Title: Please Don ‘t Leave Me (7/10/04)

Author: Slaymesoftly

Season VI

Word count: 6300

Rating: PG13

Disclaimer: If they belonged to me, I’d be too busy with Spike to be writing about him!

Distribution: just let me know where it went.

Feedback: please, please!  I have no idea if anybody’s reading this stuff!

Summary: Another Season VI, Buffy-gets-a-wake-up-call-about-her-feelings fic.  I can’t seem to stop trying to make her say it before he burns to a crisp!


Please Don’t Leave Me


“Hi guys!  How is everybody this morning?”  Buffy bounced into the Magic Shop and smiled at everyone cheerily.


              “Un, fine, Buff.  You do know it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, don’t you?” Xander asked rolling his eyes at the rest of the Scoobies.


              “Oh.” Her smile dimmed just a little.  “I guess that would explain why Dawn is sitting here doing her homework instead of being in school.”  She sighed and sat down at the table.  “I’m sorry, guys.  I guess I was really tired last night.  I didn’t even hear any of you get up this morning.”


              “Well,” Willow soothed,  “you HAVE been staying out really late the last few months.  I guess you needed the sleep.”


              Buffy looked momentarily uncomfortable as Tara tried to hide a smile.   She, of course, was the only one with any idea what had been keeping Buffy out so late every night.  Fortunately, no one noticed her hidden smile or Buffy’s momentary discomfort.


              “You did get in early last night,” Willow continued.  “No baddies out there to slay?” 


              Grateful for the change of subject, Buffy jumped in with, “No, there really wasn’t much to do.  Except the guacamole demon we had to fight.  He was gross.”


              “Guacamole?”  Everyone looked at her curiously.


              “Well, something or other like that. That’s what it sounded like to me.  Spike knew what it was.  Apparently they are very poisonous.   But we killed it.  So no biggie”


              “Buffy?  Was that a Guacanella demon?” Anya asked with her brows knitted.


              “That might have been it.  You know me with demon names- just tell me how to kill them, don’t ask me how to pronounce their names!”


              “Well, since you’re alive, I presume it didn’t touch you with its claws.”  Anya spoke quietly,


              “Uh, no, no it didn’t touch me.  It tried, but......“


“But?” Everyone looked at her curiously. “Why didn’t it?”


             “Oh,” Buffy said airily as she waved her hand in the air, “Spike stepped in front of me and it got him instead.”


             “Oh my god!  Is he alright?” Dawn frowned at her, angry that she was taking it so casually.


           “Well, I guess so.” Buffy frowned back at her.  “I’m sure he is,” she repeated

more firmly.


“You didn’t check on him?”  Dawn’s voice was rising.


“No, I didn’t check on him.  Why would I?”








          Xander held up his hand and said, “Let me.  Maybe that will get her attention.”


          Buffy just stared around the table at them and said,  “What?”


        “Buffy, you know I’m totally not a member of the Spike fan club; but if the guy who thinks he’s – SHUDDER - in love with you, takes a poisonous hit meant for you, don’t you think you might have checked on how he was doing?”


          Buffy’s brow creased for a minute, then she shrugged and said,  “He seemed OK.  He’s a vampire, after all.  It probably wouldn’t have hurt him anyway.  I mean, it’s not like he was risking his life to save me....”  Her voice trailed off as she noticed the shocked looks on her friends’ faces.


           (OK, maybe I’ve kind of over done the ‘I don’t care about Spike’ stuff just a little)


         “Well, did you at least walk him back to his crypt to be sure it wasn’t having any affect on him?”  Dawn demanded.


          Buffy rolled her eyes, “No, I didn’t.  He’s a 126-year-old vampire for heaven’s sake.  He doesn’t need me to baby-sit him.  I wouldn’t walk back with him unless I wanted .....” She stopped and flushed a little.


          “Wanted what, Buffy?” Tara asked quietly. 


            Buffy glared at her and spit out, “Nothing, something, anything.   I wouldn’t go back with him unless I needed him for something.  Something Slayerly,” she added quickly.


