by Saber ShadowKitten
Series: Holidays, story 8

Part One

"How's this spot?" Buffy asked.

"Looks good to me," Xander replied, dropping the things he was carrying.

"Careful, Xander," Willow admonished as she and Oz spread out the blanket. "There are glasses in there."

"Not to mention a bloody good bottle of Guinness," Spike said, scowling at Xander.

"It's only good if you share," Xander said. "And you have yet to learn that, Junior. Then again, it's been a couple centuries since you've been in kindergarten."

"Argh, I cannot believe these people," Cordelia said, joining the group of friends. "Why couldn't we just watched the fireworks at the Country Club?"

"Because Bleach-boy couldn't even get into it," Xander replied, pulling his girlfriend down on the blanket.

"Watch it, mate," Spike said. "Nothing goes better with Guinness than blood."

"Spike," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Don't do anything I'd have to stake you for. I don't want to be a widow at eighteen."

Spike grumbled something about whelps and intestines under his non-existent breath, then kissed her on the forehead. "Very well, pet. If I must."

"You must," she replied. She looked around the park at the various families scattered about. "Anyone seen Faith?"

"She said she'd meet us here," Willow said.

"'K," Buffy said. She disentangled herself from Spike's arms and picked up her slaying bag. "I'm going fang hunting around the park. Anyone wanna come?"

Spike pulled her back against him and whispered in her ear, "I do." Then he rubbed his pelvis against her rear.

"Get a room," Cordelia told them.

"Jealous?" Spike replied, nuzzling Buffy's neck.

"Hey! Keep your fangs away from my Cordy," Xander scowled.

Buffy rolled her eyes, took Spike's hand and pulled him with her on patrol. "I didn't realize you were that anxious, luv," Spike quipped, grinning lewdly at her.

"Kill things now, sex later," she said, dropping his hand.

"I don't think you're going to find any vampires, ducks," he said. "Well, other than me."

"What did you do?" she asked.

"Me? Nothing," he replied, trying to give her an innocent look. He failed miserably. "Well, I may have mentioned that I'd rip the wrinklies off anyone who came to the park tonight."

"Oh," Buffy said. "I guess I don't have to do a round then."

"Nope," Spike said. "We can get right to the sex part."

"You're insatiable," she giggled as he pushed her up against a tree.

"Bloody well right I am," he whispered an inch from her mouth. "Especially where my mate is concerned."

Spike captured Buffy's lips in a hard kiss, plundering the depths of her mouth with his tongue. He could never get enough of her. She was his sunlight, his goodness, his mate and his soul. He loved her completely and with all his undead heart.

And because of an offhanded dare on March 18th, she was his wife; and he wouldn't want it any other way.

He broke away from her mouth to rain kisses along her jawline as her fingers dug into his shoulders. She hissed when he laved his tongue over the pulse-point in her neck, arching her pelvis forward to rub against his.

His hands slid around her back, pulling her firmly up against him as he descended upon her mouth again. Their tongues battled, each fighting for supremacy.

Buffy's hands moved up to weave in his short, peroxide-blond hair. Her body thrummed with need, the need to be touched and kissed and filled by him and him alone. Her husband, her mate.

"You do realize this is a PG audience."

Spike tore away from Buffy's mouth to glare at Faith, who'd come up beside them. The brunette Slayer pointed and he noticed some children staring at them. He growled loudly and they scattered.

Buffy fought to catch her breath and reign in her hormones. She pushed Spike slowly away and he turned his growl on her. "Spike, Faith's right. Too many people around."

"Bugger them," he grumbled, but released her anyway. He'd have all the time in the world to shag her after the fireworks. He adjusted his erection and Faith eyed him appreciatively.

"Eyes off my husband," Buffy growled at Faith. The other Slayer laughed.

Spike couldn't help but feel the curl of pleasure he got whenever she said something like that. He was completely whipped. And he didn't mind one bit.


