Two strange creatures attacked as the foursome made their way to the stairs, but they were quickly
dispatched by Buffy and Spike. By unspoken agreement, Buffy took the lead as they walked up the
obsidian, torch-lit hallway, holding her head high as she fought back her own long-buried feelings
about sending Angel to hell. Spike took up the rear, putting his Sire in front of him in order to give
the older man a sense of security. Willow walked almost next to the dark-haired vampire, touching
his arm or hand often in comfort.
The group breathed a collective sigh of relief when they reached the steps heading down to the fifth
level. As they descended, the moaning and other sounds of the fourth level dissipated, leaving them
in blessed silence save for the soft crackling of the torches on the walls. Buffy was the first to speak.
"That was fun of the not variety," the Slayer commented, stepping out onto the fifth level.
"Ellie did warn us that it wasn't going to be all blood and guts," Spike said.
"That's right," Willow said. "She told us that we'd also need a strong heart, mind and will to get
through." She glanced up at Angel. "I think that level was meant to scare us into trying to leave."
"Well, it didn't work," Angel stated. He turned around and yelled up the stone steps, "It didn't
work!" He gave his friends a small smile. "I feel better. Like a moron, but better."
"I hate to tell you this, mate," Spike said, clapping his Sire on the shoulder. "You are a moron, so
there's no surprise there."
"Takes one to know one," Buffy commented in a stage whisper.
Spike shot her a glare and she smiled with fake innocence. "Was that suppose to be funny, pet?"
"Funnier than your lame attempt at humor," Buffy replied.
"You're not going to be laughing when I tear your head off, Slayer," Spike said, taking a step closer
"But I will be laughing when you turn to dust," Buffy retorted, taking a step closer to him.
"Is that a threat?" Closer.
"It's a fact." Closer.
"Oh, I'm scared." Closer.
"You should be." Closer.
A soft, swirling, blue glow slowly grew on the wall across from the stairs.
"I could rip your throat out before you even got close enough to stake me, Slayer," Spike said, now
standing toe-to-toe with Buffy.
A stake appeared in Buffy's hand. "Want to try that theory out?"
Angel plucked the stake from Buffy's hand and glared at the two blonds. "Enough is enough," he
growled, his pain from the memories the fourth level channeling into anger. "The next one of you
two to start a fight is going to be taken over my knee and spanked like the child you're acting as."
"He started it." "She started it." Buffy and Spike said simultaneously. They glared at each other.
"You started it," Buffy said.
"You started it," Spike countered.
"I think not," Buffy said.
"Oh, I think so," Spike retorted.
"Look who's talking."
"GUYS!" Willow exclaimed loudly. "Can we just move on already?!" The redhead turned to the
hallway on the left and stormed away.
"Bloody twit," Spike growled at Buffy, then pushed passed her to follow Willow.
"Stupid vampire," Buffy muttered, stomping off after Spike.
Angel ground his teeth together, tucked the stake into his sleeve, and headed after the trio.
The swirling blue glow began to shrink again until it vanished completely.
"Willow wait," Buffy called, jogging to catch up with the angry redhead. She was about to bypass
Spike when the peroxide-blond vampire stuck out his foot and tripped her. Buffy fell forward onto
her knees, scraping her hands when she hit the ground.
"Walk much, Slayer?" Spike sneered.
Buffy's head whipped up as her eyes narrowed into deadly slits. "You are so going to die."
Spike laughed and continued walking up the hall.
The blond Slayer rose to her feet, her body coiled to launch herself at Spike from behind. Angel
forestalled her, however, by stalking past her at a fast clip, his long stride easily eating up the
distance. She watched as the dark-haired vampire grabbed Spike by the back of the neck and
propelled him into a side hallway. Buffy then saw that Willow had not stopped and ran after her
friend before the redhead became accidentally separated.
"Willow, stop!" Buffy called loudly, catching up to her. "We have to wait for Spike and Angel."
"Sigh," Willow said, stopping. She glanced back the way they came, then gave Buffy an upset look.
"I wish you would stop fighting with Spike. You could get hurt. Or dead. Or worse."
"We always fight," Buffy said in her defense. "It's normal. And we have yet to kill each other in
"But you had a stake," Willow said.
"He would have knocked it out of my hand because I would let him," Buffy told her. "Then we
would have beat on each other for a few minutes, traded insults, then moved on. We do it almost
Willow frowned at Buffy, then her eyes grew wide as something dawned on her. "You have UST!"
the redhead exclaimed.
"I do not," Buffy said. "I got my shots for that just last month."
Willow giggled. "No, silly. UST isn't a virus. You want to..." She thought a moment, then
finished her sentence with a grin. "...Do naked things involving chocolate and him."
Buffy began to sputter. "I do not. He's...he's...Spike! The peroxide bane of my existence! Even if
he does have the sexiest arms I've ever seen does not mean I want to see him covered in chocolate..."
The Slayer's eyes grew bigger as a picture of a quite naked, chocolate-drizzled Spike popped in her
head. "No. Spike. Bad. Evil. Annoying. Naked. Aah!" she half-screamed, hitting her hands on
her forehead, as if she could beat the image away. "I don't want him!"
