"Now, you just wait right here. I’ll go see who it is," he said, caressing her cheek. "Then we’ll get back to having fun."
Tears streamed down her face as she watched him leave the room. She struggled against the bonds that held her on the bed, trying desperately to break them before he returned.
"Where is that bloody doll," Spike said, digging through a trunk sitting by the fireplace in the old mansion. He had returned to Sunnydale after fulfilling what he had told Buffy and Angel - he’d gone to Brazil, tied Drusilla up and tortured her until she loved him again. Only afterward had he realized it made him sick to do that, sick that she enjoyed it, sick that Angelus had made her crave the pain like blood. He’d always worshipped her, was tender with her, gentle yet still passionate. He’d thought that was what she liked, what she wanted. He was wrong. Yet, here he was, back in the mansion looking for something for a woman he no longer loved, no longer craved, who was no longer his life.
"I swear I don’t know why I put up with you, Drusilla," he muttered as he continued to search.
"I don’t know why she put up with you, either," a voice said from behind him.
"Hello, pumpkin," Spike said mockingly, not bothering to turn.
"What are you doing back here, Spike?" he asked. "I thought we told you to get lost."
"Yeah, well, I don’t listen very well," Spike replied, head bent over another trunk. "Where’s your prettier half?"
"She’s a little tied up at the moment," he said with a smirk that wasn’t seen by the blond vampire. "What are you looking for? I’m only asking because I was in the middle of something, and I’d like to get back to it."
"Miss Edith," Spike told him. "Dru has been driving me batty about that bloody doll."
"Hmm. I think I saw her in here," he said, turning to the bedroom doorway. Spike looked up and over at his retreating back. "Come on, let’s look so you can leave."
Spike ran his hand through his short hair for the thousandth time, following behind the other vampire, wondering why he even bothered. So caught up in his self-depreciating thoughts, he didn’t see the woman lying tied to the bed, naked and bruised, her wrists bleeding from where the wire cut into them as he came into the room until his head shot up at the noise of a hammer being cocked.
Bullets won’t kill vampires, but they can incapacitate them, especially if the wielder of the gun was an expert at torture. And the vampire standing across five feet from him was one. In one sweeping glance, Spike took in the evil radiating from him, the cocky way he held himself, the almost casual tilt of his head and felt the dread settle in him. "Well, Angelus, I see you’ve lost your soul again."
"You could say that," Angelus replied with another smirk.
"Is there any reason as to why you’re pointing a gun at me?" Spike asked, debating his chances of getting out of the bedroom before his sire could shoot.
"Simple. I’m in the mood for a some fun," Angelus said, gesturing to the bed. "I was just going to amuse myself with little Buffy, but now that you’re here…"
Spike felt the world drop out under his feet when he saw the Slayer trussed up on the bed. His eyes took in her small form covered with scrapes and bruises, her wide, terrified eyes and wondered what had happened, how she managed to get caught.
"Here’s how this is gonna work," Angelus said. "You do what I say and I won’t put you back in traction. And you know I can do it. You’ve watched me do it."
Spike debated whether he should use the anger that was building in him to attack, but knew that Angelus was correct. His sire was a perfect shot, and it would only take one to have him on the floor. Instead, he willed his emotions under control. "What do you want me to do?" he ground out.
"Strip," Angelus instructed. He leaned casually back against the wall, watching as Spike slowly removed his clothing. When his childe was naked, he gestured to the bed with the gun. "Take off her gag."
Spike went to the side of the bed and sat next to the Slayer, reaching his hands behind her head to release the gag. She was staring up at him, fear and humiliation written across her features as he pulled the material out of her mouth. He made his own expression stay impassive as he waited for the next command.
"Make her come," Angelus ordered, sitting down in a chair. "I don’t care how."
Spike climbed onto the bed, lying on his side next to her so Angelus could see what he was doing. Tears had started to roll down her cheeks again, and he had to fight not to let it effect him. He propped his head up with his hand, letting the other run lightly over her collarbone, above her breasts, trying to relax her enough so he could proceed.
When the tears had stopped, he leaned forward and gently pressed his lips to hers, his fingers not stopping. He touched his tongue to her mouth, seeking entrance. He was surprised when she acquiesced, her own tongue tentatively meeting his. He let his hand drift lower, cupping one full breast and rubbing his thumb across her nipple. She tensed up again, and Spike broke away from her mouth, kissing down her jawline to her ear.
