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Chapter Four Do I Know You?

In spite of what they now knew about both their TA and the teacher, Willow and Buffy felt they needed to attend class; if for no other reason than to keep an eye on their professor and her mysterious military connections. Buffy gave Riley a wan smile and half-hearted wave when he greeted her, reminding herself that it wasn’t fair to hold it against him that he hadn’t told her what he was when she hadn’t exactly volunteered the information that she was the Slayer.

She studied Professor Walsh with new eyes, taking in the cold expression and brisk commanding attitude. A woman who had once seemed like just a particularly intimidating teacher now came across as something much more sinister. The little bits of information that Spike had reluctantly shared with them about the tests being done on the vampires and demons in the lab had been enough to make Willow, and even the less tender-hearted Buffy and Giles, shudder. Buffy made a silent vow that she would stake Spike herself before she allowed him to go back into those labs.

They managed to get almost all the way out of the big room without having to talk to Riley, although Buffy could feel Dr. Walsh’s eyes burning a hole in her back the whole way from their seats to the door.

“Is she staring at me?” she hissed to Willow.

“Um... yep. She is. Oops! Now she’s staring at me. Eep!”

While Willow scuttled out the door away from the perceptive eyes of their professor, Buffy turned around and returned Dr. Walsh’s hard stare with one of her own. She made no attempt to appear to be your average intimidated freshman, putting the full force of a slayer’s confidence into her gaze. The staring contest might have gone on until the next class had Riley not taken advantage of Buffy’s immobility to step up and distract her.

“Buffy! There you are. I thought for a minute that you might be avoiding me.” His grin was open and genuine, causing Buffy to lose her slayer glare and replace it with an uncomfortable smile.

“Heh! Wouldn’t that be silly?” she said, moving out of the doorway and into the broad hall where Willow waited for her. “Why would I want to avoid you?”

“Well, I thought you might have gotten ‘engaged’ again,” he said, watching her carefully for any sign that he might have hit on something he should know.

“No. Of course not. I told you, Riley. That was just a silly joke. Not a very good one, I guess, but your expression when you caught me looking at those wedding dresses was too tempting. It was either tell you I was picking out a dress for our wedding and watch you panic, or tell you that I was marrying someone else. Either way....”

“Either way you were playing me. Got it.” His smile was a little strained, but he put an arm around her and squeezed lightly. “I really do have a sense of humor. I promise. Although, maybe it’s not quite as... off beat... as yours seems to be.”

Without answering except to give him another “heh” and an insincere smile, Buffy waved at Willow and hurried after her, leaving Riley to ponder the mystery that was Buffy Summers. He turned to leave and bumped into Maggie Walsh.

“How well do you know that girl?” she demanded without explanation.

“We... well, we’re dating... I think. I guess. She’s a bit... different, but—”

“I want to meet her. In a non-academic situation.”

Riley blinked bewildered eyes. “Well, yes, sure, Mag—Professer Walsh. But why?”

She narrowed her eyes at him, ignoring his question in favor of demanding, “And ask her what it’s like to be ‘the Slayer’.” Without further comment, she turned and walked away, leaving him staring between her retreating back and the direction in which Buffy and Willow had gone.

 

After their afternoon classes and a quick meal in the school’s cafeteria, Buffy and Willow walked toward Giles’ apartment complex, licking ice cream cones as they strolled through the darkening streets. The sun had just gone completely down when Buffy felt familiar tingles on the back of her neck. She pulled out her stake, then relaxed as she identified the source.

“Vamps?” Willow asked, eyeing the stake now dangling from Buffy’s hand.

“Just one,” she replied with a sigh. “And here he comes.”

“That for me, pet?” Spike asked, nudging the arm holding the stake as he fell into step beside her.

“Maybe,” she said. “You almost made me drop my ice cream.”

Before she could flinch away, Spike leaned down to take a big bite from her cone, grinning at her indignant “Hey!” and dancing out of reach. His tongue came out to lick the ice cream off his lips with slow purpose and more obviously than necessary. Buffy retaliated by darting her own pink tongue out to lick delicately at the gap he’d left in her dessert. She ran her tongue over the entire remaining ice cream, making soft murmurs of pleasure at each small mouthful that she pulled between her lips.

Willow blinked at them, not sure she was seeing what she seemed to be seeing.

“Uh, guys? Buffy? Spike? What are you doing?”

Buffy blushed from head to toe, and attacked her cone with much less tongue and way more swallowing ice cream in quantities that prevented her from answering. Spike just shrugged and winked at Willow.

“We’re just playing, Red. Nothing for you to get upset about. And anyway, you’re the one who made us fall in love, aren’t you? Can’t blame us if it’s taking a while for all that pent up lust to wear off.”

“There was lust?” Willow squeaked. “Pent up lust?”

“Not like it could be anything else with the Watcher and all in the room, is there? Course it was pent up. What else were we going to do with it?”

“Buffy?”

Having run out of ice cream, Buffy had no choice but to try to reply.

“Um...what he said, I guess. I mean, we were pretty hot and heavy for a while there...”

“That was four days ago!”

Buffy and Spike exchanged looks, reaching mutual agreement that there was no reason to tell Willow about the previous night’s events. There was silence while they crossed the parking lot to Giles’ front door, broken finally when they arrived there.

“Was a right powerful spell then, wasn’t it?” Spike said as he held open the door for them. “That must be the explanation.”

“Explanation for what?” Xander asked, peering suspiciously between the two girls and the vampire.

“Nothing,” Buffy said quickly, giving Willow a pleading look.

“Right. Nothing. Lots of nothing. No things here. Nothing at all...and I’m shutting up now.”

Xander stared at the two embarrassed girls and the smirking vampire before turning to Giles who was just entering the room.

“Why is he here again?”

“A better question might be ‘why wasn’t he here last night?’,” Giles said dryly. “And why didn’t you report back to me, Buffy? Was there any trouble?”

“Not really,” she said with a shrug. “We did learn some stuff, though. Turns out Spike’s bat ears come in pretty handy.”

Xander’s snicker brought a glare and small growl from the vampire before he moved closer to Buffy to add his comments to hers as she filled Giles in on the armed guards, the sensors they’d tripped and the machinery Spike had heard running inside the building.

“It was a lift, you say?” Giles asked, directing his comments to Spike who he correctly identified as the one with the most information.

Between Spike’s attempts to help during the spell, and his rather obviously changed attitude toward Buffy since then, Giles was beginning to perceive the vampire in a quite different way. It was becoming clear that there was much more to the former member of the Scourge of Europe than the bad boy image he preferred to present to the world.

“Sounded like. I know where they were keeping me was well underground. Not just a basement, either. Something deep. I could feel it. Took me a long time to make my way out of there, and I was climbing almost the whole time.”

“I wish you had shared this with us straight away,” Giles muttered.

“Why? Were you going to send the Slayer out to dig around until she hit something hard? Didn’t seem that important at the time.”

Spike shrugged and walked to the kitchen, pulling an old bag of pig blood from the back of the fridge.

“Hey, Watcher. This is the last bag. Need to stock up.”

“I was not aware that I had taken you in to raise,” Giles said stiffly.

“Well, weren’t you just complaining that I didn’t come home last night, Dad?” Spike grinned and deliberately used one of Giles’ best mugs to warm his blood in the microwave. He waited until it looked like Giles was getting angry enough to physically throw him out before continuing. “Not to worry, Watcher. Found myself a nice little crypt with a view last night. Soon’s I get it furnished, I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Can’t be soon enough,” Giles muttered, stepping into the kitchen and getting out a glass for himself. He took the Scotch bottle off the shelf and poured himself a stiff drink, sighing when Spike held out his mug of warm blood and looked at him expectantly. He poured a small amount of his remaining Scotch into the mug, then closed the bottle and set it back. The two Brits sipped their drinks in surprisingly companionable silence for a few minutes, watching the young people in the other room. Buffy and Willow were bent over the laptop, their expressions alternately shocked and angry. Xander and Anya were whispering to each other on the couch.

“You know,” Spike said, his voice casual, “Anyanka’s been responsible for a lot more deaths than I have. And yet, there she is, one of the gang.”

Giles slid his eyes to the side.

“You want to be ‘one of the gang’?” he asked, his eyebrows going almost up to his hairline.

“What? No! Not on a.... No. I’m just saying.... Forget it.”

He turned around and rinsed his cup out in the sink, setting it carefully upside down to drain on a handy towel. Giles watched him, his eyes quietly studying this totally unexpected version of William the Bloody.

“It’s forgotten,” he finally said as Spike went to walk past him. “You know it’ll never happen. They’ll never trust another vampire. Not after....” He paused, unable to bring himself to talk about the things Angelus had done.

“I’m not him, Watcher,” Spike said with a soft growl. Then he sighed. “But I expect you’re right. That git’s shadow will hang over everything I do.”

He walked out to the living room and draped himself over the chair in which he and Buffy had spent so much time just a few days ago. Her eyes flickered to him, then quickly away when he sprawled out, one leg over the arm, the other stretched out in front of him. She missed the sad smile that twitched his lips when she looked away from him so resolutely, but she found herself acutely aware of his presence just behind her.

Willow was filling Xander and Anya, and Giles who had now joined them, in on what she and Buffy had seen of the Initiative’s activities. Willow had managed to access Professor Walsh’s files listing the experiments that had been done on various demons and vampires, along with the usually fatal results. It was obvious that Spike had been very lucky to get out with nothing worse than a scar on his head and an inability to kill.

“I think the only thing we can do is just be out there every night until we can catch these guys in action.”

“And by we, Buff, you mean you, right?”

“Well, me and Spike,” she said, pointing over her shoulder.
“So, Deadboy Jr is going to be the bait, huh?”

“Oh,” Buffy turned around to stare at Spike. “I wasn’t really thinking about it that way. I guess it’s not such a good idea, is it?”

Spike just waited stoically for her to explain what she had meant.
“Why not? Sounds like a plan to me. They want their escapee back, you want to see them in action...” Xander seemed genuinely puzzled.

“Well, what if they try to capture him again?”

“Let them have him. It’s only Spike.” Xander shrugged in Spike’s direction. “No offense.”

“They can’t have him back,” Buffy said. “I’ll stake him before I let him go back to that place.”

Spike sat up a little straighter and cleared his throat. “As much as I appreciate what I hope is the thought there, pet, I’m not really enthused about your plan of how best to keep me out of their hands.”

“I just meant... never mind. I guess you’d better stay here. I’ll go by myself.”

“They could be gunning for you now, too,” he objected, leaning forward for emphasis. Her glare reminded him of how she’d reacted to his warning the night before and he backed off with a shrug. “I’m just saying – the dozy bitch with the notebooks knows what you are. No reason to think she’s keeping it a secret.”

“Well, if you can’t go out at night, and I can’t go out at night, who the hell is going to find out what these guys are up to? Not to mention, keeping Dr. Inkfell from becoming something’s dinner. Be serious, Spike.”

Willow’s “Dr. Inkfell?” resulted in a short recap of Buffy and Spike’s encounter with the anthropology professor; and Xander shook his head in disbelief.

“She lives in Sunnydale and she wants to study vampires? Why doesn’t she just hang out an ‘all you can eat’ sign?”

“That’s what I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen. She acted like I’m the bad guy because they’re all afraid of me.”

“Technically, pet, not all vamps are—” He lowered his hand when Buffy turned to glare at him. “Right you are, Slayer. Afraid. All of us. Every single one.” He ignored the snickers from Xander and Willow as he tried to hang on to his dignity by leaning back and pretending he wasn’t listening to the conversation.

Giles brought a halt to the discussion by clearing his throat and interrupting to say, “Buffy, I’m afraid I – and you have no idea how much this pains me – do agree with Spike. Until we know more about these commandos and their intentions, it may be best for you to keep a low profile. As far as they are concerned, anyway. Perhaps a quick patrol through the cemeteries tonight and then back to your dorm room. Try to avoid any confrontations with anything else for the present time.”

Buffy frowned, stuck out her lower lip, noticed Spike’s eyes focused on it and quickly changed her expression from pout to reluctant agreement.

“All right,” she said, standing up and collecting her stakes. “But I’m not going to hide from them forever. I’m going to tell Riley I know what he is and see what he has to say for himself.” She pulled on her jacket and kicked the back of Spike’s chair. “Come on, fangface. You can watch my back while I work out my issues on some fledges. And then you can show me this crypt that you think you want to live in.”

While the Scoobies exchanged looks of disbelief – both at Buffy’s comments and at Spike’s silent compliance with her orders – she waved her hand at them and left the apartment, telling Willow not to wait up for her.

 

Chapter Five I Can Kill Demons!

“Not that I’m unwilling to watch your pretty little backside for you...” Spike said, laughing when Buffy said firmly, “Back. You’re watching my back, Spike.”

“Tomato, Tomahto, pet. Point is, I don’t know how much help I can be, what with not being able to bite or anything.”

“Maybe you could just trip one? Or, you know, yell ‘watch out!’ That’s pretty much what Anya does.”

“I’ll do what I can. It’s not like you’re likely to need my help with a couple of fledges, is it?”

“Probably not.” She frowned. “Would you rather not? Patrol with me, I mean.”

Neither one of them had questioned the formerly unthinkable prospect of the Slayer of Slayers helping to protect one. Buffy’s question made it difficult to avoid the reality of their situation. They stopped and stared at each other, suddenly unsure of their roles.

“I... dammed if I know, Slayer. I’d rather be with you than back with the Watcher and your sidekicks,” he said with a frown. “Don’t know about the part where I help you slay my own kind.”

“You don’t have to help,” she said with a shrug. “You can’t really do anything anyway, right?”

“Good job ruining my night with the reminder,” he growled, stuffing his hands in his pockets and hunching his shoulders.

“You just said it yourself! Don’t blame me for repeating it.” Buffy tossed her head and strode off toward the nearest cemetery. Her mouth turned down in disappointment for a second until she heard the swish of Spike’s coat and the sound of his boots carrying him back to her side.

They walked quickly until Buffy’s irritation wore off and she slowed her steps. Spike matched his stride to hers, watching her out of the corner of his eyes until he saw her face relax.

“You over it now?”

“Over what?”

“Being brassed off at me for snapping at you.”

Buffy shrugged. “I don’t know why I bother getting mad. You’re just being you. It’s who we are. You make me mad, I make you mad.” She paused and peeked at him from the corner of her eye. “We just can’t beat up on each other when it happens anymore.”

“You sound like you’re sorry about it.”

“I think I’m gonna miss it... sometimes.”

“Yeah,” he said softly. “Me too.”

They walked in companionable silence a little more, then Buffy said, “That probably says something deep and possibly scary about us, don’t you think?”

“What’s scary about needing a little violence in your life? Think our names say it all, don’t they?”

“Buffy? Spike?”

“Slayer. Vampire.”

“Oh yeah. Good point.”

They swung through the gates of Restfield cemetery, Buffy moving into a less relaxed posture as she studied the ground for new or newly disturbed graves. Spike hung back and watched her graceful movements as she quartered the ground, senses alert and excitement building.