He turned at the loud yell in time to see an object hurling at him at an incredible speed. If he didn't move, it would hit him. If he did move, it would hit Buffy.

Spike didn't move.

There was a loud boom and everything went black.


Spike groaned as he came to, "Bloody 'ell, that 'urt." Cursing, he ran his hands over himself, checking to make sure he was still in one piece before prying his eyes open. He was looking up at a tree, the same tree that he'd moments before attempted to ravish his mate against. But she was nowhere to be seen.

Sitting up, he looked around him. No Slayer, no other Slayer, no kids and no fireworks. He frowned, which increased the pounding in his brain, then struggled to his feet. Somewhat unsteadily, he began to make his way through the park to where the rest of the Scooby Gang had set up camp.

No one was there. In fact, the park was deserted. And, although temperature didn't bother him, it seemed much too cold outside for it to be July. Especially since he was only wearing a dark-green t-shirt and faded blue-jeans, a forced wardrobe change from Cordelia and the Slayer. He ran his hand through his hair, the plain, gold band glinting in the path light. Then he turned and headed for the high school, like he was suppose to do whenever something odd happened.

And this was definitely odd.

Part Two

"Watcher, you here?" Spike called out as he entered the library. He heard someone in the office and began speaking. "The Slayer wouldn't happen to be here, would she? Or the others? If not, I think some friggin' Hellmouth black hole sucked 'em all up."

Giles came to the door between the office and the area behind the checkout counter, brandishing a crossbow. Spike frowned. "What's with the greeting card?" he asked, gesturing to the weapon.

"Normally i-it's used to kill vampires," Giles replied, leveling it squarely at him. "What happened to Buffy? If you hurt her, I will dust you."

"You bloody well know I wouldn't hurt her, so put your toy away," Spike growled at him. "And I just asked you where she was, so wouldn't that mean that I didn't know."

The library door opened behind the blond and he turned to see Willow enter, her head down as she looked at a paper in her hands. "Hey Giles, I think I managed to find out more about that Bezoar. I finished dissecting the baby and...eep!" she gasped as she ran headlong into Spike.

"Watch it, Willow," Spike smiled as he held onto her shoulders to steady her. "Hasn't the wolf told you it's dangerous to read and walk at the same time?"

Willow's eyes grew huge and she darted a scared glance at Giles. "S-S-Spike!"

Spike's brows netted together as he released her. "Did you do somethin' different with your hair?" he asked.

"Um...n-n-n-no," she stammered, inching back away from him.

He noticed her movements and suddenly heard and smelled the telltale signs of fear. But why would Willow be afraid of him? She was his mate's best friend. She was over at the apartment all the time with Oz or alone. "I think something's rotten in the state of California," he said, narrowing his eyes at her. "Where's the wolf?"

"Who?" Willow squeaked.

"Oz, you're beau, you're mate," Spike said, knowing the werewolf had already claimed the witch for his own right after graduation.

"I-I know an Oz w-who's a guitar player," she said, almost to the door.

Spike growled to himself and turned to face Giles again. "Watcher, what the bloody hell is going on here? Where's the Slayer?"

"Why do you want to know?"

The peroxide-blond looked heavenward as Angel came out of the stacks. "What are you doing here, peaches? Didn't I tell you last time to stay in LA where you friggin' belong. The Slayer doesn't want to see you."

Angel gestured to Willow and the redhead scurried around Spike to Giles' office. "Now why would you think Buffy didn't want to see me?" he asked.

Spike groaned and rubbed his throbbing temples. "This is all I bleedin' need. Sir Poof-A-Lot up for a friggin' visit. Will one of you tell me if you've seen the Slayer in the last half-hour? I don't know how long I was out for after that kid tried to off her with a firework, and if you haven't, I want to look for her before the bloody sun comes up."

"We haven't seen her," Angel said.

"Fine," Spike said. "I'm going to look for her. If she comes back, tell her to go home and I'll be there by sunup." Then he turned and left the library.

