He’s MY vampire and I told you to leave him alone.  I won’t tell you again.” She held his eyes until he dropped them and looked away. 

 

“I need to get my men out of here,” he mumbled as he reached for his communicator.

 

“Not until Spike’s safe,” she said flatly as she slapped the device out of his hand.  When he reflexively tried to grab her arm, she whirled and threw him the length of the alley.  He leaped to his feet and went into a fighting stance.  For a full minute, the former lovers glared at each other from several feet apart.

 

“Do you really want to do this, Riley?” she asked him.  “Cause I’ve got to tell you, I want so much to hurt you right now...” Her voice quivered as a sob tried to work its way out of her throat.  “How could you?” she got out as she relaxed from her stance.  “How could you do something like this to someone who saved my life?”

 

“SomeTHING, Buffy.  He’s a thing.”

 

She was saved from answering him by the arrival of her Watcher and Xander.  Giles’ had apparently been warned about Spike’s condition and he had brought some wooden slats with him and Ace bandages to use for make-shift splints.  While they worked to protect Spike’s visible broken bones, Buffy tried to force some pig’s blood into his battered mouth.  He made no attempt to swallow and the blood ran back out.

 

While they were trying to make Spike comfortable enough to travel, the commandos lying around the alley began stirring and waking up.  Xander quickly collected all the weapons he could find and piled them near the bag of pig’s blood. One glare from the Slayer discouraged any movement from the one or two men capable of thinking about retaliation.   Riley fumed silently from a distance as his former girl friend worked to repair some of the damage he and his men had inflicted on the vampire.

 

As soon as Giles thought it was safe to move him, Buffy and Xander picked Spike up and carried him to the car waiting at the alley entrance.  The ex-watcher picked up the weapons and the bag of blood, and as he turned to leave he said in Ripper’s quiet, but unmistakably threatening voice, “You will be wanting to stay away from Buffy in the future, Agent Finn.  Very far away.”  He turned his back on the soldiers and went to join Buffy and Xander in his car.

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

It was Buffy’s decision to take Spike to her house on Revello Drive.  She knew her mother liked the vampire and would not object to having him there to recover. The ride was made in silence, each of them wrapped up in their own thoughts as Giles drove carefully through the dark town.

 

Buffy was in the back seat with Spike’s head on her lap.  It was too dark in the car to see any more than had been visible in the poorly lit alley and she was still afraid to touch any of the swollen places on his face for fear of hurting him more.  Xander was mulling over how quickly what he’d seen tonight had destroyed the admiration he‘d previously felt for the undercover soldiers and their awesome weapons.  The Watcher was gratified to find his distrust in the whole Initiative organization was justified – especially his dislike for Maggie Walsh.  He was mildly surprised to find himself somewhat sorry that his justification had come at Spike’s expense; but his inherent British sense of fair play made it impossible not to be angry that the vampire had sustained such a horrific beating due to his actions in saving Buffy's life.

 

When they got to the Summers' home, they found that Willow and Tara had arrived before them and were busy making pain-killing medicines and soothing salves that were liberally laced with healing spells.  One look at Spike’s unconscious face and body had Buffy’s mother pointing to the stairs. She ordered him placed in the guest room as she followed them upstairs.  When everyone tried to crowd into the room with her, Joyce ordered everyone out except Willow and Buffy. 

 

With clean cloths and a basin of rapidly reddening water, the women worked to clean the blood off the still unconscious vampire so that they could see exactly how badly injured he was.  Joyce had to turn away when the cleaning exposed the bruised and broken face that had always looked at her with such trust and affection.  She gave herself a mental shake and turned back to help in the cleanup.

 

With no sense of impropriety, she assisted the girls in cutting off his blood-caked jeans and shirt.  Even with blood and bruises all over him, it was easy to see that the vampire had an exceptionally nice looking body.  The smooth, velvety skin and defined muscles were well evident even with the edges of broken ribs poking out and bruises everywhere.  She smiled when she noticed Buffy blush and lay a towel over Spike’s groin area; then frowned when she saw her daughter’s hand linger for a little longer than necessary on his prominent hipbone.

 

            Oh well, at least I like THIS vampire, she thought, giving a silent sigh.

 

Spike had a huge gash on the top of his head where one of the clubs had split both the scalp and the bone.  When they had washed away all the blood, and saw the extent of the damage, all three women inhaled sharply and flinched.

 

“Oh, Buffy...” Joyce started, not really sure what she was going to say, but knowing they were not looking at a minor injury.  Whatever she was going to say was interrupted as her daughter raised a hand.

 

“No. No, he’s going to be all right.  He has to be.  He’s not dusty, so he’ll get better.  It might take awhile, but he’ll get better.  I know he will.”  The expression on her face did not match her positive words, and her mother squeezed her hand in silent support of the anguish she saw there.

 

“Bu-Buffy?” Willow said softly.  “Is that what I think it is?”

 

The red haired witch pointed toward a small piece of plastic that was sticking out of the opening in Spike’s skull.  Both girls stared at the small chip with horrified eyes.

 

“Oh my god,” Buffy breathed.  “It’s the chip.  They hit him so hard, they knocked the chip loose.”

 

“What chip?” Joyce asked as she peered into Spike’s head.

 

Buffy drew a deep breath and said, “Mom, the... people...that Riley works for captured Spike a while ago and planted an electronic chip in his brain that keeps him from biting.  That’s why it’s been safe to be around him lately.  He can’t hurt humans.”

 

“Oh.  Well that explains the headaches, I guess.”

 

Buffy whirled to look at her mother.  “Headaches? Spike got headaches around you?”  Disappointment and dismay shot across her face.  She had always thought her mother was safe around Spike.  In fact, she had never had Willow revoke his invitation to their house.

 

Her mother blinked at her vehemence, then realized what Buffy thought she’d said.  “Oh no, honey.  Not because of me!  He came into the gallery one night right when I was having trouble with some thugs who thought... well, I don’t know what they thought, but I was getting pretty scared by the time Spike showed up.  He threw them out, but then he fell to the floor holding his head and it was quite a while before he could move without getting a serious headache.  I was a little worried about him, to tell you the truth.  Now I understand what happened.”

 

“Whew!” Willow said for Buffy.  “You had us worried there.”

 

“Yeah, Mom.  I really haven’t worried that Spike would try to hurt you in years.”

 

Her mother frowned in thought.  “And, he never has, now that I think of it.  All those times he came by the gallery...”

 

“All those times he what?”

 

“Spike likes art, Buffy.  He knows quite a bit about it actually.  Anyway, he has often stopped in the gallery when he was in Sunnydale to chat and see what new things I’ve added.  Sometimes he has ideas for me – something he’s seen somewhere in his travels...why are you looking at me like that?”

