Part Six




Spike could swear his heart was pounding in his chest as he waited for her to answer. The time seemed to stretch on for eternity as all his insecurities were laid in plain view of the one man who once held Buffy's heart, the man who destroyed his, leaving him to pick up the pieces and try to glue them back together.

Her answer was a kiss. The softest, sweetest, gentlest, most tender kiss he'd ever received.

His whole body began to tremble as the feelings she invoked overwhelmed his senses. Shaking, he pulled her into his arms, deepening the kiss with passion and ferocity, telling her with his lips and tongue how much he loved her, worshiped her, how she filled the missing pieces in the heart that Angel had shattered when he had stolen Dru.

Buffy broke the kiss first, gulping in breaths of air as his fingers stroked her cheek, her neck, sending shivers down her spine. "Let's go," she said quietly, forgetting completely that Angel was standing nearby. Spike nodded once, taking her hand in his and intertwining their fingers, his eyes never leaving hers. They began a slow walk back the way they'd come, heading for his home.

Angel had never witnessed a more powerful, pure love in all his two hundred forty years of existence.


*****


Spike opened the back entrance to the old shop where he made his home, allowing Buffy to enter before him. Dropping his coat unceremoniously to the floor, he gently pulled her into his arms, lowering his lips to hers.

Buffy's taste coursed through him, her heat invading him as she slipped her arms around his neck. He pulled her closer to him, holding onto her, wanting to be closer than was humanly possible. If he could have melted into her, he would have, to be surrounded by her, to have every pore in his being covered by her. He wanted her to be his soul, wanted her to be a part of him forever.

Falling back on the bed Spike braced himself with his hands on either side of her, his arms tensely supporting his weight, suspending him above her. His legs were between hers, his thighs pressed against her, and when he closed his eyes, he could almost feel him filling her. She arched into him and he groaned, a deep, raw sound that spoke volumes, the tension radiating off of him as he fought to keep some semblance of control.

He moved back, and for a moment Buffy felt afraid that he was going to stop. But the next thing she knew he was undoing his black jeans. Without embarrassment, he stepped out of the denim, then took of his boxers, which barely contained his desire. Then he was there in front of her, with nothing to hide the effect she was having on him.

She couldn't move. She took in every detail, letting it sear into her mind, then he was coming toward her, getting onto the bed by her. He got onto his side, supporting himself on one elbow, his eyes burning into hers. Then he lifted his other hand to touch her, but drew back, telling her with his gaze to undress. She did so quickly, returning to his side in an instant.

Stretching alongside him, she reached out and found his hardness, the contact bringing a shuddering moan from Spike, deep and jarring, and his hips arched toward her touch. She stroked him as she partially rolled onto him, close enough to taste his lips, then his jaw, then the hollow of his throat.

Spike felt Buffy's mouth move lower on him as she stroked him with a fiery demand that drew at the core of his being. The sensations were overwhelming, and he was losing himself in a vortex of need that threatened to consume him. When her mouth found his nipple, when her hand moved faster on him, he jerked back, a fear so raw and deep in him that it had no name hurling him into a place he wasn't sure he'd ever come back from.

"Stop," he gasped. "Stop."

He felt her freeze, then her hands and mouth leave him. But he didn't want that. He didn't want her to stop. Slowly he opened his eyes, and she was right there, her face mere inches from his, her lips turned down in a worried frown.

"Spike?" she asked in a tremulous whisper. "Do you want me to stop?"

"God, no," he managed to croak out. "I want you."

In one quick motion she was over him, straddling his hips, and he could feel her against him. He arched back and entered her, filling her as if they'd been made for each other. His hands ached from their hold on the bed sheets, and he fought the need to thrust deeper into her. As if she knew, Buffy lowered herself onto him, and he heard her moan softly. When he looked up, her eyes were closed, her head thrown back and her hands braced on his pale chest. Then, with aching slowness, she moved, and his world was filled with an ecstasy that was almost unbearable.

Spike felt the universe center on that moment, and as she moved on him, he knew an exquisite agony that blurred the line between pain and pleasure. It grew and grew, and as her fingers dug into his flesh, as her heat consumed him, he knew that if this was it for the rest of his unlife, it would be worthwhile. It was all for this moment, for this second. She became his heartbeat.

