Walking After Midnight

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Part Thirteen

Giles drained the last of his third cup of coffee and motioned for a refill. The waitress arrived with a silver pot and filled his cup, then moved toward Angelís, but the vampire shook his head, mumbling that heíd had enough. When the young woman moved away, Angel clasped his fingers and stared at Giles.

"Why didnít you tell me all of this a long time ago, Giles?" he finally asked, his glare hardening as Giles added sugar to his cup and took several small sips, purposely avoiding his gaze. "I could have come back. I could have taken care of her. I could-"

"You could have hurt her again. Unwittingly. Unintentionally. But hurt her just the same." The caffeine was making him restless, fidgety. Giles exhaled loudly and put his cup down, then lifted it again. "And to be quite frank, Angel, I donít feel that I was obligated to tell you anything at all. If you were that interested in her life you should have called her and not me."

There was a long beat where neither man blinked, then Angel looked away and mumbled, "You know why I didnít call her."

"And you know why I didnít tell you," Giles replied. "For the very same reason that you havenít contacted her."

Angel glanced down at the table, slowly tracing a scratch in the worn wood with his thumbnail. He had listened with disbelief to most of what Giles had told him: the commandos, Spike being implanted with some form of behavior modifier, Buffy almost being killed, and finally Spikeís aid in caring for her. Spike, of all people, had been doing what he himself should have done. "I would have been a better choice than Spike."

Giles glanced at him over the rim of his cup, then sat it down again slowly. "Would you? You donít know what this did to her, Angel. She hated all of us. For weeks, she refused to eat at the hospital, lived off of tubes, and when she finally was allowed to come home, she was insufferable. Spike was the only person who could be harsh enough with her to get through to her and our hands were tied."

"But I--"

Giles held up a hand. "Just stop. Iíve given you all the explanation I plan on giving. I was here and you werenít."

"I could have been. In a matter of hours, I could have been."

"We canít erase time, Angel. We canít go back and do it again. Itís done." Giles motioned for their waitress and requested the check. "I appreciate your concern for Buffy, but I feel that there are more important things for us to concentrate on at the moment."

Angel was about to protest, about to tell the Watcher all about the last Slayer that Spike had killed, when the door chimed and he froze. Several men in dark suits entered the diner and scanned the room, then headed toward the long, empty bar. "I think youíre right," he said, nodding toward the small crowd. "Do they look familiar to you?"

Giles turned, staring at the men at the bar. "Iíll be damned."

There were six men, each of them dressed almost alike, and all of them wearing a pinky ring just like the one Giles was wearing. He instinctively gripped his own ring, twirling it around his finger, and then he stood. "Ií ll be right back," he told Angel.

Angel watched, bracing himself for trouble. To his surprise, one of the men saw Giles coming and jumped up, embracing the Englishman tightly. The other five followed suit and Giles pointed toward Angel. Six pairs of eyes bore holes in him, and he looked away, painfully aware of their disdain, for he was the very thing that they hated. He was so caught up in not being obvious, that he didnít realize that Giles had made his way back toward him until he cleared his throat beside him.

"Angel? Would you like to join us in the back of the bar and discuss plans?"

Angel glanced passed him, eyeing the men critically. "Are you sure they can be trusted?"

Giles nodded. "Iím sure of it. Each of them have, at one time or another, spoken up for me or Buffy to the ruling elite. Most of these men served when my own grandmother was a Watcher. They know what's been happening with Maggie Walsh."

"I see." Angel nodded, tossed a handful of ones on the table, and followed Giles toward the back of the room. Of the six men, only two stood up and said hello to him when he paused beside the long table they had arranged themselves at. Angel greeted them, Giles made the introductions, and then they all sat down again.

One of the men leaned forward, studying Angel closely, his wrinkled face only a few inches from Angel's own. "The one with the angelic face. The books do not lie. They called you the 'scourge of Europe' if I recall. You murdered without a second thought, raping, pillaging your way all over the place. Does that haunt you as much as we've heard?"

Angel said nothing, but he held the Malachaiís gaze, not blinking. With a smile, the elder Watcher shook his head. "I see that the books also did not lie when they spoke of your stoicism. We have heard of your entanglements with the Slayer, and with Wesley Wyndham-Price. It would appear, for all intents and purposes, that the only thing that makes you a vampire anymore is your lack of a heartbeat."

Angelís face showed no emotion, but he nodded his head slightly. "And it would also appear that the only thing that makes you a Watcher anymore is the fact that youíre still alive. You certainly havenít been doing your job, have you?"

"Angel-" Giles rolled his eyes and glanced at the Elder apologetically. "I am sorry, Malachai. Angel is overwrought with emotion because of Buffy's-"

"Make no apologies for him." Malachai interrupted, still gazing at Angel. "He should not be faulted for speaking the truth. We have failed. We allowed our system to crumble, allowed Quentin to convince us that your place in our ranks had been compromised, and worst of all, allowed Maggie Walsh to execute her poorly planned operation at the Hellmouth of all places." Glancing at Giles, Malachai shook his head. "And your Slayerís weaknesses can also be traced back to Maggie Walsh."

That comment piqued Giles curiosity and he narrowed his eyes. "How so?"