 

“William the Bloody, UNCHIPPED William the Bloody, has been visiting you and you never thought this was something you should tell me?  Did it ever occur to you that he might have killed you?”

 

“No, honey, it didn’t.  And I don’t think he ever would. Chip or no chip, he’s my friend.”

 

Buffy and Willow just gaped at the older woman who smiled back at them confidently.  Buffy shook her head and turned to look at her friend.

 

“Can you believe that, Will?”

 

“Uh, actually... you know he’s never tried very hard to kill me either.  I mean there was the whole broken bottle, make-me-a-love-spell thing, but he never tried to bite me. Even the time he did try to bite me – when he first got the chip? He hadn’t come there planning to and I’m not sure he would’ve gone through with it.  I think he just wanted to scare me because he was mad at you.”

 

“Me? Why?”

 

“He thought you were responsible for the chip.  That you set him up.”

 

While Buffy mulled over what her mother and friend had said, Joyce brought her attention back to the vampire’s open skull.

 

“Girls, we need to clean this up before it begins to heal like this.” She turned to look at her daughter.  “What are you going to do with the chip, Buffy? You can’t leave it dangling there.”

 

“Your mom’s right, Buffy.  We can’t leave it like that.”

 

“Could you put it back, Will?”

 

“Me?  Oh no, brain surgery – not my thing.  Anyway, I don’t think it’s really attached anymore.  Just one little thingie holding it in, see?” She pointed to a thin fiber linking the chip to the exposed part of Spike’s brain.

 

Buffy stared at the battered body of the vampire who saved her life, protected her mother, and gave her kisses that she felt all the way down to her toes.  She remembered how helpful he’d been to Giles when Willow’s spell had them thinking they were getting married.  And how sweet and loving he’d been to her.  With a sudden movement, she reached in and yanked the chip out of his head and dropped it on the nightstand.  She stood up straight and stared defiantly at Willow and her mother.

 

“I don’t ever want him to be unable to defend himself again,” she said firmly. 

 

The other two women nodded, then Willow said,  “But, suppose he goes back to eating people?”

 

“Then I’ll stake him,” Buffy said quietly.  “If it comes to that, I’ll stake him.”

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

When the three women had cleaned up all the blood and re-splinted the broken bones, they were left with nothing to do but stare anxiously at the immobile vampire and wonder if and when he was going to wake up.  They had cleaned up his head as best they could and pulled the pieces of his skull into place.  Buffy used butterfly bandages to hold the pieces of his scalp closed over the broken bone and hoped that was enough to help it close itself back up.

 

She sent her mother and Willow downstairs to warm up some pig’s blood for him and to get them out of her way.  She knew what he needed, and she knew there was only one way to get him to start swallowing.  She pulled a sharp knife from her boot and quickly ran it across her wrist.  She held the bleeding wrist under his nose briefly to be sure he scented her blood, then she gently pressed it to his swollen lips, coaxing, “Come on, Spike.  It’s Slayer blood.  You know you want it.  Come on, drink from me.  Please?”

 

For several tense seconds she worried that he was too far gone and she was surprised at the way her stomach clenched at the thought.  Just as she was about to pull her arm away in despair, his tongue slid out and touched the blood that she was allowing to drip into his mouth.  He licked her wrist gently and them his face shifted and he fastened his mouth on it and began taking strong pulls of her magical blood.

 

“That’s it, Spike. Drink up, baby.  It’s not like I’m going to offer this everyday.”

 

When she felt herself getting a little dizzy, she pulled her wrist away from his mouth and wrapped it tightly.  She lay down on the bed beside him, being careful not to touch his bruised body, and rested until she heard her mother coming back upstairs with Spike’s blood.

 

Her mother made no comment when she saw Buffy’s bandaged wrist, just told her that Giles had filled her in on how Spike saved her life and what had happened to him because of it.  The grim look on her mother’s face when she mentioned Riley’s name made Buffy wonder briefly if her mother might have been a potential Slayer who just never got called.

 

The heavy pulls of Buffy’s blood had stirred Spike’s demon enough that she could hold the pig’s blood up to his mouth and he sucked it through the straw.  He sucked and swallowed, but gave no other sign that he was at all aware or awake.

 

When she had got as much pig’s blood into him as he would take, Buffy thanked her mother for her help and told her she was staying in Spike’s room until he woke up.  Her mother asked to see the wound that Spike had taken care of for her, and flinched when Buffy rolled her sleeve up.  She looked from the still angry-looking scar on her daughter’s arm to the immobile vampire on the bed and nodded her head.

 

“I’ll bring you some pillows and blankets,” she said and left the room. 

 

Buffy used the time she was gone to move Spike over slightly and pull the top covers out from under him.  She removed the towel she had placed over his groin; admitting to herself that it had been as much to keep her mind on what she was doing as it was to protect his modesty. Something told her Spike had no modesty to protect. She ran her eyes over his battered body and felt her temperature rise as she took in his muscular chest, flat abs and firm thighs. She took one quick look at his now-relaxed penis and remembered how it had felt in her hand when it was full and hard.

 

She shook herself and pulled the covers up over his no-longer bleeding body.  She knew vampires didn’t really feel the cold, but she hoped being warm would promote some healing.  She was trying to feel guilty about looking at Spike’s naked body while he was unconscious, but she was pretty sure that he wouldn’t have objected. She could almost see his smirk and hear the laughter in his voice if he’d caught her ogling him.

 

“Not too sure how you’ll feel about my mom being there, though,” she whispered to him as she tucked the blankets around his neck.  She brushed his forehead with her lips and went to the door to get the pillows and blankets from her mother.  Before she settled down onto her temporary bed on the floor, she carefully pulled all the drapes and made sure no trace of sun was going to leak in with the dawn.

 

With Buffy still recovering from her own blood loss and injury, plus the blood she had just given Spike, she feel quickly into an exhausted slumber and didn’t move until her mother touched her gently on the shoulder in the morning.

 

“Buffy, honey, wake up a minute.”

 

“Wha-? Huh?”  the Slayer opened bleary eyes and blinked at her mother.  She looked around in bewilderment for a minute when she saw she was on the floor of the guest room, then remembered and spun around to look at the man on the bed.  He looked much the same as he had the night before, but already his bones were knitting and his bruises were fading.

 

Buffy gave a sigh of relief and turned to her mother.

 

“I’m leaving now, honey.  I just wanted to be sure you were okay and to tell you there’s juice in the fridge and Spike’s blood is in there, too.  Giles wants you to call him when you get up.”

 

“Okay, Mom.  Thank you,” she said as she curled back up in her blankets and went immediately back to sleep.

 

The next time she opened her eyes, she looked up to see startlingly blue ones staring down at her from the side of the bed.  Her heart jumped when she absorbed the fact that he was awake.  She sat up quickly, which put her face right next to his head.  She saw the pain etched on his face and quickly realized that he was not really recovered, but had just turned over far enough to look down at her.

