Walking After Midnight - The End! :)

Written By: Chelle and Lynn


The note in her fingers trembled violently, blurring the words as Buffy tried to read it for a third time. The fact that Angel had left Sunnydale again was a dim blip on her radar. It was what he said about Spike that held her attention now. Angel had always been cryptic, always been one to talk in circles and seemed to enjoy watching her try to make sense of his meaning. But this seemed pretty cut and dried.

'His heart got in the way.'

Was she a fool to hope?

The wind blew, rustling the letter in her hands and lifting the ends of her hair. Turning to look out at the darkened street, she remembered the night she had bolted from her wheelchair, sprinting across the lawn and out onto the freezing asphalt to protect him. She recalled the fight that had led to him storming out, the way she swallowed her pride and wheeled herself out, and the look on his face as he turned to come back inside, only to be trapped by the vampires. He had been scared. And it was that very fear that gave her the incentive to burst from the safety of her world and expose the truth.

And just look at what it had gotten her.

Part of her wanted to rush across town, confront Spike and beg him to - to what? Love her? Be with her? No. He was a cold blooded killer without his chip... and she was a Slayer again. Bound by duty and obligation to stop him.

And to stop herself before she raced across town and...

The clocktower in town chimed suddenly and Buffy stepped slowly off her porch, staring down the street. It was almost dawn. The bells only rang out at midnight.

The bells had been ringing the night he had run away.

As if to prove a point, the chimes dinged again, louder, more insistent.

She was running before the sound had faded, note in hand, and her heart on her sleeve.


Spike finished collecting the last of the scattered money and piled it on top of the stone tomb, then sat heavily beside it. It had taken him longer than he had expected to gather his things again, and already, he could feel the impending sunrise prickling at his skin. His entire body ached from the fight with Angel, but luckily, the aches and pains seemed to cancel each other out, so he couldn't concentrate on a single one.

Except the one in his heart.

He kept thinking about the look on Buffy's face when he'd killed Walsh. Her lips had formed a perfect 'oh', and she had looked at him with shock, her green eyes dull with pain. He doubted she even realized that she had taken a step away from him, as though she feared him. Once upon a time, he would have enjoyed her fear, played on it, preyed on it, but now it made him colder inside than usual. And the part of him that wanted to hate her for it was also the part of him that ached to touch her. To... love her.

As he sat staring at the dim gray walls of the crypt, he remembered the way she had clung to him when the storm hit. The way she had shivered and pressed her lips against his. He recalled the way she had given up, reached her breaking point, and let him pull her back in. Coloring her hair, helping her dress, arguing over the remote control, it had been the closest thing to normal he'd ever had. He had so many memories for the short time he'd been with her ... but it wasn't enough.

A lifetime wouldn't be enough. He had been right in what he told Angel. He couldn't live without her and yet here he was, poised to skip town with a wad of cash, a handful of memories, and enough *remorse*, of all things, to make him miserable. He shouldn't feel bad about killing. It's what he was designed to do, and he shouldn't feel bad about shagging the Slayer either. He should have been out boasting about it with his demon friends and telling them all how she cried and professed her love. And how he had mocked her and brought her to her knees.

But he didn't have any demon friends, not anymore. And he knew that even if he did, he wouldn't have said a thing.

He felt a familiar ache in his chest that he recognized as hunger. At the Summers' house, he had enough blood to last two weeks, but here he had nothing. He sighed and stood up, glancing around the room for the bottle of tequila that had once sat on top of his broken television. He spotted it in the corner and trudged slowly toward it, hoping that it wasn't empty. To his great relief, there was still a couple of inches of liquor left in the bottle. He tipped back his head and drank deeply, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

The door opened behind him and he spun, expecting to see Angel back to finish the job. Instead, it was Buffy. His eyes locked on hers and he lowered the bottle.

She stepped into the room and crossed her arms. "Celebrating your success?"

Seeing her there, face red from the wind, her hair tousled, and her eyes blazing into him, almost caused the bottle to slip from his fingers. Instead, he took another sip and held it out to her. "Yep. Wanna help me?"

