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Lovers and Lethe

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Lovers and Lethe October 19, 2005
Future Fic post NFA
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Wheedon and probably some big, scary corporations. Alas, they aren’t mine. But I play with them, ‘cause the man said we could.

Lovers and Lethe

Chapter One

Buffy hesitated as she approached the shelter’s parking lot, stopping to apply more lip gloss and run a hand over her hair.

Ok, no reason to be nervous. I know he has amnesia. He probably won’t remember me right away. But that’s okay. I can cope. I’ll fill him in on the way back to England. I just have to keep my cool. Don’t frighten him. Calm, controlled Buffy. That’s the way to go.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked toward the front door, waiting as a homeless man shuffled out before going from the bright sunshine into the gloomy interior. She looked around for another woman, remembering that she was told the director was someone named Anne. Spotting a head of long blond hair, she made her way through the various people sitting and standing around the large room until she was close enough to see the other woman.

“Lily?” Buffy asked with uncertainty. “Is that you?”

Anne whirled around at the sound of her old name and frowned briefly before she broke into a smile and ran up to hug Buffy.

“Buffy! It’s so good to see you. What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to…what are you doing here? And, you’re ‘Anne’ now?”

Anne blushed and nodded. “Yes, I took that name tag you gave me and went to work at your old job. Eventually I was spending so much time helping out at the shelter that they hired me. Been here ever since. I try to help people who are lost –the way I was.”

“Oh.” Buffy wasn’t sure how to reply to that. It was obviously a step up from the streets and probably another step up from the greasy spoon where Buffy had sent her to work in her place. She knew her memories of that summer in LA were tainted by the misery she’d been in after sending Angel to Hell, but even so….

“So,” Anne asked again. “Why are you here?”

“I’m…I’m looking for a…man…a vamp, actually. But I doubt he’s here.” She looked around at the humans sitting in various states of misery or indifference. “I’m pretty sure after he’d tried to kill you years ago, you wouldn’t want him anywhere near you.”

At Anne’s incredulous smile, Buffy hastened to add, “Not that he would hurt you now! He’s got his soul, and he saved the world, and he…I’m sorry. I guess we got bad information.”

Buffy’s shoulders slumped and she fought back the tears as she turned to leave. “It was great to see you again,” she said as she walked toward the door.

“Buffy. Buffy!” Anne’s voice rose as she watched the slayer who had saved her life at least twice walking away. “If it’s Spike you’re looking for, he’s here. He’s downstairs. I’ll get him for you. Follow me over here.”

Anne was already turning to walk toward the back of the room and missed the flash of sheer joy that flew across Buffy’s face at her words. Before she had taken two steps, Buffy was at her side asking softly, “Is he all right? I mean except for the amnesia thing.”

“Oh, yeah. He was pretty beat up and it’s taken a long time for him to heal, but I think he’s all right. It’s frustrating for him not being able to remember anything, though. He’ll be so happy to see somebody who can tell him more about his life. I mean, I covered the basics – you know, stay out of the sun, avoid girls with pointy wooden things, stuff like that. But I really don’t know much about what happened before he showed up at Angel’s and started helping them. I know he was in Sunnydale and that he supposedly saved the world somehow. Gunn had told me that, but that’s all I know.”

Anne interrupted her chattering as they reached the top of the stairs and she shouted down, “Spike? Honey? There’s somebody here to see you. Somebody who knows you.”


Buffy’s breath caught in her throat as a familiar blond head came into sight and she felt the prickle of tears when a pair of curious blue eyes met hers briefly before turning to smile at Anne. He came the rest of the way up and stepped to her side, resting his arm on Anne’s shoulder as he looked back at Buffy and tilted his head.

“So, you know me, do you?”

Buffy couldn’t answer. All she could do was drink in the sight of the vampire she’d loved too late. The vampire she’d mourned for twice before finding out he was still alive after the near-apocalypse that had taken Angel’s un-life. At the last second, just before she threw herself on him in a frenzy of grateful kissing, she noticed the easy familiarity with which he and Anne touched each other and the way he was looking at the slender blond woman. With an effort of will she didn’t know she was capable of summoning, she stopped herself from touching him and settled for a strangled, “I guess you could say that.”

Spike cocked his head at her curiously. He could hear her accelerated heart rate, as well as smell the barely suppressed tears. He frowned in confusion. Anne had implied that this woman was someone who knew him well and yet she was reacting to him as though she’d seen a ghost.

“Is something wrong?” he asked kindly.

“No…no,” she struggled to control her voice. “I’m just…I didn’t think…I mean we didn’t know you were alive until just a week ago and I…we thought you’d be glad to see me…somebody you knew.”


“Oh, I am glad to see you. I hope I didn’t give the impression I wasn’t. I can’t wait to sit down and talk about my life – or what you know of it. Did – do you know me well? Were we friends?”

“I’d like to think so,” Buffy replied softly, regaining control of herself and smiling brightly at the slender couple staring at her. There was no question that she was facing Spike, but the upper class accent, so unlike his normal one, and his obvious affection for Anne were throwing her off.

“Buffy is a slayer, honey. I’ve told you about her. She used to be the only slayer – back when you were evil.”

“Oh! That Buffy. Why didn’t you say so?” He beamed at Buffy and took her hand lightly as he searched her face. “So, you’re the famous last of the Chosen Ones. I’m honored. I mean to think you would come all the way over here to see me. Of course this is your home, isn’t it? So perhaps you’re not really here to see me? ”

Buffy continued to drink in the sight in front of her, trying not to notice the way he and Anne were holding hands. She put her hands behind her back to prevent herself from shoving the other woman out of the way so she could run her hands over him and assure herself he was really there.

“Buffy?” Anne was puzzled by the sudden silence on the slayer’s part. “Did you not mean to come here? You could have sent one of the LA slayers to see if he was here.”

“No, I couldn’t do that,” she said as steadily as she could, never taking her eyes off Spike. “You are—were too important to…to us. You deserve the real thing. Anyway, Dawn would never have forgiven me if I didn’t come myself.”

Buffy saw Anne stiffen beside him and watched how he used his hands to soothe her while he asked, “Dawn?”

“My sister,” she explained. “She and you – you were very fond of each other at one time, and she was devastated when she thought you had died without her having healed the rift between you.”

“So,” Anne asked carefully, “Your sister and Spike were…involved?”

“What? Oh no. Oh, god, no! He protected her for me and then he was her babysitter while I was – and then he was like a big brother to her. And then she got angry at him for—and then he died and… She loves you,” she finished, looking him in the eye.

Spike smiled at her in relief, and said, “Then I am sure I will love her too.” He turned to Anne to ask, “What do you think, love? Shall we ask Buffy to join us for dinner tonight? Give me a chance to pick her brain?”

Buffy felt her smile turning into a grimace as the other woman reached up to stoke his cheek.

“Of course it is, honey. Why don’t you two go on upstairs and start talking while I close up here?”

Buffy was having trouble breathing as her body reacted to the obvious affection and familiarity between Anne and Spike. The slayer in her wanted to rip the other woman away from him, while the woman who had been so full of joy just a few minutes before wanted to fall to the floor and scream. She trembled as she struggled to come up with an excuse to leave before her poor impulse control ruined everything.

“Um…I have…um…things. Yes, that’s it. I have things to do. Can I take a rain check on that dinner?”

In an uncanny example of the way Spike could always see right through her, he frowned and asked suspiciously, ”What kind of things? I thought you came to see me?”

“I need to… to patrol! I need to patrol. There are things out there that need to be killed and I…I really need to kill something right now. I’ll come back later. After dinner maybe?”

He was wearing his “who do you think you’re kidding, Slayer?” look and Buffy felt her heart cracking. That he could seem so familiar with her and yet be so unaware of who she was. Even as he looked at her in clear disbelief, he wrapped his arms around Anne from behind and spoke to Buffy over her shoulder.

“I could patrol with you. Could use a bit of violence to work out the kinks”

“No!” Anne’s voice was fearful as she lifted her head to look back at him. “You’re not well enough yet.”

“I’m fine, pet. You know that,” he murmured into her ear, nuzzling it as he did so. “You ought to know. Being as how you donated the medicine,” he leered as he licked her neck.

Neither one saw the stricken look on Buffy’s face as she fought to remain impassive. The sight of twin fang marks on Anne’s neck was all it took to destroy her shaky grip on her emotions and she whirled before they could see the tears on her cheeks.

“I have to go now,” she managed to choke out. “I’ll try to come back later.”

Before either one could say or do anything, she had crossed the large room and bolted out the door into the waning sunlight, heedless of who she knocked out of her way.


Buffy ran until the light was gone and she couldn’t run anymore. Over and over she replayed the impersonal way Spike had looked at and talked to her. The tender way he looked at Anne and the gentleness with which he touched her. She thought she’d known what to expect. She’d been told that he remembered nothing and no one, but in her heart she’d been sure that the sight of her would be all it took to snap him out of it. Never, in all the reunion dreams she’d indulged in the past week had it occurred to her that he might have fallen in love with someone else.

Shaking off the despair that threatened to overwhelm her, she began walking back toward her hotel, biting her lips to prevent the sobs that wanted to break out. She made it back to her room with no interruptions except for one very brave or foolish vampire who challenged her even after she’d identified herself as a slayer.

“I think I’d like to eat a slayer,” he growled. “I’d become the Slayer of Slayers!”

“No, you really wouldn’t,” Buffy replied grimly, delighted to have found something on which to take out her anger. “I know the Slayer of Slayers. I’ve fought with the Slayer of Slayers, and trust me,” she growled as she plunged her never-absent stake into his chest, “you are no Slayer of Slayers.” She watched wistfully as his dust drifted down to the ground.

“You’re not him,” she whispered as she put her stake away and continued toward her hotel.

She got back to her room and called Dawn to report what she’d found, soft-pedaling the fact that Spike was living with someone, but telling her that he didn’t seem to remember either one of them. She hung up after promising to call again when she had spoken to him more. She pulled off her dusty clothes as she walked toward the bathroom.

Standing in the shower, she finally allowed the disappointment and pain to wash over her and she stood in the pounding water, clutching her stomach and allowing the gut-wrenching sobs to wrack her body. The water had turned cold by the time she stopped crying and moved, zombie-like to put some more patrol-appropriate clothes on.

She listlessly dried her hair, leaving it down and long the way she knew he liked it and carefully reapplied her make-up. She stared at herself in the mirror and tried to find the slayer he’d fallen in love with so many years ago.

All right, I can do this. I’m not the slayer for nothing. He’s not dead. He’s not even rejecting me. He doesn’t remember us, that’s all. I will be understanding, informative and…and…understanding.

Summoning up all her determination, Buffy left the room and marched down the street toward the shelter where the vampire she loved was living happily with another woman.

Spike stared after Buffy as she pushed her way out of the building. There was something very off about her behavior and he growled in familiar frustration at his lack of understanding. Somehow he knew he was missing something very important about the whole situation, but nothing penetrated the thick wall surrounding his memories.

“Not a very polite girl, is she, pet?” he said as he rested his chin on Anne’s shoulder and looked at the humans Buffy had bowled over on her way out the door.

“That’s really not like her,” Anne frowned. “I wonder what’s wrong? She didn’t seem very glad to see you after coming all this way.”

“Maybe we don’t really like each other very much, and she just came because she promised her sister.” He shrugged and gave his girlfriend a squeeze. “I hope she comes back later, though. I have a feeling she could fill in a lot of gaps for me.”

“Maybe her memories aren’t good ones,” Anne agreed. “I think I remember that she and Angel were involved when we were in high school. Maybe she’s resentful that you survived and he didn’t.”

Smothering the unexpected growl that her words evoked, he agreed quickly, “I hadn’t thought about that. Seeing me probably reminds her of him. Poor chit. No wonder she was in tears.”

Anne shot him a look. “She was in tears?”

“Yeah. Could smell ‘em. She tried to hide it though. Got to give her credit. She’s a strong one.”

Anne flinched a little internally at the admiration in his voice. “She’s very pretty too,” she offered, suddenly remembering how “put together” Buffy had looked and glancing down at her own serviceable jeans and tee shirt.

“That she is, love,” he mused, not noticing the way her face darkened. “Maybe she has a date tonight and that’s why she didn’t want to eat with us.”

“Sure, that’s probably it.” Anne’s agreement didn’t reach her eyes as she searched her memory for any snippets of information anyone from Angel Investigations might have let slip about Sunnydale. Nothing came to mind, and she shook her head silently at herself for worrying. All she could remember was that Angel and Buffy were in love and couldn’t be together for some reason.


Chapter Two

Spike helped Anne close up the kitchen for the night and make sure everyone who was staying over had a cot before heading up to the apartment over the shelter. He prowled around the small apartment, at a loss to understand his restlessness and decided to blame it on Buffy’s arrival stirring up his anxieties about his past.

Most of the time he was quite happy living over the shelter with Anne. Something about being loved completely for himself fed a need that he didn’t understand and hated to admit to, but that he couldn’t deny. She had found him wandering, hurt and confused, after some sort of battle in which, apparently, everyone else from Angel’s group of fighters on the side of good had died. She had taken him in, welcoming him into her home and, eventually, into her bed. Anne told him as much as she knew about his life, but it was very limited as she had been in LA since shortly after his aborted attempt to eat her group of vampire worshiping friends and she knew nothing about his life in Sunnydale after she left.

He went back over what he knew about Buffy the vampire slayer, and his relationship with her. Anne told him how Buffy had held a stake to his lover’s heart and how he had immediately called off the carnage at the threat of danger to the strange but beautiful Drusilla. He wondered briefly where that vampire was and if she was still in the world or had become dust at some other time. And what had changed that he and the slayer had gone from bitter enemies to friends? Good enough friends that her sister loved him.

He pondered what sort of relationship Buffy had with his grandsire, and what could have kept them apart all these years if they loved each other.

Damned if I would have let anything keep me from her if I loved her he growled to himself, startled by the vehemence of the thought.

The unease brought on by his visceral reaction to thinking about Angel and Buffy went away as soon as Anne came up the stairs, and he promptly put it out of his mind as he went to help her prepare the evening meal. While she poured his blood into a mug for the microwave, he pulled a plate of left over Chinese food from the fridge and waited to put her dinner in the oven.

They ate their respective meals in companionable silence, broken only by the occasional comment about one of the people below. Suddenly Spike froze and lifted his head to scan the room.

“What’s wrong?”

“Slayer’s here,” he responded, getting up from the table.

Anne looked at him in surprise before asking as casually as she could, “What makes you think so?”

“Can feel her.” His reply was short and did nothing to alleviate her sudden apprehension.

“Since when can you feel slayers?” she asked, trying to keep her tone light.

“Can feel this one. Best go let her in, I suspect. She seems like the kind who would just kick down the door if it didn’t open fast enough.”

As he spoke, he could feel Buffy standing just on the other side of the door and he heard her heart rate going up as she raised her hand to knock. Anne was already opening the door when Buffy’s fist came down on it and she flinched away as it barely missed her face.

“Oh my god! I’m so sorry!” Buffy’s babbled apology broke the tension that had held them in it’s grip since Spike had sensed the slayer’s approach and Anne quickly assured her she was fine while Spike pulled out a chair and offered Buffy a glass of wine.

“Wine?” Buffy gaped at him. “You drink wine?”

“Well, Anne does. Point is, we have it if you’d like some.”

He missed Buffy’s flinch at the “we”, but Anne did not. She closed the door and moved to his side, putting her arm around his waist possessively. Once again she noticed that Buffy was wearing make-up and had changed her clothes into tight fitting pants and a leather jacket.

Buffy perched uncomfortably on the seat of the chair, looking as though she wanted to bolt any second. She smiled tightly as she turned down Spike’s repeated offer of something to drink, and twisted her hands together nervously. As she did so, Anne caught a glimpse of the scarring on Buffy’s left hand and she grabbed it and turned it over.

“You’ve burned your hand,” she said almost accusingly. She felt Spike stiffen beside her as he clenched his right fist tight.

“Yes,” was the terse answer as Buffy pulled her hand back.

Anne did not give up. “Spike has a burn like that on his right hand,” she said. “Show her, honey.”

Reluctantly, the vampire opened his fist to show the ropy scar tissue that covered the palm of his hand. Buffy bit back a gasp as they compared scars.

“So,” Anne said brightly, “Looks like you two touched the same thing back there in Sunnydale. Was that when Spike saved the world?”

Spike was staring at the almost identical scars on their hands and almost missed Buffy’s whispered, “Yes. We both touched the same thing.” She didn’t look at him, keeping her eyes focused on their hands until he closed his fist again and turned away.

“Must have been bloody hot,” he muttered as he moved across the room.

Anne watched Buffy’s face carefully as the vampire walked away, and this time she caught the longing and grief in the slayer’s eyes as Spike turned away from her. Her jaw tightened and her stomach clenched in fear as the tension in the room went up again. She watched Buffy shut her eyes tightly for a second, take a deep breath, and then visibly relax her shoulders and sit back in the chair.

“Okay,” Buffy said quietly. “What do you want to know?”

Spike turned and looked at her. “I want to know how I got from what I was when Anne first met me “ – he sent an apologetic look toward the woman he lived with, and was rewarded with a forgiving smile and a blown kiss – “and what I am now. A souled vampire who fights evil and saves the world.”

Buffy met his eyes steadily and said, “Are you sure you want to know all this?”

“Bloody hell, Buffy!” he exploded, sounded more like the Spike she knew. “I don’t know anything about my life before six months ago when Anne found me wanderin’ around in an alley and brought me home. Of course I want to know it. I want to know everything. Wouldn’t you?” he challenged her.

“I suppose I would,” she agreed. “Even if I was happy where I was,” she shot a look at a surprised Anne, “I guess I’d want to know how I got there.”

“Right then,” he said pulling his chair around and straddling it. He rested his arms on the back of the chair and fixed his gaze on her face. “So let’s have it. Start with how long have we known each other?”

“Uh, since you came to Sunnydale to…um, okay, that’ll lead to more questions. About seven years. We met right after you got there. You were planning to kill me,” she added, meeting his gaze head on. “I was to be your third slayer.”

If a vampire could have blanched, he would have. “My what?”

“You are William the Bloody. Slayer of slayers. You’d killed two of them and planned to make me your third.”

