Secrets & Lies


by: Lynn
Continuation of The Chains Series



***************

Giles realized that he'd read the same sentence ten times and shoved the book away from him in frustration. Worry for his Slayer gnawed at his gut, and he clenched his fists in an attempt to keep from banging them on the table like a toddler in the throes of a tantrum. She should have been back, should have called...should have let him know that she was all right.

"Giles, stop it," came the weary voice behind him.

He turned and glared at Willow. "Stop what?" he asked petulantly.

"Stop driving yourself crazy," she answered, laying a hand on his shoulder, only to remove it quickly as her skin tingled from the contact. Willow sighed inwardly and walked around the table, putting some distance between them. She supposed she should be working on the journals, but like Giles, she found that concentration was nearly impossible. She'd watched him fidget for the past hour, watched him pick up one book after another, only to close them all without really reading them. Once again she marveled at her ability to tune into his thoughts so well. It's only natural, she thought. We've been working so closely together, and now, after the other night...

Probably best to not go there. Ever again.

Willow met Giles' eyes and saw the worry reflected there. "Try to be patient, Giles-"

"She should have called by now. What if he - What if she's..." He went cold at the thought of Spike turning on Buffy.

Willow shook her head. "Spike cares about her. I don't think he'd hurt her." She tried to ignore the little doubting voice in the back of her head. "They had a lot to talk about - I'm sure that's all it is. And if they did manage to patch things up, they might be busy-" Willow blushed as she realized that Giles wouldn't want to hear about his Slayer and Spike 'celebrating' their reconciliation. "Er, talking...some more. Lots and lots to talk about, like I said," she finished lamely, shrugging her shoulders helplessly.

Giles gave her an exasperated look and reached for another text. He really didn't need the image that Willow's words conjured up dancing in his head. Not in a million years would he ever have imagined Buffy in a relationship with *Spike*. All of Giles' research indicated that the vampire was nothing more than an unrepetant killer, the epitome of a soulless demon. The idea that Buffy had found anything to love in a creature like that was completely beyond his realm of understanding.

As was the fact that she was now pregnant by a demon.

A demon. Of all the bloody cock-ups he could have faced, this one took the proverbial cake. It shouldn't have been possible. Even with a soul involved, the odds should have been astronomically absurd. Could the Council really have kept something of this magnitude hidden for hundreds - no, thousands - of years? Was Spike in actuality a souled creature...or merely a demon, as they'd all been led to believe?

Demon...

The word echoed over and over in his head. Perhaps what he needed wasn't found in books. What if, instead of focusing on vampires, he expanded his search to include the demon aspect? He needed an expert in the field, someone who lived and breathed demons, someone not controlled by the Council. Someone like...

"Hold on," he murmured, sitting bolt upright in his chair. "Of course! How could I be so stupid?"

"Giles?" Willow looked up questioningly. He had a funny, far away look in his eye, the look that always made her visualize a lightbulb above his head. "Did you think of something?"

"Not some *thing*- some *one*. I think I may have remembered someone who can help us. Damien Carstairs, an old protege of my grandmother's." At Willow's eager prompting, he began filling her in on his relationship with the demonologist, glossing over the more lurid parts of his past.

"Damien - Dr. Carstairs now - was Edwina's favorite student - next to me, of course...brilliant, inquisitive, brash - a radical, just like she was. The two of us quickly became friends under her tutelage, competing to see who could learn faster, who could curry Edwina's favor more. We were her prodigies, her firebrands... Her legacy." Giles closed his eyes for a moment as the memories came flooding back. Memories of a different time, a different life.

"She always said we were too bright for our own good," he smiled, "so smart that it actually made us stupid. Time and again we proved her right, driving my father and everyone else in the vicinity nearly insane with our pranks. If it weren't for Edwina's influence, I think the Council would have washed its hands of us years ago. We certainly stretched the limits as far as they would go."

Willow watched the emotions play across his face, the years falling away as he remembered his youth. He hadn't told them much about his past, only the bare minimum that had been necessary when Ethan had shown up. She realized that there was so much she didn't know about him, so many things she had yet to discover.