Malachai motioned at the waitress, requested a bottle of the finest Scotch, and cleared his throat, waiting for her to leave. When she did, he glanced at the man to the left of Angel, who nodded at him. "Two days before your Slayer was attacked, Maggie sent a formal request to the Elders for a Shaman, a healer who practices sorcery and can control natural events. Our last contact with him was the day after the Slayerís attack. We have three eyewitnesses who placed him at the hospital and in your Slayerís room. With Maggie Walsh."

Giles was too stunned to speak for several seconds, then his eyes widened. "Are you telling me that Maggie put some sort of spell on Buffy to prevent her from healing?"

"I am," Malachai replied with a nod. "We were able to obtain documents that Maggie had accessed from our database and each of those documents entailed different ways to alter someoneís healing ability. The Shaman was the link she needed to complete the ritual."

"So, Buffy can walk?" Angel asked, his mind struggling to comprehend everything at once.

Malachai shrugged his shoulders slightly. "There would be no way of knowing unless the spell was lifted. There is a real possibility that the Slayer was physically damaged to the point of being crippled," he paused, "but in my experience, Slayers are either active or theyíre dead. Thereís never an exception because as long as her body is alive, itís constantly rejuvenating itself. She wonít bruise, if she does, itís gone within hours. When sheís cut, it heals faster ... itís the way of the Chosen. And Buffy Summers has certainly gone above and beyond when it comes to her victories."

"I should have known ... I should have thought of that." Giles rubbed his fingertips over his forehead in frustration. "I mean, all this time I've just sat by and watched her withdraw and I never even considered that there could be something supernatural involved. I should have--"

Rueben, the man to his left, laid a hand on his arm. "There will be time for should haves later. Weíve come to make this right. We were able to secure the location of Maggieís lab and we have a disk that will shut down her operations for three hours. Thatíll give us enough time to infiltrate, take her into custody, and put an end to this madness. Demonic forces can not be trifled with as she is doing."

"And what about her father?" Giles eyed the Councilmen wearily, recalling Maggie's father when he had been an instructor at the academy. "Is Darren Walsh aware of your intentions?"

Malachai took a deep breath and shook his head. "I'm afraid that we had to deal with Darren Walsh in very extreme measures."

"You killed one of your own people?" Angel asked, raising his eyebrows in shock.

"Would that shock you, Angel?" Malachai leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.

"Pretty much nothing shocks me," Angel said. "But if you did kill one of your own people, I'd say that puts us on a level playing field and you have no right to look down your nose at me."

Malachai chuckled and glanced at the man beside him. "He's a spirited old chap, isn't he? I like him." Stretching his arms back, the elder Watcher grinned at Angel. "We didn't kill Darren, we simply relieved him of his duties and left him to his own devices. He got himself killed."

"Pity, that." Giles crossed his arms over his chest, unable to even pretend to be saddened for the loss. "So, you're going to handle this situation yourselves? Would you happen to have space for one more ally?"

"Two," Angel added. He looked toward Malachai. "The fact that my heart doesn ít beat isnít the only thing that makes me a vampire. My strength could be an asset in all of this."

"Very well." Malachai nodded his head and paused, taking the Scotch from the waitresses tray when she returned. He passed out the glasses and filled each. "Then what do you say we toast--" he held up his glass and tapped it against Angel's. "to unholy alliances."

"To unholy alliances," Angel replied, drained his glass, and sat it back on the table. "Where do we start?"

"We start by bringing Maggie Walsh to her knees." Giles smiled over the rim of his glass as he swallowed the strong liquor down in one gulp. He half listened as Malachai began to outline the plan. By the time he reached his third shot, he had hatched a plan of his own. Maggie Walsh had once told him that he was too much of a loose cannon to ever be taken seriously as a Watcher. And she was right-- he was a loose cannon--

And he was about to go off.


Part Fourteen
This part was co-authored by Lynx

Spike dashed through the streets of Sunnydale, his boots connecting with the pavement so hard that it shook him to the core, rattling his teeth. The Slayer's pleas echoed in the distance as his legs carried him farther and farther away from Revello Drive. He made it to the outskirts of town before he slowed, jogging past several abandoned buildings on his way to the cemetery. He would collect his belongings, assuming there were any left, and then he'd put as many miles as possible between himself and Buffy before sunrise. Spotting an alley, he slowed to a walk and turned in, attracted to the darkness that matched his even blacker mood.

It wasn't until he paused to pull a cigarette out of his pocket that he heard the sounds of bare feet slapping the pavement, and Buffy's ragged breathing. He stood in the shadows and watched as she appeared at the mouth of the alley, silhouetted against the streetlights only momentarily before she jogged into the darkness. Damn her. Damn her for chasing after him with no weapons, no shoes on her feet, and a strappy, flowing dress that fell just below her knees. What the hell was she thinking?

When she was even with him, his arm snaked out of the shadows and he gripped her, spinning her to face him. "What the fuck are you doing?"

Buffy gasped, startled at the fact that she hadn't felt him there. She blinked several times, willing her eyes to focus in the darkness. "Spike, I - I want to talk to you."

"I don't want to talk to you," he growled, roughly shoving her away when her hands came down to rest on his arms. She stumbled into the thin veil of light, almost losing her footing, and he had to force himself to keep from going to her again. "I don't want to talk to you and I don't want to look at you. You make me sick."

Buffy leaned against the brick wall, still unable to see him clearly. Her head swam for several seconds, and now that she had stopped running, she could feel how raw the bottoms of her feet were from the asphalt. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, "Please, Spike, tell me how to make this right."