 

“Good morning,” she said softly, resisting the urge to run her fingers over his face. “How do you feel?”

 

“It’s kinda interesting, pet.  On the one hand, I feel like I got run over by a whole herd of trucks; and on the other...” He looked at her intently, “I feel like I just had a whopping dose of Slayer blood.  ‘Course, I know there’s no one aroun’ here dumb enough to give up any more blood than she’d already lost, don’t I?” 

 

He glared at her angrily, but behind the anger was something that looked strangely like...fear?

 

She raised her hand, no longer able to resist the urge to touch him and assure herself that he was really speaking to her, and when she did, he spotted the bandage on her wrist.

 

“Bloody hell, Slayer!” Are you insane?”

 

“I had no choice!” she snapped back at him.  “You weren’t responding to anything and we had to get some blood into you.  I thought mine might wake the demon up enough to drink. And it worked.  So there!”  She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him triumphantly.

 

“It was bloody stupid, luv.  I might have drained you.” He allowed his head to fall back onto the pillow and stared up at the ceiling.

 

“I knew you wouldn’t,” she said softly.  “Anyway, you were too weak to drain anybody, let alone a slayer.”  She paused for a moment and then continued in a small voice, “You scared me, Spike.  I wasn’t sure I—we’d get you back.”

 

“Can’t get rid of me that easily, Slayer.” He smiled up at the ceiling.  “You know me. I always come back.”

 

“Well so far, you have.  Let’s not push it, huh?” she said as she stood up shakily. He frowned at her when he saw how unsteady she was on her feet.

 

“Buffy? Luv?  Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Just a little dizzy.  I’m going downstairs to get something to eat and some juice.  I’ll bring your blood with me when I come back up.” 

 

As she turned to go, she unobtrusively scooped the chip off the nightstand.  As much as she told herself she was coming to trust him, she wasn’t ready for him to know that he was no longer muzzled.  She slipped the little piece of silicone into her pocket as she left the room.

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

It was very obvious to Joyce that, slayer and vampire healing to the contrary, neither Buffy nor Spike was ready to be doing anything very strenuous.  At her insistence, they spent the next two days in her house.

 

 The first day Buffy spent most of her time watching television and drinking and eating to get back up to full strength.  Although she had been pretty much recovered from her close call with the gopher-demon when she took on Riley’s squad, she hadn’t been at 100%.  That fight and losing even the small amount of blood she allowed Spike to drink had really depleted her physically and she was happy to lie around and rest for a day or so.

 

            Spike spent most of the time sleeping; waking up only long enough to swallow the mugs of pig’s blood that Buffy brought him every few hours.  He seemed to be healing, but remained in pain.  He stayed in bed in the guest room, too weak to follow Buffy downstairs to watch TV.   A fierce look from her mother had been enough to move Buffy out of Spike’s room and into her own once he was obviously recovering. 

 

In reality, Buffy was grateful for her mother’s sense of propriety as she was still struggling with her feelings for the unpredictable vampire. 

 

Okay, there’s lust.  Lots of lust.  From both of us.  No sense denying that.  But lust is just... lust.  Annoying, but it can be dealt with.  Cold showers, quality boyfriend time – wait, scratch that – nice, normal boyfriend has become a non-starter.  So, no more boyfriend to take the edge off the lust.  Not a problem.  I can control myself.

 

But suppose it isn’t just lust?  Why is Spike being so nice to me? And why was I so scared when I thought he might dust? I can’t do this again.  Not another vampire. People get hurt when I let myself fall in – nope, no falling.  There will be no falling here.

 

After the second day, Buffy was too bored and edgy to remain at her mother’s and she returned to school and to the dorm.  Before she left, she helped Spike get down the stairs and installed on the couch with a mug of blood beside him.  

 

“I’ll come back and check on you this afternoon,” she told him as she fussed around him, reluctant to leave but too bored and antsy to stay put.

 

 “Go on, Slayer.  I’m a big boy.  I think I can handle lazin’ on the couch without spontaneously combusting.  Go be a college girl.  And, Buffy?”

 

She looked at him curiously.

 

“Try to learn something, luv.”  He laughed as she glared at him and flounced toward the door.

 

“Fine.  I’m out of here,” she huffed.

 

“Slayer.”  His quiet voice stopped her indignant exit.

 

“I’m not really up for a rescue mission right now so stay away from fraternity boys.”

 

“I’ll be careful,” she said with a small smile as she pulled the door shut behind her.

 

“Thank you,” he said softly to the closed door.

 

With the drapes carefully pulled shut, it was possible for Spike to loll on the couch in the living room and watch Passions.  He made sure to tape it for Joyce in case she didn’t get to see it at the gallery. 

 

Although he was outwardly much better, including having grown back the two teeth that were knocked out, the broken bones had not healed completely and he was still in a lot of pain from internal injuries.  Not to mention the dizziness that afflicted him every time he tried to stand up or move quickly.

 

When Buffy got back that evening, she noticed him wincing as he shifted to reach for the mug of blood she was holding out.  She knelt down beside the couch and looked at him closely.

 

“You aren’t really healed yet, are you?” she asked softly. 

 

He looked back at her and admitted ruefully, “Not really, pet.  Those tin soldiers did a pretty good job on my insides with their boots.  Would make decent footballers, some of them.”

 

            “Mom says you can stay here as long as you need to.  You know that, don’t you?  She really likes you,” Buffy added with a smile.

 

He looked at her intently enough to make her nervous, then relaxed and smiled easily.

 

“I really like her too, luv. Treats me like a man, she does. Even before I had the chip, she was always nice to me.”  He peered at Buffy from under his eyebrows and smirked as he said, “’Course I never told her I was trying to kill her daughter all those times I came through town....”

 

“Uh, yeah.  Think that might have made a difference.” She looked at him hard. “I almost had a heart attack when she told me you’d been coming to see her before you had the chip.  I can’t believe you didn’t try to kill her, or kidnap her or something to get to me.”

 

“Don’t play that way, luv.  I wanted to beat you fair and square – just us dancin’. No weapons, no spells, just you and me. No reason to put your mum in the middle of it.”

 

“What about now?” she asked softly, as she looked down at the floor so she wouldn’t have to meet his perceptive gaze.  “Do you still want to dance with me?”

 

“I’ll never get over wantin’ to dance with you, Buffy.  Fighting with you is the most fun I’ve had in my unlife.”  He paused and tilted her chin up so he could look into her eyes.  “But the urge to kill you seems to have got lost somewhere between you takin’ me in when I was starving and Red’s bloody engagement spell.”

 

Buffy sat frozen in place, her chin still resting lightly on his fingertips. She was mesmerized by the emotions she could see in his expressive blue eyes.  Suddenly his cool fingers were burning into her skin and she felt herself moving toward his face.  Her gaze dropped from his eyes to his lips and before she could wonder what she was doing, she was kissing him.