         “So,” Tara pressed, “You couldn’t be bothered to follow an injured.....friend home unless you had a use for him?  Is that it?”  She was uncharacteristically forceful and gazed at Buffy with a combination of anger and disappointment.


          Buffy gulped and took in the looks on her friends’ faces.   “Well,  I.....I mean, he looked okay when he left me....    Anya, the poison can’t hurt a vampire can it?” 


          “Actually, Buffy, it can.  I don’t know if it can kill him directly because – vampire – already dead?” She waved her hand around to make her point.  “But it can certainly incapacitate him and leave him unable to defend himself or eat or get out of the sun or.....”



        “Ok, Ok, I’m getting the picture.  I’ll go check on him right now.”  She got up, trying to hide the sudden panic that Anya’s words had evoked.


       (He’s fine.  Of course he’s fine.  He looked fine.  Why didn’t I follow him home?)


         Dawn jumped to her feet and said, “I’m going with you.  He needs to see that somebody actually cares about him!”


           Buffy winced, but tried to keep her face impassive.  “All right, you can come too.  Let’s go.”


           Everyone else stood up too and started toward the door.  “Where are you all going?” Buffy asked sharply.


          “He’s....he’s our friend too.....” Willow mumbled.  “I mean, at least he’s one of us, you know?”


             “I want to be very clear that he is NOT my friend!” Xander huffed.  “I’m just going along to offer some male support when all you women burst into his crypt.”


             Buffy tried not to show how worried she was starting to be, and how upset with herself she was.  She could feel Dawn’s eyes burning a hole in her back and even Xander was looking at her strangely.


            (Terrific! I have two choices - let my friends know that Spike and I have a...whatever.  Or let them think I’m a cold-hearted bitch.)


“Guys, I really don’t think this parade is necessary.  I’m sure Spike made it back to his crypt just fine last night.  He’ll probably be mad that we’re coming to wake him up.”


“Since when do you care if he’s mad at you?” Dawn grumbled.  “Not that he stays mad at you for more than a few seconds anyway. “


“Dawn,” Buffy sighed, “I know you think I should have followed him, but I really didn’t have any reason to think he wouldn’t be all right. It’s not like it was very far to his crypt. I’m sure he made it back just fine.  I’m sure of it.”  She knew she was starting to sound like she was trying to convince herself as much as them, but the closer they got, the less she cared what they thought.


“See, here we are and-“ the words caught in her throat and she froze as they all stared at the black leather coat lying on the ground several yards in front of the open door of the crypt.


Tara and Willow grabbed Dawn as she fell to the ground; her high pitchedkeening  “Noooooooooo!”  letting out all the grief she had experienced in her young life.


Buffy was frozen in place, staring at the empty coat lying in the sun.  Scenes and words from the last four years flashed through her mind.


“That’s when I kill you.. ..I’d rather fight you anyway......Hello, cutie...... I’m all you’ve got..... What did it take to pry the Slayer’s dimpled knees apart? ....Giles! Make her stop!..... Make me the happiest man in the world, Buffy. Say you’ll marry me.....You know you want to dance, Slayer.....I’m drownin’ in you, Summers.......Give me a crumb..... Just tell me there might be a chance, someday...maybe..... I couldn’t live with myself if I caused her that much pain.....I know you’ll never love me, but you make me feel like a man...... Till the end of the world.  Even if it does happen to be tonight.......You know you’ve got a willing slave,.....And it hurts me more that you’ll every know.......Let me rest in peace......We kissed, Buffy!.....We need to talk......I’m in love with you!..... Made you scream....... You’re so beautiful.....  I love you....  My golden girl....  I love you,  I need you.  I want you. I... love you...... Come for me, Love..... Love you, want you, never leave you, love you, love......”



“Buffy?” Xander tried to get her attention.  “Buffy?  “ He looked at Willow, but she was busy trying to calm Dawn down and hadn’t looked at the Slayer. 