But did she want to discover them? And would he even want her to? He was an intensely private person, and their relationship had gone through so many changes already... No, she told herself. We're friends, nothing more. Anything else is impossible. She gave a slight shake of her head and turned her attention back to Giles and his story.

"Damien's Watcher pedigree wasn't as pure as mine, so it was understood that he most likely would never be assigned a Slayer. It suited him just fine, he preferred not being under the Council's scrutiny and devoted himself to his studies. Then came university and a whole new world, and I - we - began to question our predetermined fate. Damien had it easier, he was allowed more freedom, but in my case... Everything I did had to be approved by the Council. It was stifling, and once I met Ethan and fell under his spell, there was no looking back." There was no need to tell Willow everything, but the memories kept surfacing, just the same.

When Giles began to balk at his predestined future, Damien had even followed him into his rebellion, hovering on the fringes of Ethan's Magical Mystery Tour. He'd used his connections as a medical student to procure some of the narcotics that Ethan deemed necessary for their rituals, but only dabbled in the actual practices of black magic. Damien had finally gotten cold feet and bailed out before the whole Eyghon mess, which had, in all probability, saved his life. He did a complete turn around after that, devoted himself to his studies once again, and had helped fill the void in Edwina's life that Giles had left during his downward spiral.

It had, in fact, been Damien who assisted Meredith in the de-toxing of Ripper when Giles had finally surfaced from the darkest period of his life. Between the two of them, Damien and Meredith had brought Giles back to the living, so to speak. They were Giles' lifeline for the next year, until Damien moved away to continue his studies and get out from underneath the Council's thumb. The young men maintained contact when they could, between Damien's traveling and Giles' Watcher training, and Edwina remained a strong influence on both of them, a common touchstone in their very different lives. Their last meeting had been at her funeral, after which Damien had disappeared into the wilds of some third world country, following a lead on what was supposed to be an extinct sect of demon worshipers. Giles hadn't heard from him since, too caught up in his Watcher duties during the last two years to seek Damien out.

"Do you think you can track him down after all this time?" Willow asked.

"I'm not sure," he answered with a frown. "But right now he's the only person I can think of who can help. Besides his expertise in medicine and demonology, Edwina may have shared the journals with him. She trusted him implicitly, and so do I. It's high time I reestablished contact with him."

It occurred to Giles that it might not even be possible to find Carstairs, but he had to try. Edwina had always been able to locate the errant doctor, so perhaps there was something in her old papers that would lead Giles in the right direction. He excused himself to Willow and went into his office to begin his search, finally feeling that he was headed in the right direction.

***************

Spike awoke in the same position he'd fallen asleep in, surrounded by the warmth and scent of the Slayer pressed firmly against him. He waited with dread for the sensation to leave him, for her dream image to fade away as it always did. When he realized that he was actually awake and the Slayer was real, he sighed with relief and buried his face in her hair, tightening his hold on her.

He felt sated, satisfied, her blood thrumming through his veins, filling him with a contentment and a calm he hadn't felt in weeks. A contentment he hadn't expected to ever feel again, not after what had happened between them. Listening to her slow, even breath and the steady beat of her heart, Spike wondered if there was anything as close to heaven as this. Not that he would ever experience the real thing, soul or no soul.

A soul. It was laughable, really. He'd always taken such pride in being a demon, had flaunted it at Angel when he'd first come to Sunnydale. Taunted his sire about being tainted with purity, a goody-two-shoes, when all along - if the Slayer could be believed - he was just as much of a freak as Angel had been. Worse, even. Angelus had been unable to love anyone, while he, William the fucking Bloody, had fallen in love for the second time. And with the Slayer, no less.

Drusilla had been understandable. Vampires sometimes formed long term attachments with each other out of mutual need for companionship. With Drusilla he'd felt needed, strong, in control. He hadn't been a victim, the way he'd been with Emma and Angelus. He'd been Dru's protector, her black knight - her entire world - for eighty years. And then "Daddy" came home, and Dru's world hadn't been big enough for the both of them.