When he heard Buffy cry out, he knew he couldn't bear it any longer. He couldn't stop himself from thrusting and joining in. His voice mingled with hers, and he felt the explosion that sent him into a place where everything was right, everything was perfect and everything was possible. Including her giving him his soul.



Part Seven




Peace. That's what he felt as he held Buffy in his arms. A deep, fulfilling peace that filled his entire body. The fear that had sprung up earlier as she touched him had been his demon fighting against him, fighting against her, fighting against love. But in a battle between love and hate, there could only ever be one true winner. Love.

Buffy sighed against Spike's chest, her fingers tracing invisible patterns over the muscles of his abdomen. "Did I answer your question?"

He chuckled, the low sound echoing under her ear. "Yes, luv, you did," he said, gently squeezing her waist. He glanced over at the small clock and groaned. "I don't want you to go."

She looked at the clock as well, noting the late, or rather early, hour. "I don't want to go either, but if I don't, mom's gonna kill me," she replied, crawling out of his arms and across the bed to retrieve her clothes. "TomorrowÖer, today is the 13th. Giles said to meet in the library as soon as you can get there. Kind of a last ditch effort to figure out how to stop this thing-a-ma-bob from happening."

"I'll be there," Spike replied, watching her dress with heavy, appreciative eyes. She slid on her shoes, then bent and kissed him softly before sliding on her coat. She paused at the back door, turning to look at him.

"I love you," Buffy said with a small smile, then quickly opened the door and left.

"I love you, too, Buffy," he whispered into the quiet room. "More than you could ever imagine."


*****


"You mean we gotta pull all day stake outs and then slay?" Buffy asked Giles the next afternoon in the library. The Slayer and her friends spent more time in the school than anywhere else, which was strange considering teens spent most of their energy trying to get out of school.

"Yes, if it requires that long," Giles answered. "That was the-the plan."

"I guess I'll be loading up on Jolt cola," she sighed, arching her back to work the kinks out from sleeping most of the Saturday away. "When's the rest of the Wild Bunch suppose to get here?"

"I told them at sunset, which means they should be here soon," he replied. "Angel will be here, as-as well."

"I know. I ran into him and Spike having a free for all last night," Buffy said. "Speaking of old haunts, where's James?"

"I'm not sure," Giles said. "He wasn't here when I arrived."

"You think he's pulled a David Copperfield?"

"Not that I am aware of," he replied. "Per-perhaps he went to wherever ghosts go when they're not on this plane."

"To the big Starbucks in the sky," Buffy smiled. "Gotcha."

"Hi Buffy!" Willow greeted, entering the library with James. Giles smiled at the duo, then retreated to his office.

"Hey, Wills," Buffy responded, shooting a puzzled look at the ghost. "I didn't know you could leave the library."

"Why not? I'm a ghost, not a stiff," James replied.

"Mr. Clark has been telling me stories about the Prohibition," Willow told Buffy excitedly.

"Hello, ladies and ghosts," Xander said, joining them. "Are we all set for another exciting night of preventing the fang gang from taking over Sunnydale?"

"I thought we were going Richard Dreyfus/Emilio Estevez tonight," Buffy said.

"Not until closer to midnight," Willow replied. "The delivery instructions said Valentine's Day, and at midnight it officially becomes the 14th, so we should start then. Bad guys usually do things about that time, don't they?"

"That's been my experience," she answered. "And hello Oz." Willow's eyes widened and she spun around to see the short guitarist standing in the library doorway.

"Hey," Oz greeted in return. "Willow, can I talk to you?"

"Sure," Willow said, looking over he shoulder at Buffy, then following him out into the hall.

"Go get him, doll," James said quietly, a small, knowing smile on his face.


*****


"I had a visitor this morning," Oz began without preamble. "A ghost. Hadn't seen one of them before, but I wasn't too surprised considering."

"Mr. Clark visited you?" Willow asked with a small voice.

"Yes. Interesting man. Hard to understand, though," Oz replied. "Basically, he told me that if I passed up the chance to be with you, I was really dumb. Of course, he used more colorful words. That got me thinking about you, which isn't much of a change because I always am thinking about you, and decided he was right."

"He was?"

"Willow, I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm ok with what happened, but I know that you loved Xander for like...ever and it was inevitable. But now that it has, I'm going to take the approach that he's in the past and I hope to be your present and future."

"I'd love for you to be my present and future," Willow whispered.