Before she could stop herself, Buffy knocked the bottle out of his hands and slammed her fist into his jaw. He spun, staggering against the wall, then pushed himself back up, straightening his back. "What, Angel didn't mark me enough, now you've gotta get your licks in, too?"

Buffy stared at him, fists held tight at her sides. "Why, Spike?" she said in a low and dangerous voice. "Just tell me why."

He licked his lip, tasting blood from a cut she'd reopened. "Why what? Why'd I dare to get my unlife back? Don't ask questions you already know the answers to."

"So that's it? You're evil again and all's right with the world?" She laughed bitterly, throwing up her hands. "Congratulations! You finally got what you wanted."

"I've always been evil. You just didn't want to see it." He leveled her with an ice-filled gaze. "This chip didn't make me any less of a demon."

"Yeah, well, maybe it made you more of a man."

"I'm not a man, remember? Not human, and not some fucking prince on a white horse. Vampire. Undead. End of story."

She folded her arms and looked away. "So things just go back to the way they were? Mortal enemies? This is how you wanted it?"

"You got your cure!" he shouted. "Why shouldn't I get mine?"

"Your cure makes you a killer!" she yelled back.

"And yours doesn't? My kind would beg to differ, pet."

"This changes everything between us."

"No," Spike said sharply, "I'm still of the mentality that your lies and your deception changed everything."

Buffy's nostrils flared. "Oh, so this is about revenge."

"If I wanted revenge, I'd lie to your face and then rip your heart out the way you did mine."

"You'll have to forgive me if I don't get all sentimental here, but your heart hasn't exactly been in the equation from the beginning."

"You don't know a bloody thing about my heart!" he shouted.

" Maybe I don't," she held up the note, "but Angel seems to think he does."

Spike snatched it out of her hand. A low growl filled the room as he digested what it said. "Is this what sent you scampering over here? The Brooding One?" Spike shredded the note and tossed it at her. "Come to make sure he worked over the Big Bad?"

"The Big Bad?" Buffy scoffed. "Where was the Big Bad when *Spike* was bathing me? Tending to me? Making sure I-"

"That chip in my soddin' head-"

"The chip made you care for me? No, Spike, we both know better."

"What makes you think I cared about you?"

Buffy closed the gap between them. "If you didn't, you would have killed me already," she said quietly. "Or is that why you got the chip out in the first place? So you could finally finish the job?"

Spike grabbed her and yanked her closer, effectively blocking the fist she automatically lashed out with. "Don't fool yourself, kitten. You weren't even a thought when I got the chip zapped. I did it for me! And what bothers you most is that now there's nothing standing in the way."

"In the way of what?" Buffy asked through clenched teeth.

"You and me. Bare bones. Who we are."

"Who we are is a vampire and a slayer. Enemies. According to you, that's all we ever were."

Spike tightened his grip. "Let's find out then, shall we? Put it to the test. We're gonna play twenty questions and if I don't like your answers, you'll know."

She struggled in his grasp. "Don't threaten me!"

He gave her a mocking glance and stilled her movements, his lips only a few inches from hers as he growled, "One, was it a game to you? Toy with Spike's emotions and see if you can get a rise? See if you could win?"

"Win what?" Buffy cried. "A rough night in the alley? Sorry, I'll take what's behind door number two."

"Behind door number two are my walking papers. You remember those? You lied to me and I walked? You chased after me, Slayer, and then you begged for what you got. I made it perfectly clear to you what I am. I'm a *demon*. Getting hurt only goes with the territory."

"Getting hurt? You *murdered* me in that alley. I lay myself bare for you and since you knew you couldn't hurt me physically, you went right for my soul. I told you that I lo-"

"Oh, here it is again!" Spike shouted. If she made another declaration of love, he didn't know what he'd do. He stared past her at nothing for a few seconds, his fingers still digging into her upper arms, before he made eye contact. This time, when he spoke, he leaned down so they were nose to nose. "You love me? Was it all sunshine and roses covering up the stench in that alley? I hate to break it to you, precious, but that wasn't love. That was me fucking you out of your mind."