"Relax, Buffy," he whispered barely loud enough for her to hear. He used her real name on purpose, to comfort and reassure her. "I won’t hurt you." She relaxed perceptively next to him and he returned his mouth to hers, fingering her nipple until it peaked into a hard nub. He moved his hand to her other breast, repeating the action.
"You know, I get more excited watching paint dry," Angelus’ voice interrupted them. Spike stilled his hand, breaking the kiss, but not looking up at his sire. "Fuck her mouth."
Buffy tensed again, her eyes widening in fear as the blond vampire straddled her. He leaned down close to her, putting another pillow under her head. He implored her with his eyes, telling her silently to do as his sire instructed. She barely nodded and he touched her eyelids, closing them as he brought his semi-flaccid cock to her mouth.
She opened for him, her tongue darting out to lick the underside and it sprang to life. Stifling a groan of pleasure, he pushed between her lips, the moist heat of her mouth enveloping him, exciting him. He slowly began to pump in and out, making sure not to thrust too far as to choke her. Her eyes stayed closed, her body still, but she used her teeth and tongue on him, rubbing against his erection, scraping against the head.
"Go ahead and cum," Angelus told him. "I want to see her swallow."
His hands clenched into fists, but reigned in his temper and concentrated on the hot mouth around his cock. Soon, the sensations overwhelmed him and he bucked, spilling his cold seed down her throat. He felt her trying to swallow, the muscles contracting around his head, and he trembled slightly before pulling out of her mouth. He heard the sound of a zipper descending and closed his eyes, waiting.
"Over here, Spike," Angelus said, holding his stiff erection. Spike climbed off of Buffy and knelt before his sire, one eye on the gun pointed at his temple. "Watch us, bitch." Angelus grabbed the back of Spike’s hair and forced him to take in the large shaft to the hilt. Spike automatically relaxed his muscles and began to deep throat him. He could feel Buffy’s eyes staring at them with a combination of fascination and fear.
Angelus tensed under him, then the cold, salty semen filled his mouth. He swallowed and sat back on his heels, head down in submission. His mind was racing, however, trying to form a plan to get himself out, the Slayer, too, if possible.
"Did you like that, Buffy? I can smell your arousal from here," Angelus said, sneering at the blond. He kicked his foot at Spike. "Go eat her out. I want her to be slick and ready for me to pound her tight, little cunt."
Spike stood and went back to the bed, separating Buffy’s legs so he could lay between them. Her head was still propped on the pillows, giving her the ability to see him clearly. He smelled her arousal as well, then flicked her clit with his tongue. She jumped, her eyes growing round, and he let his gaze meet hers, holding it as he started to lick and suck. She began to writhe under his mouth, nearing orgasm, and he bit down on the hard nub with his blunt teeth, sending her over the edge with a small, forcefully muffled cry. He held her hips as she bucked against his face, drawing out the sensations until she collapsed in a puddle of nerve-endings.
"My turn," Angelus said, raising to his feet and letting his pants drop to the floor, his cock full and hard once more. He stepped out of them easily, the gun still trained on Spike. "Sit at the top of the bed." The blond vampire moved, settling next to Buffy’s head on the pillows, his mind at the ready. If there was going to be a good time to make an escape, it would be while his sire was fucking the Slayer.
Angelus pushed between Buffy’s legs and thrust into her, hard. He cupped his free hand under her ass, holding her pussy up to meet him, the other clutching the gun. Buffy raised her sad, defeated gaze to Spike’s, their eyes meeting briefly. He saw a message in them, telling him to be ready to attack, and he let all the rage he had bottled up to the surface.
Angelus grunted and began to orgasm, pounding rapidly into the Slayer until he made one, final thrust to the hilt, spilling himself deep inside her. That’s when she acted, wrapping her legs around his waist and yanking him down onto her. Spike sprang at the gun like a coiled tiger, sending it flying across the room before latching onto his sire’s back, one hand yanking his hair back, exposing his neck, the other grasping his wrist. He bent his head, sinking his fangs which had surfaced into the jugular as Angelus tried to get out of their combined grips.
The drained vampire slumped lifelessly onto Buffy, who let out a shriek. Spike moved quickly, dumping his sire onto the floor, then working to release the wires that held her hands. "Do you have a stake?" he asked, freeing her. She shook her head, scrambling to her knees on the bed.