“Not one of my better plans, it would seem,” he said wryly. “You look remarkably healthy for a dead slayer.”

Buffy gave him her first genuine smile. “Well, it went about as well as most of your plans,” she teased.

“Watch it, woman,” he glared back. “Could still make you my third conquest – er – kill.”

His stumble over his words took the edge off the mock threat and Buffy couldn’t control her giggle at his discomfort, bringing on another glare.

“I tend not to stay dead anyway,” she said cheerfully. “So it probably wouldn’t do you much good to try.”

Suddenly they were more comfortable with each other, and Buffy quickly went on to fill him in on the highlights of his first time in Sunnydale. When she came to the truce they’d made and their unsuccessful attempt to prevent Angelus from opening Acathla, his eyes were riveted on her face as she described his escape with Drusilla while she sent her lover to hell to save the world.

“So, I ran away? I ran away and left you to face Angelus by yourself?” He looked so devastated that both women moved toward him sympathetically, Buffy drawing back at the last second as he automatically leaned toward Anne.

“That was the deal we made,” she said with a small shrug, sitting back in her chair. “You would distract him and get Drusilla out of the way, and I would let you take her and leave Sunnydale forever.”

“You had to kill him? Then who was I fighting beside all last year?”

“I had to let him get sucked into the hell dimension in order to close the portal. It didn’t kill him, he just was trapped there for a long time before it spit him back out several months later.”

“I ran away,” he mumbled, clearly still disturbed to hear that he would do such a thing.

“So did I,” Buffy said quietly.

Anne gave a little gasp as she realized where Buffy had run to. They exchanged looks and Anne unconsciously reached toward Buffy’s hand sympathetically. “That’s why you—”

Buffy nodded tightly, drawing her hand back out of reach.

Spike noticed the exchange but decided to wait and ask Anne about it later. He turned his gaze back to Buffy and said with sincere sympathy, “So, you and Angel – you were a couple then?” Again, his internal growl caused him to wonder about his relationships with them.

She looked at him and bit her lip. “For a while we were. But, we couldn’t…I mean, he didn’t want to…he left. He left and came here.”

Spike could smell the tears she was blinking away and remembered what Anne had said about Buffy’s love for the other souled vampire. He leaned forward and took her hands in his, wondering at her sudden gasp, but determined to say what he wanted to say.

“I’m so very sorry, Buffy. I realize this must be hard for you. To be reminded of him like this and to see me here…alive. I’m sorry, pet, I’m being very selfish to ask you to—”

“No!” the vehemence of her response startled them all. “I mean, no,” she continued more softly, gently removing her hands from his. “I’m fine with it. Not that I’m not sorry Angel is gone. I am. He will always hold a place in my heart. But he had long since stopped being the love of my life. I moved on a long time ago.”

He cocked his head at her and examined her rapidly coloring face for a second.

Alright, so much for that theory of why she’s so emotional around me. If it’s not because I remind her of him, then what the bloody hell is it?

“Right then,” he cleared his throat, “so I scampered off with my lady friend never to return. Then what?”

“You returned.” She gave him a smirk, making him growl softly. “You came back because she broke up with you. You wanted Willow to do a love spell to get her back. My mom made you hot chocolate and you cried on her shoulder. Then you left again, but you were back less than a year later, looking for the Gem of Amara.”

“With or without the lady friend?”

“Um, without. She broke up with you again.”

“Can’t keep a woman, huh?” he joked, smiling softly at Anne who immediately moved behind him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She whispered something in his ear that made him smile again and Buffy shut her eyes against the pain of watching them together.

It’s not like I ever went out of my way to make him happy, after all. All he asked for were crumbs and I gave him nothing. Even when I was giving him something, it wasn’t what he wanted. All he wanted was for me to look at him like she does. To touch him like that.

One look at Buffy’s frozen face and Anne was reminded of her earlier concerns about why the slayer was there for Spike. She unconsciously clutched him tighter and he turned his head to give her a puzzled look. She shrugged sheepishly and let go him, moving back to her chair so that he and Buffy could continue their conversation.

Spike wasn’t oblivious to the emotions rolling off their visitor and he asked her bluntly, “Buffy, if I ask you something, will you give me an honest answer?”

Her face took on a deer-in-the-headlights look as she stammered, ”uh…um…well, sure. Yes. Of course I would. Why wouldn’t I?”

Ignoring her rhetorical question, he asked softly, “How do we – you and I – get along?”

To his chagrin, her expressive green eyes once again began to fill with tears and he watched in dismay as her chin began to quiver. He waited while she visibly took a grip on her emotions and pushed them down so that she could answer him.

“It’s…it’s complicated,” she said slowly. “We fight a lot – we fight with each other and we fight together when we need to. We’re pretty awesome when we’re fighting something together,” she said with a watery smile. She stopped and when she didn’t seem inclined to continue, he pushed a little.

“So, that’s it? We fight a lot?”

His disbelief was palpable and she could feel him looking right through her as she shook her head from side to side.

“Buffy, I’d really like to know. You promised me an honest answer,” he prodded when she just continued to shake her head.

She raised her damp eyes to his and said firmly, “Sometimes, the most honest answer to a question is that I’d rather not answer it. Not right now, anyway.”

While Anne looked back and forth between the two, waiting for one of them to break eye contact, the two former lovers stared at each other for long minutes until finally Spike dropped his eyes and shrugged.

“All right, Slayer. I’ll wait. Let me try another one, then. Do you know why Drusilla broke up with me? Must have been something important to leave me after a hundred years being together.”

“Okaaay, see here’s the thing. I’m getting real uncomfortable here. That promise to give you honest answers? Turns out it was a really bad idea. Honest answers and Buffy? Not so mixy.” She stood up abruptly. “I’m just gonna go patrol now.”

“So that’s it? That’s all you’re going to tell me about my life? Because you’re not comfortable?” She could hear the underlying anger in his voice and raised pleading eyes to his.

“I will tell you. I promise. Just…not right now, ok? Right now I have to go find something to slay. Maybe a lot of somethings.”

Without even looking at Anne again, Buffy got up and headed for the door, telling herself she just needed some more time to get used to the situation before she was honest with him. She hadn’t missed the hard looks Anne sent her way and knew that the other woman was far ahead of Spike in figuring out what was wrong.

Not that she’d be able to figure out how messed up our lives have been over the years, but she obviously knows there is—was something there.

Buffy didn’t bother to say good night to the angry vampire or his worried girlfriend, she just flew down the stairs and back out into the night, running down the street just as she had earlier in the day. This time, she only had to go a few blocks before sensing a vampire nearby and she slowed her steps to allow the unsuspecting demon to catch up. She slipped a stake into her sleeve and began walking slowly, looking around nervously as though lost and confused.

When she felt the movement of air behind her that indicated the vamp’s approach, she whirled and smiled into his started eyes. Without so much as a quip, she let the stake drop into her hand, raising and lowering it to his chest in one smooth movement. She stared in disappointment as the dust floated away.

“Well, that didn’t make me feel better at all,” she grumbled, stepping through the dust and pushing the stake back up her sleeve. “That better not be the best this city can come up with.”

She vaguely remembered passing a cemetery on her earlier sprint away from the man she’d come to find, and headed in that general direction hoping all the fledglings weren’t already up and out on the town. She stopped once, sure she felt another vampire, but shook it off as being too far away and too faint. She didn’t notice the shadow moving along the rooftops and carefully keeping a safe distance behind her.


Chapter Three

Spike grabbed his coat and started for the door, which had slammed behind Buffy’s back, only to be stopped by a firm hand on his arm.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going after her, pet. She’s clearly upset and she might get herself killed.”

“She’s been the slayer for a long time, Spike. I’m sure she’ll be fine without your help. She made it pretty clear she doesn’t want to talk to you any more tonight.” Anne tried to sound reasonable, even as every womanly instinct she had was screaming not to let him anywhere near the pretty girl with the yearning eyes.

“I’m not going to let her know I’m there. Just going to watch her back. It seems like the right thing to do.” He leaned in and kissed her forehead, saying gently, “I’ll be back before you know it.”

She watched him leave the apartment, saying softly to herself, “I hope you’re right, Spike.”

He jumped down the stairs, actually grateful for an excuse to get out in the night air and get some exercise. He was very fond of Anne, and grateful to her for both her help when he was injured and for the undemanding love she gave him, but there were times when he craved a little more excitement in his life. Times when he could feel something missing, both from the relationship and from his life and he suspected the deadly woman he was following could help him find what those things were.

He easily followed her scent in the cool night air, slowing down when he began to feel her presence before he even saw her. He saw her hesitate and look around when he finally began to catch up, and quickly retreated until he could no longer feel her.

So, she can feel me too. Is that just because I’m a vampire?

Spike watched Buffy go into the local cemetery and risked getting closer so as not to lose sight of her among the trees and tombs. Suddenly, the ground erupted in front of her and a newly made vamp began clawing his way out of the ground. Before the slayer could decide whether she wanted to stake him right then or to wait and see if he could make a fight of it, several more showed up. They had obviously been waiting for their buddy to rise and began running toward the grave whooping with delight at the sight of a human standing there.

“Man,” said the one in the lead. “Mo gets all the luck. I had to go hunt down my first meal, and here’s his just standing there waiting for him!”

Buffy looked at the onrushing vamps and her eyes lit up with the joy of battle. Giving the still struggling fledgling a kick to his jaw to keep him out of the way, she let her stakes drop into her hands and waited for the still oblivious vampires.

“Hey, boys. You’re just what I’ve been waiting for.” She grinned at them, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet. “I’m going to feel so much better when you are broomable.”

Buffy whirled into action, staking the first vamp before her words had even registered, and spinning around to kick the next one in the face before rolling to come up behind the two lagging behind. Spike had rushed forward when he saw the small gang running toward her, but slowed as he saw the light in her eyes when she faced them. He stayed behind a tree and watched in wonder and admiration as she played with the remaining vamps, quipping and taunting as she worked her way through their ranks.

When the dust from the last one had settled at her feet, she turned and looked right at the tree, saying with resignation, “Come on out, Spike. I know you’re there.”

He came around the tree, clapping his hands slowly as he did so. He didn’t miss her flinch at his actions or the way she squeezed her eyes shut briefly, and he stopped immediately to tilt his head at her.

“I’ve upset you again, haven’t I?” he asked, frowning. “You know, that would be much less likely to happen if you would just bloody tell me the things I need to know.” The exasperation in his voice was so familiar that she laughed shakily as she moved closer to him.

“I don’t see what’s so funny,” he grumbled. “You’re a damned irritating bint, you know?”

“I know,” she smiled at him. “It’s why you lo- It’s part of who we are. We make each other really mad sometimes.”

“You said we fight with each other – who usually wins?”

She just looked at him, smiling slightly as she ran her eyes over his face and body. No longer inhibited by Anne’s presence or Spike’s visible affection for her former classmate, Buffy felt free to indulge herself in the sheer joy of seeing him again. Without conscious thought her hand went to his face and she gently ghosted it over his cheek causing him to shiver involuntarily and lean in to it.

“No fair, Slayer,” he said hoarsely, “You know what’s going on here and I don’t.”

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, dropping her hand to her side and turning away. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“Why not?”

She raised her head and looked at him with eyes that told him much more than he was ready to know.

“Did you want to do it?”

“Oh yes,” she said with a catch in her voice. “I wanted to. It just didn’t seem…right. To do it before.”

“In front of Anne.” His voice was flat and she couldn’t guess what he was thinking.

She nodded. “I mean, obviously you and she…and I don’t have any…not that you couldn’t…but, I wouldn’t want to…and if I started touching you I might not…Are you in love with her?” The words burst out before she could stop them and she slapped her hand over her mouth in dismay.

“I’m sorry. It’s none of my business. Your life here is what it is, and I should just—“

“Buffy.” His voice stopped her embarrassed babbling and she froze, staring at his too-familiar face and the unusually gentle expression on it. She continued to stand, unable to speak or move until he took her hands and led her to a tombstone, indicating she should sit on it.

“Tell me about us,” he said gently, kneeling in front of her. “Tell me why I keep making you cry. Tell me why you can touch me now, but couldn’t or wouldn’t in front of my girlfriend.”

When she didn’t speak, but just continued to stare at him he added quietly, “Please?”

“It isn’t pretty,” she said finally.

“Is it real?”

“Oh, it’s real all right,” she snorted. “About as real as it gets. Real and messy and—”

“Just tell me, Slayer. I have a right to know.”

“I suppose you do,” she said softly. She took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out with an explosive sigh. “Ok, here’s the sitch….”

Without looking at him, focusing her gaze on her hands where they twisted in her lap, she ran through their entire relationship with each other, beginning with his clapping appearance in the alley behind the Bronze after she dusted his minion and ending with his apparent death in the Hellmouth. She smiled slightly when his eyes widened at her description of the first time she met him and he realized why she’d reacted so strongly to his emergence from behind the tree.

He didn’t interrupt to ask any questions, just flinched when she came to something unpleasant like the description of what the chip did to him. He smiled briefly when she described Willow’s spell that had them planning a wedding even as they continued to argue and fight with each other. He frowned when she told him about Adam and his attempts to make a deal with the monster and gasped when she told him about chaining her up so that he could declare his love for her in front of his former undead lover.

Buffy talked about his growing love for her in an unemotional voice, telling him quite honestly about how sure she’d been that vampires couldn’t love and that it was just a twisted obsession that grew out of his inability to kill her. She told him about her faith in his ability to protect her mother and Dawn from Glory, about her mother’s illness and his attempts to comfort her, about Riley’s betrayal with the vamp whores and Spike’s insistence on showing it to her. Her voice softened when she told him about how he had resisted Glory’s torture to protect Dawn, for her, and about her growing trust in him and the friendship they seemed to be forging.

When she told him about her sacrifice to save the world from the apocalypse Glory had begun and about how peaceful and happy she’d been in Heaven, he unconsciously reached for her hand to squeeze it sympathetically. He continued to hold it lightly as she talked about being ripped out of heaven by her friends; about coming back to find that he had kept his promise to her and stayed in Sunnydale taking care of Dawn and helping her friends defend the Hellmouth.

She spoke about her new-found willingness to spend time with him, her complete lack of interest in life and her inability to feel anything except the desire to be at rest again. In a soft voice she told of how she’d confided in him and how she’d begun to spend more and more time in the crypt with him. How much at ease she was where she didn’t have to pretend. He grimaced when she talked about the song he sang during Sweet’s visit to Sunnydale and squeezed her fingers again when she told him how he’d stopped her dancing and saved her life.

And, then, in a shaky voice, she talked about his discovery that the chip didn’t work on her, about their fight and the subsequent love making that brought down a building. She spared nothing as she told him about the months-long affair in which she allowed him to use his body to bring her back to life, even as she denied feeling anything for him but disgust. Her voice shook as she talked about beating him up for trying to protect her from herself. She didn’t spare herself as she talked about how she’d returned his love and devotion with brutal sex and insistence that there was nothing else between them but physical release. Her voice broke as she spoke about ending the relationship. How destroyed he’d looked and how sure she’d been that it was the best thing for both of them. Of how devastated she’d been when she saw him with Anya’s legs wrapped around his hips; how angry and betrayed she’d felt even though she knew he had every right to move on as she’d ordered him to do.

She prefaced her report of the incident in the bathroom by telling him she knew that she was the queen of mixed signals, that she knew he wasn’t trying to hurt her, and that he was very drunk at the time. The more excuses she made for what she was about to tell him, the darker his face became and when she finally told him what he’d tried to do, he dropped her fingers and buried his face in his own hands.

“That…that’s when you went to get the soul,” she whispered, touching his bowed head gently before going on. “You got it for me. Because you hurt me.”

She told him how she’d forgiven him almost immediately, but hadn’t been able to tell him because he was gone and they didn’t know where he was. He twitched when she told him how much she had missed him those months while he was in Africa, and how happy she’d been to find him back in the school basement, even if he was insane.

He shuddered all over when she described how the First had controlled him, forcing him to kill and making him dangerous to be around. She talked about the potentials, the Turok-han and the torture he’d been through while she struggled to defeat the ancient vampire and find him. Once again, she could tell him about the growing trust she had in him and the way she relied on him for both emotional and physical support in her battle against the First.

Her description of the fear that had seized her heart when she realized that he was in danger from Robin Wood; her relief that he was still alive and her estrangement from her former watcher and the rest of her friends made him raise his head again to watch as she calmly talked about the betrayal and rejection. He watched her smile lightly as she described how he’d found her and given her back her courage and determination in one short night.

She licked her lips nervously as she talked about their short conversation in the kitchen in which she’d admitted to being as affected as he was by their chaste night together. She ended with the destruction of the Hellmouth; with his refusal to leave as the amulet channeled his soul into cleansing fire. Her lip trembled as she repeated what she’d said to him and the way he rejected her tardy declaration of love.

“You didn’t believe me,” she finished quietly. “You didn’t think I meant it. After everything we’d been though. After this.” She held up his hand and matched the scars on it up with hers, watching his look of wonder as he linked their fingers and felt the ropy ridges of flesh blend together like pieces of a puzzle.

“And, I guess that’s why you didn’t come to me when you came back,” she finished briskly. “You didn’t think I loved you, so you stayed with Angel and didn’t tell me you were alive. I didn’t find out about it until just before the big fight with the demon army, and then we thought you’d all been killed, so…”

She unlaced her fingers from his and dropped her hands down in her lap again, twisting them around and rubbing her scar.

The vampire was silent for a long while, staring at his own scarred hand and trying to process the things he’d learned about the past six years of his life and the large part the woman in front of him had played in it. Finally he stood up from where he’d remained kneeling in front of her the whole time and stretched stiff muscles.

“When you said ‘complicated’ you weren’t kidding, were you, pet?” he asked dryly.

Buffy gave him a weak smile of agreement, heartened by his use of the endearment even if it was a generic term for him. She sat quietly and watched him pace around the tombstones, his face a study in confusion, amazement and anger. He stopped periodically to stare at her as though he could read the answers to his unanswered questions in her face and body. Then he would give himself a shake and go back to his nervous pacing, trying to process what he’d just learned.

Finally, he stopped in front of her and blew out an unnecessary breath before he said, “You’ve given me a lot to think about, Buffy. Not just us – but Angel, Drusilla, all these people I should know and can’t remember.” He looked at her incredulously, asking, “Did you say I’ve been a vampire for over a hundred and twenty-five years?”

