Wet and Wild
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Giles watched as Xander and Hal hoisted Forest onto a stretcher and wheeled him away, then he turned and went back to the room that Buffy was in. He knocked lightly and Riley asked, “Who is it?”
“It’s Giles.” He replied, moving to the window so they could see him.
Willow pulled the door open and practically leapt into his arms. “It is so good to see you.”
Giles hugged her lightly and nodded, “Yes, it is very good to see you too. How’s Buffy?”
“Itching to get out of this bed.” Buffy called.
Patting Willow affectionately, Giles walked past her and paused when he saw Buffy sitting up in the bed. Riley was in a chair beside her and stood when Giles walked in. “Sir.”
“If you two will excuse us,” Giles glanced from Riley to Willow. “I’d like to talk to Buffy alone. Your friend is being taken to a sick bay in the east wing and he seems fine.”
“Forest?” Willow’s eyes widened and she motioned for Riley. “Come on, Riley. Let’s go yell at him for scaring us.”
Riley took Buffy’s hand and squeezed it. “I won’t be gone long. I think we should really talk later.”
“Okay.” Forcing herself to smile at him, she watched him join Willow and waved as the two left. Really talking to Riley would mean admitting things she didn’t want to admit and facing things she didn’t want to face. At the moment though, the way Giles was staring at her was enough to make her forget everything. “Giles, I-“
“How are you?” He interrupted her and moved to the side of the bed. “You’re so pale.”
“I feel fine. Better than fine. Are you okay?”
“I am now.” He sat next to her and pulled her hand into his. “I was frantic with worry over you.”
“I’m sorry, Giles. I am. You were right. I was in way over my head here and I should have been better prepared for things.” She swallowed hard and looked him in the eye. “I was frantic too. Giles, is Spike … I mean … did Spike suffer when he died?”
With a deep sigh, Giles shook his head. “He’s not dead.”
“He’s not?” Buffy’s eyes widened and her eyes filled with tears. “Hal saved him, didn’t he?”
“No. Angel did.” Giles dug through his pocket and handed her a tissue. “I won’t go into the details, as those are better left told by Spike, but he is going to be just fine.”
“Can I see him?” Pushing the cover off her legs, Buffy started to get up, but Giles shook his head. “What is it, Giles?”
“Now would not be a good time to see him. You just have to trust me on that.” Staring at the floor, Giles wondered if he should tell her the truth. Would it be better for her to know that he had tasted life again only to have it taken away or would it be worse for her? He forced himself to smile and take her hand. “You can see him later. First, I want to talk to you about something.”
Buffy bit back the questions that wanted to tumble forward and nodded, “I know what you’re going to say, Giles. You’re going to tell me how stupid all of this was and I know, okay?”
“Actually, I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that it took you almost dying to make me realize a few things.” He stood and paced toward the window, then turned to her again. “When I got fired from the council for helping you on your eighteenth birthday, it was because I had a father’s love for you. You heard that, but I have neglected to tell you that it is true. I neglected to tell you that I couldn’t want for more than you. I’m sorry that you didn’t know that.”
“Giles…” Buffy didn’t know what to say. The tight knot in her throat was threatening to choke her and her heart was fluttering in her chest. “I-I know. You didn’t have to tell me. You show me all the time.”
“I went to your house tonight and I sat on your bed trying to remember the last thing I said to you. I couldn’t remember if I had been cold to you or not.” He dug through his pocket and pulled out a velvet bag. “I don’t ever want to feel like you doubt for one second what you mean to me. I’m not good at emotions, I never have been, but I love you, Buffy and I want you to have this.”
Buffy rubbed her eyes, trying to clear her blurred vision and took the bag he was holding out to her. She untied the ribbon that held it closed and turned it upside down, spilling the contents into her hand. A heavy round locket and gold chain landed in her palm and she gasped, running her fingers over the intricate G on the front. “Giles, it’s beautiful.”
“My grandmother was a watcher. She never got the chance to work with a Slayer, but she was well known for her knowledge and eagerness to involve herself in the battle against evil. She only had sons and she used to long for a daughter or a granddaughter, but she never got that. On her deathbed, I went to her. I was just beginning to accept my calling as a Watcher and she asked for me.” He paused, collecting his thoughts and then took a deep breath. “She told me that she knew I would be a good watcher and I would have the Slayer that she never had. This was her good luck charm and she wanted me to have it.”
“Giles, I can’t take this. It’s like, a family heirloom or something.” Buffy squeezed his hand and handed him the locket back. “But thank you.”
“Buffy, it is a family heirloom. Passed down from one Giles to the next.” He unclasped the chain and put it around her neck, fastening it in place. “And you are my family. You’re not just the Slayer that Granmother never had, you ’re the great granddaughter that she never got to meet.”
Buffy stared down at the locket on her chest and wrapped her fingers around it. “I don’t deserve you. I was horrible to you when we first met and I’ve caused you so much pain.”
“And stress and worry and I think I have an ulcer with your name on it too.”
“I’m really sorry, Giles.”
He put his hand under her chin and lifted her face. “But you also caused me to have a purpose and I wouldn’t trade one thing for that.”
He stared at the wall for a second and then his brow furrowed. “Yes, I would. I’ve given you what was intended to be your Christmas present and now I have to go shop again. I hate shopping.”
“You don’t have to shop again, Giles. Just promise me something and that will be enough.”
“When I give you your present for Christmas, please promise me that you’ll say yes.”
Giles remembered the card he had found on her desk, telling him that she wanted him to take her to England instead of her father. He was tempted to blurt out that he would love to take her, but he forced himself not to spoil her surprise. He had no doubt that, when the time came to read the card again, he would be able to muster every ounce of emotion to show how much it meant to him. “I promise.”
Riley and Willow tried to go through the door of the sick bay at the same time. She frowned up at him and barged forward, stumbling into the room. Forest glanced up and smiled, waving the hand that wasn’t in a cast back and forth. “Hey, you two.”
“How are you?” Willow blurted, speaking before Riley could. “Are you in pain?”
Forest pointed at his IV and shook his head. “Morphine. I’m perfectly content to have my limbs removed with a rusty butter knife at this point.”
“Michael’s dead.” Riley held a chair out, motioned for Willow to sit down, and stood behind her, eyeing his best friend critically. “Any permanent damage?”
“Your dad says I should be back on track in about eight weeks. The sick fuc- “ He glanced at Willow and grinned sheepishly. “The sick bastard broke my arm in two places.”
Clearing her throat, Willow chimed in. “By all means, call him what he is. A sick fucker.” She glanced up at Riley and added, “We didn’t get a chance to tell you that we found a body at his apartment. That fourth little girl that was missing. He planted the first one in the sewer, staged it so you would find her for sure and think if was your father and everything.”
“I don’t understand why he would do that.” Riley ran a hand over his forehead and sighed. “I’d rather he would have just killed me instead of some innocent child. And he went after Buffy on top of that.”
Forest squirmed slightly and groaned a little. “According to his journal, he had some kind of pact with the demons that we went to capture that first night Buffy was on the mission with us. The ones by the drive-in. Anyway, he arranged for that field agent to be kidnapped and released so we would go out there. He hadn’t been counting on Buffy being a bad ass. You were supposed to freak out about your father killing humans instead of dogs and go after him that night. He was going to backtrack you and kill you. Seems Buffy thwarted his plans though.”
Willow nodded and handed Forest the glass of water he was reaching for. “Also, he was eavesdropping when Buffy admitted that she had been responsible for the explosion that killed his father. He still hated you, but wanted her to suffer. The plan was, get her to the sewer, gut her or whatever, make it look like your father did it and force you to kill him. Then he was going to tell you that you had killed an innocent man, let you hurt, then he would kill you.”
Forest whistled a little. “Is it just me or is this a badly plotted soap opera wanna be?”
“It’s not just you.” Riley mumbled, trying to grasp everything that had happened. “Where’s Ha- my father?”
“Right here.” Hal said, coming into the room with Xander. “The demons that had escaped are all back in their cells. We simply activated the homing portion of the chip. They all returned to their cells without incident.”
“Like demon pigeons.” Xander saw Willow and rushed to her, giving her a quick hug, then turned to look at Riley. “How’s it going?”
“Been better?” Riley replied, staring at his dad. Somehow, he looked more human. The tusks that grew from his cheeks were almost gone and his ears were shorter than he had remembered. “You don’t look the same.”
“I need to explain that to you, Riley. Would you come with me?” Hal handed Xander the bag of saline they had retrieved and mumbled something about a morphine shot in twenty minutes, and led Riley out the door.
Riley shoved his hands in his pockets and his shoulders sagged. “What’s going on?”