Spike laughed loudly, hatefully, and stepped closer to her. "Make it right? How can you make it right when there wasn't anything there to begin with?"

She stood up straight and stared up at his face, shocked at how cruel his gaze had become. "There was something, you know there was."

"All I know is that I don't know you at all. I don't want to know you." Spike shook his head. "And anything you thought was happening between us was all in your imagination."

"Stop it!" she screamed. "I didn't imagine how good it felt when you kissed me, or...when you touched me."

"You think that was real? I'll let you in on a little secret..." Spike moved closer to her, his eyes blazing, fingers gripping her upper arms so she would be forced to hear him out. "Everything you felt was caused by Willow. Her and her little friend cast some sort of spell - that's all it was." Spike felt vindicated as soon as the words were out of his mouth and her face fell.

"A spell? What do you mean?" Buffy made no move to throw his hands off of her, despite the fact that he was holding her so tightly that it almost hurt.

"She was mucking about again, sticking her nose where it doesn't belong! She cast a spell and it backfired, big surprise!" He loosened his grip on her, then pushed her away from him when her eyes filled with tears. "Don't bother crying, your playacting won't work this time."

"How do you know she did a spell?" Buffy asked him, hoping that what he said wasn't true. She sniffed loudly, dragging her fingers under her eyes to catch her tears. "How? Tell me!"

"She told me," he replied with a shrug, then turned on his heel to walk away from her.

"When, Spike?" Buffy chased after him again, catching his sleeve and turning him to face her. There was a little more light peeking over the building and she stared into his eyes, intent on hearing the truth. "When did she cast the spell?"

He shook her hand off his arm as if she were a pesky mosquito. "I don't know, sometime after you came home from the hospital! When you were sitting in your wheelchair all day, pissed off at the world," he growled. "And to be honest, I liked you better then. At least you weren't a sniveling liar like you are now."

She ignored his final statement as her mind raced to find the words to make him believe the truth that she'd kept to herself for far too long. "But, Spike...that day that I was attacked...I was coming to see you, to tell you..." She trailed off, losing her nerve. Chewing her lip, she started to turn away.

"Tell me what?" he snarled, and this time, he grabbed her, making her face him.

"I was coming to tell you...that I was falling for you." She gazed up at him, silently pleading with him to react the way she had longed for. "I couldn't stop seem to stop thinking about you, and I wanted you to know how I felt...that I wanted you..."

"Yeah, right," he snorted. He wanted to push her away again, but hesitated, still clinging to her upper arms. "Is there no end to your lying? Don't you have any pride?"

Infuriated, Buffy shoved him away. "Obviously not, since I'm standing here with you!"

"Well, I didn't ask you to follow me, so fucking leave already!" he shouted, pointing back the way she had come.

"I'll leave when I'm good and ready!" she yelled back at him, not budging an inch.

"Fine," he said, shrugging indifferently. "You stay here, and I'll leave."

"Oh no you don't." Buffy ran around him, blocking his way. "I didn't just save your ass back there just so you could walk out on me."

"I saved your ass, you saved mine. We're even. Now get out of my way." Spike's voice was deadly, sounding much more like it had before his encounter with the commandos. Thanks to his burning rage, he felt strong again, strong enough to push the limits of his chip if she stood there taunting him much longer.

"No, you're going to stand right there and listen to what I have to say." She took a deep breath, trying to collect her thoughts, then narrowed her eyes at him when he growled and his face changed. "You can't do anything to hurt me, so just shut up and let me finish."

"I can't do anything to hurt you?" Spike grabbed her, spinning her until her back was against the wall, then trapped her there with his body. "I can hurt you a million ways you've never even thought of," he purred in her ear. His hand came up, cupping her breast, and he was momentarily stunned to find her nipple hard beneath his touch. He recovered quickly and touched her with more force as he continued, "...without even breaking a sweat."

"Spike, stop..." Buffy pleaded, feeling a tremor of fear. He was so angry, his mouth at her neck, and while the chip in his head should have offered assurance that she was safe, it didn't seem to be having any affect on him. He was grinding his hips between her thighs, letting her feel the hardness beneath his jeans as he cupped her breasts and dragged his thumbs across her

sensitive nipples. It shouldn't have turned her on...but it did. In spite of his anger, in spite of her surroundings, she could feel the inevitable arousal start to course through her veins.

Buffy moaned softly, and Spike smirked at how easy she was. "You don't want me to stop, do you?" He pushed the thin strap of her dress aside and suckled at her flesh, delighting in the salty taste of her skin. "You've been begging for this for a long time."

She blushed in the dark, but didn't try to stop him as he pushed her dress down further, exposing both of her breasts to his gaze. She held her breath when he lowered his head, laving first one nipple, then the other, surprising her with the gentleness of it. Softly, he ran his tongue in

circles until she arched her back and whimpered. The whimper turned into a sharp cry when he suddenly nipped her flesh hard enough to cause pain. Before she could push him away, Spike moved his hand lower, yanking up her dress angrily and grabbing the waist of her panties. She struggled against him, trying to grab his hand. "Spike, no! Not like this..."

"Not like this?" he growled, his face still ridged and his fangs glistening in the moonlight. "This is what you wanted, remember? You wanted to fuck a demon, Buffy!"

