Buffy slowly struggled to consciousness, her whole body protesting at the thought of coming back from oblivion. She tried to move her hands, but found they were tied behind her. *Ut-oh, not good,* she thought, prying her heavy eyes open. She saw
wood in front of her nose. Carefully, she turned her head. More wood to the left. More wood to the right. More wood with holes in the top. *I’m in a crate. Why am I in a crate?*
Working on the rope that held her wrists behind her back, she concentrated on the noises she heard outside of the crate. She didn’t recognize any of them. "Giles is so gonna kill me," she moaned. "He told me to wait, but did I listen? Nooo. Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
There had been a new character in town who had been following her for the previous few weeks. Human, as far as she could tell, but always there, always watching. It had wigged her out, big time. So, one night she followed him instead, against Giles’ better judgement, and ended up getting stuck in the arm with a very long needle. And here she was. In a crate. Somewhere.
With one more yank, her wrists came apart, the broken rope dropping uselessly to the wooden floor. Buffy put her eye to one of the air holes and saw trees. A lot of trees. Not being able to deduce where she was from inside the box, she pushed up, the lid coming off with ease.
"I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more, Toto," she said out loud, looking around her. Everywhere there were trees and plants and greenery. The sun barely pierced through the canopy, bathing the area in shadows. The only thing out of place was another crate sitting next to hers with a large, white envelope duct taped to the top. Pushing herself up to the lip of the crate, she scrambled over and sat on the top of the other, removing the envelope from its confines. It had Slayer written on it.
Looking around her once again, she opened it and took out a type written letter. "Slayer," she read to herself. "Welcome to the Jungle, we’ve got fun and games, we’ve got everything you want and we know your name…I want to watch you bleed. Come on, I want to hear you scream."
She frowned. This was not a friendly letter she was reading. "Welcome to the Jungle, Slayer. This is a game where we shall see if you can survive. The object of the game is to make it alive to the ‘finish line.’ Other players are on the island…and yes, this is an island, oceans on all sides…who are competing against you and your partner. And what better partner for the best Slayer than the best Vampire? Unless you kill each other, first. Good luck! And remember - the first to arrive will stay alive."
Folding the letter carefully, Buffy started off into the trees, wondering when her life turned into a movie. She took a deep breath and sighed, then knocked on the crate. "Hello? Mr. Vampire? Anyone home?" She didn’t receive any response. "Great. If I wait until dark to see who’s behind door number one, I’ll probably get a permanent case of death."
Thinking rapidly, she hopped off the crate and sent a well placed kick at the one she’d been transported in. The wooden side fell off as expected, creating a large plank. She lifted it up and placed it on top of the other crate, creating a sun-awning. Looking around, she found a few heavy rocks to lay on top to hold it in place. "Time to see who’s home," she muttered, squatting under the make-shift shade.
She carefully examined the wall of the crate, noting the position of the nails. Relieved that she did it correctly the first time, she reached out and grasped both edges of the wall and pulled. The nails groaned as they came out of the wood. Using her head as a prop so the wooden awning wouldn’t fall, she lowered the wall of the crate towards her, scooting backwards as it descended. As soon as she could, she dropped it, then steadied the one on her head. When she was certain it wasn’t going to fall, she looked into the dark interior of the crate. "Hello?"
Buffy blew at an errant piece of hair that fell into her face, then crawled forward, her senses on the alert for an attack. She could make out a figure curled into a ball on the floor of the crate, facing away from her. "Hello? Anyone alive…er, undead?" She tentatively reached a hand out and shook the vampire lightly, then with more force until he flopped partly onto his back, head lolling towards her.
She let out an agonized groan when she recognized the vampire unconscious before her. "What did I ever do to deserve this, huh?" Buffy asked to the world. "I mean, I’m good…most of the time. I do my homework when I can. I slay. I help little old ladies cross the street." She looked down at him, again, then sighed. "Why does it have to be Spike?"