Buffy shoved him as hard as she could. "You overestimate your skills."

"Is that right?" Spike kept his footing and put his hands on his hips. "Maybe you overestimated yours. Notice I'm the one able to walk away and you're still coming to me." He paused, giving her a questioning look, waiting for her to yell back at him. When she said nothing, her face like stone, he shouted, "Why are you here? What do want from me!?"

"I want to know why!" Buffy cried. She took a step forward and struck him on the chest. "Why did you do it?!" Hot angry tears flooded her eyes as she pounded her fist against him. "Show me, Spike! Show me why losing the chip was worth losing me! Hit me! Kill me!"

"Stop it!" Spike growled, trying to grab her arms. He caught both and pinned them behind her, causing her warm, soft body to arch against his...and every hunger and impulse he'd ever had surged through him at the contact - kiss her, bite her, take her...love her. He closed his eyes and swallowed, fighting for control - control over the demon, control over his heart...control over his very unlife.

"Go ahead and just kill me, Spike!" she sobbed, leaning her head against his chest. "Do it quick like you promised before and stop torturing me!" Her breath hitched in her throat. "I can't...I can't take this anymore...this slow death...please...just...do it..."

And there it was. That magical death wish that all Slayers eventually began itching for. The reason he'd bagged two, actually. Once upon a time he would have gleefully taken her up on it. Would have torn out her throat and bathed in that powerful aphrodisiac that flowed through her veins. Danced on her grave, even.

Once upon a time.

Helplessly, he buried his face in her hair, breathing in her unique scent. "Don't you get it?" he growled in her ear. "I can't kill you. I've never been able to kill you..."

Something inside him gave way and he shook her, the words bursting forth in a torrent. "I bloody hate you, Summers! This - this thing between us is unnatural, it's not supposed to happen! I'm not supposed to want you, I'm not supposed to do anything but take your miserable life and end my torment. And I can't do it. All I can do is think about you and dream about you until it drives me insane." His eyes were wild as they stared down into hers.

"Spike -"

He loosened his grip and wrapped his arms around her, dropping his head to her shoulder as if defeated. "You're under my fucking skin, Slayer, so far under it bleedin' hurts. And I don't want you there. I don't want you inside me, I don't want..." his voice was barely a whisper, "I don't want to love you..."

Her eyes closed as she began to hope, and her hand came up to tentatively stroke his hair. "I know," she murmured softly as hot tears slipped down her cheeks. "Believe me, I know. But after everything that's happened...I don't think either one of us has a choice."

"You've got your legs back, Slayer. You should use them to run as far away from me as you can get." In direct opposition to his words, his fingers dug into her skin, unwilling to let go. "How can this possibly work?" he wondered aloud.

"How can it not?" She tightened her fingers in his hair and tugged his head back to stare into his eyes. "I know who and what you are, and no matter how many times I tell myself that it's crazy, that I *should* run, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. I still want you, I still want to be with you...and I dare you to look me in the eye and say you don't feel the same."

Under her gaze, his eyes darkened to the color of midnight, and her breath caught at the intensity of his stare. She knew he was warring within himself, still trying to put up one last resistance before leaping into the abyss, where she'd fallen so long ago. She understood it, just as she understood how futile it was to even try to fight it. And she wasn't above giving him a push to help him along. "I want you, Spike," she whispered. "I want you so much I ache with it..."

He stared down at her tear-stained face, at luminous eyes that reflected the hunger that he felt. And he knew that he'd never had a chance, not really, and if he walked now, the way that Angel had, he'd never feel this way again. Never experience the warmth of her smile, or the heat that nestled deep within her. Never know sunlight again.

It was too much to give up.

"Bugger it," he growled helplessly before surrendering and covering her mouth with his own.