“I did something that you probably won’t like.” Hal stopped walking and turned to face his son. “When I first came down here tonight, I had every intention of killing your mother. Buffy stopped me, wouldn’t let me harm her. I found her earlier, saving all the samples from those poor people in the quarantine and she indicated that nothing I could do would stop her. I stopped her.”
Leaning back against the wall, Riley bent at the waist and took several deep breaths. “You killed my mother?”
“No.” Hal laid a hand on his shoulder. “I didn’t kill her, but I did stop her.”
“H-how?” Standing slowly, Riley felt the blood rush to his head and squeezed his eyes closed.
“I was talking to that vampire earlier. Spike. I recognized him from a time long ago, when we were first experimenting on demons. I could tell by looking at him tonight that he was in trouble. The creature he had been was compromised and there was a battle within him for humanity or the demon to regain control. There has to be advantage. A tipping of the scale in one favor or the other. It was the same with me. I didn’t have enough human blood to override the materials that had been injected into my blood stream." Hal stopped talking and began walking again.
Riley followed dumbly, stumbling over his own feet. “You gave yourself a blood transfusion and now you’ll be human again?”
“Something like that.” Stepping into the elevator, Hal pressed one level up. “Your mother is in the infirmary. You saw what my blood could do tonight, Riley. You saw me save Buffy, close Xander’s head wound and I explained what the original goal was for the Initiative. I couldn’t let that be wasted.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You do understand, you’re just choosing not to.” The elevator opened and Hal led him down a hallway, then paused in front of the windows.
Maggie was strapped onto a bed and she was thrashing wildly, screaming and shaking her head back and forth. As Riley watched, her jaws elongated, snapped back into place, then grew wider. Her hands were clenched tightly and he could see that her usual pink flesh was replaced with greens and grays. “What have you done?”
“Let’s just say, your mother had a transfusion as well. She’ll be fine. She’ ll live, save lives and be a better person.”
“She never was a person.” Riley watched his mother and shook his head. “Are you going to put a chip in her head? Alter her behavior? Give her a lobotomy?”
“If need be.”
“You’ve made her look like what she is. A monster.” Riley shook his head and pressed his fingers over his eyelids. “At least she can never fool anyone again.”
“Well, you’re taking this better than I thought.” Hal watched him closely, fearing that he would break down.
“I almost wish you had killed her.” Riley ground his teeth together and looked up at Hal. “What kind of man does that make me?”
“A smart man. A man who was hurt. A man who suffered. I haven’t forgotten what she did to you all those years, son. The whippings, the drills, the way she detached herself from you.”
“And the way she made me feel like I was nothing more than a foot soldier. I was never a person to her, I was another creation, one she actually had the power to mold and I wasn’t allowed to feel anything.” He looked back through the glass. “And now, when I should be feeling sorry for her or love for her … I just feel relieved.”
“I understand.” He tentatively place his arm around his son’s shoulder and squeezed him slightly. “She’ll never hurt anyone again.”
“Are you back for good?” Riley realized that he hadn’t felt the urge to push his father away and that shocked him.
“I am. We have a lot of missed time to make up for.”
“I missed you.” Turning to face Hal, Riley wrapped his arm around him and hugged him tightly. “Welcome home, Dad.”
Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment. -Dag Hammarskjöld
Spike floated, unable to close his eyes against the sights before him or stop the chills that wracked through his naked body.
Hellhounds bayed, howling at him as he floated past them, each one snapping and nipping at his flesh. Demons, in various stages of rot and decay, threw things at him and tugged at his body, forcing him to kick with his bare feet. Flying bugs buzzed through his hair and then raked spiky legs down his cheeks, piercing his skin and causing him to swat wildly. And the hissing, the hissing of the snakes that lined the walls and floor, followed him, even as he covered his ears and floated through.
There was something else too, something behind him, stalking him, and it was coming fast. It watched his every move, laughing silently and pausing to run it’s pale fingers through the blood droplets that fell from the cuts on his skin. When it tasted his blood, it smirked, ready to reclaim the home it had known for over one hundred and twenty six years.
Angel knew this well and closed his eyes when Spike’s dead body convulsed and jerked on the table, then stilled. Spike was facing his own demon, warring with it in Hell. What he currently was, was nothing more than a lost soul, a disjointed specter that had been damned to hell. The soul would float, visiting the crevices and caves of that dimension, until the demon chasing it caught up and won. When the soul was gone, the demon would follow the path it had taken and possess the human body.
It could take hours or days. Angel shifted on the stool and crossed his arms. He would wait.
Spike journeyed deeper, trying to control the way he drifted so he would not hit the demons that reached for him. He used his bare feet to push off a blood soaked statue and moved through a new cavern. A bright light loomed on one end and he saw Buffy, sleeping soundly with her hair fanned across a pillow. He pressed both palms to the barrier and screamed her name.
He never heard the chuckling from the darkness or the silent urgings for him to keep calling her. Spike never remembered that only a demon could entice a soul out of a body and into the netherworld. All he saw was her and all he wanted was to feel her in his arms
Straight into Hell.
Giles smoothed Buffy’s hair back and frowned as she shifted in her sleep, crying out. Her heart monitor beeped loudly and Giles looked at it, trying to figure out what he was seeing. He lifted the walkie-talkie when it beeped again and spoke Hal’s name. The reply was swift and Giles told the man to come immediately, then turned his attention back to Buffy. “Buffy, wake up.”
She was motionless for several seconds and then she made a choking sound. Her eyes opened wide and she stared at the ceiling, clearly unseeing, and then she was still again. The monitor beeped steadily several more times, then flat lined.
“No!” Giles yanked the cover down and listened for her heart beat. “Don’t you do this to me, Buffy! You come back! Come back right now.” Pulling the pillows out from under her head, he tilted her back and breathed into her mouth, then clasped his hands and began to press her chest.
Buffy was disoriented. She sat on the edge of the bed, peering at the room and then looked over her shoulder at Giles, who was sobbing and breathing into her mouth. She reached for him, but her hand went right through him. Gasping, she tried again, only to have the same results. “I’m dead?” She grabbed her ears when she didn’t hear herself speak. “I’m deaf too!”
“Buffy!” Her name ripped through the silence, causing her to leap from the bed. One wall of the hospital room had vanished, replaced by a lacy looking web and Spike stood just behind the milky film. “Come to me.”
Giles was forgotten, her life was forgotten and she knew nothing except that he was there.
And the urge to go to him was strong.
Hal and Riley had run down the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Xander saw them sprint past the open doorway of Forest’s room and his heart fell into his stomach. Willow stood and mumbled one word, “Buffy.”
Forest watched them race out of his room and shook his head. “You go ahead, don’t help a man to his feet. I'll get there eventually.”
The minute Buffy was in his arms, Spike stopped floating and dropped to the ground. She caught him before he could fall all the way and smiled at his state of undress. “Why, Spike, are you cold or are you happy to see me?”
“Cold has reverse effects, Slayer.” He smiled, licking his lips. “So it’s the other choice.”
“I was so scared I would never see you again.” Pulling his head down, she kissed him hungrily, deeply, then pulled away. “Where are we?”
“I think we’re dead. Lost souls, maybe?" Spike turned and glanced back through the caverns, feeling something lurking there, dangerously close. “I don’t like this.”
“Wait, you don’t have a soul.” Buffy felt it too, a sense of dread and foreboding. Something darted past her and she jumped, clutching Spike’s forearms.
“All living things have souls. I was alive.” Spike took her hand and pushed her back toward the opening. “You don’t belong here. The minute you came in, it’s like everything shifted. Everything here that is evil is coming to claim you. Don’t you feel it?”
“Feel what?” She held her ground, not budging. “All I feel is you. I finally feel whole. Spike, I lo-.”
“Buffy, you’re a Slayer. This is Hell. Not just the loose term of that word. This is literally Hell. Slayers don’t go to hell. No matter how many vampires they shag.”
“Oh, you bring that up?”
“Just go. Now. Buffy, something is coming and I pulled you into this.” He gripped her and tried to shove her out the way she had come in. “I’ve hurt you once, I won’t do it again.”
Buffy pushed against his hands and stepped to one side. “Come with me, then. I’m not leaving you.”
“Don’t make me force you.” Spike narrowed his eyes, stepping closer.
“Oh, like you could. Look at you. Baring your arse as naked as the day you were born.” There was a sharp clapping sound and a being stepped into the light and pointed at his exposed flesh. “You going to poke me with that little splinter?”
Buffy felt faint. She stared from one to the other, exact duplicates. The only difference was one was clothed in a robe and he had the face of a vampire.
And he was currently closing in on the naked Spike.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to decide which side to be on.