Buffy shivered as night descended on the island. She had managed to scrounge around for what she hoped was non-poisonous food, finding exotic fruit hanging from some trees. No water, though. Earlier, she had moved the crate she came in opposite Spike’s, the wooden plank held up between them, as well as dug small fire pit which glowed from the flames she’d created using the lighter he had in his pocket. He still hadn’t come to, and she was getting worried. Not that she would admit it.
Arms hugged around her knees, she sat in the back of her crate, listening to the noises of the jungle-like area surrounding her. She thought she recognized a few birds and once a loud roar of a wild cat, but most were unfamiliar for someone who grew up in Los Angeles. Granted, she could probably hold her own against the smaller predators, but she was wary about the larger ones, especially the unconscious vampire less than ten feet from her.
She shivered again, then eyed Spike lying in the other crate. Or more specifically, eyed his leather duster. "He doesn’t need it," she said, crawling across the dirt between the two crates. "Vampires don’t feel cold, whereas Buffy does."
Carefully, so as not to jar him or knock him any further into oblivion, she pushed him back onto his side, tugging the coat down his left arm and bunching it as far as she could under him. Another shiver ran through her body, and she hurried, sliding him partially on her lap so as to get the leather off his other arm.
With a happy sigh, she slid the long coat over her arms, feeling the warmth and softness of the old leather, loving the smell of it. "Much better," she murmured, looking down at the vampire who’s body was covering her crossed legs. "Are you ever going to wake up?"
As an answer, Spike moaned from somewhere deep in his chest. Buffy jumped slightly, startled, jarring him with her legs. He moaned again, bringing a hand up to press against his forehead. "Bloody hell," he muttered, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. She didn’t move, her breathing and heartbeat becoming more rapid as she waited for him to open his eyes and see her. And hopefully not kill her.
Spike felt like the inside of his skull was going to split in two as he swam back from the darkness. He forced himself to try and concentrate on the world around him. He heard the sounds of night along with other, unfamiliar animal sounds. He also heard a heartbeat. A rather close heartbeat.
Wondering if Drusilla left him another one of her gifts that he always ignored, he opened his eyes. And immediately closed them again. "Please tell me I’m having a bloody nightmare," he said out loud.
"Nope," Buffy answered, to his dismay. "Sucks, huh?"
He took a deep, un-needed breath and sighed, opening his eyes once again to see her peering at him, upside down. "Any particular reason why I’m laying here in your lap?"
"I was cold," she answered, as if that explained everything. Which it did, once he noticed she was wearing his duster. His favorite duster. The duster he’d had for over fifty years. His duster.
"You’re wearing my coat," he said angrily.
"Duh," she responded. "It’s not like you need it."
"But it’s my bloody coat," he ground out, his head pounding as his teeth clenched.
"Don’t worry, I won’t hurt your precious coat," Buffy said snidely, pushing him off her lap. He fell back on the ground with a smack to his head. Tossing the envelope at him, she crawled back into her make-shift shelter, hugging the coat around her body. She was glad she decided to wear pants the other night, rather than her usual Bronzing clothes.
Cursing, Spike rubbed his head again, trying to stop the little men hammering it, then picked up the envelope she threw at him. Opening the single sheet of paper, he quickly read it, then swore again, this time with more detail on what he was going to do to a certain blond Slayer as soon as his head stopped pounding.
Buffy snorted as she listened to his tirade, fingering the stake she had hidden in the waistband of her pants. She also had five more stashed on her body, along with the gold cross she wore around her neck. If push came to shove, she’d fight him and, hopefully, stake him. But she’d had all afternoon to come to the realization that if he was dust, she’d be alone, wherever it was that they were.
"Slayer?" Spike called to her, breaking into her thoughts. She raised her head, meeting his gaze full on as he sat across the dirt from her, leaning against the side of the crate. "How long have I been out?"
She shrugged. "You were out when I opened the crate."
"And how long ago was that?" he asked, exasperated.
"Since around three," she replied. "At least, that’s what my watch said. It could have been noon for all I know."
His eyes narrowed, then he looked at the make-shift shelter, realizing she’d built it to block the sun’s rays. Blocking them for him. "Are you saying that you’ve had all bloody afternoon to kill me, and you didn’t?"