Spike went over to his clothes, throwing his T-shirt and boxers to the naked girl after not seeing hers, then put on his jeans, red shirt and duster. "Hurry up. His survival instinct will pop up any moment now unless we stake him."
Buffy dressed quickly, her eyes roaming wildly around the room. He saw her smile bitterly, then get off the bed and upend the nightstand, breaking off the short, wooden leg. Before he could blink, she had plunged the small piece into his sire’s back, piercing his heart.
"Oh, god," she whispered, collapsing onto the pile of dust that was spread where Angelus had been. She began to sob, her body convulsing. With three steps, Spike had her in his arms, cradling her petite body to his as he left the mansion. He gently set her in his car, then hurried to the other side, leaving the old place with a squeal of his tires.
Spike kicked open the Summers’ front door, Buffy in his arms once again and left it wide open behind him. He carried her up the stairs and to her bedroom, not bothering to check if her mother was home. After setting her on the bed, he turned to go, but her choked voice stopped him.
"Don’t…don’t go," she begged. "Please." Spike nodded and returned to her side, sitting on the edge of the bed. She wiped her tears away, her body calm, and looked up at him. "Thank you."
He nodded again, reaching a hand out to brush the hair from her face. "Do you want me to get your mum?"
Buffy shook her head. "No." She winced as pain lanced up her body. "Can…will you help me to the shower?"
He stood and picked her back up, despite the protest that she could try to walk. He wasn’t quite sure why he hadn’t killed her now that he had the chance, instead of playing nursemaid. It would make Drusilla happy. He groaned mentally at the thought of his Black Queen. What would happen now that he helped kill Angelus, again? Maybe he just wouldn’t go back.
He put Buffy down on the closed toilet seat, then reached in the shower to turn on the water, warming it up. "I’ll give you a minute to relieve yourself," Spike said, closing the bathroom door as he went into the hall to retrieve some towels. *What am I doing?,* he thought. *Dru was right. I’ve turned into a bloody softie, especially where that damned Slayer is concerned.*
When he returned, he found her staring in the mirror, her face pale and haggard, her eyes weary and sad. Not anything like the spitfire he knew and loved. *Ok, that’s it. I’ve gone off the deep end,* he said to himself at the thought. *Time to get this show on the road.* He turned her around to face him, then pulled his shirt over her head. She gasped and tried to cover herself. "Don’t get your knickers in a bunch, Slayer, I’ve already seen it all."
He bent and pulled down the boxers, then picked her up and boldly put her in the shower. He watched as she slumped helplessly against the wall, beginning to cry with heart-wrenching sobs. Spike closed his eyes tightly, swearing to himself, then stripped off his clothes and climbed in behind her.
With out further thought, he pulled her into his arms, her back under the shower spray and let her cry. "That’s right, pet. Cry it all out," he murmured comfortingly, stroking her hair as she sobbed into his chest. When she finally calmed, she raised her head and gave him a tentative smile. "All better?" he asked. She nodded. "Then let’s get you cleaned up."
He picked up a bottle of shampoo from behind her as she wet her hair. Gently, he lathered the scented liquid into her blond locks, smiling slightly at the expression on her face as his hands massaged her scalp. "Rinse," he instructed, turning to pick up a washcloth and the soap. Carefully, he started with her bloodied wrists and hands, working his way up both arms, then over her shoulders, around her neck and down her back.
Wordlessly, he brought the soapy rag around her small waist, rubbing softly over the front of her body, then down both legs, the purpose of the shower being not for pleasure, but for healing, for reassurance, for comforting. He pushed her gently back under the spray, then quickly washed off his own body, exchanging places with her to rinse the soap away. He shut off the water, then pulled one of the towels from over the bar and wrapped it around her body, tenderly drying the moisture away as she stared at him, wide eyed with wonder.
He gave her a small smile, taking the second towel and wrapping it around his waist before helping her out of the shower. "Stay here," he said quietly, sliding his jeans up his wet legs under the towel, then leaving the bathroom. He went to her bedroom and turned down the bed. He walked over to the small stereo, chose a CD and put it in the player. He shut off the overhead light, leaving the room bathed in the soft glow from the lamp on the nightstand.