Riley made it first and threw the door open, then promptly froze when he saw Giles’ attempts at CPR. Hal pushed him through the doorway and to one side and moved into the room. “What happened? Riley, get the crash cart.”
“I don’t know.” Sweat was dripping off of Giles’ brow and he dared a glance at the man. “She just thrashed about a bit and then the machine went crazy and stopped.”
“I was afraid of this.” Hal saw Willow and Xander arrive and turned to Willow, handing her the paddles. “Be ready to help me. Now stand clear.”
Riley put safety pads on Buffy’s chest, which he had just exposed, and held his hands up. Willow, pulling on every episode of ER she had seen, pressed the paddles in place and squeezed. Buffy jerked on the bed and Riley shoved the stethoscope into his ears. “Nothing.”
“Again.” Hal said, rubbing his hand over her hair. “Charge again.”
“Wait!” Riley had pressed his fingertips to her wrist and then moved the stethoscope back to her chest. “Her heart’s beating.”
“Is she breathing?” Hal looked at Giles, who was leaning his head on the bed. “Mr. Giles, is she breathing?”
Giles brought a shaky hand up to her nose and waited several seconds, holding his own breath. When he felt nothing, he choked on a sob and whispered, “No.”
“Life support.” Hal pulled his gaze away from Giles, feeling the man’s pain and looked at Riley. “Let’s get it done.”
Willow shook her head firmly. “No. She doesn’t want that.”
Hal closed his eyes and spoke slowly. “My blood did this to her. I explained to her that there would come a time, after the injection, that she would become weak while her blood countered the effects of mine. I never dreamed she would be this weak, but this is what we’re faced with. She is fine. She will be fine. But we have to keep her alive until the effects subside.”
Xander stared at his friend’s limp form. Her breasts were exposed, but he had not even noticed. All he noticed was the fact that her chest wasn’t rising and falling. “Bring her back. Just bring her back.”
On the heart monitor, the pace was steady, then it tapered off and flatlined again.
It is only death that stings my body
And all that I am afraid of
Only death, that parts us in this life
But death will not stop true love
Will you meet me when it's over
And the journey has been made
Death is but a moment
And our love will never fade...
Spike whirled to face the voice and his eyes widened. He knew instantly what the demon before him actually was. It wore his appearance, the same shock of blond hair, but the eyes were black, souless orbs set into a ghostly white face. The ridges of the demon’s forehead were more prominent and his fangs were longer than those of an earth-walking vampire. Spike didn’t move an inch as he cast his gaze toward Buffy, willing her to back away.
Buffy felt a sharp pain in her chest and a tugging back toward the entrance she had used to join Spike. She ignored it and launched herself at the Spike who wore the robe and demonic face. He caught her by the throat and threw her against one of the walls as if she were a rag doll. The other Spike, the one who was naked and shaking, watched in horror and moved to help her to her feet.
Vampire Spike shook his head and held up a hand, blocking him from her. “You tainted me, boy. You let yourself have feelings for her and fought me. You’ re a disgrace.”
“Buffy, get up!” Spike screamed, trying to push aside the clawed hand on his chest. “Get out of here!”
Buffy rose slowly, not sure what was happening. Here, in this place, she had no strength, no Slayer abilities. Quaking a little, she moved slowly to one side, hoping she could tackle the good Spike and topple them both back through the opening.
The demonic creature clucked his tongue and stared her up and down. “When I claim her and then claim you, William, I will come back as the most powerful vampire that ever lived. Overtaking souls in Hell is a noble thing. To have the honor of casting a slayer’s soul to the Ether will be rewarding.”
“I won’t let you hurt her. It’s me you want.” Spike moved fast and shoved the demon aside. His hand found Buffy’s and he pulled, but the demon was faster and caught her by the waist, sinking his fangs into her neck. It was not blood that poured from the wound, it was her life’s essence, funneling out in tufts of fog, straight into the demon’s body.
Willow shocked Buffy again, crying out as her friend’s body convulsed. She watched the monitor hopefully and then shook her head. “It’s not working.”
Xander, who was squeezing a breathing bag over her mouth, spoke loudly. “We’ re not stopping.”
Riley charged the crash cart again and nodded. Willow closed her eyes and shocked Buffy again, ignoring the tears that rolled down her cheeks.
Buffy felt weak. She saw Spike move forward and strike the demon with some sort of stick he had picked up, then she was thrown aside. The demon moved back and got stuck in a thatch of thorny vines, giving her a reprieve, and she stumbled to her feet, rushing toward Spike. “Spike!”
“We have to get out.” He gripped her arm and pulled her, leading her toward the opening. Behind them, the demon raged, calling forth help to stop them from running.
“Are you coming?” Buffy turned, staring up at his face with anticipation.
“You first.” His voice trembled and he forced himself to smile through the lies he was telling her. “I’ll be right behind you. Don’t look back, okay? You can’t look back.”
~ Because I can’t bear it. ~ “You can’t take the memories of this. If you look back, you’ll be haunted by it for the rest of your life.”
“You promise you will be behind me?” Buffy asked, leaning her head against him for a split second.
“I promise.” The demon roared and broke free, his heavy footfalls causing the entire cavern to shake. Spike pulled Buffy to his chest, protecting her against the falling rocks. “No matter what, I love you. Never forget that.”
Buffy looked up, trying to figure out the tone of his voice and gasped when she saw tears on his face. “Spike?”
Spike kissed her once, fiercely attacking her mouth, and then he closed his eyes and shoved her back through the portal as hard as he could. She screamed, the sound echoing through his mind, and he turned away, covering his ears and staring face to face with the thing that would go back in his place and kill her.
He couldn’t let that happen.
Buffy’s heart began to pound, causing the monitor to beep loudly, but the scream that erupted from her throat drowned it out. The Slayer sat bolt upright in the bed, staring at the wall that she had come back through. She shoved the cover off her legs and leapt over the railing, then rushed toward the wall, slamming her fists into it. “Spike! Spike, come back! You promised me! You promised!”
Giles reached her first and wrapped his arms around her, trying to pin her arms to her sides, “Buffy, stop it. You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“Where is he?” Buffy screamed, kicking and trying to break loose. “Take me to him now!”
One of her heels connected with his shin and Giles let her go. She rushed through the door, shouting his name, unaware that the others had followed.
Angel had dozed briefly and when he heard someone shout for Buffy, then heard her yell Spike’s name, he jumped up and opened the door. He caught her as she came barreling around the corner, her face flushed and her eyes wide. “Buffy?”
“Where is he?” She demanded, pushing away from him. “Spike!”
“He’s in here.” Angel pointed at the doorway and watched her dart through it. By the time he had the presence of mind to follow, the others had arrived. “What happened?”
“She died.” Willow replied. “It was horrible.”
“Then she came back all crazy.” Xander had pushed past them and was looking into the room where Spike lay on the table. “Uh, guys?”
They moved toward the door and stared inside, none of them moving. Buffy was up on the table, straddling Spike’s hips and slamming her fists into his chest. “You promised me! You said you would be right behind me!”
Angel started to go to her, but she stopped beating him and laid her head against Spike's chest. Her shoulders sagged, almost in defeat and she whimpered, “Spike, come back. Please come back. Fight it. You can fight it because you’re stronger than it is. Don’t leave me. Not now.”
Spike heard her, he heard her plea and brought his knee up against the demon ’s groin, causing it to howl at him and slam him back against a wall. Rocks cut into his flesh, but he paid it no mind, he balled his hands into fists and fought.
He fought with all his heart and soul.
“You can’t go around breaking promises, Spike.” Buffy was limp, her voice coming out in a hoarse whisper now. “Fight. Keep fighting. That demon won’t take you down.”
Angel listened to her words and his eyes widened. He kneeled next to her and put his hand on her back. “What did you see? Willow said you died.”
Buffy sniffled and turned to face him. “Spike was calling me. He asked me to come to him and I did.”
Giles gasped. “He beckoned her into to hell. Her soul, I mean.”
“What’s happening to him?” Buffy cried. “There are two of them down there and he’s fighting it.”
Angel ran a hand over his face and looked up at Giles. When it was apparent that Giles wasn’t going to volunteer the information, Angel spoke softly. “I had to change him again, Buffy. He was half human and what you saw in Hell was his human soul. When a person is turned, the soul is damned to hell and in exchange for that, a demon can be brought forth. It’s the way it works. But nothing comes for free. The demon has to defeat the soul and banish it into the Ether.”
“But, if that demon wins then he will come back and take Spike’s body!” Buffy saw the look on Giles’ face and it told her all she needed to know. “No, I don’t believe that! Spike is different. He’s not like other vampires!”