"Dumb, huh?" Buffy said, pushing her hands into her borrowed coat pockets.
She shrugged again. "Maybe I figured we’d had a truce before, we can have one again, since it would be mutually beneficial to both of us."
"How’s that?" Spike asked, actually curious as to why she would believe he wouldn’t kill her as soon as his head stopped threatening to explode at the slightest movement.
"Look, they gave me a partner for whatever game this is," she said sharply. "The best Slayer paired with the best Vampire, though where they got that idea is beyond me."
"Anyway, it’s obvious they wouldn’t have teamed me up with anyone unless this game was way harsh and they were sick enough to want to give me a sporting chance," she said.
"Unless they wanted me to kill you," he added, bringing his hands up to rub his temples. "Cor, what the bloody hell did they do to me?"
"I got drugged," Buffy supplied. "My bet is you did, too." Their eyes met again, and they both shuddered at the thought of a drug powerful enough to effect, let alone knock out, a vampire. She brought out the cigarettes and lighter she replaced in his pocket and tossed them to him. They landed in the dirt at his side with a soft plop.
"Thanks," he murmured, extracting a cigarette and lighting it. He inhaled the smoke into his dead lungs, glad for the feeling of something to do with himself as he thought about what she said. That was the main reason he smoked to begin with, to busy his hands, the action bringing him some sense of calmness so he could think. He’d picked up a shrink one time that told him he exhibited classic signs of Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity before he killed her. Curious as to what that meant, he’d taken the time to read up on it, finding it fit him to a T and gave some ideas how to control himself even more than taking care of Drusilla had given him.
But now he no longer took care of his Black Queen, and all his excess energy had no escape. His minions could attest to that, once they were able to speak again. Or any of the Brazilian night clubs he visited where he tried to lose himself to the hard music, feeding off the patrons, sometimes getting high from the drugs they had taken. Or any of his victims which he singled out for a long hunt, scaring him into running, then chasing him down like a fox does a rabbit. It was always a male, never a female, and he had to have done some crime that went against Spike’s sense of immorality, which was extremely hard to do, but that’s what made the hunt exhilarating.
Thinking about the hunt caused his blood lust to flare, and he closed his eyes to let his other senses take over, seeking nourishment. He could hear the Slayer’s heartbeat and breathing as if she was less than an inch from him, the thick blood rushing through her veins. Forcefully, he pushed his senses beyond her tantalizing body and out into the jungle which he found himself in. There, about fifty feet away, another life was stalking quietly towards them.
Buffy watched him as he smoked, not breaking the silence between them. His eyes closed and he sat still as death, the cigarette burned down to the filter. She tensed as his game face appeared and he opened his yellow eyes to stare at her. *This is it,* she thought, making sure the stake was free of her waistband. But he did not attack her. Instead, she watched as he moved in a slow, fluid motion, almost rolling to a crouch and peering out into the darkness. That was when she realized she was seeing a predator. A predator on the scent of his prey.
He moved so suddenly it was almost as if he was never there, and she heard the sounds of two creatures fighting for supremacy, for the right to survive. Then silence.
Buffy let out a shriek when Spike’s head popped around the corner of the crate, and he laughed at her. "Startled, pet?" he asked, settling back down on the ground on her side of the fire pit.
"Don’t do that!" Buffy snapped. "There’s all sorts of big bad things out there that could kill me."
"And I’m not one of them?" Spike said, arching an eyebrow at her.
She scowled at him, then thumped her head against the back of the crate. "Why me?"
"Got me, luv," he replied to her rhetorical question. He reached out and snatched the letter from where he dropped it on the ground, re-reading it slower this time. "Welcome to the Jungle… Guns ‘N Roses," he muttered.
"What?" Buffy said, confused and wary of him.
"The first paragraph is from the song Welcome to the Jungle, by Guns ‘N Roses," he told her. At her blank look, he explained further. "You know - Sweet Child of Mine, Don’t Cry, Sympathy for the Devil?"
"Oh! Is that the one that goes ‘Please to meet you, won’t you guess my name’ from the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack?"
