"I wonder how many other players are on the island," Buffy said as they headed south the following night.
"Two less than last night," Spike quipped, earning a dirty look from the Slayer. He chuckled. "I don't know, pet. Enough to make the game worthwhile, I suppose."
"Maybe we'll get lucky and not run into anyone else."
"I highly doubt that, Slayer," her replied. "My luck hasn't been the same since I met you."
"You make that sound like a bad thing," she said, grinning at him.
"It is from where I'm standing," he retorted.
"Wanna switch places, then?" Buffy joked.
"Funny, kitten. Very funny," Spike said. "Although I would like my duster back."
"Tough," she said. "I'm human, you're not, so I get to wear it." He grumbled something obscene and she giggled. "Stop being such a big baby. It's just a coat."
"Just a coat!" Spike said incredulously. "I've worn that coat for over fifty year!"
"No wonder it's so soft," she commented. "What about he rest of your clothes? Have you worn those same ones for fifty years, too?"
"I have not."
"Then why do I always see you in them?"
Spike scowled at her. "None of your bloody business."
"Aw, come on. You can tell me," Buffy batted her eyes at him.
"I guess I'll have to ask Drusilla then," she said with a shrug.
"You stay away from her, Slayer," Spike ordered.
"Why? Afraid I'll dust her?"
"More like I'm afraid she'd kill you," he mumbled under his breath in reply.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, Slayer. Just keep walking."
"Aye, aye, sir," she said, giving him a mock salute.
He rubbed a hand over his face and sighed dramatically. "Why me?"
"Must be that luck of yours."
"Oh, piss off."
They had gone as far as they could, not finding anything, before having to turn back to get to the pool before dawn. Once there, they crawled into the shaded area and fell into an exhausted sleep.
Spike's yell woke her up and had her on her knees in a second. Buffy's eyes widened at the green, moss covered thing that was pulling the vampire from the safety of the rocks into the sun. He was trying frantically to find purchase on the rock floor, to no avail.
Buffy launched herself at the thing without thought for her own safety. They both fell, tumbling down the rocks as Spike shot back into the shadows.
Never more glad that she'd stolen his leather coat, protecting her from scraping against the rocks, Buffy jumped to her feet at the same time as the moss creature did. Round off, back kick, punch, round kick, punch, her body flew into the fighting patterns, each hit sending the creature staggering from the impact.
Then her foot fell in between the rocks and she went down, hard.
Spike watched in petrified horror as she struggled to free herself, the moss creature approaching. His body was coiled in tension, wanting to go to her aid, but the deadly rays of the sun prevented him from acting. He knew better than to shout out a warning, any distraction could have her killed. *Slayer, watch out,* he mentally yelled to her.
As if she heard, Buffy's arms shot out and grabbed the creature by the legs, knocking it to the hard rocks. It scrambled to its knees, hands aiming for her neck. She acted as though she didn't see him, pretending to concentrate on freeing herself until he was within reach. A second later, the moss creature was dead, neck broken by her expert hands.
Spike nervously chewed on his thumbnail as he waited for Buffy to untrap herself. He wanted to pace, but there wasn't enough height to stand. When she finally crawled into the shelter, he grabbed her into a tight embrace, allowing his closely guarded feelings to surface.
"Spike, I need to breathe," Buffy said, breaking into his panicked reassurance that the Slayer was alive and well.
He let go, backing up on his knees to put some distance between them. "Sorry," he muttered, looking down a the rock floor, his mind racing, trying to figure out his panic and relief at the fact that she was alright. It shouldn't have mattered what happened to her, but it did and Spike was at a loss on how to explain his behavior or feelings.
Luckily, Buffy didn't seem to want an explanation. She lowered herself to a sitting position and removed her gym shoe and sock to examine her ankle. "Damn," she swore softly.
Spike crawled over to her and lifted her foot onto his lap, doing his own examination. "Looks like a sprain, luv," he said, gently running his fingers over the slowly swelling flesh. "You should get it in the cool water."
"Nah, it'll heal by tonight," Buffy told him. "As long as I don't have to use it, that is." His fingers continued to play lightly along her ankle and foot, sending tendrils of pleasure up her leg. She licked her lips.