"I - no - I wanted -"

"Wanted what? Wanted romance? I told you, that's not what I'm about." Instead of struggling to get his hand in her panties, he grabbed hold of the waistband and ripped them from her body. Taken by surprise, she let go of his wrist. Taking advantage of his sudden freedom, he moved his hand between her legs. He slid two fingers inside of her warmth and smiled evilly when she gasped and arched to meet him. "You're already wet, Slayer," he murmured softly, slowly pumping his fingers for a minute before removing them. A tiny sound came from Buffy's throat as he held his hand in front of her face. "Look," he told her, his fingers glistening in the dim light. "This is how much you want me." He let his hand brush across her lips, then put his fingers in his mouth, tasting her juices.

Buffy stared at him with wide eyes. She unconsciously licked her lips and saw his eyes glitter in the darkness as she tasted herself. She was frozen in place, unsure of anything except the pulsing between her thighs. No one had ever treated her like this before. She'd never had her own arousal flaunted in front of her face, never had a guy just take what he wanted instead of asking. It should have made her angry enough to stake him where he stood, not make her whole body throb with need. At that moment, she hated him more than she'd ever thought possible...and wanted him with an equal amount of fervor.

Spike grinned knowingly in the dark, almost as if he could read her mind. He eased his fingers back inside her and began fucking her with them, using his thumb to manipulate her clitoris. As Buffy moaned and clutched at his arms, he whispered a torrent of obscenities in her ear, urging her along, coaxing her, his tongue flicking over her skin as if to punctuate every shocking word.

"Oh God, Spike, please..." Buffy almost sobbed, her head thrashing against the brick wall behind her. For so many weeks she'd been unable to feel anything below the waist, and now there was so much going on down there, she felt like screaming. The sensation of his fingers sliding in and out, his voice in her ear - "That's it, baby, fuck my hand, cream all over me..." - it was all too much. If she didn't come soon, she'd go insane.

Spike knew exactly how to bring her right to the edge, and when he felt the slight tremors of her approaching climax, he stopped what he was doing, ignoring her cry of protest as he pulled away. After a moment of shock at being left hanging, the Slayer glared at him angrily.

"Bastard!" she hissed. "I hate you!"

"No, you don't," Spike replied coldly. He stared at her flushed face as he slowly and deliberately unfastened his jeans. "You want me, Slayer. You're practically begging me to fuck you right here in this alley."

"No." She shook her head, trying to ignore the heat between her legs. "You can't do this, Spike. You can't treat me this way, like a - "

"Like a whore?" he smirked. Her hand came up to slap him and he caught it, holding it above her head as he pressed the length of his body against hers. She moaned involuntarily as his other hand cupped and squeezed her breast, while his mouth played over the sensitive skin at her throat. "It doesn't matter how I treat you," he murmured against her neck. "You still want me

to fuck you."

"Nooo..." Her protest was little more than a sigh as her body was engulfed in flames again.

"You're so close, aren't you? Right there on the edge, baby, so close to coming I can feel it under your skin. Wanna get off, Buffy? Just say the word..."

"God, I hate you," she whispered tearfully. "I hate you so much."

And then his mouth was on hers, silencing any further protest she might have had. He hadn't intended to kiss her, only manipulate her body until she begged him to pound her into the wall. He wanted to remain cold, untouched...

He bloody well should have known better.

The first touch of her hot quim had nearly brought him to his knees - literally. It was only his anger that saved him at the last second from dropping to the ground and tonguing her for all he was worth. He wasn't about to give up control of the situation, and using his hand had allowed

him to maintain his distance.

Of course, that meant fuck-all now that his mouth had disobeyed him and plunged right in. His tongue tasted everything she was feeling - anger, fear, desperation, hunger - and it was better than virgin blood, better than a fresh kill on a moonlit night. In an instant, he was lost in a sea of human emotion and demon lust, in danger of disappearing altogether.

Buffy had finally stopped struggling and was clinging to him with a hunger she hadn't felt in months. The need that he'd sparked a few moments ago now threatened to become a bonfire as he ground his hardness between her legs, their mouths hot and wet and open against each other in a frenzied clash of teeth and tongues. There was nothing tender or loving in Spike's touch, but

at that very minute, all that mattered was feeling him against her skin.

Spike felt himself getting ready to come in his pants and somehow managed to pull back, breaking the kiss and pushing away from the wall and the soft body in front of it. He held her gaze, his voice tight with tension as he lowered his zipper. "Tell me to stop if you don't want this. Tell me to walk away right now..."

And while she watched with eyes that were glazed over with desire, he pushed his jeans down over his hips, releasing his engorged cock. Free from the confines of his jeans, it sprang up, straining toward her, looking like a column of sculpted marble in the blackness.

"All you have to do is say no," he whispered hoarsely, his hand stroking the length of his shaft as he waited for her answer.

Buffy slowly tore her gaze from his proudly jutting erection and found herself paralyzed by the heat in his previously cold eyes. She wondered if this was what hell felt like, this burning, clawing need that seemed to magnify with each passing moment. Could that column of cool flesh put out the flames inside her, or would it only help them consume her entirely? Nothing mattered anymore; she was damned either way. And there was really only one thing she wanted.

"I...I can't," she finally answered in a ragged voice. "I can't say no." Her hands clenched into fists as the admission was forced from her by her own traitorous body. "I don't want to stop, Spike. I want..." She took a deep breath, knowing that there was no going back now. "I want you to fuck me."

Spike felt his cock jump in response. Before she could change her mind, he grabbed her, sliding his hands around to her backside. He lifted her easily, entering her with one thrust...and found himself slipping into flesh that was hotter and tighter and softer than anything he'd ever felt before. Knowing that the slightest move would have him coming in an instant, he kept perfectly still, his body straining from the effort.