Oz nodded. "Hug?"

Willow was in his arms in an instant and they both sighed in happiness, silently thanking the ghost who brought them back together.


*****


"So, what's going on?" Oz asked when he and Willow returned to the library.

"Stake out, starting tonight," Faith answered, having arrived a few minutes before.

"Cool," Oz said. "Count me in."

"Me, too," Angel said, stepping out of the stacks, but keeping himself separate, no longer having a place with the group gathered in what was affectionately dubbed Slayer Central.

"That's a good way to get yourself staked, Deadboy," Xander snapped, startled by his voice.

"Sorry."

"Is Spike coming?" Willow asked Buffy after seeing Angel.

"He said he'd be here," Buffy replied.

Oz gave her a strange look, which was not that different than his normal looks. "And we are wanting him to come? I have a feeling I'm behind on a lot."

"Spike's good," Willow told him. "Well, not really good in a has a soul and doesn't kill anyone sort of way. But he won't hurt us. He's Buffy's main squeeze."

"Right," Oz said, taking in the information with his unflappable persona. He cocked his head suddenly. "Warrant."

"Huh?" Buffy said, wondering what he meant. Then she heard singing coming from the hallway. Loud singing. And the sound of someone jumping up and hitting the overhangs.

"She's my cherry pie, cool drink of woman such a sweet surprise, tastes so good makes a poor man cry, sweet cherry pie..." The door to the library opened as the singing tapered off, admitting a jovial Spike. "Hello, all," he greeted, coming into the room practically bouncing on his feet. He went over to Buffy and dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

"What's up with you?"

"He probably fed off a druggie," Angel sneered under his breath, loud enough so those with enhanced hearing understood. Buffy was about to retort when Spike did something very un-Spike-like. He turned to the stacks, scrunched up his face and stuck his tongue out at his sire.

Buffy started to giggle, smacking him on the shoulder. "Behave," she said without conviction.

Spike gave her a big smile. "Only if I must, pet."

"Before you two start goin' at it like rabbits," Faith said, making Buffy blush. "We should get this party started."


*****


It was decided to split up in teams of two with Giles staying at the library and the ghost going with Angel. They were to cover the few entrances into Sunnydale, loaded down with Jolt cola and instructed to call if the delivery was made.

"This sucks," Xander said, kicking his feet out in front of him on the bench.

"What does?" Faith asked. She pulled out her knife and began digging at the sole of her boot.

"It's Valentine's Day, and I'm sitting at a bus stop surrounded by the dregs of humanity. But, hey, at least there aren't thirty or so women trying to kill me this year."

"If you want, I can kill you," she replied.

"I'll keep that in mind if things start to get too boring," he joked.


*****


"This is not how I pictured spending Valentine's Day," Oz said, sipping a cup of coffee and looking out the window of his van. "I was thinking more along the lines of music, conversation, maybe a little dancing."

"Well, it doesn't have to be all bad," Willow said. She turned on the radio and played with the dials until she was satisfied. "We have music. And-and we're talking. Although dancing may be hard."

Oz gave her one of his happy smiles. "And I have you."


*****


"So, what did a gee like you get your skirt last Valentine's Day?" James asked Angel.

"A heart," Angel replied, guilt weighing heavily on his mind.

"What kind? Chocolate? Paper?"

"Human."


*****


"Pet?"

"Hmm?"

"We're suppose to be watching for the truck."

"You watch, I'll do this."

"Slayer!"


*****


"There she is," Oz said, starting up the van as the large delivery truck drove by them. He pulled out onto the quiet Sunnydale street, keeping a good distance between him and the truck. They followed it towards the docks, parking near the curb to watch as they unloaded seven coffins into a run down building. Ducking as the truck drove off, they waited a few minutes, then headed back to the library.



Part Eight




"What now, oh fearless tweedman?" Xander asked Giles when they all reconvened at the library. The humans in the room were decidedly hyper from the caffeine they'd consumed over the course of the night.

"I would suggest that we go to the um, docks and take a look," Giles answered.

"I'm game," Faith said.

"Me, too," Willow added.

"Wherest thou goes..." Oz said to Willow, who grinned happily.

"Well, I have to escort a certain blond home," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around Spike's waist. "But then I'm free."

"After a couple of hours," Spike mumbled to her. She giggled.

