Family

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Harmony sat on the stone slab in Spike's crypt, anxiously eyeing the door. Her hands had not stopped shaking since she had seen the Slayer rip Skull to shreds and taste his blood. She didn't know everything there was to know about Slayers - the books she had read were boring - but she knew that there was something dark and sinister going on with the current one and that terrified her more than seeing Buffy patrol with any old wooden stake.

Because the Slayer's bare hands were even deadlier. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist, or even smart at all - for which Harmony was grateful - to put your ear to the ground and listen to the rumblings about the Slayer. Even Spike, who had been quite the terror in his day, had been crippled by her and thwarted on so many occasions that he wouldn't even discuss half of them. And that was **before** Buffy went psycho.

Checking her watch and sighing at the time, she was about to leave when Spike stepped inside the small drab room. He took one look at her and pointed at the door. "Get out."

"Spike, I have to tell you something." Harmony hopped off the slab and walked around it, putting it between them.

"You've got some nerve, haven't you?" Spike took off his duster and cracked his knuckles menacingly. "Coming in here after you sent that little army my way, all because we had a spat."

"I'd hardly call you breaking all my unicorns **and** my face a spat!" Harmony put her hands on her hips. "But I'm willing to cut you some slack." She took one look at his expression and began to cry, though not very convincingly. "I just witnessed something so traumatic that it's going to scar me for life! Worse than seeing your brain! Worse even than sleeping with that fat vampire that time, and much worse than the time that Cordelia wore the exact same outfit as me and everyone called us-"

"Get on with it!" Spike growled.

"Remember Skull? That big biker vampire that I was hanging out with a few weeks ago?" Harmony asked, but didn't wait for an answer. "We were coming back from a movie, which, let me tell you, is **the** best place for variety in blood, anyway, we were coming through town and saw the Slayer checking out this dead guy and she was all into it or whatever. The freak! And Skull attacked her. She wasn't even armed, and she ripped his head off and threw it at me! With her bare hands, Spike!"

Spike stood in stunned silence, processing what he had heard with a growing sense of trepidation. The Slayer had gone out again? After he had left her? She had gone out even though she had told him she had things to do? Harmony began to babble again and he forced himself to listen, fighting the urge to brave the rising sun and have a word with the Slayer.

"And that's not the half of it either, Spike. She licked the blood off her hand and looked - orgasmic! I have to tell everyone that she's gone crazy! We should warn-"

Spike's head whipped up and he stalked toward her. "You'll keep your bloody mouth shut!"

"What?" Harmony stumbled when he gripped her arms. "Spike, you're hurting-"

"Oh, you don't know hurting yet. You tell anyone and I'll be the one scarring you for life - with my bare hands!"

"What is your trauma?" she yelled, yanking her arm loose. "What? Are you in love with her or something? Spike-y and Bu-ffy sittin-"

He gripped a handful of her hair and tilted her head back, forcing her words to die on her lips. "You stupid bint! Think! If the Slayer **has** gone crazy, all we have to do is bide our time and wait for her to mess up. Right?"

Harmony grinned, licking her lips in anticipation. "It's your brain that I like about you, you know?" Moving one of her hands to his chest, she trailed her finger into the open collar of his shirt. "But the rest of you isn't all bad."

She made a move to kiss him, but he pulled away and walked to his recliner. "I'm tired."

Harmony pouted, but eventually busied herself with the television and left him to his thoughts. He'd have to keep Harmony close, make sure she didn't use her newfound knowledge of the Slayer's blood tasting excursions. Harmony was new; she didn't know the history, didn't know the danger and the position that Buffy could find herself in.

And Spike would make sure she never did.

<><>

Some time much later, after the sun had set, Spike was still sitting in that same chair, only now, he was holding the mannequin head in his lap. He hadn't moved for much of the day. Somehow, he had managed to drown out Harmony's snores as she slept on his concrete slab, but he hadn't closed his eyes once. He knew that if he did, what could happen, and most likely **would** happen if he didn't stop it, would haunt his dreams.

And they were already haunted enough. Buffy in curls. Buffy in leather. Buffy in lace. Buffy seducing him then staking him. Buffy letting him seduce her and not staking him, which happened to be a personal favorite, but was still tainted with declarations of love from him. And nothing from her. Absolutely nothing. No kind look in her eyes, no heartfelt kiss upon his lips, no admission of any remote feeling she may or may not have for him. But it was still there, every time he closed his eyes.

And he caught himself catnapping as much as he could just to glimpse her.

'What is wrong with me?' he growled silently. 'I've shagged her! I've shagged her twice! She should be out of my system by now!'