“We have every reason to believe that he may come back like he was.” Hal told her calmly. “Capable of conscious thought and emotion. We just don't know why yet.”
“What if he doesn’t?” Buffy sobbed, then closed her eyes, flashing back to Angelus and the hell he put her through. She sat up slowly and answered her question for herself. “Then I’ll have to kill him. Before he kills us.”
Riley had kept quiet the entire time, watching her closely. His heart felt like she had twisted it and took a bite out of it, but he had stayed quiet. Now he couldn’t hold it in and cleared his throat, earning her attention. “Maybe you should.”
“Riley-.” Willow stared from him to Buffy and shook her head. “Don’t do this.”
Riley ignored the redhead and pulled open a drawer, fishing out a wooden stake. He tapped it against his palm and then held it out so Buffy could reach it. “What’s it going to be, Buffy? Who is it going to be?”
The demon threw Spike into an icy cold substance and chuckled as he flailed wildly. “You know you can’t win and yet you fight me. I’ve always admired that in you.”
Spike gained footing and rose, stepping from the murky, tarry wetness. “And will it be admiration you feel when you wake up with a stake pressed in your chest? She’ll kill you.”
The demon began to speak again, but a blinding light silenced him, leaving him unable to move. He saw the apparition inside the light and shook his head back and forth.
This could not be happening again. “Noo!” he raged.
Buffy stared at Riley, a mixture of anger and pain on her face. “You can’t ask me something like that.”
“Why can’t I?” He crossed his arms, clutching the stake tightly when she made no move to take it. “First, you lie to me. Then you use me. Then you tell me you fell for me and ask me not to be mad at you. Now, you’re here, crying over a demon that would rip your throat out at the first chance he got. Don’t you tell me I can’t ask you to make a choice. As a matter of fact, you should be questioning why I would give you a choice and haven’t walked out that door already.”
“Maybe you should walk out.” Buffy shot back, her eyes never leaving his. “Instead of trying to give me ultimatums.”
“Is that what you want?” He waited for her to reply and when she said nothing, he nodded. “As you wish.”
Xander watched him leave and nudged Willow. “Was there a showing of the Princess Bride somewhere in town?”
Willow shrugged. "It was priced to own at Block Buster."
Buffy scowled at the other people in the room. “Leave me alone with him.”
“Buffy, no.” Angel stood and held out his hand, offering to help her off the table. “You can’t handle this. If he wakes up and-.”
“Willow, hand me a stake, please?” Buffy felt tears well up in her eyes as she took the slim piece of wood. She glanced at Angel, struggling to focus through her blurred vision. “If he’s gone. If he’s not here, I’ll know. I’ll take care of it. Now leave us alone.”
Angel wanted to protest more, but Giles nodded at him and he gave in, following the others out of the room. He shut the door softly and leaned his head against it, ready to go back in at the sounds of a struggle.
Buffy leaned down again, resting her head on Spike’s chest. “Spike, I don’t think this is how we’re supposed to end. I mean, you led me to you, I found the Roses because of you and came here for you. This can’t be how it ends. We don’t end on a cold table.” She squeezed her eyes closed and remembered the dreams. It was always her on a table, her being threatened and Spike always arrived to save her before she died. “Whatever it is that we have, Spike. It’s strong. You pulled my soul to yours and I went.”
Her voice broke and she cried, the dam erupting and soaking through the sheet over his chest. “Now it’s your turn. Come to me.”
Spike backed away from the ball of light, trembling with fear. He could make out the outline of a human form inside and squinted, trying to see a face. The light dimmed and she stood before him, wearing a red gown that fit snug around her delicate shoulders. “William.”
“Lizzy?” He stepped forward, his hand touching her to make sure she was real. “It’s really you.”
“We haven’t much time.” She cupped his cheek and turned to look at the demon that was huddling in the corner. “I can’t hold him at bay much longer. He’s stronger than me.”
Spike saw the demon surge against an unseen barrier and shook his head. “How are you here are all?”
“I was here last time as well, but I was too late. The demon had defeated you and all I could salvage was a small part of you to send with it.”
He touched her tentatively and squeezed her hand. “What do you mean? What are you?”
“I am your link to who you were. I couldn’t let you just die that night. Oh, William, I was naïve and I tried so hard to prevent the demon from killing you, but I was a fool. I only sent back enough of you to make you feel love and it made you weak.” She looked at the ground and sighed softly. “When I saw your soul in the Ether, I broke all the rules and brought it through to the other side. I was there too, resting, waiting for something to happen and when I saw you, I tried to bring you back.”
“When a new soul is cast into the Ether, the doorway remains opened for several seconds, allowing those who dare to exit. They become ghosts, unresting spirits.” Elizabeth looked at the demon, trying to will him to stay pinned. It took one look at her and stilled, fear replacing its fury. “I caught you and we fled back through. You don’t remember, but it happened. I was too late though. The demon had traveled back through and gone into you and I tried so hard to reopen the doorway. But the human you were was gone.”
“But I did feel things. Things for other people, for Dru, for Angelus,” He paused and clenched his jaw. “For Buffy.”
“I told you I sent a piece of you back. I did.” She clutched his hand in hers and kneeled in front of him as if to ask his forgiveness. “William, I banished your soul into this hell. Not the Ether, not into Eternal Rest, but into damnation. Your soul couldn’t find peace and it haunted the demon that was inside of you, making it reek of humanity and often times overpowering his urges. It was a lost soul, trying to find a way back in and it wasn't strong enough. It was lost, not ready to be dead.” Her eyes filled with tears as she glanced back up at him. “I can set it right. William, I was banished from the Ether for what I have done. I can only go back if I go in your place. Please William, let me rest. Let me go back!”
Spike pulled her to her feet and gripped her arms. “In my place, Lizzy? I don't --”
“Quickly William, come.” She stepped in front of the demon and nodded with satisfaction when it broke through the barrier and then froze, unable to do more than stand and growl at them. “The demon only has the ability to banish one soul into the Ether. He will banish mine. Yours is already so fragmented, so worn, that he will instictively banish mine because it is strong.”
“I don’t understand.” Spike said, clutching her hand in his. “What are you saying to me?”
"I am saying that I prevented you from finding peace, William. My love for you, my need to keep you safe and shelter you was the cause of this." Elizabeth sighed, a small sound that seemed loud in such a hollow place. "And it's my love for you that is allowing me to make it right. You will be a demon, William, always a demon, but oh so much more."
Spike reached for her, wanting to comfort her, but she stepped away. "And what will become of you, Lizzy?"
“Do you trust me?”
“Then look into his eyes and you will be one.” Elizabeth watched as Spike focused on the demon’s face. She felt cool tears slide down her cheeks and shifted into transparency, so that William could see through her. Almost invisible, she stepped between the two beings, her eyes never leaving William’s.
Spike struggled to maintain eye contact with her, but he found himself drawn to the demon’s liquid black eyes. He swallowed hard and looked through her, looking into the face of the demon that would kill Buffy. “Lizzy--?”
“Shhh, it is done.” Her voice broke and she sobbed quietly. “Go back. Your work is not done. It has only just begun. I Love you, William. Always.”
Spike focused on her in time to see the demon charge through her. He saw her vanish, seemingly disappearing into the demon and then the demon gripped him as well. It was hell, turmoil like nothing he had known, as the souls warred with one another, and then she was gone, ejected, and the demon inside of him carried him home.
Buffy shifted slightly, moving to lie beside Spike on the narrow table. She hooked one of her legs over his and pulled his hand across his chest, looping their fingers. His skin was cool and she shuddered slightly, realizing that there was nothing inside of him right then, no demon, nothing. He was simply dead.
Worrying her lower lip, she laid the stake over their heads and propped herself on her elbow, staring at his relaxed features. The scar over his eyebrow drew her attention and she trailed her thumb over it, wondering how it had happened. Further inspection of his face revealed a horseshoe shaped scar under his lower lip and one on his jaw. “You haven’t told me the story of you, Spike. I don’t know what your favorite book is or how you got these scars.”
She ran her hand up, brushing his hair off of his forehead and pushing it back like he always wore it. “And why do you color your hair? Why do you always wear the same red shirt? Is that your favorite color?”
Leaning closer, she pressed her lips to his temple and inhaled. “You have to come back.”
Spike didn’t move. He listened to her words, resisting the urge to smile at her. He had been right, everything he felt for her was still there. Everything he had hoped he would be able to retain during the change was in place. He felt for her. Lizzy had somehow managed to salvage what he had been in hell, a half soul or whatever, and merge it into the demon. All that mattered from now on was that he was back.
Buffy spoke again, her hand finding it’s way back to his. “Getting shot in the back by some psychotic killer wasn’t even as bad as this.”