Giles and Willow came out of the office. They looked at the door, then up at Angel. "Spike's alive," Willow said with great trepidation.


With each step, his head hurt even more. Spike was debating on whether or not to poke his eyes out when he saw Buffy heading up the street towards him. "Slayer, there you are," he called to her, quickening his step. "I've been looking for you all bloody night."

Buffy froze and stared at him in shock, her hand on the stake in her waistband. "You're alive," she gasped. "And looking for me?"

"No, I wanted Faith," Spike scoffed, then groaned as the pain redoubled behind his eyes. He closed them and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Cor, pet, my brain feels like it's going to fall out my ear."

"Um, Spike," Buffy said, taking a step back from him. She eyed him from head to toe. "What's your deal? Going for the yuppie look?"

"Deal?" he asked, opening his eyes and peering at her over his fingers. "My head hurts from that stupid brat's firework and then you were missing and I couldn't friggin' find you and I'm sounding like my wanker of a sire now, so can we please go home?"

"I was missing?" she said. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

Spike growled and reached out for her. Buffy took another step back and dropped into a fighting stance. He arched his scarred brow, then a slow smile crossed his face. "Are you going to cure my headache the old fashioned way, luv?"

"I think a stake to the heart should get rid of it quite nicely," she replied, pulling the weapon out of her waistband.

"Tsk, tsk," Spike said, his hand shooting out to grab the stake away from her before she could blink. He knew all of her weaknesses, because he was the one who trained with her. And thoroughly enjoyed their after-training lessons. "You know the rules, Slayer. It's only fun until someone gets hurt."

He dropped down to the ground under leg as she shot a kick to where his jaw had been. Sweeping his out, he hooked her ankle and tripped her down. He was on top of her in an instant, grabbing at her wrists and pinning them above her head. He grinned when she squirmed under him, trying to escape. What she was mostly doing was fueling his arousal.

She suddenly stopped and stared at him with huge eyes. " your pants..."

Spike pushed forward with his hips, grinding his erection against her. "What, this?" he asked, his blue eyes twinkling despite the aching in his head.

"But," Buffy stammered.

"Going to fuck the Slayer," he finished.

"What?" she gasped.

"Have to get rid of my headache somehow," Spike murmured, missing the fear in her eyes as he lowered his head and began to kiss her. Her mouth was slightly open, and he ran his tongue over her full lips, teasing her. He could feel her heart pounding against him, hear the blood rushing through her veins, both of which were calling to him like the sea calls to a sailor.

He moved away from her mouth and kissed down her chin then the column of her neck. He dipped his tongue into the hollow of her throat and was rewarded with a hiss. Smiling to himself, he moved over her jugular. Suddenly, she began fighting him, bucking her body and trying to pull her neck away from his mouth.

Frowning, Spike raised himself slightly to look at her. Buffy's face was deadly pale, her eyes wide and full of terror, as if her worst nightmare was about to come true. Immediately, he released her and got to his knees by her side. "Slayer, luv, what's wrong?" he asked, his face etched with worry. "You didn't get hurt by the fireworks, too, did you?"

When she didn't answer, only continued to lay there in shock, he cursed and put his arm under her shoulders to help her sit up. "Oh, baby, I'm sorry. I didn't think," he said. He brushed her hair off of her face, examining her for injuries.

"What a-are you doing?" Buffy finally asked in a tiny voice.

"Seein' if you're hurt, pet," he answered, picking up her right hand. He checked it over, then picked up her left. "Slayer, where's your ring?"

"My what?" she said, staring at him in confusion and mild disbelief.

"Your ring," he repeated, rubbing his thumb over her left ring finger.

"Why didn't you kill me?" Buffy blurted, then closed her eyes and groaned. "Stupid, Buffy. Really stupid."

Spike, however, fell back on his heels and stared at her. "Why didn't I kill you?" he said. "What the bloody hell are you talking about?" His eyes widened. "Did you think that I was going to friggin' hurt you? Is that why you were all panicked?"