Xander and Anya walked slowly toward the coat on the grass.  Taking a deep breath, he reached down, picked it up by the collar and forced himself to look under it. 

He saw nothing on the ground but slightly flattened grass and allowed himself to feel a tinge of hope at the lack of dust or ashes.


He walked back up to Buffy and tried to get her attention again, but she continued to stare into space as scenes of fighting and lovemaking played through her mind.  After another minute or two of waving at her face, he shrugged and turned away.  Suddenly there was the sound of a sharp slap and he whirled back around in time to see Anya clutching her hand as she moaned, “Oww! Slayer face hurts!”


“What are you doing?”  Willow demanded from her place on the ground holding Dawn.  The teenager was rocking back and forth and moaning with tears pouring down her face.


“Well no one else is doing anything.  And I’ve always wanted to do that to somebody.” the ex demon grumbled.   “I mean, what good is she like that?”


Willow untangled herself from the sobbing girl, leaving Tara to stroke her hair and say soothing words.  She walked up to Buffy and looked into her face carefully.


“Has she gone ‘away’ again?” Anya asked.  “Cause the last time she did that she didn’t come back for a long time....”


“No,” Willow said softly.  “I don’t think she’s gone away.  She’s in there – she’s just in shock.  Like when she found her mother.... Buffy, “ she tried, “Buffy?  What do you want to do?”


Suddenly Buffy slid to her knees on the grass, wrenching the coat out of Xander’s hands and clutching it to her.   Her chest hurt from the huge ball of ice taking up the space meant for her heart and she was sure she was going to throw up any minute.  Shaking her head and murmuring, “No, no, no....this didn’t happen...” she felt around in the grass as though searching for something.


Xander kneeled down beside her and said gently,  “Buffy?  I don’t think it did happen.  There was no dust under the coat, no ashes, and it’s not burnt.  Do you want me to look inside?” He gestured toward the open door of the crypt.


She looked up at him with eyes that were bleak, but finally focused and aware. “No...I’ll go.  This is my responsibility.”  She stood up, still holding the coat and squared her shoulders as she walked the few steps toward the door that was uncharacteristically ajar. She idly noted that her hand was trembling as she touched the doorjamb on her way into the crypt.


            The first thing that caught her eye as she entered was the bloody, ripped shirt Spike had been wearing the night before.  It was lying just inside the door.  Another few feet into the crypt she found his jeans and boots, also on the floor.  Using the light from the open door, she could see Spike lying on the concrete floor, face down and immobile. She ran across the room and knelt down beside his inert body.  Telling herself the lack of breathing didn’t mean a thing, she carefully turned him over and cringed at the sight of his torn up chest.  The deep gouges from the demon’s claws were an angry purple color and red streaks were going out from them.  She reached out and tentatively touched his face, amazed at the heat she felt coming off his skin.


           “Hey, luv.” He tried to smile at her, his eyes barely focused but warm.  “Don’t think I’m up for any thing very strenuous tonight.  Maybe tomorrow....” His voice trailed off as he lost consciousness again.


            Suddenly the emotions Buffy had been working to control and hide became too overwhelming, and she sank down with her head in her hands sobbing in relief. She had refused to acknowledge the fear tying her stomach in knots since they found the coat, but now that she knew he was not gone, she couldn’t hold back the tears.


             Led by an anxious Dawn, the rest of the Scoobies filed into the crypt to find Buffy sitting on the floor beside Spike’s unconscious form with gut-wrenching sobs shaking her body.  Dawn flew to her side, saw that Spike was naked and turned away quickly muttering,  “Naked vampire! Scarred for life!  I’m scarred for life.”


             When Xander noticed Anya eyeing Spike’s body with great interest, he grabbed a sheet off the sarcophagus and threw it over the vampire’s lower body.  “OK, nothing to see here, folks.  Naked vampire, that’s all.”


            Spike opened his eyes and looked around blearily.  “What is this, then?  Am I having a party? What’s wrong with the Slayer?”  He struggled to look at her, but gave it up and sank back down on the floor.