When the ground erupted right in front of her, she jumped back, her stake appearing in her hand as if by magic. Spike was well behind her, leaning against the side of a crypt when she bent down to drag the new vampire the rest of the way out of the earth.

“Come on, you. I need some exercise.”

The slow-witted vampire stared at her blankly for a few seconds.

“Huh?”

Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes. “You’re supposed to try to eat me. Then we fight and I—”

She was cut off when the suddenly ravenous vampire’s demon took over and she went down under his mud-covered body.

“Ewwww! Get off me! You’re filthy!”

Her stake had disappeared and she was reduced to swearing and holding the slavering vamp off with one hand while she felt around for her stake with the other. The sound of Spike’s muffled laughter did nothing for her disposition and she glared at him as he stood to one side, twirling her stake through his fingers.

“Missing something, Slayer?”

“This is how you watch my back? Gimme that!”

“Can’t see your back, can I? There some big smelly git in the way. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you and he were getting right friendly....”

“I am sooo going to kill you!”

Spike’s intended response never left his lips as Buffy’s distraction gave the demon the opening he needed and he reached for her neck with his fangs. Before Buffy even registered that she might be in actual trouble, there was dust floating into her face. She coughed and sat up, staring at Spike, who was staring at the stake in his hand.

Buffy climbed cautiously to her feet, keeping her eyes on Spike and the stake. He finally raised his eyes to hers.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he said unnecessarily.

“So I see.”

He handed the stake back to her. “Probably a fluke. Heat of the moment or something...”

“Yeah, probably...” She moved slightly away from him, holding the stake firmly at her side.

“Guess we should check it out, yeah?”

“I guess so...” She bit her lip. “Okay. Hit me. I’ll give you one punch.”

“Hold onto the stake, pet.”

Disappointment flew across her face so quickly he wasn’t sure he’d seen it.

“Am I going to need it?”

He cocked his head at her. “No,” he said with a sad smile. “But the way you’re standing tells me you aren’t as sure about that as I am. Just want you to feel comfortable.”

“Comfortable. With you. Who might be able to kill again.”

It was Spike’s turn to try to hide his disappointment before Buffy saw it.

“Got your stake, don’t you?”

Buffy looked from him to the stake in her hand, then tucked it behind her back into the waistband of her pants.

“Okay. Let’s do this. One punch.”

“How about one bite?” He licked his lips lasciviously as he moved toward her.

Buffy narrowed her eyes and rested one hand on the stake behind her back.

“Punch. One.”

“Spoil sport,” he growled. “Alright, stand still, will you?” he said as Buffy began to bounce on the balls of her feet.

He jabbed at her face with his left hand, tentatively tapping her chin.

“That’s it? That’s the best you’ve got?” Buffy rolled her eyes and took her hand off the stake.

“Don’t really want to hit you,” he muttered. “You should have let me bite.”

“If I let you bite, it probably wouldn’t work anyway, you moron, “ she said in disgust. When he still didn’t do anything but move around her as if looking for a good spot to tap her again, she threw up her hands. “Oh, for the love of—”

She snapped out one arm, rocking him back on his heels with a one-two combo to his face. Following up with a body blow that doubled him over, she ignored his growling.

“Come on, Spike. Let’s see what you’ve got. Are you afraid of me? Want me to drop the stake again so you’ll feel better?”

Her final fist to his nose, combined with her continued taunting took the last of his patience. With a snarling roar, he jumped at her, fangs bared and hands reaching for her shoulders. Before he could touch her, he was on the ground holding his head and screaming. Heedless of the fact that he was still in game face, Buffy dropped to her knees, fluttering her hands helplessly over his writhing body.

“Oh my God, Spike. I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to....”

“Yes, you did,” he said, rolling over onto his back and staring up at the sky. “You did it, and it worked. Soon’s I was seriously thinking about hurting you....” He rolled his head to the side to meet her concerned eyes. “Guess that means it was a fluke. Whatever they did to me, it’s still working.”

“It’s a chip,” Buffy said without thinking.

“A what? And what the bloody hell do you know about it?” Immediately his initial suspicions that she was responsible for his capture came flooding back, but the twinge to his still aching head wouldn’t allow him to follow up.

“Nothing,” she said, holding up a hand in the classic sign for peace. “Willow knows about it. She just found it today in Professor Walsh’s files. They call you Hostile Seventeen, and you have a microchip in your head that is supposed to fire anytime you try to bite or harm a...” She stopped and looked at him with new excitement. “... a human!” she finished. “That’s why you could stake that vamp; the chip is meant to keep you from hurting humans.”

“You mean I can still fight demons?” He winced as he sat up, but couldn’t contain his hope. “I’m not a complete eunuch?”

Buffy shook her head. “No. And would you please stop using those...words...to describe what happened to you? You’re not emasculated, just safer to be around.”

“Hoo, bloody, rah, Slayer.”

“Think about it, Spike. Which would you rather have lost – your ability to kill or your—”

“Don’t say it!”

“Then stop bringing it up,” she said, standing up and offering him her hand. She pulled him to his feet, frowning when he squeezed his eyes shut in pain. “Does it still hurt?”

“I’ll live,” he said. “Just leaves me with a headache for awhile.”

Buffy looked down at her muddy clothes and sighed.

“Well, I’ve got to go back to my room and get some clean clothes. Come with me and I’ll see if we’ve got some aspirin or something.”

On their way out of the cemetery they encountered two young vampires just entering it. Before Buffy could step forward, Spike put a hand on her arm.

“Let me, Slayer. May as well find out for sure if your theory is right.”

“Okay. But be careful.” She blushed when he sent her a puzzled but grateful look. “I mean...I don’t know how much aspirin we have. I just don’t want you to....”

“Quit while you’re ahead, luv,” he said stepping toward the advancing vampires. “And watch my back – just in case.”

“There is something very wrong with this picture,” she muttered, sitting on a tombstone and watching as Spike went into game face and threw out his challenge.

“What are you wankers doing in my cemetery?” he demanded. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Their eyes shifted to Buffy, watching with a surprising lack of concern.

“No,” blustered the largest one. “But it won’t matter in a few minutes. We’re going to take you, take your cemetery, and then...” He charged at Spike, snarling, “we’ll take your girl there and play with her before we eat her.”

“Eek!” Buffy squealed. “I’m so frightened. Spike, protect me!”

Spike met the younger vampire’s charge with grin and a punch to his solar plexus. When the chip didn’t fire, he threw his head back and roared.

“I’m back!”

He allowed his opponent to recover from the initial disabling punch, amusing himself with picking up the other vamp and throwing him into a tree. Buffy watched with interest as Spike toyed with the two oblivious vampires, taunting them, questioning their manhood and their demon credentials while he beat on them almost at will. Finally, shivering with cold now that the mud in which she was caked had soaked through her clothes, Buffy spoke up.

“Come on, Spike. Quit playing, I need to get out of these clothes.”

He threw a quick glance over his shoulder, saw that she wasn’t kidding, and without hesitation used the sides of his hands to break the necks of both vampires simultaneously. Without comment, Buffy tossed him her stake and stood up. As soon as he had dusted both vamps, he handed the stake back and fell into step beside her.

“Are you cold, pet?”

“A little. Not like last night, but walking around with drying mud caking to my body isn’t my idea of a good time.” She saw his eyes light up and his mouth start to open. “Don’t even!” she said, effectively shutting down the anticipated mud wrestling reference.

“You’re no fun at all,” he grumbled, bumping her with his shoulder.

“That’s what all the vampires say.” She nudged him back. They strode on a few more steps then Buffy said with studied casualness, “So, you can hurt and kill demons, just not people. Kind of sounds like my job description.”

“Does, doesn’t it?” he agreed and continued walking.

“Are you going to make me ask you?”

“Yep. And ask me nicely, Slayer, or I’ll say ‘no’.”

She laughed. “You won’t say ‘no’. You’re already so bored you can’t see straight. I’m offering you a chance to come out every night and help me fight vampires and demons instead of sitting in Giles’ apartment listening to Xander and Anya providing us with more details than we need to have about their love life. Even if you said ‘no’ now, you’d be back tomorrow begging me to let you help me kill things.”

She waited, then added, “And if you stay at Giles’, sooner or later he’s going to notice that you’re drinking all his scotch. And he still knows how to behead a vampire...”

“S’pose it is a good way to stay out of trouble, at that,” he agreed. “Idle hands are the devil’s joy, and all that.”

“Exactly.”

 

Chapter Six (Hell Hath No Fury)

Buffy stopped short just before the steps up to the entrance and stepped off the sidewalk.

“Slayer?”

“This stuff is getting dry. I want to brush it off out here so I don’t end up with a pile of dirt in my room.”

She began brushing vigorously at her arms, legs and torso, knocking off as much of the dried mud as she could. When she thought she was through, she made to move back to the steps.

“Hold on, there, Slayer. You missed some.” He turned her around and brushed the mud off her back. When his hand slid down to her ass, she grabbed it quickly.

“I’ll get that part, thank you very much.” While Spike sighed and rolled his eyes, Buffy quickly brushed off the seat of her pants and tried to peer at it over her shoulder. “Did I get it all?”

“Yeah, you got it. Let’s go get my aspirin and your dry clothes.”

Once again, when they reached the entrance to the dorm, Spike moved ahead and held the door open for Buffy. She stopped and stared at him.

“You need to stop doing that.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s... it’s just weird! William the Bloody, being all gentlemanly and good mannered.”

“William the Bloody knew a great deal about good manners, pet,” he said, following her down the hall to the stairs. “More than any of you do, I’d wager.”

“Spike, you’re William the Bloody. You’re talking about him like he was somebody else.”

“Was somebody else,” he said quietly. “Thought we’d covered that the other night.”

“That was William. That was you before you became a vampire.” When he didn’t respond, she turned around to face him. “It was, wasn’t it?”

He shrugged and passed her.

“C’mon, pet. I’ll race you up the stairs.”
Buffy took off after his rapidly disappearing coat, shouting, “Wasn’t it? Answer me!”

She caught up with the grinning vampire at the top of the stairs and shoved him as she walked past.

“Don’t think I’m going to forget my question,” she muttered, flashing an insincere smile at two curious coeds coming from the room next to hers. They stared at Spike with unabashed curiosity and admiration. Turning his back on Buffy, he gave them a warm smile and an appreciative once-over, and was rewarded with giggles and small waves.

Buffy opened the door and waited impatiently for Spike to follow her inside.

“Were you flirting with those girls?”

“Could be. Would it brass you off if I was?”

“Would it— Don’t be ridiculous.”

“That’s what I thought. Was, then.” He stuck out his chin.

“Why?”

“Why?” He cocked his head at her, his expression surprised. “Are you starting to take all my complaining about being neutered seriously?”

“You can’t bite them, Spike. We settled that tonight.”

“Did I say I was planning to bite anybody? I think that little brunette fancied me – might get myself a little—”

Buffy’s face went from red to white and back to red. “If you finish that sentence, I will....” She pulled the stake from her waistband and waved it. Spike moved into her space, disregarding the stake she was clutching.

“Make up your bloody mind, Slayer,” he said in a low growl. “Rather have you. You know that. But—”

“Don’t finish that sentence either. I’m not on the menu – market – whatever! I’m not on it.”

“Then don’t be busting my balls if I go looking elsewhere. I do still have them, you know. And I’d like to keep them happy.”

“You are such a pig!” She whirled, hurling the stake across the room. She pulled off her jacket and dropped it on the floor. Grabbing a pair of jeans and a shirt from a drawer, she snapped, “Turn your back. And don’t cheat this time.”

“Just give me my aspirin and I’ll go, Slayer.”

“Go? Go where?” Buffy frowned, softening her posture for a second.

“I don’t know. Out. Beat up some demons? Find the cute bird who waved at me? What difference does it make? You know I can’t hurt anybody.”

“You’re not going to wait for me? I thought...”

“You thought what?”

“I don’t know... I just thought we were having fun tonight, and....”

“We were having fun, pet. But you’re here now, back in your cozy little room, and I’ve got some excess energy to wear off somehow. Don’t see much point in us spending any more time together tonight, do you?”

“So, you don’t want to spend any time with me if you don’t think it’s going to lead to sex? Is that what you’re saying?”

He blew out an exasperated breath. “I’m not saying that, dammit! I just... Look, my head still hurts, being around you makes my dick hard, and I’d just like to get a little relief for something.”

Buffy threw a bottle of aspirin at his head, watching with hard eyes as he caught it with a quicker than the eye movement.

“Here. Take the whole bottle. Make your head feel better.”

“Buffy...”

“Take the damn aspirin and go spend some time somewhere you actually want to be.”

“Buffy, if you want me to stay....”

Her stiff back was the only response he got, and with another growl he slammed out the door, allowing it to hang open as he strode down the hall and into the stairwell, almost knocking Willow over as she was coming up the stairs.

“Spike!”

“Witch.”

Without more of a greeting than that, he leaped from the top step all the way to the bottom, coat billowing out behind him. He was through the door and gone before she could say anything else. Shaking her head, she walked toward the open door of her room, only to watch it slam shut with so much force it quivered.
Moving carefully, she inserted her key and pushed it open.

“Buffy?”

“Oh! Hi, Willow.” Buffy lowered the arm that was clutching her stake and flushed with embarrassment. “Sorry about the door. Spike didn’t close it behind him when he left.”

“Um. Yeah figured that. Did you guys have a fight? Cause he was being all 'grrr, argh' when he left. Jumped down the stairs like something out of a movie.”

“He jumped down the stairs?”

“Yeah. It was pretty cool, actually.” At Buffy’s narrowed eyes and tightened lips, Willow quickly added, “He looked pretty mad. You should probably follow him in case he decides to risk biting somebody.”

Buffy tossed her head. “He isn’t planning to bite anybody. Trust me. That’s not what’s on his mind.” At Willow’s carefully raised eyebrow, she continued, “And he can’t bite. I saw that for myself tonight. It really knocks him down for the count.”

Willow didn’t ask how Buffy knew, just nodded her agreement.

“I kinda knew that already. Although, when he tried to bite me, it stopped hurting pretty quickly and he tried again. I think the chip wasn’t finished setting in to his brain yet. It probably took a few days for all the connections to go live.”

In an effort to somewhat change the subject, Buffy said, “On the plus side, it turns out he can kill other vampires, so yay for that.”

“Huh. So, is he going to help you with slaying?”

“I... I think so. If we can manage to be around each other for more than a few minutes without getting into a fight about something.”

“Which, I take it, is what happened tonight?”

Buffy sighed, slumping down on the bed.

“Yeah. You could say that.”

“What about?”

At Buffy’s expression, she backtracked. “Not that it’s any of my business....”

“It’s about him being a pig and thinking with his—”

She was interrupted by the phone.

“Kinda late, isn’t it?”

Buffy nodded and picked it up. “It’s probably Giles with some sudden emergency— Oh. Hi, Riley. What’s up? Now? You want to meet for coffee at 10:00? Yeah, well, no, I wasn’t asleep, but... Oh, really? Well maybe we should talk then. I’ll meet you in about twenty minutes.”

“Riley?”

“Yeah. Says he wants to talk to me right away. That he knows who I am and that I’m probably not going to sleep this early.”