The Slayer, though... She didn't need his protection. She'd thwarted every plan he'd come up with to take her out, bested him at every turn, and in the final scheme of things, she alone had been the one to dust Angelus. She was stronger than anyone he'd ever known, pure of heart without being self-righteous. He didn't blame the Slayer for Dru's death, he felt responsible for that, just as he'd always felt responsible for her, since the first moment he'd laid eyes on her. His Black Rose... He tried to shove aside the memories of her. Dru was gone; she was his past, and the Slayer was his future. Out of the darkness and into the light... The Slayer and Drusilla, the sun and moon, day and night, two women who couldn't possibly be more different. The vampire he thought he'd spend eternity with, and the human whose time on earth was all too short.

Losing Buffy was something Spike didn't want to think about. She was his mate, and now, against all laws of nature, above all that was holy or unholy, she carried his child. Life on the Hellmouth, never boring, eh, mate? Just when he'd thought his unlife couldn't be more fucked up, along comes something to remind him that you always pick up speed on the way down. A soul *and* a kid - where was a stake when you needed one? A high falsetto voice sounded in his head- "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies, Miz Scarlett!"

The Slayer sighed in her sleep and wriggled against him, all soft and warm, causing his cock to automatically spring to life. That was part of his problem right there. All too often, he let his dick do his thinking for him. But with the Slayer's deliciously soft ass pressed tightly against him, his hands roaming over her smooth skin, he couldn't honestly say that it was a bad thing. Her warmth beckoned to him, and he felt her pulse quicken and her breathing become uneven. She was just starting to waken, little whimpers sounding in her throat as his fingers found her center, feeling that liquid heat waiting to surround his straining shaft. He heard her plead with him, his name falling from her lips as he brought her close to the edge.

Making love to her was like something akin to playing chicken with the sun. No matter how much it singed your flesh, you kept trying to withstand the pain, wanting just one more look... Wondering if it was worth it, wondering if turning into a pile of cinders was worth feeling the heat caressing you one more time...

Was it?

Fuck, yeah, he thought, gently easing himself inside her. It was worth risking the sunburn, in order to sink into daylight like this. Worth every moment of pain, worth every twist and turn his unlife had taken. He'd go to Hell and back again to stay inside her. In some ways, he already had.

Buffy had been awakened by cool hands caressing every part of her skin and she writhed against Spike contentedly. She'd been afraid that it had all been a dream, that he wasn't really there, but the hard body pressed against her back had quickly reassured her. Skillful fingers dipped between her thighs, teasing her moistening flesh as soft lips brushed across her shoulder. He always knew just how to touch her, knew just the right buttons to push...just like the one he was pushing now, rubbing in small circles... God, he was so good...

She gasped his name and tensed as she hovered on the edge of orgasm. His movements became slower, drawing out the sensation until she thought she'd go mad with wanting. "Spike, please..."

She felt him part her folds and slide into her inch by inch, until she was filled with his entire length. Buffy heard him moan low in his throat and growl her name, causing her muscles to clench around him in response. Everything stopped as they joined together, relishing the combination of her soft, wet heat and his cool, marble-like hardness.

His fingers continued to gently rub her clitoris as he ran his tongue along the nape of her neck. She was so close... All he needed to do was move, just move a fraction of an inch...

Spike pulled back slightly and then gave a long, slow thrust until he was buried as deep as he could go. With a sharp cry, Buffy exploded around him, her body arching back as the waves of pleasure went on and on and on...

The Slayer's muscles tightened around him like a vise, sending him over the edge along with her. His head dropped to her shoulder and his eyes squeezed shut as the pulsing spasms caught him by surprise, milking his cock until he was sure there wasn't a single drop of fluid left in him. He could feel her heart racing as he shuddered against her and tried to catch his breath. In her presence his body always seemed to forget that he didn't need oxygen. He might as well be human for all the control he had around the Slayer. He felt almost chagrined at how fast she'd made him come, like a virginal schoolboy getting his first taste. How had he ever thought he could live without this?

