Excerpts Of Surviving


by Saber ShadowKitten




Part One



The first time she saw him, she knocked him flat on his ass, then almost fell on hers. He was beautiful, like an angel and the devil rolled up into one. Little did she know that was exactly what he was.

And his name was Angel.

-excerpt from The Chosen One, by B. William

-----

"Acathla... Mundatus sum...pro te necavi. Sanguinem meum...pro te effundam...," Angelus said, walking towards the stone statue in the middle of the main room in the mansion. "Quo me dignum...esse demonstrem."

"Are we ready?" Willow asked, looking at the objects on the tray table in front of her at the hospital. The Orb of Thesulah was surrounded by candles within a sacred circle. Oz was holding an open Latin book, while Cordelia lit a bundle of herbs and incense.

"Stinky herbs are a go," Cordelia replied.

"Did I mention I didn't take Latin?" Oz said.

"Y-you don't have to understand it. You just have to say it. I hope," Willow said, looking down at the printout in her hand.

"Right," Oz said.

"Now, Acathla...," Angelus continued, holding out his hand. Drusilla put a knife in it, smiling in anticipation. "You will be free." He drew the blade across the palm of his hand, wincing slightly, but he never took his stare from Acathla. "And so will we all."

Buffy entered the room quietly, sword in hand. She crept up behind a vampire guard, raised her sword and decapitated him in a single swing. As he crumbled to ash, Angelus and Drusilla turned in her direction. "Hello, lover," she said.

"I don't have time for you," Angelus said with a sigh.

"You don't have a lot of time left," Buffy replied.

"Coming on kind of strong, don't you think?" Angelus said. "You're playing some deep odds here. Do you really think you can take us all on?"

"No. I don't."

Spike rose from his wheelchair behind Angelus with her words and whipped the dark-haired vampire hard across the back with an andiron. Angelus cried out in pain and collapsed to the floor, and the blond continued to beat on him as hard as he could. "Painful, isn't it?" he asked maliciously.

Buffy was attacked by a second vampire guard, and she fell to the ground, losing her sword. Drusilla screeched at Spike's actions and jumped on his back, taking him down to the floor with her. Buffy's assailant backhanded her in the face as she rose, and she staggered into a chair by the wall. She recovered and blocked another swing, bringing her knee up into his gut and kicking him in the face. He fell to the floor. She turned and saw the broken chair.

The vampire climbed to his feet just as Xander arrived into the room. The teen surprised him with a punch. Buffy picked up a suitable piece of scrap wood and got back into the fight. Xander nodded to her and left to look for Giles. The vampire fighting Buffy ducked a roundhouse kick and blocked another kick.

Spike and Drusilla stood and faced each other. "I don't want to hurt you, baby," Spike said. The vampiress grabbed him by the throat and shoved him into a wall. He slapped her arm aside and punched her in the face. "Doesn't mean I won't."

Willow cast her stones and gave Oz his cue. Cordelia waved the burning herbs and incense. "Quod perditum est, invenietur," the hacker read. "Not dead... nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum, I call."

Xander pushed aside a curtain to another room and founds Giles tied to a chair. "Giles!" he exclaimed, rushing to the Watcher's side. Xander crouched and began to untie the ropes."Giles!"

Giles lifted his head slowly. "Xander?"

"Can you walk?" Xander asked.

"You're not real," Giles said weakly.

"Sure, I'm real," the teen told him.

"It's a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want," Giles said.

Xander finished untying the ropes and moved around to look into Giles' face. "Then why would they make you see me?"

Giles studied him for a moment. "You're right. Let's go."

Xander put his arm under the Watcher's and helped him to his feet. "Come on," the teen prodded, helping him out of the room. They made their way though the main hall as fast as they could and out the door.

Drusilla swiped at Spike with her hand and left four parallel scratches across his cheek. She followed up with a punch that knocked him to the floor. At the same time, Angelus woke up and groaned in pain. He rubbed his eyes and looked up at Acathla, then got to his feet and went over to the demon.