Spike groaned softly when he saw her pink tongue dart out to moisten her lips. Carefully, he set her foot on the ground between his legs, then went forward on his knees, cupping her chin with one hand and bringing his lips down on hers for a kiss.
It was a soft kiss, tender and wary as first kisses tend to be. Cool lips met warm, sending shivers through both of their bodies, neither of them having done this simple act in too long of a time.
Spike broke it first, pulling back slightly to look in her eyes. He ran his thumb along her bottom lip, the black, chipped nail polish in sharp contrast to the pink tinge of her mouth. Without a word, he leaned forward again and placed a kiss on her forehead, then moved so he was sitting next to her, his back against the rock wall, his eyes closed, hands lying loosely at his side.
Then he felt something he never expected in a million years - Buffy climbing into his lap and initiating another kiss.
The kiss was passionate, but not less tender than the first one as Spike brought his hand up under the coat and around her waist. Her own hands were holding his face as she led their tongues into an erotic dance. He let his fingers loose under her shirt, tracing random patterns on her skin, making her tremble.
She was the one who shrugged the leather duster off of her shoulders, then broke the kiss to remove her shirt and bra in one quick movement. He inhaled sharply as his eyes caressed the same skin he'd seen a few days before bathed in the sunlight, water running down her form. He ran his hands lightly up her sides, then brought one around her neck to pull her into another kiss.
Buffy's own hands began to knead at his shoulders and chest as he began kissing down her jaw, to her neck, his tongue dipping into the hollow of her throat. She moaned quietly as he moved lower, licking and nipping at her tender skin, sending tremors of excitement through her body. She rocked against him unconsciously, feeling his arousal through his jeans.
Spike groaned when she rubbed against him, breaking off his ministrations to look into her eyes. He saw desire burning behind them, mimicking his own blue gaze and he quickly lifted her from his lap, setting her aside so he could spread the leather coat across the rock floor and remove his shirt and T-shirt.
Her lips quirked into a small smile and she scooted onto the soft material, toeing off her other shoe and sock. With a gentleness she didn't know he possessed, he laid down next to her and ran one hand slowly down her body, from her throat to her navel, his eyes never leaving hers. He gave her a tender smile, then moved to remove her last vestiges of clothing. Returning to her side, he let his eyes travel down her body the same way his hand did moments before, burning her with anticipation.
Spike took off the remainder of his clothing. She saw him watching her, a blazing inferno behind the blue orbs, the evidence of his need pressed against her thigh. He was waiting for her, waiting for the invitation into her arms, into her body. With a small smile, she reached for him, wanting nothing more than to feel his touch, feel his cool body filling her.
Buffy woke to find herself wrapped in Spike's leather coat and him gone, the sun having said goodnight to the day. Dressing quickly, she slid the soft material over her arms and crawled out of the enclosure, her eyes searching for him. He was sitting at the highest point on the rocks, facing away from her, the cherry of his cigarette burning bright against the darkness of the sky.
Spike could hear the woman of his thoughts climbing up the rocks to join him. He'd woken up as the sun went down and had left her to feed and gather some fruit. He'd also taken care of the moss creature's body, leaving it for the other predators to find. After he had finished, he climbed up the rocks to think, his body calm for the first time in centuries. And he knew it was because of her, the Slayer, his mortal enemy no more.
"Hi," Buffy greeted softly, not wanting to intrude on the peacefulness of the night. She sat down next to him, pulling the coat around her legs and looked out into the distance.
"Are we heading that way tonight?"
"Yes," Spike replied just as quiet. He stubbed out his cigarette as he looked over at her, memorizing her moon lit features. He turned back to the jungle, his hand falling over hers, intertwining her fingers with his as they listened to the night. "Come on, luv," he said, helping her to her feet. The descended the other side of the rocks, hands still linked, and continued on their quest for the illusive ‘finish line.'
"Spike," Buffy gasped, squeezing his hand as she came to a halt. "Look." She raised her other hand to point up the side of a cliff in the near distance.