"Wow," Buffy whispered tremulously. "That was..." Her voice trailed off as words failed her.

"Yeah, it was," he murmured in her ear. "I didn't mean for it to end so quick, though, I should have- "

"It was perfect," she assured him, lacing her fingers with his. "So intense... When you're inside me, it's like the rest of the world fades away."

"I know, love." His lips brushed across her throat. "It's the same for me. I want to stay like this forever, buried deep inside you..."

She shivered at his words and smiled sleepily. "Mmmm, that sounds wonderful."

"I can't believe I'm holding you again. I thought it was all a dream." He felt her squeeze his hand. "I never thought you'd come back. Never thought you'd want me again." He knew that he sounded like an idiot nancy-boy, but didn't care. He wanted her to know how he felt, and it was easier like this, in the afterglow of sex. Easier when she wasn't looking directly at him. "How can you love me, Slayer? What do you see when you look at me?" he wondered out loud.

"That's easy," she answered, snuggling back against him. "I see a boy who survived against insurmountable odds. A boy who could have grown up hard and cold, but kept his humor and passion intact. I see the man who risked everything he was and teamed up with his worst enemy to try to keep the woman he loved. Someone who made me scream his name in the middle of the cemetery."

Spike smiled at the memory of their first time together. The surprise they'd both felt at how good it was. The realization that nothing would ever be the same between them again.

Buffy continued, "When I look at you, I see a man who raced against the sun just to leave a rose in my locker. It was the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me." She pulled away from him and rolled over until they were nose to nose. "Most important of all, I see a vampire whose soul was strong enough to overpower a demon and knock up a Slayer." She grinned impudently at him. "That alone will get you into the history books."

Spike answered with a rueful grin of his own. "It's gonna get me bloody killed is what it'll do."

"Not while I'm around."

He dropped a kiss on her nose. "Gonna protect me from all the demons that'll be gunnin' for my undead arse? Not to mention the fucking Council..."

Buffy frowned. "Do you really think they'll come after you? Other demons? Giles won't say anything to the Council, he doesn't trust them all that much."

"Don't worry about it, pet. We're below radar at the moment. As long as we can keep our involvement a secret until the Watcher figures something out- "

"He will. Giles always comes through."

It was said with a quiet conviction that he couldn't argue with. The Slayer knew her Watcher best, and Spike would just have to trust her judgement in this. He pulled her into his arms and felt her stiffen as he nuzzled her neck.

"Giles!" Buffy pushed him away and struggled to get out of bed. Spike looked at her questioningly. "I forgot to call him! He must be imagining all sorts of-" she grabbed his shirt and pulled it over her head, "-horrible things. Where's your phone?"

"Do you think the image of me fucking you silly will be top on the list?"

Buffy gave him an exasperated look. "Please. Somehow I think Giles would rather imagine you killing me."

Spike snorted and rolled out of bed, grabbing his duster from where it lay across a chair. He removed the cell phone from one of the pockets and handed it over. "Yeah, well, I hope he's not on his way over here loaded for bear. That would definitely put a damper on our reconciliation."

Buffy rolled her eyes at him as she quickly punched out the number to the library. Giles wouldn't do something like that...at least, she didn't think so. The phone barely rang once before Willow picked up on the other end.

"Hey, Will, it's me. Yes, I'm fine - *we're* fine. Yes, I told him everything. No, he didn't faint." It was Spike's turn to roll his eyes as he tugged his jeans up over his hips. "Just tell Giles that I'm okay and that I'll probably see him tomorrow. Okay, bye." She clicked off the phone and turned to look at Spike.

"No sharp, pointy things headed my way?"

"No, you're safe for now." Buffy tossed the phone on the bed and ran her fingers through her hair. "I need a shower. And I'm actually hungry for once - can we order something?"

"Can I eat the delivery boy?" Spike asked with a smirk.