Buffy blocked a kick from the vampire she was still fighting, punched him, spun around and punched again, and he fell onto his back. She quickly followed him down with her stake and jammed it into his chest. He burst into ashes. Behind her, Angelus took the last few steps to Acathla and grabbed the sword stuck in his chest by the hilt with his bloody hand.

A blinding light emanated from it, and Buffy looked up from her kill in time to witness Angelus pull the sword from the demon's heart. With a few telltale sparks, the light was suddenly gone. Angelus whipped the sword around in his hand and held it up to look at it. Buffy scrambled to get her own sword.

Drusilla looked up from her fight and gazed at Acathla with a smile. "Oh... Here he comes."

Spike grabbed Drusilla by the back of the hair, spun her around, and punched her again.

"Gods, bind him. Cast his heart from the... evil... realm," Willow said, weakly.

Buffy held up her sword and faced Angelus.

"You almost made it, Buff," Angelus taunted, holding his own sword at the ready.

"It's not over yet," Buffy said.

"My boy Acathla here is about to wake up," Angelus said. "You're going to Hell."

"Save me a seat," she replied. She thrust at him with her sword, but he parried and swung around with a thrust of his own, which she parried. They clashed blades several times, and Buffy ducked wide arcing swing from him. They faced off again and traded one thrust and parry after another. Angelus tried another arcing swing from above, but she easily ducked and sidestepped out of the way.

They faced off again in front of Acathla and traded a few more blows. Angelus tried a swing from above a third time, and again Buffy ducked it and escaped to the side. She jumped up on a low table and swung at him again. He parried, and swung at her legs. She jumped up and over his blade and landed on the floor. He tried for her legs again, but she blocked his attempt with her blade. Again they traded several swings, and Angelus tried a wide swing again, and cut her superficially on the arm.

He went to take advantage of her distraction and came at her with his sword held high, intending to swing from above, but she dropped to the floor and rolled out of the way, so he only managed to smash a bowl on a table behind her. Buffy kicked his legs out from under him and scrambled back to her feet. He turned to face her still on his knees and swung three times in rapid succession, all of which she parried. He swung a fourth time, and this time Buffy knocked his sword into the table with her parry and pinned it there.

He backhand punched her in the face, and she spun away. He pulled the sword from the table and swung it hard at her. She blocked it with hers, and kicked him in the gut, making him double over. She jumped over him into the clear, and raised her sword to continue the fight. He thrust, and she parried. Then he kicked her in her sword arm, and she stumbled back a step.

"Return," Willow gasped. "I call on..."

"Willow?" Oz said, worriedly

"Are you okay?" Cordelia asked the redhead.

Without warning Willow's head snapped back and she looked up with her eyes wide open. Her head snapped back down and her eyes stared into the Orb. She began to chant steadily in Rumanian, as though possessed, "Te implor, Doamne, nu ignora aceasta rugaminte."

Oz looked over at Cordelia. "Is this a good thing?"

"Nici mort, nici al fiintei...," Willow chanted.

"Hey, speak English!" Cordelia exclaimed.

"Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta, sufletul la el."

The fight between Angelus and Buffy moved out into the atrium. Buffy hit the ground and scrambled back to her feet as Angelus slowly advanced. She thrust, and he parried. She spun around and swung at him, and he blocked her. Her sword bounced off of his and fell with the tip onto the low wall of a planting bed. Angelus stomped on the blade before she could raise it again and knocked it from her grip. He spun around and elbowed her in the face, knocking her back into a stone table, which collapsed and fell with her.

Within the mansion, a deep thundering growl come from Acathla as he began to wake.

Spike looked up from Drusilla at the noise and his attention caught on Angelus and Buffy in the atrium. The blond Slayer was backed against a wall without her sword while Angelus slowly advanced on her. "God, he's gonna kill her," he whispered.

