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Once again, Buffy found herself enthralled, lured by temptation and the thrill of the forbidden. The hunt, usually enough to sate her and send her peacefully into sleep, was no longer enough. She found herself tossing and turning in bed, almost as if the burn had begun to build inside of her all over again. Restless, hungry, and wanton, she crawled from under Riley's arm and dressed quickly, knowing that her clothes would be in a discarded heap as soon as she made it to Spike's crypt.

Glancing back at Riley's sleeping form, she knew she should have felt guilty, but the delicious tingle that ran down her spine at the thought of Spike's hands, his long, steady fingers preparing her, sent her out the door without another thought. If she had dared one more look at her boyfriend before she slipped safely into the hallway, she would have seen that his eyes were open and alert, and that one hand was already on his jeans.

However, her focus was elsewhere.

Halfway across town, Buffy found what she was looking for. Spike was exiting the Fish Tank, a bottle of liquor in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He took one look at her, tossed his smoke, and held out his hand. She took it eagerly, without any words, and let him lead her into the cemetery. Once inside his dirty 'home', he made short work of her clothing and sniffed the air, a look of comprehension clouding his features. Disgusted, he stepped away from her.

"You come to me with the smell of him all over you?" he asked quietly, jaw tightening as his fists clenched at his sides. "Get dressed."

She sucked in her breath, covering her chest against his gaze. Surely he realized that she had not broken up with Riley beforehand. "Spike-"

Angrily, he tossed the bottle, shattering it on the wall above her head, raining shards of glass down behind her. "You have a lot of nerve, Killer."

"What?" Buffy cried, flinching as the glass nicked the bare skin of her back. "You knew that I was with Riley when you touched me the first time."

"I made a mistake, didn't I?" Spike held her gaze with his, icy blue against clouded green. "I won't be the one who finishes what that whelp of a boy starts." He took an angry step toward her and gripped her elbow, propelling her toward the door. "I'm a lot of things, Killer, but I'm no one's midnight replacement."

/end prologue


~You put your face in front of mine
All but hiding desperation
Hunger leaks out of your eyes
Whetting me with dark temptation

You can read me like a trashy book
I'm barely keeping in these rages
So far so clean, but I'm torn between
See, I'm torn between
These pages, pages~

In the two days since her confrontation with Spike, she had only seen him once. He had been rummaging through the dump, finding various goodies for his home. She had been tempted to tell him that he must have taken serious offense to her Martha Stewart comment about his crypt, but she bit her tongue. Riley had seemed less than thrilled to see the vampire, pulling the crossbow in front of him and asking what he was doing there. Buffy kept an eye on the crossbow, ready to pull it out of Riley's hands if need be. Spike had made a grand show of bravado, encouraging the demon, Toth, that had attacked them, until said demon destroyed his treasured find, and then he made a hasty retreat.

Buffy was aching inside as she patrolled. The fight with Toth in Xander's new apartment a few hours earlier had ended too quickly. She hadn't been able to relish the defeat. Tomorrow she would be waking up early to help Xander move out of the basement, but tonight belonged to her.

The demons didn't seem to be taking advantage of it though.

So far, Toth had been the only one she had seen. That happened sometimes, she thought, a big demon shows up and the smaller demons hide. Wusses.

She didn't even realize that her feet were propelling her toward the cemetery until the wrought iron gates loomed before her, creaking in the cool breeze. She stood staring up at them, a sense of dread and desire flooding through her body. Whatever feral lust Dracula had awakened in her had yet to sleep. When she made love with Riley, his tender and slow actions left her quaking in need for more. Where once she had derived pleasure, she now found herself pretending. Faking. He didn't seem to notice. And it wasn't that he was doing anything wrong or different. It was that her mind, and her attraction, were elsewhere. Here, in the cemetery, where the very nearness of a certain vampire had her thighs almost slick with want.