Buffy cocked an eyebrow. "What do you think?"

"I think you're a party pooper."

Buffy threw a pillow at him and it bounced off his head. "I want Chinese - sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, the works. Are you still hungry?"

"Hungrier than I've been in days. I think I'll call Willy and have him bring food for both of us. The little weasel owes me - several times over." Spike picked up the phone and dialed the Alibi Room. When Willy picked up, Spike gave him instructions and hung up without saying goodbye.

Buffy shook her head at him and grinned. "You are *so* rude, it's not even funny."

"Rude and crude, baby," he replied, swinging her up into his arms, laughing as she squealed. "And you love it." He captured her mouth in a kiss and headed for the door. "How about that shower? We have an hour or so before Willy gets here..."

**************

Willow hung up the phone, her shoulders slumping in relief. Even though she'd told herself that Spike cared for Buffy, she'd still been terrified that his anger would get the best of him. She knew what he was capable of and yet he'd once again refused to fit into a definitive vampire mold.

"Vampires," she muttered. "Life was so much simpler before I ever knew they existed." Simpler, maybe, but she wouldn't wish for her old life back, not for anything. Not unless she could have Oz back, and that wasn't going to happen.

Willow had expected Giles to come running out of the office when the phone rang, but she'd snatched it up so quickly that he must not have heard it. She stood up to go and tell him about Buffy just as the library doors swung open. Startled, she looked up, smiling as Xander ambled into the room.

"Willow! You're here!" He rushed over and threw his arms around her the way he used to when they were little and had been separated for a few days. They had always hated being apart for any length of time and she'd forgotten how much he depended on her being around. And how much she depended on him. Willow returned his hug with vigor, breathing in the familiar smell of him.

"How are you? I knew you needed space, but I wish I could have done more for you," Xander said quietly in her ear.

"I'm better, and there wasn't anything you could do. With Buffy sick, it was better for me to just spend time with her. It gave me someone else to think about." She pulled away and tucked her hair behind her ears. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Cordy's doing some mother-daughter bonding at Neiman-Marcus. It's an all day thing. I came by to see if Giles needed any help. What about you?"

"Oh, I was just...cataloguing some books and researching a few things. Nothing much. I thought it was time I started getting back into my routine."

Xander nodded. "I'm glad, Will. God, it's so good to see you! How's Buffy? I miss her."

Willow couldn't help smiling up at him. "Buffy is doing much better. I think she'll be around tomorrow or the next day."

"Weird how she got so sick. I guess maybe the stress of being the Slayer finally got to her, huh?" Xander bounced on the balls of his feet, in the throes of yet another sugar rush. "Listen, Will, hang with me today, okay? We haven't done anything together, just the two of us, in a long time. We could go to the movies, the arcade, anything you want. I'll buy you ice cream..." he wheedled, desperate for the company.

Willow hesitated, wanting to say yes, wanting a normal day in the sunshine. She didn't want to desert Giles, though. There was so much work to do... Just then, he walked out of his office, studying some papers.

"Willow, I thought I heard voices..." He looked up. "Oh. Hello, Xander. What brings you here?" Giles tried to hide his disappointment. When he'd heard Willow talking, he'd hoped that it was Buffy returned to them, safe and sound. She'd occupied his thoughts the entire time he was looking through files in his office.

Seeing his distress, Willow spoke before Xander could answer. "Excuse me, Giles. That rare book that you were inquiring about?"

"Rare book?" he asked, confused for a moment. Willow nodded at him, raising her eyebrows. "Oh *that* rare book! You have news, yes?" The anxiety in his voice was unmistakable.

"I just received a call letting me know that the book is in excellent condition and should arrive sometime tomorrow." She smiled at the relief on his face.

"Ah, yes. That *is* good news. This particular book is priceless. Thank you, Willow." They shared a secretive look that went undetected by Xander.

"A rare book? Does it have pictures like the ones you have locked up in your office?" Xander caught the sharp look Giles threw him and continued quickly, "Which, of course, I know nothing about." He grinned sheepishly and turned back to Willow. "So, what do you say, Willow? Do we hang?"