Buffy's eyes flew open as Spike sheathed himself to the hilt and then stopped moving except for the slight trembling of his body. She wrapped her legs around his slim hips and clung to him as his head fell to her shoulder and he pushed her up against the wall. She could feel him taking deep, unnecessary breaths and brought her hand up to stroke the back of his neck. "Spike?" she whispered shakily.

Her voice broke through his concentration and he raised his head, staring at her with burning eyes. The intensity in them took Buffy's breath away for a second, her surroundings falling away as she tumbled into their bottomless depths. The only things she remained aware of were his hard flesh stretching and filling her, and the burning need thrumming through her veins at a breakneck pace. A tiny sound escaped the Slayer as she unconsciously started writhing against him in an effort to ease the throbbing at her core.

With a snarl, Spike still her hips. He bent his head and deliberately licked a path from the hollow of Buffy's throat to her ear, skimming lightly over her jugular, causing a deep shudder to run through them both. "Please," she mewled, beyond anything except the desperation to feel his

cock moving inside her.

"I thought you weren't the begging kind," he murmured, letting a fang graze her earlobe. When she angrily choked off a sob, he smiled to himself, then began thrusting in a slow and torturous motion, keeping her pinned to the wall.

Spike knew all too well that the illusion of control always worked to his advantage. Unfortunately, like many things in life, it was fragile, tenuous...unpredictable. After only a few strokes, the sensation of what felt like molten lava gripping and caressing his cock nearly had that shred of control snapping like a dry twig. Nothing in his unlife had ever felt this good, and he suspected that nothing ever would again. He wanted it to last an eternity, just go on twisting and pumping until they both withered and died, but in this particular instance, that eternity was about to end all too soon. As if to hammer the point home, his hips began moving faster and faster, until he was pounding the Slayer violently against the wall.

Buffy twisted and writhed in Spike's embrace, clinging to him fiercely as the fever built to an almost unbearable pitch. Her hands tore at his hair, clawed at his back, pulled him closer as if she wanted to climb under his skin. His cock felt huge and throbbing as it churned inside her, his mouth wet and delicious against her lips, her throat, her breasts...anywhere and everywhere he could possibly reach. She could feel the rough wall behind her scraping her back raw, but didn't care. The alley had ceased to exist as the two of them raged and fought and slammed together in the hot night air - straining, heaving, clutching, and moaning in a tangle of sweat and anger, oblivious to anything except their own lust and impending climax.

Control long gone, Spike held onto the slippery body molded to his and angled Buffy's hips slightly so that he was grinding against her swollen clit. "I'm going to make you come so hard, Slayer," he rasped in her ear. "So fucking hard, and so deep, and I'm going to fill you until you can't take anymore..."

His voice was all the trigger she needed. Entire body tensing, Buffy let out a shriek as the orgasm ripped through her. Harder and faster, Spike rammed into her quaking pussy, driving her over the edge and beyond, letting her contractions bring him into the abyss with her. He felt his hardness swell to gigantic proportions, and then howled as a torrent seemed to burst from his loins. Over and over, he pulsed and throbbed and pumped, filling her again and again, until there was nothing left of him but an empty shell. Completely drained, stunned by the intensity of his orgasm, Spike buried his face in her neck and tried to remind his body that it didn't need to

breathe.

Wet. Wet and sticky and limp and nearly unconscious just about summed up Buffy's state of being at the moment. She couldn't have moved even if she wanted to, and disengaging from Spike was the furthest thing from her mind. She had never felt so satisfied, so spent...

So blissful.

"I love you, Spike," she sighed, tangling her hand in his hair. The words fell from her lips of their own volition, seeming to hover in the air above them. Things would be better now, Buffy was sure. There was no way he could still be angry after what had just happened. Even as she thought the words, she felt the arms holding her stiffen, the muscles beneath her hands become tight.

*I love you, Spike.*

As the Slayer's soft statement broke the silence of the alley, Spike felt his jaw clench. How many times had he heard those words? How many times had Drusilla whispered them in his ear and then run off with Angel, leaving him behind? Over the course of his unlife, no other three words had ever had the power to make him feel this way, make him feel so betrayed. Just the sound of them filled him with an uncontrollable feeling of helplessness and rage. He straightened up and pulled back to look at Buffy's face. Her eyes were soft and unfocused with spent passion, a small smile playing about her lips. She looked so happy, so at peace. He hated her for it.

And the only thing he wanted to do was hit her until she bled.

Buffy noticed the look in his eyes and felt the fear creep along her spine. She trembled, the air around her suddenly cold. As cold as Spike's stare. No, she thought desperately, this wasn't happening. Not now, not after... Surely he felt something for her? What had happened had been more than fucking, more than just sex. Hadn't it?

"Spike?" she whispered fearfully as he continued to stare. "Say something, you're scaring me."

"I was just thinking, pet..." he said, reaching behind him to unwrap her legs from around his waist and set her back on her feet, "that perhaps you've missed your true calling." Her hands slid from around his neck to fall at her sides in confusion. His lip curled derisively as he watched her. "That was *almost* as good as the time I fucked Mata Hari behind enemy lines. Now *there* was a bird who knew what she was about. Don't worry, though. I'm sure that at the rate you're going, you'll be as skilled as she was in no time."