At the first taste, an indescribable combination of salt and honey and want and need, he wondered why in hell he'd ever considered putting up a fight. Surrendering wasn't so bad, he mused. Not the stake in the heart he'd assumed it to be. No, it was more like being consumed by the sun. But instead of feeling like death, it felt like...coming home.

The room around her seemed to disappear as Buffy melted into him, offering herself up to the hunger in his kiss. After everything that had happened she'd nearly given up hope on ever getting this close to him again. Almost sobbing with relief, she clung desperately to his shirt, pulled him even closer and matched his hunger with her own. His hands tangled in her hair as she arched against him, rising on tiptoe so that their bodies were perfectly aligned. She let out a gasp as he pressed his erection into the space between her thighs, letting her feel exactly what she was doing to him.

"Spike..." she whimpered as his mouth drifted over her chin and down the slender column of her throat, his tongue tracing the delicate vein that throbbed with every beat of her heart. Her slayer-sense got the better of her when she felt blunt teeth scraping over her skin and she unconsciously stiffened in his arms.

Spike stopped and pulled back, his expression unreadable. He cupped her face in his hands and stared down at her for what seemed like forever, scraping her nerve endings raw with the intensity of his gaze. When she opened her mouth to break the tension, he spoke. "You want me, Slayer?

"God, yes," she replied breathlessly, and tried to move forward to kiss him again.

He pulled back again, stopping her. "Then trust me," he said softly. He moved against her again, sliding his thumbnail over her jaw and tilting her head to one side, exposing her neck. Buffy held her breath as his mouth descended, licking and kissing a path from the base of her throat to her ear. He knew where each and every nerve was located, where the tiniest of touches would send her pulse racing.

And it did, her blood automatically rushing to the surface, as if answering the call of his hungry mouth, begging him to taste it. He silently questioned where these masochistic tendencies came from. Why he was willing to torment himself by refraining from taking that powerful elixir that surged through her veins. The scent alone was nearly driving him mad, as was the knowledge that nothing in the world tasted as sweet as slayer blood. And still he kept his fangs at bay, using only blunt teeth and lips and tongue on her jugular.

Her knees grew weaker with every second as she helplessly clung to him, whimpering with need. The sensation at her throat was maddening, driving her to rub against his hardness in desperation, seeking release. He couldn't possibly make her come this way...could he? He was certainly giving it his best shot, making her writhe against him and clutch his hair in mindless passion, on the verge of begging him to please, please...

But the bite never came. And when he pulled away long enough to tug her shirt over her head, she felt almost...disappointed. She remembered just how powerful Angel's bite had been, how it engulfed her entire being and culminated in a mind-blowing orgasm. Yeah, and you almost died, she reminded herself. Worth it, though, came the next reckless thought. Oh, so very worth it.

And then Spike's hands and lips were on her again and she couldn't think at all. She couldn't do anything except pull at his clothing in desperation, eager to feel his skin against hers. Together they dragged his shirt over his head and fumbled with buttons and zippers, frantically shoving each pair of pants down over hips and thighs. When the last article of clothing had been kicked away, they faced each other, flushed and breathless with passion, and not a little bit of fear.

Spike's hot gaze traveled the length of her as he finally permitted himself to really look at what he'd been hungering for these past few weeks. She was incredibly beautiful, slender, but rounded in all the right places, and she was his for the taking. He thought of all the times he'd turned away from her, out of either propriety or pride, and cursed inwardly, calling himself every kind of fool. There was no way he was going to make the same mistake again.

When he finished his perusal, he found her conducting her own wide-eyed appraisal of him. He grinned at the expression on her face, wondering if she liked the view. Her lips parted, and like a starving man, he reached for her again. Fingers threading through his hair, she pulled his head down to kiss him, and again he was drowning in the taste of her. His hands slid down her body, and then her legs were wrapped around him as he lifted her and unsteadily made his way around the sarcophagus to the mattress that lay behind it.

Spike dropped to his knees and they tumbled onto the lumpy pallet, her slender body stretched out beneath him. He groaned at the feel of warm, satiny-smooth skin against his, at the touch of moist heat grazing his hard cock. All he wanted was to bury himself to the hilt inside her, to lose himself in the inferno between her thighs, but not before finding out if she tasted as good as she felt. If the rest of her matched the utter deliciousness of her mouth...