Willow looked at Giles. "Giles? Do you need me anymore today? I could work on the journals..."

"What?" he asked distractedly, already planning out the quickest way to track down Damian. "Oh, no, Willow...you go on with Xander. Have some fun, both of you. God knows, you deserve to. I think I'll go home and finish looking through Edwina's files. I presume it will take the rest of the day. You can work on the journals tomorrow."

"As long as you're sure," Willow said softly. Their eyes met again in perfect understanding, and Giles smiled back at her. "I'm sure," he replied.

"Then I guess we hang!" She grinned at Xander, feeling as if time had turned back a few years. For one day at least, she could try to forget that Oz was gone and that Buffy was carrying a child whose father wasn't human. Knowing that Xander was blessedly oblivious to what was going on would make it easier for her to relax.

Willow motioned for him to help her put away the books while Giles locked up his office. They walked out together, with Xander only marginally aware that he was missing something important. The feeling was fleeting, however, as thoughts of spending the day with his best bud pushed it away. He draped an arm around Willow's shoulders and called out a goodbye to Giles as they headed out into the warm afternoon sun.

*************

In the bathroom, Buffy was braced against the shower wall as Spike thrust into her slick body in a slow, steady rhythm. They had washed each other first, which had inevitably led to hands and lips traveling over sleek skin. The water was starting to cool and she urged him to hurry up and come before it turned ice cold.

"Ladies first," he purred against her throat, licking the water from her skin. He could feel her squeezing him harder with her thighs, grinding against him, trying to get him to quicken his pace, and he chuckled softly at her efforts. Supporting her with one hand, he reached down and grabbed the bar of soap with the other. When his hand was slippery with suds, he moved it to her backside, sliding his fingers into the crease of her buttocks.

Buffy moaned, her body arching as she felt his finger circling her anus. "Spike, what are you-?" She gasped as his fingertip eased into her tight hole, aided by the soap. He'd never done anything like that before and the added pressure made her tighten around him even more. She clung to him desperately, shaking as his cock plunged deeper and his finger probed new and sensitive places.

Christ, she was so tight. He wondered if she'd ever let him... He let the thought trail off as he felt the familiar clenching of her muscles. "That's it, baby, come for me," Spike coaxed, almost frantic for his own release. Her wet body rubbing against his and the tightness of both entrances was driving him insane. He rocked against her clit and felt her start to convulse around him in long, hard spasms. She mewled into his shoulder and bit down on him hard enough to break the skin. With a shout, he let go inside her, his cock swelling within her fluttering walls. She always made him come so fucking hard; each time felt like an explosion that threatened to blow the top of his head off, along with the head of his cock.

Spike struggled to keep them both upright as they came down from their climax. He looked down at the trembling girl in his arms.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his voice husky with spent passion.

"I'm - I don't know what I am at the moment," she panted, resting her head on his shoulder. Her heart was racing out of control and her legs shook with violent tremors. They were going to kill each other with sex. She was going to die from a heart attack and Spike from dehydration. He couldn't possibly have any fluid left in his body after that. How did it keep getting better between them? Their time apart hadn't done anything to lower the intensity, if anything, it had doubled. "Don't let go," she told him as she carefully lowered her legs to the tub floor.

"Not even a consideration," Spike answered with a grin. No, letting go wasn't something he wanted to do...ever.

"If I don't get food soon, I'm going to collapse." Buffy yelped as she felt the icy blast from the showerhead as the last of the warm water disappeared. She shivered and Spike reached over to turn the water off. He grabbed a couple of towels that were hanging outside the shower and wrapped one of them around her, using the other to quickly rub himself dry. Still shaky, they made their way back to his room, the cold floor making Buffy's feet tingle.

Buffy quickly searched his dresser for socks and found a pair that reached almost to her knees. She sighed happily as the chill left her feet. Not wanting to put her other clothes back on, she walked over to the closet and looked for a shirt to wear. She wrinkled her nose. "Why does your closet smell like mothballs?"