Drusilla took his distraction and lashed out again with her nails, cutting him across his other cheek. She sat up quickly and shoved him hard, sending him tumbling over. She jumped on top of him, swinging at his face with her fists.

"Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends... No hope," Angelus taunted, swinging his sword back and forth as he advanced on the Slayer. She closed her eyes and he smirked. "Take that all away, and what's left?"

He drew the sword back and thrust it directly at her face. With lightning-fast reflex, she swung up with both arms and caught the blade between the palms of her hands. She opened her eyes and met his. "Me."

She shoved the blade away from her, and the hilt of the sword hit Angelus in the face. He staggered back, and she hopped to her feet and kicked him in the chest. He stumbled back even more, and she reached down and picked up her sword. She swung it around and thrust at him, but he managed to parry. They exchanged several blows, blocking each other.

Buffy spun around and swung her sword down at him from above. He held up his own to block, but she hit it hard and he fell to one knee. She swung again, and he blocked. She spun around with a roundhouse kick to his side, and he collapsed to the ground.

Spike grabbed Drusilla's wrists, then heaved her off of him with his feet. She landed several feet away, but scrambled to her feet, a deadly gleam in her eye.

"Asa sa fie! Asa sa fie! Acum!" Willow chanted loudly.

Angelus dropped his sword and held his cut. Buffy sent a high kick to his face, and he fell backward into Acathla and landed on his knees before her.

"Acum!" Willow yelled. The Orb in front of her glowed brightly for a brief moment, then went dark. Willow suddenly relaxed, and looked around blankly. "Wh-what happened?"

Buffy raised her sword to dispatch Angelus, but stayed herself when he suddenly gasped loudly and groaned in pain. His eyes glowed bright yellow for an instant, then return to normal. He looked up at her, then collapsed to the floor, crying. Buffy stared down at him, holding her sword raised behind her. Angel raised himself back up, his eyes heavy with tears, and looked into her eyes.

"Buffy?" Angel said in confusion. "What's going on?" She just looked at him, confused, sword still raised. He looked around, then stood. "Where are we? I-I don't remember."

"Angel?" Buffy questioned in a soft voice, the sword slowly lowering.

"You're hurt," Angel said, reaching out to touch her arm. Buffy looked down at her wound, then back up at him. He suddenly embraced her tightly. "Oh, Buffy... God. I... I feel like I haven't seen you in months."

Buffy closed her eyes, tears falling from under them. It was him. It was really him.

Spike ducked under Drusilla's swing, then backhanded her across the face. She shrieked in rage and came at him again. She clawed a long, wicked path across his neck, causing blood to spurt forth. He clamped a hand over his throat, staring at her in shock.

"Oh, my God, everything's so muddled. I...," Angel stammered, holding her closer. "Oh...Oh, Buffy..." He kissed her on the shoulder.

Buffy cried onto his shoulder and hugged him back. Behind him, Acathla let out a low rumble. Buffy opened her eyes and stared as Acathla's face contorted. His brow angled down, his eyes glowed red, his mouth opened grotesquely and the swirling vortex to Hell opened, small at first, but it grew steadily in size and emanated a deep, red glow.

**Oh god, no,** she thought. **NO!** Slowly, she let go of Angel and looked up into his face.

"What's happening?"Angel asked, confused.

"Shh. Don't worry about it," Buffy whispered. She brushed her fingers over his lips, then across his cheek. Rising up on her toes, she kissed him softly. He returned the kiss, deepening it. Behind them, the vortex kept growing. With her heart ripping into a million pieces, she broke off the kiss and looked deeply into Angel's soft, confused eyes. "I love you."

"I love you," Angel said.

She touched his lips with her fingers again when he went to say more. "Close your eyes," she told him softly. He looked at her questioningly, and she nodded in reassurance. As he closed his eyes, Buffy had to fight back the tears as she leaned forwards and kissed him gently one more time. **I love you, Angel.**

She stepped back, drew back her sword and thrust it into his chest. His eyes whipped open in surprise and pain, as a bright light emanated from the sword. She backed away from him.