His lips curled up in a smirk when he heard the movie title. "Yes, pet, that’s the one," he answered.
"Stupid movie, great soundtrack," she said. "Although that whole adult stuck in a child’s body thing with Claudia was really well done. God, that must have been terrible."
"That’s why we don’t make vampires out of children," Spike told her. "They have a tendency to turn on their masters."
"I know I would," she replied offhandedly. Then she cocked her head, realizing that she wasn’t dead. "I take it we have that truce?"
"For now," Spike said, giving her an evil grin. She rolled her eyes, making him chuckle, then went back to the letter. "I wonder where this finish line is?"
"I think that’s the whole point of this stupid game," she said. "To find it first."
He gave her a look, then continued. "I know that, Slayer. I was thinking out loud."
"Sorry," she replied, clearly not apologetic. She laid down and curled into a ball beneath the long, leather coat, resting her head on an extended arm. She went to say something else, but yawned instead.
"Yeah," Buffy answered. "I went exploring earlier today. Found food, but no water or other shelter from the sun."
He nodded. "Get some sleep." At her wary look, he sighed. "I’m not going to eat you, Slayer. Truce, remember?"
"How do I know I can believe you?"
"You don’t," Spike replied. "You’re just going to have to trust me to keep my word."
"Like you did when you came back to Sunnydale?" Buffy said with fake sweetness.
"Hey, you said to leave, you didn’t say I couldn’t come back," Spike said.
Giving him one final inspection, she nodded and closed her eyes, knowing that she wouldn’t sleep anyway. But the days events and the drug belayed her thoughts, and she slipped into sleep.
When Spike heard her breathing change, he stood and walked away from the low fire she’d built, allowing his human mask to slip away so he could see better in the darkness. It was time for him to go exploring himself.
Buffy awoke a few hours later to the delicious smell of cooking meat. Opening her eyes, she saw Spike sitting on the opposite side of the fire, working with something in his hands. Stretching, she sat up and was about to speak when her stomach let out a loud growl.
"Hungry, pet?" Spike asked with a chuckle, looking up from what he was doing. "There’s some meat on those sticks there."
Without a word, she scooted forward and picked up one of those sticks, sinking her teeth into the juicy meat. Much better than the fruit. "Mmmm," she hummed, licking her lips before taking another bite.
Spike slammed his mouth closed with a loud clack when he realized he was staring at her lips, his movements becoming jerky. *Bloody hell, I’ve haven’t had a woman in way too long,* he thought angrily.
"What are you doing?" Buffy asked between bites.
"Processing the wild boar," he answered.
"Cleaning off the bloody bones and skin so we can use them, Slayer," he snapped.
"Cranky much?" Buffy said. His head shot up and he shot her a murderous glare. "Jeez, sorry."
Spike rubbed his forearm across his brow in a gesture of frustration. "No, I’m sorry, pet. There are a million things I’d rather be doing right now than sitting here in a jungle."
"With me," she finished, setting the now empty stick down.
"Well, ditto," she interrupted, climbing to her feet, his long duster swirling around her as she stomped off.
"Great going, mate," Spike said to himself. "Get her brassed at you so she’ll leave and you’ll be stuck here, alone." He had spent the past few hours thinking as he explored the surrounding area, thinking that it was about time someone acknowledged he was the best vampire around, thinking about how he could have possibly got to wherever here was, thinking about the blond Slayer that had been the bane of his existence, thinking about how she stole his duster.
He finally decided that it would be better if they worked together, rather than him killing her, and had spent the remainder of the time stripping the wild boar he’d fed on, waiting for her to wake up. And what did he do when she did? Chased her off. With his coat.
"Listen, you bleached bloodsucker," Buffy’s voice shot out at him from the darkness surrounding their little camp. "Do you really think I want to be here? Do you really think I chose to get drugged, tied up, shipped off to god knows where in a crate to participate in some stupid game?" He saw her come into the light, the flames creating highlights and shadows on her features. "Now, I’d rather have your help than to be stuck out here all alone, but if you want to fight, then we’ll fight."