Spike let his game face come forth and looked to where she directed. Up on the top was what looked to be a small shack with a bright orange wind sock flying on a pole next to it. "That has to be it," he said, letting his features melt back to human. "I doubt we could make it there tonight, pet."
She looked up into the starry heavens, then back at the shack. "You're right. Especially if we have to climb that cliff. That looks like it'll take most of the night in itself." They turned together, heading back towards the pool.
"We may have to do it in two nights," Spike said, his mind running with possible scenarios. "Which would require me being able to find some sort of shelter for the day."
"Wouldn't want you to burn to a crisp now that we're so close to the end," Buffy responded, giving him a smile.
"No, we wouldn't," he replied, returning the smile. They walked the rest of the way back in silence, each thinking of how close they were to the end, of how much neither really wanted it to end. When they got back to the pool, their eyes met and they came together with ferocity, their lips and tongues dueling as they forced thoughts and emotions away, replacing it with want, need and hunger.
Spike quickly shoved his coat off of her shoulders, lifting her shirt and bra off in one fell swoop. Kneeling, he pushed down her pants and panties, barely pausing to take off her shoes. He stood and shed his own clothing until they were both naked, the moonlight caressing their skin. He gave her a searing kiss, then picked her up in his arms and carried her into the pond where he first saw her beautiful body rising up out of the water like a mermaid.
Their coupling was quick and frenzied at first, each trying to prevent the coming days when their new found closeness would come to an end. The second time it was tender, loving, each seeking to memorize the other's touch, the other's scent, the other's body. Afterwards, they stayed connect together in the water, not talking, their foreheads touching until the sky lit up in false dawn.
Buffy went out during the day to find shelter for Spike as close as they could get to the rock face. She lucked out when she spotted a large, hollowed out tree big enough for both of them to spend the day.
She took the extra time to study the cliff, noting foot holds and pratfalls in the surface they had to climb to reach the top. She was not lying when she told Spike it would take most of the night to scale it, especially since they would have no safety equipment to aid them.
"Spike?" Buffy said later that night as they walked through the trees holding hands.
"What's going to happen when we get back to civilization?" she asked.
"I don't know, Slayer," he replied, his eyes searching for answers as if they were hidden in the jungle. "I'm a vampire who feeds off of humans and that's something I'm not going to give up."
"And it's my duty to save those humans," she said, sighing with the irony of her life. "It's not something I'm going to give up either."
He looked over at her, the first calming force in his otherwise hyperactive life, and he realized that once this was over, they might possibly never see each other again. On one hand it saddened him, but on the other hand it made him happy to know that he had attained as close to heaven as he ever was going to get without worrying that the real world would destroy anything they had together.
Buffy's thoughts paralleled Spike's, knowing that it would be almost impossible for a vampire and a Slayer to be together, to have the type of relationship that lasted. She'd already been through hell with Angel, and she doubted she could go through it again and survive. But she wouldn't trade this time with him for anything in the world.
That day, they curled up in each other's arms for what possibly could be the last time.
Buffy stood directly beneath the stone facade that led to the shack at the top of the cliff. "This is going to be such fun," she groaned, looking straight up, the darkness of the night surrounding them. "I hope you're not afraid of heights."
"A vampire who's afraid of heights?" Spike said, arching a brow at her.
"Hey, if you fall down, you get just as broken," she replied, blowing her hair off her face. She looked at him, then back at the cliff. "You do realize that we're insane?"
"Completely batty," he agreed, a huge smile on his face. His whole body was tense with anticipation of a real challenge - climbing the face of a cliff at night. "I can't wait to start."
"Here," Buffy said, sliding off the leather duster she'd worn practically non-stop for the past few days. "I'm not going to be able to climb with this on. I guess you can have it back."
"Oh, thank you, kind hearted Slayer," he said with false sweetness. "For returning what is mine."
She rolled her eyes as he put it on, then giggled at the pleased face he made now that the leather was back on his own body. "Can we go now? I'd like to get to the top sometime before the sun fries you."
