Buffy let herself into Spike's home the following afternoon. He had told her to just come up
when she arrived for their final planning before Angel got into town. Climbing the stairs, she felt
butterflies in her stomach, not from the thought of seeing Angel, but from the thought of seeing
She was really starting to like the blond vampire -- in the hug me, kiss me, do other things not
including clothing to me, kind of way. In the past three nights, she learned that he was witty,
sensitive, loving, had great tastes in movies and ice cream, and was a general, all-around good
guy. Someone she'd date in an instant. Someone she could easily fall in love with.
Opening the fire door, she quietly called out his name so as not to surprise him. "Spike, I'm
She froze when she saw him, her heart leaping to her throat. He was sitting cross-legged on one
of many blue mats spread out on the floor in the area next to the kitchen table. His eyes were
closed, his back was ram-rod straight, and he had a short bamboo staff sitting across his legs.
However, she was mostly concentrating on his shirtless torso and the slow, steady rise and fall of
his muscular chest.
"Want to play?" Spike asked, not opening his eyes.
Buffy jumped slightly, then chuckled at being startled so easily. Closing the door behind her, she
removed and hung up her coat, then toed off her shoes. "I'd love to," she said, walking over to
Spike raised his head, opened his eyes and sent her a devastating smile as she stepped onto the
mat in front of him. Her knees grew weak as he stood, and her eyes left his face to trace over the
muscles of his chest and abdomen. Her fingers itched to run over each ridge of the six-pack, then
to slide down the center line over his navel and follow the trail of dark hair beneath his pants. She
swallowed heavily when she saw that the black running pants were riding low on his hips,
testifying to the fact that there was nothing but skin underneath them.
He turned and walked over to the kitchen table, grinning to himself in male satisfaction at her
perusal of him. There was a medium-sized, open trunk on the table, and he took out a second
staff, then tossed it to her. She caught it deftly, testing its weight. "Are we doing the Friar Tuck
thing?" she asked.
"Bruce Lee," Spike corrected, his bare feet padding silently across the floor as he rejoined her on
Buffy grinned and raised her staff in salute. "Ready, Spike-i-san?"
"Ready, grasshopper," he replied with a grin, and the fight was on.
Spike faked a step forward, and Buffy fell back in reflex, her staff raising to block, allowing him
to get in a quick shot to her thigh. She scowled at him, bringing her arms down quickly to hit the
top of his staff. She turned and sent a back kick at him, followed by a round-off. He blocked her
staff as it came around to hit him in the face.
The hollow clicking of the staffs as they met rang throughout the upper floor of the warehouse.
The mock-fight grew faster, with each of them ducking, blocking, kicking and punching. Spike
dropped to the floor and swept his foot out, catching Buffy around the ankles and knocking her to
the mats. He rose over her, aiming the blunt end of his staff to her chest and jabbing downward.
Buffy brought her staff up sharply, knocking his away. She twisted her hands, bringing her staff
between his legs and she snapped it upwards. She froze, ready to apologize for the cheap shot.
However, the grin he'd been wearing the entire time they'd been fighting still on his face. He
took advantage of her distraction by whacking her across the wrists with his staff, causing her to
drop hers, then he brought the end down rapidly and stopped at her throat.
"Give?" Spike asked, nudging her chin with the tip of his staff.
"Give," Buffy agreed, staring up at him in confusion. He nodded and moved his staff. Bending,
he picked up the other one and put it in the same hand as his, then offered her a hand up. She
accepted it and he pulled her to her feet, then turned and walked over to the kitchen table. "Um,
"Yeah, luv?" he said, putting the staffs away. He shut the lid on the chest and turned to face her.
"Do you have brass balls or something?" she said, unable to think of a better way to ask.
"What?" Spike said, confused.
"Well, I kinda just hit you between the legs, and most guys I know would be on the floor..."
"Oh, that," he interrupted, turning and heading for the kitchen. "You didn't hit anything, Slayer.
No harm, no foul."
"Oh," she sighed. "Good. I wouldn't want to do any permanent damage to you. Down there."
Spike chuckled, but the sound was not one of humor. Opening the refrigerator, he pulled out a
bottled water, then returned to the mats and handed it to her. "You can use the shower first, pet.