When she nodded silently, he shook his head and muttered more to himself than her, “The things I must have done, the places I must have been, the people I should remember…gone, all of it. Just gone.”

“May-maybe not gone forever. Your memory might come back. I…um, I read up on amnesia while I was on the plane and it said that sometimes the memories start coming back a little bit at a time. Sometimes it’s in dreams, or like – deja-vuey kinda things during the day. And, it said once it starts, then they just keep coming until…”

Her voice trailed off as he raised a skeptical eyebrow at her and she frowned and stamped her foot in irritation.

“Well, they could! That’s what the book said. And even if they don’t, Willow’s this amazingly awesome witch and she could—“

“This is the same witch that had us getting married when we hated each other?” he asked with some humor. “If it’s all the same to you, pet, I think I’ll give that a miss.”

“You don’t want to remember…things?” Her plump lower lip came out in a small pout and he found his eyes drawn to it as he struggled to remember what they were talking about. He unconsciously moved closer to her, never taking his eyes off her lip. When her tongue came out to lick it nervously, he almost groaned out loud.

Alright, wanker. You need to put those thoughts away right now. This woman is a complete stranger to you and you have a very sweet girlfriend waiting for you to come back to her. Jus’ keep your mind on learning about your past and never mind how suckable that lip looks to be.

Buffy’s heart rate went up and her breathing increased as he moved closer to her, his eyes clearly focused on her mouth. The common sense that said she shouldn’t force anything on him for which he wasn’t ready and willing was at outright war with her need to touch him, to feel those lips again and to have that body pressed against hers.

She tried to satisfy the battling desires by putting her hands behind her back, but tipping her face up for the kiss she was sure was coming. Instead, to her distress, he stopped before he actually reached her lips, visibly controlling himself and backing away quickly.

“I…I’m sorry, Buffy. I just can’t. I’m not that kind of man. It doesn’t matter what you say we had…or maybe didn’t have, if I understood half of that correctly.” He ran a nervous hand through his hair and tried not to see the pain in her eyes as he continued, “I don’t know you now, and I have a lovely woman who trusts me waiting for me to come home. I’m sorry, love. I truly am.”

He whirled, his duster flaring out around him, and headed for the cemetery’s gate at a brisk walk. He’d only gone a few steps when there was a furious slayer in front of him.

“When did you turn into such a coward?” she demanded.

“I beg your pardon?” His anger immediately rose to match her own. “I am not a coward. I am an honorable man-er-vampire.”

“You’re afraid,” she said flatly. “You’re afraid if you kiss me you’ll find out you want me and it would spoil the happy little life you’ve got.”

“If I understood your little saga correctly, Slayer, I’ve helped save the world several times, even givin’ up my unlife to do it. I think I’m entitled to a ‘happy little life’ if I want one. Whether it meets with your approval or not.”

Buffy’s anger vanished as quickly as it had arisen. “Yes,” she whispered. “You are entitled to a happy life.” She raised tear-filled eyes to his. “I just expected you to want to have it with me.”

“I don’t know you, love,” he responded gently, his own anger gone in face of her unhappiness. “I know you think you know me, but I can’t give you what you came here for. If the man you’re seeking is here, he’s buried too deeply for me to find him. I’m sorry, pet.”

Buffy cocked her head in an unconscious imitation of his own gesture and studied him for a second. Then, before he could react, she grabbed his head and captured his cool lips with her own soft, warm ones, using her slayer strength to hold his mouth to hers until she felt him kissing her back. Immediately, her tongue came out to lightly trace around his lips, asking, but not demanding that he let her in. With a sigh of surrender, he parted his lips and allowed her tongue to gently probe his mouth, running sweetly around the indentations that held his fangs and stroking his own willing tongue.

Without conscious effort on his part, his arms went around her waist and he pulled her soft but strong body against his own, giving in to the wonderful sensation of holding this heated bundle of feminine curves. While his mind struggled to pull some trace of a memory of the woman he was holding from his blank brain, his body responded to her with a rapidity that left no doubt that she’d told him the truth about their relationship.

Buffy allowed herself joyful minutes to bask in the feeling of having his hands on her once again and to give in to the bone melting kisses she’d never stopped thinking about since the unfortunate spell that Willow was never going to live down. She drank in the scent of leather and tobacco that was so familiar; the taste and feel of his lips on hers, the way his tongue curled around her own and teased it and the way his hard lean body molded itself perfectly to her own, fitting together as though made for each other.

When she’d absorbed what she thought was enough of him to get her through the night and the next day, she reluctantly pulled back and whispered softly, “Your body remembers me, Spike.” With a final stroke of his shell-shocked face, she stepped completely away from him and walked away toward her hotel leaving a very confused and aroused vampire behind.


Chapter Four

Spike stood rooted to the spot, his desire for the woman he’d been kissing warring with the soul’s unwillingness to hurt the woman who loved him.

The OTHER woman who loves me he realized with a start of surprise. While he was subconsciously amazed to find himself the object of the affections of two attractive women, without his memories the true irony of his situation was lost on him. There was no way for the Spike who took Anne’s gentle love for him for granted to understand how starved for that kind of acceptance his pre-amnesia self had been.

He started walking back toward the shelter, briefly contemplating trailing Buffy to be sure she got back all right, then laughing at himself for worrying when he remembered how she’d handled the vampire pack. He shook his head in silent admiration of her grace and skill.

I’ve got no trouble seeing why I would have fallen in love with her. Never seen such a combination of strength and beauty wrapped up into one little package. One very passionate little package, apparently.

Struggling to put thoughts of the slayer and her warm body out of his mind, Spike went back up the steps and used his key to open the apartment door. He was surprised to find Anne sitting up, still dressed and obviously waiting for him. She pushed the book she’d been reading down the side of the couch cushion and stood up.

“A little late, isn’t it, love?” he asked, shrugging out of his coat. “Don’t you have to open the kitchen tomorrow morning?”

“Yes,” she answered without explanation. She walked toward the bedroom, asking over her shoulder, “Are you coming to bed now?”

“In a bit, pet,” he said casually as he opened the refrigerator and took out some blood. “I could use some food.”

“You could drink from me,” she offered quietly.

Spike carefully put his mug in the microwave and turned it on before turning to face her.

“You’re not food,” he said coldly.

“You took it before. When you were—“

“That was a one time thing. Told you that then. If I hadn’t needed it to heal so I could throw out those soddin’ gang bangers that were causing you so much trouble…”

She stared at him, silently for a minute and then asked calmly, “So, you don’t want to drink from me unless it’s an emergency.”

“Isn’t that what I just said? Bloody hell, woman, what’s wrong with you tonight?”

“Nothing,” she said finally. “I’m going to bed now.”

She went into the bedroom and he could hear the normal sounds of her bedtime routine. When the water ran longer than he would have expected, he listened a little harder and picked up the sound of soft sobbing. With a sigh, he put down his half-empty mug and walked to the bathroom door, opening it to find Anne sitting on the closed toilet crying softly into her hands.

Spike came and sat on the edge of the bathtub, pulling her into his lap and running a soothing hand over her back.

“What’s this all about, then?” he asked, afraid he already knew the answer, but knowing he had to ask.

“Why were you gone so long?” She responded by seeming to change the subject, but they both knew she really hadn’t.

“Watched the slayer take out a gang of vamps and stayed to chat a little. Got caught up on a few things from the past six or seven years. But you already knew that, didn’t you?” he asked, tipping her head up to look at him.

“I want you to bite me,” she said, staring into his mystified eyes.

“I’m having a little trouble following these jumps in the conversation, pet. What has that ridiculous request got to do with how long I was gone or the waterworks in here?”

“Why don’t you want to bite me?” she persisted stubbornly.

“Told you, you’re not food,” he growled. He stood up and deposited her on the floor. “Now if you’re not going to tell me what’s wrong, I’m going back to my pig’s blood.”

He waited for a few seconds, but when she didn’t say anything else, he went back into the other room and finished the mug of blood. He stared into the empty container, idly watching the dregs begin to clot on the bottom and wondering what had gotten in to Anne. He wasn’t so oblivious as to not understand that she was worried about Buffy’s sudden arrival in his life. Especially now that he knew what they’d been to each other. Obviously Anne had picked up on something that he’d missed in Buffy’s behavior and was worried about losing him to the Slayer. Which didn’t explain her sudden interest in his biting her. Jealousy, he could understand. Wanting to donate blood all of a sudden he didn’t.

With a flash of insight, he remembered the book she’d been reading when he came in and he walked over to the couch. Pulling the book out from between the cushions, he glanced at the title and then threw it across the room with a guttural snarl. He stared at the open door leading to the darkened bedroom and ran his hand over his head in distraction.

“Bloody stupid bint,” he muttered, growling to himself. He walked to the wall and picked up the copy of “Mating Rituals of Vampires” that Anne had been reading when he came in. Suddenly her request that he drink from her made a frightening kind of sense. She’d read just enough to know about claiming, and not enough to understand it.

He sighed heavily and debated just staying in the living room until she was asleep, but knew that would just mean neither one of them would get any sleep that night. He put the mug in the sink, turned off the lights, and walked into the dark bedroom, shedding his clothes as he went.

Anne’s uneven breathing told him she was still awake and fighting more tears. Bloody hell, I’ve seen more female tears today that I have in the past six months total. He sighed and reached an arm around her, pulling her close to his chest and letting the semi-hard-on he’d been sporting since Buffy’s kiss press into her back.

“I’m not going to bite you, and I’m not going to leave you,” he said quietly, dropping a kiss on her shoulder.

He felt her shudder, then she turned in his embrace and looked into his face, knowing he could see her much better than she could see him. She wrapped one of her long, slender legs over his hip and pulled herself closer while she murmured, “I’m sorry. I was just so scared when I figured out why she was here. And then you didn’t come back…”

“Told you I would,” he replied quietly. “I wouldn’t lie to you, pet.”

She sighed softly. “I know you wouldn’t. I just…she’s so beautiful, and so strong…and she loves you. I could see it. She really loves you and I—” She hitched another half-sob, half breath and burrowed into his neck.

“She does,” he admitted. “But the man she loves – the man who loved her – he doesn’t live here anymore. I don’t know who he is.” He rubbed her back reassuringly, even as he decided to be completely honest with her. “I’m not saying I can’t see how I could have loved her. I suspect the old me would have found it very easy to do. And I’m not saying I’m not going to see her again.”

He felt her stiffen in his arms and kissed the top of her head and murmured soothingly until she relaxed again.

“She knows a lot about my past, Anne. Much more than just what we talked about tonight. She can tell me about when I was turned, maybe even something about me before I was a vampire. And she can tell me about Drusilla, and Angel or Angelus. If she can’t bring my memory back, she can at least help me fill in some holes. Give me back a bit of who I am.”

“And if she can give you your memory back?”

“Don’t do this to yourself, love,” he pleaded. “Getting my memory back wouldn’t mean I’d forget you and what we have now. And she’s not here to give me my memory back – even the Slayer can’t do that. Can we not worry about that unless it happens?”

“I’m sorry,” she sighed, raising her face to look at him again. “I know I’m behaving like a jealous girl friend, but—”

“You’re behaving like a woman who loves me. And I can’t tell you how much that means to me, pet. How that makes me feel.”

He rolled over and pressed her gently into the mattress, stopping any more questions with soft kisses that gradually deepened until she wrapped her long, slim arms and legs around him and pulled him in to her body. Neither one was willing to consider the implications of his not having told her he loved her, and Spike gave her no opportunity to point it out, beginning a gentle rhythm that had become very familiar to them both.

He made love to her with skill and affection, taking care, as he always did not to use his vampiric strength in a way that could hurt her. He was mildly curious as to why his demon remained so docile in what should have been a very tempting situation for it, but attributed it to the lack of passion generated by Anne’s sweet, gentle love making.

As he felt her body shudder around him with her orgasm and allowed himself to find a release in her depths, he tried to push thoughts of a smaller, warmer and stronger body out of his head. But no matter how hard he tried, memories of what Buffy had felt like in his arms earlier made his own orgasm more powerful than usual and he mentally groaned at his body’s betrayal of the woman moving under him.


Chapter Five

Buffy slept late the next day, knowing Spike wouldn’t be waking up before early afternoon and not sure if she would be welcome at the shelter anyway. She spoke to Dawn and promised her she would try to get him to talk to her on the phone. She repeatedly reminded her sister that he didn’t remember them or anything about them but eventually gave in to Dawn’s pleas. Now that her sister was growing up, she rarely used her whining voice to get her way and Buffy couldn’t fight it the way she used to.

“Fine, Dawn!” she finally huffed in irritation. “I will torture myself by walking back into the home he is sharing with someone else and suffer the embarrassment of knowing they know how I feel, just so you can find out for yourself that he doesn’t know you either.”

Ignoring everything except the part that said Buffy was going to get Spike to call her, Dawn cheerfully replied, “Okay, great. I’ll be waiting for the call.”

In spite of her promise to Dawn, Buffy put off calling or going to the shelter for several hours until she realized that the longer she waited, the more likely Spike and Anne would be back in their apartment. Having no desire to see any more domesticity than she already had, Buffy quickly left her room to run to the shelter and try to catch Spike before he went upstairs with Anne.

Luck was with her. Well, here’s a first. Something goes right for Buffy romantically, she thought wryly when the first volunteer she asked told her Spike was in the basement and that Anne had gone out for supplies with one of the other volunteers. She quickly tripped down the stairs to the basement of the old shelter and looked around for the vampire. A string of colorful British curses led her to the area where he was trying to wrestle an old armoire across the room.

Buffy watched with a smile for a few seconds, knowing that he was more than strong enough to carry the large piece of furniture, but was having trouble getting the right grip on it. After she’d watched him struggle, and listened to him swearing and sounding very much like himself, she quietly stepped to the other side and picked up one end of it. He threw a startled glance up as the load became lighter and easier to control, then nodded briefly as though strong girls helped him every day. He gestured toward the far wall and said, “It’s going right over there, pet.”

With both of them carrying it, the reluctant closet was soon sitting against the wall waiting for someone to put something in it. They stepped away from it and stood awkwardly, facing each other from a few feet away.

“Thank you, luv,” he said automatically. He was not looking at her and missed the way her face lit up, but not the increase in her heart rate. Realizing what he’d said, he quickly tried to backtrack.

“That wasn’t…I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay, Spike.” She smiled at him sadly. “It’s just how you talk to women. I know that. I promise not to make anything out of it.”

Thoroughly embarrassed, he put his hands in the pockets of his jeans and shuffled his feet.

“I wasn’t sure I’d see you again,” he said softly. “After last night. I thought you might not want to come back here.“

“I didn’t,” she said flatly. “But I promised Dawn I would ask you to call her. You won’t remember this, but when she starts whining for something it’s just in everybody’s best interest to give it to her and not drag out the agony. It’s only postponing the inevitable anyway.”

“Gets her way a lot, does she?”

“Well, with you, she certainly did. You couldn’t refuse her anything.”

Buffy’s lip had unconsciously snuck out in a small pout as she complained about the way he catered to her sister, and once again his eyes were riveted on it.

“I suspect there wasn’t much I could deny you, either, Slayer,” he said dryly, tearing his eyes away from her lips.

“Not much,” she agreed softly. “You always give—gave me whatever I wanted or needed.”

“Pussy-whipped, huh?” he said with a self-deprecating smile.

“You are such a pig, Spike,” she snorted automatically.

He grinned and came back with, “So where is this creature with the powerful whine? Can I call her later tonight?”

“Well, She’s in England. So if you wait too long, it’ll be the middle of the night. She said she’d wait for your call – but that was a while ago….”

“I don’t have a cell – we could go up to the apartment—”


The raw emotion in her voice made him cringe and he cursed himself for being an insensitive fool.

“I’m sorry, pet. That was…I’m a stupid git. Let me get my coat and we’ll go somewhere else to make the call….”

Mortified that she’d let Spike see how affected she was by his new life, Buffy blinked back tears and said as calmly as she could, ”No, I’m sorry. I need to…to accept the situation and learn to deal. To move on.”

He tilted his head at her and studied her resolute face. Once again, he was as impressed with her emotional strength as with the physical. He’d only known her twenty-four hours and already he understood that when she loved it was fiercely and passionately. And, clearly, after almost two years of thinking he was dead, she still loved him. He felt a sudden pang of regret that he didn’t remember this amazing woman and what she meant to him.

Bloody hell, what did I do to earn this kind of loyalty from a woman like this? There’s no way I’m fit to carry her coat. I’m beneath her.

“I have my cell with me,” she said into the silence. She pulled it out of her pocket and held it out to him. “There’s no signal down here, though. We’re going to have to go outside.”

“Alright then,” he agreed, taking it from her. “Let’s go turn off the whine machine.”

Smiling, she led the way back up stairs, only to find an angry-looking Anne on her way down.

“What are you doing down here?” she demanded coldly. She made no attempt to hide her feelings from either one of them and Buffy reacted in true Slayer fashion by hardening her own expression.

“I was talking to Spike,” she said with a challenge in her voice. “Dawn asked him to call her.”

“We’re just going outside where the phone will work, love,” Spike tried to mediate. “I’ll be right back.”

“That’s what you said last night,” Anne replied stubbornly, still standing between them and the top of the stairs.

“I came back,” Spike said in a tone she’d never heard from him before. He stepped around Buffy, trying to ignore the way his body reacted to her warmth, and gently turned Anne around and urged her back up the stairs. When they all reached the top, Buffy pushed past the taller woman with a glare.

“If it’s all right with you,” she ground out. “My little sister would like to talk to the vampire who cared for her when I wasn’t able to. You know, the one she loves? The one she thought was dead?”

“He isn’t going to know her any more than he knows you,” Anne said, knowing she sounded like a petulant child, but unable to help herself. Spike’s surprised frown did nothing to help her mood, and she walked away before she said anything else she might regret later.

Another uncomfortable silence ensued while Spike looked after his girlfriend in confusion and Buffy smothered homicidal urges. Then they turned as one and headed for the door. While Buffy’d been inside, the sun had begun to sink into the west and there was plenty of shade in which Spike could stand while he talked on the phone.

Buffy found Dawn’s number for him and pushed the button to make the call before handing the phone back to him.