Willow watched Buffy quickly change out of her muddy clothes and into clean jeans, a tee shirt and a hoody.

“What if Spike comes back? What do you want me to tell him?”

“He won’t come back tonight, but if he does, tell him I had a date – with Riley.” Buffy brushed her hair, put on some lipgloss, and smiled triumphantly. “That’s exactly what you should tell him,” she said. “Tell him I have a date with a commando.”

 

Spike slammed into Willy’s and demanded “a bottle of Jack”. He shoved a small demon off a stool and sat down, glaring at the counter in front of him.

“Hey!” the red-scaled demon said. “You can’t do that!”

A larger version of the demon stepped up behind and agreed. “Everybody knows about your ‘handicap’, Spike. You’re not in a position to push people around, now that you can’t hurt anything.”

Spike turned a feral grin on them, his fangs beginning to protrude. “Turns out, boys, that my little handicap only applies to humans. Be happy to prove that to you, if you’d like....”

One look at the eager expression on Spike’s face and the way he was already rising to his feet sent the two vampire-baiters into a quick retreat. Spike sighed in disappointment and turned back to his drink.

“Does this mean you’re going to start trashing my bar again?” Willy asked, his unhappiness plain.

“Not tonight, it doesn’t. Not unless someone else starts it. Just keep the whiskey coming.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike was on his way to Restfield cemetery, planning to spend the night working on cleaning up and furnishing his new home, when he noticed the men in black gliding from shadow to shadow. Using skills he rarely bothered with, Spike became part of the shadows, remaining immobile and invisible as he listened in on the conversation.

“So, do you think Finn is doing this for Maggie, or does he still have the hots for that girl?”

“Seeing as how he’s taking her back to her dorm, rather than where he was told to, I’m gonna go with still has the hots for her.”

Both the voice and the name he’d used nagged at Spike’s memory, sending him even deeper into the shadows as he remembered where he’d heard them before. But what was Buffy doing with one of them? More racking his brain and he remembered that Willow said Buffy had been dating one of the men living in Lowell House. He smothered his growl, and continued to follow the men from a safe distance.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

“They’re getting pretty close to campus,” one of the men whispered. “I think we need to move now. We don’t want any witnesses.”

“I don’t know. Riley didn’t give a signal yet. Maybe he’s changed his mind and wants to wait to bring her in.”

“Maybe he thinks he’s going to get lucky,” another man added with a low laugh.

“Well, our instructions were to engage and capture her, if possible, and to assess her skills if not. If I have to choose, I’d rather piss off Riley than the boss lady.”

“Good point. Let’s go, then. We’ll hit her just ahead of that wall.”

With no more discussion and moving like well-oiled cogs in a machine, the men moved rapidly into position to ambush Buffy and the man with her. Inwardly furious about his lack of ability to do anything, and firmly reminded of that inability when he moved in the direction of the closest man and was rewarded with a warning shock to his already sore head, Spike could do nothing but try to silence the snarls straining his throat.

Buffy and the tall man with her reached the end of the wall, only to be surrounded by a small squad of black-clad commandoes.

“What the hell—” Riley’s response was completely genuine, as his men jumped out without any signal from him.

“You son of a bitch! You set me up!” Buffy managed to snap out before she was fighting to avoid the net they were trying to throw over her. Evading it fairly easily, she took out the first man who tried to grab her with an elbow to his diaphragm. Spinning faster than they could follow, she swept the legs out from under another soldier and threw a third one into the wall. The one she’d knocked to the ground was searching frantically for the net, planning to use it to entrap her legs. However, it seemed to have vanished; he couldn’t locate it where he’d been sure he’d dropped it.

Within a very short amount of time, all three commandoes were on the ground nursing various injuries, and Buffy was facing off against a bewildered Riley.

“You bastard,” she growled, starting towards him. “I trusted you.”

He retreated quickly, only to find his feet tangled in the net, which had appeared again, albeit in a completely different area from where it had vanished. Buffy’s slayer senses told her there was a vampire in the area, and she smiled to herself when she realized who it was. A leaf drifted down from one of the big trees surrounding the area, and she fought to keep her gaze from going there.

Riley’s tangled feet had resulted in his joining his men on the ground, sitting shamefaced and angry as he tried to get the net off his boots.

“Buffy, I didn’t... you have to believe me. I never told them to do that. I’d already decided that you should come in willingly to talk to Maggie – Professor Walsh. I don’t know why they went ahead without my order.”

“But you were going to give that order? When you asked me to meet you, that was the plan, right?” She stared at him with contempt. “I can’t believe I was dating you. I’ve done nothing since I got to this school but make bad decisions about the men here.” She would have sworn she heard muffled laughter from the trees, but ignored it as best she could.

“Maggie just wants to know more about you,” he pleaded.

“Then she should have asked me,” Buffy said coldly. She gazed around at the moaning men now staggering to their feet. She was about to suggest that they knew as much about her as they were going to when a voice from overhead shouted, “ Slayer, taser!” and she whirled just in time to kick it out of Riley’s hand.

The two former dating partners stared at each other, one in disgust, one in rueful dismay. Taking up a position between the commandoes and the dorm – one where she knew she could be seen by any students going in or out – Buffy put her hands on her hips and glared.

“Get away from here. All of you.”

Without comment, they gathered up their net and moved off into the shadows, only Riley remaining to counter Buffy’s glare.

“Buffy...I’m sor—”

“Goodbye, Riley. It’s been nice.”

She turned her back and walked toward the dorm, confident that the vampire guarding her back would warn her of any more attacks. She reached the steps and turned around to see that Riley had also disappeared. Buffy could see the branches in the trees shaking, first going away from the dorm, then coming back towards it. She stared at the nearest big tree, waiting patiently until a black shape dropped to the ground, coat floating out behind him. Spike landed easily, straightened up and stood staring at her, unsure of his welcome.

“Come on,” she said, turning to go in, confident that he could hear her. By the time she had reached the door, the now-familiar hand was reaching past her to pull it open.

Buffy didn’t speak again until they were just outside her dorm room. She held a finger to her lips and said, “Shhh. Willow’s probably asleep.”

“I probably shouldn’t come in, luv. It’s late and—”

“Are you turning me down again?” she hissed, her back already growing stiffer and her eyes narrowing.

“Not turning down anything, Slayer,” he hastened to assure her. “Just don’t want to scare the witch.”

“She’s not afraid of you,” Buffy said, opening the door and peering in. “Oh, she’s still up. Hi, Willow.”

“Hey, Buffy. How was your date with Ri—” Her eyes darted from Buffy to the figure following her into the room.

“It was peachy, with a side of keen,” Buffy said, forgetting that one of her main reasons for going had been to punish Spike for leaving.

“Uh, Spike? If you’re looking for Buffy, she’s out with Riley. On a date.” She frowned. “Or, she was anyway. That’s what I would have told you if you’d come by earlier.”

“He knows where I was.”

Buffy sat on her bed and kicked off her boots. Spike stood awkwardly near the door, unsure of his welcome, but afraid to make Buffy angry by leaving without being sent away. Willow continued to look back and forth between them and then suddenly stood up.

“You know...I just remembered this thing I've got to do... and then I’ll do something else, and....”

“Don’t leave on my account, Red.”

“It’s okay, Willow. I think we’re through fighting for the night.” She gave Spike a small smile. “Aren’t we?”

“If you’re through being all offended because I—” Remembering his audience, he stopped himself before he could say just what he thought she had been offended about.

“I really could use some popcorn. I’ll be right back.” Before either of them could argue, Willow slipped out the door, pulling it shut behind her.

“I’m through,” Buffy said quietly, as though he had finished his comment. “I’ve got no right to expect you to spend all your time with me just because I’m not planning to slay you anymore. It was immature and selfish and I’m....” She glanced up apologetically. “I just can’t get that word out,” she said, frowning when he laughed.

“You wouldn’t have meant it anyway, Slayer.”

“I might have! You don’t know.”

“Hell hath no fury, pet. Learnt that over a hundred years ago. You offered me some time in your company, and I blew it off like the wanker that I am. You had every right to be mad. ‘s me who should be apologizing.”

“I think the saving my butt from Riley and his buddies was a pretty good apology,” she said.

“So, we’re alright?”

“I guess we are.”

“I should go, then,” he said. “You and the witch need to get some sleep.” He turned toward the door and put his hand on the knob, pausing as if thinking, then turning his head toward her. “Did you tell her to tell me you were out on a date?”

“Maybe. Did you go out looking for that girl?”

He shook his head. “Went to Willie’s, had some Jack and was on my way to Restfield when I heard the ninjas.”

“Well then, I wasn’t really on a date. I was trying to find out what his boss knows about me.”

He nodded and opened the door. “You know, pet. We’re going to have to sort this out one of these days.”

Buffy didn’t look at him, picking at a loose thread on the bedspread. “Can’t we just ignore it and hope it goes away?”

“Hope what goes away?” Willow entered the room just in time to hear Buffy’s reply.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing.”

She looked back and forth between them, suddenly remembering what they’d told her about lingering effects from the spell.

“Oh,” she breathed. “Oh, oh my. Still?” When neither one answered her, she offered, “I could try another spell. Maybe make you hate each other again. Do you want me to try that?”

“No!”

“No!”

Simultaneous and emphatic rejections had Willow giving an offended little sniff as she went back to her desk. “Fine! I was just trying to help. Drive each other crazy for another week or so, then see if you don’t appreciate my offer.”

“We – I appreciate it, Willow. I just don’t think we want....” She looked up at Spike who stared back, his eyes telling her he would abide by whatever she said. “I don’t think we want to hate each other anymore. Do we?”

He shook his head slowly, never taking his eyes off hers. “We’ll work it out, Red. Don’t worry about it.”

Willow shrugged and sat down to eat her popcorn.

“Okay. The offer stands. Goodnight, Spike,” she added as he started through the open door.

“Goodnight, Witch, Slayer.”
Buffy raised one hand in a small wave and watched the door shut behind him. She fell back on her bed with a loud sigh, staring at the ceiling as if it might hold answers.

“Okay,” Willow said from her cross-legged perch on her own bed. “Spill.”

“I hate men!”

“Duly noted. Now, what happened out there?”

Buffy sat up, reached for some popcorn, and prepared to enjoy some girl time before sleeping.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Spike left the dorm, taking more than usual care to let his senses provide information about his surroundings. Although he’d followed the commandos far enough to be sure they were heading toward Lowell House, he didn’t necessarily believe that small squad wouldn’t have counterparts other places on the campus. He kept to the shadows and used his enhanced hearing and his nose to tell him if there were any humans sneaking around the outskirts of the campus.

The sound of footsteps and voices made him pull back into the shadow of a big tree where he watched the two girls he’d seen in Buffy’s dorm walking along, chattering and paying no attention to their surroundings. Growling at their stupidity, he popped out in front of them, startling them both into small yelps. Their faces relaxed when they recognized him as the good-looking man they’d seen earlier. The brunette smiled.

“You scared us to death,” she said, batting her eyes. “I think you owe us for that.”

“That so, pet?” he purred, going heavy on the accent. “And what is it you think I might owe you?”

“The least you could do is walk us back to the dorm,” she said. “You know, to keep us safe from dangerous men...”

Spike couldn’t help his snort, but quickly recovered. “Not sure you’d know a dangerous man if you fell over one, luv,” he said with a leer that made her blush. “But you’re quite right about needing an escort at this time of the night.”

He began walking in the direction of Buffy’s dorm, wondering to himself how many times he could make that trek before he stumbled across another set of black-clad vampire hunters. When two newly turned vamps wearing UC Sunnydale sweatshirts and game faces jumped out in front of them, earning shrieks from both girls, he sighed and shook his head.

“Are you gits really this stupid?” he asked in conversational tones. “Or just feeling invincible?”

“Huh?”
He sighed again, turning his back to the girls and flashing his real face. “Little lesson for you, boys. That building there...” He pointed at the dorm and gave the frightened girls a little nudge in that direction. He ignored the “But... I thought we....” saying, “Get yourself into the building and go to bed. And stay away from unlighted areas the next time you decide to go for a late-night stroll, yeah?”

Turning back to the puzzled vamps – which were trying to decide if he was seriously sending their intended meals out of reach – he continued as if he hadn’t interrupted himself. “That building that you’re looking at with so much interest has the Slayer living in it. She’d sense you before you got off the first floor. Not to mention, this campus is crawling with soldiers looking for things that bite.”

“We’ll take our chances,” the bigger one blustered, stepping closer to Spike and snarling his contempt. “Maybe you’re scared of—”

He never finished. Spike had punched him in the diaphragm, doubling him over and robbing him of any ability to speak. Before the other one could run, Spike was on him, one hand wrapped around his neck. He squeezed for a while, then let the terrified demon drop to the ground. Bending down, took hold of each vampire’s head, and banged them together so hard he could hear the skulls crack. He was staring at their unconscious bodies in disgust, wondering if he should drag them into the brush or just twist their heads off when he was startled into alertness.

While his instinctive solidarity with other demons was fighting with his unspoken agreement to help Buffy with her slaying, his ears had caught the sound of human voices. He immediately faded back into the shadows. As soon as he recognized the approaching commandos, he left the unconscious and badly injured vampires to their fate, running silently through the woods until he was well away from the campus.

With so much of the night already spent, he headed for Restfield cemetery and the large crypt he’d decided to live in. He smiled in approval at the double doors leading into it, closing first the outer, metal door, and then the interior one made of heavy wood. Although he doubted anyone would bother trying both doors, he made a mental note to get some sort of lock or bar that could be used to keep out intruders.

Too wound up to go to sleep, he wandered around brushing dust off some of the horizontal surfaces, including the large sarcophagus that he intended to use until he could find a real bed. He thought longingly of the big bed in Harmony’s cave, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort it would take to coax it out of her. When he found the hole in the floor, he listened carefully, dropping a rock down to judge how far it was to the bottom. Pleasantly surprised to hear it land almost immediately, he leaned over the opening and flicked his lighter on. All he could see in the small illuminated area was the dirt floor and a rough ladder leaning against a wall.

With his lighter running out of fuel, Spike reluctantly left the rest of his exploring until he could get some candles or torches, standing up to take another look around the more easily explored first floor. Moonlight coming through the small windows provided plenty of light for him to see his way around. Finally satisfied with his new dwelling, he dropped onto the sarcophagus and put his hands behind his head.

As he dropped off to sleep, his last thoughts were that he hadn’t yet brought Buffy to see his crypt, and that he probably shouldn’t do so until he’d fixed it up. Preferring not to examine why he thought that was so, he put one hand over his eyes and resolutely put the Slayer and their strange new relationship out of his mind.

 

“Your boyfriend was awesome last night!” Buffy’s late morning stagger to the bathroom was brought to an abrupt halt by the girl she couldn’t help referring to by Spike’s “cute little brunette” designation.

“My who...wha-?” Visions of Riley returning to the dorm and somehow interacting with the two girls next door flashed through her sleepy brain.

“He’s not your boyfriend?” The girl’s eager question brought Buffy more awake.

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” she said, biting back her disappointment at Riley for having turned out to be such a jerk. “Who are you talking about?”