 

She kept the kiss soft and gentle, not sure how healed his lips really were, and not willing to let the lust they admittedly felt for each other take over.  To her surprise, he seemed more than willing to keep the kiss soft and tender. He moved his fingers from her chin to the side of her cheek and cupped her face with his hands.  Several minutes of soft, gentle pressure with his lips and she was changing her mind about deepening the kiss.  As though he could read her mind, his cool tongue ran lightly around her lower lip, asking, but not demanding an entrance.

 

Buffy’s lips parted with a sigh and she stroked his questing tongue with her own warm little pink one.  Again, neither of them was willing to rush into anything more passionate.  Buffy continued to kneel in front of him, her hands resting lightly on his knees as he held her face between his callused hands and allowed his lips and tongue to express everything he knew he shouldn’t say.

 

When Spike slanted his head and deepened the kiss again, Buffy gave a little moan and leaned into him, putting pressure on his legs as she shifted her weight.  When she felt him flinch, she was reminded of his broken bones and immediately pulled back, an apology on her lips.

 

“Oh God, your legs! I’m so sorry.  I forgot...”

 

“’S okay, luv.  I forgot too.  Was really not thinkin’ about my legs just then.”

 

His arms were still extended as she pulled her face out of his hands, and after a second’s indecision he allowed them to drop down onto her shoulders.  Buffy reached up and covered his hands with her own small ones as she looked at him anxiously.

 

“Shouldn’t you be better by now?  Is something wrong?”

 

“Nothin’s wrong, luv.  I’m just healing a little slower than I might otherwise. It’s not a big deal.  I’ll get there.  I’d like to get there a little faster, in case you need help patrolling or something, but it’s comin’.”

 

“Why aren’t you healing faster?” she demanded.  “Are you not getting enough blood?  I’ll go get you some more –“ She was prevented from running to the kitchen by his hands putting light pressure on her shoulders.

 

“I’m getting plenty of blood, pet.  I’m sure I’ve wiped out most of pigs in Southern California.  Just let it go.  I’ll be fine.”

 

“I’ve seen vampires heal before.  It shouldn’t be taking this long for those bones to knit.  Something’s not right.  Rest and blood – that’s all you...” She stopped and looked at him with eyes widened in sudden understanding.

 

“Human blood.  You need human blood to heal.  That’s what’s wrong.  Why didn’t you say something?”

 

“Didn’t think you’d want me eating humans, Buffy,” he said gently as he looked away from her.  “Didn’t want to remind you that—”

 

            She stared at the vampire in surprise.  “Didn’t want to remind me what? That you’re a vampire?  I never forget that, Spike.  I can never let myself forget that,” she added so softly he almost didn’t hear it.  She looked down again as she whispered to herself and missed the look of pain that flashed across his face at her first words.

 

Spike let himself fall back against the pillows, sliding his hands off her shoulders and folding them across his chest.

 

“It’s alright, luv.  I’ll heal just fine on the pig’s blood. Jus’ gonna take longer, that’s all.”  He didn’t look at her as he added, “If you think you’re gonna need the extra muscle right away, you could prob’ly get Willie to deliver a couple of pints.  Tell him to put it on my tab.”

 

Buffy didn’t answer him.  She sat back on her heels, her mind whirling

 

            Spike’s been staying away from human blood because of me?  He’s not drinking it, even bagged?  What would happen if he knew he wasn’t chipped any more?  Is he even going to be able to heal properly without the right kind of blood?  What if he can’t heal on pig’s blood?

 

She moved closer to the couch and gently lifted his legs up, so that he was stretched out with his head resting on the pillows.  He looked at her curiously as she leaned against the couch and rested her head on it beside him.

 

“I don’t need you to help me right now, Spike.  I don’t think Walsh is going to be sending her boys out after me anytime soon.  She should have all the information she needs about me by now.”

 

He cocked his head and raised his eyebrow at her.  “Yeah?” he asked.

 

She smiled up at him briefly.  “Oh, yeah.” 

 

He continued to look at her with a question in his eyes and she frowned before answering.

 

“Do you remember anything about the other night? When you got hurt?”

 

“I remember the whelp being thrown against the wall.  Was a little busy after that. What with the chip firin’ when I tried to hit the wankers and getting the shit kicked out of me.  Can’t say I remember much after they started on me with those nightsticks.”

 

Buffy winced in sympathy at the reminder of what he had endured at the hands of humans.

 

“Well, when I found you, Xander was unconscious and bleeding and you were….” She shuddered at the memory of his inert body being systematically beaten by the soldiers.  A cool hand to her cheek reminded her that he was safe on her couch and she continued to speak as she leaned into his hand.

 

“Anyway, Walsh already knew about my healing – and for some reason she seemed to know you helped me.” Buffy stopped to frown at that memory, then shrugged it off as a puzzle for another day.   “Now she knows a little more about how strong I am and how angry I can get.  There’s no way Riley will be able to hide what happened to his squad from her.  Unless he lies about what did it....”

 

She looked up suddenly.  “Do you think he’ll lie?  That he might not tell her it was me?”

 

Spike ran his fingers through her silky hair and she shut her eyes briefly to enjoy the soothing feeling.

 

“Well, if I was Capt’n Cardboard, I don’t think I’d be real eager to say that a tiny little girl had beat up my whole squad.”  He looked down at her sharply.  “You DID beat on them, didn’t you, pet?”

 

“Oh yeah.  Major beat downage.  Broken bones, the whole bit.  I guarantee you the only one that isn’t in the hospital right now is Riley.”

 

“Guess you didn’t want to hurt him, huh?” he said in a neutral tone, but she noticed that the gentle stroking of her head had stopped.

 

            “I wanted to kill him.” Her voice was cold and flat. “But he wasn’t stupid enough to attack me, so I had to let him go.  Anyway, I was more worried about you by that point.  You were so....” Her voice trailed off and she looked up at him with glistening eyes

 

“Sh, luv.  It’s okay.  I’m alright now.  And I’m safe here with you and your mum.”  He looked embarrassed for a minute and mumbled, “Not that a master vampire has any business hidin’ behind a couple of women, even if one of them is the Slayer.”

 

“Hey!” Buffy tried to sound perky and cheery.  “You took care of me, I took care of you. That’s all it is. You’re not hiding.  You’re...resting.  Anyway, it’s not like I’m just an ordinary woman, you know.”

 

“I know, pet.  Trust me, I know that better than you can imagine.”  He looked at her with such open admiration and affection that she had to duck her head and blush.  Vowing to herself that she would pick up some O neg from Willie’s the next day, she relaxed back against the couch and settled in to watch TV with the resident vampire.  After a few minutes, he tentatively resumed his gentle stroking of her head, running her silky hair through his hands as he did so. Buffy found it so relaxing, she fell asleep with her head resting on the cushion and that’s how Joyce found them when she got home.  Her daughter’s head resting comfortably on the couch, the vampire’s hand resting protectively against her cheek.