Buffy stared down at him, her whole body tense, waiting for his answer. There had never been anyone who could piss her off as much as he did. Not even Xander on his Angel bashing days.
Spike, on the other hand, was anything but tense as he stared back at her. All he could think of was how strong and powerful she looked in the flickering light, much like the character in his favorite comic book, with her wide stance, her fists clenched, her angry glare, his coat moving slightly in the breeze. All she needed was a wooden staff in her hands and he would have sworn she’d stepped right out of the pages.
"Are you going to answer me?"
He shook his head, startled. "Sorry…um, no. I don’t want to fight you," he managed to get out, looking back down at the pelt in his hands. *I’ve gone completely daft,* he thought as she sighed.
"Good." Buffy sat down on the opposite side of the fire, crossing her legs underneath her, the coat practically swallowing her up. "Now that that’s settled, let’s get down to business."
They decided, more out of necessity than want, to spend another day where they were. Spike had found that the set up of the crates was quite adequate to keep the sun’s harmful rays from him, and he was able to stretch his legs out to sleep. Buffy had drifted off about half an hour before he did, her entire body buried beneath his duster. His last thought before he fell asleep was that he’d have to get that back from her when he woke up.
"Damn," Buffy swore, climbing quickly to her feet as the noise of running feet grew louder. She grabbed one of the makeshift weapons Spike had created the night before, holding it in the ready position as her eyes searched the fading day.
The animal was huge, gray with wicked looking horns. When it saw her, it snorted loudly, pawing at the earth with its hooves. She didn’t know what it was, only that it was about to charge at her. And at the temporary home.
With a sudden yell, Buffy ran to her left, pulling the animal into a chase away from Spike and his shelter. She could hear it clomping after her, its hooves undoubtedly kicking up clumps of dirt in its wake. Low hanging branches scraped at her skin as she ran further into the jungle, her enhanced speed keeping her well ahead of it.
She never saw the root that tripped her, the incline she rolled down, or the rock that smashed into her skull.
Spike woke just as the sun went down, absently noting that the fire had gone out. Pushing himself to a sitting position, he looked over to where he expected Buffy to be, only to find her gone. "Slayer?" he called out, moving from under the wooden awning. He stood and turned in a complete circle, scanning the trees for the missing girl. "Slayer, where are you?"
Frowning, he extended his senses, hoping to hear the familiar rhythm of her heartbeat that he’d listened to the night before as she slept. Nothing but the sounds of the animal life seeking shelter from the predators of the darkness could he hear. With a small growl of annoyance, he left the area for something to eat.
Stealthily, he made his way into the jungle, his game face prevalent as he sought out his prey. He smelled the blood first, the tangy odor which was dried, but definitely human. Then, he heard the heartbeat he had been searching for, low and steady as if in sleep. Or unconsciousness. Picking up his pace, Spike followed the invisible trail until he practically stumbled over the Slayer, lying face down on the hard earth.
"Bloody hell," he swore as he knelt, carefully turning her over. He noted the large gash in her head, the unnatural pallor of her complexion in the moonlight. "Slayer? Can you hear me?" She didn’t answer, not that he thought she would, and he scooped her up into his arms. He tried to unsuccessfully climb back up the incline, but it was too steep. With a growl and a curse, he turned in the opposite direction and carried her off into the night.
It was a stroke of luck, really, to have chosen the one way that led to a stream, then a pool of water with an outcropping of rocks with enough recesses to hide from the sun that was slowly approaching. Spike gently laid Buffy down, then hurried back outside, stripping off his red shirt and dunking it in the cool water. He returned to the shaded area and carefully wiped the dried blood away to find that the gash was pretty much gone.
The bloodlust swelled in him as he continued bathing the cuts on her hands, but he ignored it with the centuries of practice under his belt. When he finished, he went out to the pool to rinse his shirt out, then laid it out to dry on a rock during the coming day. Running a weary hand over his once more human features, he sat down next to her to wait.
Of course, waiting had never been his strong suit. He tried to smoke, but found after the first three the only thing it was doing was running him out of cigarettes. He played with the lighter for awhile until he burned his fingers, then started throwing rocks out of the small cave like area at the pool, each landing with a small plunk. He’d even sunk to counting the number of ripples the stones made as they landed, but that only lasted until one hundred. How he ever survived being stuck in a wheelchair was beyond comprehension.