“What do I call her?” he asked hurriedly as it began to ring.

“Call her Dawn,” she answered quickly. “If I tell you her nickname, she’ll never believe you aren’t…you.”

She watched his face carefully as Dawn answered on the second ring, searching for any sign that her sister’s voice could evoke something hers hadn’t. But the vampire’s face remained smooth and calm as he said carefully, “Dawn? How are you, pet?”

From the look on his face, Buffy could tell Dawn had launched right into a rant about what a jerk he was for letting them think he was dead and she smiled as he grew more and more uncomfortable when the voice on the phone became shriller and shriller. He was holding the phone slightly away from his ear and said jokingly, “Hey, you’re being a little hard on the vampire hearing, Bit. Think you could tone it down?”

There was blessed silence for several seconds and then the sound of sobbing came clearly through the phone. He turned bewildered eyes to Buffy, only to find her eyes filling with tears also even as a smile trembled at the corners of her mouth.

“Oi! I’ve had just about all the female tears I want for the rest of my unlife in the past day,” he said, shoving the phone at her. “Here, do something! I don’t know what I said to set this off.”

“You called her ‘Bit”, Buffy said softly, never taking her glistening eyes off his. “You called her ‘Bit’.”

She took the phone from him and talked into it softly. “Yes, Dawnie, I heard him. No, I don’t know. Yes, I will. Yes. Yes it is. Yes. Me too. Okay. I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning. Yes. Yes. Love you too. I’ll tell him.”

She closed the phone and held it tightly while Spike shifted around nervously.

Hoping he was right, and knowing he wasn’t, he asked, “So, I called her a ‘bit’ and made her cry. Does she not like that word, or something?”

Raising one eyebrow in an unconscious imitation of him when he heard something patently ridiculous, she just looked at him until he lowered his gaze and said, “Guess not, huh?”

Buffy shook her head. “Nope. That was your name for her. ‘Bit’ or ‘Niblet’ or ‘Bite Size.”

“I still don’t remember anything, Buffy,” he said quickly. ‘I don’t know where that came from, but it didn’t suddenly make my memories appear.”

“I know,” she said softly. “But it’s a start. It shows you’re in there somewhere.”

“Don’t go making more out of it than it is, Slayer,” he warned, his desire to remember the woman in front of him at odds with his reluctance to hurt Anne any more than he already had.

“Okay,” she agreed, much too readily. He sent her a suspicious look but she just looked back at him innocently. “Spike doesn’t love Buffy any more. I got it.”

“Just so we understand each other,” he grumbled, not sure if he liked the way she agreed so easily.

“I’m going patrolling later. If you’d like to come. If it’s a slow night, we should have time for me to fill you in on some more things from your past.”

“I’d like that, pet,” he agreed eagerly. “Meet you at the cemetery? About 9:00?”

“It’s a date,” she said cheerfully and strode off down the street.

“It bloody well is not a date!” he shouted after her, not noticing Anne standing in the doorway until he turned around.

She said nothing, just went back into the building and back to serving the evening meals. With a sigh, he went up to the apartment and fixed himself a mug of blood, gulping it down quickly. He warmed up another one and sat down to watch the news and enjoy that one in a more leisurely fashion.

When Anne came up stairs later and watched him putting on his coat, she said nothing, just put her dinner in the microwave and sat back on the couch, holding the book he’d found the night before.

“That was written by humans, love,” he said quietly.


“So they don’t know what they’re talking about any more than those morons you used to hang out with in Sunnydale knew what a vampire really was. Don’t go reading that and thinking you know about vampires. Don’t need my memories to know that.”

She didn’t reply and after an exasperated minute he left without saying anything other than, “I’ll be back later.”


Spike approached the cemetery to find Buffy engaged in fighting a very large, very drunk Fyarl demon. He waited by the gate, admiring her grace and athleticism until he saw the Fyarl throw her against the wall of a tomb. It wasn’t until Buffy groaned and struggled to get up that he realized she had no weapon but the stake in her hand. She’d been fighting the demon on its terms because she had no other options and her arms were too short to do serious damage with the stake.

She staggered to her feet, only to be carried back to the ground under the angry demon’s weight. With a roar, Spike grabbed the Fyarl and yanked it up and off Buffy, meeting her accusing eyes with an apologetic shrug before kicking the demon back and away. He quickly pulled her to her feet, muttering a “Sorry, pet, got caught up in watching you fight,” before they both turned to face the still angry and attacking demon.

With no more communication than a nod, they attacked as one – Buffy driving toward the demon’s knees and Spike burying his fangs in its throat. Between having its throat ripped open and the stake Buffy was able to drive through its heart, the demon was quickly dispatched. They stood up, panting slightly and stepped away from the still-bleeding corpse.

While Spike gagged and spit over the demon blood he’d ingested, Buffy put her hands on her hips and glared at him.

“The Spike I know would never pass up a chance to join a fight just to watch,” she said angrily.”

“The Spike you know is used to seeing you in action, pet. He probably wouldn’t have been so gobsmacked at how beautiful you are when you’re fighting.”

The sincere compliment took the sting out of Spike’s delayed reaction to her need for back-up and Buffy tried not to sound as mollified as she actually was when she responded, “Well, now I’m all bruised and dirty and….”

“And, what?”

“And I wanted to look pretty for you tonight,” she mumbled, fingering a rip in her jacket and wrinkling her nose at the Fyarl blood all over her pants.

“You look bleedin’ beautiful, Buffy,” he said softly, sounding so much like her Spike that her heart jumped. She looked up quickly only to find his eyes filled with the admiration of a stranger. There was appreciation, definitely; and more than a trace of lust, but the love and recognition she was looking for wasn’t there and she sighed tiredly.

They’d been walking for several minutes before Spike realized Buffy was limping and wincing with each step.

“You’re hurt, Slayer! Why didn’t you say something?” The concern on his face was genuine, if more impersonal than she would have liked.

“Yeah,” she admitted, stopping to sit down on a tombstone. “I think I might be done for the night. I’m sorry,” she added apologetically. “I thought we’d get a good patrol in, but…”

“Nothing to apologize for, luv. If I hadn’t been such a git, you wouldn’t be hurt. ‘S my fault. Can just sit and talk if you like. We can patrol some other time.”

Buffy smiled happily at the suggestion that they would be out together again, then looked at her ruined clothes and bit her lip.

“Do you think that we could go back to my hotel and sit there?” she asked timidly. “I’d really like to get cleaned up and maybe put some ice on my hip.”

She held her breath, waiting to see if he would refuse to be alone with her in the more intimate setting, but he just jumped up and replied, “Of course, pet. Let me help you.”

Buffy swallowed the automatic “I can walk myself” when she realized he was planning to carry her. He scooped her up, marveling once again at how someone so tiny could be so powerful.

They were both very stiff as he began striding down the sidewalk, Buffy not wanting him to think she was taking advantage of the situation and Spike worried that she would notice the effect her nearness was having on him and misunderstand his intentions.

It’s nothing to do with her, really. Just a reaction to the fight – that’s all, he told himself silently as he tried to deny the way his body was reacting to her scent and the feel of her skin. When he tried to shift his grip so as not to be touching bare skin, he almost dropped her. Buffy gave a small “eep!” and threw her arms around his neck.

“Sorry, luv,” he almost gasped as he realized his attempt to keep his distance now had her holding on for dear life.

“It’s okay,” she said, equally breathlessly, using her closer proximity as an excuse to rest her head on his chest. “I’ll just hang on a little tighter.”

“Oh yeah,” he tried not to groan. “Good idea. Bloody good idea.”

With Buffy giving directions, they were soon in front of her hotel and he set her down carefully, keeping one arm around her waist as she pulled out her key and opened the side door. Spike held the door for her and she limped past him with a grateful smile. As soon as she was in and Spike spotted the elevators, he picked her back up and quickly strode to the nearest one.

Buffy smiled with embarrassment at the elderly couple sharing the elevator with them and blushed when she heard them as Spike stepped off on her floor, “Isn’t that sweet? They must be newlyweds.”

In front of her door, Spike once again reluctantly set her down, telling himself he was just worried that she’d fall. It’s not like I really want to keep holding her like that. Just trying to keep her safe is all.

Buffy limped into the room and grabbing some sweats from a drawer she said, “I’ll be right back.”

The bathroom door had barely shut behind her when Spike grabbed the ice bucket and key and went searching for ice. By the time a cleaner Buffy emerged from the bathroom, he was back and wrapping the ice in a pillowcase.

“Here you go, luv,” he said gruffly. “Put this on that hip.”

Her grateful smile and whispered, “Thank you,” sent a warm rush through his chest and he smiled back at her affectionately before catching himself and walking over to the only chair in the room. Buffy gingerly climbed onto the bed and propped herself up on the pillows before settling down with the ice pack on her aching hip.

They sat in surprisingly comfortable silence for several minutes before Spike ventured, ”So, pet. Since we aren’t going to be beating any more big bads tonight, how about you tell me what you know of my life before you?”

‘What makes you think you had a life before me?” she teased gently.

“Ha, bloody ha, Slayer,” he growled without real menace.

“I asked you before, Spike,” she said, suddenly serious. “Are you sure you want to know all this?”

“Let me have it, Slayer. Give it to me good.”

“’K, then, let me tell you about a shy poet and how he became a part of the scourge of Europe.”

Buffy talked for over an hour, pausing to answer Spike’s questions when she could, apologizing when she couldn’t. Sometime during the recitation, when she’d attempted to reach out to him with a comforting hand and hurt her sore hip, Spike had moved to the bed. He sat beside her, leaning against the headboard and listening intently, but not touching her. When she said her mouth was dry, he absently handed her an ice cube from the bucket, shivering a little when she took it from his fingers with her mouth.

When Buffy had run out of facts about his past both as human and vampire, and Spike had run out of questions, they rested side-by-side while he tried to find something familiar in all the information she’d given him. He growled softly in frustration as his damaged brain refused to respond to any of it.

Buffy looked at him curiously when he growled and he shook his head and gave her a small smile.

“Sorry, pet. It’s just so bloody frustrating not being able to recognize anything or anybody with all those new facts to gnaw on. Didn’t frighten you, did I?”

Buffy’s snort of derision reminded him that he was sitting next to the longest-lived slayer in history and he ducked his head in embarrassment.

“Right. Sitting next to the slayer who used to kick my arse regularly. Forgot there for a second.”

“Need a reminder?” she teased, pretending to be throwing a punch at his face. Spike’s automatic response was to throw a hand up to protect his nose and they both froze at the clear reminder that somehow his body knew her even if his heart and mind didn’t.

Spike looked away from her hopeful eyes and muttered,” So my nose is your favorite body part, eh, Slayer?”

“Only when I’m trying to hit you,” she said with a shrug, peering at him through her lowered lashes.

“What about when you aren’t trying to hit me?” he asked huskily, berating himself for the leading question, even as he met her flirtatious gaze with a heated look of his own.

“It depends,” she answered breathlessly, leaning forward just far enough for him to feel the heat of her body. “Sometimes I think it’s your lips.” She ran the tip of one finger around his mouth lightly, shivering when he wrapped his lips around her finger briefly. “Sometimes I think it’s your cheekbones,” she continued, stroking the side of his face gently. “Or,” she went on, growing bolder, “it could be your nice flat tummy.” She ran her hand down his chest, over his suddenly tensed muscles, stopping when she got to the top of his low-cut jeans. Sliding her hand under the hem of his tee shirt, she ran her fingers across the soft skin of his lower abdomen to touch the ridge of his hip, then back across the silky expanse of skin to the other prominent hipbone.

The vampire was almost quivering in anticipation, the bulge pressing against the zipper of his jeans aching for her to continue her slow litany of her favorite body parts. Instead of touching him where his mind was insisting she shouldn’t go, and his body was screaming that she had to, she moved her hands to his arms and stroked his biceps and forearms, moving down to his hands and linking her fingers with his.

“Or, it might be your hands. Your hands that have pulled me to safety so many times, the fists that you’ve used to defend me and mine, your fingers that know all the right places to touch me…” She stroked his hands with her thumbs and ducked her head to plant soft light kisses on his knuckles.

Spike’s audible groan and the way he shifted uncomfortably on the bed told her she’d done all she could to awaken his body’s memories, and giving his hands a little squeeze, she let go and sat back against her pillows with a satisfied smile.

“You pleased with yourself, Slayer?” he growled, making no attempt to hide the way he was adjusting himself in an attempt to relieve the pressure in his pants.

“You know you liked it, “ she responded with grin. “You love it when I tease you. It gives you an excuse to get all growly and rough”

“And do you like it when I’m growly and rough?” he asked, trying to put memories of the care he had to take with Anne from his mind and failing utterly. The thought of making love with a woman who not only welcomed the demon in him, but could take whatever the demon dished out and meet it blow for blow was making him harder by the second.

“Oh yeah,” she admitted, cutting her eyes to the side to watch his reaction. “I think your growl is really sexy. I thought that even when you were trying to kill me. When you had me pinned down and you growled, it made me tingly all over.”

Images of having Buffy pinned to the ground with his body flooded his brain and he was speechless for several seconds imagining how it must have felt to be pressing her to the ground with his fangs on her throat. He had to clear his throat several times before he could get out, “If I’ve had you down with my teeth on you, why the bloody hell aren’t you dead?”

“Good question,” she said cheerily. “Maybe it makes you all tingly too.”

Suddenly serious, she looked at his tortured face and whispered, ‘Wanna find out?”

He groaned and fought the urge to throw himself on top of her, demon to the fore. “You’re playing with fire, here, Slayer. You don’t know what you’re doing to me.”

“Yes, I do,” she said seriously. “I know your body. Just like you know mine. I know what you like. I know what makes you moan, and cry out and what makes your demon come out to play.”

“And the point of this is?”

“I want you,” she said honestly. “I really want you to remember me and love me and want me the way you used to. But if I can’t have that, I’ll settle for your body. It’s been too long, William. I want—I need to feel you again.”

She bit her lip and tried to maintain eye contact as she laid her emotions bare before him. Buffy knew she could have kept teasing and flirting and probably lured him into making love to her, but something told her that she needed to be honest with him and let him make the decision.

When minutes dragged by and he remained precious inches away, clearly fighting his body’s obvious desire for her, she felt her eyes begin to fill with tears and she looked away, blinking rapidly. The vampire had seen the wetness and smelled the tears, though, and he cursed himself for letting things get to this point.

What kind of a wanker am I, to let these two wonderful women shed so many tears over me? If I could just remember! I know what Anne means to me; but this one…she pulls on me in ways I never thought I’d—but I can’t love somebody I don’t know.

Spike fell back against the headboard, cursing softly under his breath and trying not to feel the bed shaking with Buffy’s now audible sobs. The only sounds in the room were her soft crying and Spike’s muttered curses until his innate inability to listen to a woman’s crying forced him up. He rolled to his side and gently pulled Buffy toward him, taking care not to hurt her injured hip as he did so.

When his arms went around her and he began to rub soothing circles on her back and whisper comforting nonsense in her ear, she clutched his shirt and let out the pent up grief she’d been trying to contain for two days. He held her as tightly as he could while her body was wracked with hard, gasping sobs. Eventually, exhaustion set in and her sobs tapered off to gulps and sniffles, allowing him to loosen the tight grip he’d kept on her while she allowed her emotions free rein.

As Buffy’s breathing evened out and went back to normal, she relaxed onto his chest and he realized that she had cried herself to sleep. He settled back onto the pillows behind her and let her sleep on his chest while he tried to imagine a way out the situation that wouldn’t cause pain for either of the two women. He didn’t love the girl in his arms; didn’t remember loving her, but he was already sure that he didn’t want to do anything to add to the pain she’d clearly suffered in her short life.

I could love her, that’s for bloody sure. It would be so easy, wouldn’t take more than another day or two. Or a good shag. I’d be hers, no question about it.

While he mulled his options, his senses were soaking up her scent, the sound of her heartbeat, the feel of her silky hair on his face. The even beat of her heart and the soft sounds of her breathing had a soothing effect on his battered emotions and he drifted off to sleep himself, his arms still wrapped around her.

He awoke to awareness that dawn was only a few hours away and he carefully extricated himself from the warm body curled into his. Buffy murmured in protest when he slid his arms out from under her, but didn’t wake up. Not sure why he did so, Spike dropped a soft kiss on her forehead before moving to the door and leaving the room.


Spike entered the apartment quietly, noting with relief that Anne had not waited up for him this time. He quickly shed his clothes and eased into the bed, turning on his side to face away from the woman pretending to be asleep beside him. Anne frequently forgot about Spike’s vampire enhancements and was unaware that he could tell she wasn’t really asleep. However, since it enabled him to pretend right along with her, they remained in silence until she could no longer bite back her anger.

“You might at least have showered before you got in bed with me.” Her tone was bitter and colder than he’d ever heard from her.

It took him a second of guilty thought before he realized that, unlike another vampire would have been, she was not reacting to Buffy’s smell being all over him, but just assuming he’d been having sex with her. The human woman had no way of knowing there was no trace of sexual contact on his body.

“Nothing to shower off, pet,” he began in a conciliating manner. “Nothing happened. She told me all about my poncy human self and about Angelus, Dru and Darla and some of the things we did together. It wasn’t pretty and it took a toll on my soul to hear about it. Especially knowing that there are still decades of killing she couldn’t fill me in on. I feel asleep, is all. When I woke up, I came home.”

“Why not?”

“Why not, what?” Spike asked, genuinely confused as he’d already forgotten the first part of his speech.

“Why did nothing happen. And why should I believe you?”

“Because I promised you it wouldn’t,” he replied with a touch of anger. “And you should believe me because I don’t lie to you.”

There was no response to that and he eventually allowed himself to relax and fall back asleep, staying in bed well into the afternoon.


Chapter Six

Buffy awoke slowly, her body still aching from the beating it had taken the night before. She went over the evening in her head but remembered nothing past her hysterical crying on Spike’s chest. She did remember his soothing words and gentle hands, and since she had no memory of his leaving, she assumed he’d stayed with her for at least a while after she stopped crying.