In response, he grabbed her and planted a hard kiss on her mouth, then started up the side of the cliff, leaving a dazed Buffy. "Come on, pet, you're laggin' behind," he called down to her, already ten feet off the ground.
Buffy snapped out of her daze at his words and began to climb up behind him. "You know, when this is all over, I have a stake with your name on it."
"Promises, promises," he teased back.
Climbing slowly, their light banter waned as they got higher, placing their focus on the feel of the rock beneath their fingers and toes, the search for new hand and foot holds, the sense of balance needed so as not to plummet back to the hard, unforgiving earth. It was at about one hundred feet when they both heard the crashing through the jungle that was carried to their ears by the echo off the rock face.
Carefully looking down, Buffy gasped when she saw two creatures approach the bottom of the cliff. They were both hideous looking humanoids, with red, blotchy skin, large protruding horns curling out of their skulls, and sharp, scorpion like tails. She heard Spike swear fluently as he noticed them, then began to climb faster. "Slayer, best speed up or you're going to find yourself shish-ka-bobbed," he said from above her.
Not needing any more prompting, Buffy renewed her ascent in earnest, jamming her fist into hole after hole to hoist herself up the wall. Soon, her knuckles were raw and bleeding, each ram of her fist sending bolts of pain lancing up her arms. When she looked up to find her next hand hold, she saw Spike peering down at her from twenty feet higher, his yellow eyes almost glowing in the dark, the long, leather duster billowing out behind him in the slight breeze.
Sweat poured down her face and back, beading up under her breasts, making them itch. Her mouth was dry as dust and her legs were beginning to ache from the constant pressure on her toes as she continued to climb. Daring to glance down, she saw the two creatures were gaining on them and her heart started to pound in her chest.
Buffy yelled out in pain as the next hole she shoved her fist into ripped the flesh off the top of her hand. Blood poured from the wound, running down her wrist, then her arm, before dripping off her elbow towards the beasts below.
"Buffy!" Spike called out, starting to climb down instead of up at her cry. All his thoughts were on getting to her, helping her, making sure that she was to be the first to the shack at the top as the last line of the letter played over in his head - first to arrive will stay alive.
He reached her side, the smell of her blood almost overwhelming him as she continued to rise, tears streaming down her face. "Come on, Buffy, you can do it," he mumbled as he stayed where he was, letting her pull ahead of him. He was placing himself between the creatures and her, and he'd be dead before he'd let them overtake her or win.
Buffy didn't think, she only climbed, the face of the wall the only thing she saw as she pushed and pulled herself up the cliff. Her hand was on fire as she continually rammed it into the rock, ripping the remaining flesh and muscle away with each foot she rose. Three hundred feet, four hundred feet, five hundred, the cliff seemed to go on and on, the sky stretching out above her like a dark blanket, the moon bathing her in an eerie glow. And still she continued to climb.
She almost fell when she reached up to find air. Looking up sharply, she saw that she had reached the top. With a cry of relief, she scrambled over the precipice, clawing into the dirt with her fingers for leverage. She rolled onto her back when she was certain she was on solid ground, staring up at the night sky as she tried to get her rapid breathing and pounding heart under control.
With a savage yank, Buffy ripped one sleeve off her shirt and wrapped it around her hand, tying it tightly with her teeth, the pink ends flapping down like twin tails on a kite. Her eyes widened in horror, and she crawled on her stomach to the edge of the cliff when she thought of tails and peered down the side to see Spike fifty feet away and the two humanoids less than twenty feet from him.
"Hurry, Spike," she called to him, panic in her voice.
His yellow eyes flashed to her, then down at his pursuers. "Get to the shack, Buffy!" Spike yelled up to her.
"Not without you!"
"Damn it, Slayer," he practically screamed at her. "Get your bloody terrible at sex arse in that shack now!"
Buffy's world froze when she heard his words, ice running up and down her spine as she scrambled back from the edge. "No," she said out loud, hands pressing against her ears in an attempt to block out what he said. But the words came anyway, mingling in with the words Angel had said to her after he'd lost his soul. "No, no, no, no, no. It's a lie! I don't believe him!"