A car backfired in the distance, causing Buffy to jump and come back to reality. With a sigh, she stared across the road at Weatherly Park, a place that undoubtedly had at least one demon for her to pummel. She decided to forget about Spike and go to the park. If nothing else, she could sit on the swings and think. Turning on her heel, she repositioned her bag and stepped under the crime scene tape that was wound between two trees. The night security guard had been killed the night before. The eighth one in as many months. People never seemed to learn in this town.

The night was hers.

She smiled when she spotted the vampire heading toward her, unaware that she was there. He was large, his face that of the demon inside of him, and she knew he was freshly risen by the way he shambled, stumbling over his feet. She stood in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to make her move. Her body, ever ready for confrontation, began to tingle. Her heartbeat quickened, her breathing deepened, and the hairs on the back of her neck began to dance upward. Quietly, fluidly, she pulled the stake from her waistband and ran her palm down the length of it, dragging her nails over the cleanly shaven wood.

When the vampire was a few feet away, Buffy stepped out in front of him, casually dropping her bag at her feet. "Hi."

The vampire growled low in its throat, confusion clouding its features. The girl should have screamed, should have feared his face. Drawing his lips back, he exposed his fangs to her. "And here I thought I'd have to go all the way uptown to find something to eat."

"You're in luck." With the stake behind her back, she smiled innocently. "We deliver."

The demon lunged. Buffy sidestepped and he stumbled off the path. She Waited patiently for him to regain his footing and come at her again. He swung at her and she ducked, then leaped upward and snap-kicked the creature in the head. It recoiled, clutching its nose and she smiled, watching blood drip from his cupped hands.

The dance of darkness had begun.


Spike was heading back toward his crypt, another liquor bottle in hand, when he heard the fighting in Weatherly Park. Taking a deep swig of the harsh liquid, he smacked his lips and cocked his head to one side. It probably wasn't the Slayer. Odds were that she was curled up in bed, nestled against the fumbling young man she called a boyfriend. 'Boy' was right. Spike didn't see the attraction. At least when she had been with Angel she had been with a man. The soldier boy was awkward, mouthy, and most of all - unworthy.

And yet he still had her, didn't he?

Deciding that listening to the fight wasn't nearly as much fun as participating, Spike sat his bottle down in the grass beside the gates to the cemetery and made his way into the park. Straightening his duster, he followed the sounds of fists connecting with flesh.

The vampire came sailing through the air toward him, all blood and pulp and a mangled mess. Spike saw him coming and quickly brought his stake upward, impaling the vampire before he could impact. Ashes plumed around him and he fanned them away, narrowing his eyes as he surveyed the darkness. He could smell her. Vanilla and spice and everything nice. The Slayer was in the shadows, and this time, the tables had been turned and she was watching him.

"Come out," he called, feeling her eyes burning against his skin. She had been savage the last time he watched her, attacking him and almost killing him. If whatever power controlled her before was back, she could strike again. "Buffy?"

A twig snapped to his right and he turned quickly, arms up in an attempt to shield himself. There was nothing there except a few shadows from the branches of the trees and the moonlight. He turned in a semicircle, watching as a car drove past on the main road. The headlights illuminated the forest for a split second, and he thought he saw her on the path ahead of him, then something rustled behind him and he spun.


It was a rare occurrence indeed for William the Bloody to find himself in a position where he was afraid, but as the wind whipped, blowing the fallen leaves up around his legs, he nervously cleared his throat and scanned the darkness again. He knew. He knew what it could mean. "Come on now, pet. You've had your fun. I can sense you there, you know?"

The rustling came again, this time directly in front of him and he squinted when he caught a whiff of human blood on the air. "Slayer? Are you hurt?"

A twig snapped further up the trail and this time he did see a flash of color. He took several steps in that direction. "That's it, Killer! I'm not in the mood for this!"

"I told you not to call me that."

Spike whipped around, coming face to face with the Slayer. He swallowed hard, motioning behind them. "I think someone's back there."

Shrugging a little, Buffy ran her tongue over the cut on her lip "Want to go kill them?"