"Ow." He suddenly heard the moan coming from the blond Slayer at the back of their hiding place. The sun had long since crested the horizon as he scrambled to her. "Slayer?"
Buffy forced her eyes open to see Spike peering down at her, a worried expression on his face. "Did you get the number on that cow?"
"What?" Spike asked, wondering if her knock on the head caused brain damage.
"The cow thingy…oh, never mind," she sighed, bringing a hands up to rub her temples as she looked around. "This doesn’t look like wood."
His lips quirked in a half grin. "That’s because it’s not, pet. I couldn’t get back up that bloody hill you fell down."
Buffy pushed herself to a sitting position. "Well, next time you get the big animal to chase you and fall down the bloody hill," she said, mimicking his accent with the last words.
"Why did you go and do something like that?" Spike said.
"Oh, I don’t know. There was nothing on TV, so I figured, hey, why not save Spike’s worthless hide by luring the big bad charging animal away," she replied sarcastically.
Spike was both relieved and amazed at the same time. Relieved that she wasn’t hurt worse, amazed that she’d put herself in danger for him. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"You’re…you’re welcome," Buffy replied, unsure of how to take his words. She’d never been thanked for saving someone’s life before, especially not when that someone was a vampire. Usually it was just stake and poof, all part of her sacred duty.
He smiled at her. "There’s a pool down there," he said, gesturing outside. "I can’t tell you if it’s fresh or not, though."
"Really?" she said, hurrying past him on all fours. She let out a whoop, then practically leapt down the rocks, the leather coat billowing out behind her. He watched as she knelt and scooped some water into her hands, tasting it cautiously, then more greedily.
"I take it it’s fresh," he called down to her, chuckling as she nodded enthusiastically, still drinking. He settled himself down near the mouth of the enclosure and shut his eyes, his body exhausted from the long night and partial day of worrying about her.
When he opened his eyes again, the sun’s position in the sky had changed and was shining down on the pool of water. Fascinated, he watched as the light caught the small ripples in the pool, highlighting them with colors he hadn’t seen in a long time. The beauty of it could have stolen his breath away.
But what happened next, did. Even though he didn't breathe.
Inhaling sharply, Spike gazed upon the water nymph that rose up out of the water, sun glistening on the drops of moisture that ran down her body. She raised her arms, brushing back her hair, her heavy breasts lifting with the movement. His eyes trailed down her flat stomach and over her curved hips which the water caressed with small waves. She began to walk towards him, her fingertips dragging along the surface, and his mouth became dry as each step brought her closer to the shore, closer to him.
She turned suddenly, breaking his tantalizing view as she hopped up backwards onto the rock that jutted out over the water. She pushed herself to her feet, and he hissed through his teeth as his hungry gaze roved over the strong lines of her back, the curve of her buttocks, the muscles of her thighs and calves. She bent and he almost died again right there as she picked up his discarded red shirt and used it to dry herself. He had never envied a piece of clothing before, but he did now.
Covering that beautiful body seemed blasphemous and he ached to go out in the sun to take her in his arms and prevent her from redressing. But, he couldn’t, instead he sat there and watched until she was fully clothed, then turned away with dark thoughts and a throbbing erection under his black jeans. *She’s the Slayer, mate. Don’t even think about going there,* he told himself as he heard her footsteps up the rocks. *Even if she’s the best looking creature you’ve ever seen.*
Spike pretended to still be asleep when she entered the shelter, hands in his lap to hide the obvious bulge. When he’d given her enough time to settle down, he faked waking up. "Hello, pet."
"Hi," Buffy replied, running her fingers through her wet hair. "Sleep good?"
"Like the dead," he quipped, earning a giggle from her. "I take it you took a dip?"
"Yeah," she said. "It felt really good. After the sun goes down, you’ll have to try it."
"Maybe I will," Spike replied, his eyes watching the drops of water trail down the back of her hand onto her wrist and under her sleeve. "Then we really should get started with the plan."