Buffy looked at him, hurt etched across her face. This was Angel all over again, that awful morning at his apartment -"You were great. Really. I thought you were a pro." She slowly shook her head, unwilling to believe that this was happening again. How could he do this to her, how could he treat her this way? Why did the men in her life feel this constant urge to rend and tear at her heart until there wasn't anything left?

"Why are you doing this? she asked hoarsely.

Spike saw her face start to crumble, saw the tears gathering in her eyes, and waited for the feeling of satisfaction to overwhelm him. It never came. The fact that he cared about hurting her made him even angrier, and the urge to lash out was stronger than before. Maybe if he left her entirely broken, the raging torment inside him would subside. It was worth a try, right?

And just like that, he knew exactly what to say to bring her to her knees.

"Why the tears, Slayer?" he said with mock concern. "Don't tell me you thought that this meant anything. I would have thought that after that Parker chap you'd be able to tell the difference between getting fucked and having a relationship. Shouldn't you be used to this by now?" Bingo, he thought, watching her face go deadly white in the darkness.

Buffy couldn't breathe. The pain that knifed through her at his words was sharp and intense, bringing back all the hurt her past relationships had heaped upon her. It was as if all of her ex-boyfriends had ganged up at once - just one big Buffy bashing free for all. She had never imagined that she could make Spike hate her this much. What a fool she'd been.

"Get...away...from...me..." she choked out, her body shaking uncontrollably.

Spike snorted. "Gladly, Slayer. I got what I wanted anyway." He leaned closer for a second, dropping his voice a couple of octaves. "How do *you* like feeling used? Fun, isn't it?" He straightened, turned on his heel and began walking away, stopping after a few steps.

"Oh, by the way," he said, turning and snapping his fingers as if he'd forgotten something. "I'll be sure to let Angel know that 'Slutty the Vampire Slayer' is back in business. I do so love keeping him informed." He gave a short, mocking chuckle, then strolled out of the alley, calling out, "Later!" over his shoulder.

In the ensuing silence, loud, choking sobs filled the air as Buffy's legs gave out beneath her. She crumpled to the ground and rolled into a ball, rocking back and forth as the tremors wracked her body. Ice cold, gasping for air, she lay there amid the scraps of paper and cardboard that littered the alley, only aware of one thing.

Everything she'd ever wanted was gone, and nothing would ever be the same again.

Part Fifteen
This part was co-authored by Lynx

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Angel had been given a small mission. The Council had decided that he should be the one to question Willy again as to the whereabouts of the vampires that had attacked Buffy. He had a wad of cash in his pocket to help sweeten the deal, courtesy of the Council, and a very large chip on his shoulder that guaranteed that when he found the vampires, they wouldn't have to worry about what the Council had in store for them.

He felt restless and out of sorts as he walked the streets of Sunnydale. Something was wrong - he could feel it pulling at him, vague and unidentifiable - but there, nonetheless. At first, he'd just chalked it up to finding Buffy and Spike together, and the feelings that his errant childe always managed to stir up. He'd decided to walk to Willy's to clear his head, but the feeling grew stronger with every step, leading him down streets that weren't even on the way. It was only when he reached the mouth of the alley that everything became crystal clear.

Cordelia's vision.

Small cries that reminded him of a wounded animal reached his ears, filling him with dread as he entered the alley. It was dark, but it didn't take him long to locate the figure lying in a heap against the far wall.

"Buffy?" He ran, dropping to his knees when he reached her. "Oh my God, Buffy, what happened?" He gently tried to pull her into his arms, but her body remained rigid, locked in a fetal position.

How had she gotten here? Everything was exactly as Cordelia had described it: Buffy's dress was torn, the paper thin fabric barely clinging to one breast, she was nearly catatonic, and the scent of blood was unmistakable. And underneath the blood, something Cordelia hadn't mentioned.

Semen.

Fighting the rush of fury that threatened to consume him, Angel took off his coat and slipped it around Buffy's shoulders. She continued to whimper and sob, rocking slightly with her arms locked around her legs. Helplessly, he wondered if she was even aware of his presence. "Buffy, c'mon, baby, talk to me..." he murmured, stroking her hair. "Who did this to you?"

She froze, as if suddenly realizing that someone was with her. "Angel?" she sniffled, making his heart break at the way her voice familiarly caught on the first syllable of his name. Her eyes met his and she shrank back from him, seeking the comfort of the wall behind her. "No...go away..." She struggled to get her legs beneath her, clawing at the wall as she surged to her feet. "Don't look at me..."

"Buffy!" Angel lunged forward to catch her as her legs buckled. She pushed him away and leaned against the wall, wrapping her arms around herself protectively.

"Don't touch me. Just leave me alone." She couldn't stop shaking, remembering the contempt in Spike's eyes as he left her. She couldn't bear to see that same look in Angel's eyes. Not now.

He stared at her in shock. "You can walk." He took a step forward and stopped when she recoiled. "How - when? Buffy, what happened here tonight?"

A single tear rolled down her cheek as she whispered, "Spike." She could feel a twin trail of wetness trickling down her thigh, a reminder of her lust and ultimate humiliation. "Spike happened."

Angel's reaction was violent and instantaneous. "I'll rip his fucking head off!"

Startled at his outburst, Buffy looked up, her eyes encountering the familiar fangs and ridges. She was at once touched and frightened by the fury she saw reflected in his burning yellow gaze. She shook her head. "It's not necessary, Angel."