Buffy's head was swimming as she gazed up at him. Everything was moving so fast, and every inch of her body throbbed with need. She rubbed her legs against his, enjoying the feel of hard muscle and coarse hair against her smooth skin. Her hands ran up over his back, tangling in his hair as his lips found her throat again. Closing her eyes, she moaned as his mouth traveled down into the hollow between her breasts, then lower, over her stomach, and the moan turned into a whimper as he brushed a kiss over her mound. Her eyes opened and she forgot how to breathe as his dark, hungry gaze fixed on her face. "Spike..." she whispered pleadingly, and the grin he flashed her was so predatory, so sexy, that she wondered if it was possible to come without even being touched. And then, as she watched him lower his head to taste her, she didn't have to wonder at all.

The first touch was achingly soft, the merest brush of lips across moist flesh. Spike took a moment to collect himself, closing his eyes and breathing in her scent - the scent of arousal that had been making him crazy for weeks. It was all he could do to keep from falling on her like a ravening beast, to keep his game face in check as her pulse thundered in his ears. Fighting for control, he rubbed his cheek against one thigh, then the other, and then nuzzled his face into her damp curls with a soft growl that almost a sigh.

The Slayer arched and let out a cry of her own as he fastened his mouth on her, licking and sucking gently at first, then more insistently in response to her pleas. She tasted better than he could ever have imagined - better than the sweetest fruit, the headiest wine...the freshest blood - and he realized that after this, nothing else would ever satisfy him again. His tongue explored every fold, delved deep inside her, swirled over her tender, swollen nub while she writhed and clutched at his hair. As he felt her body tense, his hands tightened on her thighs and he sucked harder, pressing his tongue to the sensitive spot just beneath her clitoris...and then he could feel her going over, hear her scream his name as she climaxed violently against his face.

He didn't give her a chance to recover. Sliding up her body, he entered her with a quick thrust and rode the aftershocks of her orgasm, almost passing out as her hot, tight walls squeezed his cock mercilessly. He set a fast pace, driving her into the mattress, desperate for his own release. Buffy wrapped her legs around him, her hips rising to meet his blinding thrusts head on. She could feel herself cresting again, her body tensing in anticipation as her fingernails dug into his back.

"Spike," she gasped, her breath hot on his neck, "please...nownownow..." and then she shattered, and he was coming with her, his growl joining her cries, his seed mingling with her juices, sweat-slick skin and tangled limbs, bodies trembling as he pulsed inside her one last time and she arched up to hold him there.

Spike's hands were in her hair, his face pressed against her neck, trying to catch the breath that he didn't really need. He could feel her shaking beneath him, and then something warm and wet touched his face. Raising his head, he stared at her with glazed eyes. "You're crying," he murmured, catching a tear with his thumb. While she watched, he brought it to his mouth and tasted it. Her breath caught and she looked at him searchingly, wondering how a demon could be so gentle. He wasn't supposed to be tender, or caring or any of the things he'd shown her during her paralysis. And yet...here they were.

"What are you thinking?" he asked softly, propping his head on his hand.

She stared at him with huge eyes still shiny with unshed tears. "After the last time, I wasn't sure...I never expected it to be so....so...."

"That makes two of us, luv." Smiling ruefully, he brushed his thumb across her cheek. "No regrets, then?" he asked, holding his breath as he waited for her answer.

"No," she smiled back. "No regrets."

"Good." He grabbed his pillow and shoved it beneath his head, then settled her so that she was curled up against him. Feeling her shiver, he remembered how cold the crypt could be and reached around for the blanket, dragging it up over both of them. She snuggled closer and gave a tiny sigh.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," she said.

"C'mon, tell me."

"It's just...you can be so sweet, so thoughtful, sometimes." She felt a rumbling chuckle beneath her ear. "Stop it! You know I'm right. I've never known anyone like you - you're probably the exception to every rule in the vampire handbook." Except for Angel, she thought, and then drove him out of her mind completely. He didn't belong here. Not now.