“That gorgeous guy who was here last night. He’s not your boyfriend?”

“Spike? You’re talking about Spike? No! Ewwww... and what do you mean he was awesome?”

Completely distracted by Buffy’s denial of Spike’s boyfriend status, the other girl had forgotten her original remark. While she lost herself in visions of hitting on the man who was not involved with her nextdoor neighbor, her roommate had joined them and she filled Buffy in.

“We were coming back really late last night and he... Spike?... was walking us back to the dorm when two really scary guys with gross faces jumped out. He was awesome; he sent us ahead to the building and then he just whipped up on those two guys. We watched from the doorway. It was... Wow.”

“Wow,” Buffy echoed, her face still showing her lack of comprehension. “You shouldn’t be out that late, you know,” she said, continuing her way to the bathrooms. “It’s dangerous.”

“That’s exactly what Spike said! Are you sure he isn’t your boyfriend?”

Buffy paused and turned back to look at the other girl with narrowed eyes. “We work together,” she said shortly. “But you should stay away from him anyway. He’s dangerous too.”

The CLB tossed her head. “Like hell I will! He’s hot. How dangerous can something that sexy be?”

The two girls walked off toward the stairs, leaving Buffy to grumble her way to the bathrooms. “Stupid vampire. Stupid girls. Stupid Buffy for letting it bother me....”

“Are you talking to me?” Willow’s equally sleepy voice interrupted Buffy’s grumble and she turned to shrug and shake her head at her roommate.

“I’m just muttering to myself. Apparently after Spike left last night, he rescued the girls in 203 from some vamps, and now he has a fan club.” She splashed water on her face and raised her eyes to the mirror over the sink. “They think he’s ‘hot’.”

“He is kinda hot,” Willow allowed. “He’s got that whole ‘bad boy’ vibe going for him. And if you’d seen him jump down those stairs the other night...”

“Not really needing any more ‘hot Spike’ images, Will.” Buffy stepped into the showers and pulled the plastic curtain closed. “Got enough of those going through my head as it is.”

Willow giggled and stepped into another shower stall. “Well, my offer to do another spell still stands.”

“I don’t want to hate him. I just don’t want to...”

“Want him?” Willow’s shrewd guess was almost drowned out by the water, but Buffy heard it.

“Yeah. Not wanting would be good. My life is complicated enough”

 

Spike walked into Giles’ apartment without knocking, ignoring the watcher’s sputtering and going directly to the refrigerator.

“You didn’t get any more blood?” he said in an aggrieved tone.

“No. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel an obligation to keep food around for you.”

“Oh, well then, I’ll just have some of your Scotch.”
Spike’s attempt to pull the bottle out from its hiding place behind the cookbooks was interrupted by Giles’ slamming a stake down on the counter. Remembering what Buffy had said about the watcher’s limited patience, he gave an offended sniff and retreated to the living room.

“Have it your way,” he said. “I’ll just have to start stealing my food and drink.” He sat down in the easy chair and waved a hand at the couch. “Sit down, Rupert. Got some things to share with you.”

By the time Buffy and Willow arrived, Spike had filled Giles in on what he’d overheard from the commandos, as well as Buffy’s encounter with them. Their arrival interrupted Giles’ questioning as to why Spike was suddenly helping out the girl he’d sworn to kill. With relief, Spike turned to greet the girls.

“Evening, ladies,” he said with a smile for each of them. “Come to relieve me of the Watcher’s boring company are you?”

“We’re here to make soap,” Willow announced, lifting a shopping bag on the table and taking smaller bags out of it.

“Soap?”

Buffy nodded. “Yeah. Our chem professor gave everyone a project to do – ours is to make soap the old fashioned way.”

Spike nodded. “Ashes and animal fat?” he asked, peering into the smaller shopping bag. He held up a Ziplock bag containing what looked like ashes. “Anyone I know?”

Buffy and Willow exchanged guilty glances, causing Spike to narrow his eyes. While he quickly ran down a very short mental list of local vampires he would not have wanted Buffy to stake, she started shaking her head.

“No. It isn’t anybody you know... it isn’t anybody, period. We just... Willow.... We had to leave the dorm for a while and we brought our stuff with us.”

Without further explanation, they carried their supplies into the kitchen and began puling out pans while reading their notes on how to make soap using ashes and animal fat.

Giles and Spike exchanged looks.

“Want to bet the witch set fire to their dorm room and that’s what left of it?” Spike whispered. Giles rolled his eyes and shuddered.

“I heard that!” Willow shouted from the kitchen. “And it wasn’t the dorm room, it was just in the bathroom. Nothing burned, it just got... smokey.”

“Knew it!” Spike crowed. “Knew you’d been messing with magic again and created another mess.”

Eyes narrowed into a lethal glare, Willow stuck her head out of the kitchen.
“I could use some more ashes,” she said pointedly, waving the stake at him. “And I wasn’t doing magic! I was trying to boil lard. Over a fire. Like they used to.”

“Pretty sure that was something people did outside, Red. Not in a communal bathroom in a building.”

“It was perfectly safe,” Willow sniffed. “Tile isn’t flammable. Unlike vampires....”
Trying not to laugh, Buffy gently took the stake from Willow’s hand and carried it to Giles.

“Here. You take this. I have plans for Spike later; and they don’t include vacuuming him up off your floor.”
Giles took the stake, then whirled as he realized what Willow had said.

“You are not going to boil lard in my kitchen!” he said, groaning as his nose told him they’d already begun.

“Don’t worry, Giles. It’s going to smell better soon.” Willow held up another Ziplock bag. “I brought all sorts of good smelling things to mix into it so that our soap smells pretty.”

Giles stood in the entrance to the kitchen and watched with some trepidation as Willow and Buffy mixed the ashes into the melted fat, creating a slimy mixture into which they added various fruity-smelling oils. Spike had retreated to a window and opened it so that he could breath in the less pungent outside air. Eventually, Buffy joined him, having been driven out of the kitchen by both the smell and her short attention span.

“Wanna go kill something?”

“Thought you’d never ask, pet,” he said, straightening up and shrugging into the coat he’d taken off earlier. He followed Buffy to the door, smirking at Giles who was now going to be left to supervise Willow’s soap-making. “So,” he said as they pulled the door shut behind him, ”Who or what are we gonna kill?”

“Vamps, probably. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

He thought about the two vampires he’d killed in the cemetery, and the two he’d left to the tender mercies of the soldiers. “Nope. No problem here, Slayer. Not so long as they aren’t friends of mine, anyway.”

“Vampires have friends?”
Her stopped and gave her a long, hard look. “You know, maybe you should think about reading that book on vampires and demons – if that idiot woman lives long enough to write it. You might learn something.”

“I know all I need to know, Spike,” she said, glaring back at him. “A stake to the heart, off with their heads, daylight is good, and holy water makes a nice accessory to my cross.”

“That’s my bloodthirsty girl,” he said with less approval in his voice than she might have expected. “Tell me, Slayer, what would you do if you came across a vamped kid?”

“Been there, done that,” she said shortly, striding off again.

“Oh. How’d you handle it, then?”

“I waited for her to change, then I staked her.”

Something in her face made him soften his voice for his next question.

“And then what, pet?”

“And then I cried,” she said tersely.

“And that’s my girl too,” he murmured, putting his arm around her just long enough for it to count as a hug.

“Not your girl,” she muttered, leaning into him never the less.

They were saved from any further uncomfortable conversations by their arrival at Longbranch cemetery, where they were just in time to see Professor Inkfell happily following a young female vampire deeper into the maze of old crypts and tombstones. She was chattering away as she went, showing no sign of being fearful or anxious – or having any clue that she wasn’t likely to be leaving in the same condition in which she was arriving.

They looked at each other. “We could just pretend we didn’t see the stupid bint...”

Buffy fought back a smile that she knew he’d sense anyway and shook her head.

“Let’s go, Big Bad. Time to slay.”

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

They ghosted their way through the cemetery, having no trouble following the vampire and the oblivious professor. Spike could hear every one of her inane questions, snorting occasionally and rolling his eyes when she asked something particularly stupid and the vampire with her answered with some random comment. When they were close enough for Buffy to hear as well, they halted by mutual consent and peered through the bushes.

The professor was staring around in confusion. Instead of the "traditional welcoming ceremony" the female vamp had promised her, she seemed to have been left alone in front of large stone crypt, the door of which was hanging off its hinges, leaving a gap into which the vampire had apparently vanished.

“S...Susan?” Professor Inkfell's voice betrayed her growing nervousness. “Are you in here, Susan?” She approached the crypt and peered in apprehensively.

“Oh my God,” Buffy muttered. “Please tell me she isn't going to go in there...”

“Time to move, pet,” Spike said as, with one last glance around the seemingly deserted cemetery, the professor slipped through the opening.

“At least she's not completely stupid,” Buffy said as the beam of a flashlight shone ahead of them. When it began to wave around rapidly, she sighed and gestured for Spike to join her as she moved faster.

They followed the flashlight beam, now coming from the floor of the crypt, and gazed around at a more interesting scene than they'd anticipated. As expected, the struggling professor was now in the process of being tied up, to hang by her arms to be used as a blood source for as long as she lasted. Less expected were the two Initiative soldiers hanging up next to her, both looking considerably the worse for wear, but alive.

Spike's snarl, Buffy realized with a start, was directed at the two bloodied soldiers rather than at the small band of surprised vampires approaching them.

“Spike!” she hissed. “Focus!”

Ignoring her, he walked closer to the commandos, smiling as they cringed in fear of his true face. He ran his tongue up one man's bleeding arm, closing his eyes and sighing in happiness as the warm blood coated his tongue. Another snarl directed at the younger vampires objecting to his tasting their victims brought a loud complaint.

“We got here first,” the nearest one snarled back. “You can take your catch somewhere else. These belong to us.”

Spike took another swipe at the bleeding soldier, sticking his tongue into the open wound and licking it dry. The man's groan, and Buffy's shocked gasp, snapped him out of his euphoria. His eyes flew to her, to find her mesmerized by his actions, a sick look on her face and her eyes suspiciously shiny. She was so busy staring at Spike that she appeared to have forgotten the other five vampires in the crypt. While none of them would have been a match for her if she'd been paying attention, her distraction was all that was needed for one to hit her on the head with piece of crumbled stone.

Spike looked back and forth from the still-bleeding soldier to Buffy's inert body, his own expression fading from surprise to self disgust. His roar echoed throughout the crypt as realization set in. Buffy was hurt and it was his fault. He was across the space and pulling her safely away from center of the room before her attacker had even seen him move. After reassuring himself that she was alive and regaining consciousness, he stood up to face the other vamps.

“Hey, man, we'll share her. That's the Slayer; her blood can keep us all high for a week.”

Professor Inkfell, seemingly forgotten in the excitement, was attempting to sneak past the preoccupied vampires and out the door but her sobbing breaths brought attention back to her and she was quickly recaptured.

“Susan?” she asked with a pitiful whimper. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she's a freakin' vampire, you moron!”

Spike didn't know when he'd been quite so happy to hear the Slayer's angry voice; he turned to look at her. She was on her feet, trying to shake off the effects of her encounter with the stone. She was also clearly furious, and he began backing away. Too stupid to take their hint from his behavior, and too cocky after having gotten in the one lucky hit, the four remaining vampires that weren't busy tying up the professor converged on Buffy, only to find themselves the recipients of a full-fledged Slayer tantrum. Furious at the vamps for getting the drop on her, on herself for allowing that to happen, at Spike for being the distraction, and at the professor for being an idiot, she waded into them, fists and feet flying.

Spike watched carefully, but she didn't seem to be having any trouble working out her issues on them, and was, in fact, already down to only two opponents. He stopped watching and walked over to Susan, pulling her away from the professor and shaking her unconscious. He helped the sobbing woman to her feet and shoved her towards the door.

“Stand over there,” he ordered, “but don't go outside without one of us.”

When she just stood still, shaking all over and staring at his face, he realized that he was still wearing his fangs and wrinkles; he quickly shook it back to normal. Released from her fearful inability to move, she ran to the door and stood there whimpering.

Buffy had finished staking the remaining vamps, and walked over to where Susan was just struggling to a sitting position. She glared down at the snarling vampire, frowning with recognition.

“Hey, I know you. You were in my English class.”

Were being the operative word, Slayer,” Spike said. “Looks like she was elected to be the bait for the night.”

“Her hard luck,” Buffy said, staking the demon without a change of expression.

They turned as one to look at the two commandos still hanging from the ceiling.

“Can I trust you to cut them down without helping yourself to any more of the blood they don't need lose more of?”

He nodded, dropping his eyes so as not to read the disappointment in her face. Without speaking, he walked over to the frightened soldiers and stared into their faces. Their eyes darted back and forth between Buffy, who they had quickly determined was the "slayer" that they'd been told to watch for, and the vampire that fit the description of the escaped hostile they had also been ordered to look for.

Spike couldn't prevent his fangs from elongating as he worked around the bleeding men, trying to get them down without hurting them any more than he already had. Although he had no intention of angering Buffy by sampling any more of their blood, he saw no reason to share that with them. He made sure they noticed his fangs as he lowered them to the floor.

Buffy, meanwhile, was studying a communicator that she had found. She walked over and handed it to the man who seemed to be most able to use his arms.

“Here,” she said. “You can call your buddies for help.”

Without another word to the bewildered soldiers, she walked to the door and nudged Professor Inkfell outside. Spike trailed the two women as they made their way toward the gate, flashing his fangs every time the older woman cast a fearful look over her shoulder.

Buffy glared at him when she realized what he was doing, snapping, “Stop it, Spike.”

“You don't let me have any fun,” he muttered, moving up to walk beside her.

“I didn't stake you for licking that guy,” she said evenly. “Wasn't that enough fun for one night?”

“About that....”

“Save it.” She turned her attention to the confused professor. “Where do you live? We'll walk you home.”

“He's a vampire!” Professor Inkfell pointed at Spike. “Your young man is a vampire!”

“He's not my—” Buffy sighed. “Yes, he's a vampire. But he can't hurt you. All he can do is make ugly faces and try to scare people.”

Spike's snarl was genuine and Buffy automatically reached for her stake, knowing her casual dismissal of his ability to hurt anyone had hit its mark. She relaxed when he subsided into barely audible muttering. Muttering which increased in volume and quantity when the professor stage whispered: “Is he tame?”

Buffy's snorts of laughter only increased the volume of the growls and mutters, which caused the professor to move even farther away from Spike.

When they reached a small bungalow near the campus, she halted and said hesitantly, “Would you... I mean... the house is dark....”

Buffy rolled her eyes, as did Spike. “Vampires can't get in unless they're invited. You didn't invite Susan in, did you?” Professor Inkfell's guilty face was all the response they needed. “Fine!” Buffy said. “We'll check out the house and then we're going to give you a lesson on living in Sunnydale.”

They followed her onto the porch, Spike stopping at the threshold when she opened the door to usher them in.

“He needs an invitation,” Buffy instructed as the older woman frowned at Spike.

“But I already gave Susan an invitation, doesn't that mean...”

“Was only good for her,” Spike said. “And she's not going to be using it anytime soon.”

“Oh. Okay. C...come in, then.”