'Ahh,' replied a gentler voice in his head. 'But that's your problem. You've **shagged** her. Now you know you have feelings for the girl. You want to **make love** to her. And who says that vampires aren't-"

The crypt door burst open and Harmony bustled in carrying several shopping bags. She prattled on incessantly about shoes and sales, admitted she had killed the shopkeepers, and Spike half listened until his brain connected two words. Slayer and kill. She'd just told him that a group of demons was going to kill the Slayer! Jumping up, he threw his coat on, mumbled something about getting a good seat, and sped off toward the Magick Shop.

He decided to enter through the back alley and eavesdrop, since he could derive sadistic pleasure from that, and slowly crept around the building. He paused when he saw Tara pouring powder into her hand beside the back steps. She cast a wary look around the alley and he pressed his back against the wall, watching as her gaze brushed over him. Climbing the stairs, the girl entered the building. Spike followed. He opened the door and peered inside just in time to hear her whispering and then watched a thin line of blue smoke filter through her fingers and into the next room.

Tara turned back toward the door and Spike leaped back down the stairs, crouching behind a dumpster. He heard her leave, heard her heels clacking down the pavement, and started to follow, but he heard Buffy's voice from the training room.

"Will, tell Giles I'm gonna work out for a while and don't let Xander come in here, I've got to change clothes."

Suddenly, the prospect of following Tara and exposing whatever she had done was less thrilling. And he could probably have made her cry really easily, too! He climbed the stairs again and pushed the door open. Buffy was wearing nothing except a thong as she dug through her bag. Her breasts swung freely, bouncing slightly as she sat down and attempted to pull her shoes from the bag. Stepping into the room, he licked his lips and watched her secure her hair away from her face. She hadn't even noticed him.

She stood and turned to face him and he straightened up, thinking she would kick his ass for spying on her while she changed clothes. But she looked right through him. Instead of saying anything at all, she walked to the table next to him, opened another bag, and rummaged through it, pulling out her workout clothing.

"Buffy?" Spike said.

Tilting her head, Buffy turned and scanned the room. Her name had been spoken softly, barely above a child-like whisper, but she saw no one. "Hello?"

"Bloody hell, you heard me!" Spike shook his head angrily. "I should've stayed quiet."

"Spike? What's going-"

"Can you see me?" Waving a hand in front of her face, Spike already knew the answer.

"No. And I can barely hear you." Her eyes widened suddenly and she glanced down at her exposed flesh. "Ack! Spike, can you see me?"

"Very, very well," Spike replied, grinning at the way she blushed prettily and tried to cover herself. "Don't do that." He took a step toward her and brushed a tendril of hair back, letting his fingers trail down the column of her neck and down her shoulder.

Buffy shivered at his touch, the coolness of his body intensified by his lack of form. She couldn't see his touches coming and when they did, she took shameful delight in the sensations that rippled over her skin. "What happened to you? Why are you invisible?"

"I don't know, luv." He pulled the clothing from her hands and let them drop into the floor. "But what do you say we worry about that later?"

Her eyes bulged when she felt his fingertips sliding into the waistband of her panties. "Oh my god! You can't be serious! Everyone's in the next room!"

"Shhh!" He covered her mouth briefly, then moved his hand to her breast. "Keep quiet and they'll never know a thing."

She felt around frantically, in a mad attempt to locate his arm, and finally found it. Trying to hold him at bay, she whispered, "Spike, I need to get dressed and go tell Giles what's happened!"

Smiling, he pushed his hand further into her panties and felt her tangle of curls. She was already wet; he could feel her moisture seeping to the surface. "Hmmm, feels like someone likes the thought of being filled with something she can't see."

Buffy felt her face turn crimson, both from her embarrassment and her excitement, and unconsciously parted her legs for him. His finger thrust upward, hitting her clit and entering her at almost the same time. She moaned, deep in her throat, taking a moment to register that only Angel had been able to get her this excited this fast, in the short time they'd had together. No one else had ever had this effect on her. Until now.

The insides of her thighs molded against his invisible ones and she closed her eyes. What a sight she would present to anyone who dared walk in. Pressed against the wall, arms resting on Spike's shoulders, legs apart, skin red and tingly - they'd think she'd gone mad.

And she had gone mad!

The door didn't have a lock! She pushed Spike away suddenly and began shoving her legs into her workout pants, which she had trouble getting over her sweat slick limbs.

Spike stared at her in disbelief. "Slayer, what the hell are you doing?"

"I can't do this! I-"

"Can't, or won't? You afraid the Cub Scout's going to come in? Newsflash, I'm invisible!" He watched her pull her tank top over her head and stepped toward her. "Oh, you're not worried about him **seeing** us. You're worried about feeling guilty, eh?"

"No!" Buffy shook her head, trying to fix her eyes on the place where Spike was standing. She felt like a fool talking to someone she couldn't see, but her body was still letting her know just how near he was. "It's not about Riley, Spike. I- just feel weird with them in the other room."

"Whatever!" Spike threw his hands in the air. "I didn't come here for this anyway. I want some answers."

"What?"