            “She...we.... all of us.  We saw your coat outside and we thought you were caught by the sun.”  Willow offered by way of explanation.


              “So, she’s crying cause I’m still here?”  He tried to keep the hurt out of his voice, but he could feel his heart crack just a bit. 


               (Does she hate me so much that my not being dusted can bring her to tears? Guess she was hoping I was gone without her having to stake me. Why doesn’t she just stake me if she’s that set on my never bothering her again?)


              To his surprise, Tara put a soft hand on his arm and said gently,  “They’re tears of relief, Spike.  She thought you were gone.”  She held his gaze and forced him to look into her eyes and see the message she was sending.  The vampire startled when he realized she was telling him that she knew about them and was okay with it.


          “Oh, well, that’s alright, then....” As he drifted back into unconsciousness, he had a small smile on his face.


           “What do we do now?”  Dawn asked.  “He might not be dust, but he sure doesn’t look very healthy – um, for a corpse, I mean.”


             “We take him home,” Buffy said softly.


            “Uh, Buff? He is home.  He lives here, remember?”  Xander looked at the other women in surprise when they rolled their eyes at him.  “What?”


            “My home, Xander.  He needs to be where someone..... where I,” she said firmly,”.... can take care of him.”


            To everyone’s surprise, Xander swallowed any objections he might have had and went to get his car.  When he got back with it, they rolled Spike up in sheets from the bed and quickly got him from the crypt into the back seat of the car.  All the way to the house on Revello Drive, Buffy sat with Spike’s head in her lap and silent tears rolling down her cheeks.


             Xander was too busy driving to notice the way she continually stroked the vampire’s cheek and Dawn was too upset to notice or care.  But Willow had a small frown on her face as she watched the gentleness with which Buffy touched the vampire she claimed to tolerate only because he was helpful on patrol.


            When they got to the house, Dawn ran to open the door while Buffy eased Spike out of the car, taking care to keep him covered and safe from the sun.  Shaking her head at Xander’s offer of help, she carried him into the house and went directly up the stairs to the bedrooms.



         Once Spike was installed in Buffy’s bed – with much muttering from Xander about setting precedents and overstepping boundaries, all of which Buffy ignored – they all stood around staring at him and wondering what to do next.


            “Well,” Buffy started, “Now that we know he’s not dust, what do we do to make him better?” She looked around waiting for someone to have an idea.


              When no one else spoke up, Anya said, “Actually, Buffy, since most people who aren’t already dead just die – I don’t know that there is a cure.  Maybe his vampire healing will help him throw off the toxins or maybe.....”




            “Maybe not,” the ex demon finished reluctantly.


            When Willow saw the look on Buffy’s face, a look which removed any lingering doubts about how the Slayer really felt about the vampire, she stepped into best friend mode and gave Buffy a quick hug. 


             “Don’t worry, Buffy.  I’m going to go do some research and we’ll find out what it takes to fix this.  Anya, Xander, why don’t you guys come with me?  Anya tell me everything you know about these....guacamole.....demons.”  She ushered the Scoobies out the door, promising to call as soon as she had something.


            Dawn sat with Buffy for a while, just watching Spike get hotter and more discolored by the minute.  The only thing keeping her from screaming at Buffy for allowing this to happen was the obvious guilt and regret on her sister’s face. Finally she couldn’t watch him anymore and bolted from the room. 


              “Dawn?  Where are you going?” Buffy looked up when she heard her sister leave.


               “Somewhere that I don’t have to watch my best friend die,” she said angrily as she ran down the stairs and out the door. For lack of any better idea, she walked toward the Magic Box to see if she could help with theresearch.


               Left by herself, Buffy let go of any attempt at pretense, put her head down on the bed near Spike’s and sobbed into the pillow.


                “Please don’t die, Spike.” She whispered.  “I need you.  Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me. I don’t want to be without..without my love.”