It was just perfect that there was what looked to be a fallen, stone crossbeam sitting end up a short
way down the side hall. He shoved Spike ahead of him, his grip tight on the back of the blond's
neck, over Spike's ponytail.
"Ow, you git!" Spike snapped, his longish hair getting pulled painfully. "Let go!"
"I warned you," Angel said in a low tone. He released Spike the same time he sat down on the stone
crossbeam. When his Childe whipped around as Angel knew he was going to do, the dark-haired
vampire boldly grabbed Spike's arm and yanked the younger man down across his lap.
"What the bloody hell-"
Angel's hand cracked down on Spike's ass, causing the blond vampire to stop speaking abruptly
from shock. His Sire was spanking him, Spike thought unbelievably, as a second hard smack came
down on his behind. He snapped out of his stupefied surprise and tried to get away.
"Let go of me, pillock!" Spike exclaimed.
The dark-haired vampire tightened his hold on Spike's waist, pulling the younger man more firmly
against his stomach, so Spike's hip bone pressed hard into Angel's body. His other hand rained
down with as much force as he could put behind the hits. The feelings invoked from the fourth level
had fully transmuted into anger.
"I don't care what happened upstairs," Angel growled as he spanked the blond. "I told you-"
"I don't want to hear any excuses!" Angel snapped at Spike. "I," smack, "told," smack, "you,"
smack, "what," smack, "would," smack, "happen!"
Angel didn't stop until his hand throbbed, and then he added a few more hits for good measure.
Spike had ceased struggling against Angel partway through the spanking, and just hung over his
Sire's lap, a part-scowl, part-pout on his face. His ass stung and was more than likely bright red
under his hose.
Neither one of them had noticed the swirling, blue glow that slowly appeared on the wall a little
further down the obsidian hallway from them.
"It's okay, Buffy," Willow comforted the distraught blond Slayer. The two girls were sitting on the
floor in the middle of the hallway. "You're allowed to lust after Spike."
"Nooo," Buffy whined, her face in her hands. "Vampire bad. Spike very bad."
"I bet that Spike would be very good," Willow countered, tongue in cheek. Buffy flicked the
redhead off. Willow laughed. "Oh, come on, Buffy. You've seen Spike naked before. Don't tell
me you didn't look and fantasize."
"I'll have you know that I never looked," Buffy said, dropping her hands to scowl at Willow. "I
was too busy patching the idiot up to look."
Willow arched her brow in skepticism. "Six years, Buffy. Six years of working side-by-side, very
close together, playing doctor on each other..."
"Shut. Up." Buffy felt her face starting to flame. "I don't even like like him."
"Yeah, but you want to jump his British undead body," Willow said with a wink. "You vampire-wanting slut you."
Buffy smacked Willow on the arm. "Willow!"
"...Stupid, bloody Slayer. This is all her soddin fault. I should have killed the little chit when I had
Both girls looked up as Spike came walking stiffly down the hallway, a scowl on his face, muttering
to himself. He shot Buffy an evil glare, then continued past them.
"...Slowly torture her for years until she begs me to kill her. Then I'll torture her more..."
Willow glanced at Buffy and saw that the Slayer had blushed scarlet. She burst out laughing. Buffy
growled an obscenity at the redhead, stood, and with her head down, walked after Spike. The
redhead rolled onto her back, clutching her stomach, her laughter echoing off the obsidian.
Angel stopped by her prone body and looked down at her in question. She pressed her lips together,
trying to stifle her mirth.
"Care to share the funny?" Angel asked, offering her a hand up.
"UST," Willow answered.
Angel looked down the hall at the two blonds walking with angry steps. A smirk tugged up his lips.
"You're right. I don't know why I didn't see it before. With the amount of fighting those two do..."
"It's Moonlighting, only with a little more violence," Willow said, still giggling. They started
walking up the hall after the other two. "Gotta love that unresolved sexual tension."
"So, what should we do about it?" Angel asked, devilish mischief dancing in his eyes.
"Well, I told Buffy that she wants to do the horizontal hokey-pokey with him all naked and
chocolate-covered," Willow said. "Now she won't be able to look at Spike without thinking about
"You're evil," Angel said. "Maybe I should have had Buffy spank Spike instead of me."
Willow stopped walking and turned to look up at Angel, her mouth dropping open. "You did what
"I said I was going to spank whichever one of them started the next fight," Angel said. "So I did."
Willow started to laugh again, leaning against the obsidian wall. "Oh goddess, I wish I could have
"Next time, I'll video it," Angel said with a grin.
"Spike must be so--Angel!" Willow squeaked, her arms flailed out in front of her as she started
falling backwards, the wall behind her disappearing into a blue, swirling glow.
"Willow!" Angel exclaimed, catching the attention of Buffy and Spike, who were over a hundred
feet up the hall from them.
"Angel!" Buffy yelled upon seeing what was happening. "No!"
The blond Slayer started to run back down the hallway, but she felt as though she were running in
slow motion. She witnessed Willow completely falling back through the wall, then heard Angel yell
Willow's name again before he jumped into the wall after the redhead.
"Nooooooooo!" Buffy screamed, as the swirling blue started to shrink. "ANGEL!!"
Buffy reached the wall just as the blue glow vanished.