"Not necessary?" he snarled. "That piece of filth raped you, and now I'm going to do what I should have done years ago, and wipe him from the face of this earth."

She blinked at him, fighting an inappropriate urge to laugh. Of course, Angel would assume that she'd been forced. How could he sweep into her life and rescue her otherwise? Only he didn't have that right anymore. He'd thrown it away the moment he decided to leave her. But now here he was, back in her life, and he looked upon her as someone who needed saving, as someone too pure and good to feel simple lust. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity.

How quickly he'd forgotten. Less than a year ago, she'd barely been able to keep her hands off of him. How many times had he had to restrain her from sliding her hands down his pants, from wriggling against him in desperation? How many times had he pulled away from her hungry mouth as it sought to taste his skin?

Buffy stood there trembling as anger threatened to engulf her. How dare he assume anything where she was concerned? A helpless victim? Unwilling? If only he knew just how willing a participant she'd been in what had transpired here tonight. Suddenly, she was stricken by the perverse desire to enlighten him. "Rape? Spike didn't need to rape me, Angel," she told him bitterly, pushing away from the wall. She slowly stalked toward him, not bothering to sugarcoat her words. "I wanted it, all of it. I *begged* him to fuck me," she felt a twinge of satisfaction when he visibly flinched, "up against the wall like some slut. And he did."

Angel shook his head, unable to believe what she told him. This wasn't *his* Buffy. She was pure - innocent - and she would never, ever, want Spike to touch her in that way. She was obviously in shock, which was the only possible explanation for her behavior. He spoke to her in a low, calm voice, the kind used to reason with ledge-jumpers. "No, you don't know what you're saying. You're a mess, Buffy - you're bruised, you're bleeding - this doesn't look the least bit consensual to me."

"Don't patronize me!" she hissed. "I know exactly what happened here tonight. Spike didn't make love to me, he fucked me, and what's more, I liked it." Her voice rose. "Is that what you wanted to hear? Do you want details? Do you really want to know how easily he made me come all over his big hard c-"

"Stop it, Buffy!" Angel yelled as he grabbed her upper arms and shook her. Her eyes were wild as she stared up at him, and he wondered briefly if this was really the same girl that he had fallen in love with. "If this was what you wanted, if it was so fucking wonderful, then why were you lying here by yourself in this condition?"

"Why?" She wrenched herself out of his grasp. "I'll tell you why...because as usual, no man can stand to be around me for very long. They all walk away - my father, *you*, Parker - why should Spike be any different? At least he didn't have the gall to tell me he loved me before he left."

Angel's jaw tightened. "You know perfectly well why I left - why I *had* to leave."

"God!" she yelled. "I am *so* sick of hearing that! You left so I could have a life, blah, blah, blah. Well, guess what? I don't have a life. I don't have anything."

"That's bullshit! You have a calling, a higher purpose than most people ever dream of - friends and family who love you -"

"Love? How dare you talk to me about love? I loved you with everything I had and you still left me, I still wasn't enough for you!" she spat out.

"You spoiled little brat!" Angel snapped, grabbing her again. "Don't you know what that cost me? Don't you have any idea how much I loved you, how much I *still* love you?"

Tears filled her eyes. "Then why, Angel? If you love me so much, then how can you stand to be away from me?"

Deep brown eyes stared down at her, filled with more sorrow than Buffy thought she could stand. "I can't," he said hoarsely, dropping her arms. He turned away and ran a hand through his hair. ""I thought leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever done..." Pain etched his features as he glanced back at her. "...until Giles asked me to come back."

Buffy couldn't breathe as the weight of his admission settled over her. All this time, all of these months of wallowing in self-pity, and she'd never even stopped to consider how hard it had all been on him. She'd been too consumed by her own pain to think about his side of it, and besides, it had been *his* decision to go. She hadn't thought of it as a sacrifice on his part, only as a punishment for her, the usual 'Buffy doesn't get to be happy' theme song of her life. Part of her had actually hated him for the misery he'd put her through.

And now he probably hated her right back for what she'd done tonight.

"Angel..." She reached out to him and stopped when he flinched almost imperceptibly. Her hand hovered in the air for a moment before dropping back down to her side. She was right, he hated her. Or at the very least, was totally repulsed by her.

Her gaze drifted over her surroundings and down at her torn dress. The very fact that Angel was seeing her like this, was standing here completely aware of everything that had happened between her and Spike... Could she really blame him for recoiling?

Her humiliation was complete. Not only that, but her sense of self-loathing had reached new pinnacles. She blanched as she recalled the hateful things she'd said to him, how she'd thrown her actions with Spike right in his face. What was happening to her? What kind of person was she becoming? And more importantly, how could two people who claimed to be in love keep hurting each other like this? And she did love Angel, that was a given. It wasn't something she could turn off, no mattter how much Spike had come to mean to her.

"God, how you must hate me," she whispered.

"I could never hate you," Angel answered dully, without inflection.

"But you are disgusted with me." When he offered no denial, tears filled her eyes again. "I'm so sorry, Angel. I don't know what's happened to me, I keep doing...things. Things that I'm not very proud of." She took a deep breath. "Do you want to know why Spike left me?" Angel turned to face her once again. "I lied to him. About why I quit the Council...and about being able to walk."

His eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, you lied about being able to walk?"