The towels are under the sink."
"Thanks," she replied. She studied him for a moment. "Are you sure I didn't hurt you?"
"I'm positive," he answered, giving her a half-smile. "Now go get cleaned up. And save me
some hot water."
"'K," Buffy said. She turned and headed for the bathroom.
The second the door closed, Spike sat down on the mats and let his face fall into a bitter mask.
Crossing his legs, he let his hands rest lightly on his knees and closed his eyes. He began taking
slow, purposeful, measured breaths, concentrating on clearing his mind. If he didn't, he would
either become angry or fall into depression, as he was wont to do, and he didn't need either
emotion to hamper him tonight. Not with Angel arriving in Sunnydale.
In the background, he heard the shower, the hum of the refrigerator and radiator, but none of
them bothered him. He had started doing the steady-breathing exercises over a year and a half
ago, once taking the easy way out was no longer an option. It helped him build up his control,
which was essential unless he desired to live out his unlife in pain every time his emotions got the
better of him.
Not much caused the human mask to slip from his features any more. Kissing the Slayer had done
it, which was understandable because kissing her was like seeing the sunrise for the first time in
two centuries, and every-so-often his control would ebb when an injury was too intense. He
carried the mouth-guard with him each time he went out to shadow the Slayer, just in case, and
on occasion he had to use it.
He wondered how the Slayer would react if she ever learned the painful truth. He'd had two
close calls already. He knew he should have said no when she asked for his help. He should have
stayed in her shadow where he belonged, protecting her as he'd been told to do. But because he
hadn't, he'd had a taste of how wonderful the Slayer really was, and that became a new, private
hell. He could easily fall in love with her if he let himself.
The shower stopped and he could hear her moving around the bathroom. He could picture her in
there, her body glistening, drops of water running down her golden skin. He could see her petite
body in his mind; muscular, yet curvaceous and soft, hiding the deadly power she had.
He saw himself carrying her into his bedroom and laying her on his bed. He'd kiss her mouth
first, stroking her tongue with his, then move down her jawline to her ear. He'd take the pierced
lobe between his teeth and tug slightly, then kiss the soft spot behind it. He'd slowly move down
the side of her neck, lavishing her pulse point with his tongue, then nip at her shoulder.
Continuing around, he'd swirl his tongue into the hollow of her throat before going up the other
side of her neck to her earlobe. There, he'd repeat his actions and return to her mouth, capturing
it again in a searing kiss. Her body would tremble under his touch as he ran his hand lightly down
her flushed skin. Moving to her side, he'd break way from her mouth to begin traveling down her
After loving her with his mouth, he'd move next to her as she calmed. Gently, he'd run his fingers up
and down the center of her body, the fine sheen of perspiration over her skin making her shine.
She'd open her blue-grey eyes and meet his gaze, a small smile playing across her lips. She'd
reach for him and pull his head down, their lips meeting once more. Her hands would run down
his bare back, around his sides and back up, and she would try to get closer to him, her fingers
dipping below the waistband of his pants.
The images in Spike's head continued to play out what would happen next, despite his trying to
stop them. He saw her face go from ecstacy to disgust and pity, her eyes not meeting his as the
fire that had burned so brightly in them for him went out. She quickly left his bed, an awkward
silence descending in the room. He watched as she hurriedly dressed, mumbled a goodbye, then
left him alone.
A pain started in the area of his heart, radiating outwards until he was engulfed by it. He didn't
hear the bathroom door open, or notice that Buffy reentered the living room. He didn't see her
concerned expression when she saw him, or her kneeling in front of him until she laid a hand over
his and spoke his name. "Spike?"
Spike pulled out of his torturous thoughts with a quick snap. He opened his eyes and met her
gaze. Clenching his jaw, he reigned in his control and stood, ignoring the confused look on her
face. "I'll be out shortly," he said, then escaped into the bathroom and shut the door with a firm
"Ok, I told Giles that we were seeing each other," Buffy said, sitting across from Spike at his
kitchen table. "He stared at me, then removed his glasses and stuttered big words."
"And then?" Spike asked, drinking from the mug in front of him. He had made the Slayer some
dinner after he had cleaned up and she was eating it with gusto.