"No, no, no, no, no!!" Buffy yelled, pounding on the obsidian wall in front of her. "Come back!
Spike wrapped his arms around Buffy from behind, pulling her away from the wall. "Slayer, they're
"No!" Buffy fought against him. "We have to get them back!"
"Stop it!" Spike growled loudly, squeezing her even tighter. "Beating on the bloody wall won't get
The fight suddenly left Buffy as the first batch of tears sprang to her eyes. "Oh god," she whispered
in horror. "Oh please god no."
Spike released Buffy only to turn her to face him. He pulled her back into an embrace as she started
to cry, whispering for what just occurred not to have happened. His own heart had dropped and a
slow, chilling feeling crept up his spine, as he stared at the black obsidian his Sire had gone through
moments ago after Willow.
For the first time in forever, he prayed.
Flowers. Everywhere there were flowers. Their perfumed scent was strong, floating up from the
ground to Willow's nose. When she had fallen back through the wall, she landed in the soft field of
them, looking up into a lightly clouded, blue sky.
Upon standing, she found that she wasn't outside, but that the ceiling of what looked to be a never-ending room was painted to resemble the sky. White petals clung to her dress and her hair, and
when she shook it, instead of the petals falling to the ground, they became little white butterflies and
She took a deep breath of the sweet fragrance and smiled. Picking up the hem of her skirt, she
lightly danced around in a circle, giddy for no particular reason.
Willow stopped and turned to see Angel standing there among the field of flowers, looking
perplexed. She smiled broadly at him. "Hi Angel!"
"Are you okay?" Angel asked, walking over to her. He frowned when she swayed, her actions
reminding him of a certain brunette vampiress he knew.
"I'm fine," Willow replied. She gestured with her hand to the flowers. "Isn't this beautiful?"
"It is," Angel agreed. "But we need to get back to Buffy and Spike."
"Maybe we should leave them alone for a little while," Willow said, grinning mischievously. "See
if they can get something resolved."
"That was bad, Willow," Angel told her, shaking his head.
Willow giggled and lifted her skirts, dancing around in the flowers again. As her feet kicked at the
petals, little butterflies appeared and flew away.
Angel frowned again at the redhead. "Willow. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, Angel," Willow repeated. "In fact, I'm wonderful." She took a deep breath and smiled.
"It's been a long time since I've stopped to smell the flowers. They smell great, don't they?"
Angel inhaled, the perfumed scent tickling his nose, and after a moment he smiled at her in return.
He inhaled again and let it out quickly. "That they do."
He bent and picked a flower, sniffed it, then held it out to Willow. "For you, M'Lady," he said with
a small bow.
"For me?" Willow took the flower and curtseyed at the same time. "Thank you, Sir." She held the
flower to her nose and sniffed. "Mmm, pretty."
"Not as pretty as you," Angel told her. He took the flower back from her and tucked the soft, green
stem behind her ear. He brushed backs of his fingers down the side of her cheek. "Nothing is as
pretty as you."
Willow colored faintly, ducking her head. She looked up at him under her lashes. "You're making
me all blushy."
Angel lifted his hand again and touched her forehead near her hair. He slowly ran it down her nose,
over her lips and her chin, then down the column of her throat to the neckline of her bliaut. Her
breath hitched and a seductive smile pulled up his lips.
"I wonder how much of your body your blush covers," he said in a silky voice, lightly tracing along
the top of the bodice. He leaned closer to her and inhaled the perfumed scent of the flowers before
purring, "I'd really like to find out."
Willow raised her head, the green in her eyes deepening to a dark emerald color. Without a word,
she reached behind her with one hand and pulled the tie that held the bodice of her dress to her. She
then shrugged her shoulders slightly and the soft material slid down and off her arms.
Angel's own eyes darkened and he growled deep in his chest as he drank in the sight of the partially
naked woman before him. His gaze roved over her faintly flushed skin. He saw her tongue dart out
to moisten her lips, and he had her in his arms in a single move.
His mouth came down upon hers without hesitation. They both inhaled sharply at the first touch of
their lips, the flowery scent filling their senses. His hands spanned the warm, bare skin of her back,
pulling her up against him. Her arms wove up around his neck, holding his head down to hers as the
kiss deepened, their tongues twining together in an erotic dance.
Angel broke the kiss with a protested whimper from Willow. He released her with a lust-filled
expression on his face, promise in his eyes to continue in a moment. Under her desirous gaze, he
stripped out of his clothing completely, until he was standing naked before her.
The redhead inhaled the sweet air slowly, her eyes traveling up and down Angel's hard, muscular
form. Her fingers reached behind her again, and she loosed the rest of her dress to allow it to fall
down around her feet. She quickly divested herself of the reminder of her garments, then stepped to
Angel recaptured Willow up in his arms, his lips finding hers again. Their tongues tangled together,
fueling their desire. He broke away again only to lower her to the soft bed of flowers, their scent
Buffy and Spike walked side-by-side in silence, identical feelings of dread hovering over them.
They had stayed in the same spot where Willow and Angel had disappeared for several hours before
deciding to leave a note saying they went on. Neither one wanted to think of the fact that an
unsouled Angelus could be the one to find it.