All right. Honesty didn’t work; I guess it’s time for more feminine wiles. Who would have thought that some day I’d be trying to woo Spike? The vampire who stalked me for a year before I gave him his crumb. Who allowed me to use and abuse him and returned nothing but understanding and love. Who went and got his soul because he thought he’d hurt me. The vampire who died to save the world for me. The one whose love I took for granted for so many years I don’t even know how to begin to earn it back.

Deciding a hot bath was a good start; she forced her aching body out of the bed, pausing to sniff the pillows that still smelled faintly of tobacco and leather. She began filling the tub with hot water and collected her shampoos and bath gels in preparation for a good long soak.

She luxuriated in the tub until the water began to cool, then quickly washed her hair and got out. She spent more time rubbing lotions on her body, making sure her skin was soft everywhere he might touch her. She threw on some clothes and ran out to have an early meal, allowing herself plenty of time to get ready before darkness set in. She couldn’t have said why she was confident that he would come back that night, but she knew that he would. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer intended to be ready for him.

She was in the midst of trying on and discarding outfits to wear that evening when she heard a knock on the door of her room. Frowning slightly, she looked out the window to see that it was still daylight, so unlikely to be Spike showing up early.

Years as a slayer had her hiding a knife in her sleeve as she went to the door and pulled it open slowly. Standing on the other side was a very determined looking Anne, clutching a small book to her chest.

“Can I come in?” She stared defiantly at the smaller woman, refusing to back down from the cold glare.

Buffy silently stepped back and opened the door the rest of the way. She made a big show of taking the knife out of her sleeve and putting it down on the nightstand, before going back to her wardrobe.

“We’re mated, you know,” Anne astonished her by stating baldly.

“You’re whatted?” Buffy’s knowledge of vampire mating rituals was very slight. Giles had never felt it necessary to address that side of her enemy’s nature, feeling the less she knew about a vampire’s ability to love, the easier it would be to do her job.

“Mated. I’m claimed.” Anne tilted her head and pulled back her long hair to display the scars on her neck.

“He bit you,” Buffy said coldly. “That’s not a life-long commitment; that’s a snack.” She spoke firmly, but her stomach was suddenly turning over in trepidation. She remembered seeing Spike nuzzle the marks on her first day there and the way it had made her feel.

“If a vampire bites you, without wanting to kill, it’s a claim. An irrevocable connection that lasts until one of you dies. It’s all right here,” she said, thrusting the book at Buffy.

Buffy glanced at the title “Mating Rituals of Vampires” and said slowly, “No. Spike wouldn’t do that to me. He would have told me if he and you—”

“Spike is too nice for his own good,” the other woman said angrily. “He doesn’t want to hurt you. That’s why he didn’t tell you. This mark means I belong to him – and he belongs to me.”

“Only until he gets his memories back,” Buffy said through gritted teeth. Her heart pounded in fear that she might be speaking optimistically out of ignorance of what the bites actually meant, but she kept up a confident front in the face of her rival. Neither woman was making any attempt to pretend they weren’t having a confrontation over the vampire.

“Buffy,” Anne tried to sound reasonable. ”Spike loves me. I’m sure of it. But I think he might have loved you too. A long time ago.” She ignored Buffy’s high pitched, “might have loved me?” and continued as though she was explaining things to someone very slow to understand. “What do you think will happen if you find a way to bring back his memory and he finds himself mated to me for life? Knowing you still want him and he can never be with you? It will break his heart. Is that really what you want? To tear him apart like that?”

“I can’t control what happens with his memory,” Buffy replied, fear clenching her heart at the thought of hurting Spike again.

“If you’re not here, there won’t be so much to remind him of things. And even if it comes back, if he thinks you don’t want him any more he’ll be willing to stay here. With his mate. Where he’s been happy.”

“I don’t believe this mate stuff,” Buffy growled. “So he bit you once. That doesn’t make it a claim or a mating.”

“It does if he did it while we were making love,” Anne insisted. “It’s all right here in this book. You can read it for yourself.” She tossed the book on the bed and turned to leave before it could occur to Buffy that she might solve the problem by throwing Anne out the window. “Just remember,” Anne offered as her parting shot, “if he spends the rest of his life miserable because he can’t be with you, it’ll be your fault.”

Buffy stood frozen, the shirt she’d been trying on still in her hand. Cursing herself for not paying more attention to vampire culture and ritual, she eyed the book on her bed as though it was an angry cobra. She went back over Spike’s behavior the past two days. The obvious desire in his eyes and his unusual – for him- ability to walk away from what she offered. She’d seen the conflict in his face, felt the trembling of his body as he resisted the physical memory she’d awakened. A sudden terror seized her heart at the idea that Anne might be telling the truth, that the vampire she was in love with had unwittingly bound himself forever to another woman.

She dropped the shirt on the floor and, with a trembling hand, picked up the book and sat down. She stared hard at it for a full minute, as though the force of her glare could change what she was going to find inside, then sighed and opened it to the first page.


Chapter Seven

Spike’s sleep was filled with dreams and images that seemed strange and familiar at the same time. He dreamed about Europe and Angelus, Darla and Dru. Visions of convents in which Angelus raped and tortured nuns for hours before allowing his family to finally kill and eat them had him moaning in his sleep, his soul cringing at the pictures in his head.

Other, more pleasant visions brought him scenes of patrolling with Buffy, their easy banter indicating a gentle camaraderie that seemed to vanish when the visions became erotic dreams of hours of rough, brutal sex in a dark crypt. There was even a flash of a night spent happily holding her while she slept in an eerie reflection of the way they’d spent the night just past.

When Spike finally got up, he found that Anne had gone out to run an errand, so he busied himself working on rearranging the basement again. When his senses told him it was approaching twilight, he quit moving old furniture around and came back upstairs to find his girlfriend waiting for him with a sweet smile and a cup of warm blood.

“Thank you, love,” he said, dropping a quick, chaste kiss on her upturned face. He dismissed the suspicious thoughts that tried to tell him she would not have gotten over her anger so quickly, and gladly accepted her peace offering.

“You’re welcome, honey,” she said with a gentle smile. “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch about the Slayer. I know she can tell you a lot about your past and I know how much you hate not knowing anything about…before. I’ve been very selfish, trying to keep you from talking to her. I want you to get all the information you can from her before she leaves.”

Leaves? Buffy is leaving? What the hell?

Giving her a bemused nod, he carried his mug upstairs and cleaned it out in the sink before stepping into the shower to clean off the dust and dirt from the basement. Unlike many vampires, Spike tried to stay as clean and fresh smelling as was possible for someone who was essentially an animated corpse.
Twenty minutes and a clean pair of jeans and tee shirt later, he was back downstairs and ready to help Anne with the evening meal and clean up.

He found himself cocking an ear toward the door, halfway expecting Buffy to come looking for him to patrol with her now that it was dark, but she didn’t appear. By the time they had found beds for everyone who needed one and closed up for the night, he was beginning to worry. Wondering if she had gone out by herself again, expecting him to meet her at the cemetery.

Memories of her injury last night, and not being sure how much she would have healed yet, fueled his worry and he finally ran upstairs to grab his coat.

“Tell Buffy I said ‘bye and safe trip’ if I don’t see her again,” Anne said cheerfully, cringing inside at the worried frown on his face but keeping her outer demeanor caring and trusting.

“She didn’t say anything about leaving yet,” he muttered, pulling on his duster and staring at the door.

“Well, you know, maybe she got an earlier flight and just didn’t want to bother you about it. I’m sure she’ll call once she gets back to let you know how to reach her. In case your memory comes back, or something.”

“She wouldn’t leave without telling me,” he growled.

He was sure the woman he’d held while she cried over him, the one he’d continued to hold while she slept trustingly in his arms, would not have given up so easily. Buffy Summers did not seem like the kind to sneak off with her tail between her legs just because she was hurt.

Then he remembered how she’d bared her emotions to him the previous night. How she had backed off from her clearly successful seduction to offer him the chance to make a choice. And he remembered what his choice had been. Suddenly getting to her hotel and making sure she was still there took precedence over anything else and without so much as a “good night” to Anne, he was out the door and sprinting the blocks to Buffy’s hotel.

He stretched out his senses and gasped with relief when he felt her presence as he approached her door. He knocked quickly and was already turning the handle when her quiet, “Come in, Spike,” came to his ears.

His joy at knowing she hadn’t left LA quickly turned back to concern when he saw the packed bags on the bed and watched Buffy continue to stuff make-up in an outside pocket.

“What are you doing?” His voice came out much angrier than he intended, and he watched her flinch before she turned around to face him.

“What I should have done as soon as I saw you with Anne. As soon as I saw your mark on her.”

Her eyes were red-rimmed from the crying that had obviously occupied her for hours, although they were now dry and lifeless as she met his gaze.

“I’m sorry, Spike. You should have told me. I would have backed off.” She turned back to her packing, missing his totally bewildered expression and gaping mouth. “God knows I’ve hurt you enough through the years. I would never willingly do something like that to you again. You really should have told me.”

Finally finding his voice, the vampire croaked, “Told you what? Are you sure it was Drusilla who was my batty ex-girlfriend? Cause right now, Slayer, you’ve got to be runnin’ her a close second.”

“Stop pretending!” Suddenly the animation was back in her eyes and on her face. She radiated pain and anger as she rounded on him. “I know all about it. Anne told me.”

“Anne told you what?” he asked in a deceptively calm voice, already guessing what he was going to hear.

“That you’re mated. That you claimed her while you were…making love,” her voice hitched, then evened out as her anger enabled her to smother the despair that permeated her soul. “She told me about it and then I read about what it means.”

She picked up the small book and threw it at him, hitting him in the forehead. “I don’t know why you never bit me- all the times we…I mean it’s not like you didn’t have a lot of opportunities. I guess you just didn’t want me enough to—“

“Bloody, buggering fuck!” Spike’s scream as he threw the book against the wall so hard it dented the drywall, stopped her in mid sentence.

“Are they giving this soddin’ book away on every street corner in this fucking city? Where the hell did you get this?”

“Anne gave it to me,” Buffy said dully, “I guess it’s one book Giles didn’t have in his collection, or I would have known as soon as I saw your mark on her…”

“Your watcher didn’t have it because it’s pure unadulterated crap! It’s written by the same ignorant gits that had her and her friends thinking I was planning to sire the whole lot of them rather than just eat them.”

“Wh—what? It’s wrong?” Hope bloomed in her face, although her worried frown stayed. “You didn’t claim her? You’re not bonded in some weird vampire marriage?”

“No, Buffy,” he said, his voice quiet and suddenly gentle as he moved closer to her. “I never claimed her. Wouldn’t do that. I don’t love her. Right now, I don’t think I even like her very much,” he added with a growl.

That got a small smile from Buffy, and he watched the hope blossom in her eyes again before she said tremulously, “But you did bite her. I saw your marks.”

“I didn’t mark her, love. Those are just scars from the bite that haven’t faded yet. I bit her because I was so weak and she needed me to throw out some gang banger wankers that were giving her a hard time, trying to take over the shelter and use it as a front for drug running. She offered out of fear, and I took it because I was afraid for her. I told her to cut her wrist for me, but she’s afraid of sharp things and she said she’d rather I did it the ‘right’ way.”

“Stupid vampire groupie,” Buffy muttered.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I should’ve picked up on that, I guess, but with not knowing her history…”

“So, you’re not…”


“And you didn’t…”

“Jesus Christ, Buffy! If half of what you told me about us is true, don’t
you think I would have marked you as mine if I could?” He glared at her in frustration, then shook his head and admitted, “’Course if I had, we probably wouldn’t be standing here, ‘cause you undoubtedly would have staked me on the spot.”

She nodded in sheepish agreement; then went back to her main focus.

“Why did she tell me you bit her while you were mak-having sex?”

“I don’t know. Why did she tell you any of this? I told her the other night that book was trash.”

Buffy kept staring at him, her eyes demanding the truth and he finally turned away from those accusing orbs to mutter, “I made it good for her.”

“What? What did you say?”

He turned back to her and, somewhat shamefaced, explained, “We – vampires – have different kinds of bites. It’s possible to make a bite…pleasurable, if we take the time and effort. Not something I suspect most vamps bother with, but if you want to take the victim’s mind off the pain—”

Buffy held her hand up for him to stop. “I get the picture. It’s like when Dracula bit me, I didn’t—“

The snarl that ripped from Spikes throat startled them both, with Buffy recovering faster. While Spike looked embarrassed and said apologetically, “I don’t know where that came from.” Buffy answered softly, “I do.” She didn’t try to hide the happiness in her eyes at his visceral reaction to the old vampire having bitten her in that way.

He sighed and began pacing the floor, his duster flaring out behind him. “Buffy, I admit that my body and even my demon – they seem to remember you. Us. And I…” He paused and looked back at her over his shoulder, “I’d like to explore that. To see where it goes. Whether I get my memories back or not, I think I could easily fall in love with you all over again.”

The joy on her face brought an answering smile to his that he couldn’t control.

Making Buffy happy appears to be one of those things that parts of me respond to.

Before she could say anything, he held up a hand and said quickly, “But the part of me that remembers nothing before last May, the man who doesn’t remember you, he doesn’t want to hurt the woman who has made his life peaceful and happy for the past six months.

“I know she’s done a terrible thing. And I’m bloody brassed off about it. But she’s done it because she loves me. Something I suspect I haven’t seen a lot of in my one hundred and however many years on this planet.”

He saw Buffy flinch at the reminder of how little affection she’d given him during the years they’d been together and he sighed again. She nodded again to let him know she understood him, but had to turn away and squeeze her eyes shut trying to shake the memories his words created.

“That wasn’t meant to hurt you, love. I’m just trying to explain why I’m having such a hard time with this whole…situation. Not used to having women fight over me, yeah?”

“No,” she sighed and walked closer to him, “I suppose not. And I really don’t want to. Fight, that is. I can’t fight her physically – she’s human; and I’m not sure I know how to fight any other way. I know I never gave you what she has…I never made you happy, and we never had time for peacefulness. It was always one apocalypse after another.”

She reached up and ran her hand down his face, cupping his cheek and forcing him to see the truth in her eyes.

“I can’t promise you a peaceful life. It just doesn’t come with the whole Slayer package. But I can promise you I would do my best to make you happy. Whatever it takes for as long as I’m given to do it.”

She held his gaze, leaving her warm hand resting against the side of his face and willing him to see the truth in her eyes. They remained frozen, only inches apart until, with a shudder, Spike closed the distance between them and pulled her in against his body.

“Was getting a little bored with all that peacefulness anyway,” he murmured as he captured her lips in a gentle kiss. Buffy slid her arms around his neck and melted against him, soaking up the sheer joy of feeling that cool, soft, talented mouth on hers. The kiss remained chaste and warm for several seconds, then Spike’s tongue gently stroked her lower lip and she immediately responded by opening her mouth and sending her tongue out to meet it.

She stood still as the vampire explored her open mouth, running his tongue over her gums and teeth, re-acquainting himself with what felt so familiar and yet so strange to him. Exploration soon turned to passion as the kiss deepened and Buffy was soon moaning in frustrated desire as the familiar body pressing against hers stirred the usual craving for more contact. She could feel his own hard response pressing into her stomach and she thrilled at the proof that his body still recognized her touch. She put everything she was feeling into the kiss, her lips and tongue continuing to caress his until she almost lost consciousness. If Spike hadn’t broken the kiss when he sensed her dizziness, she would have passed out on the spot.

“Bloody hell, Buffy,” he raised his head to gasp. “What you do to me… Want you so bad…”

“I’m right here,” she whispered, wanting nothing more than to throw him onto the nearby bed, but forcing herself to wait for him to make the next move. Her whole body was trembling with the need to feel his skin next to hers, to feel his hard length inside her again. It took every ounce of her strength to force herself to stand still and let him take the next step.

If there’s going to be a next step. Oh god, please let there be a next step! Let me have this – at least once. Let me feel him again.

When he lowered his head to attack her mouth again, she collapsed against him in relief, allowing his arms to take the weight her knees would no longer support. As soon as he felt her melt into him, Spike growled softly and swung her body into his arms. Without breaking the kiss, he strode to the bed and used his foot to kick the luggage off to one side. He followed Buffy down onto the bed, shoving the bags the rest of the way off with one hand while he buried the other in her long hair.

Freed of her fear that he was going to withdraw again, Buffy allowed herself to do all the things she’d been resisting since she first saw him. Her hands ran over his body frantically, as though trying to touch and remember every bulge of muscle, every sharp edge of bone at the same time. Spike’s hiss when she ran her fingers up under his tee shirt to skate over the cool skin on his back encouraged her further and she ripped her mouth away to plant open-mouthed kisses all over his face and down his neck.

The heat coming off the woman under him was making Spike so hard he thought he was going to injure himself on the zipper of his jeans. The combination of soft, feminine curves and incredible strength was exciting him in a way Anne’s slender gentleness never could. He pushed her shirt up, running his hand over the silky skin covering her ribs until he was stroking his thumbs across the curve of her breasts. When she mewed and arched up into his hand, he pushed the shirt completely over her head and used his teeth to rip the scrap of lace covering her breasts into two easily removed pieces.

He buried his face between her breasts briefly, inhaling her scent and accepting the familiarity of it without question. Buffy was tugging on his own tee shirt, trying to pull it over his head as she gasped, “Less smelling, more stripping.”

With a willing grin, he sat up and pulled his shirt off, then reached down to untie his boots. He was shocked when Buffy slid off the bed and said softly, “Let me.” She sat on the floor and quickly untied and removed his boots and socks. When they were gone, she knelt between his legs and fastened her mouth back on his while her hands worked to unfasten his jeans and begin pushing them down until his aching cock could spring free into her warm hands.

Never breaking contact with his mouth, she swallowed his groans as she began the firm stroking she knew he liked best. His own hands were busy unzipping her pants and trying to shove them over her hips without breaking any of the contact between them. Finally, with unspoken agreement, they broke apart and each stood to push pants to the floor and off.

Spike took a second to look at the vision before him, taking in the small but perfect breasts, the tiny waist and womanly curve of her hips before dropping his eyes to the neatly trimmed curls that already glistened with moisture. He dropped to his knees and pressed his face against the apex of her legs, once again inhaling the scent that went right to his cock and made it even harder.