"Then he mumbled something about my being a strange girl, wished us the best, and said that he'd
stake you if you hurt me," she concluded. She speared another piece of broccoli from her stir fry
and ate it. She then gestured with her fork. "Xander went into conniptions and threatened to
disembowel you and use your intestines as party decorations."
"A boy after my own heart," he joked. "So, what time are we to meet the great fuzz-bucket?"
"Angel and Cordelia-," she sneered, "-will be here around eight. We're suppose to patrol, then
head over to the bookstore."
"Right," Spike said. He traced the rim of his blood-filled mug with one finger. "How sickening
do you want me to be? Oz and Willow cutesy-ness or should I slobber over you like you were a
bitch in heat?"
"Nice graphics," Buffy said, rolling her eyes. "And somewhere in between the two is just fine.
Although I just showered, so go light on the slobber."
"Will do, pet," he replied. He drained his mug, then stood and went into the kitchen. After filling
it with water, he opened a drawer and pulled out a plastic case, then retrieved the mouth-guard
from the freezer and stuck it inside. He put the case into the front pocket of his black jeans.
"What's that?" Buffy asked, gesturing towards his pocket.
"Late night snack," he lied, giving her a smirk.
She arched her brow as she stood. "Now, why do I think that you're lying?" she said, as she
bypassed him to put her plate in the sink. Spike shrugged innocently. "Come on, tell me."
"It's nothing, Slayer," Spike told her, moving to get his duster of the coat rack on the wall next to
the fire door. He hadn't know that she had approached until he felt her arms move around his
waist, her hand going directly into his pocket. "Slayer!"
Buffy pulled the plastic case out and dashed away with a giggle before he could stop her. He felt
his temper flare and snapped, "Slayer, it's none of your fucking business!"
She stared at him in shock. He hadn't raised his voice to her like that in three days, not since the
first night. The look on his face was pure anger and she actually felt a sliver of fear run through
her. Without a word, she held out the black plastic object and he snatched it from her, then
shoved it back into his pocket.
"Let's go," he growled. He slammed open the fire door and headed down the stairs without
waiting for her.
Grabbing her coat, Buffy took off after him and caught up with him on the street outside of the
warehouse. "I'm sorry, Spike," she told him, putting her jacket on to protect her from the cold
weather. "I didn't mean-"
"Forget it," he interrupted, stalking up the street with his shoulders hunched, his hands shoved
into the pockets of his duster.
"I SAID FORGET IT!" Spike yelled, as he grabbed her arm and spun her to face him. "JUST
FUCKING FORGET IT!!"
Buffy's eyes were huge as she stared up into his angry face. Gone was any of the softness and
friendliness she'd seen over the past few days. Unbidden, she felt tears well up and she grit her
teeth together so as not to make a fool of herself by crying. "Let go of me," she ground out.
He released her so quickly that she stumbled back slightly. Swearing, he turned away from her,
his emotions bubbling inside of him. Closing his eyes, he fought them down, his hands clenched
into fists. When he was sure he had control, he apologized. "I'm sorry, Slayer. I shouldn't have
snapped like that. I-"
Spike turned back around as he began to speak to find that the Slayer was gone.
The sound of fighting greeted Spike's ears as he approached one of the mausoleums that led to
the electrical tunnels beneath Sunnydale. Swearing, he took off at a run towards the sounds,
dodging headstones in the Sunnydale Cemetery. Rounding a stand of trees, he saw the Slayer
surrounded by five, tall, wraith-like figures.
Each figure was a dull grey in color and had sharp talons for fingers, which they were using to
attack the petite blond. Their heads were long and narrow, with three black eyes clustered in the
center. Four slits were located where the mouth usually was, and they had no ears nor hair on
He saw one of them on the ground, its neck at a strange angle, but still moving. He could smell
the scent of blood in the air and growled when he saw a long gash running along the Slayer's
cheek. In an instant, he was at her side, grabbing and twisting the head of the nearest attacker.