"Look who's talking. I heard they wouldn't even *give* you the slayer handbook. And here you are," he ran a hand over her hip and let it drift up to cup one breast, "fraternizing with the enemy. I guess we're both deviants, eh, pet?"

"Obviously, or we wouldn't be here now," she smirked. "Not that I'm complaining. But *why* are we so different? Why are *you*? Does it have to do with who you were before?"

"Who I was?"

"You know, a doctor. I'm assuming that you became one because you felt...I don't know - empathy? - for others less fortunate. I mean, back then it couldn't have been for the money, right? So maybe after you were turned, you retained some part of that empathy, some...sliver of human compassion. That would explain where your 'bedside manner' comes from. It would explain a lot, actually," she mused. "You know, we could always ask-"

"Bloody hell," he burst out. "Don't you dare tell anyone! Not even Giles - I mean it, Slayer."

Buffy snuggled back down again. "Relax, scaredy-cat, I won't tell. Besides, it gives me something to hold over your head."

"You're evil."

"Must be why I like you so much." She paused, remembering that they'd never really resolved the issue of her feelings. "I wasn't lying, you know, about that night I got attacked. I *was* going to tell you that I was falling for you. It wasn't Willow's spell at all. Not if she did it after I was paralyzed."

Spike was silent. "Spike?" She sat up and looked him in the eye. "What I felt was *real* - all of it - from the start. And it's more than 'like', more than just 'want'..." She took a deep breath, unnerved by his stare, but determined to go on. "I love-"

"Buffy, don't," he quietly interrupted. He saw the hurt look in her eyes and sighed, inwardly searching for the words to make her understand. "Look, pet, what we have here is... incredible, but..." He lowered his gaze for a second, and when he looked back up at her, his expression was one of regret. "I can't give you the words, Slayer. Even if I could, I'm not even sure if I believe in that kind of love anymore, the kind that you want. The kind that you...need."

"Why does everyone always think they know what I need?" Buffy cried out in exasperation. "You, Mom, Giles, Angel - You don't know, any of you. Hell, half the time *I* don't even know. I know what I don't need, and that's everybody in my life making decisions for me. I'm a big girl, Spike. My eyes are wide open, you know?"

"Are they? Can you honestly tell me that when you say you love me, you won't want to hear it in return?"

"I..." She paused, shaking her head. "I've heard the words before, Spike. My father said them, right before he left us. Angel said them, and it didn't stop him from becoming Angelus, or from leaving me. They're just...words. And yeah, they're nice to hear, but not always enough in the long run. Besides," she shrugged as she moved closer, looking up at him through long, dark lashes, "I've always considered you to be a 'man of action,' anyway." His stomach muscles tensed as one tiny finger traced the line of hair that stretched from his navel to his groin. "Was I wrong?"

His answer was a low, rumbling growl as he grabbed her arms and rolled her beneath him. His full weight came down on her and she reveled in the feel of his strength pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed a little, squealing when he nipped at her throat in a show of dominance. "You want action, Slayer?" he purred in her ear.

"Is my stake sharp and pointy?" she shot back breathlessly, faking a struggle. Her retort made him grin as he positioned himself at her entrance and slowly slipped inside, one torturous inch at a time. She let out a soft gasp and tried to take him deeper, but he held back. "Beast," she moaned, feeling her entire body turn to jelly as he nuzzled her neck.

"Mmhmmm," he murmured in assent, suddenly thrusting all the way into her. He raised his head and stared down at her with glowing eyes. "But I'm *your* beast. Yours to command...yours to tame..."

He was moving so maddeningly slow that Buffy thought she'd surely die from the torture of it. It hadn't taken him long to figure out exactly how to touch her, to know just how to drive her crazy. He drove into her hard, deep, his hands lifting and spreading her while his tongue teased her nipples into stiffened peaks. She felt utterly helpless, and for once in her life, she didn't care. Tame him? Why on earth would she want to?