Eventually, it was decided that everyone but Angel and Spike, who couldn't go out of necessity, would head down to the docks. Buffy pouted, but went anyway.

It was impossible for five caffeine laden teens to be silent as they snuck into the warehouse. Giles sighed heavily as they broke out into giggles over Xander kicking a paint can, and gave the ghost a shrug. "Children," he said, the word explaining it all.

"Check it out," Faith said, approaching the coffins lined neatly in the center of the room.

"You know what I don't get," Xander said, opening one up and looking inside. "Why do they need coffins? They could just leave the bodies and I doubt Sunnydale's finest would find them."

"Maybe they're gonna use them as a hiding place, like in that James bond movie," Willow suggested. "Customs doesn't like to check bodies for contraband."

"Possible," Giles said, examining a coffin.

"Or how about vamp transportation?" Buffy said. "It's dark, comfy and they look like corpses."

"Pretty smart," Oz said to her. "Especially if they need to travel across seas."

"However, this still does not tell us who the, er, vic-victims are," Giles said.

"How 'bout if we play opossum?" Faith suggested. "Hide in these babies 'til they get here, then wham! We hit 'em where it kills."

"I get the one with the red!" Xander called, jumping up into the casket he opened. He laid down and closed his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. "Someone close me in."

"Xander, I-I-I do not think..."

"I get this one."

"Oz, help me up."

"Hey Faith, toss a stake over here."

"Watch your head."

Giles sighed again, removing his glasses to rub his eyes.


*****


Giles went back to the library to get more weapons and leave messages for Spike and Angel as to the groups whereabouts while James watched over the teens. They had quieted down after an hour, the caffeine wearing off and their bodies insisted they sleep. In the coffins. With a ghost for a babysitter.

"Hey cats and kittens, it's showtime," James said late that afternoon. Giles had returned with stakes, holy water and other slaying paraphernalia before hiding himself in the warehouse with a book. Paperback for once.

The gang that had emerged to sit around and talk while waiting after they'd finally woken up scrambled to get back in position, loaded down with weapons. The Opossum Plan, as Xander dubbed it, called for James to give the signal to attack, and the two Slayers would push open the lids, firing their crossbows while the rest aided from the wings.

But, the best laid plans of mice and men...


*****


"Sorry mate, it's not gonna work," Spike said to Angel as they walked quickly to the dock. Or rather, Angel walked. Spike bounced like Tigger. "Your words have no effect on me."

Angel scowled at him. "Just remember, she loved me first."

"Yeah, but she loves me now, you jealous loon," he replied, giving his sire a cocky grin. "Aní thereís nothing you can do about it." He practically sang the second sentence, thatís how sure he was of his heart. Of his mate.

"Put a cork in it," Angel snapped as they approached the address Giles had left for them at the library. Peering carefully around a corner, he motioned for them to creep towards the door. Spike ignored him and sauntered on by in time to see Faith come crashing out a window.

"Ouch, that hurt," she said, pushing to her feet. "íBout time yous guys showed up! Weíre gettiní our asses kicked." And with that, she jumped back through the window.

"I love this part," Spike confided in Angel before jumping through the window as well, trying to hide the smile on his face. Angel shook his head before joining them.

The inside of the warehouse was a mess, coffins overturned and broken, dust and blood covering the floor. Oz, Willow, Xander and Giles had created a barricade with old crates and tables, firing crossbow bolts and throwing bottles of holy water at the vampires fighting with Faith and Buffy in between fighting for their lives as the vamps came after them. James was with them, but all he could do was stand and watch.

Buffy was bleeding heavily from a gash on her temple, her clothing ripped and bloody, as she fought three vamps at once. Faith was no better, having just broken through a window, as she tackled two to the ground.

Spike stood watching his mate for a moment, admiring her form and skill. He could tell that she was high on an adrenaline rush as she expertly plunged another stake into the heart of her opponent. Without pausing, she back flipped over two that were trying to sneak up behind her.

Angel barreled past him, diving into the fray with little finesse but a lot of anger. Anger at Spike for just standing there while Buffy was getting hurt. With each hit on another vampire, he pretended to beat his peroxide blond childe to a pulp.

With an actual giggle, Spike headed casually for the fight in the center of the room, cracking his knuckles. "Hello, cutie," he called out, his voice echoing over the fight. "Miss me?"

It was as if Moses parted the Red Sea all over again.