Buffy’s whimper when she felt his cool tongue searching through her folds only spurred him on and he grabbed the muscular globes of her ass to hold her up while he gently forced her legs apart so the he could reach the source of the nectar he was lapping up. Again, they found themselves in an awkward, uncomfortable position that neither was willing to change for fear of losing the contact. When Buffy grabbed the curls on his head to hold herself upright, Spike finally removed his mouth and pushed himself up and back onto the bed, pulling her with him.

The feel of her hot, soft skin against his own cool smoothness sent them both into a frantic attempt to be touching from head to toe. Spike’s arms were puling her into his body with a grip that would have made most women cry out in pain. Buffy’s response, however, was to fasten her mouth onto the soft skin of his throat and begin sucking there while she clenched his cock between her powerful thighs and pushed her hips into his.

Unable to wait any longer, Buffy tore her mouth away from the mark she’d made on his neck and pushed her upper body away so as to hover over him.

“I want you inside me, Spike. I need to feel you in me now.”

Never taking her eyes off his, she slowly lowered herself onto him, smiling as the heat of her passage caused his eyes to roll back in his head. Her own eyes closed as she lost herself in once again being filled by the man she loved. She settled down onto his hips, pushing his cock in as far as it could go. Tears poured down her face as she allowed herself to feel him and know that this time it was real and not one of the thousands of dreams that had haunted her for the past year and a half.

Spike couldn’t deny the way his body rejoiced when it felt her surround him. It was at once the most amazing sensation he’d ever felt, and at the same time, incredibly familiar. Then Buffy began a rhythmic squeezing that soon had him gasping unnecessarily and thrusting up into her depths with every squeeze.

“Bloody hell, Slayer. I can’t keep this up. You’ve got to stop doing that, love or I’m going to—” He interrupted himself to flip them over, continuing his thrusts from above as he murmured in her ear.

“I’m sorry, pet. Know you wanted to drive, but I want to make this special for you and I wasn’t going to last with you bouncing on me like that. Want to make this good for you, Buffy.”

As he whispered to her his desire to make her feel good, he was twisting his hips and hitting the little spongy mass of nerves that only he could find, sending her into a head thrashing, moaning and crying frenzy as she shook through an orgasm that came too soon. She was still shuddering from the effects of her first climax when he began thrusting harder, his muscular buttocks clenching as he drove into her. She met him thrust for thrust, her pelvis clashing against his hard enough to bruise both of them.

Buffy’s arms and legs were wrapped around his body in a grip that he knew he couldn’t have broken if he wanted to. She was murmuring his name over and over as he pounded against her, her voice rising as she felt the tension in her body building again. His guttural growls grew louder and closer together as he felt his own release approaching.

When Buffy sank her teeth into his shoulder with a muffled scream, his demon burst forward and suddenly the woman quivering under him was no longer a beautiful stranger.

Buffy! Oh god, Buffy. Not a dream. Real. Buffy. My Buffy. My love. Mine.”

He struggled to hold the demon back, but there was no stopping it. Needle sharp fangs slid into the soft skin on her throat and he shook all over with the force of his orgasm and the euphoria created by her blood flowing into his mouth.

The instant his fangs pierced her skin and he drew the first sip of blood, Buffy spiraled into another body shaking orgasm; waves of pleasure sweeping over her and without prompting she screamed, “Yours! Oh god, Spike. I’m yours.”

He collapsed on top of her, both of them gasping for air and shuddering with the after affects of the experience. When he realized Buffy was having to breathe while his full weight lay on her chest, he reluctantly rolled off, whimpering at the loss of her warmth around him. He turned his head far enough to lick the wounds closed, then let it flop back onto the pillow.

He continued to take unnecessary breaths, staring at the ceiling while his demon receded and the memory of who Buffy was and what she meant to him faded somewhat. He grimaced as he realized what his demon had done, even as he accepted that in this case his body and the spirit that inhabited it knew better than he did the importance of this woman in his life.

“Not exactly complaining here,” she gasped, “but what the hell was that?”


Chapter Eight

Buffy remained flat on her back, still trying to catch her breath and control the trembling in her legs. Beside her, she heard him give a rueful chuckle.

“Now that, Slayer, was a claim,” he told her. He turned his head to look at her puzzled face. “Seems like my demon feels a little possessive about you.”

“You claimed me?”

“Didn’t mean to,” he said hastily, misunderstanding her question. “Just lost control when you bit me.”

“I bit you?” Her voice went up a little higher. “I bit you?”

In response he silently rolled toward her so she could see the deep teeth marks in his shoulder. Buffy’s eyes grew wide and she opened and closed her mouth several times before she could say, “Uh, sorry?” Her mind went back to the marks she used to leave on his smooth skin when their lovemaking was closer to fighting, and she bit her lip in distress.

“Don’t be sorry, love. That’s what brought out the demon and gave me back a few minutes of knowin’ who I am.”

Buffy looked at his now human face and said carefully, “You said a few minutes. Does that mean you’ve forgotten me again already?”

“Trust me, Buffy,” he laughed gently and pulled her closer to his body, planting a kiss on the top of her head, “I won’t be forgetting you anytime soon.”

“But you don’t love me,” she said softly. “You’re sorry you claimed me.”

“Wasn’t fair, was it?” He avoided the implied question. “Didn’t give you a chance to say “no. Demon just took advantage of the situation and—”

“I wouldn’t have said ‘no’,” she interrupted quietly, as she snuggled closer and threw one leg over his. “But if you’re sorry you did it, then I guess we need to try to find a way to fix it.”

“Is that what you want to do?” He kept his voice carefully neutral. “Do you want to make it go away?”

“Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what you’re saying?”

“I’m saying that…bloody hell, I don’t know what I’m saying. Demon clearly wants you forever. And god knows my body thinks it’s died and gone to a heaven I know I’ll never see. But without my memories, I don’t understand why they feel like that. And I don’t know why you would want to be bonded to a man who can’t remember why or even if he loves you.”

Buffy raised her head from his chest and said softly, “Because I remember why I love him. I remember how I grieved when he was gone. And I remember how much he loved me. You’re still him. Whether you remember me or not, my heart belongs to you. It always will.”

Spike looked back at her, his expression a mixture of awe and apprehension. Even without his memories, he knew that her words were something he’d waited for years to hear and he growled softly, frustrated that he wasn’t able to fully appreciate their import to him. He took a deep breath and cringed inwardly at what he was about to do.

“Okaaaay. Growling, frowning? So not the reaction I was looking for.” Buffy’s teasing words belied the hurt look on her face and Spike pulled her up his body so that they were face to face.

“I’m sorry, love. I know that if I remembered us at all, those words would have made me too bloody happy to hold still. I know that. I understand it. And I know my demon is gonna chew me a new arse for what I’m about to say, but…”

“But?” He felt her stiffen in his arms and without realizing what he was doing he tightened his grip, his body responding before his brain did. He nuzzled her neck, licking his marks until she relaxed and curled into him sighing.

“I told you before, I don’t doubt I could learn to love you again. Even more sure of it now than I was before.” He ran a cool hand down her back and stroked her flank, feeling her shiver at his touch. “But if I’m going to put a claim on you. If I’m going to tie you down to me like that…” He stopped her protest with a soft kiss and continued as though she hadn’t tried to speak, “if I’m going to do that, I want to do it with all of me. Don’t want the demon making those kinds of decisions for me, love. No matter how right the decision might be.”

He looked into her glistening eyes anxiously and asked, “Do you understand what I’m saying, pet? Not saying I don’t want you. I do. I do want you. But I don’t want to bind you to me like that unless I know it’s right – for all of me. Need to either remember loving you, or to be in love with you again. Anything else isn’t fair. To either one of us.”

If he’d had breath to hold, Spike would have been holding it then while he waited for her reaction. As little time as he’d spent in her company so far, he knew she had a lot of pride, and he suspected she’d already been more open and honest about her emotions than she was used to. He held her gaze, willing her to see the truth in his words. When she finally nodded slowly and said, “It’s okay, Spike. I don’t want you to feel trapped with me,” he let out a relieved breath.

“So, what do you want to do about it?” Buffy slid her body over his until she was lying fully on top of him and nibbling on his chest as she waited for his answer. She ran her tongue around one nipple, then kissed her way across his chest to the other one and took it carefully in her teeth, tugging gently. She could feel his cock as it grew against her hip and pushed up into her stomach, causing her to leave his chest and begin to kiss her way down his body.

“I thought we were having a conversation here, pet,” he groaned as her warm, wet mouth worked its way down his chest and past his navel. When he could feel her warm breath on the head of his throbbing cock, he gasped and arched up toward her waiting lips.

“I’m listening,” she said cheerily, kissing the swollen head and poking her tongue into the slit on top. She moved her tongue back and forth lightly, causing the vampire to moan and hiss in pleasure.

“Talk to me, Spike. Tell me what you want to do about claiming me…” Buffy’s words were muffled as she slipped her mouth over him and opened her throat to allow his full length to slide in. As she began to swallow around him, he once again allowed his demon out and immediately she could tell he knew her again.

“Bloody hell, Buffy. You know what that does to me. Don’t stop, love. Feels so good. Like that, love. Missed you so much. Love you, Buffy. You make me…gonna come, love. Love you. Buffy!” His shout of release coincided with the cool feeling of his spendings hitting the back of her throat and she continued to swallow until she had milked every drop out of his now flaccid cock.

As before, when his demon receded, so did his memory of having experienced her mouth before and he lay trembling as he tried to recover his voice and his poise.

“Buggering fuck, Slayer! I hope I don’t regret asking this, but where the hell did you learn to do that?”

“You taught me,” she said softly. “You taught me how to make you come with my hands and my mouth and my—”

“Dammed if I didn’t do a fine job of it,” he gasped. A familiar-looking smirk crossed his face as he ventured, “Maybe I should open a school. It would be a public service, sending slayers out into the world able to-_”

One look at the Slayer’s narrowed eyes and he backpedaled quickly. He didn’t need his memories to recognize that look.

“Or maybe not,” he said quickly. “Nope, definitely not. Only one slayer’s mouth getting near these body parts. Come on, love, don’t you know a joke when you hear one?” he continued, getting slightly worried about the sudden lack of affection in her gaze.

“Is that why you want to get rid of the claim so fast?” she asked, coldly. “So you’d be free to—”

Acting purely on instinct, he pulled her up his body until he could capture her lips in another bone-melting kiss. He didn’t relax until he felt her soften in his arms and begin kissing him back, then he let out the mental breath he’d been holding. He left her mouth and began working his way down her body, leaving wet open-mouth kisses and murmuring against her skin, “Don’t want to be free. Not if it means losing this. Never want to be anywhere else.”

He worked his way down past her breasts, pausing to suckle briefly on each nipple. With every swipe of his tongue, tactile memories seeped into his brain until, by the time he got to the source of the scent that was tormenting him, his brain had completely accepted the familiarity of her body and he buried his face between her legs in a joyful surrender to sensation.

Buffy’s whole body was thrumming with anticipation and with the first swipe of his cool tongue up her cleft, Spike sent her hips lifting off the bed. He grinned against her mound and placed his hand on her abdomen, holding her in place while he allowed his body and his demon free rein. While the slayer mewed and whimpered, he used his muscular tongue to tease and torment her; thrusting it in and out of her clenching vagina, curling it up and licking her interior walls.

When she was keening his name over and over and clutching the curls on his head, he took pity on her and moved up to suck her clit into his mouth. In spite of the care he was taking to keep his fangs away from her flesh, she managed to nick herself on one tooth when she moved in response to her sudden orgasm, and his mouth was once again bathed in her blood.

Before she had stopped trembling, he was upon her, thrusting his way inside her tightened channel and triggering another wave of shivering ecstasy at the same time as he emptied himself into her depths, roaring her name as he did so.

This time, he remained in vamp face, allowing his demon to continue nuzzling at the slayer’s throat and lick the already closing marks from the claiming bite. As long as he let the demon control his actions, he found that he remembered everything – not just Buffy, but Dawn, Sunnydale, Dru, Angel. The memories came at him so fast he became dizzy and he clung to Buffy as though she was a life preserver.

She kept her arms and legs wrapped around him tightly, hoping that by holding him close she could keep the memory of what they were to each other from slipping away with the demon. Tears slid from the corners of her eyes as he whispered, “I love you, Buffy”. When he tried to roll off and allow her more breathing room, she whimpered and clutched him tighter, squeezing with her vaginal muscles as well as her arms and legs in an attempt to keep him inside and part of her. Exhausted both emotionally and physically, slayer and vampire fell into a restful sleep, still intimately joined together and Spike still wearing the demon’s face.

When Buffy gradually awakened, she found that he had rolled them over as one so that she lay on top of him where she could breathe more easily. She opened her eyes slowly and raised them to meet the tender blue gaze now gracing his beautiful human face.

“Spike?” she asked tremulously, her own eyes anxiously searching his for some sign that he had not reverted to the souled vampire who didn’t remember loving her.

“It’s me, sweetheart. I think you shagged the memory right back into me.”

“Really?” she ignored his crude description of what had happened. “So you’re all done with the non-Buffy-loving Spike?”

“I think so,” he said cautiously. “Are you ready to give it a try?”

“No,” she said with a small pout, “but I guess we have to sooner or later.” Dropping a kiss on his shoulder where she’d bitten him the first time, she slowly rolled off onto his waiting arm, whimpering in loss when his cock finally slid out of her. He turned immediately and wrapped his other arm around her lightly so they lay face to face, their legs still tangled together. With their faces only inches apart, they looked into each other’s eyes, once again eerily mirroring the way they’d spent their last nights together in Sunnydale.

This time, the devotion and confidence that shone out of Spike’s bright blue eyes was reflected back to him from Buffy. Although the words were almost superfluous by this time, Buffy held his gaze as she said clearly, “I love you.”

He swallowed hard and nodded, never looking away as he whispered, “I know you do, love. I believe you. And I love you too. Always have. Always will.”

They basked in their first true post-coital afterglow; the first not ruined by Buffy’s refusal to allow herself that pleasure, or by an impending apocalypse. Eventually, so much time without talking or movement began to wear on both hyperactive beings and with matching rueful smiles they exchanged a last kiss before sitting up and stretching.

As Buffy reached for her clothes, she looked back over her shoulder at the still stretching vampire and said cheerfully, “When all this happiness wears off, I’m going to kick your ass for never telling me you were alive. You do realize that don’t you?”

“I’m countin’ on it, pet,” he said with a grin and a swat on her bare bum as she stood up.

Her only response was a glare that somehow didn’t carry any menace in it at all, and he laughed as he picked up his jeans, pulling them on swiftly and reaching for his shirt. When they were both dressed again, Buffy carefully looked away from him as she tried to be casual.

“So,” she said calmly, “What are you going to tell Anne?”

“The truth, I guess,” he sighed, shoulders slumping. “She deserves to hear it. And, from me,” he added firmly, wondering if Buffy was going to insist on some sort of payback for Anne’s attempt to separate them. “I think she’ll understand once she realizes I have my memory back. She knows how badly I wanted to remember things. And that it was a possibility that I would sooner or later.”

Buffy stared at him, her desire to march back into the shelter with Spike attached to her like a leech warring with her better nature which reminded her of how she’d felt watching him with Anne when neither of them were aware of her feelings. As badly as the vengeful slayer in her wanted to rub the other woman’s face in it, the sated and happy lover would not allow her to knowingly cause someone else that kind of pain and she nodded her understanding.

“But, you’ll tell her, right?” she asked anxiously. “Right away? You’ll tell her you remembered that you love me. That you can’t stay with her?”

The worry and uncertainly on Buffy’s face spoke to Spike’s heart in a way demands and ultimatums could not have and he swiftly crossed the room to hold her tightly.

“I’m going to tell her straight away, love. I promise you. Just don’t want to hurt her any more than I have to, and her seeing you with me…”

“I know,” she said, her words muffled by his shirt where she’d buried her face to hide her fear. “She’d feel like I did when I saw you with her.” She raised her eyes to stare into his. “I don’t think I want to do that to anybody else,” she said softly, leaning into the apologetic nuzzle he gave her face. “Even if she was trying to steal my vampire,” she finished in a mutter as she looked away again.

“She was trying to keep what she thinks is hers, pet,” he said soothingly, smiling in spite of himself at her possessiveness. “What would you have done in her place?”

“Thrown her through the window,” she growled, only half-kidding. “It’s a slayer thing,” she sighed when he raised his eyebrows at her. “It’s the only way I know how to deal with pain. On the plus side,” she said more cheerfully, “Did you know there are almost no vampires left in Rome? If you’d stayed dead, I’ll bet I would have cleaned out Europe within a couple of years.”

His rich laugh shook them both and he squeezed her tightly saying, ”Bloody hell, I love you, Buffy Summers. Love you so much.”

“I love you, too,” she whispered. “Do you believe me now?”

“I do, sweetheart. I do and I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am that I didn’t come looking for you as soon as I could. Think of the vampire un-lives I could have saved,” he finished, chuckling when she swatted at his chest.

“Very funny, fangface. Speaking of vampires, I guess it’s a little late to do a patrol now…”

As she spoke, her stomach growled and he began to lead her toward the door.

“It is, but we have time to get you something to eat before I have to worry about the sun. Let’s go get you fed, pet.”


Chapter Nine

A meal of pancakes and sausage at an all night diner later, and Spike had talked Buffy into letting him go back to the shelter so that he could talk to Anne and figure out how to move out without leaving her in the lurch for help. He walked her back to the hotel, kissing her at the door in spite of her unsubtle hints that he should come back to the room with her.

“Ah, Slayer. You know if I go back up there with you, I’ll never make it out before dawn. You go get some more sleep, love, and unpack those bags. I’ll be back as soon as the sun goes down.”

Buffy tried her best pout on him, but when it didn’t work, she shrugged and kissed him quickly.

“Okay,” she grumbled. “But you’d better be back here before dinner time or I’m going to come looking for you.”

Another quick kiss and he was gone in a swirl of black leather. As she went into the hotel and headed for the elevators, Buffy tried to smother the jealousy that made her want to follow him back to the home he shared with Anne. She told herself she had no reason not to trust him now that her Spike was back, and reluctantly went to her room as he’d asked.

Instead of sleeping, though, she called Dawn to share the happy news. After suitable squealing and crying, they finished the conversation with Buffy promising to call again as soon as she had some idea when they were coming back to Europe and she hung up smiling. She spent some time picking her spilled luggage off the floor and putting things back in drawers, then decided a nap was the most useful way to spend the morning.