                The vampire was burning up with fever and drifting in and out of consciousness.  When he heard Buffy call him her love, he just assumed he was hallucinating and disregarded it.  He did, however, wake up briefly to find her crying quietly into the pillow and struggled to stay awake long enough to soothe her.  The toxins running through his system were too strong for him though, and all he managed was to croak out her name before he sank back into unconsciousness.


                 Buffy’s head snapped up at the sound of his voice, but by the time she was looking at his face he was already out of it and she let her head drop back down in despair.


                 She didn’t realize that she had fallen asleep until she was startled by the phone.  Stealing a glance at Spike to see if it had disturbed him, she grabbed it and mumbled, “Hello?”


              “Buffy?” she heard Willow’s excited voice on the other end of the line. “We found out that it’s the same poison that was on that arrow that Faith shot Angel with.  The venom of one of these demons is what they used to poison Angel.”


           “But,” Buffy began, “ that poison was killing Angel.  This is not good.”


            “Well no, that’s not good....but more of the good is......we know what the antidote is.”  Willow stopped talking, but Buffy could hear Xander in the background screaming that she was not going to let another “bloodsucking fiend” almost kill her to save his worthless life. He was swearing to stake Spike himself before he would allow him to take Buffy’s blood.


             “Willow!” Buffy whispered urgently into the phone, “Keep him there! No matter what you do, don’t let Xander come over here!  Not until I tell you it’s OK.”


               “I’ll do my best, Buffy, but he’s really upset about this.  I can’t really blame him. It was pretty scary when Angel carried you into that emergency room and told them to give you blood.  We all thought you were dead....”


“Spike isn’t Angel,” Buffy said softly. “I’ll be fine.”


           Putting down the phone, she turned to the unconscious vampire and gently stroked his head.  “I’m going to fix it, Spike.  I promise.  I’m going to make you better.”


          She wondered briefly what the best approach would be – with Angel she had hit him until his demon came out and attacked her.  It was obvious that even if that would work with Spike, and she was sure it wouldn’t, he was not in any condition to bite her.  Nor was he going to be able to drink out of a cup.


             Making up her mind, she went to her weapons chest and pulled out a small knife.  After checking the blade to be sure it was sharp, she went back to the bed and leaned over the man lying there.  “Gonna to get your wish, Spike.  The blood of another Slayer.  Too bad you won’t be awake to appreciate it.”  She kissed him gently, then sat up and drew the edge of the blade across her wrist.


               As soon as the blood started welling up, she leaned in again and placed her wrist against his lips. When he didn’t respond, she frowned and pressed harder.  Just as she was beginning to worry that it wasn’t going to work, she saw his nose twitch and his lips parted slightly to let his tongue come out and lick the blood off them.  She smiled, “That’s my boy,” and curled up next to him, being sure to keep her wrist pressed against his mouth.


             As his demon awoke, he began to actually suck on her wrist and pull the life-giving blood into his mouth. Buffy was surprised to find that along with the relatively minor pain of the sucking, there was an incredibly warm and pleasurable feeling spreading throughout her body. 


             (Whoa! I don’t remember feeling anything like this when Angel was draining me.  It just hurt likecrap.  This is....almost....damn! Is this vampire capable of doing anything that isn’t sexy?)


Having learned the hard way that a dying vampire wasn’t likely to stop drinking on his own, Buffy was prepared to pull her wrist away as soon as she felt herself weakening.  But once again, as he had since she met him, Spike surprised her.  Before she could decide that she was getting too weak to allow him to continue, his eyes flew open and he looked right at her.


Never taking his bewildered stare from her worried eyes, he lifted his mouth from her wrist, giving a quick lick to close the wound and then adding a gentle kiss before placing the hand back on the bed.  For several minutes they just lay side by side, gazing into each other’s eyes and using them to say things for which they couldn’t find the words.


“Now then, Slayer,” he whispered in a hoarse voice, brushing her hair off her face, “What was that all about?”