"You know, forget it," she said, pushing herself to her feet. "I'm going to go now and pretend this never happened and the next time we meet it will be 'hello, dust-particles.'"

"Slayer," Spike shot to his feet. The world started to spin at the quick movement, and he grabbed her hand. "Is something the matter?"

"Is something the matter?" Buffy said incredulously. "You're acting like a pod vampire, and you ask me if something is the matter?" She wrenched his hand from his and started to walk rapidly away. "Go back to your looney girlfriend, Spike, if she's still alive. Maybe she can understand what's wrong with you."

Spike stared after her, utterly bewildered by her words and actions. A sharp stabbing pain pierced his brain at that moment, and he grabbed his head with both hands and staggered. "Slayer," he called after her, his voice rough from the pain. He fell to his knees as flashes of the past flew through his mind.

Images of Buffy flashing him in her little black raincoat; of the naughty bunny costume she'd worn; of the stunned expression on her face when she realized they'd gotten married; of the love in her eyes the night he'd realized she'd given him his soul; of the black bodysuit she'd worn on New Years; of the snow angels they'd created in the snow the fateful night he'd met up with her again, all ran through his mind like a video on fast forward.

The memories kept surfacing, going further back into the past. Drusilla leaving him the second time, then the first; the flight from Sunnydale after striking Angelus; the months in the wheelchair; the burning of the factory; the Judge.

Then it suddenly stopped, and the night became extraordinarily loud as he slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Part Three

"Wake up, luv. Mummy wants to talk to you."

Spike heard her voice and he wondered if he'd hit his head too many times. Drusilla couldn't be in Sunnydale. She had left him, left and gone to Europe, and he had returned to the Hellmouth, alone. Lifting his heavy lids, he slowly focused on the figure sitting by his side.

It was Drusilla.

"Hello, Spike," Drusilla cooed, running a nail over the side of his cheek.

"Dru," he croaked out, his voice harsh and dry. "What are you doing here?"

"Hush," she said, putting her finger over his lips. "Naughty boy. You mustn't speak."

She rose and dipped a rag in a dish of water on the table next to the bed, then sat back down and dabbed it on his forehead. "Miss Edith said that you've come from a far off place."

"Drusilla, where am I?" he asked, trying to look past her. If the place hadn't burned, he would swear that he was at the factory.

Drusilla gave him a coy smile. "You're in my bed, luv," she replied. She leaned closer and whispered, "But you must keep quiet, or my Spike will hear."

And Spike thought he was confused before. "What?"

"My Spike is all weak," she continued, brushing the wet rag down the side of his face. "You're not. Miss Edith likes you strong."

"Dru-" Spike pushed himself to a sitting position and was relieved to find that his headache was gone. He captured her wrists. "What are you talking about?"


Spike's eyes widened when he heard the voice, his voice, calling for the vampiress. She gave him a devilish smile. "Shh," she said. "We mustn't let my Spike know that you are here."

He dropped her wrists as if they burned, then scrambled off of the bed. He continued to back away, as the sound of wheels rolling on the hard factory floor assaulted his ears, until he was pressed up against a wall. Drusilla laughed delightfully and clapped her hands, as she stood.

"I'm coming, luv," she called. She looked back at him. "Now be a good pet and stay," she told him, then glided out of the room.

Two seconds after she'd gone, Spike was up the stairs and peering cautiously around the doorway. When he saw himself sitting in a wheelchair, dressed in black clothing and duster and talking to Drusilla, he knew something was really wrong. As quickly as he could, he skimmed along the wall towards the front of the factory, and was out the door and running down the street as if the hounds of hell were chasing after him...or Buffy was PMSing.

He skid to a stop outside of the library doors in the silent high school. Taking several deep, unneeded breaths, he looked through the round window at the occupants within. Almost immediately, he spotted the differences now that he was aware of his predicament.