They worked in sync with each other, falling into a patter of kicks and punches that drove the
creatures back in order to maneuver close enough to a single one and snap its neck. Buffy hissed
in pain when a talon scraped across her abdomen, slicing her skin. She grabbed her attacker by
the wrist and threw him over her shoulder to the ground, quickly stamping on its neck. With a
dive roll, she was in front of the next one, fighting to take it down.
Spike snarled loudly when he felt the creature's claws rake across the back of his hand. He spun
and kicked it in the torso, sending it staggering back into one of the others. Seizing the
opportunity, he darted forward and pounced on both, sending them to the ground. He had their
necks snapped within seconds.
Looking up, he saw the Slayer dispatch the last wraith-like being, and it fell to the ground with
the others, still twitching. He rose to his feet and walked over to her. When he reached out to
raise her chin, she yanked her head away. "I didn't need your help."
"Slayer, stop it," Spike growled, grasping her chin firmly. He studied the gash and the side of her
face and cursed. "We have to get you bandaged up."
"I'll do it myself after I tell Giles about these guys," she said.
"No, we're going to do it now," he stated. "You can call and tell him from my place."
"Spike, I have two words for you," Buffy said, her eyes narrowed in anger. "Fuck. Off."
Spike pursed his lips together and stared at her, his blue eyes blazing. Then, before she could stop
him, he scooped her up in his arms and headed out of the cemetery.
"Put me down, you goddamn bloodsucker!" she yelled, trying to squirm out of his arms. She
gasped in pain as the cut on her abdomen split further, and she pressed her hand to it.
"Forget it," he told her, tightening his hold.
"God, you are such a jerk," she grumbled.
"Well, you're no prize yourself, Slayer," he replied. "Now, shut up."
"I'm warning you, pet," Spike growled. "I am not in the mood for your bloody childishness."
"Drop deader," she sneered.
Spike stopped walking suddenly, dropped her to her feet and grabbed the back of her hair. With a
loud snarl, he smashed his lips to hers, plundering her mouth with his tongue. His anger, fear,
hurt and other emotions poured into the kiss, fueling it to a bruising passion.
Buffy held her hand tightly against her stomach, but she didn't feel the pain of the cut, as she
fought with him without words. They battled silently in the middle of the street, neither of them
aware of their dark-haired observers, who watched for a few moments, then disappeared back
into the shadows.
As his emotions began to overwhelm him, Spike felt his control slipping and he broke away from
her as his human mask flickered. A half-growl, half-whimper escaped from him as he dug the
plastic case out of his pocket. He fingers fumbled as he tried to open it and it fell to the ground.
Buffy crouched as he did, ignoring the pain on her stomach and took it from his jerky hands. She
squeezed the sides and the lid popped up. Raising her gaze from the strange-looking mouth-guard inside, she saw Spike in game face, his lips curled back in pain. She froze, a look of
stunned horror crossing her face.
His canines, once long and pointed, were now cracked and flat edged, about half their normal
She barely caught a glimpse of them before he shoved the mouth-guard into his mouth and
clamped down on it. He shut his eyes tightly and there were tears coursing down his cheeks.
Slowly, so as not to startle him, she reached out and took his hand, squeezing it. He immediately
held on tight, rocking slightly back and forth on his toes.
Spike breathed in deeply and let the unneeded oxygen out slowly, focusing on the feel of the air
rather than the pain. After a minute, his face slipped back into its human countenance as he
regained control. He opened his eyes and saw the Slayer's worried gaze, her one hand pressed
against her stomach, the other holding his. He took a final deep breath, then raised his free hand
to removed the mouth-guard.
"Are you ok?" Buffy asked, worried more about his pain then her own.
"I could use some ice cream," he replied, smirking at his feeble attempt at a joke.
"Not now, Slayer," he interrupted, releasing her hand to take the plastic case from her. Buffy
nodded and they made the remainder of the trip back to the warehouse in silence.
Buffy was stretched out on Spike's bed, her shirt tucked under her bra, as he doctored the cut
across her stomach. Because of her accelerated healing rate, the bleeding had long since stopped
and the wound would be nothing more than a thin line come morning. The same went for the cut
on her cheek and the ones on his hand.