They reached the stairs without a single problem or encounter. Buffy gave Spike a pained smile
before starting down them. At the bottom, she looked out over the vast, open room, then sat down
heavily on the bottom stone step, dropping her short bow and closed quiver of arrows on the floor in
front of her. She pulled the bag she carried off over her head and let it join the bow and quiver.
"I can't do this, Spike," Buffy said when the blond vampire sat down beside her. "I can't take not
knowing if the rest of my dream is going to come true or not. If Angel..." She stopped and took a
shaky breath. "If Angel is going to lose his soul."
"I won't let him hurt you, luv," Spike said softly, putting his arm around her shoulder and pulling
her closer to him. "If the sod even looks at you wrong, I'll stake the bloody bastard."
Buffy turned her head, her face inches from his, and met his blue eyes. "Promise?"
"I promise, Buffy," Spike told her. "I'll never let anyone else hurt you. That's my job."
He gave her a slight, devilish grin and she laughed lightly. Then, without warning, he leaned
towards her and gave her a brief, soft kiss on the lips.
Buffy stared at him in shock. Never in all the six years they'd laughed and cried and beat each other
up had Spike kissed her on the lips. He'd kissed her forehead, the top of her head, her cheek and one
time her ass when she mooned him; but never, ever on the mouth.
Then he went and did it again.
Spike's lips were soft as he brushed them lightly back and forth across hers. He asked, rather than
demanded, for her to return the kiss. Her stomach fluttered when his tongue ran lightly against her
lower lip, seeking entry. In return, her own tongue darted out to caress his bottom lip.
The blond vampire inhaled quickly at her action, then tilted his head to deepen the kiss. His hand
raised off of her shoulder to cup the back of her head, increasing the pressure of his mouth on hers.
Their tongues met halfway, silently speaking in a whole new language.
Buffy's hand came up to touch Spike's cheek, turning her body more towards his on the step. He
did the same, and their knees pressed together as they leaned closer to each other. All her thoughts
were focused on the feel of his lips upon hers, his tongue sweeping the inside her mouth, sending
tendrils of electricity through her.
Spike pulled away first, slowly, almost reluctantly, his lips lingering on hers. He heard her take a
shaky breath, and opened his eyes to meet her large, luminous ones. He searched her gaze for anger
or disgust, but all he saw was amazement and surprise.
Her hand moved from his cheek to his mouth, her fingertips covering his lips, and his tongue darted
out to give them a small lick. She inhaled sharply, her eyes dropping to focus on her hand and his
mouth. He lifted his left hand and captured the back of her right, moving her hand only to press a
kiss in the center of her palm, the tip of his tongue brushing against her skin.
A shiver ran through Buffy's body, and her eyes met Spike's blue ones again. With flecks of silver
and rimmed with gold, his eyes spoke of desire, of the promise of pleasure, and of something more.
Her heart sped up and her mouth went dry as images of their nude bodies moving together flitted
through her mind.
Spike saw her eyes darken, and when her tongue came out to moisten her lips, he slowly hissed
through his teeth. The budding erection beneath his coarse hose became rock hard and wanting.
However, there was something he wanted more than to feel her body surround him.
"Turn around," he instructed gruffly, his jaw clenched to try and keep control.
Buffy looked at him in confusion, her face tinged pink from what she saw in her mind, but when he
dropped his hands, she turned on the step so her back was to him. Then she felt his hands freeing her
waist-length hair from its ever-present braid, his fingers combing through the long locks. It fell in
waves down her back because of it drying from Willow's water spell while braided.
Spike left the bands that were holding Buffy's hair on the step. He stood and removed his sword
belt, it and his bag joining Buffy's things on the floor. She had looked down when she heard the soft
thud his bag made on the hard floor, and when she turned and raised her head to meet his eyes, he
growled softly in the back of his throat. Her hair had slid around her shoulder, and the long strands
rested against the dark brown of her jerkin.
He held out his hand and Buffy took it after a moment's hesitation. Spike pulled her to her feet, his
eyes steadily holding hers. He dropped her hand and lifted his own to run his fingers through the
sides of her blond hair, pulling it over her shoulders to frame her face. Then he cupped her cheeks
and looked down into her upturned face.
"I've wanted to do that for so bloody long," he admitted quietly.
"Oh," Buffy breathed, unable to make her brain come up with a better response.
Spike's lips tilted up into a smile. "Yeah, 'oh.'"
And he kissed her again.
Willow rolled up to her knees beside Angel, and as the tiny white butterflies took flight around her,
the dark-haired vampire smiled. "You look like a faerie," he said. "A beautiful, naked faerie."
She raised her arms above her head and tilted her head back to look at the false sky. She inhaled the
perfumed scent of the flowers and let it out with a sigh. She dropped her arms back down and
lowered her eyes to his, a impish smile pulling at her lips. "A beautiful, naked, satisfied faerie," she
"Oh, my apologies, M'Lady," Angel said, sitting up. "Please, do for-"
The dark-haired vampire inhaled sharply as something ripped through him, cutting off his sentence,
the scent of the flowers filling his senses. He reached blindly for Willow, his eyes squeezed shut
against the horrible pain wracking his body. His arms wrapped tightly around her as she climbed
onto his lap, her legs around his waist. He felt her hands on the backs of his shoulders, holding him
"Angel, what's wrong? What is it?" Willow asked.