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

Deciding she didn’t want to embarrass the couple asleep in her living room, Joyce went back outside and re-entered the house much more noisily than before.  Buffy sprang to her feet and faced the door threateningly while Spike pulled himself up to a sitting position and tried to look like he was only not standing because he didn’t want to.

 

              Joyce smiled at them both and said, “Relax, it’s only me.  Although I could use some extra-strong help with the groceries,” she said pointedly to Buffy.  When Spike went to try to get to his feet, both women turned on him simultaneously to shout, “Not you”.  It was easy for him to tell which words came from Buffy as her command included, “you moron.”

 

“Buffy, he was just trying to help.” Her mother looked at her reproachfully.

 

“Stupid vampire,” Buffy muttered as she went out the door to get the packages.

 

            Joyce smiled apologetically at the vampire who had slumped back against the pillows with a grimace.

 

“She’s right, Spike.  You shouldn’t have tried to stand up so quickly.  Who knows how much damage losing that chip did...” One look at the thunderstruck vampire, and she knew Buffy hadn’t told him about the chip.  “Oh, damn,” she said softly.  “She didn’t tell you, did she?”

 

The vampire didn’t answer her; just shut his eyes and wiped all expression from his face.   When Buffy came back in the house, arms full of groceries, it took her a minute to pick up on the tense silence.  She walked right to the kitchen, chattering about the contents of the bags and didn’t notice that no one was answering her until she got back into the living room.

 

She looked back and forth between her nervous mother and the impassive vampire and cocked her head inquisitively.

 

“Uh, What’s up, guys?  I was only gone for a minute.  What could have happened in that amount of time?”

 

She turned to the unresponsive vampire on the couch to demand, “What did you do, Spike?”  She ignored his flinch at her accusing tone, and turned to her mother to ask, “Mom? What happened here?”

 

“I...I’m sorry, Buffy.  I didn’t realize you hadn’t told Spike about the chip yet.  I’m afraid I –“

 

“You TOLD him?  He knows?”  She whirled to find that Spike had opened his eyes and was glaring at her furiously.

 

“Tell me, pet,” he asked evenly as his eyes burned holes in her, “how long were you planning to let me go around like this?  Runnin’ and hidin’ from those wankers, thinking I couldn’t fight back?”

 

Buffy stared at the angry vampire and felt the first tremors of fear in her gut.  She wasn’t afraid for herself or her mother.  She knew he wouldn’t hurt Joyce, and he was certainly not strong enough to hurt her or any of her friends.  What was making her stomach churn was the terror she felt for herself if he started feeding again.

 

            I can’t do this.  I can’t kill another vampire I... Oh Spike, don’t do this to me.  Don’t make me have to kill you.  Please don’t make me....

 

Something about the obvious anguish and fear in Buffy’s eyes penetrated the angry fog filling Spike’s being.   The fear puzzled him completely.  He knew she wasn’t afraid of him.  What the hell was she so afraid of?  And why did she look so miserable?

 

            Bloody hell.  She doesn’t trust me.  That’s it.  She’s afraid I’m going to start killing again.

 

His angry glare faded to a look of complete disappointment and he once again laid his head back against the pillows and shut his eyes tightly.

 

            Maybe if I keep my eyes shut, I can forget what her face looked like when she found out I knew I was free to kill.  Maybe.

 

Joyce looked back and forth between her daughter and the man she’d come to think of as a friend, trying to read the emotions she could see crossing their faces.   She didn’t feel that she knew enough about her daughter’s calling to give her advice on how to do her job; but she also knew in her heart that they had nothing to fear from the vampire. Chip or no chip, the man she’d seen sleeping with his hand resting protectively on her daughter’s cheek was never going to be a danger to them.

 

She thought back to what little Buffy had shared with her about Angelus/Angel and how she had killed him to save the world.  The emotional fallout from that act had been enough to send her running away from both home and her calling for almost four months.  Suddenly she knew why Buffy was so upset.

 

 She cares about this vampire.  She’s worried she’s going to have to kill him too.  Oh Buffy, can’t you see he would never do anything to hurt you?

 

Clearing her throat loudly, Joyce picked up her purse and said brightly, “I think I forgot something at the gallery.  I’m just going to run out and... and get it.” She paused when neither of them even acknowledged her presence.  “You two need to talk and you need to do it now before this has a chance to fester and spoil your... whatever.”  She felt she had done all she could to atone for her slip of the tongue, and she left the house, closing the door softly behind her.

 

For minutes after she left there was nothing but crushing silence in the room.  Buffy stood staring at Spike with tear-filled eyes as he stubbornly kept his own eyes shut and tried to ignore her.  With neither one being very good at impulse control, it was no surprise when they tried to speak at the same time.

 

“Slayer—”

 

“Spike—”

 

The vampire opened his eyes and looked at her, his face closed and unreadable.

 

“Ladies first,” he said flatly.

 

Buffy looked at the floor and rubbed her hands on her thighs as she tried to find the right words.

 

“I was going to tell you,” she finally said softly.  “It just didn’t seem important as long as you were here, safe, with me—us.”

 

“It didn’t seem important?  Or it didn’t seem safe?  It’s not like you could hide the fear on your face, Slayer.  You’re terrified that my chip is out, aren’t you?”

 

“I told you before, I’m not afraid of you.”

 

“You’re afraid of what I’ll do.  Same thing, innit?”  He cocked his head and looked at her sadly.  “Don’t know why.  If I start killin’ again you’ll just stake me.  Problem solved.”

 

“You think it’s that simple?” She glared at him eyes that brimmed with tears she refused to acknowledge.  “Spike starts eating people, I stake him. That’s that?”

 

“Isn’t it?” he asked, staring at her intently.  “Isn’t it just that simple, Vampire Slayer? What’s the problem?”  He listened to her heart racing as he forced her to confront the truth.

 

 Please, love. Tell me it’s not that simple.  Tell me you can’t do it.

 

Buffy glared at him, as she struggled to make herself believe that it was really that simple. 

 

            Could I do it?  He saved my life.  We’ve kissed – a lot.  I want to kiss him some more.  I want him to touch me.  I want— 

 

“I don’t want to stake you,” she almost whispered as she clutched herself to keep from shaking.  “I can’t do that again.”  She looked up at him with brimming eyes to ask, “Are you going to make me do it, Spike?  Are you going to make me kill you?”

 

He closed his eyes again briefly and gave a sigh of relief.  “I would never do anything to hurt you, Buffy.” His eyes flew open and fixed on her face.   “You have to know that.  You’re not blind.”

 

“I’m not worried about you hurting me,” she said as coldly as she could.