Spike was silent the entire time, sucking on an ice cube he'd retrieved from the freezer when they
arrived at his place. He avoided looking her in the eye and his actions were jerky, but his touch
Finally, Buffy couldn't take the silence anymore. "Spike, talk to me," she said quietly, watching
him through lowered lashes. He stiffened and turned away, busying himself with the first aid kit.
When he began to speak, his voice was low and harsh. Bitterness and anger tinged each word so
much, she flinched. "If you remember, I went back to Brazil to torture Drusilla until she liked me
again. I should have known that a week wasn't long enough. Not five minutes after I unchained
her, she attacked me. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. They weren't
Spike shut the first aid kit with a snap, then took a cigarette from the pack on the night stand and
lit it. He inhaled deeply before he continued. "It didn't matter to her that I didn't do anything.
She said I reeked of you and the witch, the boy and her daddy. She was so bloody jealous that,
coupled with her insanity, she wasn't seeing right and Miss Edith agreed with her," he chuckled
hollowly. "Her punishment was to make sure that I could never take a lover again."
He walked over to the dresser and picked up an ashtray, then leaned against the chest of drawers.
He took another drag on the cigarette, then tapped the cherry into the ash tray. "She used an
animal's nail clipper," he said, his voice raw. "She knew exactly what she was doing, the fucking
bitch. She cut my fangs down just far enough that each time I let my human mask slip, the nerves
she cut would tear again as they tried to descend."
"That's why the cold mouth-guard and the ice," Buffy said with understanding. "The cold helps
numb the pain."
Spike nodded, but still did not look at her. "I was there that night, you know. Up on that hill
outside of the mansion. Father and childe, both waiting for the sun to rise," he chuckled again,
then sobered. "Then you were there, trying to get the wanker to go inside. You said that giving
up was the easy way out, that surviving was hard and everyday and some other bloody stuff. I
wanted to go over to you and shake you and ask what the fuck you knew, then I remembered that
you had been through a bloody hell of a lot more than I had and that you were still kicking."
He stabbed out his cigarette, then played with the butt in the ashtray. "I told myself that no
bleedin' Slayer was going to best me, then laughed when I realized it was too late, the sun would
be up before I could find shelter."
"And then it snowed," Buffy said softly.
"And then it snowed," he repeated. "Whatever miracle you created for the poof saved more than
just him, Slayer."
"I'm glad," she told him. She sat up and pulled her shirt down, then crossed her legs so she was
sitting Indian-style on the bed.
"Some days I'm not," Spike told her truthfully. He turned and set the ashtray on the dresser.
"Especially these past few days."
Buffy was surprised. The past few days had been spent with her, which meant... "Oh," she said,
feeling her heart break. She stood. "I think I'd better go. It's past eight already..."
"Slayer," Spike said, turning and walking in front of her, effectively blocking her path. "I didn't
mean it like you think. You are a beautiful, fascinating, marvelous woman. But now that I know
that, it's even bloody harder."
"But why?" Buffy asked, raising her eyes to meet his. "I don't care if you have fangs or not. It's
actually of the pos on the Chosen One end of the scale."
"Because nothing can come of it, luv," he replied.
"That's not an answer," she argued.
"No, I want to know why," Buffy said. "You said it wasn't me and I don't give a flying fig about
the teeth. So why not? Are you in love with someone else?"
"No," he answered. "But-"
"Is it because you don't have a soul?" she continued. "That's actually a good thing, because then
I don't have to worry about you losing it if we did things together that could make you lose it."
"Cor, Slayer, didn't you fucking listen to me?" Spike said, shoving a hand roughly through his
hair. "I bloody told you that Dru made it so I couldn't have a lover."
"Yeah, that whole biting thing you brought up before..." He grabbed her hand suddenly and
undid the fastenings on his jeans with his other hand. "What are you doing?" she squealed.
"This is why I can't love you, Slayer," Spike growled, taking her hand and shoving it down his
Buffy's wrist was painfully twisted, but it did not deter her from feeling what he wanted her to
feel. Complete and utter shock hit her like a sledgehammer, and she stared up at him with huge
eyes. Before she could say anything, he released her and stepped away, re-fastening his jeans.
"You'd better go," he told her in a low voice. Then he turned, walked across the small hallway to
the bathroom and shut the door with a purposeful click.