Angel shook as he realized what was happening to him. He let go of Willow with one arm, reaching
back behind him awkwardly to grasp her fingers with his right hand, the heel of his palm pressed
against his shoulder blade over his tattoo. He took a ragged breath, his body shaking, and said, "My
Spike shivered at the chill that ran down his spine. He broke away from Buffy's mouth, his eyes
half-lidded with desire. Her lips were swollen and red, her cheeks flushed, and she was breathing
heavily. He ran his thumb along her jawline, then lightly over her full, lower lip.
"Spike?" Buffy asked, wondering why he pulled away.
"You're so beautiful," Spike said softly, watching his thumb. Then he dropped both his hands and
stepped back from her, taking a shaky breath. "We should move on."
Buffy clasped her hands together in front of her, hurt. "You don't...," she started, then dropped her
head so her hair covered the tears building in her eyes. "Yeah, I guess we should."
Spike ground his teeth together to get his raging hormones under control before he did something
stupid, like take her right there on the stone stairs. "Right," he said, moving to pick up his stuff.
"Spike, do you like me?"
The blond vampire straightened and turned, staring at the cascade of her wavy, blond hair that hid
her face. "What kind of ridiculous question is that, Slayer?"
"Never mind," Buffy said quickly. "Let's just go."
"Now hold on a minute," Spike said. "What makes you think that I don't like you?"
"It's just...nothing," Buffy replied. She turned so her back was to him, but his hand on her shoulder
spun her back around to face him, her hair flying out around her body as he did so.
"No, I want an answer," Spike said angrily. "Why the bloody hell do you think that I don't worship
the soddin' ground you walk on?"
Buffy's mouth dropped slightly open at his snapped question. "What?" she finally managed to
squeak out in confusion.
"Oh, sod it all," Spike said abruptly. He dropped his things to the floor and swept her up in his
arms. He crushed her surprised mouth under his, his tongue plunging inside to stroke hers with a
Spike released her only to drag the jerkin roughly over her head, and without undoing the ties, her
shirt followed. Her long hair dropped down around her half-naked form in disarray, and Spike
shuddered in desire. His shirt-tunic came off with a violent tug, then he yanked her to him again.
He captured her mouth again, his hands sliding under her hair to caress the warm skin of her back.
He felt her short nails scratch his shoulders as her hands tightened on them. She met his assault with
equal passion, her tongue dueling with his in a war of want and need.
They broke apart, both of them panting raggedly, and Spike looked into her glittering eyes. "I need
you," he growled, not mistaken in his thick-voiced words. He needed to see her fully unclothed,
covered only by her long hair, like Venus herself rising from the sea. He needed to feel her arms and
legs wrapped around him. He needed to hear her gasps and cries of pleasure as he brought her over
He had needed her for three years, ever since the first time he saw her hair unbound and falling
around her in soft waves.
A tingle started at the bottom of Buffy's feet and quickly washed up her body, engulfing her, at his
rough words. His eyes were like ice blue diamonds, hard and intense. His blond hair fell in a jagged
part down in the middle, the strands brushing his sculpted cheekbones, the ends hanging below his
shoulders, laying against his pale chest. The muscles of his chest and abdomen on his whipcord
body that were visible above the dark brown hose and calf-high boots made her think he stepped off
the cover of a historical romance novel...and straight into her arms. All she needed to say was one
Time paused for the briefest of instances, then disappeared completely in a haze of pleasure. Discarded clothing made their bed, their quiet moans and gasps their music, the flickering torches bathing them in a soft, romantic light. Cool fingers caressed warm skin, gentle kisses rained down on strong bodies, the musky scent of arousal filled the air. They loved each other with abandon, and when they went over the edge, it was with a fanfare of fireworks.
After she calmed, Buffy opened her eyes and met Spike's golden ones for a long moment. Then,
she leaned down met his fang-filled mouth with a kiss, her long hair curtaining around them.
Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap...
"Oh, bravo. What a great exhibition. I'm truly impressed. Really I am."
Buffy's head shot up at the voice and she felt her heart stop. "Angel."
The dark-haired vampire, who was walking towards them from the dimness further in the large
room, smirked. "Actually, I prefer Angelus to that cheruby name," Angelus said. His smirk
changed into a leer. "But if you ride me like you did my Childe there, I may let you get away with
calling me that."
Spike's growl reverberated across the sixth level, and Buffy quickly climbed off of him. He rolled
to his feet, his body unfurling as he rose like a primitive animal. Naked, he stood in front of Buffy,
leaning slightly forward on the balls of his feet, his muscles tensed to strike. His golden eyes flashed
as he stared menacingly at his Sire.
"Well, well, well," Angelus said mockingly. "I see you've got some balls after all, Spike." The
older vampire dropped his eye to Spike's genitals. "And very nicely hung, too."
"Buffy, give me a stake," Spike said in a low, hard tone.
Buffy dropped back down to her knees, her hands shaking, as she searched under their clothing for
where she'd put a stake. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Angelus walked closer. She
forced the tears back at the thought that since Angelus was alone, Willow was dead.
"Now, Spike, do you honestly think you can kill me?" Angelus asked.