Spike gasped, his eyes opening quickly and he remembered what he had done to her. “Buffy-.”
She tensed beside him and slipped off the edge of the bed, trying to decide if the demon was there, ready to kill her. She watched him sit up and turn away from her. That gave her hope. Surely, if he was going to kill her, his first instinct would be to make a move. Reaching a tentative hand over the table, she touched his shoulder.
He immediately moved away. “Don’t.”
“Spike, are you okay?”
“No.” Grabbing the shirt he had removed earlier, he kept his eyes on the ground and pushed his arms through the sleeves. “I have to go.”
“No.” Buffy blocked him, her hand instinctively wrapping around the stake on the head of the bed.
His face transformed, the demon coming to the forefront to counter the threat she posed. Whatever he had inside of him, whatever evil, it was still there, ready to tear her apart. He watched her with yellow eyes, watched her block the door and said, “You should know better.”
“The Powers That Be are not allowed to play this cruel joke on me again!” Her voice broke and she sagged against the door, replaying Angelus in her mind. “Are you in there at all? Are you?"
“What do you think?” Spike resisted the impulse to fight her. He didn’t know what he was doing or what was happening inside of him. Why was he tempting death again? He felt the demon rage and felt an inner turmoil to control it. Then the urge he had to defend himself was gone and he decided that he would welcome death after what he had done to her.
“Fine.” She laid the stake down and walked across the room, stopping in front of him. “The hunger has to be on you. Don’t you want my blood? Take it.”
He licked his lips and stared down at her, not at the throbbing vein in her neck, but the small pucker in her trembling lips. Unable to fight any longer, he pulled her to him and lifted her, his mouth finding hers. She hissed in pain and he moved, turning her to see the hole in the back of her shirt. There was dried blood all over the fabric and he growled, stalking away from her.
“Spike, what is it?” She moved toward him, careful not to get too close. A vampire that had just made the transformation was groggy and unpredictable. “What?”
He gripped her arms and pulled her close, his face barely inches from hers. “That hole in your back? I put it there, Slayer. I pulled the trigger that almost ended your life.” He let go and held his hands up. “These are the hands of a killer and you deserve more.”
Buffy was too stunned to stop him when he whirled and stormed out of the room. She was dimly aware of the voices that were calling to him, then she felt someone shake her gently and looked at Angel. “He- he’s the one who shot me.”
“I know.” Angel told her, lifting her and sat her on the table. “Did he try to kill you? Did he taunt you with the fact that he shot you?”
“No.” She shook her head, still unable to comprehend it all. “He told me I deserved better and hugged me.”
“Uncanny.” Giles replied, holding a cup of water out for Buffy. “His first instinct should have been to destroy her.”
Hal shook his head. “I told you he isn’t like other demons. I haven’t put my finger on it yet, but I will.”
“To hell with that!” Buffy said angrily and jumped off the table, heading for the door. “You put your finger on it, I’ll put my foot up his ass. No one just walks out on me!”
“Except Angel.” Xander offered. “So why should his offspring be any different.”
Willow kicked him hard in the shin. “God, Xander! Just because Anya says exactly what’s on her mind, doesn’t mean you have to.”
“Ohh, Anya!” He hopped on one leg and reached for the phone. “Xander phone home.”
Buffy had stopped walking when Xander said what he did about Angel and she glanced back at the dark vampire. “Angel?”
He glanced up from his laced fingers and focused on her. On her perfect skin, her hair that was framing her face, her slim and powerful body, and he knew that he had lost her for good. “Yes, Buffy?”
“Thank you. I’m still not clear on the how or the why, but you saved him and I owe you his life.” She smiled weakly, then added, “And mine. So thank you.”
“Go.” Angel nodded toward the door and gave her a weak smile. “And when you’ re finished putting your foot up his ass … love him like he deserves. He can't help what he is. That monster inside of him? I put it there. I took his life and I tried to give it back and failed. So I'm giving him mine. Go to him, Buffy.”
Her eyes welled with tears and she clutched her chest, moved by the way his blessing touched her heart. “I love you, Angel.”
He could only nod again and watch her go, unable to utter the same. It would have been unfair to her, and most of all to him, to try to use the same platonic tone she had used. It would have been impossible, so instead of saying anything at all, he glanced at the others and walked away. He would stay in town and make sure she was okay, then he would go back to his life. Alone.
But secure in the knowledge that he had finally given her what he had always wanted to give her. Happiness with a man who could love her completely.
It was but a moment that you were mine
A small happy moment, frozen in time
I've locked it away, deep in my heart
Where time will not tear first love apart
Never doubt that what we had was real
You didn't betray me, you simply healed
Buffy jogged past the demons in the cells and rounded the corner in time to see Spike drop through the sewer grate, his duster billowing behind him like a cape. She put on an extra burst of speed and dropped through the hole, making the ankle deep water splash all over her. She wiped her face and glanced around, trying to judge which way he had gone. "Spike?"
There was no reply, so she squeezed her eyes shut and tilted her head, listening intently to the sounds of the sewer and hoping to hear his footsteps. Several seconds passed and she heard nothing. Then she heard the sounds of her own soft sobs. Leaning back against the wall, she buried her face in her hands and let herself cry.
Spike was right over her, clinging to the top rung of a ladder. He had stopped climbing when he heard her splash down behind him, wanting to make sure that she was okay and had not hurt herself. As he watched her, she called his name and then paused, trying to hear him. He frowned when she slumped and began to cry. The fall had not hurt her, he had hurt her and he couldn't walk away and leave her alone and vulnerable in the sewer with no weapons. At least, that was what he told himself as he climbed back down and pulled her to his chest. "Don't cry, Pet."
Buffy wanted to ask him where he had come from, but she didn't care. All that she cared about was that he was there. She wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned her head against his chest, pressing her cheek against the cool skin that was exposed because of his open shirt. "Spike, it was an accident. It was an accident that you shot me. Please-."
He gritted his teeth and shook his head. "It wasn't an accident that I ran though. I was a coward."
"No, you were scared and that's understandable." She pushed him back and looked up at him. "But you aren't a coward and you shouldn't run from what we can have."
"What can we have, Slayer?" Spike let her go and turned away, not trusting his words if he kept staring at her. "What is it that you think I can give you? I'm not Angel. I am a vampire through and through."
"I know you're not Angel. You're Spike. The same Spike who tried to kill me. The same Spike who makes my blood boil and pisses me off and insults me and makes me crazy." She paused and then walked around him, forcing him to look down at her. "But you're also the same Spike who bared his heart to me that night we were taken. You stopped being a prick for all of five minutes and I fell for you. Hard. Hell, I think I fell for you before Willow ever even did that spell."
Spike stared down at her, stared at the honesty in her features and listened to the conviction in her tone. And then he spoke just as honestly. "I think I fell for you when I saw you in the sun, all weepy over that bushy haired Parker. I fought you because I knew I couldn't have you. God, how you haunted my dreams. Then after the spell, I couldn't shake it."
"I know. Me either." Buffy took his hand into hers and squeezed it. "That's why I joined the Initiative. There was nothing I wouldn't do to save you."
Spike frowned, remembering Riley and the things that Michael had implied. The things that Buffy herself had said on the day that Spike saw her down in the compound for the first time. His temper flared and he spat out the next words. "Is that what you told yourself when you were shagging that commando?"
"I didn't sh-."
"Buffy, don't lie to me! That boy was willing to risk his life to save you. Don't tell me you haven't shagged him."
"Spike!" Buffy felt her face flush in anger and pointed her finger at him. "I risked my life to save you, didn't I? And we haven't shagged!"
"Oh." He rubbed his hand over the back of his head and looked down at her, wondering what to say next. It was all too much. Shooting her, going to hell, seeing Lizzy, coming back and feeling a million new emotions was just too much to handle. And if she stood in front of him looking beautiful for another minute, he would take her right there. "There are still too many things that have happened with us and too many questions that neither of us want to know the answers to. When all is said and done-."
Buffy nodded at him, still furious at his question. "When all is said and done, everything we've been through means nothing. As far as you're concerned, it probably never did. You are just a vampire after all, right?" Her eyes welled with tears again and angrily wiped them away as they slid down her cheeks. "You really are a coward. And you're a pathetic coward at that and I do deserve better. I deserve someone who is willing to fight as hard as I did. That's not you."
Spike stood in one spot as she began to climb the ladder. Her words finally hit home and he grabbed her around the waist, realizing that she was about to walk out of his life for good. She held firm, not letting him wrench her free and he glanced up at her. "Let go and come back down here, Slayer."