Her own voice snapped her out of despair and she searched around frantically for something to help Spike. She would be damned if he was going to die without her giving him a piece of her mind and a bigger piece of her fist. Standing, she ran around the outside of the shack, looking for anything that would do.
As she came around the last side of the worn building she saw it - a long, nicely coiled rope just waiting to be used. She scooped it up in her arms and ran to the metal pole holding the bright, orange wind sock aloft. She quickly tied one end of the rope to the pole, mentally crossing her fingers that the pole was anchored firmly enough, then ran back to the edge of the cliff.
Laying down again, she saw that Spike had managed to climb fifteen more feet, but the two creatures were almost upon him, less than five feet below him. "Spike!" Buffy yelled down.
"I thought I told you to go, you stupid bitch!" he screamed up at her.
She ignored his words and tossed the rope over the edge right at him. It hit his back with a soft thud against the leather. "Climb up! Hurry!"
"When I get up there, I'm going to kill you myself," he yelled as he grabbed the rope and began to walk up the wall at a fast clip, his vampiric strength aiding his assent. "Get in the damn shack!"
One of the creatures grabbed the rope and began to climb behind the blond vampire. The second she saw that, she reach out her hand. "Hurry," she begged.
Spike saw her extended arm and growled long and deep as he latched onto her wrist in a safety hold. She pulled with all her strength, bringing him up over the edge of the cliff to the dirt next to her. "Damn you," he hissed at her as he pushed himself to his feet. He grabbed the back of her shirt and yanked her off the ground. "Why didn't you listen to me? Why didn't you get in that bloody shack?"
"Not without you," Buffy whispered in reply, her face a mess of dirt and tears. Her eyes widened as she saw the humanoid beast's head come over the top of the cliff and she hit Spike's chest to get his attention.
Spike looked over his shoulder, then dropped the Slayer to her feet. He grabbed her hand, not caring that it was injured or about her scream of pain and ran towards the building pulling her as fast as he could go. He had to get her inside.
Rounding the corner, he saw the door swinging open and he paused, peering into the interior. Seeing nothing amiss, he pulled Buffy into his arms, smashing her lips with his own before shoving her through the open door.
"Spike! Come in!" Buffy cried out as she tried to grab onto him as she started to fall through the doorway. It was the long, leather duster she managed to capture between her fingers, pulling him with her as she fell.
They landed together simultaneously on the floor, Spike facing her as the red skinned beast came into view. She called out a warning, and the vampire rolled them both to the side just as the scorpion like tail imbedded itself into the wooden floor where they had been an instant before.
"The door," Buffy cried into his ear. "Close the door."
The outer door was right next to Spike's leg, swinging loosely on its hinges. He turned as the creature raised his tail and sent a savage kick at the wood, sending it flying. It hit the outer wall with a thud then swung back towards them. "Lift your legs," he instructed quickly, curling his legs up next to her body as she did the same and the door slammed home just before the creature struck again.
Spike and Buffy were still half wrapped in each others arms when the floor tilted wildly beneath them. Buffy screeched and latched her arms around his neck as they slid down the wood to an open corner. The wood turned into metal as they continued to slide, disappearing beneath the surface of the earth.
Their decent stopped abruptly as they fell into a giant circus net, bouncing with the impact of their bodies. Buffy's eyes were still squeezed shut when they finally stopped, her heart racing in her chest. "Is it over?" she asked the man she was holding onto with a death grip.
Spike was about to reply when he heard the sound of clapping coming from below them. Looking down through the net, he saw a thin, well-dressed man peering up at them. "Well done, well done," he said. "I never would have suspected it would be you two who would win. And hitting the floor simultaneously, enabling both of you two live was pure genius."
The vampire began to growl deep within his chest as the Slayer opened her eyes to stare down in amazement at the man. "Well, come along," he instructed. "A plane is waiting to take you both home."
Buffy's mouth dropped open as he walked away, then turned her attention to Spike. "We won? We get to go home, just like that?"
"Not before I rip his small intestine out and use it as floss," Spike ground out.
"Graphic much?" Buffy said, slowly unclenching her fingers from around his neck. She gasped in pain as she moved her shredded hand.