"Right, the plan," she confirmed, tucking her wet hair behind her ears. "I’m figuring it doesn’t make a difference that we’re starting from here."
"Not at all, ducks," Spike said. "In fact, I wouldn’t mind if we stayed here for awhile."
*So I can see your gorgeous body again,* he added silently.
"Sounds good to me," Buffy agreed, laying down on the rock floor, using his leather duster as a pillow. "Wake me when it’s time to go."
Spike was gone from the entryway when Buffy woke up. Shivering, she slid his coat over his arms, then moved to the mouth of their shelter, searching for him. She didn’t have to search far.
Moonlight glittered through the trees, bathing the pool in a soft glow as she watched him emerge from the water, his alabaster skin catching the light. Her eyes traveled down from his chiseled face to his lean, muscular chest and stomach, and felt her toes curl as the shadows made him more defined, more beautiful, like a moving statue.
He stepped out of the water and she swallowed heavily, her vaginal muscles clenching in excitement and arousal. She let her gaze follow the planes of his body, the corded muscles in his legs as he bent to retrieve his jeans before landing on the forbidden. To her disappointment, he was soon redressed in his pants and she scrambled back from the entrance, not wanting to get caught blatantly ogling her mortal enemy.
Buffy heard him climbing back up the rocks and tensed, forcing an I-didn’t-just-see-your-gorgeous-body-and-really-really-like-it smile on her face. "Hey. Where did you run off to?"
"For a dip and a something to eat, luv," Spike replied, running a hand through is short hair. Buffy watched as the water ran down his hand and under the cuff of his red shirt which had finally dried. "I have some fruit for you down by the water."
"Thanks," she replied, willing her mind away from her naughty thoughts. "I can eat and walk at the same time."
"Shall we then?"
"Let’s do it."
"Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh. Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh," Buffy was singing as they traipsed through the jungle in the dark. They went north, or at least what they thought was north, on their first combined foray for the mysterious ‘finish line.’ The moon peering through the thick canopy was the only light source, but both creatures of the night - one out of necessity and one out of duty - had no trouble making their way through the trees. "Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh. Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, cinco, seis."
"Slayer, what in the world are you singing?" Spike asked, watching her dance as she walked in front of him.
"A song I heard on the radio the other day," she replied with a little hop and a skip. "It’s called ‘Pretty Fly for a White Guy’ by Offspring."
"And that’s music?" he said sarcastically.
"It’s better than whatever it is you listen to," she replied. "Bach, Mozart, Chop-in."
"It’s pronounced ‘Sho-pan’ and that’s not what I listen to," he corrected. "I like the Sex Pistols, Radiohead…"
"…Bands I never heard of," she finished. He scowled at the back of her blond head. "How much more time do we have before we gotta head back?"
"Another hour, at least," Spike replied to her change of subject.
"I wish I knew what we were looking for," Buffy said. "We could have passed it and not even known."
"I think it’ll be obvious when we find it, pet," he said.
"You sound so confident that we will."
"Of course," he bragged. "You’re with the best vampire."
Buffy snorted. "Can we say overblown ego?"
"Watch it, ducks," Spike warned. "I can still kill you and take my duster back."
"Aww, is wittle Willy missing his coat?"
"Don’t call me that," he growled at her.
"What? Little or Willie?" Her laughter rang out in the night as he growled at her again, and unbeknownst to them catching the attention of another team coming towards them from the west.
"Bugger off," Spike said, pushing past her into the lead.
She chuckled as she watched him stomp away. He looked different without the leather, younger, less tough but still very masculine. Deep in thought, she missed the branch that snagged her hair, catching her off guard. "Ow," she gasped, reaching up to free herself.
The two humans came out of the darkness, one tackling the Slayer to the ground, ripping her hair from the branch. They both fell hard and the wind was knocked out of her as his hands reached for her throat.
Buffy swore and grabbed his wrists, pulling them away from her neck and rolling so she was above him. She brought back her fist to punch him when the second human grabbed it. Using her Slayer strength, she yanked her arm forward, sending him flying past her.