He reached out to her and looked down at the sword thrust completely through him. He raised his head and looked at her imploringly, completely bewildered. Buffy's eyes were locked on the sword protruding from his chest, and she slowly stepped further back.

"Buffy...," Angel gasped. Behind him, the power of the sword began to swirl into the vortex.

Drusilla's head shot around to Acathla. "NOOOO," the vampiress screamed, running towards Angel and the statue. She leapt at the dark-haired vampire just as the vortex yanked him back into Acathla's mouth, which instantly closed without so much as a spark, taking both of them to Hell.

The winter here is cold and bitter
It's chilled us to the bone

Buffy stared at the stone demon, horror etched on her face. Her lower lip began to tremble as reality hit her. She had sent Angel, not Angelus, to Hell. Her hands rose to her face as the first sob came, but she couldn't tear her eyes from the statue.

We haven't seen the sun for weeks
Too long, too far from home

Buffy saw Spike suddenly step in front of the statue and fall to his knees, breaking into her grief. Stumbling forward, she fell to her knees beside him. She saw his stricken face and the blood pouring from between the fingers of his right hand, which was clamped over his neck. Shoving away her tears, she pushed him down to the floor and pried his hand away.

I feel just like I'm sinking
And I claw for solid ground

"Oh god," she gasped, her eyes moving from the wound to dart around the room. They lit on the fractured chair and she rushed over to it, grabbing as many pieces of wood she could carry. Back at his side, she splintered the wood by squeezing it tightly. She then took the fragments and, while pinching his skin together, drove them through it. When she had finished, the wound was closed enough that he wouldn't bleed to death. For some reason, she didn't want that to happen.

I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low

Spike stared at Buffy, a glazed look in his eyes. He pushed himself to a sitting position, and turned his gaze to the statue in front of him. With his bloodied hand, he reached out and laid it on the hard stone. **Dru-** he thought, a sharp pain piercing his heart. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force the tears back. **Dru.**

And, oh, darkness
I feel like letting go

"Spike, we need to go," Buffy whispered in a broken voice. "We have to get your neck stitched up..."

If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place

Spike turned his head and opened his eyes. As a lone tear escaped down his cheek, he nodded. She stood, then helped him to his feet. He rested heavily against her, weak from the loss of blood, as they headed for the mansion's garage. Once there, she put him into the passenger seat, then went around to the driver's side. He slumped against the door as she started the engine, using the keys that had been hanging from the ignition.

I know I can love you much better than this
Full of grace

Buffy drove through the wooden doors of the garage, then tore down the street at full speed. Several minutes later, she pulled up in front of the house two doors down from hers. She put the car in park and turned to Spike. "I'll be right back," she said, then slid quickly out of the car.

Where everything we said and did
Hurts us all the more

In her room, she grabbed a bag and through a bunch of t-shirts, sweats and jeans in it, along with undergarments, socks and her gym shoes. She grabbed her leather coat and slid it on, then moved to her night stand. She pulled the drawer out and dumped its contents into the bag.

It's just that we stayed too long
In the same old sickly skin

She quickly reached under her bed for her personal first aid kit and quickly checked its contents, then added it to the bag. Zipping it closed, she put it over her shoulder and took one last look around the room. Then she climbed back out her window and returned to the car.

I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low

Spike watched her under his lashes as she put the car in gear. He briefly wondered how she could be functioning at all after what just happened. He wanted to open the car door and let himself fry. But for some reason, he didn't. Instead, he stayed as still as possible and would follow her lead.

And, oh, darkness
I feel like letting go

Buffy drove. She had no destination, she had no plan, she had no feeling inside of her at all. The only thing she kept her mind on was the patch of pavement she could see through the clear hole in the blacked-out windshield. If she let it wander anywhere else, she'd break down, and neither of them would survive. And something deep, deep inside of her wanted them to survive.

If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place

So she drove.