Spike's game face disappeared at her intake of breath, and he stared worriedly into her face. "Are you ok?"
"I will be as soon as I chop off my hand," she joked, pain lacing her voice.
He took her injured hand in his own, gently placing a kiss on her fingertips. "Better?"
"Much," she replied, breathless for a different reason.
"What say we get out of here, luv?"
"I'd say, what's stopping us?"
They sat next to each other on a windowless plane, watching in abject horror at the video playing above them on the screen.
"Thank you for your participation in the game," the man who'd seen them off was saying. "Because of your survival skills and thirst to win, many went home much richer today. Please feel free to use anything on the plane. You're arrival time in Sao Paolo will be 2100 hours, where a connecting flight will be waiting to take the Slayer on to Los Angeles, then to Sunnydale."
The video turned itself off, and they both sat silently, staring wide eyed at the dark screen. "We were bet on?" Buffy said, breaking the quiet of the cabin.
"Looks to be that way, pet," Spike answered her, resting his chin on his hand, elbow propped on the arm of the seat. "Just like at the races."
"That's just wrong," she complained, frowning. "We were almost killed for money!"
"Humans do that all the time, luv," he admonished. "Bank robbers, assassins, postal workers." She giggled, bringing a smile to his lips. "That's what I wanted to hear."
"Your laugh," Spike replied. "It's such a wonderful sound."
Buffy blushed and looked down at her heavily bandaged hands, her fingers barely peeking out of the top of the white gauze. "Spike?"
"Did you mean it…what you said back on the cliff?" Buffy asked, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
Spike reached over and tilted her chin up to look in her eyes. "No, I didn't. I only said it to save you. Didn't bloody work, but I tried."
A slow smile spread across her face. "It's the thought that counts anyway, right?"
"Well, actions have a way of showing things, too," he murmured, bringing his lips down upon hers for a kiss. When it ended, a smile hovered on his own lips as he felt the calmness settle over him as it did whenever she was around.
"Do you think that we could…" Buffy's question trailed off into a large yawn.
"Sleepy, pet?" Spike asked, chuckling.
"Very. I'm going to need a vacation when I get home," she commented.
"Here," he said, pushing the arm separating them up and pulling her against his chest. "I'll wake you up in a little while."
"Ok," she said, closing her eyes and snuggling against the soft leather of the duster against his chest, inhaling its distinctive sent. She was asleep in seconds.
Spike silently chuckled again when he heard her breathing slow and her heartbeat settle as she drifted off. He kissed the top of her blond head, then rested his cheek on her hair and let himself follow her into sleep.
"Sir? We've landed," the pilot's soft voice woke Spike from a pleasant dream involving the Slayer and the pool of water they'd stayed by. "The lady's connecting flight is leaving in ten minutes at gate 15."
"Thanks, mate," Spike replied quietly. The pilot nodded and walked away as the vampire looked down at the sleeping woman in his arms.
"Buffy Slayer Summers," Spike told the flight attendant as he boarded the plane. She nodded and directed him to first class, seat three. "Thanks."
Gently, he laid the Slayer down on the wide seat, reaching for the belt to buckle her in. Once done, he traced his finger along her cheek. "Good-bye, Buffy," he whispered, bending to place a soft kiss on her brow. "I love you."
Spike stood and watched the plane take off from the window of the terminal, his forehead resting on the glass. "Woah, dude. You're, like, not reflecting." He turned to see a college student about his height and build, wearing a pair of blue jeans, brown bomber jacket and a faded Guns ‘N Roses T-shirt.
Smiling, Spike threw his arm around the boy's shoulder and led him towards one of the bathrooms. "And you're probably wondering why, right, mate? Well, let me tell you…"
A few minutes later, the blond vampire exited the bathroom and lit a cigarette. With a grin, he slid the lighter into the pocket of his blue jeans, adjusted the bomber jacket and faded T-shirt on his shoulders and began to sing to himself as he left the airport. "Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games. We've got everything you want and we know your name…"
The stewardess smiled as she passed the sleeping blond in first class, her small body blanketed beneath a long, leather duster.