When he got back to the bathroom, he saw her sitting on the toilet seat, dressed once again in his boxers and black T-shirt. "Come on, pet," Spike said, lifting Buffy’s tired body in his arms and returning to the bedroom. He sat her down on the bed, then grabbed her hairbrush off the nightstand. He climbed behind her and began to brush the soft, blond hair as the soothing music filled the room. Spike finished, setting the brush aside as he stood. He pushed her gently back against the pillows, bringing the sheet up to her chin.
"I don’t want to be alone," she whispered, her voice still raw from crying. "I…I don’t care if we’re suppose to be mortal enemies… please…for tonight…"
He nodded, sliding under the sheet next to her and pulling her into the crook of his arms. He could hear her heart beating a sad staccato, feel her warm breath on his chest as he let his mind drift to the petite girl holding onto him like a lifeline. The feelings he had stubbornly repressed forced themselves to the surface of his thoughts, demanding to be reckoned with. He couldn’t pinpoint when his hate for the Slayer had turned into the complete opposite, only that somewhere along the line his respect and admiration for her strength, her courage, her wit, her undying loyalty to her friends and sacred duties had grown until he had to shove his emotions deep into his undead heart.
Buffy sighed, her breathing evening out as she slipped into sleep. Spike unconsciously tightened his arm around her as he replayed the events of this night over in his mind. On the whole, he was infinitely glad that he’d arrived when he did, even if he was forced to perform for his sire. Who knows what would have happened to the Slayer had he not been there. His brow furrowed as a hole seemed to tear in him when he tried to imagine life without the blond hellion at his side.
*Bloody hell,* he thought, glancing at the clock. *When did I go and get a bleedin‘ soul?* He picked up the phone on the nightstand and hit redial, hoping that one of the Slayer’s friends or her Watcher would answer.
"’Lo, Rosenberg’s," a sleepy voice said into the phone.
"Are you one of the Slay…Buffy’s friends?" Spike asked trying not to disturb the woman at his side. He heard a gasp at the other end of the line, then the sound of a light being turned on.
"What’s wrong with Buffy?" she asked, worry and fear in her voice.
"Relax, pet, she’s ok," Spike said.
He chuckled softly. "How’d you guess?"
"The…uh, accent," she responded. "What do you want? Where is she?"
"She’s here at her home," Spike replied. "I’m going to have to leave in a few hours and I don’t want to leave her alone."
"Um…ok," she said. "This is Spike, isn’t it?"
He laughed again, then quieted when Buffy shifted in his arms. "I’ll see you in a bit, ducks," he said, then disconnected the line. Setting the phone aside, he gently kissed the top of her hair, then closed his eyes, letting the tension drain from his body.
Willow, Xander and Giles approached the wide open front door cautiously. Loaded down with the weapons of their trade, the crept into the house. "Are you sure Spike said she was here?" Giles whispered, looking around the living room.
"Yes," Willow whispered back. "Maybe upstairs?" Giles nodded and the trio went silently up the stairs. They saw a light coming from a bedroom at the end of the hall. "Buffy’s room," she told him. When their heads peeked around the doorframe, their mouths dropped simultaneously at the sight of Buffy snuggled up against a shirtless Spike on the bed, both appearing to be asleep.
"Giles, what do we do?" Xander asked.
"Stay quiet, she’s trying to sleep," Spike answered quietly from across the room, startling the three. He opened his blue eyes to see a shaky crossbow pointed at him from the doorway. He arched one dark brow at Giles, who slowly lowered the weapon. Carefully, he extracted himself from under the Slayer’s body and stood up, pulling the sheet back over her sleeping form. He saw her frown, moving her hand as if searching for him, and smiled, tenderly brushing a lock of hair off her face.
He turned to the waiting threesome and quietly went over towards them, prepared to strike out or dodge in an instant. The two teens raised their crosses protectively, but he only flinched his head back. "Willow, right?" he asked the red head. She nodded. "Be a luv and sit in here with her while I have a talk with the Watcher. Oh, and keep the crossbow."
Willow scooted around him after taking the weapon from Giles, then sat gingerly on the desk chair as told. Spike glared at Xander, who, upon Giles nod, lowered his cross. "Let’s go to the kitchen," the vampire told them softly. "You lead. I don’t fancy a stake in my back." Stopping off at the bathroom to retrieve his red, button down shirt, Spike followed them downstairs, the boy almost tripping from watching him over his shoulder.