"I think...I like...you better...wild...and..." A sharp cry was wrenched from her as quickened the pace, "...untamed...yes, there...oh, God, Spike...don't stop...please!"

The explosion came from deep in her womb and radiated outward, causing her to convulse around him like a vise. Her muscles gripped his cock, pulling him into oblivion with her until *he* was the helpless one, shouting her name as he filled her again and again. When he was completely spent, he collapsed on top of her and closed his eyes, listening to her ragged breathing. "Christ, Slayer," he panted, "if we keep this up you're going to kill me yet."

"At least you'll die happy," she murmured drowsily, a small smile of contentment on her face. She gave a slight whimper of protest when he pulled away to drop onto the mattress next to her. He gently turned her to her side and spooned himself against her back, wrapping his arms around her. Snuggling back against him, Buffy sighed as she felt his lips brush her shoulder. "I told you," she said softly, "actions are better than words."

He chuckled sleepily. "I should have known you'd want to prove your point with a demonstration. I can't even feel my legs, for fuck's sake."

"That's me, demonstrative girl. You're not complaining, are you?"

"Oh, yeah, this is me complaining." He suddenly started tickling her, causing her to squirm and giggle uncontrollably. "Get away from me, you horrid sexy thing! You're corrupting my morals."

"STOP IT!" she shrieked. When she could finally catch her breath, she gasped out, "God, you're demented. I must be crazy."

"Get off it, luv. You're the sanest person I know. Horribly evil, but sane." He grunted as a small elbow slammed into his ribs.

"Go to sleep before I hit you," she grumbled.

"You know that would only turn me on even more," he answered, grinning as his eyelids grew heavy.

"Oh hush. After all that, I'm too tired to even think about turning you on." She grabbed the blanket and Spike helped her settle it over them as she wriggled closer. Her eyes closed and she started to drift, only to startle awake a moment later. "Spike?"

"Yeah, luv?"

"Do I even want to know where this mattress has been?"

Spike was silent for a moment and she was about to prod him awake when he answered, "Uh...not really, no."

"I was afraid you'd say that," she sighed, trying to tug the blanket underneath her body. "We're going to have to discuss your living conditions, or lack thereof."

"Tomorrow, Buffy," he promised sleepily. "We'll talk about it tomorrow."

The casual way he said it gave her pause. For so long she'd only been able to think about life one hour at a time, and now she finally had a future, finally had something to look forward to. She doubted that any of it would be easy, especially with Spike being sans chip, but they'd deal with it the same they had dealt with her paralysis - together.

And everyone else in her life would just have to accept it.

"Tomorrow," she whispered, and smiled as she drifted off, secure in the knowledge that he'd still be there when she woke up.

Still awake, Spike listened to the deep, even breaths that signaled her slumber and tightened his hold around her waist. Tomorrow, he mused, would be very interesting. If they managed to get out of bed at all, there'd be Giles to deal with, not to mention the rest of the gang. And Joyce... Joyce didn't even know that Buffy could walk, so hopefully that bit of good news would overshadow the fact that her daughter was involved with another vampire. One without a soul, and without even the chip to act as a muzzle of sorts, things could get a bit dicey. But Buffy had made it clear that she wanted him, and for now, that was all that mattered, right? And anyway, it wasn't as if he'd ever bothered to follow the rules before. He'd always deviated from the norm. *I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel...* Christ, now he was quoting Pee-Wee Herman to himself.

Spike shook his head and thought about how he'd told her she should run away now that she had her legs back. In the aftermath, he could finally admit to himself he was thankful that, as usual, she hadn't listened. The irony of it all struck him suddenly - that she'd chased after him because of something *Angel* had said. Her former lover, his greatest enemy...who said the gods had no sense of humor? They had it in spades, perverse though it may be. And as long as it worked to his advantage, who was he to complain?

*His heart got in the way.*

Bleedin' ponce.

"Fuck you, Angel," he whispered just before sleep claimed him, "and...thanks."


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