Spike swaggered across the threshold and stared around the book-filled room. While Buffy walked through the house with the professor, who was now insisting they call her Heloise, Spike wandered around the living room, reading the spines of the books on the shelves and those lying around on every horizontal surface in the room.

“Hard to believe she's as ignorant as she is, with all this reading material,” he muttered, even as he picked up a lurid paperback with the title How to Trap a Vampire. With a snort, he threw it back on the table and plopped himself into a chair. Just to be able to say he'd made himself useful, he extended his senses but heard nothing to indicate there was anyone or anything in the small house except the three of them.

When Buffy came back with Heloise, she raised an inquiring eyebrow at Spike and he shook his head. She nodded and said, “Well, there you go, Profe- Heloise. There's nobody in the house except us.”

Smiling her thanks, Heloise said timidly, “Can I offer you some homemade cookies and something to drink?”

Spike perked up at the word drink, but quickly realized she didn't mean the kind of drink he preferred.

“I have juice, water and several different kinds of tea," she continued. "Chamomile, Peppermint, Lemon-herb...”

“Water is fine,” Buffy said. “Then we have to get back out to work.”

“This is what you do? Rescue people?”

“Sometimes. Mostly I try to get to the vamps before they have anybody I might need to rescue. Hence the being in the cemetery when you were. I try to catch them when they've just risen. I save a lot more people that way than I do if I wait they're being attacked.”

“But,” Heloise gestured at Spike. “What if they're good vampires...like your young man?”

While Spike choked and sputtered, Buffy shook her head and tried to explain.

“Spike is... different. He can control himself – most of the time,” she added with a glare that let him know she hadn't forgotten his taking advantage of the bleeding men they'd rescued. “And right now he has no choice. He can't hurt humans, only vampires and demons. So he's safe to be around.” She cocked her head at him and said, almost to herself, “You won't find any other vampires like him in Sunnydale...or anywhere else.”

Heloise sighed. “There is just so much I don't know....” She waved her hand at the books filling the small room. “The information is all so contradictory. That's why I wanted to do my own studies – without any preconceived ideas.”

Spike gave another snort. “Good idea,” he said. “You aren't going to get much from most of these pieces of trash except things that will get you dead.”

“Maybe I could study you?” she asked innocently, flinching when Spike went into game face and began to snarl. She stared at Buffy with fearful confusion as the Slayer went over to the growling vampire and spoke soothingly.

“She didn't mean it that way, Spike. You know she didn't. And I wouldn't let it
happen, anyway.”

“Works for the same bloody university, doesn't she?” he managed to get out between growls.

“I don't think Dr. Walsh's experiments have anything to do with the college. It's an Army program. I'd guess the school doesn't know anything about it.”

She was stroking his shoulder and kneeling on the couch beside him as she tried to talk him out of his justifiable suspicion and fear. Eventually he relaxed back into his normal face and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said, including Heloise in his mumbled apology.

Buffy sat down beside him on the couch, keeping on hand on his leg as she turned back to Heloise.

“I don't think Spike would be a good choice,” she said, although it was already obvious that Heloise had completely rethought the idea. “But I can introduce you to my watcher. Giles can explain a lot more than I can about vampires and demons; and his books are way better than yours.”

“Some are, some aren't, Slayer,” Spike put in. “Council of Wankers doesn't know everything. And neither does Rupert.”

Heloise frowned at Buffy. “This man... Giles? knows more than you do? But aren't you the Slayer?”

“Slayers are the weapons,” Spike said shortly. “The Watchers are the wankers that use them.”

“And on that cheerful note...” Buffy stood up and pulled Spike to his feet. “Keep your door locked, and don't invite anyone in unless they are standing in full sunlight.” She grabbed one of many pieces of paper lying around and scribbled down Giles' name and phone number. “Tell him I told you to call,” she said, handing it to Heloise.

With more assurances that she'd be perfectly safe in her own house and/or in broad daylight, Buffy and Spike said goodnight and left, walking down the street with no particular destination in mind. Spike pointed towards the dorm area of the campus.

Buffy looked at him in surprise. “No. Not yet. We haven't even patrolled yet. Not really.”

“Saved three people and dusted a bunch of vamps that had probably been feeding like that for some time. I'd say it's a good night's work.”

“I suppose... Why don't you show me where you think you're going to live? If we get lucky, I might get to slay something on the way there.”

“If you get lucky, you mean.”

“Hey! If you hadn't been so busy slurping up blood that didn't belong to you, you would have had plenty of chances to slay. Like, for instance, the smelly guy that bopped me on the head!”

“Speaking of which...” He tugged on her arm until she slowed, then turned her around and carefully felt the lump on her head.

“Ow!” Immediately, Spike's chip fired, sending him reeling back, holding his own head.

“Sorry.” Buffy frowned in sympathy. “I didn't mean to yell.”

“My fault, pet,” he said through gritted teeth. “Should have known it would hurt you for me to be poking at it.” He cocked his head at her. “You probably should have asked the good professor for some ice for that. I should have thought of it.”

“It's not your job to take care of me,” she said dismissively. “You just signed on to help me slay.”

“Might not be my job, but I—”

“You what?”

“Nothing.” He nodded at the convenience store they were nearing. “Let's pop in here and get some ice, yeah? It's not too late to take that goose egg down a little.”

“I'll just wait here,” Buffy said, sitting on a bus stop bench. “I think I'm feeling a little woozy now...” Now that the adrenalin was gone from her system, even slayer healing and recovery couldn't quite convince her brain that it hadn't been concussed, and she was suddenly grateful for Spike's presence.

He was in and out of the store very quickly, a cup of crushed ice in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. Buffy raised her eyebrows, but didn't ask him how he'd obtained either item, just watched as he put the ice in the bag and handed it to her. She sat with the ice bag on her head, shutting her eyes and enjoying the way it soothed the ache that had taken up residence in her head. She didn't even realize that she'd fallen asleep until she began to topple over and a strong arm went around her. The ice bag tumbled to the ground while she straightened up with a surprised “eep!”

“Buffy?” Spike's concerned eyes told her that she hadn't imagined falling, nor had she imagined the strong arm that had caught her. His right arm was wrapped tightly around her shoulders while his left hand brushed the hair off her face.

“I'm fine,” she insisted, not moving away from him, but holding herself erect. “I just got a little too relaxed.”

“Well, just in case you decide to do any more relaxing like that, you're going to do it in your own bed.” He stood up. “Let's go. I'm taking you home.”

“You're not the boss of me.”

Her lower lip came out in the pout he'd become so familiar with for those few hours when it was always within his reach. Resisting the urge to bite it, he laughed, tugging her hand and pulling her up to stand beside him. “Nobody knows that better than I do, Slayer. But you need to rest your addled little head. I'll make a pass through Restfield before I go home for the night.”

“Well...if you promise to patrol for me...”

“I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“You're already dead,” she pointed out, walking beside him and wondering when he was going to notice that he hadn't released her hand. When he gave no sign that he was planning to let go, she reluctantly pulled it away, sending him an apologetic smile as she did so. She didn't miss the flash of pain in his eyes, and sighed as she said, “We can't walk around like that. It would give people the wrong impression.”

"What impression might that be?"

“That you... that I... that we....” She shrugged helplessly.

“Thanks for clearing that up,” he muttered as they reached her dorm.

Once again, he held the door for her. This time she had no comment but “thanks” as she ducked under his arm and entered the building. Without speaking, he followed her up the stairs and waited while she unlocked her dorm room. Buffy entered, then turned and shuffled her feet, not looking at him.

“Do you want...”

Spike stepped inside and closed the door. He noted that Willow's bed was once again empty.

“I'll just see that you're safely tucked in and then I'll be on my way, pet.”

Buffy nodded, then winced as it jiggled the bump on her head. She picked up her pajamas from the foot of her bed and threw them over her shoulder. “I'll be right back,” she said, grabbing her toothbrush and going out the door.

Spike waited patiently, sitting on Willow's neatly made bed and wondering idly where the witch was that she was so often missing from the dorm room late at night. He stood up when Buffy came back into the room and put her things down. She was wearing the same cotton pajamas she'd had on the first night he followed her to her room, and she tugged on the short shirt, remembering how he'd peeked at her in the mirror.

Spike's thoughts went the same place and he shifted uncomfortably as he remembered her perky little breasts and flat, tanned stomach. He stood up and moved toward the door.

“If you're all... I'll just be going then....”

In spite of what he'd said, he stopped before he got halfway to the door. Buffy was staring at him, her eyes wide and her heart pounding. She took an involuntary step toward him, as he was moving almost without volition toward her. When they were only inches apart, they stopped, Buffy's chest heaving with the breaths she was taking, Spike's hands at his sides, clenching and unclenching his fists. It was hard to say who moved first, but suddenly Buffy's arms were around his neck and his were banded around her waist.

 

Chapter Nine

 

When Buffy could tear her lips away from Spike's, hoping he would continue to hold her up— her own legs having developed serious issues with keeping her vertical— she gasped, "What is wrong with us?"

"Don't know," he said, pulling her even more tightly against his body. "Don't care, either. Want you so bad I can't see straight."

"It's gotta be the spell..." Buffy's reply trailed off into more kisses that had her climbing his body to wrap her legs around his waist.

"I take back everything bad I ever said about magic," he said, moving his hands to her ass and holding her in place. "Wonderful stuff."

He walked toward the bed, Buffy still clinging to him and peppering his neck with kisses and nibbles that made him growl low in his chest. He stopped when he reached the bed, half afraid to release her in case she changed her mind. When he didn't move, Buffy lowered her legs until her toes were touching the floor. Her hands slid down from his neck and began pushing his coat off his shoulders, giving him all the encouragement he needed.

He shrugged out of the coat and began to tug on her pajama top, pulling it over her head and throwing it across the room.

"Ah, there they are," he said, dropping his head and taking one nipple in his mouth. "Knew they'd be delicious," he managed to get out between long hard pulls. One hand was kneading the other breast leaving Buffy's hands free to tug on his tee shirt. When he wouldn't raise his arms for her, she ripped the shirt up the front and did her own oral exploration of the torso she hadn't stop thinking about since she'd last seen it.

"Need to take this horizontal, luv," he groaned as her mouth traveled down his chest and she stuck her tongue in his navel. He turned them so that his knees were touching the mattress, then fell down on his back with Buffy on top of him rubbing herself vigorously against the bulge straining his zipper.

"Hey, Buffy, I...Aaaaaah!"

Willow's scream acted like a bucket of cold water. Buffy froze, her legs still on either side of Spike's hips and her mouth on his chest.

"This isn't what it looks like..." she ventured, sitting up and trying to cover her bare breasts.

Beneath her, Spike was swearing quietly in three different languages, his hands still clutching Buffy's hips and pulling her down onto his aching cock.

"Stop it!" she hissed, grabbing his hands and pinning them over his head—a move that put her breasts right in front of his face. She gave a little whimper as he tried to reach a nipple with his mouth.

Willow was still frozen in the doorway, but at the sound of other footsteps, she quickly came into the room and shut the door behind her.

"Buffy," she said firmly, "get off Spike. Now. And put your shirt back on! You too, mister," she continued when she noticed Spike's equally bare chest. "Get dressed and then we're going to talk about this... this... situation."

"Can't we talk about it tomorrow?" Buffy whined, doing as she was told, but with a pout on her face.

"We could talk about it next week," Spike put in, reaching helplessly for her as she walked across the room and retrieved her pajama top.

"Where's your shirt?" Willow demanded. "You need to put your shirt on too." She was having a hard time keeping her eyes off the two toned torsos in front of her – they kept darting back and forth between Buffy's breasts and Spike's flat stomach. "This is giving me a headache," she moaned, sinking onto her own bed.

"My shirt's ripped," Spike said, sitting up but remaining on Buffy's bed. "And if you have a headache, you should probably go lie down somewhere. Somewhere else would be good..."

"No! I'm not leaving you two alone. That's obviously going to lead to...to bad things. Bad things that I'll have to explain to Giles and.... Nope. Not leaving you alone. That's final."

"Fuck!" Spike dropped back onto bed and stared up at the ceiling, completely unconcerned that his erection was more than visible to both girls. He adjusted himself conspicuously and then sat up again.

"I need to go," he said abruptly, pulling his coat up off the floor.

Buffy's face was a mixture of shame and longing as she watched him put his coat on.

"Where... why are you leaving?"

"Because the witch isn't going to leave us alone and I have a problem to take care of," he growled. "Unless you'd like me to take care of it right here... while the two of you watch...?" His voice trailed off hopefully.

"What? Oh! No! Ewwwww, Spike!"

"Fine. I'm out of here, then. See you tomorrow night, Slayer."

He left the room in a swish of leather, not even noticing the eyes peering out from the room next door. Eyes that caught a glimpse of bare chest before he hit the stairwell and leaped down again.

"All right. Now tell me what was going on? No, wait. Don't tell me. I saw what was going on. You need to tell me why it was happening."

"I don't know," Buffy moaned, sinking down onto the bed beside Willow. "We saved Dr. Inkfell and a couple of Initiative guys, I slayed some vamps, got hit in the head, took Dr. Inkfel home, and then I got dizzy so we came back here."

"You got hit on the head? You were dizzy? And that slimey poophead took advantage of it?" Willow's face colored with anger. "I'm going to turn him into a cockroach and then step on him."

Buffy shook her head. "It wasn't like that," she said. "Really. He got me ice for my head, and he brought me home, and then..." She raised her eyes to Willow's. "I'm pretty sure I jumped him. He didn't fight me off, but I think I made the first move. He was just planning to make sure I was safe and then leave."

"Oh." Willow looked disappointed that she couldn't test her skills at turning people into animals.

"You could always try turning Professor Walsh into a cockroach," Buffy said helpfully.

Willow nodded. "I'm keeping that in reserve in case she tries to kidnap you again."

Buffy shrugged. "We saved two of her guys tonight—but now I guess they'll tell her they saw Spike, so who knows what she'll do next? She probably thinks he's one of us now. Or I'm one of ... him. Crap."

"You're avoiding the real issue here. Buffy."

"Who, me? Avoiding something? That's just... probably true." Buffy raised sad eyes. "Do you think this is just left over lust? Maybe if we just do it, we'll get it out of our systems and then we can go back to being... whatever we would be if we hadn't spent all that time smooching."

"This is my fault," Willow said sadly. "I need to fix it."

"No more spells, Will. I don't want... I don't know what I don't want. I just want to know that it's just me wanting... or not wanting... it."

"But if the spell is still...."

Buffy shook her head. "We're not in love. We're not talking about getting married." Buffy pushed the thought of Spike's ring tucked in the back of her jewelry drawer out of her head. "We just really, really want to have sex."

"Buffy. It's Spike. A week ago you hated him."

"Well, yeah. But now I know him better... and I always thought he was hot—in an evil kind of way."

"You cannot seriously be thinking about having sex with Spike!"

"Well, why not? I mean if that's what it takes to make it go away..."

"I have one word for you."

Buffy blinked and raised an eyebrow. "One word?"

"Angel."

"Oh God." Buffy fell back on the bed. "He'd go nuts..."