"Now, what’s this about?" Giles demanded, a stake and cross appearing from his pockets.
Spike glared at him as he buttoned up the shirt. "Put those bloody things away before I hurt you," he said.
"How do we know you’re not going to do that anyway, fang face?" Xander said defiantly, his own cross raised again.
"Look, do you want to know what happened to your Slayer or not?" Spike said. He saw the inner war happening behind Giles’ eyes, until he finally lowered the objects. Xander followed suit, putting the island counter between himself and the vampire.
"I’m listening," Giles said.
Spike leaned against the refrigerator door, his casual appearance belaying his alertness. "Did you know Angelus had returned?"
"Angel? Yes," Giles replied. "He came back sometime last October I-I believe."
"No, not soul-boy," Spike corrected. "Angelus."
Giles eyes widened and he removed his glasses to stare at the vampire in shock. "Are you saying that-that-that…"
"He fell off the soul wagon?" Xander finished, his voice raising at the end of the sentence. Spike nodded. "This is so not good."
"What happened to Buffy?" Giles asked, pain radiating from within at the monster’s return.
"I found her tied up at the mansion, freed her, killed him then came back here," he partially lied. It was up to her if she told them more.
"He’s dead?" Giles said. Spike nodded. "Are you certain?"
"Turned to dust before my very eyes," he replied.
"Then why didn’t you kill Buffy?" Xander said.
"It’s no fun to kill her when she doesn’t fight back," Spike answered. He turned his eyes to Giles. "She’s hurting. A lot."
"I suppose she is," Giles replied, then looked sadly down as he replaced his glasses. Spike nodded once more, then pushed off the refrigerator, going upstairs. He grabbed his socks, shoes and coat out of the bathroom before continuing on to the bedroom. Willow squeaked when he entered, but he ignored her. He sat on the edge of the bed and put his shoes on, studying the Slayer.
"Is…is she ok?" Willow asked with trepidation towards the vampire.
"She will be," Spike answered, tracing his finger down the side of Buffy’s face. "Tell her…I won’t go anywhere. Not unless she wants me to go."
"Uh, ok," Willow replied. Spike leaned forward and pressed his lips to the Slayer’s forehead, then left the room, a confused red head watching after him.
"Spike?" Buffy’s raw voice cried out, tossing on the bed. "Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please…"
Willow, Xander and Giles all jumped at the sound of the Slayer’s distressed cries, the Watcher at her side in an instant. He hesitantly touched her shoulder, shaking it slightly. "Buffy, wake up. Buffy?"
"Nooooo!" she screamed, sitting bolt upright in bed, her eyes open and wild, her hair tussled from thrashing on the bed. Giles backed a step away as Willow and Xander looked on, frightened at her terrified scream.
"Buffy…" Giles tried once again to get her attention. Buffy blinked several times, reality focusing in her eyes. She swallowed heavily, turning her head to see him and her two best friends. She continued to look around the room, the hazel orbs darting in the shadows, seeking, searching, needing…
"He had to leave, Buffy," Willow said quietly, knowing instinctively who she was looking for. "He said…he said to tell you he wouldn’t go anywhere…unless…unless you wanted him to go."
The three watched as Buffy practically folded in on herself. Her shoulders slumped, her head dropped, and the life seemed to leave the room around her form. She took a long, ragged breath, blowing it out sharply, then raised her hands to her face and began to cry.
Giles gestured helplessly to Willow, who quickly stood and joined Buffy on the bed, pulling the blond into a tight, comforting hug. "Giles, would you make Buffy some tea with honey for her throat? Xander, will you get a cool, wet washcloth for me?"
Both men nodded and left the room as the red head rocked Buffy in her arms, murmuring comforting phrases.
Xander returned, pressing the cold rag into Willow’s hand, then resuming his seat on the desk chair. He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees as he studied Buffy with worried eyes. "Willow, look at her wrists," he whispered, pain lacing his own voice.
Willow brushed Buffy’s hair back to see the deep gouges that had scabbed over because of her accelerated healing rate. She didn’t see any other obvious wounds, but it was possible there were some under the black T-shirt and boxers she wore. Buffy began to calm down and the hacker took the opportunity to put the cool rag into her hands. She immediately put it over her face, holding it there as her cries tapered off to heavy breathing.
Giles returned, mug of not-too-hot tea in his hand, and stood next to the bed. "Buffy, Giles has some tea for you. It’ll make your throat feel better," Willow said softly.