The wolf, who was never more than three-feet from his mate's side, was not present. The witch herself had hair that went below her shoulders and was a deep russet color, rather than the bright red, chin-length style he was used to seeing. The Watcher was also different. He didn't stand as confidently or look as jaded, and the man kept darting glances at a dark-haired woman he didn't recognize. Both Xander and Cordelia were there, but the air of love wasn't around them. No secret smiles or soft touches passed between them.

But that air of love was definitely flowing between his sire and the Slayer. It was almost palpable. He bet if he concentrated, he could touch the emotion that went from one to another each time they glanced at each other. However, that wasn't the clincher which told him he did not belong.

The clincher was what was evident on Buffy's ankle. Or rather, what wasn't around her ankle.

Spike closed his eyes and bit the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood. Then he rubbed the ring on his left ring finger, took another deep breath, and pushed open the library door. Seven heads shot in his direction. "Uh, I come in peace?" he said, raising his hands slightly.

Buffy and Angel reacted simultaneously. They both were around the table, forming a protective blockade in front of the others. The Slayer had a stake in hand and Angel was tensed to strike.

"What do you want?" Angel growled.

Spike figured, at that point, honesty was the best policy. "I want to go home."

"There's the door," Buffy gestured with her stake. "Don't let it hit you on your way out."

"Sorry, pet, it's not that bloody simple," Spike said, dropping his hands to his sides. "I think I pulled a Marty McFly."

"What?" Buffy asked, frowning at him.

"Back to the Future," Xander informed her.

"Good heavens, are you implying that you a-are from the future?" Giles said.

"Yes, and I'd like to go back now, so if you don't mind," Spike said, gesturing to Buffy and Angel's defensive poses. "I'd like it to be before I do something to bugger things up."

"Wait a minute, why are you coming to us?" Buffy asked, giving him a skeptical look. "Why not Drusilla?"

"Because Drusilla couldn't start a fire if you struck the match for her and I know the Watcher and Willow can figure out pretty damn everything," he replied. He ran a hand over his face, stopping to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Cor, I think that friggin' headache is coming back."

"Prove it," Buffy said, folding her arms across her chest.

"Do what?" Spike asked, frowning at her.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Prove that you're from the future."

"And how the bloody hell am I suppose to do that?" he replied. "Nothing has happened yet."

"Um, what day was the future, I mean," Willow spoke up tentatively.

"Fourth of July," Spike answered.

"What year?" the dark-haired woman asked.

"Who are you?" Spike asked in return.

The group behind Buffy and Angel exchanged nervous glances. "I'm Jenny Calendar," Jenny replied.

"The computer teacher," Spike said, trying to place events in his memories. The computer teacher was alive, Angel still had his soul and the past him was in a wheelchair. He hadn't seen the Judge when he'd hurried out of the mansion. "Has Christmas passed already?"

"A couple weeks ago," Angel answered. "Why?"

"Fuck," Spike swore, reaching into the front pocket of his shirt. He pulled out a hard pack of cigarettes and opened the top. "That means it's almost the Slayer's birthday, right?"

Buffy narrowed her eyes at the blond. "How do you know when my birthday is?"

"Just answer the bloody question," Spike scowled at her. He looked down at the open pack in his hand.

"It's next week," Buffy answered. "Why? Do you plan on throwing a party?"

Spike began to curse under his non-existent breath. He pulled a sucker out of the cigarette pack and stuck the box back in his pocket. Then he unwrapped the root beer flavor Dum-Dum and stuck it in his mouth. "If I got sent back here to change the bloody past, I'm going to be royally pissed off," he growled around the sucker.

"What's with the sucker, Spike?" Buffy asked, amusement heavy in her voice.

"Like you don't know...fuck," Spike swore. He ran his hand through his hair. "You don't friggin' know." His eyes widened slightly and he looked back and forth between Buffy and Angel. "Oh no. No bloody fucking way. I am NOT going to muck up my unlife, so whoever the hell sent me here better send me back right now!"