Spike walked into the shelter just as the sun was lightening the horizon, cringing inwardly at the pain he knew he was going to be causing to someone who had never done anything but accept and love him. For a brief moment he compared Anne’s treatment of him the past six months with Buffy’s now-remembered cruelty through their early years and felt a small sliver of doubt slide through his determination.

He slipped into the apartment and moved silently to the bedroom door, watching Anne toss in her troubled sleep. Guilt hit his gut like a hammer as he remembered promising he wouldn’t leave her for Buffy.

But that was before! I didn’t know. She can’t hold me to a promise that I made without having my full memories. She’ll understand. It’s Anne. She loves me and she’ll want me to be happy.

Rather than getting into the bed that now seemed like the last place he should be, he went back into the kitchen and pulled out his remaining blood. He wasn’t really hungry, having taken in small amounts of Buffy’s rich slayer blood during the night, but he thought he ought to use it up before he had to leave.

When the microwave beeped, he heard Anne stir and he carried the cup to the table and sat down to wait for her. His heart ached when she came out of the bedroom, the night’s dried tears still evident on her thin face. She just stood in the doorway, looking at him until he dropped his eyes with a sigh.

“I’m sorry, pet,” he said simply, knowing she’d seen the truth on his face.

She nodded silently and came to sit at the table.

“You got your memories back, huh?” Her voice was flat and uninflected, as though she had left all her emotions on the tear-soaked pillow in the bedroom.

“I did. My demon got them first. He remembered her. Remembered everything about her, including what she means to me.” Anne’s flinch made his chest hurt, but he forced the words out. “Eventually, my brain caught up and I think I’ve pretty much got my whole life back now. I’m truly sorry, love, but—”

“But she means more to you than I do,” she finished for him, standing up and walking over to the sink.

“I’m sorry, Anne,” he repeated helplessly. “I don’t know what else to say.”

“Are you sure?” she demanded. “Have you given this the thought you should? Maybe you just think you love her more because she’s prettier. Maybe it’s a more even contest than you thi—”

Spike gave another sigh and interrupted, “There is no contest, Anne.”

She gasped at the finality of his statement, then grabbed the nearest knife and sliced across her wrist. She turned back to him, the blood flowing freely as she offered her arm to him.

“Will she give you this?” she asked desperately. “I would feed you every day. You would never have to drink pig’s blood again.”

“Bloody hell!” he leapt across the few feet separating them and immediately applied pressure to the deep cut. “You stupid bint!”

Without thinking about how she might take his action, he pulled her arm to his mouth and quickly licked the wound, effectively stopping the flow of blood and closing the gash. He grabbed a clean dishtowel and tore off strips to make a bandage around her wrist before looking up into her hopeful eyes.

“That was a very foolish thing to do, love,” he said gently, leading her to a chair. “You could have bled to death.”

“You wouldn’t let me die,” she said confidently. “You would have turned me if you had to.”

She gazed at him with the confident eyes of a zealot, and he suddenly wondered if the love she’d given him so freely, the love he’d been treasuring, was based as much on his being a vampire as it was on any appreciation of him as a man. The idea of walking away from her suddenly became much less disturbing and he determined to make her understand him.

“No, Anne,” he tipped her chin up to be sure she was seeing the truth in his eyes. “I wouldn’t. I would have grieved, but I would have let you die.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” she said, trying to maintain her confidence. “You’ve tasted me twice now. You won’t be able to walk away.”

He growled and stood up abruptly. “I am walking away, pet. Not right this second – I want to help you here until we get somebody to replace me. But I am not going to be living here with you anymore. And if you pull another stupid trick like that, I’ll…”

He threw up his hands in disgust and headed for the bathroom, growling, “I’m going to get cleaned up and start packing. I’ll be down to help you ‘round lunchtime and we’ll suss out how long I need to stay around.”

Telling herself that her vampire book was right and Spike would not be able to leave her after tasting her blood more than once, Anne confidently got dressed and went down to begin the day by serving breakfast to LA’s poor and homeless.

She paid no more attention than usual to a new arrival; a small, skinny, pale man who got his tray and then sat at a table far away from the door pretending to eat, but really just pushing his food around. She missed the amber flash of his eyes when she passed by with her still oozing wrist soaking through the bandages.

When the meal was over and the other volunteers were cleaning up and giving out chores to those homeless who did not immediately leave to begin panhandling, she went back upstairs to re-wrap her wrist. Spike was in the bedroom, stuffing jeans and tee shirts into a weathered duffle bag he’d picked up at the Salvation Army store, but he paused when he saw her fumbling with her wrist and grudgingly came out to re-bandage it for her.

“There you go, pet,” he said gruffly but not unkindly. “I’ll be down in a few to finish clearing out that basement.”

“You’re really leaving?” Her voice shook with disbelief.

“Told you I was. I can’t live here with you while I’m—”

“While you’re fucking the Slayer,” she finished for him coldly.

Biting back his retort and reminding himself that she had every reason to be hurt and angry, Spike just said mildly, “I was going to say, while I’m in love with another woman.”

With an angry “hmmmph!” she walked out and went back to work supervising the volunteers downstairs. Spike finished packing his few possessions and placed the bag by the door with his duster on top of it, then went down to the basement to finish moving the furniture. He worked until his senses told him the sun was down, then ran back up to the apartment to get his bag and coat.

He saw Anne talking earnestly with one of the homeless men that had spent the day inside the shelter, and he hesitated briefly before approaching her to tell her he was leaving. The man she’d been talking to scuttled out the door at his approach and he frowned, wondering what he’d done to inspire such fear in someone who didn’t even know him.

He shrugged if off and, being careful not to get too close or touch her in any way, he told Anne he was leaving for the night and told her to be sure she locked the apartment door when she went to bed.

“I’ll be back tomorrow, love. I should have that basement finished and ready for you to use by lunchtime.”

“I don’t understand how you can leave me,” she said plaintively, touching the scars on her neck. “You shouldn’t be able to.”

Deciding not to get into another argument about vampires, blood, claiming and other things she didn’t understand nearly as well as she thought she did, he just shrugged and bid her “good-night” as he went out the door, anxious to get back to Buffy.


Chapter Ten

Who was pacing impatiently, her trust in Spike at war with her distrust of the disturbed woman she knew Anne to be. Visions of Spike chained to a wall, kept on a leash like a pet, flitted through her brain and she scolded herself for being a fool. Nevertheless, when she heard the click of the key in the lock, she leapt on him before he was even fully inside, wrapping her legs around his waist and kissing him thoroughly before pulling back to look at his face and confirm that he still remembered her.

His happy grin at her enthusiastic welcome told her it was still her Spike and she relaxed and let herself slide down, blushing slightly.

“I’m sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to attack you. I just was getting worried that—”

“Buffy,” he tipped her chin up to look at his face, “If there is one thing you never have to apologize for it’s being glad to see me. If I have to watch your face light up like that for another hundred years, it won’t be too long.”

He stepped back to take in her appearance, feeling another surge of warmth in his chest when he saw that she was dressed for him. She was wearing a short, tight, black skirt and a red halter top that scooped low in front to show a generous amount of cleavage. Boots with heels and a light jacket completed the look and he whistled admiringly.

“You like?” She preened in front of him, grateful that she had brought along clothes in his favorite colors.

“If I liked any more, you’d be missing your dinner AND your patrol tonight,” he growled, pulling her close to show her the effect it had on him.

She giggled her appreciation and dropped her hand to stroke him through his jeans. When he growled at her, she giggled again and said coyly, “I’m just checking to see if my wardrobe had the desired effect. Now that I know it has, we can go out.”

“Not so fast there, Slayer. You don’t get to start something like that and just walk away from it.”

He grabbed her hand and put it back on his now fully erect cock, moaning appreciatively when she squeezed it gently. His hands slid down to cup her ass and he pulled her against him, growling when she wrapped one leg around his hip to grind their pelvises together. The scent of her arousal perfumed the air, and he lifted her up so that she could wrap her other leg around him. Her skirt was pushed up to her waist, leaving nothing between them but the rapidly dampening denim of his jeans. When Spike realized she wasn’t wearing underwear, his demon burst forth and he slammed Buffy back against the door, growling in a way that went straight to her core.

Her hand slipped between them to lower his zipper and once again their actions mimicked a scene from their past as she lowered herself carefully. Their eyes never lost contact while Buffy began to ride him slowly, staring into the demon’s fierce amber glare. Unafraid, she stared back, seeing the unmistakable devotion that was visible even through the eyes of the beast. She leaned in to him and kissed his mouth, deliberately nicking her tongue on a sharp fang and reveling in the sensations as he greedily sucked on the wound.

The feel of her blood being drawn into his mouth set off shivers all over her body and she was soon clenching around him as she ground her clit into his body. Her rich blood had its usual effect on him, and he quickly joined her in a quick, fierce conclusion to their sudden joining.

They clung together for several minutes, Buffy trying to recover her equilibrium and Spike gasping for unneeded air. Buffy finally unwrapped her legs and let them drop to the floor, knowing instinctively that he would support her weight with his arms.

“I guess that’s what’s known as a ‘quickie’,” she mumbled against his shirt. She felt the rumble of laughter in his chest and smiled to herself, trying to remember if she’d ever heard him laugh after sex. She was suddenly seized with emotion as she realized that she was actually being held by the vampire she’d thought was dead twice over. She began to tremble and tears leaked from her eyes as she clutched his biceps tightly.

“What’s this all about now, love?” his soft, concerned voice telling her he was once again wearing the face of the man who loved her. “It wasn’t all that bad, was it?” he joked, trying to get her to lift her head so he could see what was wrong.

“It wasn’t bad,” she sniffled. “It’s just that it was…you’re really here. You’re alive and I’m touching you and I never thought—”

“And you’re not a bloody wet dream,” he agreed, immediately understanding her. “You’re Buffy and you love me and I’m not sure whether to believe it or not. Afraid I’m going to wake up and find out I’ve been unconscious for three days and dreamed the whole bloody thing, yeah?”

She nodded against his chest, rubbing her face on him like a cat marking its owner. “I thought you were gone forever,” she said softly. “That I’d let you die for me, thinking I was lying to you because I waited too long to say it.”

Buffy raised her head and looked at him with watery eyes. “I was so proud of you, I didn’t even cry at first. Every time somebody would try to say something about missing you I would go, ‘Hey! He died to save the world. My Spike saved the world. He’s a hero.’ Then, people stopped talking about you and I started to really miss you. I used to sleep all the time because when I was asleep I could pretend you were still here. I could dream about…”

She shook her head and with one of her abrupt changes in mood, she glared at him. “And all that time I was grieving, you were living it up in LA with Angel. I should send you to hell with him for doing that to me.”

“There is no way to tell you how sorry I am for that, pet. I just…I listened to the big poof when he said you’d moved on and I should let you go on and have your nice normal life. That you’d earned it. And he was right. You have earned it. You deserve better. Children, sunshine, no slaying unless you need a spot of violence—”

“That was his stupid idea of what I wanted. Not mine! I wanted you. And I thought I’d never see you again, never kiss you, never see you looking at me like I was something precious…”

“Isn’t that how the Immortal looks at you?” He growled, determined to defend himself against the guilt flaring up again. “Seems to me you were coping pretty we—”

“The Immortal? What the hell does a couple weeks of pretending to be interested in his slimy self so I could figure out how to kill him have to do with grieving for you? You don’t seriously think I…You do! You think I was…is that why you didn’t call me? You really thought I had forgotten you that quickly?”

Her eyes teared up again and he mentally kicked himself for believing the information from Wollfram and Hart’s informants and Andrew’s off hand “she’s moved on”.

“I’m a bloody coward and an absolute wanker.” He let go of her and hung his head. “I just never thought—”

“You didn’t think I really loved you,” she said dully. “You didn’t come because you thought I didn’t really want you.”

He sighed and rested his chin on her head. “Not quite that simple, pet. I knew you cared. Couldn’t have missed it, the things you did for me that last year. Getting me off the Hellmouth, not staking me when I was killin’, saving me from the First, getting m’chip out. But you’d have done the same for anybody you cared about – any one of the Scoobies. Didn’t have to mean you loved me. Not the way I wanted you to.

“But you’d said it, you know? You said those words when you thought I was dying and I didn’t want to put you on the spot. Didn’t want you to be with me because you thought you owed me or because you didn’t want to take them back. I was just afraid, love. I’m truly sorry. Can you forgive me?”

“If you promise never to leave me again,” she muttered as she straightened her skirt out, futilely trying to push out the wrinkles they’d just put in it.

“Never,” he whispered, brushing his lips over her face. “I’m your shadow for the rest of your life.”

“’K, then. You’re forgiven. For that. But look what you did to my skirt!”

“If you think I’m letting you go out in that skirt and no knickers…”

Buffy giggled at his sudden shift from begging for forgiveness to possessive growling, flipping her hand at him as she rummaged around in a drawer for some pants. When she pulled out underwear to go with them, he stopped her with a, “Don’t get carried away there, pet. Just don’t want the goodies to be visible – doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be accessible.” He gave her his best leer, curling his tongue up behind his teeth in a reminder of how agile and strong it was.

After a nice dinner in a small restaurant where the owner seemed to know and like Spike, they wandered hand-in-hand through the darkened streets, confident that they were unlikely to meet anything capable of harming a master vampire and a powerful slayer. They found themselves wandering toward the cemetery where Buffy had found vampires or demons every night so far and she was reminded of the demon of the other night.

“You know what I just remembered?” she said, swinging his hand like they were strolling in the sunshine or at the mall, rather than entering a dark graveyard.

“What’s that, pet?”

“When Giles got turned into a Fyral demon, Ethan said they could only be killed with something silver, and we just used a stake and fangs on that one the other night. Do you think he wasn’t really dead?”

“Dunno, don’t care,” he said carelessly. “If he could get up and run away with a stake in his heart and half his throat ripped out, more power to him. I remember ripping the head off one once. He didn’t get up and go anywhere, I can tell you.”

As they strolled around the cemetery, not finding anything evil to slay, Buffy shivered slightly in the night air and he quickly pulled off his duster to wrap it around her shoulders.

“Here you go, pet. Not like I need it to stay warm. Got you for that, don’t I?”

She gave him a grateful smile and slipped her arms into the sleeves and her hands into the pockets. In addition to Spike’s cigarettes, her fingers encountered what felt like a dried twig. She pulled it out to squint at it in the dim light, wondering why Spike was carrying a piece of plant around with him. There was something very familiar about the small piece of dried up leaves and flowers and she frowned, asking him, “What are you doing with this in your pocket?”

“Oh, that.? I dunno. Found it there when I put my coat back on after Anne took me in and started taking care of me. Thought it might mean something to me if I could remember, and it gives me something to play with when I have my hands in my pockets, so I just left it there. Why?”

“Doesn’t it look familiar to you?”

He shrugged and shifted into vamp face, the better to see it in the poor light.

“Looks a bit like some of those weeds the wiccas used to use when they were….” His voice trailed off as he began to recognize the sprig for what it was.

While Spike indulged in some truly creative swearing, most of which Buffy didn’t even understand, she took the sprig of herb back from him and murmured almost to herself, “Lethe’s Bramble. It’s used in forgetting spells.”

When he stopped swearing and began to stride off down the street, she hastened to catch up.

“Don’t follow me, pet. This isn’t going to be pretty,” he growled, as he headed for the homeless shelter and his ex girlfriend.

“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I don’t plan to follow you. I’m going to get there first so I can kill that vampire stealing bitch!”

Buffy took off at a dead run, Spike hot on her heels as they flew past startled pedestrians so fast the people weren’t sure they’d actually seen anybody. Buffy’s slayer was fully in charge as she headed for the large building with blood in her eye. It briefly occurred to Spike that the slayer who wouldn’t kill humans was Anne’s best shot at surviving the night, as he was pretty sure Buffy, the angry girlfriend, had every intention of strangling her.


Chapter Eleven

Buffy burst in the door of the shelter, heedless of the startled looks from the few men left who had not found a bed for the night.

“Where is she?” she snarled at the closest one. Eyes wide in terror at the expression on the face of the petite girl in front of him, he pointed silently toward the basement stairs and moved quickly out the door. When an equally angry-looking Spike appeared right behind her, everyone left in the room headed for the open door; confident their chances of living through the night would be better outside than in the suddenly less-safe appearing sanctuary.

As Buffy reached the stairs, Spike caught up with her and grabbed her arm.

“Slayer. Buffy. Let me do this, love. I’m the injured party here.”

She stood rigidly, trembling with anger, then relaxed and let out a deep breath.

“All right. You can do it. But I’m coming down there with you. Who knows what she’ll try next.”

Rolling his eyes at the idea that Anne had anything else left, he stepped in front of Buffy and jumped quickly to the bottom of the stairs. His sudden arrival on the basement floor brought a startled shriek from a woman he’d never seen before. It took a few seconds before it registered that in spite of her obvious fear of him, the only heartbeats he could hear in the room were Anne’s and Buffy’s.

Amber eyes flashed at him from the only other man in the room, and he felt his demon respond to the threat. Although there was no mistaking the pallor of the three thin women with him, they made no attempt to vamp out, but huddled together in fear behind the skinny demon. Anne was still holding the linens she’d been about to hand to them when she saw Spike’s face. She froze, bedding in hand, and began to back away from her ex lover and the clearly angry woman behind him.

“Slayer…” he said calmly knowing she would understand him.

“I’m on it.” She stepped to his side, stake in hand. A little voice inside her whispered, “Let them have her. Then you’ll have a good excuse to slay her.” and she said with some reluctance, “Step away from them, Anne. You know what they are.”


“I know they’re homeless. They need a place to live, just like anybody else.”

“You’re going to let them set up a lair in your basement?” Buffy’s voice went up an octave. “What are you planning to do, serve them any clients that give you a hard time?”

“W…we don’t kill people,” one of the women whispered. “We…I don’t bite anybody unless they want me to.”

Spike and Buffy took another look at the three heavily made up and scantily clad women. While Spike sneered and muttered, “Bloody hell, Anne,” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh, even better, you’re setting up a vamp whorehouse.”

“You don’t need to be so high and mighty,” the male vamp sniffed, feeling braver now that no one was dust yet. “Living here was good enough for your boyfriend until you came back.”