I know I can love you much better than this
Full of grace



Part Two



Angel was a vampire! She couldn't believe it, didn't want to believe it. But the proof had been staring her, literally, in the face. He was a thing she was suppose to destroy.

Yet how do you destroy something that you've already come to love?

-excerpt from The Chosen One, by B. William

-----

Buffy stopped in the next county at a motel. Using the money she'd taken from her room, she secured a room for them, then sun-proofed it as best as she could before rushing Spike inside. She pulled off his duster before helping him to lay down on the bed, then she returned to the car to get her bag and lock it up for the day.

"I'm going to stitch you up," she said, after taking off her own leather coat and retrieving the first aid kit from the bag. "Then I'll find you some blood, ok?"

Spike barely nodded in response. She went into the bathroom and got a wet washcloth and the garbage can. Returning to his side, she carefully removed the wood splinters holding his neck together, then gently wiped the area with the washcloth. It started to bleed again, so she took his hand and pressed it over the cloth, and got out the needle and thread from the kit.

As quickly as she could, she threaded the needle, doubled the thread and tied a thick knot at the end. She touched his hand and it fell away. Taking the blood-soaked washcloth off, she went about sewing up his neck, basting it first, then returning back down the gash with small, evenly-spaced stitches. When she finished, she carefully wiped the blood away with the other side of the washcloth, along with wiping the cuts on his cheeks.

"Well, you look like Frankenstein," she commented. "But it will hold until you heal." She stood and went into the bathroom, dropped the washcloth into the sink and laid the used needle on top of it. She avoided looking at herself in the mirror.

"I'll be right back," Buffy told him as she went to the door to the room. "Try not to move too much."

Less than a minute after she left, Spike passed out from the blood loss and didn't revive until he heard a loud thump, then the door to the motel room. Prying open his eyes, he turned his head and saw a body of a man lying on the floor next to the bed. Hunger and the need to heal infused his body, and he practically rolled to the floor. Crawling over to the unconscious bum, he bared the man's throat and sank his fangs into him, draining him within seconds.

As his demon face returned to the human mask, he wondered why Buffy would have let him kill someone. Maybe she would use it as an excuse to kill him, to which he would voluntarily bare his chest for her. The numbness that had settled over him after they'd left the mansion was slowly leaving him in exchange for mind-blowing grief. With a growl, he climbed back onto the bed, grabbed one of the pillows and hugged it to him as the first sobs wracked his body.

Buffy reentered the motel room to the sound of Spike's sobs. Squeezing her eyes shut, she forced her own pain into the dark recesses of her heart and picked up the dead man from the floor. She left the room to dispose of the body in the field behind the motel, in a spot which she had already prepared, then returned.

She should have stayed away. Spike's pain-filled crying hammered at her own emotional wall until it crumbled. She felt her heart tighten, as if it were being squeezed, and her throat closed up. She managed to make it to the opposite side of the bed and curled herself into a ball before the dam burst. And both she and Spike cried until they fell into an emotionally exhausted sleep.

I know I can love you much better than this
It's better this way

Neither of them woke for two solid days. The grief that imbibed their systems caused them to shut down in protection. During that time, their visible wounds healed, leaving only emotional ones.

Buffy was first to awake, and she weakly stumbled from the bed to the bathroom. After relieving herself, she turned on the water in the shower and let it warm up. Stripping out of her clothing, she climbed into the tub and let the hot spray beat down upon her. She stood like that for several minutes, tears mingling with the water, until she made herself turn and pick up the small bottle of complimentary shampoo.

She heard the bathroom door open and then the tap water turn on. Not caring that Spike was in the room, she slowly rinsed the shampoo from her hair, letting the soapy water cascade over her face before traveling down her body to the drain. The door closed again, signaling his departure.

A few minutes later, she turned off the shower and toweled herself dry. When she stepped out of the tub, she saw a clean set of clothing piled neatly on the closed toilet seat and her dirty clothing was gone. The bloody washcloth was hanging over the towel bar, the white tinged pink from being rinsed repeatedly, and, she suspected, the needle had been returned to the first aid kit.