The group stared at him like he'd lost his mind. He took the sucker out of his mouth and began gesturing with it as he started to pace back and forth, muttering to himself. "I don't care if anyone says 'if you love someone, let them go.' Bugger that! I'm too selfish to let go of my mate. I am not going to give her back to the follicle king."

"Spike! Stop pacing, you're making me dizzy!" Buffy snapped at him.

Spike stopped and faced her. His mate. The woman he loved beyond reason and sanity. The woman who was his sunlight and his soul. And at this point in time, nothing more than his enemy. Right then, he wanted to break down and cry at that realization. Instead, he stuck his sucker back in his mouth, looked Buffy straight in the eyes...and begged for help.

Part Four

Spike was sitting at the library table, with the others shooting wary glances at him as they worked. Willow was sitting across from him at the computer, Xander and Cordelia had disappeared into the stacks, and the computer teacher was over by the check-out counter. He shifted the sucker in his mouth and studied the blond Slayer sitting on the stairs by Angel. The looks they kept giving one another were hot enough to melt glass, and it made him sick to his stomach.

Figthing down the urge to rip Buffy away from his sire, he stood and went to the library office, aware of the sets of eyes boring into his back. He tapped on the glass on the door with the back of his ring. "Giles, you wouldn't happen to have that stash of port in your desk, would you?" he asked when the Watcher looked up. He glanced back over his shoulder at the two on the stairs. "I could use a bloody drink."

Giles studied the blond vampire for a moment, then opened the desk drawer and pulled out a flask and a glass. "How did you know I-I had it?" he asked, passing the items to Spike.

"Xander told me," Spike said offhand, taking his sucker out of his mouth then having a swig directly from the flask. When he looked back at the Watcher, the man was staring at him in confusion. "Oh, er, not that Xander," he gestured over his shoulder. "Well, not yet anyway."

"You never did say what, er, y-year you say you come from," Giles said.

"1999," he replied. He turned and stared out the window at Buffy. "Cor, look at her. She looks so bleedin' young and innocent."

"1999 is only a year from now," Giles said. "Buffy cannot be that different."

Spike snorted. "Watcher, everyone you see is different in 1999, including me."

"H-How is it that you're on obviously, er, friendly t-terms with everyone?"

"I can't tell you that," Spike answered. "If I do, I might change something, and I like my unlife how it is, thank you very much."

"There must be something you can divulge that wouldn't change the timeline," Giles prompted.

Spike took another drink, then stuck his sucker back in his mouth. The combination of port and root beer wasn't too pleasing, but if he didn't have the sucker, he'd want a cigarette. "Willow's hair is short and more red," he said, giving the Watcher a small shrug. "That's about all I can think of that is peripheral."

"'Peripheral'?" Buffy said from behind him. He turned to face her. "Since when did you learn such big words?"

"Ha bloody ha, Slayer," Spike said, an ache forming in his chest. The love of his unlife was staring at him with barely concealed contempt. He passed the port and glass back to Giles, then went around her out of the office and then out of the library. He needed a few moments away from her, from all of them.

What he told the Watcher was true, Buffy did look young and innocent. She didn't look emotionally strong enough to live through the torment that would be facing her in another week. She looked almost carefree and completely in love with Angel.

His Buffy, as he forced himself to differentiate between the blond in the library and in 1999, had a combination of sadness and hardness in her eyes that came from experiencing unequivocable suffering. If anyone looked close enough, the same was echoed in his own blue eyes, testifying to the things they both went through those months that Angel had lost his soul. His pain, however, could never equal hers. She'd had to send her love to hell in order to save the world, he only lost his love to the dark-haired vampire.

It was that strength that came from survival that helped him fall in love with her, along with everything else that made her the best Slayer ever. He closed his eyes and pictured her, her happy smile, the way she rolled her eyes at him, her flushed face after they made love. "Cor, Slayer, what do I do?" he asked the image in his head. "How do I get back to you?"