 

“Yes, you are,” he said softly.  “You’re afraid I’m going to make you kill me.” There was a short pause, then he added, “And that would hurt you. Almost as much as causing you that kind of pain would hurt me.  I won’t do that to you, love.  You have my word.”

 

There was another silence while they stared at each other and struggled to accept the changes in their relationship that the past several weeks had wrought.

 

Buffy finally broke the lengthy silence by looking away and muttering, “I have to get back to the dorm.  Let’s get you back upstairs for the night.”

 

Accepting the tentative apology for what it was, the vampire nodded and tried to stand up.  As soon as he was on his feet, his vision turned black and he felt himself falling forward, only to be caught in soft, strong arms that lowered him gently to the floor.

 

When his vision cleared he looked up to see Buffy’s worried face only inches from his own.  Her eyes searched his anxiously and clouded up at the pain she saw reflected there.

 

“This isn’t right.  You should be healing faster.”

 

“Buffy, love, do you remember when you dropped that organ on me?  Do you remember puttin’ me in the wheelchair?”

 

She nodded reluctantly, wondering why he was bringing up what had to be a painful memory for him.

 

“Do you know how long I was in that soddin’ chair?” he growled.

 

She thought back to what had been some of the worst months of her young life when Angelus had stalked her friends, killed Jenny and tried to end the world.  She realized that she hadn’t seen much of Spike for that entire unhappy time until he showed up to make a truce with her.  She shook her head “no” and waited for him to tell her.

 

“Months, Buffy.  I was in that bleedin’ chair for months.  I was gettin’ nothin’ to eat but what Dru remembered to bring me when she wasn’t chasing around after her precious ‘Daddy’.  Angelus sure as hell wasn’t going to feed me.  So I got whatever Dru brought in.  Sometimes it was human, sometimes it wasn’t. She even brought me a bloody puppy once!  Cute lil’ thing.  I didn’t eat it.  Wonder what ever happened to him...?”

 

“Spike! Focus.  Was there a point in there somewhere?”

 

“Yeah, love, sorry.  The point is that it takes a lot longer to heal from serious injuries if you’re not getting the...” His voice trailed off as he realized what he was saying and he quickly tried to backtrack.   “I mean, it just takes longer than you think for a vampire to recover from a beatin’ like the one I took.  And you add the chipectomy to that and—”

 

She stopped him by putting a finger gently against his mouth.  He had to fight not to pull it in and begin sucking on it, but settled for kissing it softly as he waited for her to speak.

 

“So, we’re back to what I said earlier.  You need human blood to heal properly.”

 

Her voice had no inflection in it and he couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

 

“No, no, I don’t, love.  My point was that I DON’T need human blood.  I can heal just fine without it.  It’s jus’ gonna take a while.  That’s all.”

 

He looked at her anxiously; willing her to see what he was saying. 

 

Don’t want her to think I have to kill to feed.  Don’t want her to think humans have to die so I won’t.

 

Buffy studied his face carefully for a minute, then shrugged and stood up, helping him to stand with her.  One look at his grimacing face made up her mind for her and she carefully grasped him around the waist and lifted him off the floor.  As carefully as she could, she maneuvered him to the stairs and up to his bed in the guest room.

 

When she put him on the bed, he fell back on the pillow, exhausted by his fight to not scream with the pain that even Buffy’s best efforts couldn’t spare him.  His eyes were closed so he missed the determined look on Buffy’s face as she watched him.

 

He opened one eye when he felt the mattress give under her weight, and turned his head to see her climbing up beside him.  She leaned over and gave him a chaste kiss on his lips as she said,  “I’m going to fix you.  No puppy dogs for my guy.”

 

Spike was so fixated on hearing himself referred to as “her guy”, that he didn’t realized what she was doing until her wrist was under his nose and she was pressing it against his lips.  He couldn’t resist inhaling her scent as she held the pulse point right under his nose.  His nostrils flared as his senses were overwhelmed by the smell of Slayer/Buffy.  Without conscious volition, his tongue snaked out and licked at the pulsing artery right in front of his mouth. Buffy shivered as his tongue ran across the scar left from several nights earlier.

 

When he felt her shiver, he realized what he was doing and stopped immediately, instead kissing the scar and then gently moving her arm away from his face.

 

“What are you doin’, love?” he asked rhetorically.  It was very obvious what she was offering him and he trembled as he fought his demon back.  He held her wrist and gently rubbed on the pulse with his thumb.  He could feel it pounding, even as he heard her heart beating strongly and steadily.

 

She fixed her eyes on his and said firmly, “I, being the Slayer, and therefore infinitely superior to a vampire,” she smirked as he huffed indignantly,  “am fully recovered from the blood I lost and can more than spare you a few mouthfuls to tide you over until I can get to Willie’s.”

 

She dropped the teasing tone and asked him softly, “Please, Spike. Let me do this for you.  I can’t stand seeing you like this.  Not when I know it isn’t necessary.”

 

He stared back at her in awe.  He’d know for weeks that he was falling in love with the woman whose role it was to kill his kind.  But until he had a chance to see her unselfishness and compassion up close, he’d been able to attribute his feelings to the undeniable lust he felt every time he saw her.  That crutch was now gone.

 

 Bloody hell.  She’s turned me back into William.  I would die for this woman.  Don’t care if she doesn’t love me back.  I’m hers forever.  Never want to be anywhere else.

 

Buffy watched the emotions play out across his expressive face and knew that they had just reached a different and much more frightening place in their relationship than the mutual desire that had always been there.  There was no denying what she could see reflected in the vampire’s eyes.

 

            And what does he see looking back at him, I wonder? Why is it suddenly so important to me that he isn’t in pain?  Have I fallen in love with another vampire? Where do we go from here?

 

Chapter Ten 1/2

 

After what felt like hours of mutually terrified oh-my-god-I’m-in-love staring, Spike nodded his head and patted the space beside him on the bed. Blushing slightly, Buffy eased down beside him and offered her wrist again. Spike smiled at her and gently stoked her face.

 

“Do you trust me?” he asked softly.

 

She nodded without speaking and he leaned forward and kissed her tenderly.  As it had downstairs, the soft, tender kisses evolved into much deeper, more intense ones and Buffy was soon moaning softly into his mouth as the heat spread throughout her body.  He slid his arm gently around her waist and pulled her as close to his body as he could, pressing his growing erection into her hip.

 

As Buffy tentatively put her arms around him, trying not to squeeze too hard and hurt him, he began kissing his way down her neck.  When he reached the point where her pulse was audibly pounding in her throat, he licked the area thoroughly, then sucked on it, pulling blood to the surface.  His free hand was skimming Buffy’s body, leaving heated trails wherever it touched and causing her to grind her pelvis into his.