"To keep out moths." Spike shook his head at the sight of her wearing his socks and nothing else. She really did have the most fetching ass he'd ever seen, all round and soft, with an underlying firmness. He grabbed a clean pair of jeans and tugged them on, leaving the top button undone. "Any luck, pet?" he called across the room.

Buffy pulled a large t-shirt out of the closet, the words The Rolling Stones emblazoned across the front. "How's this?" she asked.

Spike froze. "Not that one."

"Why not? I kind of like it," she replied, holding it up in front of her.

Spike walked carefully toward her, trying to stay calm. "Kitten? That shirt is from the Altamont concert," he explained. He sighed at the blank look she gave him. "1969? Hell's Angels?"

"Yeah, so?"

"So, it's thirty years old and a priceless piece of history," he answered, taking it from her. He hung it back up in the closet. "Didn't they teach you anything in that bloody school? I'll bet your mum remembers." Partying with the Hell's Angels- Christ, those were good times. The drugs, the music, the violence... The blood that flowed like wine from all the little hippy stoners.

"Can we leave my mother out of this? It gives me the wig to think that the two of you have anything in common." Buffy pouted. "Okay, fine, I won't wear your precious shirt." She turned back to the closet and Spike started to walk away, then stopped when she said, "I'll wear this one instead."

He looked at her and nearly lost it. "Iggy and the Stooges?! Not on your fucking life!" He stalked back to the closet and searched until he found one he didn't care about. "Here, wear this." He switched shirts with her and carefully hung Iggy back up, then turned to find her smirking at him. "What? I was bloody stoned at the time! I only went to keep Dru company, I don't even remember buying the fucking thing!"

"You are the strangest man *not* alive, you know that?" she told him. Pulling the plaid Bay City Rollers shirt over her head, she walked over to the dresser and looked for something to brush her hair with. "Giles would kill for this shirt," she idly remarked. She found a comb and began working out the tangles that Spike's fingers had left.

"Yeah, well, he can have it," Spike answered, coming up behind her and sliding his hands around her waist. "Maybe he'll go easier on me if we give him a peace offering."

"Oh please, like you're afraid of Giles," she snorted.

"He's important to you, luv. You need him on your side, now more than ever." He let his hand rest on her lower abdomen.

"I know," Buffy sighed. She leaned back against him, marveling at how the two of them had resumed the intense passion and teasing banter that had earmarked their relationship. They fit together like two pieces of the same puzzle, interlocking because they were meant to, because they were a perfect match. They both understood the night, they both understood the violence that it brought. They had the same sense of humor that surfaced in the darkest situations and they experienced the same feeling of being on the outside looking in. Of not fitting into the surroundings that life had dictated to you. Sometimes, when she looked Spike, Buffy felt as if she was looking in a mirror. He was the flip side to everything that made her who she was.

"Can you feel it?" she asked. "It's like we were only apart for an hour, instead of two weeks."

"I know. It's bloody weird, isn't it? It feels like it used to, before Darius fucked everything up. After everything that's happened, you would think that there'd still be some tension between us, but it's gone."

Buffy turned in his arms and buried her face in his neck. "It feels so good to be in your arms again. I never want to leave."

Spike chuckled. "I'm going to have to let go for a bit, if you want to eat. Willy will be here soon."

"Well, only because it's food," she allowed. Spike kissed her thoroughly and gave her a light swat on the rear before releasing her. He laughed and ducked as she took a swing at him and missed, then ran out of the room before she could catch him.

Once downstairs, the fireplace caught his eye. He got what he needed out of the tinderbox and began building a fire, picturing the Slayer's naked body lit by golden flames. Spike shook his head. If either of them could still walk after today and tonight...

The doorknocker sounded, interrupting his thoughts. With a backward glance at the steadily building blaze, Spike opened the door and stood behind it to avoid the rays of the sun. Willy paused, then shuffled in, jumping as the door closed behind him. He looked around the room, then turned and smiled ingratiatingly at his host.