She stared at her clothing for a moment, not comprehending why Spike would be so thoughtful. Then she dressed and went out into the room.

Spike was not there. She glanced at the curtained window and saw that it was dark out. She also saw that everything had been taken out of her bag and put into neat piles on the small table in the room. She noticed that the miscellaneous slaying equipment, however, was still in the brown bag.

Shaking her head at his actions, she picked up her hairbrush and sat on the bed. Spike entered as she finished, carrying two paper bags that clinked with each step. He set them on a chair and she noted he was wearing one of her t-shirts.

"Hey," she greeted, rising and walking over to the chair. She looked into a bag and saw multiple bottles of alcohol. "I take it getting smashed is on the agenda for this evening?"

"For the next week," Spike corrected, shedding his duster. "Or longer."

"I think I can handle that," she said, setting her hairbrush down and taking out a bottle. She twisted off the cap and put it to her lips. The liquor burned a fiery path down her throat to her gullet. It tasted awful, but the knowledge that the pain she still felt would become fuzzy kept her drinking.

Spike took his own bottle out and removed the cap, then took it over to the bed. He propped up a pillow against the headboard, then leaned back against it after taking a long swallow of the alcohol.

Buffy took a second bottle out of the bag, then went around the other side of the bed and joined him. The silence was deafening, pressing down on the grieving two. Finally, Spike flipped on the TV using the remote.

The news came on and, just before the vampire went to change the channel, Buffy's name was said. He looked over at the blond Slayer, who tipped her bottle up and drank steadily.

"...Buffy Summers is wanted for questioning in the death at Sunnydale High School. Several other students were injured..."

"Kendra," Buffy answered his unasked question once the bottle was empty. She set it on the floor next to the bed and opened the second one. "The other Slayer."

Spike nodded and took a long swallow from his own bottle. Had it only been three days ago that he'd been proud of Drusilla for killing her first Slayer? "I'm sure your chums will clear your name, Slayer."

"Don't call me that," Buffy told him.

"What? Slayer?" Spike asked. "That's who you are."

"Not anymore," she replied. "I quit."

"It doesn't work that way. You can't quit being the Slayer," he said. "Just like I can't quit being a vampire."

"What has being the Slayer ever given me, huh?" Buffy spat. "I died, I got Ms. Calendar and Kendra killed. I put Willow in a coma, my mom kicked me out, I got expelled. And I just sent Angel, not Angelus, to Hell. Heck, you can even blame me for Drusilla going with him, because if I hadn't slept with him, he wouldn't have lost his goddamn soul."

She tipped the bottle to her lips and drank steadily until it was empty. Then she dropped it to the floor and covered her face with her hands as the tears started to flow. "I keep saving the world over and over again, and as a reward, I get to send the man I love more than anything to Hell. It's not fair!"

Spike finished off his own bottle, stood and retrieved both bags, then returned to the bed. Her tears were making him want to cry again. Instead, he uncapped a new bottle and drained it, before opening a third.

"I'm sorry," he said when her crying lessened. "You're right, it's not fair. If it were, Dru would be with me right now and Angel would never have lost his bloody soul. Cor, I wish I could go back in time and let you know about the friggin' curse."

"Me, too," she whispered. "Spike, it hurts so much."

Spike dug another bottle out of the bag and handed it to her. "Drink until it stops. That's what I'm planning to do."

Buffy pulled herself together and accepted the bottle. Then the two of them drank themselves into oblivion.



Part Three



She loved him. Wholly, completely and beyond reason. And the vampire with a soul loved her equally as much. Never had there been as powerful of an emotion than that of which flowed between the two.

Then, in the most intimate of moments, everything changed.