Buffy found the stake and scrambled over to Spike, pressing it into his hand. She then stood and
backed away a few steps to give the blond vampire room. She was visibly shaking, her long hair the
only thing covering her nude form.
Spike's fingers tightened around the rough wood in his hand, both liking and hating the feel of it in
his grip. He clenched his jaw and set himself to stake his Sire. He met his Angelus' eyes squarely,
and answered, "Yes."
Angelus took another step closer to the blond vampire and dropped his voice to a cold level. "You
are of my blood, and I am calling on you to step aside."
Spike began to tremble. The wood of the stake bit into his palm. His mind raged against the call of
the blood bond. Angelus' dark eyes held his golden ones unwaveringly and with strong command.
Spike stepped aside.
Buffy gasped as Angelus transferred his eyes to her, an evil smile growing on his face. He licked his
lips, taking a step towards. "Well, Buff, it seems that you and I are going to get intimately
Angelus stopped walking abruptly, his face reflecting surprise. Then the dark-haired vampire
disintegrated into a pile of dust, exposing Spike standing behind where his Sire had been, a stake
raised in his hand.
Spike stared down at the layer of dust on the black obsidian, his vampiric features frozen in shock.
The stake fell out of his suddenly nerveless fingers, clattering noisily to the stone ground.
"Spike," Buffy said, her voice tight. She took a step towards the blond vampire, then stopped when
Spike raised his golden eyes to hers, gasping at the pain she saw reflecting in them.
Spike's knees went out and he sank to the floor next to the ashes. His body shook as he put his
hands down in what was left of his Sire and brushed the ashes together. Tears fell unheeded from his
eyes, landing with soft sounds in the small pile of dust between his palms. He choked back a sob as
the reality of what he'd done slammed down upon him.
He'd killed his Sire. He'd broken the bond.
He saw two, tiny hands cover his and raised his head to find Buffy kneeling across from him. Tears
streamed down her own cheeks, and for a moment he wanted to scream and rage and try to rip her
Then she whispered in a broken voice, "I'm sorry you had to do that, Spike."
Spike grabbed her wrists and pulled her to him, the ashes scattering under her legs. He sat back onto
the floor, holding her close, his face buried in her long hair as he cried. Despite the grief engulfing
him over what he'd done, he knew he'd done the right thing, because to him something was stronger
And he had followed his heart.
Buffy watched Spike out of the corner of her eye as she rebraided her hair. His movements were
slow as he redressed, stiff and somewhat awkward. His longish hair hung down in his face as he
bent to slide his hose back on, covering the hard set to his jaw. She saw a tattoo on the back of his
wrist that she hadn't noticed before, but she didn't comment on it. Now was not the time.
She had already redressed, save for her boots, and was once again sitting on the bottom step. She
had gone up the stairs to relieve herself and clean up slightly. She was so going to need a bath once
they got out of the Tower. She'd bet Willow felt the same...
"Don't," Buffy whispered harshly to herself, her hands jerking her hair, as she looked away from
Spike. It wasn't time to think about Willow and Angel. She could grieve once she and Spike were
out of the obsidian nightmare. She accidentally yanked on her hair too hard. "Ouch. Damn it!"
Strong fingers brushed her hands out of the way, then began to braid her hair. Buffy closed her eyes
and gave herself into the comforting feeling of Spike's hands in her long hair. "Thanks," she said
softly when he had finished, turning on the step to face him.
"You're welcome, Slayer," Spike said.
Buffy could still see the tear tracks on his cheeks, dirty ones because of his hands in the dust that
was once Angel. She shoved the pain away. "Where's your band? I'll pull your hair back for you.
Tit for tat."
Spike leaned forward, grabbed it up off the floor where it had fallen, and gave it to her. He turned
on the step so his still-bare back was to her. She set it on the next step up, then began running her
fingers through his peroxide locks, combing it back. "So, when are you cutting it all off?" she
asked, suddenly needing to hear her voice.
"Not until I win the bet," Spike answered. "I only have an inch to go."
"I'll be getting out my ruler," Buffy said, deciding to be silly and braid the bottom portion of his
hair. "If it's even a millimeter short, I win."
"Ain't gonna happen, pet," Spike said.
"We'll see," she said.
"You bet your sweet arse," he said.
Buffy giggled. "Are you changing the bet on me? You want my 'sweet arse' instead of a month of
slave duty if you can grow your hair to six inches below your shoulders?"
Spike turned when she patted his hair after she put the band in, and gave her a lusty grin. "I think
our definition of 'slave duty' has officially changed."
She blushed and became flustered, causing her to move off the step to gather her things. "Come on,
woman. Time to go."
Spike chuckled and finished getting dressed so they could go. His heart lifted slightly at her ability
to move on, despite the pain she had to have been feeling. It was probably twice as much as his was,
because she had lost two friends, rather than just the man who'd meant everything at one point in
The blond vampire took a purposeful breath and blew it out quickly. When he was set to go, he
turned to the Slayer and saw she was ready as well. His eyes met hers, and he was to her in an
instant, capturing her mouth in a long, hard kiss.
"Ready?" Spike asked gruffly when he broke away. Buffy nodded, her breathing heavy. He
stepped back from her, turned and took two steps before stopping.