The vampires turned as one, their heads whipping towards the sound of his voice. "Spike?"

Someone was brave enough to croak out his name, and his lips rose in a slow smile. He took a half bow, then dropped into a relaxed fighting stance. "Anyone?"

Chaos erupted. Complete and total insanity. This would go down in the Watchers Diaries as the strangest conclusion to any battle against the forces of darkness in history. Five vampires staked themselves, three jumped out the window Faith had crashed through to escape, one groveled on the floor and two decided they were brave enough to take on Spike, being the leaders of the attack.

The bigger of the two charged at him, and he ducked, clipping the vamp in the legs. He went over Spikeís back like a ton of bricks, landing heavily on the floor. Spike stomped down on the back of his neck, breaking it instantly. Then spun and kicked the other attacker across the jaw, followed by a left cross. After all, he was a lefty.

With a wink, he boxed the vampireís ears, then yanked his head down into Spikeís knee, smashing his nose. Holding on to his collar, Spike pitched him towards a handy metal support column, his head hitting with a loud clang. The blond vampire took that opportunity to kick the fallen vampire in the ribs with the steel toe of his boot, cracking them.

"Should we stake them?" Faith asked, hands on her knees as she watched him give the vampire heíd thrown into the metal column a wedgie.

"Nah, let him have his fun," Buffy said, amused by her loverís antics. She walked over to where the rest of her friends were watching and looked them over. No one seemed to be too hurt.

After a few more minutes, both vampires were little more than bloody heaps on the ground with Spike squatting between them. "Now, who were the victims for your little massacre that was suppose to be tonight?"

"Just the two families," the one who could still move his jaw got out. "Trick says theyíre the most influential in Sunnydale not under the Mayorís control."

"Names, poopkin, give me the names," Spike demanded in a soft, deadly tone.

"Chase and Vargus," he said. "Set for ten."

Spike patted him on the back, then stood, turning to the others still watching him with undisguised interest. He strolled over to Buffy and tilted her chin, examining the wound on her head. "Youíre hurt," he said.

"Iíve been worse," she shrugged. "You, on the other hand, are amazing."

"I try," he replied, grinning at her. He looked at the others. "The hitís on some families by the names of Chase and Vargus. We have until ten oíclock to prevent it."

"Chase? As in Cordelia?" Xander asked, his voice tinged with worry.

Spike shrugged. "Got me, mate."

"I-I-I wanted to ask how you did that," Giles finally managed to say coming out of his stupor at the actions of their opponents when Spike appeared. "Iíve never seen any-anything like it."

"Thatís because Angel-boy was a fairy," Spike replied. "He didnít instill fear in anyone."

"Hey," Angel said, offended.

"Ok, maybe a little fear when you lost your soul again," he said. "Just a bit."

"You mean the vampires were afraid of you?" Willow asked. He nodded. "But why didnít they think you were on their side? You donít have a soul."

"Who says I donít?" Spike replied cryptically. Buffy shot him a confused glance.

"Spike here has managed to garner himself a pretty gruesome reputation this past month," Angel answered the hackerís question since it didnít look like his childe would. "Plus, with his claim on Buffy, it makes him all the more formidable, especially those younger than him."

"So you mean since heís doing the vertical lambada with B and hasnít been dusted by her, the fangs are scared of him?" Faith said. Angel nodded. "Damn, I gotta get me one of those."

"Sorry, Faith, Spikeís are in short supply," Buffy said. "And mineís not for sale."

"How Ďbout a rental?" Faith asked, wiggling her eyebrows.

"You know guys, as much as Iíd love to stay around here and talk about Buffyís desire to sleep with corpses, we have a couple of families to save," Xander said shortly, turning no his heel and heading for the warehouse door.

"Boy, his short hairs are caught on his zipper," Faith said.

"Itís Cordelia," Willow pointed out.

"Which will either make this really easy," Buffy said. "Or really hard."



Part Nine




"Here it is, Emily Vargus," Buffy said, pointing to a picture in last yearís yearbook.

"I know Emily," Oz said, looking over the counter at the book. "She was in my music class. One of the few I actually showed up for."

"Then you have Vargus duty," Buffy said. "Take Willow and Faith with you and somehow convince Emily to keep her family indoors tonight. And not invite anyone in."