Buffy lowered the rag from her face, reaching out for the proffered mug without raising her head. She took a small sip and felt the heat sooth her raw throat, warming her from the inside. "Thanks," she whispered, tucking her hair behind her ear with one hand. Willow was glad to note that while her eyes were red and puffy from crying, there were no other marks visible on her face.
"Buffy, where is your mother?" Giles asked, keeping his voice pitched low so as not to scare the girl.
"Seattle. Buying trip," she answered, then took another sip of the tea. "Gone until Saturday."
"Shall I call you off of school today?" he said. Buffy nodded.
"Do you want me to call off, too?" Willow asked.
"No. You guys go ahead. I’m gonna try to get some more sleep," Buffy mumbled in response. "Wait, what time is it?"
"Six thirty," Xander answered. "Are you sure you want us to go?"
She nodded again. "Yeah," she said, handing the tea back to Giles and lying back on the pillows. She smiled weakly at them. "Thanks. I’ll be ok after a little more sleep."
"Very well, Buffy," Giles said, setting the mug on her nightstand. "If you should need anything, do not hesitate to-to call."
Willow squeezed her shoulder and climbed off the bed as Giles and Xander left the room. "Buffy, if you want to talk…"
"I’ll let you know," Buffy finished with a sad smile for her best friend. Willow gave her a small wave, then left.
There were cracks in her ceiling. Little tiny cracks that could barely be seen from her position on the bed. Buffy hadn’t moved since they left, she just lay and stared at the ceiling, her bladder burning for her to get up. Her mind kept playing over and over the events that occurred the night before, starting with the instant she knew Angel had lost his soul up until she shoved the stake into his heart.
Tears burned in her eyes again, and she pressed the heels of her hands into them, trying to stop them from falling. She let out a choked sob, then gave into the pain that was eating at her mind, her heart, her soul. A short while later, her tear ducts empty, she forced herself to get out of bed to use the bathroom. When she saw herself in the mirror, she gasped. Her face was red from where she rubbed her cheeks, her eyes swollen and bruised from crying, but worst was the pain that reflected from those eyes. Pain that was so deep, it cut to the very core of her being.
"I have to get out of here," she mumbled, quickly leaving the bathroom. She threw on a pair of sneakers and climbed out the window into the dreary, spring day.
She found his car less than a block away.
The black DeSoto with its spray painted windows sat parked on the side of the road under a tall oak tree, whose branches arched over the street, bathing it in shadows. Buffy leaned over the windshield, peering into the dirty interior through the small clear patch of glass, seeking the car’s owner. Spike was in the back seat, one leg bent, the other propped up on the door, sleeping. She absently noted that he had changed clothes and was curious as to how many black T-shirts he owned.
Buffy looked up at the cloudy sky, then tried the driver’s side door, somewhat surprised to find it unlocked. She quickly climbed in, letting as little of the day in as possible. The car smelled of cigarettes, alcohol, and stale air, the usual occupants not caring if it was clean or not. She looked over the side of the seat, wondering if her presence had waken him. It had not.
She rubbed her face wearily, then carefully climbed over the seat. She scrunched up next to him in the little room that he left, her head on his chest, her right arm holding her against his body. Her mind flickered briefly to the possibility of being killed when he woke, but it disappeared as her eyes drifted shut and sleep claimed her.
Spike woke the instant the sun faded past the horizon. He had slept much longer than he normally did, the past night’s activities and emotions having drained him, and was a bit disoriented when he felt the warm body at his side, heard the gentle beating of a sleeping heart, smelled the scent that was unique to one woman. His Slayer.
He ignored the bloodlust that was raging inside him, having learned to control it over the centuries, especially after the petite blond girl at his side forced him into a wheelchair. He lifted his left arm from over his eyes and looked down at the top of her sleeping head. He had purposely stayed close to her house, defying his nature to seek shelter out of the sun by choosing to sleep in the backseat. He had left the driver side door unlocked just in case she sought him out, somehow knowing that she would despite who he was, what he was.
He didn’t want to disturb her, but figured that her friends would be wondering where she was, worried that she was missing from her bed. "Slayer, you need to wake up," he said quietly, moving is right arm from under his head to gently stroke her hair. He heard her inhale deeply as she swam back into consciousness.