“It was about saving your life.  The blood of a Slayer is the only thing that can cure a vampire of that poison.  You needed it.”  She paused and made herself look him in the eye as she added, “And I need you.”


“I think I must be still hallucinating,” he said in disbelief.  “Did you just say you need me?”


“I did.  I do need you and I want you – alive, or undead anyway. Promise you won’t leave me, Spike, promise me.” She looked at him intently, willing him to understand what she couldn’t bring herself to say out loud. (I think I love you – I don’t want to be here without you).


The vampire reached out and gently stroked her cheek.  “I could never leave you, love. I’ll be here until you stake me.  You’ll never get rid of me now.”


Buffy leaned into his hand and admitted, “I don’t think I want to get rid of you anymore.  Is that okay?” she asked almost shyly.


“It’s gonna take some gettin’ used to, but, yeah, I think it’s okay with me.” His delighted grin gave away more than the casual words and she smiled back at him. 


With a little shake to get her mind back on track, she sat up and pulled the sheet back to look at his chest.  The deep gouges from the demon’s claws were still there and oozing slightly, but the purple and red streaks were shrinking and when she touched his chest she could feel that his fever was lessening.


“I....I’m sorry we can’t do this all at one time,” she started to apologize, “but I don’t want to-“


“Bloody hell, you shouldn’t have done it at all, love,” he exploded at her.  “Don’t be apologizing to me for not letting me drain you!”


“I wasn’t going to – let you drain me, I mean.  But I didn’t have to stop you.  Why didn’t I?  Angel didn’t stop until I was almost dead....”


Spike’s eyes flashed yellow and he growled into the pillow, trying to hide his demon. When he felt he had control again, he faced Buffy and ground out, “I have told you before, and I obviously will have to tell you again,  I.  Am.   Not.  The.  Bloody. Great.  Poof!  I control my demon; it doesn’t control me.  And I would never, ever allow it to hurt you. Never.”


He flopped his head back on the pillow, blowing out a gust of unnecessary air.  Just as he was afraid he had spoiled what was shaping up to be one their very few tender moments, he felt Buffy timidly slide up next to him and press a light kiss on his jaw.


“I’m sorry,” she whispered softly.  “I know you would never hurt me.  I didn’t mean to.... I was just curious.”


He put his arm around her waist and pulled her into his body, wincing in pain as she pressed on his wounds, but holding her there anyway.  “You know, love, givin’ me your blood, apologizin’, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m still unconscious and dreamin’.  Or,” he added with a grin, “I’m really dead and someone made a mistake and sent me to Heaven....”


“There is just no point in trying to be nice to you,” she grumbled, but she was smiling as she said it and she nuzzled his neck to show him she didn’t mean it.


“Need to work on my appreciatin’ skills I guess, pet.  Not like I’ve had much use for them before this....”  Even as he tried to keep up the banter, he could feel his eyes falling shut and he lapsed back into sleep.  As soon as Buffy assured herself that he was just sleeping and not getting worse, she slipped off the bed and went to wrap her wrist.  There really wasn’t much bandaging necessary.  Between her Slayer healing and Spike’s closing licks, the cut was almost completely closed.  She wrapped it anyway and then put on a long sleeve shirt to hide the bandage from Xander.


While Spike slept upstairs, she went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of juice to start replacing the blood she lost.  She drank the juice down and poured some more before going in to the living room to await the inevitable arrival of the Scoobies. 


“Right on time,” she grimaced as Xander burst through the door shouting her name.  Before he could tear up the stairs and bother Spike, she raised her voice and called him back.


“Xander! I’m right here.  Please stop shouting.”  She hoped she didn’t look too pale and that he would just leave it alone.  (Right, like that’s going to happen) she groaned silently as he marched up to her and grabbed her chin to look at her neck.  She just glared back at him, daring him to push the issue, but he settled for stomping over to the couch and sitting down.


“So, Buffy.  Your throat seems to be intact.  Does that mean the evil undead is healing himself?”


“He’s doing better, Xander.” She said noncommittally.  “Can we just agree to leave it at that?”  She stared at him challengingly.


