Buffy had just tied her second shoelace when there was a knock on her door. Although she had
no desire to see anyone, she got up to answer it anyway. Big mistake.
"What do you want?" she asked, scowling at the blond vampire at her door.
"To apologize for snapping at you," Spike replied unhappily.
"You don't sound too sorry," Buffy said, stepping back. Spike entered her room and she closed
the door behind him.
"That's because I'm not," he grumbled, dropping his bag on the floor. He glared at her. "You
made a bloody fool out of me in front of Angel."
"I did what?" Buffy asked, staring at him with confusion.
"Weakness, Slayer. Angelus thrives on the weakness of others," Spike said. "And you made me
Buffy looked at his rigid posture, the stubborn set to his jaw and sighed. "I pulled a Larry."
"Come again?" Spike said, frowning at her.
"I stopped Larry from beating up Xander and...never mind," she said, moving to her bed. She
sank down onto it. "I'm sorry I invaded your male space or whatever it is. If it'll make you
happy, I'll let you stake more vamps tonight."
Spike studied her for a moment, then shrugged. "It might." He sat down next to her on the bed
and looked at his shoes. "So, am I forgiven?"
"I don't know," Buffy said mischievously. She stood and straddled his lap, being careful of his
hand. "I think you may have to persuade me to forgive you."
"You think so, huh?" Spike said, a smile crossing his own face. "Any particular way you have in
Buffy leaned back slightly and pulled her shirt off, tossing it onto the floor behind her. Her bra
followed. "Why don't you just use your imagination?"
She quickly learned just how imaginative a vampire with a broken hand really was.
"Where's Nia?" Buffy asked, pulling her wet hair up from the quick shower she took.
"In the car, sulking," Spike answered, laying casually on the bed. He was dressed in the jeans and
t-shirt he'd brought, and his hand was re-bandaged, all courtesy of Buffy's assistance. Of course,
it had taken awhile to get him dressed, considering the Slayer insisted on kissing every inch of
skin before it became covered. "She's probably happy now that I apologized to you."
"Well, it was nice of her not to join us," Buffy said. She wrinkled her nose at her reflection in the
mirror. "I'm so not into menage a trois. Especially not with dead people."
"I'm dead people."
Buffy rolled her eyes and swatted his booted foot. "Come on. Everyone's probably wondering
where the heck we are. Willow headed over to Giles' a few minutes after I got here."
Spike stood and looked down at his bandaged hand. "Er, Slayer?"
"Yeah?" Buffy said, sliding the bag of slaying equipment on her shoulder. She looked back at
He held up his left hand. "Thanks."
The smile that lit up Buffy's face made his heart melt. He was completely sunk. How he was not
going to tell or show anyone how head over heels he was, he didn't know.
Spike was as far away from Buffy as he could get in Giles' small living room. Buffy had to force
herself not to look at him in order to keep the huge grin off of her face. She was also having
trouble concentrating on the discussion revolving around the sorcerer. All she wanted to do was
grab the blond vampire and kiss him until he was breathless.
"What do you think, Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Um...," Buffy trailed off.
"They want to know if you're ready to go look for the sorcerer," Nia supplied helpfully from her
seat next to Spike.
"I think I'm ready to kick sorcerer butt," Buffy said, flashing a thankful grin to the ghost. When
she did that, her eyes locked with Spike's and she was surprised everyone couldn't hear her heart
start to pound in her chest. She pulled her gaze away and stared down at the coffee table in front
of her. How in the world was she going to get through the night?
She glanced over at Angel, who stood near the door, and saw that he was watching Spike with an
undisguised look of distrust on his face. Thankfully, Xander was working, so she didn't have two
males bristling at the blond vampire. In the month that Spike had been helping her, he'd had to
also work with the small group of friends in researching and planning. Xander had been the
biggest protestor of the addition of Spike, but Giles, although wary, had supported the vampire's
involvement. Willow was glad that Buffy had help, but was also wary of Spike's sudden
goodness, and Oz normally went with whatever Willow's opinion was.
She wanted to tell all of them that Spike was trustworthy because of Nia, but she realized that she
felt that he was trustworthy before she even knew the ghost existed. Either that made her a good
judge of character or a really, really bad one.
Buffy shook her head slightly and pulled herself back into the conversation. She had possible
disaster to prevent. There would be time later to strip Spike naked and have her wicked way with
"Ok, everyone know the plan?" Buffy whispered. She peered through the bushes into the
clearing where the sorcerer was chanting.
"We distract him, the hocus pocus group does their thing, we go home," Cordelia replied.
"That about sums it up," Oz said.
It had only taken the group an hour to find the man. While Willow, Giles and Angel had stayed at
the former Watcher's gathering spellbooks and supplies to stop whatever the sorcerer was
planning, Buffy, Spike, Oz and Cordelia went hunting for him. Oz had led the small team to the
different clearings he knew of from Willow's Wiccan rituals, and they found him at the sixth
location. The werewolf and Spike then returned to Giles' to get the others while Buffy and
Cordelia kept an eye on him.
Buffy looked back at Angel, Willow and Giles. Angel nodded at her, indicating they were ready.