 

She didn’t even notice when he shifted into game face and slid his razor-sharp fangs into her throat, but when he began pulling long draughts of blood into his mouth, she felt them all the way down to her womb.  An incredible lassitude came over her and she melted into his body, surrendering completely to the pleasure he was giving her.

 

She could feel tension building in her lower body, and when, with one last hard pull Spike growled into her throat, she shuddered with an unexpected orgasm that caused her to involuntarily clutch him tightly.   His hissed response told her she was probably hurting him, and she let go quickly, an embarrassed apology on her lips.

 

He shushed her with a kiss, then went back to licking the wounds he’d made on her throat until they were closed up.  Every lick of his tongue across the bite sent a tingle through Buffy’s body and she shivered in delight.  When the bite was healed enough to suit him, he moved back up to her face and kissed her again before tilting his head back to look at her.

 

“You know I’ll be back on my feet by tomorrow now, don’t you?”  He could feel the elixir that was Slayer blood flowing through his body, strengthening bones, healing internal injuries, and making him so hard he almost groaned when Buffy shifted away from him slightly. 

 

He pulled her back into his body and pressed his throbbing erection into her again.

 

“Ah, ah, Slayer.  You’re responsible for this problem.  Now what’re you plannin’ to do about it?”  As he whispered in her ear, he was running his hand down her side to the bottom of her shirt and back up to caress the bare skin on her back.

 

“I’m gonna finished what I started a long time ago,” she grinned at him and pulled his hand away from her back.  “You just lie there and heal.  I’ll take care of this little ‘problem’”

 

“Little!” His indignant snort and the accompanying glare sent her into giggles and she laughed at him just as she had back in Giles’ bathroom when she'd made him drool.

 

“Hold still, vampire.  Or I’ll have to chain you up again...” she whispered in his ear as she stretched his arms over his head and wrapped his hands around the brass railing of the bed.

 

Spike shivered with anticipation and willingly grasped the railing, leaving her free to do what she wished with his body.

 

Buffy pushed the tee shirt they’d found for him to wear up to his neck and began running her tongue around his upper body.  She paused to suck on each flat male nipple, smiling when he began to murmur and hiss just as he had when he’d been in the bathtub. But where then she had spent most of her time kissing and licking her way around his upper body, this time she ran her tongue from his chest right down his body, stopping to tickle his navel with it, then following the soft trail of hair down into the sweat pants he was wearing.  As her mouth moved lower, she easily pushed the elastic waistband down until she could slide it over his cool, smooth cock and down his thighs.

 

He lifted his hips slightly to help her pull the pants the rest of the way down and she shoved them down far enough for him to kick them off.  She never took her eyes off the bobbing object in front of her and as soon as her hand was free, she used it to steady his cock while she studied it.

 

She looked at it from all angles, admiring its smoothness and wondering how something that big would feel inside her.  She rubbed her cheek against it, stroked it lightly with her hand and ran her tongue around the tip, tasting him.  When it began to seem that she was going to spend all her time looking at it, Spike couldn’t keep silent any longer.

 

“You’re killin’ me, here, pet.” He gritted out.  “Are you just gonna look at it all day or....”

 

Buffy flashed him a grin before she turned her attention back to his aching cock.  “I’m getting to the ‘or’, “ she said.  “Just be patient.”

 

“Not my thing, love,” he growled.  “Don’t do patient.”

 

She pouted at him, her full lower lip just brushing the head as she did so and he groaned in surrender.  Taking pity on the now panting vampire, she put her mouth over him and worked her way down his shaft as far as she could without gagging.

 

Spike’s groan turning into a hissed “yesss” and he involuntarily pushed his hips up toward her mouth.  He thought the heat from her mouth was going to burn him, but every time she moved her head up and allowed his wet cock to feel the air, he couldn’t stand it until she took him in again.  She wrapped one small hand around the base and began to squeeze him in rhythm with the sucking motions she was making with her mouth.

 

“Oh god, yes, Buffy.  Like that, love.  Feels so good.  So hot, so strong.  Gonna make me...Buffy!”  His hips rose off the bed and he thrust into her mouth as his orgasm took him away from any pain he was feeling.

 

Buffy sat up, licking her lips, with a very self-satisfied smile on her face. Spike looked at her smirking at him and suddenly brought his arms down and pulled her up onto his body.  His hands were busy pulling off her shirt and trying to unfasten her pants at the same time.

 

“Too bloody many clothes,” he growled as he tore her lacy thong off and tossed it across the room.

 

Buffy could feel that he was hard again already and looked up at him in amazement.

 

            “I thought I... How can you... Didn’t I do it right?”  She had a puzzled and slightly hurt expression on her face.

 

He stopped frantically disrobing her long enough to grab her face and plant kisses all over it. 

 

“Of course you did it right, love.  It was bloody wonderful!  Why would you think—”

 

“Well, you’re still ready to… shouldn’t you be...?”

 

He gave her a grin and said, “Vampire recovery, love.  Doesn’t take but a couple seconds to be ready to go again.  Especially when you’ve just had a dose of Slayer blood.  You did know your blood’s an aphrodisiac, didn’t you?”

 

“Uh... no.  Actually, I don’t think Giles has ever covered that particular—”

 

“I suppose he wouldn’t, at that.  Well, it is. To any vampire.  And when the Slayer is you, and it’s this vampire....” He buried his face in her neck and inhaled her scent as he ran his tongue over his mark.

 

Fighting off the incredible feeling she was getting from lying on his hard body and feeling him sucking on the skin of her neck, Buffy pushed away from him a little bit to ask, “Isn’t this going to hurt you?  Shouldn’t we wait—”

 

His whole body vibrated with the force of his growl and Buffy moaned at the sensation.

 

“Don’t want to wait.   Want you now, love.  Waited too long already.  Please, love.  Let me make love to you.”

 

“But… but,I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

“Vampire here, pet.  We like a little pain with our pleasure.  Anyway, I’m healing faster than you can imagine.  Your blood is singin’ inside me and I feel like I could leap over the moon.”

 

She giggled at the mental picture of Spike jumping over the moon, and relaxed back onto him.  The feel of his cool flesh next to her heated body was soothing and exciting at the same time.  She felt his cock slide between her thighs and she tightened them, holding it in place for a few seconds.

 

Spike could feel the moisture soaking his cock as it lay pressed length wise against her.  He brought his hands to her hips and lifted her up just enough to be able to put the head against her entrance.  She caught her breath in a gasp as he rubbed it slowly up and down, spreading the moisture from one end to the other and coating the head with it.

 

When she was moaning and pushing her hips down toward his body, he finally placed the head at her opening and nudged gently.

 

“Look at me, love,” he whispered as he held her hips still.

 

She looked down into his penetrating blue eyes and nodded once.  Without taking their eyes off each other, they let their bodies come together slowly.  Buffy sank down onto him, her mouth open slightly and a stunned expression of pure sensuality on her face. 