-excerpt from The Chosen One, by B. William

-----

Buffy woke to find herself pressed intimately on top of Spike, naked as the day she was born. Her head was throbbing and her mouth felt like something died in it. As slowly as she could, she pushed herself upright and found that she was even more intimately entwined with him than she thought.

He was inside of her. And she didn't remember how he got there. Her second time, or possibly more, and she couldn't remember. She didn't know whether to be upset or not, so she chose not.

Spike's arm, which had been around her back, had flopped to the bed when she sat up, indicating he was asleep. Carefully, as not to disturb him and to avoid her own embarrassment, she climbed off of him and staggered unsteadily to the bathroom.

She made it just in time to throw up in the toilet.

"Ungh, someone kill me now," she breathed as she flushed the toilet. Standing, she took one look at her haggard appearance in the mirror and whimpered. Opening the tiny bottle of complimentary mouthwash, she used half of it. She was about to recap it when Spike rushed into the bathroom and repeated her actions with the toilet.

"Stake me," he groaned, resting his head on the cool rim.

Buffy felt the corners of her mouth tilt up for the fist time in what seemed like forever. "Only if you promise to kill me first," she replied.

He lifted his head and peered at her with bloodshot eyes. "You're not wearing any clothing."

"Neither are you," she pointed out, blushing. She set the mouthwash container down and stepped into the shower, closing the curtain behind her. Turning the water on full force, she yelped when the spray hit her, making her head threaten to explode. She heard Spike chuckle and stuck her hand out to flick him off.

"Now, now, Slay- er, pet," he said, rising unsteadily to his feet. He flushed the toilet and grabbed the mouthwash. "No need to offer."

Buffy stuck her wet head out and gave him a pointed look. "Don't need to offer when it's already been received." This time, she chuckled at the shocked expression on his face.

Spike turned away from her and used the remaining mouthwash, his mind in a turmoil, trying to remember what they did. He was coming up with a blank. "Er, pet? Are you saying we..."

"Don't know," Buffy answered over the shower from behind the curtain once again. "Can't remember. All I know is that I woke up in a very compromising position."

Spike didn't know if he was relieved or offended. But, since neither remembered, he'd take it as a good sign, because there wouldn't be any awkwardness. "Save some hot water for me," he told her, then left the bathroom.

He dug through Buffy's clothing again, selecting another of her oversized t-shirts to wear. They'd have to stop and pick up a few things **Including,** he thought as he ran his tongue over his teeth. **Toothbrushes and food for her.**

He froze at that thought. Why should he care if she ate or not? "Because she fed you," he reasoned aloud. "And stitched your bloody worthless hide up."

"Talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity," Buffy said as she came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her body.

"I thought that was talking to you,"Spike responded with a smirk.

She rolled her eyes, then groaned. "I need aspirin, stat."

"Let me get cleaned up and then we'll go to the grocers," he said, moving towards the bathroom. "Although the best cure for a hangover is to drink more."

Buffy moaned at the thought. "No more. Hurts."

He chuckled, but silently agreed with her, then went to take his own shower.

*****

Twenty minutes later found the hung-over duo at the local Wal-Mart. Buffy immediately went to the drug section and opened a bottle of aspirin, taking three of them. Spike eventually caught up to her with a shopping cart and she held up the open bottle. "Want?"

"That's ok, Bucket, I'll survive," Spike replied.

Buffy dropped the aspirin in the cart and turned to go. The she faced him again with a frown. "Bucket?"

"You told me not to call you Slayer," he said.

"And so you substitute Bucket?"

"It's the nickname of the girl in Casper," he explained.

"And that relates to me how?" she asked.

Spike shrugged and began pushing the cart. "It was the first thing I could think of."

"You couldn't just call me by my name?"

"Do you want to be arrested?"

"Good point," she said. She looked around the brightly lit store and grimaced because of her headache. "What else do we need?"

"Toothbrushes," Spike answered immediately.

Buffy's mouth turned up in an involuntary smile and she saw him echo it. Their pain lessened a fraction by their smiles.