In his mind, she laughed at him and danced around the room, wearing only a shirt and duck slippers. With a sigh equal to that of his brooding sire, he re-entered the library. Stopping at the garbage can to drop the sucker stick into it, he retook his seat at the table. "Any luck?" he asked Willow quietly.

"Um...n-no," Willow stammered, her eyes darting to him before returning to the computer screen in front of her.

"You don't have to be afraid of me, ducks," he told her. "We're going to be close chums in another year."

Willow looked at him with astonishment, her mouth slightly open. "We are?"

Spike smirked. "I'm friends with everyone here, luv," he said. "With the exception of the poof and that computer teacher."

"Why? I mean...aren't you evil?" Willow asked. "You don't have a soul, too, do you?"

"Depends on what you mean by 'soul,'" he replied. He didn't think Willow's eyes could get any wider, but they did. He chuckled. "I have a soul, Willow, but it's not like Angel's. I got mine from loving my mate."

"Your mate?" she said, tilting her head in question. He grinned when he saw that action, having witnessed the redhead do it many times. "Like-like a wolf?"

Spike didn't stop the laugh that bubbled from her innocent question, especially since she'd be mated to one after high school graduation. Xander and Cordelia came out of the stacks and Giles came out of his office at the sound. Buffy, Angel, Jenny and Willow all stared at him like he'd sprouted horns. That only made him laugh harder, the situation he found himself in causing him to become slightly hysterical. After a few moments, he calmed down and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "Yes, luv, like a wolf."

Putting his left arm out in front of him on the table, he laid his forehead on his bicep and closed his eyes, still chuckling to himself. With his right hand, he reached into the pocket of his shirt and took out the cigarette box and packed it on the table, as if there were still cigarettes inside, rather than suckers. He knew he was acting like Xander did in front of them, but he no longer cared.

"Spike, is that a wedding ring?" Willow gasped, causing him to lift his head.

He looked down to where she was staring, then fingered the plain, gold, gift store bought, wedding band. "Yes, it is."

"You're married?" Buffy said, walking over to the table to stare down at his hand. Angel moved up behind her with a questioning look on his face. "Who would marry you?"

**You,** Spike wanted to answer, if only to see her reaction at this point in time. Instead, he shrugged. "Sorry, Slayer. If I tell you that, it could mess things up. But, yes, I'm married. Four and a half months now." A smile played over his mouth when he remembered the tears in his mate's eyes when she slipped the ring on his finger and repeated the words Louisa, the pastor at the hospital, had said.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you've gone soft," Angel commented.

Spike raised his eyes and scowled at the dark-haired vampire. "Bugger off, you sod." He opened the pack of cigarettes and chose a cherry Dum-Dum.

"What's with the suckers, Spike?" Angel asked. "Did the doctor give them to you for being a good patient?"

The blond vampire glared at him, then unwrapped one and stuck it in his mouth. "If you must know, the Sla-my mate doesn't want me to smoke. She says it stinks up the apartment."

"Since when do you listen to what anyone says?" the ensouled vampire said, continuing his mocking.

"Since I know how to love someone without my soul and you don't," Spike spat, rising from his seat. "Since she fucked me six ways from Sunday as a bribe. Since Oz pointed out that Slayers live short enough lives without needing to die from second hand smoke. Since my mate is more important to me than blood and I want to get back to her before I heave from watching you two strip each other's clothes off with your eyes!"

He turned and stalked out of the library, leaving the occupants in stunned silence.

"Did he just say that a Slayer was his wife?" Willow asked.

Part Five

Spike wandered back into the library a half-hour later after a quick hunt. The pickings were slim during that hour of the morning, but he'd managed to find a few bums to appease his bloodlust and help calm him down. He wanted to go home and be buried deep inside his Slayer and never leave again. Instead, he was stuck back in January of 1998, watching Buffy and Angel act all lovey-dovey with each other.