Barely maintaining control over his demon, Spike snarled, “And you would be what – their pimp?”

“He takes care of them,” Anne said bravely, stepping between Spike and the growling vamp. “If I let them live here, he’ll take your place working here when you leave.”

While Spike was struck speechless, Buffy gestured to the three cowering female vampires and hissed, “Get out of here. Now, before I change my mind.”

She stepped further into the room so that they could skitter past her and up the stairs, resisting the urge to hurl her stake into someone’s back as they went by. Meanwhile, Spike was stalking toward his former lover and the vampire hiding behind her.

“It was never about me, was it?” he growled. “It was all about having a vampire. Is that why you did this?” He pulled the Lethe’s Bramble from his pocket and waved it in her shocked face. “So you could have your own pet vampire?”

He slipped out of vamp face and allowed the hurt to show through the anger as he said, “You never loved me, did you? You couldn’t have done that to me if you did.”

“I did love you! I loved you before you ever came to live here,” she insisted with a sob. “I still do! But you never looked at me. You would have left LA after the battle if you’d remembered who you were. You would have left me to find Buffy. Just like you’re leaving me now. You’re leaving with her.” She pointed to a still angry slayer. “In spite of everything, you’re going back to her and—”

“Everything? What everything?” Buffy narrowed her eyes.

“Nothing, love. I don’t know what she’s talking about.”

“Oh yes, you do.” Anne’s voice trembled. “If you’ve got all your memories back, then you know how she sent all those slayers to get the crazy one that cut off your hands. Where was she then, huh? She couldn’t even be bothered to come when you were hurt. You know that when Fred got sick the council refused to help. They let her die. And when you and Angel took on all those demons and dragons, where was your precious slayer then? Where was the help? You would have died if I hadn’t found you and pulled you in out of the sun. She didn’t care.”

“She didn’t know,” Buffy said in a deadly tone. “There was good reason not to trust Angel with an insane slayer, especially after he took over Wolfram and Hart. And what does she mean, Dana cut off your hands?”

Anne continued as though Buffy hadn’t spoken. “What about Fred? Gunn told me, Angel called and asked for help finding out what was killing her and your watcher turned him down. Told him to deal with it himself.”

Buffy looked at Spike for confirmation and when he nodded she shut her eyes briefly. “I’m sorry about Fred. I didn’t know. Giles handles the council business. He never told me Angel called.”

“Nice to know the wanker is still his compassionate self,” Spike muttered.

“Spike, we thought Angel might have turned evil again. We were afraid to trust him. I…I told Giles not to trust him. I’m sorry.”

“You see!” Anne’s high-pitched voice interrupted their muted conversation. “She didn’t trust anybody. She didn’t trust you.”

Slayer and vampire stared into each other’s eyes, ignoring the other two people in the room.

“I would have trusted you,” she said softly. “If I’d known, I would have trusted you.”

“It’s alright, pet,” he said with a sigh. “We didn’t trust him ourselves for a while there. No reason why you should have.”

They stepped closer to each other and Buffy asked softly, “Do you think we’ll ever get to a place where we aren’t apologizing to each other for something?”

“I hope not,” he grinned lasciviously. “The more fights we have, the more often we get to make up.”

While Anne glared at the flirting pair, the other vampire tried to use their focus on each other to sneak up the stairs. He eased around Anne and edged along the wall, moving swiftly and silently until Spike’s hand shot out and grabbed him around the neck.

Never taking his eyes off Buffy’s, he asked, “What do you want to do with this wanker, love?”

She glanced at the frightened, snarling demon Spike was holding and said, “You know if we leave him here, she’s going to take him in sooner or later.”

Spike looked from the scrawny vampire to the woman he’d thought loved him for who he was and shrugged.

“She deserves what she gets,” he said, dropping the vamp to the floor.

“I won’t hurt her,” he snarled, rubbing his neck. “I know how to appreciate what I have.”

“So do I,” Spike said, pulling Buffy closer. “And I’ve got the real thing. A woman who loves all of me, not just the demon inside.”

With one last look of contempt at the woman he’d thought was in love with him and at the pathetic vampire cowering against the wall, he took Buffy’s hand and started up the stairs. He stopped when he felt Buffy halt behind him and turned to see her staring at Anne and the vamp with the cold eyes of a killer.

She waited until Anne met her gaze; then said clearly and distinctly, “I slay vampires, Lily. You and your new friend there need to remember that. If he turns you, I’ll be back…for both of you.”

Anne lifted her chin defiantly and glared back. She fingered the fading scars on her neck and said stubbornly, “He’ll be back for me. He won’t be able to stay away from my blood.”

“Nice try,” Buffy sneered, “but I know that’s not a claim.” She tilted her head and pushed her golden waves to one side. “This is a claim,” she sniffed, turning her back on the other woman’s stricken face and triumphantly following Spike the rest of the way up the stairs.

They were silent until they’d walked most of the way toward the hotel, Buffy still seething and Spike trying to reconcile the pain of finding out it wasn’t the man that Anne had loved with the joy of hearing Buffy announce that she belonged to him. Their only conversation consisted of Buffy’s remark that she would ask the LA slayers to keep an eye on the shelter and its manager and do whatever needed to be done.

Spike nodded silently and pondered the changes that had taken place through the years. The slayer he’d first met in Sunnydale saw the whole world in black and white. Vampires – bad, slay; humans – good, protect. This new, mature slayer was able to see the shades of gray that surrounded them and always had. He wondered when she had started seeing things that way and how much their twisted relationship might have had to do with it.

Without discussion, they entered the hotel and went directly to her room. While Buffy went into the bathroom briefly, Spike called room service and ordered a bottle of iced champagne sent up. She looked at him curiously when he hung up the phone, but didn’t ask what he’d been doing. Instead she sat down and took off her boots, then started to remove her haltertop.

“Best leave that on for a few, love,” Spike said, stoking her arm appreciatively and nuzzling the low neckline.

Her lip came out in a pout when the knock on the door interrupted his tongue’s exploration of her bare chest. Laughing gently, Spike gave one last lick to her exposed nipple, and tugged the top back up before he walked to the door. He quickly took the icer and champagne from the waiter, handing over the tip he already had in his hand and closing the door on his face before the man could respond.

He set the bottle and bucket next to the bed; then turned to look at the puzzled slayer.

“I thought we might get thirsty…later,” he offered as an explanation.

“So you got champagne?”

“Well,” he said, nibbling on his marks on her neck and smiling when she shivered all over, “I also thought we might want to have a toast at some point and—”

Her lips on his effectively stopped his explanation and he willingly let her push him backwards until he fell onto the bed. He pulled his arms around her lower back and held her hips against his as she continued the kiss until she had to stop for air. While she panted against his neck, he slowly unzipped her pants, sliding an appreciative hand over her smooth bare ass as he pushed them down. With a moan, she slid off to the side and lay bonelessly while he slowly removed the only two pieces of clothing she’d worn that night.

When she was naked and spread shamelessly before him, Spike stopped to soak in the sight and revel in the lust and love glazing her eyes. Without bothering to remove his own clothes, he began to worship her body with his lips and tongue, beginning at her hairline and trailing wet, open-mouthed kisses down her jaw, across her throat, and onto her collarbone. He paused at each rosy nipple to suck and lick on it until they were both standing up into little hard peaks and Buffy was pushing them toward his mouth with small mews of contentment.

While his mouth was busy at her breasts, his hand was stroking down her sunkissed skin until he found the neatly trimmed hairs at the bottom of her abdomen. He ran his cool fingers all around the area that she was soon arching up at him, stroking the insides of her thighs, lightly walking them across the skin of her stomach and smiling when he saw the muscles clench in anticipation. He dipped one finger into the moisture pooling between her legs and spread it up her cleft to coat it in her juices. He did that several more times, smiling at the way she gasped each time he reached her needy clit. Then he brought his finger to his mouth and sucked off the wetness there.

Her moaned, “Spiiiiiiike….” And the way she spread her legs even more for him put an end to his teasing and he buried his face in her, lapping up the moisture he’d help spread and worrying her clit lightly with his blunt teeth. He sucked it into his mouth, pulling on it with the strength of a creature that drinks its meals from the veins of live, unwilling hosts, until he felt her begin to tremble around him and gasp his name.

He held on to her while she bucked and moaned until she fell back with a final shudder. Then he released his hold on her hips and stood up to remove his own clothes. Stripping quickly, he joined her on the bed, pressing his erection into her hip and nuzzling at her throat.

“I want you, Buffy,” he breathed into her neck. “Want to make you mine forever.”

“All of you wants me?” she managed to whisper, still shaking from the orgasm he’d created.

“All of me. My body craves your touch, my demon wants to possess you, and the poncy poet inside wants to write sonnets to you until you run screaming from the room.”

“I don’t want all those people mad at me,” she smiled into the curls tickling her face. “So I guess we’d better give them what they want, huh?”

“Only if you want it too, sweetheart,” he said, suddenly serious. “This is going to be for as long as we live. You’ll be mine. Even if we’re not together, the connection will still be there. Need you to be sure, love.”

Instead of answering him, she asked, “And you’ll be mine, right?”

“I’ve always been yours, my love. I always will be.”

“Then I will always be yours,” she murmured.

“That works out nicely, then,” he purred happily, covering her body with his and sliding into her waiting warmth. He rocked his hips gently at first, still getting used to being back in the place he wanted to stay until he dusted. It wasn’t long before the tightness and heat in which he had buried his cock was making slow and gentle a thing of the past and he began to pound into her harder, causing Buffy to grab the side of the mattress to prevent being smashed into the headboard.

She let go long enough to flip them over, leaving her riding his hips, pushing down onto him as hard as she could while he continued to drive up into her. Her nails dug bloody furrows on his chest as she clenched around him and she leaned forward, licking the blood that trickled from them.

“Mine,” she growled against his chest, feeling her orgasm building and knowing what was coming. She stretched out along his body, hips never stopping, and presented her neck to his true face. Spike’s surprise at hearing her make a claim first quickly evaporated in the face of the succulent blood pulsing scant centimeters from his fangs.

“Yours,” he gasped before sinking his canines into the marks he’d already put on her soft throat. When he began pulling deep draughts of her blood, she screamed in ecstasy as she was caught in spiraling waves of pain/pleasure. His own release continued for so long he thought he was going to lose consciousness from the sensations flowing between them.

Somewhere in the part of his brain that wasn’t completely lost in pain and pleasure he realized that he was pulling too much from the willing woman in his arms, and he tore his mouth away with a guttural “Mine.”

“Yours,” she whispered before passing out. “Yours forever.”

It was several exhausted minutes before it occurred to Spike that Buffy wasn’t moving and he felt his heart freeze when he couldn’t hear hers beating any more. An anguished scream was already working its way out of his throat when he felt, more than heard, a faint thump against his chest. Clutching her to him and praying to a god he wasn’t sure he believed in, he held as still as only a dead man can, waiting to feel another thump.

When he felt and heard the slightly stronger thud, he felt his eyes flood with tears and he began to shake. By the time Buffy’s heartbeat was steady, if slow, he had moved her off to one side and was trying to force some champagne through her pale lips. When her eyes fluttered open and she was able to rasp, “Ok, so that was a claim. My mistake,” he collapsed onto her stomach sobbing with relief and regret.

“Not exactly feeling the happiness here,” she whispered, lifting one weak hand to pet his head. “What’s the matter? Are you sorry you did it?” A trace of uncertainty slipped into her attempt at cheering him up, and at the sound of her fear he sobbed harder.

“Spike?” Real concern was now present and she struggled weakly to push him off so she could sit up and look at him. Forcing himself to gain control, he rolled off of her, still clinging to her body, but swallowing his sobs until he was able to answer.

“I almost killed you,” he gasped out. “I almost let the demon drain you with the claim.”

“Kinda woulda defeated the purpose, wouldn’t it?” she asked, sounding slightly stronger as her slayer healing kicked. “Claim me for the rest of my life and then kill me off? Not too smart.”

“You don’t understand, pet. I want you forever. If you’d died the demon would have wanted to turn you. Make you immortal, like me.”

“Would you have done that?” her voice shook as she finally understood why he was so upset.

He shook his head vigorously. “No, love. I wouldn’t do that to you. Know you wouldn’t want it. I’d have let you go to the peace you deserve. And then I would have walked out to meet tomorrow’s sunrise. God, I am such a bloody fuck-up!”

There was silence for minutes as they were lost in their own thoughts. Through the claim, Spike could feel Buffy’s confusion and compassion. He could also feel the love that still emanated from her. He felt no righteous anger, no fear, just a calm acceptance of what had happened.

Buffy could feel his intense pain at his actions, the fear of losing her that still lingered, and over all of it the abiding love that he’d held for her in the face of years of rejection, abuse and abandonment. She could feel the love washing over her, soothing the pain of the bites and surrounding her with warmth and a fierce desire to protect her from harm.

“Hey,” she said softly, “buy a girl a drink?” She waved a hand at the glass of champagne he’d set down when she awoke and he scrambled to raise it to her lips watching eagerly as she sipped slowly.

“As soon as I know you’re going to be alright, I’ll go get you some orange juice,” he said apologetically.

“Orange juice, grape juice, same thing,” she said, taking bigger sips as she began to feel stronger. “This will do me.”

She sat up and began to drink it in earnest, switching glasses when the one she was drinking from was empty. She drained the other glass and looked at him expectantly.

“More, please,” she said imperiously, holding out her glass.

“You’re going to get snockered, pet,” he said with a tentative smile.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” she said cheerfully, waving her re-filled glass around. “You’ve gotten me drunk before.”

“I was trying to get you into bed then. Now I want to get you out of it.” At her disbelieving look, he amended, ”Well, maybe not out of it, but at least strong enough to get out of it should there be a reason to.”

“I think I need to replace my fluids,” she said primly. “And you should be helping me do it since you took them away.”

Spike sighed and reached for his pants. “I’m going to get you some orange juice and water. You just wait here and rest.”

As he watched her toss down another glass of the rapidly disappearing champagne, he grimaced. Crossing to the bathroom, he filled the glass in there with water and brought it to her, saying, “Try to stay sober until I get back, please pet?”

“Fine, Mr. Party Pooper,” she grumbled, replacing the champagne flute with the bathroom water glass. “But you better be quick.”

“Back in a flash, love.” He dropped a kiss on her head and looked into her eyes. “Do you have any idea how much I love you?” he mused almost to himself.

“Almost as much as I love you,” she offered softly watching him walk out the door.

While he was gone, Buffy drained the water glass and, feeling much better, got up to wander around the room. She decided to blame her dizziness on the blood loss rather than the champagne and poured herself another glass when she passed near the bottle.

“Shhhh,” she said to her reflection in the mirror. “Don’t tell Shpike. He’s a worry-wart. Thinks I can’t hold my likker, but I’ll show him…”

She held the glass up to the girl in the mirror and offered a toast. “To Buffy and Shpike. They’re claimed. Mates forever. I wonder what forever feels like?” she mumbled as she drained the glass.

Staggering back over to the bed, she poured some more champagne into two glasses, spilling only a small amount of it on the nightstand. “Go, slayer coordination,” she giggled, swiping at it with her discarded top. Which caused her to notice her lack of clothing. She was frowning down at herself as Spike came back through the door carrying a sixpack of water and a half-gallon carton of orange juice.

“Did you know I was naked?” she demanded, kneeling up on the bed to glare at him.

“I did notice that, pet,” he answered, staring suspiciously at the two filled champagne flutes. “Been replacing those fluids again, have you?” he said, with a smile.

“You told me to,” she said self-righteously. “I was just obeying my mate.”

“Good thing to do,” he grinned, shedding his clothes quickly. “Think you might be able to make it a habit?”

“Nope!” she said, poking him with her finger. “I jus’ did it caush I wanted ‘nother drink.”

“Have I mentioned how adorable you are when you’re drunk?”

“Even when I throw up on your boots?” she asked meekly, indicating that she might not be quite as drunk as she seemed.

“Even then,” he agreed, sitting back against the headboard and pulling her back against his chest. As it always was around her, his cock was hard enough to be nudging against her back, but he was content for the moment to ignore it and just enjoy the warm body leaning against him. He tilted his head and looked at the angry-looking marks on her throat. Lowering his mouth to her neck he gently laved the fang-shaped punctures, smiling at Buffy’s contented sighs as he did so.

“We need to make our toast,” she said finally, turning her head so that he could kiss her.

“All right, love. Hand me one of those glasses, won’t you?”

Buffy turned around to face him, sitting on his lap and wrapping her legs around his hips as she clinked her glass against his. His now fully erect cock was sticking up between them, making Buffy smile.

“Is that thing ever asleep?” she giggled, dribbling champagne onto it and bending with slayer flexibility to lick if off. Spike groaned as her warm tongue moved over the tip and made him even harder.

“Not when you’re around, it isn’t,” he growled, lifting her hips up until she was poised over him. “Why don’t we just put it away where you don’t have to look at it, yeah?” He lowered her until he was fully sheathed inside her and her warm ass was pressing against his balls.

“Mmmmmmmm, good place for it,” she agreed, wriggling slightly and sighing with pleasure.

“Now then, where were we, pet?” he asked, picking his glass back up.

“We were toasting Spike and Buffy cause they’re…claimed? Mated? Married? What are we?”

“We’re us, love. We’re together in a way that very few couples, human or vampire, can ever be. It doesn’t matter what we call it, we’re just us. Buffy and Spike.”

“To us,” she whispered, touching her glass against his gently.

“To us,” he agreed, for the first time in his life feeling as though he truly belonged to someone completely.

Never taking their eyes off each other, they drank deeply from the brimming flutes. When the glasses were empty, eyes that sparkled with mischief met equally delighted blue ones, and they turned as one to hurl the glasses against the far wall. Slayer and vampire strength left no doubt as to the fate of the unfortunate flutes as they shattered into thousands of tiny sharp shards.

Spike looked back at his mate, fully prepared to finish the celebration in the most appropriate way, only find her eyes drifting shut as she slowly slumped forward to begin to snore on his chest.

“I guess the honeymoon’s over,” he grumbled with a smile as he slid down on the bed so that she was lying on top of him, his cock still safely inside her warm depths. With a happy sigh, he turned off the nearby lamp and settled down to protect his mate as she slept in his arms.

The end