*****

When they got to the men's department, Spike went over to the wall with cubby-holes holding Levi jeans. He found his size and took the entire pile of black ones and stuck them in the semi-full cart. There was already boxes and cans of food in it, plus cans of soda. Spike's plan was to get the milk and bread last. Buffy had put up a token protest about the food, but he told her that if he had to stay alive, she had to stay alive, as well.

Buffy watched with an arched brow as he wheeled the cart from the pants to the underwear aisle. He stopped in front of the Haines bagged pocket-t's and took five of them in his size. "Um, Spike. Is this what you call clothes shopping?"

"I don't want to wear your shirts forever," Spike replied.

Buffy shook her head, put three of the black ones back, and chose a navy blue one, a dark green one and two grey ones. "Now you won't look like you only have on set of clothes," she said. Her eyes drifted over to the nicely wrapped bags of briefs and she blushed. "Um, don't you need underwear, too?"

"Don't wear any, luv," he replied, enjoying her discomfort. He chuckled when she turned redder.

"What about...to sleep," she gestured helplessly. "I'm not going to sleep in the same bed if you're going to be naked."

"'Fraid you'd take advantage of me?" Spike asked, moving the cart down to where the boxers were located.

"As if," Buffy snorted. He gave her a questioning look and she blushed even more. "Just find something to sleep in."

"From what you said, I slept in you today," he smirked. "We could try that again..."

"No!" she exclaimed, grabbing a pair of boxers and shoving them at him. "I am not having sex with you when I can remember it."

Spike looked down at the boxers in his hand, then held them up and grinned. "Really, pet?"

Buffy groaned and sat down on the floor of the aisle. The boxers read 'My Lover' with little hearts all over them. "You know when I asked you to kill me earlier? Would you please do it now?"

"Sorry, Bucket, but no," Spike replied, putting the boxers back. He chose a couple pairs of plain, black ones and added them to the cart. "If I can't die, you can't."

"Poop-head," Buffy mumbled.

Spike rolled his eyes and held out his hand. "Come on, pet. I'm hungry and I'd wager you were, too."

*****

Buffy had the plastic fork halfway to her mouth when the images bombarded her. She saw the entire final scene between her and Angel, and it felt like she'd been hit in the solar plexis with a sledgehammer. "Angel," she whispered, her fork falling to the plate.

The first sob smashed into her full force, causing her to wrap her arms around her stomach from the physical pain. She shoved her chair back and stood, only to collapse to the ground and curl in on herself. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no," she repeated in a wail, sucking in deep, gasping breaths in between.

Spike heard Buffy's cries from outside of the motel room as he returned from hunting. With a quickness that surprised him, he entered the room and had her in his arms, rocking back and forth and whispering comforting words.

"H-He didn't know," Buffy said with her tears. "He d-d-didn't know what w-was ha-hap-happening."

"Shh, it's ok," Spike said. "It's ok."

"No it's not ok!" she screeched, then buried her head in his shoulder. "Angel's soul came b-back and he didn't re-remember what happened! He didn't know he had lost his soul! And now he-he-he's in Hell. Oh god, I'm sorry, Angel. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

Spike closed his eyes against the onslaught of emotions he felt, and continued to hold and rock her silently until her cries tapered out. Then he quietly said, "Bucket, Angel would have wanted you to do it if he had remembered. He probably remembers everything by now, and is bloody proud of you. I know I am, and I'm the bad guy. You saved the world with the greatest sacrifice anyone could ever make. You are a true hero."

"Maybe they'll write an epic about me," Buffy sniffed. "Like that foot guy."

"Achilles?" Spike chuckled and pressed a kiss on the top of her head. "I don't think my sire would make a good Helen of Troy. He'd of looked horrific in a dress." Buffy giggled a little and he tightened his arms around her. "Are you ok now, Bucket?"

"No," Buffy replied. "But I'll survive."

"We both will, luv," Spike said, thinking about Drusilla. "Somehow we both will."

Continued