"No. I'm not going to stand down there and let you make a fool of me or accuse me of things. When you decide what you want, you know where I'll be."
"If you don't come back, I'll just follow you. We haven't finished this." Spike's face was only inches away from her backside, and he licked his lips when he saw that her shirt was riding up, exposing her creamy skin. He let go of her and lifted her shirt higher, staring at the small pucker where the bullet had entered her back. Climbing up behind her, he pressed a soft kiss against the scar and nuzzled her flesh, inhaling her scent. "I need you, Buffy."
Buffy froze when he made the small admission and she felt her heart slam against her chest. He needed her? She realized that she had stopped breathing when he kissed her on the back so she took a deep breath and relaxed a little. She felt him shift and climb higher, then his face was next to hers and he was pulling her hair away from her neck. Her grip on the ladder tightened as he kissed her jaw, then her neck, then her shoulder and one of his legs slid around the side of hers. "Spike-."
"I love you. I don't know how and I don't know why, but I do." With one hand, he held himself on the ladder, pressing against her, and the other hand slid around her waist. "Please, let that be enough for now."
Buffy turned on the ladder, facing him completely, and stared into his clear blue eyes. "It was always enough."
They kissed, both clinging to the ladder, both clinging to one another. Buffy felt him urge her to let go and wrapped her arms and legs around him. He climbed back down slowly, never breaking the kiss and when they were safely on the bottom level, he pressed her against the wall and buried his hands in her hair. She moaned out when she felt his erection between her legs and urged her hips forward, grinding against him.
Spike growled low in the back of his throat and pulled his mouth away from hers. One look at her face told him that she wanted it as much as he did and he peeled her shirt upwards, dragging it over her head. She wasn't wearing a bra and when he saw her chest, bare and firm and begging for attention, he leaned down in front of her, drawing one dusky nipple into his mouth, then the other. She moaned and arched forward and he unbuttoned her pants, kneeling to kiss the silky skin of her stomach that had been hidden behind her pants. Water seeped through the front of his jeans and he glanced down, realizing where they were. Standing, he frowned, "We can't do this here. Not in a sewer."
"Yes, we can." She cried, her body tingling with excitement. "It all started for us here, Spike. The first real kiss, me realizing what you meant to me, you trying to save my life by offering yours to the commandos. It's perfect. Don't stop."
He smiled at her and pulled her to him again, kissing her passionately as his hands skimmed her bare back. He felt her urge his duster and shirt over his shoulders and fumbled to hang them over the ladder when she tried to drop them. Both without barriers, he pressed his cool chest against hers and let her warmth sink into him. "You feel so good, baby. So good."
She held him just as tightly as he was holding her and kissed his neck. "I want you so much, Spike. I've dreamed of this so many times." Something dropped on her head suddenly and she grabbed it, yelping when she felt a furry body and tiny claws. She tossed it into the shaft of light that was streaming from the Initiative's lab and shook her head. "But not here. I changed my mind."
"What happened to all the sentimental stuff you just said?" Spike chuckled as she yanked her shirt back on.
"Rats! Spike! That overrides the sentimental element. That rat was the size of a Volvo and I don't want to get bitten." She paused and added, "By anything other than you."
"Oh, I won't bite. But I can't promise not to nibble."
And he did just that as he followed her up the ladder and her rounded bottom was right in his face.
They walked hand in hand across campus. Buffy insisted on going to her dorm, since no one was there because of the holidays and they wouldn't be interrupted. She had left her key elsewhere, so she had to rely on memory to punch in the security numbers that had been drilled into their heads since day one. The main door opened and she glanced up at Spike, suddenly shy and nervous. "My room's a mess. I had to pack and stuff to go home for Christmas and well, it's a mess."
"I think I can handle it." He grinned down at her and kissed her lightly, then held the door open for her.
As they climbed the two flights of stairs, Buffy cast a glance toward him and chewed her lower lip. He was so unbelievably gorgeous. His hair was messed up, his shirt was buttoned wrong and he wasn't wearing his duster, since he had given it to her, and he was still causing her body to react in ways that it had never reacted before. She stepped through the door and moved down the hallway toward her room. Running her fingers over the top of the door, she found the spare key and stepped into her room.
Turning on the light, she cringed. It was worse than she had remembered. Her bed was unmade, as was Willow's, and most of her wardrobe was piled onto the bed and heaped in the floor. Not exactly romantic, but they had almost had sex in the sewer, so anything was an improvement. She blushed and stepped aside, letting him walk in behind her. She blushed even deeper when he closed the door and held up her lacy bra that had been on the doorknob. Snatching it, she threw it with the rest of her things and licked her lips. "Well, here we are."
"You're shaking. Are you cold?" Spike moved closer and ran his hands up and down her arms.
"No, just a little nervous."
"Don't be. We'll talk about it all later and it will be okay. We'll be okay." He lowered his head and tugged at her lower lip, running his tongue over it and then sucking it into his mouth.
Buffy leaned against him, his kisses leaving her weak all over. He hugged her again and she glanced past him, at her reflection in the mirror. Her face was tracked with bloodstains and muck and her hair was standing up all over, looking like it had been teased for hours. "Oh my god!"
"Why didn't you tell me I look awful!?"
"I didn't notice."
"Well, I have to go take a shower. Wait here."
"No." Spike shook his head and caught her arm as she started toward the door. "I have to take a shower too. Want some company?"
Her eyes widened and she glanced at the floor. "Uh, okay."
Gripping her key and a roll of quarters, she motioned him to follow her and walked across the hallway, to the only shower that was private. It cost three bucks to use it, but she figured it would be worth it. Once inside, she had another wave of nervousness. She had never showered with a man before and Spike had never even seen her naked all the way. What if he didn't like what he saw?
Spike had slipped his shirt off and was watching her intently. She looked terrified. He walked to where she stood and slipped her shirt over her head, then stepped back and stared at her breasts. "You're beautiful. Perfect in every way."
Buffy fought the urge to cover herself and didn't protest when he slipped his fingers into the waistband of her pants and unbuttoned them. He made eye contact when he slid them and her panties over her hips, then glanced downward as they cleared her knees. Her curls were dark and thick and he placed a kiss right above them, kneading her skin with his mouth. "So beautiful."
He stood and stripped out of his own jeans and turned the shower on. When he turned back to her, she had finished removing her pants and shoes and he held out his hand.She took it and stepped in behind him, eyeing his nude body with appreciation. He was tone and firm and pale and the muscles on his stomachwere as chisled as his cheekbones. He immediately pulled her under the water and ran his hands over her hair, smoothing it away from her face. With her hair wet and water running off her, she was more enticing than he had ever seen her. He grabbed a bottle of shampoo and soaped her head, massaging with his fingertips.
"Mmm." Buffy moaned out and smiled. "That feels so good."
"That's not all I can do that feels good." He muttered as he repositioned the shower head and watched as she rinsed. His eyes trailed over her slim frame, drinking in her tan skin, her dark nipples, and the perfect curves of her tiny waist. He had never wanted to possess anything more in his life.
She ran her fingers through her hair, getting all the soap out, then looked up at him. "You might have to show me for me to believe you."
Spike simply winked at her and lifted one of the wash clothes from the shelf beside the shower. He soaped it with a flowery smelling body wash and ran it over one of her arms and then the other. She threw her head back, letting him wash her neck and chest and then he slid the cloth between them, down her stomach and between her legs. She gasped and reddened and he captured her mouth in his while his hand continued to explore her. The rag was soon dropped, and he rubbed her with his bare hands, the soap causing his fingers to glide over her aching clit.
"Spike-." Buffy moved against his hand, whimpering a little. He had only been touching her for a few seconds, and she was already close to coming, something she couldn't do for herself that fast.
He pulled his hand away and rinsed the rag before he brought it back between her legs and wiped the soap away. She protested and he silenced her with a kiss where his hand had been, darting out to taste her with his tongue.
Buffy threw her head back and gripped the railing as he pulled one of her legs over his shoulder and slid one of his fingers into her. His tongue flicked over her, driving away her reservations and making her ache with desperation. "Spike, please don't stop."
He had no intention of stopping until she was over the edge and drowning in her own ecstasy. Growling against her, he increased his pressure, pushing her further and further. He caressed her ass with one hand and pumped his finger in and out of her with the other and then she was coming, so hard that she screamed his name and fell back against the wall.
She did not realize she was sobbing until she felt him move her leg off his shoulder and grip her arms. "What is it? Buffy, did I-."
"No." Buffy cupped his cheek and shook her head. "I just love you and I never thought--."
"Shhh." He leaned into her, pressing her back against the wall. "I love you. That's all we need to think about right now."