"Spike?" Buffy mumbled, her voice hoarse from crying and sleeping. "What time is it?"
"The sun just went down, pet," he replied, still running his hand over her hair. "I bet your friends are worried about you."
She pushed herself up, perching on the edge of the seat and looked down at him. She had huge, dark circles under her haunted eyes, her expression a mixture of misery and pain. "I guess," she said.
Spike sat up as well, then unlocked the back door and slid out, leaving his duster, which he used as a pillow, behind. He bent and looked in the open door, holding his hand out to her. Buffy accepted it and climbed wearily out of the car, her shoulders slumped. Without another thought, he picked her up, shutting the car door with his hip and began the short walk to her house.
"I can walk," Buffy said, laying her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes.
"I know you can, pet," he replied. He pushed open the broken door with his foot, then went inside, nudging it shut behind him without putting her down. He carried her up the stairs to her bedroom as he had the night before and found Willow and Xander speaking angrily to each other as he entered. He almost laughed at the yelp the boy let out.
"Hi, guys," Buffy said in a low, tired voice as Spike set her gently on the bed.
"Buffy, are you ok?" Willow asked, nervously eyeing the blond vampire. "We were scared when we didn’t find you here."
"Sorry," she apologized. "I needed to…not be here."
"Slayer, I have to go out," Spike said, his blue eyes conveying his needs. She studied him for a moment, then nodded. He turned to walk out the door when she stopped him.
"Will you…come back?" she asked with hope and fear in her voice. Hope that he would, fear that he would not.
"Yes, luv, I will," he said with a reassuring smile, then left after he saw the relief evident on her face.
Xander and Willow watched the exchange silently. As soon as he was gone, Xander started to speak angrily. "I don’t like this, Buffy," he said. "Spike has tried to kill us how many times? Haven’t you learned your lesson with Angel?"
Buffy inhaled sharply at his attack, tears filling her eyes once more. "Xander, please don’t…"
"Don’t what? Tell the truth?" he snapped. "I’m happy he saved you and all, but he wouldn’t have had to if you weren’t with Deadboy!"
Willow’s slap across the boy’s cheek echoed in the room, her eyes furious. "Xander, shut up! She’s been through enough without your petty jealousy and anger over Angel."
The anger left his face as he looked over to the huddled, crying figure on the bed. "Oh, god, Buffy. I’m sorry. I just don’t want anything to happen to you."
"Too late," she whispered between her tears. "Something already has…and now he’s gone."
Willow sat on the edge of the bed, putting a comforting hand on the Slayer’s leg as she calmed down. "Do you want to tell us what happened?"
Buffy wiped the tears from her face, the raised her pain-filled gaze to her two best friends. "Can I get a group hug, first?" she asked tentatively. Willow nodded and wrapped her arms around her as Xander climbed on the bed to embrace them both. "Thanks," she told them softly.
"I’m really sorry, Buffy," Xander said.
Buffy nodded. "It’s ok, Xand," she replied, extracting herself from the hug. "Do you mind if I go take a shower?"
"Go ahead," Willow said. "I’ll call Giles and let him know you’re ok." She gave the red head a small smile, then left the bedroom. Willow turned to Xander. "Sometimes you can be such an insensitive…mean guy. If you weren’t my best friend, I’d be really mad at you."
"I’m sorry, Wills," Xander said, giving her his best puppy dog look.
"Forgiven," Willow said. "But if you say anything to hurt Buffy’s feelings for the rest of tonight, I’ll uh, turn you into a-a-a fish!"
"I’ll be good, I promise," he replied.
"Ok. Why don’t you go make Buffy something to eat, I’m going to call Giles," she said. Xander nodded and left the room as Willow picked up the phone, dialing the number and extension from memory. "Giles? It’s Willow. Buffy’s here, safe and sound."
"Where was she?" Giles asked over the line.
"Don’t know. Spike brought her back," Willow replied.
"Is…is he there?" Giles said, worriedly.
"No. But I think he’ll come back," she answered. "Buffy sort of asked him to. Come back, that is."
"Oh…I guess I had better hurry over there," he said. "I stopped by the market to pick up some things to fix the door. If you could have Xander find some tools, it-it would be most appreciative."
"Ok, Giles. See you when you get here," Willow replied, hanging up after his good-bye, then went downstairs to help Xander.