With a shake of his head, he watched another drop of blood pool on her lip. "You're bleeding."

Lifting a hand, she caught the drop of blood on her finger and stepped toward him. His gaze was pinned to hers, almost in a trance as she brought her finger to his mouth and slid it over his lips. His tongue darted out, following the crimson smear and licking it clean. Without a second thought, he sucked her finger into his mouth, growling deeply when she moaned.

When his demon came to the fore, Buffy stood on her tiptoes and leaned against him, her hands on his chest. As he ran his teeth over her finger, she felt her inner muscles clench and moaned again. "How do I taste?"

Saying nothing, Spike grabbed a handful of her hair and lowered his mouth to hers, half kissing and half sucking on the small wound. Buffy made a small noise in the back of her throat as his leg slid between hers, and she couldn t help grinding against him in an effort to ease the throbbing between her thighs. His fang deepened the cut, and she cried out, but the feel of his tongue immediately rubbing the small wound reduced her to a few whimpers. Gripping his shirt in her hands, she wadded the material and held on.

Spike had been anticipating a sharp jolt of pain when her blood dripped into his mouth, but instead he felt nothing but the richness and the power. How in the hell he had experienced such blinding agony when he shoved her was beyond him. Unwilling to push his luck, he reluctantly pushed away, staring at her swollen bottom lip, now purpled from his insistent suckling. There was blood on her chin and he tilted her head, lapping gently until all traces were gone.

And that was when he tasted it. The vampire's blood mingled with hers. She had sampled the demon's blood again. Was it possible that that was why hed experienced no pain? Or were the legends true? With a small growl, he shoved her away roughly, well aware of the lack of pain in his head. "How do *you* taste? Why don't you tell me how that fucking vampire tasted!?"

Taking a step back, Buffy brushed her hand over her mouth, subconsciously trying to wipe away the traces of the vampire blood. "I- I only-"

"What? You only had a little taste? Didn't I tell you about that?" Gripping her arm, he led her down the trail and across the main road, grabbing his bottle from its resting place. "Drink it!"

Curling her nose in disgust, Buffy shook her head. "No. No offense, but I tend to not drink alcohol in this town. Bizarre things happen like snake-men and monosyllabic talking and-"

He shoved the bottle into her hand and crossed his arms. "You'll drink a vampire's blood but not a little whiskey? Do I need to have a talk with your Watcher?"

"No." Buffy brought the bottle to her lips and took a deep swig, cringing when it seeped into the cut on her lip and burned it. She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth, running her own tongue across it, but it lacked the effect of Spike doing it. To satisfy the blond, who was currently glaring at her, she took another deep drink and hiccuped loudly. "Happy?"

"Come on!" He took her hand again, ignoring the fact that she grinned happily at the gesture, and led her toward his crypt. "Your shirt's all bloody. You can have one of mine to go home in."

"You mean you have more than one?" Buffy asked seriously.

He didn't acknowledge her comment as they reached his door and he shoved it open, dragging her inside. Angrily, he flipped the switch on his lamp and rifled through a pile of clothing on the floor. All he had was a few T-shirts that had been salvaged from Harmony's burning rampage. And all of them had a significant place in his undead heart. With a sigh, he lifted his autographed Sex Pistols shirt and shook it out, causing a cloud of dust. Turning, his eyes widened when he saw what was in her hands.

The mannequin head.

Her head.

Buffy studied the head closely, not registering the fact that it was her until she glanced sideways and saw the rest of the body. And her tank top. "You stole my tanktop! I've been looking everywhere for this." Still clutching the head, she stomped to where the body lay in a heap. "And why am I headless? What did you do? Kick me?"

Spike would have blushed if he had circulation. "Don't flatter yourself. Who says it's you?"

"My hair! My shirt! And I'm headless, which, if I recall, is how you killed that Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion." She threw the head at him and pulled her tank top off the plastic torso, examining the fabric. "You're even sicker than I thought!" she cried, when she found what she was looking for. "You're a chronic masturbater!" Flinging the shirt at him, she stormed toward the door, only to have her path blocked. "Move, Spike!"