His erection pressed against her stomach and she glanced down, swallowing hard when she saw his size. Spike was smiling at her when she looked back up at him and he lifted her, whispering for her to put her legs around him. She complied and clung to him, gasping as he eased himself into her. Her body protested slightly, causing a small amount of pain as she accommodated him, but by the time he had filled her completely, she was oblivious to it.
Spike groaned as her vaginal muscles clamped around him. She was so tight that he could have lost himself with one stroke, but he stilled himself and kissed her. The floor was slick and he worried about sliding, so he reached over them with one hand and gripped the long metal neck of the shower head. One of his hands slid under her, holding her in place and he pulled back and slammed into her, causing them both to cry out.
He knew he wouldn't last long,- *couldn't* last long, considering who she was and what she was doing to him. Deciding that he would make it up to her as soon as they unearthed her bed from under her clothes, he gave up the fight and increased his pace. He felt her legs tighten around him, felt another orgasm rock through her, and joined her, growling her name. "Buffy--."
At the peak of his climax, Spike yanked the shower head hard. He heard a loud crack and let go, moving to cover Buffy's head when the entire contraption fell down on them. "Oh, bloody hell! Not again!"
The water shot out hard, blasting the far side of the stall and Buffy slid her legs off him, gripping the knobs and turning them roughly. The hot water shut off, but the other knob came off in her and. The cold water came faster and thundered from the broken pipe. "Oh, no! It's so cold!"
"Didn't you learn anything last time?" Spike growled, trying to fit the knob back on.
"Didn't you?" Buffy replied, hopping out of the shower and going toward the main water valve under the sink.
"Yes, I did!" He grabbed her and moved her aside. "I learned to do it myself."
She watched with her arms crossed as he shut off the main line and the water stopped squirting out. He stood, completely proud of himself and about to say that he told her so, but she held up a hand. "Don't even say it."
"That you told me so."
"I wasn't." Spike grabbed a towel and tossed it to her. "I was going to say that we're back where we started. We've come full circle."
Buffy wrapped the towel around her, securing it tightly. She remembered the night at Giles' place when he had been chained in the tub and broke the water faucet. She had broken the ones under the sink and the room had flooded. "You're right. We started out completely wet, went to the sewers and then got kidnapped."
"Then we were saved, went back to the sewers and now we're completely wet again." He licked his lips and wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Some of us wetter than others."
"Spike!" Buffy turned crimson and headed for the door. As she grabbed the doorknob, he grabbed her towel, and both came flying off.
"You did not just pull the doorknob off again, Slayer. I know you didn't."
She grinned and slid the knob back into the door. "Gotcha! It comes off all the time."
They stepped out of the room together and Buffy gasped, moving to stand in front of Spike. He was naked and Xander and Anya were in the hallway, holding a box. Spike ducked back into the bathroom and grabbed a towel, coming out just in time to hear Anya say, "He's hung! No wonder you would go through hell to get him back!"
Buffy ignored her and looked up at Xander. "How did you get in here?"
"Willow gave me her key. We needed to give you this." He held the box out and stepped back when Buffy took it. "We'll go now."
"Or we can stay." Anya licked her lips, glaring at the water droplets glistening on Spike's chest. "I've always wondered about the endurance of vampires and group sex is really trendy right now."
"Anya!" Xander shook his head apologetically, turning to speak directly to Buffy. "I've tried. Lord knows I've tried and I just can't seem to teach her that she can't say things like that."
"Who says I can't say things like that?" Anya cried, shoving her hands on her hips. "Is there a rule book someplace that says I can't let the world know that I like to copulate? Is it so taboo that I can't enjoy it? You enjoy it, Xander. You grunt and groan and get off and I-"
"You are oversharing. Again." Xander replied firmly. "What we do in bed is just between us."
Anya rolled her eyes and glanced at Spike. "Were you two just now tossing the salad in the bathroom?"
"I'm going to toss that slang book!" Grumbled Xander. "Regardless of whether of not you say it properly or use the slang, you have to use discretion."
"Well, Buster, until I don't have to use discretion, our relationship is going to be rated PG, got it? I'll just buy a vibrator. At least it can't tell me what to say." Stomping her foot, Anya turned to leave and then turned back toward the others. "And Joyce told me that if you love me, you won't try to change me. You don't love me at all."
Xander watched her walk away and turned to glare at Buffy. "Your mother is-"
"Hey!" Spike growled. "Don't talk about Joyce. She's right. You're lucky that you have a girl who wants you. Sure, she could make -me- blush with that mouth of hers, but she loves you. A fool could see that."
"Xander," Buffy sighed when her friend's face fell. "Do you care about her?"
"Do you want to be with her?"
"Then you know what to do."
"Flowers and groveling?" Xander asked, expectantly.
"With that girl?" Spike nodded toward the stairwell, the way Anya had left. "Try fucking and grunting. That ought to do it."
"Thanks." Waving, Xander darted toward the stairway.
Spike chuckled and followed Buffy into her room. He wrapped his arms around her waist as she pulled a letter from an envelope on the box. "What is it, ducks?"
"Hmm, it's for you, Spike."
"Me?" He frowned and took the note, sitting on the edge of her bed. It read, 'Spike, I don't know if it means anything to you, but you're still my favorite childe. You always were and you always will be. Take care of her, take care of yourself and never forget that the gift I gave you isn't one you can return. She's your gift, Spike. The most precious thing I could give you. Love her for the rest of her life and one day, when she is gone, you find me and together, we'll remember her. I thought I would save you by making you human and giving you life, but all you needed was hers. Love her in the way that only you can and know that you've made me proud. -Angel'
Buffy kneeled beside him, stunned to see tears coursing down his cheeks. "Spike, are you okay?"
"Yeah. I just really hate that prick!"
"I hate him so much it makes me emotional."
"I'm sure that's what it is."
Spike growled at her in response, grabbed the package and opened it, pulling out three bags of blood and a leather pouch. Opening the pouch slowly, he ran his finger inside and pulled out a chipped piece of stone. He recognized it immediately. It was a piece of Lizzy's headstone. There was a hole in one end and a thin piece of twine ran through it. It had been in his pocket, where it always was, the night that he had been changed. He had not seen it since that night, but he had thought of it many times.
He realized that Buffy was still kneeling in front of him and ran his thumb over the stone before he handed it to her. "This is a piece of my past. I want you to have it."
She took it and examined it carefully. "I don't get it."
"One day you will. And when you do, me giving this to you will make sense. It's a piece of a headstone from someone who gave us this chance. She was my life when I was a mortal."
"Should I be jealous?" Buffy asked, mock seriously.
"No." He took her hand, the one holding the stone and kissed it. "Because my past is dead and I'm finally ready to move on."
She kissed his forehead, stood and dropped her towel. "Wanna toss a salad?"
He got to his feet and gripped her arms, then tossed her on the bed. "You're tossed."
"There has to be more to it than this." She told him, propping herself on her elbows.
"Hmmm," He slid his fingertips up her thighs and dipped between her legs, brushing against her clit. "More than this?"
"I think so." She clenched her teeth and let her legs fall apart.
Spike moved his hand up to her chest, causing her to flop back against the bed in exasperation. "Oh, I'm sorry, luv. Was I onto something there?"
Grinning, he ran his hand back between her legs, rubbing everywhere except her aching clit. She sat up and grabbed him, rolling them so that she was on top. With one swift motion, she impaled herself, causing them both to hiss in pleasure. "Yes. And now I'm onto something."
It was dawn before they slept and when they did, neither dreamed. Neither needed to.
Dec 23, 1999:
"So, things are good then?" Buffy asked Forest, as he stepped into the elevator at the back of Lowell House. She stepped in behind him and added, "Cause Willow is a great nursemaid. I should know."
"Willow is the best medicine." Forest agreed, stroking the ID bracelet she had given him as a Christmas present early. Since she was Jewish, she didn't follow the traditional giving of gifts on the twenty-fifth. "I'm crazy about her. I don't know what I'd do without her."
"She feels the same way." Buffy replied, glancing at the signatures on his cast. "I haven't signed that yet."
Hal glanced up from the paperwork at the main control deck when Forest, who still walked with a limp and still wore a cast, led Buffy out of the elevator. The two were talking quietly to one another and then Forest handed her a pen and held up his arm. She obliged him and jotted something down. Then he gave her a slight hug and went back into the elevator.
Buffy glanced at the handsome man standing beside a desk and headed toward him. "Excuse me. My name is Buffy Summers and I'm looking for Hal Walsh. He asked me to meet him here."
Chuckling, Hal shook his head. "It's me, kiddo."
Buffy's eyes widened and she hugged the man, recognizing his voice. "Hal!? You look-oh my god-you look amazing."