Spike could hear the Slayer’s two friends talking in the kitchen as he re-entered the house. Ignoring them, he silently made his way back up the stairs, pausing by the bathroom door when he heard the shower running. He knocked, then opened the door. "Pet?" The underlying sound of crying in the shower was his answer. He stepped into the steam filled room, closing the door behind him, his undead heart going out to her.
He pushed open the shower curtain to see her sitting on the floor, her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth under the hot spray. As he did the night before, he quickly stripped and climbed in behind her, sitting on the floor and enveloping her with his arms and legs around her body. "Shh. It’s ok, luv. Everything’s going to be ok," he cooed, leaning his cheek on her wet hair, rocking with her.
Buffy’s cries tapered out and she slowly stopped rocking as she let his strength and comforting seep into her, warming her with his cool embrace. She took a deep, ragged breath and let it out slowly. "I’m turning into a prune," she joked weakly. His laughter rumbled in his chest pressed against her back.
"Ready to get out, ducks?" Spike asked, letting his hands rub gently up and down the sides of her arms.
"Yeah, I’d better before they send out the coast guard," she replied, a wry note in her voice. Spike helped her to stand, then raised himself to his feet as she shut off the water. He grabbed the same towel as he used the night before and wrapped it around his waist before turning his attention on her with the other one. "You know, a girl can get to like this," she said as he gently rubbed her body dry.
"Maybe one day we’ll try it under different circumstances, pet," Spike replied, settling the towel around her shoulders, then tapping her nose with his finger. He held her hand as she stepped out of the tub, then quirked a brow as she grabbed his clean boxers and shirt from where he piled his clothes and put them on.
She noticed his look and smiled, the flash of white splitting across her lips pure heaven to him. "They’re…uh, comfortable."
"It’s ok, Slayer. I’ll just charge the cost of your washer," he replied, climbing out and sliding on his jeans under the towel, then used it to dry his chest and arms. "Come on, luv. I think your friends made you something to eat."
He picked up the rest of his clothes, minus the stuff Buffy had in her arms, then followed her down the hall to her bedroom. While he slipped on his socks and shoes, he watched as she moved around the room, brushing her hair and putting long tube socks on her own feet, pulling them up to the top of her calves. Standing, he put the red shirt on, not bothering to button it, and held out his hand. "Ready?"
She sighed. "Yeah. I am kinda hungry," she replied, putting her smaller, warm hand in his. She gave it a quick squeeze, then let him lead her out the bedroom door.
Willow, Xander and Giles, who had arrived a few minutes before, all looked up when Buffy and Spike entered the kitchen. He gave her hand a squeeze this time, then dropped it and leaned casually against the doorframe. The two teens noticed his change of dress, but only commented on his arrival.
"When did you come back?" Xander said to him, slight anger hinting in his voice.
"Xander," Buffy said with warning not to screw around with her. She sat at the stool they left empty for her, picked up a fork and began to move the food they made around on the plate. The kitchen was silent as they waited for her to begin. When she didn’t, Giles cleared his throat.
"Buffy, Willow said you were going to-to-to tell us what happened?" Giles prompted
Spike watched her carefully as she nodded, then continued to push the food around her plate. She looked over towards him briefly, then back down. "Do you want me to leave, pet?"
"No, please stay," she answered, her voice starting to choke up again. He saw the tears form in her eyes and quickly walked over to her, ignoring the sharp gasps and scrambling of her friends. He turned her on the stool, putting his arms around her shoulders. She pressed her face into his bare stomach, her own arms circling around his waist as she silently cried.
He looked over at the others, first Xander, then Willow and finally Giles, noting their expressions and reading their body language. He impressed into their minds with one look that he wasn’t leaving, that he wasn’t going to hurt her, that he’d hurt them if they tried anything. He felt the Slayer’s tears ebb before she slowly pulled away. He let her turn back to face the counter, but stayed standing next to her within reach.
"Angel…lost his soul again," Buffy started woodenly, eyes downcast. "I didn’t know until it was too late. He…he…tied me up with wire, then r-r-raped m-me." Spike put his hand on her shoulder, lending her his strength as the others shot him horrified looks. He nodded at their silent question of truth as she went on. "Then Spike came and rescued me," she somewhat lied. "And Angel is gone…forever."
Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, the silence in the room thick with emotion. "If I may ask, how did Angel lose his soul?"
"I forgave him." She said it so quietly it was as if she said nothing at all.