Buffy, who had been right on his heels, almost bumped into him. "Why'd you stop?" she said,
moving to his side.
"Do you think we should have a plan?" Spike asked in reply. He tried to see the far end of the vast,
open room but couldn't. The center of the room was close to pitch black because the torches didn't
cast light far enough.
"How about we follow the wall until we get to the other side?" Buffy suggested. "And we'll kill
anything that gets in our way."
"Sounds good to me," Spike said with a slight shrug of his shoulders. He reached up to pull his hair
free from under his shirt-tunic and frowned when he felt it braided. He gave Buffy a scowl. "You
braided my hair."
"Yes," Buffy said with a smile. She walked away from him, calling back over her shoulder, "Now
you're an official girly-man."
"Watch it, luv," Spike said, quickly catching up to her. "Or you will find yourself braid-less."
"Touch my hair and I'll hurt you," Buffy said.
"Oh, someone's sensitive about their bleached locks," Spike said.
"At least my roots aren't showing."
"I can't see myself in the mirror. What's your excuse?"
"My roots are not showing!"
"I'm a door?" Spike said, completely confused.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "No, mush-for-brains. A door." She pointed to a knob waist high to her on
the wall. "See doorknob?"
Spike frowned at the doorknob. "So?"
"So?" Buffy said. "So we turn it and see where it goes."
"Because I said so."
"That's not a good reason."
"Slayer, I'm going to gag you with your bloody hair if you don't stop that," Spike growled at her.
She gave him an impish smile. "Why?"
"Oh sod off," Spike said. "Just tell me why you want to try the door. I thought we were just going
to do the levels as quickly as possible."
"Well, we've never tried any of the doors on any of the other levels," Buffy replied. "And we're
almost to the seventh one." She shrugged. "I thought maybe we should try one just once."
"What if some great big soddin' spider or something jumps out at us?" Spike asked.
Buffy moved to him and wrapped her hands around his arm, purposely widening her eyes. "I have
you to protect me," she answered in an overly dramatic, breathy voice. She batted her lashes at him.
Spike reached around her, grabbed her braid, and wrapped it quickly around her mouth. She
wrinkled her nose at him. "Fine, I'll open the door. But if something tries to eat us, you get to kill
"Okay, you big sissy," Buffy said, her braid once again behind her.
He glared at her, reached out and turned the doorknob. They heard a small click of a latch being
freed, then the stone wall opened out towards them to reveal steps going upwards. "Well?"
"Well what?" Buffy said. She gestured to the steps. "After you."
Spike sighed, exasperated, and removed the bag from over his shoulder. He used it to prop open the
door before heading up the steps. "This is just asking for trouble, I know it," he muttered as he
climbed the stone stairs. "I'm going to get stabbed. Or eaten. Or slimed. Or forced to watch
Buffy giggled, and blatantly ogled his rear as he went up the stairs. Too bad it was covered with his
shirt-tunic, she thought. Then she amended her thoughts. Too bad it was covered at all.
"Now this is different."
The blond Slayer looked up from Spike's behind and past him. She could see a cheery light coming
from the area of what looked to be the top of the steps. "What's that?"
"Like I know, Slayer," Spike replied. "I'm not at the top of the soddin' steps yet."
"Don't get snippy with me," Buffy said.
"Then don't ask stupid questions."
"There's no such thing as stupid questions," Buffy said. "Only stupid peroxide-blond vampires."
"Very ha ha, pet," Spike said. "You're too hilarious."
"I know," Buffy said. "I bet you Wills and Angel would-"
She stopped speaking abruptly, and Spike pressed his lips together firmly for a moment. Once he
was certain he wasn't going to scream, he said, "Slayer?"
"Not now, Spike," Buffy said in a tight voice.
He nodded, although he doubted she saw the action. He wanted more than anything for them to just
go home so they could grieve together, then hopefully start a relationship. He'd been waiting to be
with Buffy for so long...
The vampire's thoughts trailed off when he reached the top of the steps. He stood in the doorway
"Get out of the way, you oaf," Buffy snapped, squeezing past him. She took two steps forward, then
froze when she saw what lay ahead of her, her mouth dropping open. "Oh my, look at the flowers."
"I see them," Spike said. He closed his eyes a moment, then opened them again. Flowers still there,
as far as he could see.
Buffy inhaled the perfumed scent, then giggled. "This is so neat!" she exclaimed, darting out into
the field of white. Little butterflies flew up from the ground where she ran.
"Slayer, wait!" Spike yelled, not moving from the doorway. "We don't know if it's safe..."
"Oh come on, you poop!" Buffy called back to him. She threw her arms out and spun in a circle,
inhaling deeply. "Stop being such a stodgy old man and smell the flowers with me!"
Spike just looked at her as if she'd grown a second head. A moment ago, she was hurting because of
Willow and Angel, and now she was telling him to smell the flowers...
The blond vampire did not smell the flowers. "Slayer, come back here," he called, making sure he
didn't inhale through his nose to speak.
"Okay!" Buffy said, charging at him. Only his quick reflexes stopped them from falling backwards
down the stairs, as she jumped up onto him, her legs wrapping around his waist.
"Pet, we need to get out of here, alright?" Spike said.