She took a short breath and blew it out. Something wasn't sitting right with her. She glanced at
Spike and saw him shifting his weight from foot to foot, scanning the area behind them, indicating
he felt the same. Nia was standing beside him, as usual, observing silently.
She gripped the magickal knife in her hand tighter. "Let's do it."
Quietly, she went around the bushes and positioned herself at the edge of the circle markers
behind the sorcerer. He was an extremely tall and slender man, bordering on waifish, with
shoulder-length ebony hair and a long, black goatee with a slash of silver-grey straight down the
center. He was dressed in navy blue robes and his deep voice rolled to her from his position in the
Oz was slightly behind her, holding a two-way radio steady, the side button depressed in order for
the magick users of the Slayer's team to hear the sorcerer. Cordelia was beside him, acting as his
guard and Spike was on the other side of her, ready to assist her in distracting the sorcerer. Just
as she was about to insert the knife in the bottom of the protection circle to cut an entry, the
blond vampire put his hand on her shoulder.
Buffy turned her head and met his steady blue gaze. His eyes were filled with worry. He lifted his
non-bandaged hand and brushed it against the side of her cheek.
"Be careful," he mouthed.
She nodded and took another short breath, then slid the knife flat against the ground at the
bottom of the circle. She turned the magickal blade ninety degrees and slowly brought her hand
straight up. She could see a faint outline of blue where the knife cut into the protective magick,
fading away in a few seconds. She cut the doorway as high as she could reach and two feet wide,
watching the sorcerer warily. He did not turn or give any indication he knew they were there.
Once the door was cut, she passed the knife to Cordelia. She raised herself up to her full height
and sauntered into the circle. "Nothing like a clear night to do a little black magick," she said
The sorcerer turned and Buffy had to steel herself against showing the instant fear she felt. His
eyes were completely white, sunken into his long, narrow face. His teeth were yellow and rotting
as he hissed at her. On the ground in front of him was a pattern of bones, both animal and human,
and was glowing a faint reddish color.
"Who dares interrupt me?" he growled.
"Well, me, for one," Buffy answered conversationally. She pointed behind the sorcerer. "And
The sorcerer turned and was met with a right cross to his face. Spike then back-fisted him with
the same hand, knocking his head the other direction. The sorcerer's gaze snapped back to Spike
and Buffy cried out when the blond vampire flew backwards. He hit the invisible wall of the
protection circle and fell to the ground with a hard thud.
Anger infused the Slayer, and she attacked the sorcerer. She lashed her foot out, kicking the man
in the back of the knee, and he jerked forward slightly, off balance. She drove her fist into his
back, then found herself falling to the ground as the sorcerer spun around, back-fisting her with
his right hand. She rolled out of the way as he attempted to stomp on her back and she jumped to
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Willow and Angel duck into the doorway cut in the
protective circle, magickal implements in their hands. She spun and kicked at the sorcerer, but he
ducked under her leg. He brought his hand up and she suddenly felt as though she was slammed
in the chest by a two-by-four. She staggered backwards with a grunt.
Spike jumped on the sorcerer from behind, wrapping his forearm around the taller man's neck.
The man arched backwards as Spike's weight pulled on him. Buffy watched in amazed horror as
the sorcerer grabbed Spike's arm and threw the vampire over his shoulder. Spike let go and went
with the throw, rolling with the impact of his body on the ground right to his feet beside Buffy.
"Bloody hell, this human's tough," Spike growled.
"Just keep him away from Angel and Willow," Buffy said before attacking again.
The Slayer hit the sorcerer with a powerful side kick, causing him to fall back. She followed up
with a snap kick, but it was blocked. She dropped her foot and punched him in the stomach. He
grabbed her wrist on her next hit and she cried out as her skin started to burn.
Spike grabbed her shoulder and yanked her away from the sorcerer with a loud snarl. She
stumbled back and found herself right next to the pattern of bones. Spike's right palm shot up,
clipping the man in the chin and snapping his head back. He grabbed the material of the robe with
the same, uninjured hand and spun, causing the sorcerer to swing around and fall to the ground
when Spike let go.
The faint reddish glow coming from the pile of bones suddenly erupted into a bright, red column
of light shooting straight up into the air. The sorcerer cackled as he rose to his feet near the
doorway that had been cut into the circle. Willow made a noise of great distress on the far side of
the circle and Buffy turned to see her and Angel run forward towards the light and kneel beside it.
Buffy's eyes widened when she saw a claw emerging from the ground in the center of the bone
pattern. She could hear Willow and Angel chanting something as they threw things into a small
bowl between them on the ground. Then she was suddenly jolted forward towards the light. Her
arms flailed out to the sides as she tried to keep her balance.
A loud roar ripped through the night and Buffy found herself being thrown away from the light, as
the vampire who had her shirt pivoted on his heel in the same manner he had thrown the sorcerer.
The momentum of the movement sent her falling to the ground on her left shoulder several feet
away, giving her a clear, terrifying view of Spike as he lost his counter-balance.