Her friend sighed and relaxed back into the cushions.  “Well, it’s not like I actually want Spike to die, Buffy.  You think I want to go back to being the only estrogen-deprived member of the Scoobs?  But I just didn’t want you risking your life for him because you feel guilty about leaving him last night.”


“Xander,” she began, then looked at the rest of her friends and her sister, “all of you, I have something to tell you.”


She looked around the room at her sister and her closest friends and took a deep breath.


“Spike and I....we’ve been......seeing each other for several months. I was afraid to tell you because I knew you wouldn’t be happy about my dating another vampire, especially one without a soul.  So I lied, and pretended to hate him and that deceit almost cost him his life.  And it almost cost me the man I think I might be learning to love.”


She waited to see what the reactions would be.  Tara, of course, already knew about them and she was grateful to see the Wicca smiling at her supportively.  Dawn looked shocked but happy that the two people she loved most had found each other.  Willow was cautiously supportive; remembering Angelus but knowing Spike was a very different vampire.  Anya just shrugged and said, “Well, it will be nice not to have to deal with all that sexual tension anymore now that you can have orgasms without lying about it.”


All eyes were on the brunette carpenter as he digested what Buffy had just said.  He found himself not as surprised as he might have been.  As much as he tried to deny what he didn’t want to see, he had long ago accepted the truth of Spike’s feelings for Buffy.  And the sight of her face when she thought he’d been burned to dust had left little doubt that the blond vampire meant more to her than she had admitted. He almost groaned aloud as he remembered bursting into Spike’s crypt when Buffy was invisible and catching Spike “exercising” on his bed.


“Buffy,” he began cautiously, “You know I’ve never wanted anything for you but to be happy.” He ignored the snort of disbelief from Anya.  “If Dead Boy jr. can make you happy, then how can I object?”


“Thank you, Xander,” Buffy said softly, tears prickling her eyes.  “Thank you all for understanding.”


“Yeah, well, you can be the one that tells Giles,” Willow said, rolling her eyes.


Everyone laughed and with that the remaining tension was broken. With hugs all around, everyone decided to head out for pizza, leaving Buffy to check on Spike.


When she approached her room, she was almost afraid to go in.  “What have I started?” she asked rhetorically.  Then she told herself it had started a long time ago, she was just now admitting it publicly.


She opened the door to see bright blue eyes staring at her with a look of complete awe and delight.  All the love she’d tried to deny for years was burning in them and she wondered how she had managed to fool herself for so long about Spike’s feelings.


“Hey,” she said softly, “How do you feel?”


He ignored her question, just continued to look at her with disbelief, fear, joy, gratitude and adoration chasing themselves across his face.   He beckoned her to the bed and she willingly came into his embrace, cuddling up next to him.


“What?” she said finally, as he held her tightly and continued to let all his emotions show on his face.


“You do know I’m a vampire, right?” he said enigmatically.


“Uh, yeah?  Kinda picked up on that a while ago.  You’re wigging me out here, Spike.  Is this a side effect of the poison?”


“More like a side effect of having vampire hearing, love.  I heard you talking to the Scoobies downstairs.” 


“Oh, well, I don’t see.....OH!” she remembered what she had said about learning to love him.  “Oh,” she repeated more softly as she looked up at him shyly.  She almost flinched to see the hope clearly visible on his face as he waited for her to acknowledge her words. When she didn’t immediately repeat them, the hope began to fade and his face started to shut down as he prepared himself for disappointment.


(Right, then, just something she was saying to keep the Scoobies off her back. At least she admitted to being with me.  Take what you can get you stupid git and be grateful for that.)  


Even as he told himself not to be bothered by her unwillingness to repeat her words, he could feel his heart breaking just a little.


Buffy cringed when she saw the hope and joy fade from his face.  She watched him shut his eyes to hide the pain he was feeling and her heart ached for him.


“Spike,” she said softly, touching his cheek with her fingers and turning his head towardhers.  “William, look at me...please.”