"What did you expect me to do, eh?" he snapped. "You come here smelling like bloody sex and candy and-"

"Stop stealing song lyrics, jackass!"

"Will you listen to me!?" He threw the head that was still in his hands and earned a slap across the cheek.

"Don't throw my head!"

"It's not your head!" Spike growled. "Though sometimes I wonder if yours is attached at all!" He caught the arm that was sailing toward him again and dragged her to his chest. "Knock it off, Killer."

"Kiss my ass!"

A small smile barely curled his lips, but his eyes twinkled devilishly. Moving his mouth toward her ear, he slowly trailed a line of kisses over her lobe and down her jaw, moving toward her jugular. When he made it to the base of her neck, he blazed a path over her collarbone, pulling aside her dirtied shirt for better access.

Her anger dissipated as rapidly as it had come when anticipation began to build in her womb. God, if he didn't finish what he was starting, she would surely die. "Spike, what are you doing?"

"You told me to kiss your ass," he replied matter of factly, ripping open her shirt. "I'm just taking the long way."

She had not worn a bra and when he captured one of her nipples in his mouth, sucking roughly, she cried out and hooked her leg over his hip, grinding upward. He pulled his lower half away, not letting her find the muscled pressure she was seeking. His action earned a snarl of protest and he glanced up at her. "Eager, gorgeous?"

Looking down at him, watching as his tongue flicked over her nipple, she was momentarily reminded of Riley. He did the same thing. "Spike, we shouldn't-"

Spike stopped what he was doing and looked up at her, still gripping her hips. "And why is that?"

Shyly, she pulled the front of her shirt together and turned away, staring at nothing as she tried to stop the ache inside her. "I can't."

"Because of *him*?" Spike leaned against the wall, not trusting his legs to support him. Her blood, what little he had tasted, had warmed him, but as he waited for her answer, he felt his body chill while anger settled into his veins.

"Because it's wrong." She turned to face him, stunned at the look on his face. He looked wild eyed- demon at the forefront and hands clenched in tight fists.

"Because it's wrong!?" His replayed the little cock-teasing conversation they had shared under the stairwell of the Bronze. Every impulse he had to rip her head off that night was back in full force, only this time, he wanted to rip it off while he was thrusting into her. "God damn you, Slayer! Get the fuck out!"

"What did I say? What? You're insulted because I said it's wrong? What else could it be?" she shouted.

"Absolutely nothing!" Spike told her, spitting the words at her. "You got what you wanted, Killer. You paid me back for what I did the night that Dracula put the burn on you."

She took a tentative step toward him, hand out. "Spike, please? I don't understand."

"You never will!" Spike yelled, stalking toward her. "You know why you never will? Because you have your head up *his* ass! You think that *this* is wrong? Look at what you have with him and ask why you're coming to me at night."

Buffy held her ground. "Riley is a good man!"

"But not a good lay?" Spike smiled when she gasped. "Whassamatter, Killer, is he not scratching that itch for you?"

"I hate you!" Buffy cried.

"But you love him, right?"

The question caught her off guard. "He loves me."

Spike studied her face, watched the conflicting emotions that played across her features. "You *can't* love him, can you? He may be a good man, but he's just a man. Not dangerous. Not deadly. Not strong enough to be out here with you every night. You don't love him, Slayer."

Tears welled up in her eyes and she bit her lower lip, hissing in pain when her blunt teeth scraped the cut. "No, I don't love him. But I can definitely hate you."

She brushed past him, yanking her bloodied shirt off. Grabbing her tank top, she pulled it over her head and turned to face Spike again. When she met his gaze, she felt herself falter slightly, but held on to her resolve. "I don't know what happened between us last week, Spike, or why. But-"

"Go," he told her flatly, opening the door for her.

Moving slowly, she made her way toward it, pausing in the archway briefly. "I won't come back again if you make me leave."