"And he'd dust Spike. Just in case that matters."

Buffy sat up. "Of course it matters. It would be my fault."

"Is that the only reason?"

"Maybe?"

"Not very convincing, Missy. This has left over spell written all over it. You two still think, on some level, that you're in love. That's why Spike is being so nice to you, and it's why you keep wanting to jump his bones." Willow shook her head sorrowfully. "I'm going to have to fix this."

"Maybe... and I can't believe I'm suggesting this... maybe we should talk to Giles?"

"No! He'll just say I ... well I don't think he'll be supportive. He'll just tell me I messed up. I can fix this. And until I do, you don't go anywhere alone with Spike. Is that clear?"

Buffy glared, her lip coming out in another pout. "I'll go where I want, with who I want," she said stubbornly.

"Whom."

"Huh?"

"Nothing. Never mind. Just go to bed. I'll work on this tomorrow."

"No spells," Buffy muttered as she climbed back into her bed and snuggled under the covers.

"We'll see..." Wilow's response was barely audible as she began searching through her spell book for some cure for whatever had gone wrong with her "My Will Be Done" spell. As far as she knew, neither Xander nor Giles had had any lingering effects from the spell. She quickly rejected the idea that Giles might be able to lend some insight.

 

"Well. This has been most helpful. And interesting." Heloise beamed at Giles from across the table.

"You do understand that, had you not already known about slayers and Buffy's status, I would not be sharing this information with you," Giles warned.

"I do. And I appreciate your making an exception for me. Although, I have to say, I don't see the harm in sharing the information about vampires and demons. It has been a wonderful addition to my research, and that doesn't harm Ms. Summers in any way."

"Perhaps not," Giles said. "But to draw that kind of attention to myself would then be to draw attention to the other people in our small group. One of which is, obviously, Buffy."

"So," Heloise nodded. "Ms. Summers is a typical slayer, then?" She missed Giles's incredulous snort, continuing, "Do all slayers have their own vampire boyfriends to assist them?"

"Their own—" Giles struggled for a minute to understand what she was asking, realizing it just as Spike burst through the front door, smoking blanket on his head.

"Rupert, I need— Oh, you're here," he said to Heloise. "Didn't waste any time, did you?"

"Mr. Giles and I have had a wonderful afternoon," she replied. "I know so much more now about vampires and demons. He is just brilliant. Truly." She beamed at Giles, who blushed and tried not to see the growing smirk on Spike's face.

"Yeah, yeah. The Watcher's just full of useful information—some of which I need to access right now, so if you've had your fill..."

"Oh dear! I have spent the entire afternoon here, haven't I?" She smiled at Giles as she stood up and gathered her notes. "But I'm sure there is so much more you have to share with me... Perhaps you'd join me for dinner one night this week. I am quite the good cook — or so I'm told."

While Spiked snickered quietly, Giles walked Heloise to the door, telling her he would have to check his calendar, but that it sounded like a lovely idea. He ushered her out, instructing her to get home quickly before the sun fully set. He closed the door behind her and turned to glare at Spike who was now laughing out loud.

"Should have known you two would hit it off," he said, still chuckling. "If she'd been born on the other side of the pond, she could have been a watcher. Maybe..." He thought about it for a minute. "Well, not one that handles a slayer, I reckon. She's too weak for that. But a researcher or something..."

"I find it somewhat disconcerting that you know as much as you seem to know about watchers and the Council. We may have to have a talk about how you acquired this knowledge..."

"Yeah, well, right now we need to have a talk about the witch and that bloody spell that she did." Spike growled, throwing himself into the chair that still smelled of him and Buffy.

"Willow? She broke the spell days ago. What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about—" Spike broke off, quickly doing a visual check for any easily reached weapons. "I'm talking about the fact that your slayer and I.... That I can't be in the same room with her without.... But I want to be in the same room she is – all the time. Want it more than is natural."

Giles's face went from ashen to purple. "Are you saying you want Buffy to... that you think my slayer...." He started to rise from the couch, clearly planning to remove Spike from his sight.

"Calm down, Watcher. I'm saying that Buffy and I want each other. Know it's wrong. We both know how wrong it is. But it's there, it's real and it's getting to be bloody annoying."

"Annoying."

"Yeah. Annoying. Can't be around her without sporting a... And it's not like she's immune to it! Makes it that much harder when I can hear her heartbeat go up when I touch her, that I can smell her—" The expression on Giles's face stopped him just in time. "It's unnatural, Watcher. Got to be that bloody spell. And now the witch wants to 'fix it' herself. Who knows what will happen to us next if she starts mucking around without guidance?"

"Quite right," Giles sighed, settling back into the cushions. "So, you and Buffy haven't... acted upon these urges, I take it?"

Spike shook his head. "Not yet, but I'm only flesh and blood. And I couldn't fight this if I wanted to." Seeing the expression on Giles's face, he quickly added, "And I do! Want to, that is. Fight it. Fighting it all the time. Grrrr. Argh!" He waved his arms around in an effort to demonstrate how hard he was fighting his urges.

"Perhaps Buffy is not as affected as you claim to be," Giles said hopefully. "Surely she can..."

Spike stopped punching the air and just stared at Giles until he looked away.

"Oh dear Lord."

"Exactly." Spike stood up. "You need to fix this. Before Willow accidently has us trying to kill each other again."

"Is that her plan?"

"Not exactly. We told her we don't want to hate each other again. We just want to be able to be in the same room without— But it's Red. Can feel the power she's got, but it's all over the place. She tries to fix us without some guidance...." He shuddered.

Giles nodded and took off his glasses to rub his eyes. "I'll speak with her," he said. "In the meantime...."

"In the meantime, I'm going to go help a friend move out of his house. He promised to give me the furniture he isn't taking with him."

"A friend?"

"Harmless demon type. Lives on the edge of Demontown. Some human with more money than sense offered him a bundle for his house, and he grabbed it and ran."

Giles frowned. "Humans are moving into the demon side of town? That doesn't seem wise."

Spike shrugged. "Prices are lower. What was a windfall for my friend prob'ly seemed like a steal to buyer. And it's happening more and more. Humans buy the houses, fix them up, put up wards if they know about such things, and first thing you know, the whole block's gone human and the rest of the demons can't afford to live there."

"I suppose it was inevitable...although you'd think that with Sunnydale's vampire problem, there really wouldn't be that much demand for new housing."

"Soon's the humans become the owners, they're just as safe in those houses as they would be anywhere else." Spike shrugged again. "Your home's where you make it, innit?" He stretched and walked to the door, peering out first to be sure that the sun had set. "Anyway, I'm off to get some furniture to make my new home a little more homey. Don't suppose you'd like to donate anything to the cause? Bottle of booze, maybe? A few books?"

"Spike..." Giles rose to his feet and walked toward the door. "About Buffy..."

"Yeah, yeah. Touch her and I'm dust. Already know that, don't I? Wouldn't have told you about it if I was planning to take advantage of it."

"Why aren't you?" The watcher's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What are you up to?"

Spike blew out an exasperated breath. "Not up to anything. Was engaged to the chit. Still got those feelings nagging at me, I reckon. Don't want to hurt her."

 

"You are a very...different...vampire," Giles said, frowning and already mentally listing the old Watchers Diaries that he needed to reread.

"Glad one of you can see that," Spike muttered as he pulled the door shut behind him.

 

Chapter Ten

Buffy and Willow walked into Giles's apartment, sipping on their Big Gulps and talking about the latest stupid assignment from their Chemistry class. It took several minutes for them to notice that Giles was wearing his "serious business" face and their voices trailed off slowly. Buffy gave a sigh and pulled out a chair, setting her drink on the table as she sat down.

"Okay. What's with the apocalypse face? It's too early in the year for one of those. It isn't even Tuesday, for crap's sake! There's no reason for that face." When Giles didn't answer right away, she changed to a pleading whine. "Please tell me there's no reason for that face, Giles."

"Why haven't either one of you told me about the lingering effects from Willow's disastrous spell?" He waited impatiently while both girls' faces went through various expressions and shades of red before settling into an approximation of innocence.

"Effects?"

"Spell?"

"You," he said, pointing at Buffy, "should have told me immediately that you were feeling an unnatural attraction to Spike. And you," he turned to Willow, "You are not to try to fix this by yourself. You could do irreparable damage."

Buffy spoke up first. "Oh yeah, that would have been a fun conversation – oh, Giles, by the way, I think I want to sleep with Spike now. You don't mind, do you?"

"So, am I to understand that you preferred that I hear about from Spike?"

Buffy's response was to leap to her feet, pulling a stake from her waistband. "No problem, Giles. He's about to become a pile of horny dust." She had her hand on the doorknob when Giles and Willow's combined voices slowed her down.
"An understandable response, perhaps," Giles said when she turned around and gave him her reluctant attention. "However, he has been somewhat helpful to you lately and it seems to me that removing whatever lingering spell effects are there would be a more charitable and useful solution."

"Is that watcher-speak for I can't stake him?" Buffy's pout was exaggerated, but she returned to the room and sat down again.

"Would you really do that?" Willow looked disappointed, causing Buffy to drop her head against the back of the chair.

"I don't know. I think I could, but..." She raised her eyes to stare at her watcher. "I don't think I want to. Obviously there is something wrong with me. I mean, this is Spike we're talking about. You know, evil, soulless, wants to drink from my brainstem or some such crap..."

"I am not suggesting that you and he become best friends, and certainly not implying that you should act on these... feelings... that you both seem to be harboring. However, it has occurred to me that Spike's chip may have provided him with an opportunity to atone for some of his activities as a vampire. Just as Angel's soul has put him on a path of redemption, and has perhaps made him a Champion in the eyes of the Powers that Be..."

"Spike is nothing like Angel!!!!" Buffy's indignation on Angel's behalf was a solid presence in the room.

"I'm quite sure he would be the first one to agree with you," Giles said dryly. "I am not implying that he would take the same path; however, the fact that he has so quickly learned to control his bloodthirsty urges – without the assistance of a soul – suggests that he is not the average vampire and that there may be room there for adding another powerful warrior to the fight against evil."

"He is a pretty good fighter," Willow pointed out helpfully. "And I think he—" She cut herself off.

"He what?"

Willow gulped, giving Buffy a tremulous smile. "I think he maybe, really likes you. A little bit."

Buffy couldn't help giggling. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure he was liking me last night..."

Willow giggled too, then both girls saw the thunderous expression on Giles' face.

"But that was a spell! And bad. Very bad." Buffy nodded vigorously, joined by a very serious Willow.

"Badly bad. No question."

Rolling his eyes and reaching for his glasses, Giles sighed.

"The point I am trying to make here, is that with Angel gone..." he waited for Buffy's automatic flinch at the mention of Angel's name, surprised when she just nodded, "you could do worse than to have someone with Spike's skills on your side."

"Giles, he's not going to be all that helpful if we're spending all our energy trying to resist getting naked."

"Indeed." Giles coughed. "Willow and I are going to go over the spell she used and consider some possibilities for a counter spell. In the meantime..."

"Already got the memo, Giles. We both did. No Spike and Buffy alone time until you and Willow have fixed everything." Buffy stood up and took her drink with her as she started for the door again. "So, I'm just going to go patrol for a while and then I'll just go to bed. My bed. By myself. No sexy vampires invited."

Waving her good-bye, she went out the door, pulling it closed behind her.

Willow and Giles looked at each other and simultaneously reached for books and pencils with which to take notes.

Buffy strolled along for a while, sipping at her drink and thinking about what Giles had said. She had to admit that the Spike she'd been spending time with since the "engagement" was very different from the vampire she'd thought she knew all about.

Who knew that William was such a gentleman, or that Spike still remembered how to be one.

She thought about what Giles had suggested about Spike's possible path to redemption as a warrior for good. Like a whatchamacalit... hidalgo? Like Don Quixote? An old-timey knight like they'd learned about in Spanish class. She giggled to herself at the image of Spike on Rocinante, tilting at windmills, trying to rescue barmaids in distress and singing "The Impossible Dream".

She was still giggling when she noticed that she was in Restfield and walking toward the area Spike had said was his intended home. She picked up speed when she saw a truck parked outside a crypt and a clearly non-human carrying a heavy piece of furniture through the door. She slowed when she got close enough to hear Spike's voice.

"Ta, mate. That chest was going to be a bit much even for me."

"No problem, Spike. I'm happy to have it gone. The missus was thinking of someplace different to move it every other day it seemed like. I'm just glad the new place is too small for it."

"Works good here," Spike said. "Lots of room in this old place. Must have belonged to some important buggers."

"Well, I'll leave you to the decorating. Need to get back and start rearranging my own furniture five or six times until my wife makes up her mind."

"Thanks again, Herb. Don't work too hard."

Herb walked to the door just as Buffy was entering.

"Gah!"

"Ahhhhh!" he said with an umanly shriek. "Slayer, Spike! Slayer!"

"It's alright. The Slayer doesn't slay things that aren't dangerous to humans... isn't that right, pet?"

Buffy stared at the very, very large demon who stared back at her dubiously.

"Buffy?" Spike's voice brought her attention back to him. "He's harmless, luv. Just here doing me a favor."

Still not speaking, Buffy just gave a curt nod and sidled past the large body and into the crowded crypt. With a wave, Spike's friend left quickly. Buffy and Spike stood silently until they could no longer hear the sound of his truck.

"So," Buffy said, gazing around. "Whatcha doing?"

Spike began moving pieces of furniture farther into the large stone room, filling her in on where they came from as he did so. She watched for a while, then became bored and asked, "Do you want some help?"

 

He stared at her in shock for a few seconds, then shrugged. "Sure. If you'll just help me with that big chest Herb brought in."

Between the two of them, they were able to move the large piece of furniture fairly easily, taking it all the way to the back of the crypt and putting it against the wall. They stood back and surveyed it with critical eyes.

"What do you think, pet? Good spot for it?"

"I guess. It kinda looks like... I don't know. Bedroom furniture?"

"There's no way we're getting that thing down to the bedroom," Spike scoffed. "I'll use it for a weapons' closet or something."

"Bedroom? Down to the bedroom?" Buffy stared around. "What is this? A vampire condo?"

Spike snorted. "This is an old crypt, pet. Been others here before me. Seems like some of them liked their comforts... and their privacy. Here, let me show you."

He moved the rug he'd thrown over the plywood hiding the entrance to the lower level and grabbed a candle from a table.

"Let me go first, pet. Ladder needs a little work and it's dark down there."

"Ya think?" Buffy said, peering over the edge into the inky space where Spike had disappeared. There was a thump as he leaned a ladder against the side of the opening and then a soft yellow light filled the space.

"Okay, Slayer. It's safe enough now."

As Buffy climbed carefully down the shaky ladder, she muttered, "You do know that using 'Slayer' and 'safe' in the same sentence is probably jinxing us for the rest of the night, right?"

A rich chuckle was his only response as he stepped away from where he'd been holding the ladder and watching her descend. Buffy stared around with wide eyes, taking in the rugs piled against one wall and the pieces of wood stacked in one corner of what appeared to be a huge open area. She could see a mattress and box springs leaning against another wall, and a small chest of drawers near the rugs.