"I got the feeling back in my legs the other night. I - I didn't say anything, I just kept pretending to be paralyzed." She watched his expression darken, a chill creeping along her spine. "I wanted to tell him, but Spike was taking care of me, and things were going so well, and I was afraid...I was afraid he'd leave me if he knew I could walk."

The muscle in Angel's jaw twitched as he ground his molars together. "Do you mean to tell me that earlier, at your house, you could walk?" She nodded almost fearfully. "When you dragged yourself out of the bathroom while Spike and I were fighting - that was all an act?"

"Yes."

He blew out a breath of air and turned away from her, hands clenching and unclenching in the pockets of his duster. "I can't believe you'd do something like that. That you'd deliberately deceive your mother and Giles...and me."

"I'm sorry, Angel-"

"Don't!" He held up a hand. "Just...don't, all right?" He looked at her with tormented eyes. "I feel like I don't know who you are anymore."

"That makes two of us, then," she sighed. "Look, I didn't plan it, it just happened! I got scared -"

"Come off it, Buffy! This is Spike we're talking about. He doesn't do anything without getting something in return. He stayed with you because it was safe, not because he cared about you."

"You weren't there, you didn't see the things he did for me. He made me stop feeling sorry for myself. He told me I was beautiful...he didn't treat me like a damn cripple. He understood what it was like to be in that wheelchair."

"Saint Spike," Angel sneered.

"I needed him, Angel. I depended on him, and the thought of losing him terrified me. He's the one who saved me from the vampires who attacked me. I'd be dead if it weren't for him."

"If he saved your life, then I'm indebted to him. I'll be sure to say thank you before I shove a stake through his heart."

"Angel, stop-" She reached out, only to have him pull away again.

"I left so that you could have a *normal* life!" he shouted. "That didn't include fucking vampires, and it certainly didn't include you falling for Spike, of all people! For Christ's sake, Buffy, he's not even human!"

"And neither are you," she answered softly. "All of this, it just happened. You weren't here, you were gone...and he was the person I spent the most time with." Her voice broke. "I'll always love you, Angel. I can't stop loving you, no matter how hard I try. But I had to move on, and I do have feelings for Spike - strong feelings. I know it's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth." She looked up at him, willing him to meet her eyes. He tried to look away, but she reached up and turned his face toward her. "I'd give anything not to have hurt you, you must know that. But you hurt me first. You left me here, and for a long time, I thought I'd die without you. I don't want to feel that way ever again." Angel compressed his lips together, hurt and anger vibrating through every part of him.

"Things are different now," she continued. "*I'm* different, and so are you. I have a lot to deal with - namely, trying to stay alive and figure out just who my enemies are. And right now, you can't be what I need you to be. Spike can be here for me in ways that you can't. I'm going to need his help when I go up against the Council. If he'll ever speak to me again, that is."

"Spike doesn't forgive easily."

"I know that. I have to try though, I have to make him see -" Her voice grew panicky. "I need him, Angel."

"You don't need him, you have the rest of us to help you-"

"Don't you get it?" she yelled. "I'm *scared*! I'm terrified that I can't be the Slayer anymore. I think...I think that I've lost my nerve...and Spike might just be the only person who can help me get it back. He won't put up with any bullshit, he'll *make* me face up to things. He won't let me run away."

"And I would?"

"I don't know. But Spike doesn't have a soul, and he doesn't love me - he's made that clear. There won't be any soft feelings getting in the way, do you understand that?" Tears spilled over and ran down her cheeks as she reached for his hand. "Please, Angel...try to understand."

Angel closed his eyes, trying to escape the vision of her with Spike, trying to separate how he felt from what Buffy needed. He could feel the warmth of her hand in his, and it only served to remind him of what he could never have. Of what Spike would be free to enjoy, if he chose to come back. And all it did was fuel his overwhelming need to get as far away from Buffy and Sunnydale as possible, and never look back.

But it was a need he had to ignore for the moment.

There was no way he could abandon Buffy with everything she was going through. As much as it pained him, he'd have to stick around long enough to see that she was safe. He cleared his throat. "I'll help as much as I can, whatever Giles needs me to do. But I can't accept this, Buffy. I can't stay here and watch you be with *him*."

Buffy closed her eyes. "I understand." She opened them again and stared up at him sadly. "Thank you, Angel." He nodded, and she took a deep shaky breath, relieved that the worst was over.

Suddenly, her knees buckled, her legs unused to carrying her for such a long period of time. Angel caught her as she fell, and muttering a curse, swung her up into his arms. "It's almost dawn, I'd better get you home," he murmured, striding out of the alley.

"I'll be okay in a minute," she whispered drowsily. "I'm just so tired."

Feeling her nestled in his arms, just like old times, Angel couldn't stop the pang of longing that ran through him. He held her tighter, letting her scent wash over him like a narcotic, the way it always had in the past. For that brief moment, nothing else mattered. The Hellmouth could open up beneath them and he'd willingly jump in, as long as he could stay like this.

And that was exactly why he had to leave town as quickly as the situation would allow.

Buffy sighed and snuggled against him. "You always make me feel so safe. I've missed feeling like this." Angel stayed silent. "I wish...I wish..." her voice trailed off, leaving the obvious unsaid. In seconds, she was asleep.

Angel bent his head until it touched hers. "Me, too, Buffy," he whispered. "Me, too."

He walked on toward Revello Drive, unaware of the pair of eyes that watched from the shadows.

Continues... Back to Buffy/Spike fanfic--->