"Letís motor," Faith said, grabbing a few more stakes and leaving with the newly re-matched couple. Angel and the ghost had stayed behind by the warehouse just in case Trick or the Mayor managed to get either of the families.

"Xander, you, me and Spike are going to Cordeliaís," Buffy continued. "Hopefully sheíll get it through her thick head that this is important."

"We are talking about the same Cordelia, right?" Xander said as they went out the door.


*****


"Hi, is Cordelia here?" Buffy asked.

"Si, Senorita," Lousia, the Chaseís housekeeper replied.

"Senora," Spike corrected.

"Que?"

"Esta es mi espousa," he told her, putting his arm around Buffyís waist.

"Me excusa, por favor," Louisa said. "I am sorry. I will get her." She held the door open for them to enter. Buffy whispered a quick Ďcome iní to Spike once she crossed the threshold, glad to note that the housekeeper didnít automatically invite people in with words.

Xander nervously stuck his hands in his pockets, shuffling his feet on the beautifully tiled floor in the foyer. He was glad Louisa hadnít kept him out.

"What did you say to her?" Buffy asked Spike as she looked around.

"Oh, nothing, pet," he replied, giving her an innocent smile. Buffy scrunched her nose at him, vowing to look up what he said later.

"What do you want?" Cordelia practically hissed as she came down the stairs. Then she noticed Spike standing next to Buffy, arm still around her waist. "Oh, god," she said, pulling out a body of holy water she kept on her and flinging it at the Slayer.

"Hey!" Buffy screeched as Spike jumped away from her. "What the hell was that for?"

"You-youíre not a vampire?" Cordelia asked, shaken.

"No, Iím not a vampire," Buffy said. "Neither is Xander."

"ButÖSpikeÖ"

"Oh, heís with me," the Slayer said, wiping her face on her sleeve as she turned to the vampire in question. "Great, now you canít touch me until I change." Spike pouted, making her laugh.

"Ok, does someone want to clue me in now, or should I have you forcefully removed?" Cordelia said.

"Youíre in danger, Cordy," Xander told her, not looking up from the floor. "We need you to keep your family inside for tonight and not invite anyone in."

"What did you guys do to me now?" Cordelia whined.

"Itís not us, itís the Mayor and Trick," Buffy said. "Theyíre not happy with your dad not being in their back pockets."

The brunette looked at the trio for a long moment, then nodded. "Iíll keep them home somehow. But I want a little protection in return."

"We were planning on doing that anyway," Buffy said, turning for the door. "Spike and I will be outside patrolling the grounds until dawn. You guys should be safe after then."

"What aboutÖ" The door opened and closed on Cordeliaís sentence. "Xander?"

"Iím suppose to stay inside with you," Xander told her, pain in his voice. "Last line of defense sort of thing."

"You?" she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Listen, I know you hate me and could care less about how I feel, but I love you and donít want to see you or your family get hurt," he said quickly. "Iíll just hang out here by the front door. Tell Louisa not to open the back door unless itís Buffy or Spike."

Cordelia stared at his down turned head, his statement seeping into her brain. Wordlessly, she turned on her heel and left.


*****


"That thing you said to Willow earlier, what did you mean?" Buffy asked as they circled the Chaseís property.

"What thing was that, pet?" Spike said, walking backwards so he could see her as they patrolled. He was still high on love, in fact he doubted heíd ever come down.

"She said you didnít have a soul and you said Ďwhoís says I donít,í" she replied. "What did you mean?"

"What do you think I meant?"

Buffy scowled at him. "Stop that!"

"Stop what?"

"Answering my questions with a question!"

"Am I doing that?"

"Aargh!" Buffy screamed as he laughed. He faced forward again and pinched her rear, causing her to screech, then punch him in the shoulder, hard.


*****


Xander was sitting on the floor, back against the wall, staring at nothing, his forearms dangling from his bent knees. He didnít notice Cordelia come into the front hall until she sat down beside him, her normally fashionably dressed body clad in an old sweatshirt and sweatpants.

"Ok, Iíve never hated someone so much as I hate you, Xander," she said. "I hate that you have the power to hurt me, that you did hurt me, that I gave up almost everything I knew to be with you."

"Iím sorry."

"Itís going to take a lot more than words to show me youíre sorry," she told him. "Itís going to take flowers, and candy, and jewelry, and you dressing better, and coming with me whenever I want to go shopping and not complaining about it, and closet time. Lots of closet time."