"Whoa! That demon guy gave you all this?"

"No. No, most of this I picked up at the dump, or in front of some house where there'd been an eviction or a...." His voice trailed off as he recalled what often was the reason for a house going vacant.

"Or where vampires killed a whole family," Buffy finished for him, her voice flat and toneless.

"Or that," he agreed softly. He sighed as he watched her expression go from happily curious about his new home to grim and uncomfortable. "Buffy—"

 

She shook her head and forced a smile. "I'm fine. I know it couldn't have been you. And Giles keeps telling me, I can only do what I can do. I can't save everyone. I know that."

He glided up to her and stood inches away, trying to get her to look at him with eyes that went everywhere else in the room except his worried face.

"Look at me, luv," he insisted, hands clenched at his sides so that he wouldn't give in to the urge to touch her. When she finally dragged her eyes to his, he sighed in relief. "The watcher's right. You are probably the best slayer ever. But no one can expect you to get to every vamp in Sunnydale before they can kill. It's not humanly possible. Not on a Hellmouth where you've got so much else to deal with."

"I know," she repeated. "But whole families... little kids... I should be able to stop that."

"Doesn't happen very often, Slayer," he said. "If everybody in Sunnydale was that dumb, the town would be empty by now. Anybody who lets a stranger into their house after dark... well, that's just Mother Nature thinning the gene pool."

Buffy shook her head and snorted, "Way to put things in perspective, Spike." But the corners of her mouth twitched and he risked touching her cheek.

"Tell you what, pet. Instead of moving furniture, why don't we go out and see how many potential family killers we can find to slay? I'll even let you get first crack at them."

"You sure know how to sweet talk a girl," she said, brightening up right away and leaning just the tiniest bit into the hand still resting on her cheek.

"Know what this one likes," he whispered, sliding the hand around to the back of her neck and pulled her head towards the mouth he was lowering to hers. "Know just what she likes..."

"I promised Giles we wouldn't be alone together until he and Willow fixed whatever's wrong with us," she whimpered as his lips brushed across hers.

"So did I," he replied, between the brief kisses with which he was peppering her face and neck. "Makes us both liars, I reckon."

"Shouldn't this be getting weaker?" Buffy gasped as she tilted her head to give him access to her neck. "It should be wearing off by now, not getting... oooooh!"

"Don't know. Don't know what kind of spell it was... is" he mumbled around the soft skin he was sucking on over her carotid artery. "Know it's not getting weaker, though."

"Not getting any weaker," she agreed breathlessly, her hands sliding under his shirt to caress the skin on his back.

Spike's hands moved from her shoulders down to the waistband of her low-rise jeans, stroking the smooth skin over her stomach and eliciting a series of moans that made his cock even harder than it had been before he started touching her. He dropped his mouth from her neck to her stomach, kissing his way across and down, tickling her navel before allowing his tongue to slide under the waistband and caress her lower abdomen. Buffy's knees buckled and she fell back against the ladder, holding herself up with one arm. Spike fell to his knees and continued to kiss her stomach while he fumbled with the snap on her jeans, finally opening it and yanking the zipper down.

His mouth immediately dropped to her lace-covered mound, increasing her gasps and moans as she unconsciously thrust her hips forward. She buried her free hand in his hair, holding his head in place while he worried at the elastic of her panties until he'd pushed it out of his way and could put his mouth and tongue where they both wanted them. Buffy's attempts to open her legs wider were hampered by the jeans around her thighs and she whimpered in frustration as Spike growled his own desire for more access.

With a snarl that she tried to tell herself she shouldn't respond to the way she did, he stood up and grabbed her around the hips, carrying her to the pile of rugs and throwing her down. He threw himself on top of her, taking minutes to indulge in long lingering kisses before sliding down again to pull her shoes and jeans off. Beginning with one sock-covered foot, he kissed his way up her leg until he was back where he wanted to be. Using only his human teeth, he snapped the elastic on her panties and let them fall away while he pushed her legs apart and buried his face, inhaling the scent that had been driving him crazy every day since the spell.

Buffy arched up towards his mouth, mentally cringing with embarrassment at the thought of how it must look – her half-naked, a fully clothed Spike with his face in her crotch. Since the only way she could think of to change anything would have involved making Spike stop what he was doing to her, she quickly disregarded her mental image and gave in to the wonderful sensations he was creating – sensations that built until she was shuddering against him and whispering his name.

Through the pleasure-induced fog in which she was lying, she heard the distant sound of a zipper and the rustle of fabric, just before Spike covered her with his body and dropped his hips between her thighs. Growling the entire time, he thrust his way into her, waiting only a few seconds for her to get used to it before his hips began moving and he began babbling in her ear.

"Slayer... Buffy... Buffy... Knew you would feel... ah, like that, luv. Squeeze me, love, make me hurt. Let me feel you... ah, like warm silk, you are. Want you so bad ... need you to... Ah, there! There, Buffy. Make me... oh bloody... No one ever... never want to leave... "

His constant motion had quickly brought her to the cusp of another orgasm, this one all the more powerful for being almost simultaneous with his shouted release as he drove into her so hard her head hit the dirt wall behind them. For long minutes after they just lay panting, unable to do more than breathe and, in Buffy's case, stare at the dirt ceiling.

When Spike finally rolled off her body, nuzzling her neck before he did and whispering something she chose not to hear clearly, she flushed all over as she glanced down. She lay with her bare legs sprawled apart, socks still on her feet, her shirt rucked up to her bra and her hair touching a wall of dirt. Beside her, Spike lay taking deep unnecessary breaths, his jeans pushed down and his spent cock draped to one side of a pale, muscular thigh.

"Oh my God," she said, her voice shaking. "What have we done?"

 

Chapter Eleven But It Was a Spell!!!

"Bloody hell..." Spike raised his head, saw her stricken expression and dropped it again, repeating, "Bloody fucking hell."

Buffy tugged her shirt down, trying futilely to pull it down far enough to cover her exposed, neatly trimmed curls. When that didn't work, she sat up and pulled her knees to her chest, yanking the shirt out of shape so it would cover her legs all the way to her sock-clad ankles. Beside her, Spike pulled his jeans up, tucking himself away before Buffy could notice that he was growing hard again.

Not that she was looking at him. Her face was buried in her knees, her whole body curled into a tiny ball of misery. Without speaking to her, he stood up and walked to where he'd tossed her jeans, bringing them back and handing them to her with a quiet, "Here, luv."

He turned his back and remained facing away from her until he heard the sound of a zipper and snap. He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and turned around, dropping to his knees next to the rugs upon which Buffy was now sitting, still staring at the floor and refusing to meet his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," he said. "I never meant for it to happen like that."

"Like that?" She snapped her head up. "How did you mean for it to happen?"

Pretending he didn't know she wasn't really asking a question for which she wanted an answer, he gestured to the wood stacked in the corner.

"That's a king sized bed," he said quietly. "Was going to wait until the place was all set up, then do it right – candles, music, wine...."

"You were going to try to seduce me?" She gave a short, scoffing laugh and dropped her head again. "Why bother? It's not like I was going to say no, is it?"

He flinched at the bitterness in her voice, but continued, "Was planning to wait until the spell was gone. Didn't want you to... didn't want this," he said, gesturing back and forth between them. She raised her head slowly, her expression carefully blank. "Wanted to make love to you, Buffy. And I wanted it to be because you wanted me – not because of some spell that made you think you did."

"Without the spell I wouldn't have even come here," she said. "Did you think about that? Maybe you wouldn't have even wanted me to come down here. You might have gone to all that trouble for nothing."

"Might have. Was willing to take my chances." He took in her angry face and rapidly blinking eyes. "Guess those chances are pretty slim now...."

She gave a shaky laugh. "Yeah, I think you could safely say that." She shook her head. "On the plus side, I don't feel all that... pull that was there before. Maybe we had to do that to get it out of our systems? Do you feel more... normal?"

"Think I can control myself, if that's what you mean," he responded noncommittally.

She nodded. If she noticed that he hadn't really answered her question, she didn't call him on it, just looked around for her shoes. When she spotted them, she started to get up, but Spike was quicker, getting the shoes and handing them to her.

"So," she said staring down at the laces she was tying, "Didn't you promise me lots of killing things?" She raised her head, her eyes now bright and hard. "I think I could use some of that right now."

"Right there with you, Slayer." He held out is hand to help her up, dropping it when she just stared at him like he'd lost his mind. "Right then," he muttered. "We're off to kill things."

By unspoken agreement, they left Restfield and headed for some of the more remote cemeteries around Sunnydale. Buffy strode with grim purpose, her mouth set in a tight line as she scanned her surroundings for something on which to take out her anger. As much as she wanted to take it out on Spike, she also really wanted something that could fight back. And, if she was honest with herself – which she was resolutely avoiding – she knew it was no more his fault than hers. Whatever was going on between them, if had been affecting Spike anywhere near as much as it had her, then he wasn't really responsible for his actions.

Well, except for the whole wanting to seduce me thing. But that could have been spell induced too. Maybe he won't want to do that anymore now that it's out of our systems.

"What's the plan, Slayer? If you don't find anything worth slaying, I mean."

She fixed hard eyes on him. "I think you'd better hope that I do," she said. "I really, really need to beat up on something." When he didn't respond, she added, "And just so you know, I want to do it myself. You can watch, but don't get in my way."

 

After they'd realized what had gone wrong with her original spell and dealt with it, Willow had buried herself in a book of simple spells, writing down the ones she thought might be useful and taking great care to get every word correct and in the proper order. As the watcher came into the room from the kitchen, she looked up with less confidence than she would have had a few days ago.

"Are you sure it's gone?"

"It should be." He sat down at the table and sighed. "I'm glad we figured it out quickly and didn't need them to be here for it. If we'd had to wait until the next time we had them together, it may have been too long. Heaven only knows what could have happened by then." He shuddered and reached for his glass.

"Yeah. At least we got it done before it got too late. Buffy's probably slayed a few vamps and gone back to the dorm already. She won't even know it's gone until I tell her." She looked at him curiously. "What did you say Spike was doing?"

"Moving furniture, according to him."

"Huh. Okay then, job well done. I'm going to head back to the campus and—"

"I'll drive you," Giles said, standing up and picking up his keys. "It's much too late for you to be walking around Sunnydale without Buffy."

"I have a few things up my sleeves," Willow grumbled. "I'm a match for any vamp I see coming."

"It would be those that you do not 'see coming' that should concern you," he said dryly. "I'm quite pleased that you feel you can defend yourself if needed, but I suggest you not become too complacent about it. One wrong word during a spell can, as you have seen, make a great deal of difference. And if the spell goes awry while you are under attack..."

"I get it, Giles. Sheesh! You'd think I messed up all the time." She gave a haughty sniff and marched out the door ahead of Giles, who was wearing his "give me strength" expression as he pulled the door closed.

 

"Oh look, Spike. A ritual! A vampire ritual!" Buffy's voice was unnaturally loud and cheerful, causing the gathering of robed vampires to turn, snarling at the interruption.

Spike rolled his eyes at the early warning she'd given. "Brilliant," he said, much less enthusiastically, mentally counting their opponents and shaking his head. "You wanted to kill vamps – have at it. You should get your fill now."

There was just the slightest hesitation in Buffy's voice. "Don't you... aren't you going to help me?"

"Got your back, Slayer," he said gruffly. "But I thought you wanted me to stay out of your business?"

As the first few robed vampires reached them and Buffy began dodging fists and feet, she felt the familiar anger flare. "I do!" she grunted, staking the first vampire to come within reach. Her irritation at Spike and her embarrassment over what they'd done combined to give her a power and purpose much different from her usual quippy and stress-free slaying. Within seconds, there were three fewer vampires and the remaining ones were slowing down and assessing the situation. They cast wary eyes at Spike, but when he just settled onto a tombstone and lit a cigarette, they turned all their attention on the Slayer.

Without waiting for the other vamps to form a plan of attack, Buffy took the fight to them, using her fists and feet as much as her stake. She worked her way through the crowd, somehow always aware of where each opponent was and able to evade or injure even those trying to get behind her. By the time the last vampire was on the ground moaning, she was tiring badly. She went from body to body staking them as quickly as she could. When there was nothing left of the ritual gathering except the small fire and the robe of the long gone intended victim, she dropped to the ground and fell onto her back, panting for air.

Too late, she realized that her position was almost identical to the one she'd been in not so long ago. At least this time I'm wearing my pants. She snickered to herself, turning her head languidly when Spike settled onto the grass facing her, his back against a tombstone and his legs drawn up. He rested his hands on his knees and cocked his head.

"Care to share, pet?"

"Not really." She smiled to take the sting out of her words, surprised to find that she was no longer angry.

"Feeling better, are you?"

She shrugged as best she could from her position on the ground. "Well, I don't feel like beating you to a pulp anymore. I guess that's better."

He was gazing down at her, his expression uncomfortably like the one he'd been wearing since the spell. Embarrassed, she dropped her eyes, only to find them landing on his hands and the bulge just visible through his open knees.

"I thought we were cured!" She sat up abruptly. "What's the hell is wrong with you?"

Spike shifted, adjusting himself now that he knew she was aware of her effect on him. "Never seen yourself fight, have you, love?" he said enigmatically.

"What's that got to do with anyth—"

"Like poetry in motion, you are. All grace and power and righteousness." He nudged her foot with his. "Got nothing to do with the spell, pet. It's what watching you fight has always done to me. Hell, fighting with you used to leave me too hard to walk sometimes."

Buffy looked away, blushing. "TMI, Spike."

"Not something I should have shared?" he teased, relenting when he saw her face begin to shut down. "I'm sorry, Slayer. Didn't mean to burst your 'we're all back to normal' bubble like that. But 'normal' doesn't mean quite the same thing to me as it probably does to you."

"Are we back to normal?" Buffy didn't look at him as she asked her question.

"Well, I'm over here and you're over there, and nobody's ripping off anybody's clothes, so I'd say so."

She ignored the trace of sadness she thought she detected in his voice. "Well, okay, good then. I guess we can tell Giles and Willow not to worry about doing another spell." She stood up and waited for him to spring to his feet before turning to walk back to the dorm. Spike fell into step beside her, walking close enough to feel like a companion, but not so close as to accidently touch her anywhere. They were approaching the campus when Buffy realized he hadn't dropped off to go to his crypt. "Where are you going?"

"Just seeing you home, pet."

"Spike—"

"Not planning on coming in," he growled. "I just think you might be a little tired after that fight. Thought it would be a good idea to see you safely home."

She nodded, then gave him a sidelong glance. "So, I guess William wasn't just part of the spell, huh?"

"Tell anybody about this and I'll tear your heart out!"

"Okay, that sounds more like spelless Spike," she giggled. "I know you—" She pushed him behind a minivan, her hand over his mouth muffling his growl. "Shhhhh," she whispered. "There are soldiers up there."

Leaving Spike crouched behind the van, Buffy stood up and peered ahead to the pool of light at the entrance to the campus. Two cammo-clad men were talking in low tones, scanning every coed that came past them. Buffy watched long enough to know that they were paying special attention to the blondes that approached. She dropped back to where Spike was crouched, a low but steady rumble coming from his throat.