The one on the ground took that opportunity to deck her across the jaw. Startled, she let go of his other wrist, and he pushed her off of him. They both jumped to their feet, circling each other. "Are you human?" Buffy asked as she ducked under his kick.
"I’m an ex-Seal," he ground out in answer, lashing his foot out again. The second team member got up and was making his way behind her.
"Great, human," Buffy muttered, her own kick landing in his gut, sending him back several feet. The one behind her wrapped his arms around hers and she sent her head back into his, breaking his nose. She raised both arms quickly, escaping his hold, then sent an elbow to his chest. He staggered back with the strength of her blow.
The first one recovered and came running at her, sending them both crashing against a tree. With a grunt, the ex-Seal grabbed her hair and banged her head on the trunk. Buffy brought both arms out to her sides, then rammed her fists into his sides as if she were clapping. He yanked her head down by the hair, gasping in pain, and drove his fist to her face.
The second human ducked in front of his team mate, wrapping his arms around her legs so she couldn’t move. She blocked the next punch, but was having trouble keeping her balance as he banged her head against the tree again. All she had to do was grab the stake and plunge it into his neck, but that pesky ‘no killing humans’ rule prevented her from doing it. But Spike could. With that thought, she took a deep breath and screamed his name. "SPIKE!"
He appeared out of nowhere with a deadly growl, grabbing the ex-Seal’s head and sinking his fangs into the neck. His gold eyes met Buffy’s wide eyed hazel ones as he quickly drained the man.
The one holding the Slayer’s legs got up and began to run as Spike let the body fall to the ground. The vampire was on him in a flash, knocking him to the ground and driving his canines into his jugular.
Buffy was mortified at what he’d done, at what she allowed him to do. Without a word, she took off back towards the pool, tears streaming down her face.
"Slayer!" Spike yelled, chasing after her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to a halt.
"How could you?" Buffy yelled at him.
"What did you bloody expect me to do?" he retorted, human mask in place. "I’m a vampire, remember?"
"And I’m a vampire slayer," she spat back, a stake appearing in her hand.
"If you really want a fight, I’d be happy to give it a go," he said. "But if you start something, you’d better be prepared to finish it."
Buffy seemed to deflate before his very eyes, her body slumping, the stake falling uselessly to her side as her silent tears turned to sobs. "Hey now," he said softly. "It was kill or be killed, pet. This way at least I got a free meal."
"Oh, that makes it all better," she sniffed.
"If they weren’t human, would you have killed them?"
Buffy looked up at him with wide, sad eyes. "Yes," she whispered, her lip trembling again.
Without another thought, Spike pulled her into his arms, stroking her hair as she cried on his chest. When she had calmed down, he tilted her chin up to look in her eyes. "I think we’ve gone far enough for tonight"
Buffy nodded, turned and began walking slowly back to their ‘camp.’ Upon arriving, she crawled into the crevice and curled into a ball, staring at the rock wall.
Spike sighed as he stood in the entryway. "We’ll head south tomorrow night, ok, pet?"
"Yeah," she answered solemnly.
Spike’s temper flared and he angrily left the enclosure, leaping from rock to rock around the small pool, climbing and descending as he tried to cool off. He was mad at her for being mad at him, for being mad at herself. Life was a survival game and he’d be damned again if he was going to go without a fight.
Sick of climbing, he stripped off his clothes and went into the water, diving under near the center to swim to the bottom. Once there, he let himself drift, his body floating towards the surface before kicking himself back down again.
He found her sitting next to his clothes when he broke the surface, his long leather duster wrapped tightly around her bent legs as she stared up in the sky. "I’d forgotten how beautiful the stars were," she said.
Spike stood in the water, the small waves lapping at his hips. "That they are, luv."
When he didn’t move, Buffy looked over at him and gave him a quick smile. "I won’t peek," she said, then raised her gaze back to the night sky.
He chuckled, wading to the rock that stretched over the water. He climbed up and slid on his black jeans, then sat next to her, legs stretched out, arms propping him up as he raised his eyes to the stars. They stayed like that in silence until dawn.