 

Spike was looking at her with such adoration and awe that she almost looked away from the intensity of his gaze.  Once he was buried all the way inside her warmth, he knew he was as close to heaven as he was ever going to get.  He kept his eyes on her face as she slowly rode up and down on him, afraid if he looked away she would disappear.

 

Buffy was trying to remain in control and aware of her actions so that she wouldn’t hurt him.  She knew, under ordinary circumstances, she wouldn’t have to worry about her strength with the vampire.  Not the way she had to with Riley.  But she didn’t want to accidentally re-injure him either.  She knew Spike wanted her to keep looking at him, but once he was filling her completely, she was unable to keep her gaze focused. 

 

She was completely lost in the sensations being created when Spike kept his hands on her hips and guided her as she rode him.  When she had established an easy rhythm, he let go of her hips and reached for her breasts, which were bobbing up and down in front of him.  He cupped a hand around each one, rubbing his thumbs gently over the erect nipples.  He smiled when a squeeze to each breast brought another moan from her.

 

Buffy placed her hands on his chest to balance herself as she moved up and down, her face a study in concentration and pleasure.  When he moved one hand from her breast to rub circles on her clit, she threw her head back and began panting little whimpers that quickly built to a muffled scream as she clenched around him and fell forward onto his chest.

 

Without waiting for her to come down from her orgasm, he wrapped his arms around her and flipped them over so that he was looking down into her dazed expression.  He covered her mouth with his and his tongue began a caressing duel with hers as he began thrusting into to her.

 

He was dimly aware of pain in his almost healed leg as he tried to remain on his knees above her, but tried to ignore it.  When Buffy wrapped her legs around him and used her heels to pull him in harder, he gave up and let his full weight fall on her, using just his hips to continue pushing into her warm depths.

 

The constant pressure against her clit, as well as the way Spike was swirling his hips and hitting a spot inside that Buffy hadn’t known existed, soon had her panting and whimpering again.  Now that he knew the sounds of her impending orgasm, Spike allowed himself to give in to his own need for release and he pounded into her until she spasmed around him.  The force of her muscles clenching around his eager cock took him over the edge and into the sweetest release of his unlife.

 

He fought back the demon as it struggled to emerge and bite Buffy again; instead he fastened his mouth on his marks and sucked hard as he shot into her until he had nothing left.

 

For several minutes he could do nothing but lie on top of her, inhaling their mingled scents and licking her neck.  Their hands were stretched up over their heads, fingers entwined and bodies pressed together.  Buffy loved the feel of his lean, muscular body on hers.  She slid her legs down his until they were touching all the way from their linked hands to their feet. 

 

So much nicer than being smothered by Angel or Riley.

 

After a few minutes, Buffy decided that breathing would be much easier if there wasn’t a vampire on her chest, and she stretched like a cat and squirmed under him.  When he felt her soft, yet incredibly strong body flexing under his, Spike hardened again almost immediately.

 

“Ah, love.  Don’t do that.  Some parts of my body just aren’t willing to admit that I’m not all better yet.”  He nuzzled her neck one more time, then rolled off to the side keeping one hand across her stomach possessively.

 

Buffy took a deep breath and curled toward him as she let it out.  She let one leg slide over his, then cringed when she saw him wince.  She immediately shot up with a sorrowful look on her face.

 

“I hurt you!  I knew it.  I knew we shouldn’t…” He stopped her guilt-stricken babbling with a kiss that was both tender and erotic at the same time.

 

“You didn’t.  And we should.  As often as possible.  In many different positions.   Every day.  For the rest of our lives.”

 

He punctuated each sentence with another kiss, stopping only when he felt her relax back against his side.

 

“But I hurt you.  I was supposed to be making you better and—”

 

“I AM better, love.  A little more time and rest and I’ll be good as new. Just got a few sore spots left, that’s all.”

 

Eventually Buffy allowed him to sooth her worries, and she reluctantly got up to search for her clothes.  As she wandered around the room looking for her thong, they heard her mother’s SUV in the driveway.

 

“Ohmygod!  Mom’s home! Quick. Get your clothes on!” 

 

Buffy threw Spike’s sweat pants at him and frantically pulled her own jeans on.  She pulled the shirt over her head and tried to fix her obvious bed hair in the mirror.  Just as they heard her mother coming up the stairs, calling her name, she found her thong and was holding it in her hand with a panicky look on her face when Spike grabbed it and tucked it under the pillow.

 

When her mother got to the top of the stairs, Buffy was already in the hallway telling Spike,  “I’ll check on you tomorrow afternoon.  And I’ll tell Willie to send you some O neg tonight.”

 

Out of sight of her mother, the vampire blew her a kiss and waved her thong at her. He laughed at the angry glare she gave him and sent her another kiss before dropping back down onto the pillow.

 

Knowing she not only looked like she’d just had sex, but probably smelled like it too, Buffy ran quickly by her mother, throwing over her shoulder, “Bye, Mom.  See you tomorrow.  Got to go now!” as she raced down the stairs.

 

Joyce stared after her daughter thoughtfully, then walked to the door of the guest room and looked in at the extremely happy looking vampire.

 

“I take it you two have worked out your issues,” she said, piercing him with her best “mom” look.  Spike tried for an innocent look and when he saw Joyce wasn’t buying that, he looked away and ducked his head in embarrassment.  Only her concern over what could happen to her daughter kept her from laughing at the abashed vampire. She was sure if he were standing he would have been shuffling his feet.

 

When he finally looked up to meet her eyes apologetically, he took an unnecessary breath and said quietly,  “I love her, Joyce.”

 

Buffy’s mother sighed and slumped against the doorframe.  “I know you do, Spike.  It’s just... the last time she was involved with a vampire—”

 

“I was there,” he said flatly.  He fixed his eyes on hers and suddenly he no longer looked like a shy Victorian boy, but like a man who had seen it all and knew what was important.

 

“I am not Angelus.  Never have been. Never will be.  I don’t need a soul to love her, or a soddin’ chip in my head either.  I swear to you, Joyce.  I will never knowingly do anything to hurt her.  Never.”

 

“Just remember,” she said as she turned away, “I still know where the axe is.”

 

“As well you should, mum,” he smiled as he settled back into the bed for some much-needed sleep.  “As well you should.”

 

The End

 

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 AN:  I’m thinking this is probably the end, for now anyway.  I’ve done Season IV to death (no pun intended), and so many others have written post “Something Blue” fics that to continue it seems redundant.   So, yeah, I did leave it open ended in that there hasn’t really been any resolution with the Initiative and Professor Walsh’s interest in Buffy, but I just don’t have any original ideas right now.  I’ve done the “they want to make a lab rat of the Slayer”, as have others, and I’ve killed Adam a couple of times, so....

 

 

 

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