He was actually starting to worry that he was suppose to change the past. It wouldn't take much. Just a warning about Angel's soul and things would instantly change. He wondered, if that were to happen, if he would cease to exist. Without the soul-less Angelus going back to his 'family', he would never have made the deal with the Slayer, Drusilla wouldn't have left him, and they'd either be dancing over the Slayer and her friends' graves, or they'd be dust themselves.

He walked past everyone gathered around the table and took a seat on the empty stairs. Closing his eyes, he rubbed them, then leaned back against the side wall. He saw his Buffy in his mind's eye, her nose bright red from the cold, on the night he'd built the snowman. "I love you, Buffy," he whispered to image. "I don't want to lose you."

When he opened his eyes, he found everyone staring at him once again. He gave them a weary smile. "I feel like a bloody exhibit at the zoo."

"Spike, please come back."

Spike frowned. He could have sworn that he'd heard Buffy's voice, yet the one across the room from him didn't open her mouth. Neither did anyone else. "Er, did any of you hear that?"

"Hear what?" Buffy asked, arching her brow at him.

"Please, I need you, Spike."

"That!" Spike said, looking up in the stacks, then around the library.

The others in the rooms exchanged looks. "What's your game, Spike?" Angel said.

"I love you."

Spike shot to his feet, then instantly regretted it, as a needle-sharp pain pierced his brain. With a loud growl, he grabbed his head between his hands and squeezed his eyes shut. He took a step forward and practically fell down the two steps to the floor. On his knees, he gasped in agony, his head feelings as thought white-hot pokers were being inserted into his skull.

He felt someone kneel beside him and put a hand on his back. Prying his eyes open to slits, he saw his sire looking at him with concern. "Spike? Are you ok?"

Spike let out a choked scream as another bolt of pain shot through him, and he leaned forward until his forehead was touching the floor. At that moment, he knew he was going to die.

"A-Angel," he gasped out, panting heavily. He felt rather than saw Angel lean down to hear better. With a low, harsh voice, he said, "Tell Buffy I-I love her."

Then his entire body felt as though it had been consumed by fire, and everything went black.


"Fuck." The swear tumbled from his lips as he swam back to consciousness. Spike forcefully raised his heavy lids just in time to see Buffy practically throw herself at him.

"You're awake!" Buffy exclaimed, wrapping his arms around his prone form and holding him close.

Looking past her, he saw that he was laying under a tree, the very same tree that he'd attempted to ravish the Slayer against. He also saw several other familiar faces surrounding him with various degrees of worry etched on their features. Then their faces were blocked as Buffy began raining kisses all over him.

"Um, Slayer," Spike managed to get out after she'd thoroughly plundered his mouth with her tongue. "Not that I'm not bloody glad to see you, but would you mind telling me what happened?"

"You almost got offed by a firework," Faith supplied when all Buffy did was bury her face in his neck and hold him tightly. "It exploded about a half-foot in front of you."

"I was so scared," Buffy whispered. "You were out for a long time."

"Wait, you mean it was a friggin' dream?" Spike said, pushing himself to sitting position after moving Buffy. He winced as pain lanced through his body.

"Why? What happened?" Buffy asked.

He turned his head and studied her, trying to see if she had any memories of his foray into the past. The only thing he could read was worry and love. "Nothing, luv," he answered, gathering her into his arms and pulling her onto his lap. "Nothing at all."

Buffy snuggled into Spike's embrace and he felt whole once again. Cordelia made a noise of ridicule and Xander shushed her with a kiss. Oz put his arm around Willow's shoulder and they shared a tender smile. Faith snorted and began to hum a hard rock song.

Spike was home.

The married couple finally stood and the seven-some headed back towards their blanket just in time for the fireworks. Lying back down on the ground, Spike pulled Buffy into the crook of his shoulder and kissed the top of her head. When they got home later, he was going to make love to her the remainder of the night and all through the next day.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the cigarette box and flipped the top. He raised his head enough to peer inside and froze.

Two of the suckers were missing. The root beer one and the cherry one.

End 1