He leaned closer to her, his nose almost brushing against hers. "And I don't want you to come back until you realize that sometimes there is a right kind of wrong."

She moved into the cemetery in a daze, barely registering the click of the door behind her. Or the young man who was crouched a few feet away, staring at her in disbelief.


~Solitary girl I have been
Living in a cell made of skin
Sealed inside myself, nothing gets out or gets in
I can't feel what you feel~

The alarm went off way too early as far as Buffy was concerned. She hit the snooze three times, and then found herself being shaken awake by Dawn, who looked absurdly bright and cheerful. "Go away, Dawn."

"You overslept. Riley is downstairs waiting for you." The teenager shook her head. "I guess I better tell him that itll be an hour before you resemble anything human.

Buffy looked at her alarm clock and groaned, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. "Tell him I'll be there in ten minutes."

Dawn stared at her. "What? Did you fight a demon with a magic wand that you can wave and get a makeover?"

"GET OUT!" Buffy screamed at her.

With a gasp, Dawn held her hands up. "Okay, god! Next time I'll just send him in here to wake the beast!"

Buffy waited until the younger girl had left the room, then slid the cover back, plopping her feet on the floor. She stumbled to the vanity, took one look at herself, and shook her head. It was definitely going to be a pigtail day. Dressing in a T-shirt, denim capris and her tennis shoes, she decided she would claim that it was her 'moving' attire if anyone asked, and descended the stairs.

Riley was talking with her mother in the kitchen, and when Buffy walked into the room, he put his glass of juice on the table. He noticed her bruised lip immediately and narrowed his eyes. "You went patrolling last night after I dropped you off?"

Buffy nodded and lifted his glass, draining what was left of the juice. "Yeah. I couldn't sleep."

Joyce tilted her daughter's head and made a tsking sound. "You shouldn't patrol alone."

"That's what I tell her," Riley nodded his agreement. "I don't want you doing that anymore."

She was tempted to tell him not to tell her what to do, but she saw the way her mother was smiling approvingly at him and didn't have the heart. With a small nod, she said, "Yeah, okay. I'll just call you up at three a.m. and tell you to get dressed and meet me to fight demons."

"That's part of who you are, Buffy," he told her, taking her small hand into his. "And like I told you yesterday, I love all of you. I want to help you."

Dawn made a gagging noise and pretended to fall off her stool, spasming in the floor. For once, Buffy was grateful at the annoyance. Rolling her eyes, she pulled Riley toward the door. "We better get going."


~I'll give you everything I possess
If you tell me where you keep your happiness
I look more and more and I find less and less
I don't know what you know~

"But she doesn't love me," Riley told Xander four hours later. He had just finished waxing poetic about how Buffy made him feel. About how part of him wanted to be touching her all the time and the other half felt at peace. He capped it by telling the young man the truth.

Buffy didn't love him.

Riley could tell by Xander's expression that he wanted to ask what he was talking about. Or possibly offer him platitudes and remind him of all that Buffy had done in order to save him from the Initiative. But Buffy, with her impeccable timing, chose that moment to come into the room, asking if she could help. He smiled at her, easily losing himself when she stood on her toes to kiss him.

He glanced back at Xander, not surprised to see the same sad expression on his face. If only he knew. If only Xander knew what he had seen and heard the past couple of times that he had followed Buffy. Part of him wanted to rage at her, scream and cry at the betrayal, but he couldn't. Instead, he replied to the small talk she was making and smiled for her.

Buffy couldn't love him because he wasn't strong like a vampire. He was *just* a man. Not as powerful or as dark.

The part of him that was usually at peace began to war with the part of him that longed to pull her into his arms. It screamed at him to leave her, to get out of town before she killed him.

But he had a plan. The perfect plan that would keep her out of Spike's arms and into his forever.

If she wanted more than a man - he would become what she needed. Stronger. Just like he had been in the Initiative. He would become her equal.

Because she was *the* one. And no vampire was going to replace him.




More coming soon!