"Hiya, Spike, nice digs you got here. A little roomy for one person, but it's got class." He held up two bags. "Here ya go, coupla pints of my finest O-neg - nothing but the best for my favorite client - and Sweet and Sour Chicken with the works for your lady friend."

Spike raised an eyebrow at the last remark and took the bags. "Thank you for being so prompt, Willy," he told the smaller man, nearly gagging on the words. The Slayer was wrong about him; he wasn't rude *all* the time. He did have manners when it suited him.

"Hey, Spike, anything for you." Willy's eyes kept darting around the room, as if looking for something. "If ya can't count on Willy, who can ya count on, right?"

"Um, yeah...right," Spike drawled in a bored voice. "Listen, I'd love to chat, but the food will get cold-"

"Oh. Yeah, sure, Spike, whatever you say." Willy held out his hand for payment. "I hope I got the order right, I wasn't sure what the Slayer liked-"

"The Slayer?" Spike growled dangerously.

Willy babbled on, oblivious to the danger. "You two make a cute couple, who woulda thought? You bein' mortal enemies and all. 'Course, with Angel and Drusilla gone, and the Slayer bein' such a juicy piece, who could blame ya for wantin' to dip your wick-"

In the blink of an eye, Willy was suspended in the air, Spike's fingers a hair's breadth from crushing his larynx. Spike's eyes glowed yellow as he stared into the face that was rapidly turning red in front of him. His voice dropped to a deadly snarl, each syllable dripping with ice. "I don't appreciate people speculating on where I 'dip my wick'. It makes me a bit tense." Spike gave an almost imperceptible squeeze and Willy gurgled as he clawed at the hand holding his throat.

Spike suddenly released him and Willy fell to the floor in a heap. "I wouldn't want any unfounded rumors floating around town, Willy. Gossip can be so hurtful, you know. Especially for those who engage in it."

Willy lay there gasping, trying to find his voice. "You...know...me, Spike," he croaked. "I...shun gossip. Wouldn't...be caught...dead...spreading rumors."

"Smart man," Spike murmured. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to eat sometime today. You know your way out." Spike turned and walked away, taking the bags to the kitchen. In the doorway he stopped and looked back, watching as Willy slipped out the door, still rubbing his damaged throat. Spike shook his head and began gathering the necessary cups and utensils for lunch.

"Willy knows," Buffy said softly behind him. "This could be bad."

"Not necessarily," he answered, turning to look at her.

"C'mon, Spike. You know how easy it is to beat information out of him. He'll talk, and talk plenty." She ran her fingers through her still damp hair.

"He's afraid of us, luv. Sometimes I think you scare him more than I do. And why would anyone even think to question him? As far as everyone knows, we hate each other. Period."

"I wish I could believe that. But if Willy knows, then others will find out, too. I just got you back, I don't want anything else to happen." She let Spike pull her into his arms and rested her head against his chest. His heart was still beating faintly beneath her ear. It comforted her to know that, even temporarily, her blood had given it life. That he carried a part of her inside him, just as she now carried a part of him.

"Nothing is going to happen, Slayer. I won't let it." He kissed the top of her head. "Now, let's get some food into you before you waste away." Handing her a tray, he began piling everything on it. "Take this out to the main room, will you, pet? I'll be right back."

Spike sprinted out of the room and up the stairs, returning a few moments later with his arms full of pillows and blankets. He made a nest in front of the fire and they settled comfortably, leaning back against the couch. Willy had brought more than enough food and Spike alternated between feeding Buffy pieces of chicken and stealing bits for himself. Buffy pointed out that it wasn't quite fair, since there was no chance of her stealing *his* food.

For the rest of the afternoon they ate and laughed and made love in front of the fire, forgetting about everything else in the outside world. For one afternoon it was just the two of them, together again despite their differences, despite the numerous obstacles in their path. And as day turned to night, their lovemaking became more frantic as they tried to make a few short hours last an eternity.

******

Continued