"Don't wanna," Buffy said with a pout. She inhaled deeply and smiled. "Wanna make love to you
here in the flowers."
"No, luv, we'll do that somewhere el-Slayer!"
Buffy had jumped back out of his arms and was now running back across the field of flowers. He
took off after her, tiny, white butterflies erupting from the ground with each of his steps. "Slayer,
stop!" he yelled.
She suddenly did stop and was staring at the ground near her, wide-eyed. His steps somewhat
slowed as a strange feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. He clamped a hand over his nose,
pinching it shut, when he started to inhale sharply as what Buffy was staring at came into view.
Willow was lying on the bed of flowers, her head falling slightly to one side, her mouth open and her
eyes looking sightlessly towards the fake sky. Her arms were splayed out to the sides like a
mockery of a crucifixion, exposing her nudity. Her legs were spread apart...
...and his Sire's head was between her thighs.
Angel looked up at the intrusion. He smiled brightly at the newcomers. "Hi guys."
Willow blinked several times at the loss of the exquisite feeling Angel was creating, and focused.
She saw Buffy standing there beside her. "Hi Buffy!" she greeted excitedly. "Did you come to play
"You're dust!" Spike exclaimed loudly, his eyes locked his Sire. "I staked you myself!"
Angel arched a dark brow. "Now why did you go and do something like that?"
"Willow!" Buffy suddenly squealed, throwing herself down next to her naked friend and pulling the
redhead up into a hug. "You're not dead! Angel didn't kill you! This is so cool!"
"Buffy, you're squishing me," Willow squeaked.
"Sorry," Buffy apologized, releasing her friend. "But you're not dead! You're of the living! And
of the being licked by Angel!"
"Which you interrupted," Willow said, pouting.
Angel pushed himself up to his knees and inhaled the sweet scent of the flowers mixed with the
musky scent of Willow. He cocked his head to one side, still watching Spike stare at him with a
shocked expression. "Is he broken?" the dark-haired vampire inquired.
"Maybe," Buffy replied, looking over to Spike. "He did just stake you a little while ago." She
inhaled, the flowery air filling her senses, and smiled. "But that's of the past, and this is now. Can
Spike and I join you two?"
Angel rose to his feet and walked towards Spike. He stopped a few inches away and looked down at
the younger vampire. "Why did you stake me?"
"No soul," Spike whispered, his hand falling to his side. His eyes searched Angel's, wondering if
his mind was playing tricks on him. Or if the flowers infected him in a different way. "You had no
soul, and I staked you. You called on the blood bond, and I staked you. I staked you."
The last sentence was barely audible. Spike raised a shaky hand and put it on the center of his Sire's
chest. The man was solid beneath his touch. "I staked you," Spike whispered again.
Angel put his hand over Spike's. "No, you didn't. I'm right here. I've been right here with Willow
since we got separated."
Spike suddenly yanked his hand out from beneath Angel's, a red anger coming over him. He
snarled loudly, drew his fist back, and punched his Sire as hard as he could in the face. "You bloody
Angel stumbled backwards, little butterflies fluttering upwards around him. Spike stomped around
him, grabbed Buffy by her braid, and yanked her up from between Willow's legs.
"Ow!" Buffy yelled, having to jog to keep up with Spike's quick stride across the flowery field, as
he had held onto her braid. "Let go, you jerk!"
Angel looked down at Willow for a second, then the two grabbed their things and rushed after the
two blonds. They ended up going down a set of stone stairs and exiting through a door they hadn't
known was there. Of course, they'd been occupied with other, more stimulating activities than
looking for a way out of the flowers.
Spike was pacing back and forth when they entered the room, his movements jerky. Buffy was
leaning against the obsidian wall, her arms folded over her chest, glaring at the blond vampire.
Willow immediately started to put her bliaut back on, but Angel just held his clothes in front of him
as he asked, "What was that about?"
"I hate this soddin' place!" Spike growled, rounding on Angel. "I hate that Willow's game brought
us here, I hate that we have to help someone who doesn't even exist, I hate that I staked you even
after the blood bond was called upon, and I hate that you aren't really even dust!"
"Spike, you don't-"
"Shut up, Slayer," Spike snapped. "I'm not in the mood to fight with you."
"Fine, asshole," Buffy snapped back. She picked up her bow and quiver, then stormed away.
"Why'd you do that?" Willow glared at Spike, her hands holding her dress together behind her.
"You're a jerk!" She turned and rushed after the blond Slayer.
"Now look what you did," Angel growled at Spike.
"What I did?!" Spike exclaimed. "You're the prick who was between the redhead's legs where you
could have...did...could have...aaah! You lost your fucking soul!"
"No I didn't!" Angel exclaimed louder. "Drakn Inkpeddler put an enchantment on my tattoo so I
won't ever lose it! They have vampires here in Elaisias, too, you bleached dick!"
"STOP SHOUTING!!" Willow and Buffy screamed back at the two vampires from the darkness.
"I'm not shouting!" Spike shouted back. Angel looked at him pointedly. "'Alright, I am! I'm
shouting! I'm shouting! I'm shout-'"
And just like in the movie he was quoting, Spike was cut off abruptly by something falling on top of
his head, knocking him out.