He twitched at her use of his given name and reluctantly opened his eyes to meet her worried gaze.


She took a deep breath and forced herself to hold his eyes as she tried to explain what he had heard.  “You know how I’ve been since I...came back. You know how unhappy I’ve been, how numb to everything - ” She turned his face back as he flinched and looked away from her, not wanting to be reminded of her unhappiness.  “Numb to everything except you,” she added firmly.  “You have brought me back into the world. You keep me anchored here.  I didn’t want to admit to myself how important you are to me.”  Her anxious gaze searched his wary blue eyes, willing him to understand her.  “But when I thought you were gone....” She shuddered and unconsciously clutched his sore chest tightly. He winced, but when she went to pull away, he tightened his grip and shook his head. 


“When I thought you were gone,” she continued with a tremor in her voice, “I didn’t want to be here anymore either.  I don’t think I could stay here without you.”


The vampire looked at her with amazed and frightened eyes.  “Yes, you could.  You would.  The world needs you, love”


“And I need you,  you....you......stupid vampire!  And you almost died!” Suddenly she was racked with sobs and he held her while she cried out the fears that had shattered her comfortable ideas about his place in her life.


“Shh, shhh, love,  I’m right here.  Just as undead as I ever was.  Told you I’d never leave you, didn’t I?  Wouldn’t break my promise to you, Buffy. Wouldn’t leave you.  Never leave you, love.”  His warm voice and the small circles he was rubbing on her back soon soothed her and her sobs trailed off to sniffles. 


The smiling vampire handed her a tissue from the box on the nightstand. “Here you go, love.  As fond as I am of your body fluids, I don’t think they’re helping my wounds all that much.....” 


Buffy looked up at his twinkling eyes and pulled away from him quickly.


“Oh, Spike, gross!  I’m so sorry.  I didn’t mean to-“ She looked at his chest, expecting to see open wounds covered in tears and snot.  As soon as she realized the wounds had closed and that he was laughing at her, she snorted indignantly and glared at him.  She grabbed the tissue and wiped her eyes and nose, then threw it at his face.


“I hate you!” 


“No you don’t,” he smirked confidently.


“Do too”


“Do not”


“Do to- mmmfff” the rest of her reply was smothered by soft, demanding lips that moved gently around hers, pulling her lower lip in to be nibbled with blunt teeth.  His tongue licked around her lips and she responding immediately, opening her mouth to welcome it in and caress it with her own.  She allowed herself to melt into the kiss, finally able to admit how much she craved the soft, cool lips moving with hers.


When his hands began moving around her body, sliding up under her shirt to feel the bare skin on her back, and down over her hips to cup her buttocks, she pulled back from him and frowned.


“What are you doing?  You’re sick, you dope!”


“Vampire healing, love.  What can I say?  The blood of a Slayer is an aphrodisiac as well as a tonic......” He pulled her back into another bone-melting kiss and began pulling her shirt up so that he was pressing cool bare skin to warm. 


“So,” she asked with a smile, “You’re all better then?  Back to your usual obnoxious self?”


“Yep, so it seems,” he was able to get out between kisses and licking her neck.  “All back to my normal horny self and ready to-“


“Well, then!” Buffy said teasingly,  “I guess I don’t have to be nice to you anymore.  We can just go back to our regular--”  She made as if to get up off the bed, and giggled when he went into game face and pulled her back down, growling fiercely.


“Have I ever told you how sexy that is?” she asked him as he pressed her into the mattress.  She could feel the growl vibrating her whole body and she slipped her arms around his neck to hold him closer.  “I love it when you growl.”


“That so?” he asked as he slid back to his chiseled human face.  “Pretty sure getting turned on by vampire growling isn’t a good career move for a Slayer, pet”


“I’m pretty sure this one isn’t trying to kill me,” she whispered as she planted kisses along his jaw.  “I think he just wants to love me.”


“That he does, my sweet.  That he does.”


“’K, then.”



The End


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