Xander wasnít sure if he heard right as he raised his head to stare at her, mouth gaping. "You-you-youÖ"

"The reason I hate you so much is because I love you, you dweeb," Cordelia said. "And if you ever hurt me like that again, Iíll pull out your testicles through your nose and wear them as earrings."


*****


"And thatís why birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Letís do it, letís fall in love." Spike was singing again, rather loudly, on his side of the property. Buffy insisted they had to split up before she throttled him, so he was relegated to the front yard. Dancing along the edge of a circular fountain, he launched into more of the song.

"The most refinenated dogs do it, when a gentleman calls. Moths in your rugs they do it, whatís the use of my balls? The chimpanzees in the zoo do it, some courageous kangaroos do it. Letís do it, letís fall in love."


*****


Buffy shook her head. She could hear Spike singing all the way on the opposite side of the mansion. Heíd been acting strangely, so non-vampire like, pretty much since New Yearís Eve, but lately itís gotten even worse. In a good sort of way. He was just soÖhappy.

"I know sometimes on the sly you do it, maybe even you and I might do it. Letís do it, letís fall in love." Buffy rolled her eyes once again at the song. Only he would know something so wacky.

But then again, love makes you do the wacky. Or, in his case, sing it.



Part Ten




"Hiya, doll," James said, appearing in front of Buffy from nowhere.

Buffy shrieked and fell backwards off her perch on the back porch railing, landing with a thud on the wood. "Ow."

"Sorry, baby. I just stopped by to give you the rumble. Seems you made the trip for biscuits. You can take it on the heel and toe if you want," he told her.

"UmÖok," Buffy gave him a fake smile, having no idea what heíd said. He nodded once and disappeared just as Spike came running around the corner.

"You alright, pet?" he asked, hurrying to her side.

"Iím fine. Mr. Clark popped in to tell usÖsomething. I have no clue," she admitted, climbing to her feet. "Something about biscuits and rumbling feet."

Spike chuckled. "Weíll give your Watcher a call and find out."


*****


"Itís a wash," Buffy said, hanging up the phone in the Chaseís kitchen. "Trick showed up at the warehouse, found our handiwork, including the two vamps we didnít stake and got the hell out of Dodge."

"That means you can leave," Cordelia said. "Good."

"Youíre welcome for saving you from what could have been a horrifying death," Buffy replied sarcastically. "Please be sure to call on us again."

"Sarcasm looks worse on you than that outfit," she responded, heading for the front door. Xander gave Buffy a shrug and trailed after her.

"I just so love being at the receiving end of Cordeliaís tongue," Buffy said to Spike who was leaning casually against a counter.

"Now, thatíd be something Iíd like to see," he replied with a half grin, and a lewd wink.

"Not in your un-lifetime, sweetie," she said before walking out of the kitchen. He chuckled and followed her.


*****


"I say we shoulda let them have her," Faith said, popping another cookie in her mouth. The group had re-gathered at the library an hour before dawn to say good-bye to James, who said his deadline was when the sun rose. At least, thatís what Willow told them he said.

"Hey, thatís my not-girlfriend youíre slamming," Xander said, stealing the bag from the brunette Slayer.

"Did you guys notice that we missed the Valentineís Day party at the Bronze?" Willow asked, sitting closely by Oz.

"Iím glad we did," Xander replied. "If it wasnít for this massacre reenactment thingy, Cordelia still wouldnít be talking to me."

"Oz, too," Willow said softly.

"Well, I still say Valentineís Day sucks," Faith said.

"Why is that, Faith?" Giles asked.

"íCuz I didnít get any," she replied, sending a flush up her sort-of-Watcherís face. The others laughed and began to compare Valentineís Day horror stories.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" Angel said, putting his hand on Spikeís shoulder. He shrugged and followed his sire out into the hall. "Iím heading back to LA tonight."

"Good."

Angel grit his teeth to hold back his sharp retort, then went on. "Just take care of her, ok? Sheís more fragile than she thinks she is."

"I know," Spike replied.

"Iím still not happy about this, but Iíll let it go. I only wish I knew what she means to you," Angel said, then turned on his heel and left.

Spike watched his sire walk out of the school and into the fading night. "She means everything to me, Angelus," he said quietly in the empty hallway. "She is my soul."


End

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