"I think they're looking for me," she hissed.

Spike's rumble increased to a full-throated snarl that was cut off abruptly as he grabbed his head and winced.

"Bloody hell. I can't even think about killing those wankers," he complained.

"You can't kill them," Buffy said, poking him in the arm. "We've got to get out of here. I can't kill them either, and I'll bet anything there aren't just the two we can see."

Spike nodded. "No question, pet. After what you did to the last squad they sent after you, they've probably got a whole battalion hiding out behind those brick walls."

"Lets get back to Giles'. He said to let him know if they bothered me again."

"Don't know what he thinks he's going to do," Spike scoffed. "Doubt the Council of Wankers—"

"You'd be surprised where the Council has their grubby little fingers," Buffy interrupted. "Or who they've got the goods on, anyway."

"Now that I can believe," he muttered as they crept backwards, keeping the parked cars between them and the still alert soldiers. As soon as they were safely out of line of sight, they sprinted back towards Giles' apartment complex, arriving just as he was returning from taking Willow home.

"I thought you two were going to stay apart?" he said, glaring at Buffy. "Not that it matters now, but you wouldn't have known that."

"Why wouldn't we know it?" Buffy frowned. "We were the first to know." She trusted Spike's sense of self-preservation would prevent him from explaining just how they knew.

"You knew that we did the spell?" Giles unlocked the door and ushered them in, closing it firmly behind them. He frowned as Buffy turned the deadbolt and Spike went around pulling the blinds closed.

"Well, I mean, we can tell we... You did a spell?"

"Yes. I found the word that had been missing from Willow's original spell that would have allowed her to successfully break it. I'm not clear on why it didn't affect the rest of us; we all seem to have recovered without any lingering effects – but that's neither here nor there. The point is, we fixed it so you should be free of the... urges that were making you so miserable." He beamed at them, his smile fading as he watched them exchanging looks he couldn't read.

"What... what time did you do the spell?" Buffy asked, barely controlling the panic in her voice. She felt Spike step closer to her, offering silent support. He's still got my back.

"Oh, quite early on," Giles said, narrowing his eyes at the body language he was reading. "Not long after you left here, actually. It was a simple matter, once she showed me her words, to redo the spell with the correct wording, and then to break it again. It should have gone into effect immediately. Did it not?" he asked, glaring at Spike's impassive face and Buffy's ashen one.

Giles was not a stupid man. He grabbed the stake that Buffy had dropped on the table and raised it. "I warned you," he said, stepping toward the couple and pushing Buffy aside.

"No, Giles!" She pushed back, deflecting his aim and placing herself in front of Spike again. "It wasn't his fault!"

"The devil it wasn't." No one made any attempt to pretend not to understand the subject. "No spell means he was in control of his actions...." His anger faded into disappointment as he looked at Buffy's flaming face. "As were you," he said with a deep sigh, laying the stake back on the table. "I should have realized that," he added in as close to an apology as he intended to come. Spike's nod of acknowledgment told him the vampire understood.

Giles slumped into the chair he'd been using when he and Willow had celebrated their handling of the "Spike situation" as they'd taken to calling it.

"Bloody hell," he muttered. "I would have sworn we..." He glanced up at them, frowning at Spike's proximity to Buffy. "But did you just say you know it's broken?"

"Yes," Spike said shortly.

"We're fine now," Buffy put in. "It's out of our systems and no one is ever going to mention it again."

 

Chapter Twelve Compliance - or close enough to it.

"How can you be so sure?" Giles peered at them with suspicion, not at all comfortable with how close together they were standing. "That you're fine, obviously, not that no one will ever mention this again."

"Look at us. We're here. In the same room. Standing close together. And we're not... we're not even flirting. We're not even thinking about it, are we, Spike?" She turned just in time to catch him running his eyes up to hers. She glared at him, wondering briefly what he'd been looking at before she turned around. "Are we?" she repeated, in her best "give the right answer or you're dust" tone of voice.

"Yeah, yeah, Slayer. Don't get your knickers in a twist. I don't want to get into them anymore." He shrugged and walked to the easy chair, throwing himself into it. "Tell the man what we came here to tell him."

Giles narrowed his eyes at the sprawling vampire, then remembered all the locking and closing up that had taken place when they first came in. "Yes, by all means. Please tell me why you are visiting me this late in the evening."

"The commandos, the ones that tried to trap me the other night? They were standing guard outside campus, checking out all the blonde girls who came through the gates. At least, I think it was them. These guys were wearing regular Army uniforms, but...."

Giles frowned and glanced at the phone. "Perhaps it is time we told the Council about this situation."

Buffy turned to Spike triumphantly. "See? I told you."

"What do you expect the Council of Wankers to do?" Spike addressed his question to Giles who was checking his watch and doing some mental arithmetic.

"You might be surprised at what the Council can do if one of their slayers is being threatened."

Spike barked out a laugh. "You mean they actually care if something happens to their cannon fodder? Tell me another one, Rupert."

"There is a difference between losing a slayer to the forces of evil and having her ability to do her duty interfered with by ignorant humans," Giles said stiffly. "I suspect they will not be happy to hear that a secret government organization is not only interfering by capturing and releasing vampires, but also by attempting to treat Buffy as another supernatural creature to be studied."

Studiously ignoring Spike's quick glance at his knee and his raised eyebrow, Buffy walked past him to perch on the couch.

"So, what do you want me to do? If I go back to my dorm, they'll know where to find me. They probably know about your place too. That's why we locked the doors and pulled the blinds – but if they know who I am, they probably know who you are too. Riley could have told them, if he remembered meeting you – or even Dr. Inkfell... "

"You'll have to lie low until I can get in contact with the Council. Somewhere they won't think to look for you...."

"No," she said flatly as Spike opened his mouth.

"It's safe now, Slayer," he growled.

She stared at him challengingly. "Is it? Are you sure about that?"

"I'm as sure as you are," he responded with his own challenging stare. "Aren't you sure, pet?"

Buffy turned her back and addressed Giles. "Is it too early to call?"

"A bit. Another hour or two and I should be able to ring someone who can sort this out. The Council has a great many contacts and is more than capable of ensuring complete compliance with their demands. It may take a day or two for the proper authorities to be notified, but I can assure you that at some point, this 'Initiative' is going to be considerably less secret."

"I can't hide out for two days! Giles...."

His intended reply was interrupted by the phone. They all stared at it, Buffy finally saying what they were all thinking, "It's never a good thing for the phone to ring this late at night."

Recovering himself, Giles snatched the still ringing instrument. "Yes?" He moved to the windows, pulling aside the curtains and peering out. He gestured to Spike and Buffy to turn off the lights as he continued, "I see. Yes. Yes, they are here, but we will take action immediately. Thank you, Willow."

In the now darkened room, he walked up to where Spike and Buffy were standing back to back and looking around for the threat.

"That was Willow," Giles said unnecessarily. "It seems that your boyfriend—"

"Former boyfriend," Buffy said, ignoring Spike's "Too bloody right."

"Former boyfriend," Giles agreed with obvious impatience. "Be that as it may, he has called your dorm room to warn you that his organization is planning to capture you tonight. To that end, they have staked out the campus, your dorm and a squad is on its way here to search for you."

"I – we kicked their asses before. I can do it again."

"They are armed with tranquilizing rifles. It won't be necessary for them to engage you in close quarters. You need to leave immediately and hide somewhere safe. And Spike cannot be of much assistance with that chip in his head," he added.

"My crypt, Slayer," Spike said, already moving towards the door. "They don't know it exists."

"How will we know when it's safe to come out? What am I going to eat? What if I need to wash my hair?" Buffy complained even as she followed him to the door. "I can't stay in there for two days!"

"We'll get a message to the Watcher somehow. If he drops some things off to the groundskeeper, old Hal will leave them at the door."

Leaving the discussion of how Spike already had a relationship with the groundskeeper for later, Buffy started to open the door, only to have him step in front of her.

"Hold up, Slayer. Let the man with the predator's senses check it out first."

Leaving the door shut, he moved to a window and slid it slightly open, staring out and listening carefully. When he was satisfied, he lowered the sash and nodded.

"Alright, pet, here's the situation. We've got heartbeats over to the left behind that wall. Three or four of them. We've got a black vehicle parked at the end of the lot, heartbeats coming from it. Voices approaching from the other end of the complex, but not close enough yet to worry about. If we can get out of the flat without using the front door..."

"There is a window in the bedroom upstairs. It opens to the back of the building."

Without further conversation, all three of them sprinted up the stairs and into the master bedroom. After Spike had peered out the open window and listened again, he whispered, "After you, Slayer." Buffy slid her legs over the sill and stared down into dark space. "I can't see anything," she grumbled. "You just want me to go first so I break my legs and you don't."

Spike's angry hiss in her ear almost made her fall off as his breath stirred her hair.

"There's nothing down there but grass. A lawn chair, but it's well away from where you'll be landing. Trust me."

"Famous last words. Trust the evil vampire," she said, taking a deep breath and pushing off.

The drop to the promised damp grass was not a dangerous one for a slayer and she was soon crouched safely, looking around for any sign of soldiers. A whisper of air was her only warning that Spike had dropped immediately after her, landing as lightly as a cat to crouch beside her. Without speaking, he grabbed her hand and tugged her away from building. Moving from bush to tree to wall, they made their way out of the apartment complex, only stopping once when a roving patrol almost stumbled upon them.

Spike forced Buffy to the ground, lying atop her and pulling his coat over them as he had when they were spying on Lowell House. Their blond heads were under a low-growing bush which she sincerely hoped didn't hold a nest of spiders. She held her breath, trying very hard to ignore the hard body lying on hers. Spike was so still she shivered slightly at the chilly reminder of what he really was.

As soon as the danger was past, he rolled off and helped her to sit up. He raised his hand and brushed the leaves from her hair. "Are you cold, pet?" he whispered.

"I'm fine," she said, moving into another crouch and motioning for him to lead the way. "Let's get out of here."

They made their way to Restfield cemetery as quickly as they could while still remaining in the shadows and with Spike stopping every few minutes to listen intently before deciding it was safe to move to the next hiding place. By the time they reached the gates to his new home, Buffy was muttering under her breath about soldiers, arrogant professors and what she thought should be happening to them.

He grinned, relaxing a little now that they were away from anyplace they were likely to meet humans.

"Always knew you were a bloodthirsty little bint," he said. "You'd have made a great vampire – if you weren't a slayer."

"A slayer vampire. That's a scary thought," she shuddered.

"You've got no idea, pet. No idea at all."

They slipped into Spike's crypt, carefully closing both doors behind them. By unspoken agreement, they pulled a large stone slab off a sarcophagus and propped it against door.

"Should keep out most nasties," Spike said. "And if not, we'll hear 'em coming."

Buffy looked around the dark room, unable to see anything except what was illuminated by the moonlight coming through the dirty windows.

"I guess we'd..." She stared in the direction of the entrance to the lower level.

"Can't have any light up here," he agreed. "Be safer down there."

Neither one moved to pull up the rug and expose the opening in the floor. After long minutes of throat clearing and foot shuffling, Buffy sighed.

"This is silly. The spell is gone. We're fine. There's no reason why we can't be down there."

"Right you are, pet," he said, moving forward and pulling the rug and plywood back. "Let me go down and do the lights first, yeah?"

He dropped through the opening and was soon calling her to come down. A warm yellow glow flickered from the entrance. When she was standing on the ladder, Buffy paused and reached for the plywood cover, trying to drag it back carefully so as not to dislodge the rug. Suddenly, Spike was pressed up against her back, adding his somewhat longer arms to the task. Between the two of them they quickly had it back into place, hoping that the rug had remained flat and the door wouldn't be visible from the other side.

They remained on the ladder, Buffy unable to move until Spike did, Spike standing behind her with his arms now on either side of her body, holding onto the ladder.

"You said we'd be okay," Buffy breathed, trying to fight the urge to lean back against him.

"What if it wasn't a spell?" he murmured in her ear. "What if I still want you?"

"Then we might be in big trouble..." She gave into the need to feel him again, leaning back and letting him take all their weight on his arms. Immediately, he began to nuzzle her neck, dropping light kisses on it.

"Only if you want to be, love. Got control of myself now. Wouldn't force anything on you." Just as she turned around to face him, he continued, "But we are stuck here for awhile. May as well have something to do, yeah?" He waggled his eyebrows at her and she laughed even as she pushed him away.

"And there it is," she said with a wry smile as she ducked under one arm and dropped to the floor.

"There what is?" Spike's aggrieved question accompanied his own landing.

"The reminder that this is just a way for you to pass the time," she said lightly, moving away and giving him a glare when he made to follow her.

He opened his mouth as if to speak, then shut it again as her body language made clear that she was serious. Nodding, he walked over to the pile of bed parts and began to lay them out on the floor. Buffy sat on the rugs they'd been sprawled on only a few hours before and tried to keep her eyes open as she watched him shed his coat and roll up his sleeves.

In very little time, it seemed, he had put the bed together and was wrestling with the box springs. His arms weren't long enough to get a grip around it and the air was soon filled with curse words – some Buffy understood and some she didn't. After giggling and watching for a few minutes, she gave in and grabbed one side.

"Here," she said. "It'll be easier with two of us."

"'bout bloody time you noticed that." His grumble was belied by the smile of thanks he gave her.

"But you were having so much fun," she teased, following him over to the mattress and picking up one side of it. It was soon deposited on the springs and Spike stood back with a satisfied nod. He pulled up a package of new bed linen and tossed it to Buffy.

"Here you go, Slayer."

"What? What do you mean, here I go? You want me to make your bed? Get real, Spike."

"You'll be the one sleeping on it, won't you? I built the damn thing, least you can do is put the bedding on it."

"Oh."

As she absorbed what he'd said, she realized how late it was getting to be and how sleepy she actually was. Without any more complaining, she began to unfold the new sheets and shake them out. She made no comment about the black color except to mutter that she hoped the dye didn't come off on her clothes. She'd done the bottom sheet and was spreading out the top sheet when Spike appeared on the other side of the bed and silently began to help her smooth it out and tuck it in at the bottom. He held out his hand and she tossed him one of the pillows and the case for it, watching from the corner of her eye as he expertly stuffed the pillow into its case and tossed it back on the bed. Buffy finished her pillow and watched as he threw the down coverlet up in the air to drop softly over the bed.

"I'll just be over here," he said quietly, picking up a candle and carrying it over to the pile of rugs, which, to his vampire senses smelled like Buffy and sex. "Light won't bother you too much will it? I'm not quite ready to sleep yet." He took a book off the floor and settled down with his back against the dirt wall.

Buffy shook her head and blew out the candles he'd left burning in the bed alcove. She was trying to decide what to do about her clothes when he stood up and, with a "Be right back", disappeared into the darkness at the far end of the room. She took advantage of his absence to shed her shoes, socks, jeans and jacket, getting into bed and pulling the covers up. Wishing she'd had time to get a change of clothes, and to replace the underwear Spike had ruined earlier, she tugged her shirt down as far as it would go and closed her eyes. Exhaustion took over and she never heard him return when his ears told him she was safely undressed and in bed.