He patted her on the back and smiled as she stepped back to let her gaze wash over him. "I have retained my youthful exuberance, haven't I? Something about living under layers of demon flesh. It's the fountain of youth."
"You should bottle that. Well, except for the demon flesh part. So, you're completely cured?" Buffy perched on the edge of the desk and waited for his answer.
"I am." He laid the clipboard he was looking at down and motioned for her to follow him. "I called you down because you were so worried about those people in the infirmary. I thought you'd like to see that they're all fine. They think they're at a military hospital. They'll be home for Christmas."
Buffy hopped off the desk and trailed along behind him. "How are you going to explain what happened to them?"
"We're not. We have long reaching fingers in society, Buffy. We're transporting them to Sunnydale's hospital tonight, where the doctors there already have files that paint a very different picture than demon abduction." He climbed the stairs and paused at the second level. "One of the little girls has asked about you a million times. She keeps asking who the angel was that saved her."
"Can I see her?" Buffy brightened, thinking about how happy the child's family would be to have her back.
"Sure." Hal held the door open and walked further down the hallway. "You should know that Riley is in with them right now. He's been helping get them ready."
Buffy faltered, but nodded. "Okay."
Hal paused and looked down at her. "He's not mad at you. I think he understands that a person is only responsible for what they can control and you can't control you're feelings. No one can."
"Thank you." Buffy squeezed his hand and took a deep breath. Willow had told her everything she knew about Maggie and what Hal had done to her. "What about Maggie?"
"Unfortunately, my blood didn't take with her as well as I would have liked. The healing abilities that I possessed did not pass into her. I'm afraid that my research has just begun." He sighed, then shrugged. "But that's my job, right?"
"I have faith in you. And if I ever get sick, I'm coming to see you."
"You'll have to come a long way. We're moving the operation overseas. There's too much baggage here and one of our backers isn't pleased at all that so many people know about our operation."
Buffy was stunned and she slumped against the wall. "You're leaving?"
"I'll always be in touch." He gave her a quick hug and a peck on the forehead and tapped the glass. The blinds openedd and a young man peered out at them, then buzzed them in. "You go ahead. I'll talk to you later."
"Bye Hal." She said sadly and watched him walk away.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped into the room and looked at the people lying in beds. Several recognized her and jumped up, coming to hug her and thank her for saving them from the nets that night. She graciously accepted their praise and glanced around for the little girl. When she didn't see her, she started to ask, then heard someone clear their throat behind her. She turned and saw Riley standing in the doorway. The child was asleep in his arms and he nodded for her to follow him to another bed, where he laid the little girl down and brushed her hair back. "Hi, Buffy."
"Hey." Buffy forced herself to sound casual and smiled down at the little girl. "Where's the other one? There were two."
"She didn't make it." Riley lowered his voice and pulled the cover over the child's tiny body. "Maggie had her turned and we had to stake her."
"Oh god." Buffy struggled to control her anger at his mother, then shook her head. "If you ask me, what happened to Maggie was too easy."
Riley pursed his lips and nodded, "Not gonna argue."
Buffy lifted the girl's hand into hers and studied her face. "She looks good."
"You do too." Riley said, then looked away. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's okay."
"Are you happy? I mean, is it what you hoped for?"
"Yeah, it's that and a million other things."
"Then I'm glad you got what you wanted." He scanned the room, his eyes searching for anything other than her beautiful face. "I'm leaving town, Buffy. Tonight."
Buffy didn't know what to say, so she stayed silent and waited for him to continue. He took a deep breath and faced her again. "I wanted to see you again before I left. Forest told me that you are about to go to England with Giles and I wanted to give you something."
"You don't have to give me-." Buffy began.
Riley interrupted. "No, I think I do." He grabbed his jacket off the back of a chair and dug through the pockets until he found a cassette tape.
She took the tape and studied the label. "Hostile seventeen."
"Maggie has always been meticulous about keeping audio files. That's Spike on there and she got him to open up about his life and being changed and stuff. I thought you should have it."
"I don't know. Maybe to listen to on the plane, maybe so you would know who he is, or maybe because I think it proves that you were right." Riley shoved his hands in his pockets. "He's not like other vampires."
"Thank you." Buffy slipped the cassette into her purse, not planning on listening to it at all. Spike had told her what he wanted her to know and she wouldn't invade his privacy. "Riley, I want you to know that I never meant to hurt you."
"You did hurt me, Buffy. You hurt me more than you will ever know, but it's not important. What's important is that with us gone, you're on your own with the demons in this town. We won't be lurking in the woods waiting to take them out anymore. Be careful."
"I will be."
"Good." Riley looked at his watch and then sighed. "I should get going. I've got some loose ends to tie up."
"Okay. I understand. " She moved toward him, wanting to give him a hug, but he stepped away and held out his hand.
"It was a pleasure, Buffy" He said, as he gave her a firm handshake. "I won't lie, I'll always wonder what might have been."
"I'm sorry." She let go and watched him walk toward the door. "Riley?"
He paused and turned to face her. "Yeah?"
"You take care of yourself. It's a wild world out there."
"Yeah, it's wild. But there are people like you who can tame it. I sleep better at night knowing that." He winked at her. "Goodbye, Buffy."
Buffy shut her eyes as he closed the door, unable to watch him leave. So many people had gotten hurt in all of this. There wasn't a single unscathed person, except maybe Anya, who was now bragging that almost leaving Xander made him want to fornicate all the time. They had all changed in the days since Spike had been rescued. They had grown stronger, but they had also suffered a great deal.
"Don't cry." A small voice said.
Buffy wiped her face and smiled down at the little girl. "Hi."
"I've been waiting for you." She sat up and crossed her legs. "I'm going home later."
"I know. Are you excited?" Buffy pulled a chair next to the bed and sat down.
"Yes. It's almost time for Santa to come. He might not find me if I was here. How come you're sad?"
"I found out that a couple of friends are moving away."
"Don't you have any other friends?" The little girl studied her closely. "I'll be your friend."
"Thank you." Buffy replied, and let the child take her hand in hers.
"Is your name Elizabeth?" The child yawned and lay back down on her pillow.
"Yes, but everyone calls me Buffy."
"Buffy, when I was sleeping for so long, I kept seeing you and you were a ghost. You told me to call you Lizzy because William liked that and you kept bringing me back here when I would get lost in the clouds."
Buffy gasped, recalling the bits and pieces that Spike had told her about his past. "It-it wasn't me."
"Yes it was." The little girl closed her eyes and mumbled. "I knew you were an angel."
Buffy waited until she was asleep and made her way out to her car. She took the tape from her purse and slid it into the tapedeck. She listened as Maggie said the date, the time and disclosed the events leading to Spike's capture. Then she heard Spike's voice fill the car. "I was born with a temper in 1850. London was a dark and rancid place back then. I was born on a cold night in December and I think it was the twenty-fourth. Christmas Eve to some. Christmas Day found me bundled up and left inside a Catholic Church on one of the pews."
By the time the tape had ended, Buffy knew exactly what the stone meant and she knew exactly how Spike had happened to come back to her. She pulled the stone from her purse and held it to her chest. "Thank you, Lizzy. Sleep well."
Giles parked the car and stepped out, scanning the village that was situated at the bottom of the large hill they were on top of. He checked his map, glanced back down and nodded. "This is it."
Buffy felt cold chills dot her flesh as she thought about Spike being a human being and living his life just a few feet from where she stood. Angelus had been here. Drusilla had been here. And Spike had loved Elizabeth here. Buffy patted the stone in her pocket and cleared her throat. "Is that the cemetery?"
"What?" Giles glanced up from the map and nodded. "Sorry. Yes, this would be the cemetery for the village."
"I'll be right back." Buffy told him, then gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
He leaned against the car and watched as she walked up and down the rows of crumbling headstones. So far, they had been in Great Britain for three days. Buffy was mesmerized by it all, the shops, the inns, the cobblestone streets. He had shown her much of where he had grown up and he had enjoyed her company. She really listened to him and when she asked him questions, it was because she had a genuine interest. Smiling, he pulled his coat tighter around him and reached into the car to get Buffy's.
She had vanished behind a copse of trees and as he rounded the corner, he saw her kneel down beside a crumbling stone. She fished something from her pocket and laid it against the stone, then lowered her head and mumbled something. The wind picked up suddenly and he hurried toward her, wrapping her coat around her. The name on the headstone read Elizabeth Lawler and Giles kneeled beside Buffy. "Who was she?"
"Just someone I promised Spike I would say hello to." The wind whipped even harder and the piece of stone that Buffy had placed on the headstone rolled off. Buffy smiled. "I'll tell him you said hello too, Lizzy."
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