His golden eyes met hers for one brief second, then the circle flashed brilliant red as he fell into
Buffy stared in horror at the spot where Spike had been, the sorcerer's loud cackles echoing
around her. The magick in the air was suffocating her, pressing her down into the earth. Her
heart stopped beating in her chest.
Then she was on her feet, her scream of fury and anguish shattering all other sounds. She
launched herself at the sorcerer, kicking and punching with the strength and power borne from
pure rage. The man's body jerked with each of her blows, creating a macabre dance of pain as he
struggled to stay on his feet.
She was unexpectedly tackled to the ground by Oz and watched as Giles bashed the sorcerer on
the back of the head. The man crumpled to the earth, his head landing near her feet and she began
to kick him in the face. Her legs were abruptly pinned by Cordelia and she let out another raw cry
as she tried to get away.
Suddenly, the area exploded into blinding green light and a magickal wind whipped through the
protection circle. Over the wind, the loud voices of Willow and Angel could be heard as their
counter-spell reached its crux. The crackle of magickal energy ran along the protective barrier,
illuminating it with blue-white bolts of lightning. A resounding boom of thunder rang throughout
the area, drowning out everything else.
Buffy shoved Oz off of her and knocked Cordelia to the side, then scrambled forward to the body
in the center of the clearing. She began shaking the body, yelling at it, tears streaming down her
face. She looked up at Angel and questioned him, cried for him to do something.
Nia looked at the ghost standing beside her and saw him studying the scene with a frown on his
face. He tapped the fingers of his right hand on the side of his leg, then gestured with it and
asked, "What's all this?"
"It's time, Billy," Nia told Spike.
Spike turned his frown on her. "For what?"
"Justice has been served," Nia said. "Of your own free will, you saved a human's life at the
expense of yours."
"I'm dead...er, more dead?" Spike asked, confused. He looked at the group surrounding his
body. "But I'm not dust."
"Not yet," Nia replied.
Spike felt his heart breaking as he watched Buffy and a tear slid down his face. "Cor, this is going
to devastate her."
"Have you decided if you love her or not?" Nia asked.
"More than my unlife," Spike answered. His lips curled up in a wry smile. "Guess I proved that
"Then it is decided," Nia said. "I choose your death to be from physical old age."
Spike gave Nia a puzzled frown. "But vampires don't grow older, we stay the same physical age
we were turned."
"I guess you'll be around for a very long time then." Nia grinned at him.
"Wha-" Spike's question cut off when he suddenly found himself in extreme pain. He squeezed
his eyes shut and grit his teeth, unable to stop himself from whimpering, "Nia, stop."
"Billy, open your eyes."
Spike forced his eyes open and found himself staring into the hazel ones of Buffy. The pain faded
away, as did the voices of everyone else surrounding him, and he smiled and sang quietly, "'Dead
I am the dog, hound of hell you cry. Devil on your back, I can never die.'"
Buffy let out a small cry and crushed her lips to his, kissing him fervently. He kissed her back
with equal passion, uncaring of who saw them.
She slowly broke away and stared down into his eyes. "I love you," she said, tears running down
Happiness filled him at her words, threatening to make his heart burst from joy. "I love you," he
"That's great that you love each other and all, but can we get out of here?" Cordelia said.
Buffy blushed and Spike chuckled. He met Angel's gaze as he sat up and barely stopped himself
from going "nyah, nyah" at him. There would be time for that later. At that moment, he had an
intense desire to do as Cordelia suggested and get out of there so he could show Buffy how much
he loved her.
He groaned as pain wracked his body when he stood up. Perhaps Buffy would have to show him
how much she loved him instead.
Buffy smiled tenderly at the sleeping vampire beside her, reaching over to run her fingers through
his soft hair. She heard a knock at the bedroom door and looked up to see Nia standing in front
of it, inside the bedroom. "Hi," she greeted softly.
"Hi," Nia said. "I just wanted to check on Billy one more time before I left."
"You're leaving?" Buffy said.
Nia nodded. "He has you to keep him in line now."
"True," she said, smiling again as she looked down at the vampire. "Will you be back?"
"One day," Nia told her. "When Billy turns you." At Buffy's startled look, she laughed. "Don't
worry, Buffy. I can be your soul as well as his. Plus, I'm sure Angel will help, too."
"Did you see him?" Buffy asked, nibbling on her lower lip. "How is he taking me and Spike...?"
"That man has got some serious brooding skills," Nia said. "I don't envy you when you give him
"You could do it," she suggested hopefully.
"Sorry, Buffy, you and Billy are on your own," Nia said. She dropped her eyes and looked fondly
at the vampire. "He's going to be hyper when he wakes up."
"Am not," Spike muttered, rolling onto his side and snuggling up to Buffy.
Nia smiled. "Goodbye, Buffy. Take care of him."
"I will," Buffy replied.
"Nia, go away," Spike mumbled against Buffy's neck.
"Goodbye, Billy," Nia said.
"Goodbye, Nia," Spike replied. He looked over his shoulder at the ghost. "And stop calling me
Nia laughed, waved to them both and disappeared.
Spike turned back and nuzzled Buffy's neck, nipping at the skin. "Now, where was I?"
"Right about there..," Buffy said, then grinned. "...Billy."