"Why did you go back out last night? What were you doing? Harmony told me that you-"

"You're still seeing Harmony!?" Buffy flared before she could stop herself.

"Oh, is someone getting a taste of her own medicine?"

"Why is everything a fight with you?" Buffy said in a low voice.

"Why is everything a fight with **you**?" Spike shot back.

"Don't mock me!"

"Why the hell not?" He gripped her upper arms. "You're mocking me, aren't you? Doing what I do? You're not a vampire, Buffy! Don't try to live in this world and taste that one because stronger people than you have tried and failed."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Buffy stepped back, pushing him away. She heard him stumble and hit the ground, swearing harshly. "Oh, Spike, I'm-"

"Forget it!" Spike angrily brushed himself off and stood.

Buffy tried to head in the direction that his voice was coming from, arms outstretched. But the back door opened suddenly and he was gone, his unseen presence leaving an indelible impression on the room. "Dammit!"

Turning, Buffy began to punch the punching bag, completely forgetting that she should be telling Giles about Spike's dilemma. Something moved behind her suddenly and she turned. "Spike?"

A pair of gnarly hands grabbed her, tossed her, and she screamed, "Giles, there's something in here!"

Spike heard her cry from the back alley and spun on his heel, charging back into the room. The Slayer was pinned by a demon that she clearly couldn't see, and there were several more advancing. For a split second, he wanted to sit back and watch. He wanted to see the Slayer struggle, see how she handled it, but the look of terror on her face was like a knife to the gut. Snarling, he joined the fray.

<><><><><>

"So, the witch thought she was a demon," Spike commented as he walked next to Buffy. Revello Drive was just two blocks away, and he had already stopped to tie his shoes three times, had claimed to hear suspicious noises four times, and had currently been reduced to trudging as slowly as possible since the Slayer refused to investigate the noises. He was in no hurry to say goodnight. "I could have told her that she was no demon."

"If you could have **told** her then why did you **hit** her?" Buffy gave him a lopsided grin. "You enjoyed it."

"I enjoyed it," Spike agreed, returning the grin. Then he remembered what Harmony had told him and frowned.

"What?" asked Buffy, watching his demeanor visibly change.

"We need to talk about what's going on with you."

"No, we don't."

Spike stopped walking and caught her arm when she continued past him. "You think it's harmless fun, right?"

"I don't think it's fun at all." Buffy slowly pulled her arm out of his grasp and looked up at him. The light from the streetlamp was casting shadows on his face, and his eyes, steely blue and fixed on hers, seemed to be staring straight into her soul. She wanted to reach up, cup his cheek and tell him she appreciated his concern. She could tell that despite himself, he seemed to care what happened to her, but she couldn't let herself give in to it and return the feeling. Having sex with him, no strings attached, was one thing. But all the talking and the feelings that she was starting to notice when he was around was something else entirely. Something she wasn't going to let get the better of her. "Look, Spike, what happened between us wasn't an open invitation into my life. I don't regret having sex with you, but that's all we have. I'm not going to confide in you or let you give me your unsolicited advice. I don't need you to tag along like some All-Knowing-Oracle."

Spike took a step back, staggering slightly as if he had been punched. "So, what, you want me to shag you when you need a good shagging and then vanish?"

"Something like that," Buffy looked at the ground as she said it, trying to make her voice sound convincing. She already had one guy who was trying to get too close .... "Look, my life is already complicated and I can't be having you around like this, Spike. People will start to ask questions and-"

Taking and angry step forward, Spike towered over her, gripping her upper arms. "The only question that needs to be asked is why. Why are you doing this? Don't you see it? Don't you see what it's doing to you? You do, Buffy. You feel it and you know it's changing you and your answer is to ignore the people who can help."

"Help me what!?" Buffy shouted angrily. "I'm stronger than I have **ever** been because of whatever is happening inside of me. You've seen it! I can't be touched!"

Spike gave her a rough shake. "Until you start thinking that way. You're not invincible, no matter how that demon blood coursing through your veins makes you feel. It's false, don't you get it? It will destroy you if you let it."

Shoving him back, Buffy turned and stalked off. Spike caught up with her and blocked her path. "Get out of my way, Spike."

"Tell your watcher," he said. "Either you tell him or I'll tell him."

Buffy felt her lips curl in a cruel smile and stood up straighter. "You tell him, and the only thing that will get destroyed in this town - is you."

She sidestepped him, bumping him harshly with her shoulder, and made her way home. Spike stood on the street long after she had gone inside, lost in his thoughts. If anyone ever found out the truth about him - about what he knew - what he'd seen - what he had done ... Glancing skyward, he cursed the fates. This was some kind of punishment they'd cooked up for him, wasn't it?

Having to prevent the current Slayer from going down a path where he'd intentionally led another.

The night was silent for now.

But he had no doubt she would be laughing when her darkness consumed Buffy entirely.

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