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It had been a good battle.  One Spike would be feeling for days to come, even with Slayer blood to heal him.  But now it was over, the Slayer panting for breath with his arm pressed her throat.  Her stake had been knocked aside and now she was weaponless, helpless, her eyes full of anger and hate and…resignation.  That slayer death wish, carried through generations.

 

This was it, Spike realized; he was finally done with this woman who had haunted his every step since that first night he came to Sunnydale.  He was going to drain her and then he’d never see that bouncing golden hair again, or smell the sharp tang of her fruity shampoo.  Never feel her fist breaking his nose again or see a sneer on those glossy lips.

 

Her chin tilted up, jaw set; she seemed to look down that perky nose at him even now.  Just do it, she seemed to be saying.  Get it over with.  Take me out of a world that has you in it.

 

Spike leaned in.  Cartilage cracked, bone shifted, teeth retreated into his gums.  “You knew this would have to happen, Slayer,” he found himself saying, and kissed her. 

 

His arm fell from her throat and Buffy gasped, responding immediately to the kiss.  She tugged him closer and Spike wrapped an arm around her waist.  His other hand he buried in her hair, cupping the back of her skull.  “God, Buffy, I love you--I love you so much, I could never--”

 

Spike,” she groaned, and pulled at his lip with her teeth.

 

And then he woke up, alone in a motel bedroom.  If his heart could beat, it would be hammering in his chest; instead Spike just stared at the ceiling, eyes wide with panic.

 

“Oh, God, no.  Please, no.”

 

--

 

The fight had actually gone as Spike had dreamed it, to a point.  Without the chip and with a years’ worth of anger, Spike had managed to gain the upper hand.  There was that moment of stillness when he had her pinned to a wall, when he realized that this was the end of Sunnydale’s Slayer.

 

But then that wanker Finn had cried out in pain.  Instinctively Spike had turned to the noise, and Buffy had used the distraction to kick him away.  They had stared at each other, Buffy’s eyes darting between Spike and her dying beau.  And without thinking, without considering why, Spike had made the decision easy for her.  He had turned and run.

 

Harmony had followed him out.  “You had her, Spike,” she had whined as they ran through the sewers.  “You could have killed her right there!  Now she’s totally going to come after us.”

 

He hated her more because she was right and they both knew it.  “She will at that.  You better get out of town, Harm,” he’d snapped.  “Now that she knows I’m a threat, the Slayer’s going to be gunning for me.  It’s best if you stay away.”

 

“But Spikey--”

 

Leave,” he had growled, and thankfully that was enough.  Harmony ran off.  And Spike wasn’t so stupid as to stay in the crypt.  Buffy--the Slayer--might be occupied now with her boytoy, but he knew she wouldn’t stay that way.  She was too strong for that.  As soon as she made sure that cardboard cutout of a boyfriend was safe, she would be coming after Spike.

 

There was no reason for him to stay.  He was free--to hunt, to kill, to leave this fucking town.  All he had to do was get away from Buffy Bloody Summers and her gang of Merry Men.

 

But did he really want to leave Sunnydale?  On the one hand…there was the small matter of his time there being worse than all the previous hundred years put together.  But Sunnydale also held people whose blood needed drinking.  And it had the Niblet, and Joyce…

 

“Bugger that,” Spike had muttered, throwing what few possessions he cared about into a duffle bag.  He should get the hell out of this place and be done with it.  At the very least, he needed to get out of this crypt before the Slayer decided to stake him in his sleep.

 

An odd feeling had settled into the pit of his stomach.  He should be cursing every devil in hell over tonight, cursing himself for letting the Slayer get away when he had her, right there, every self-righteous inch of her his to kill. 

 

So why had he only felt relief, instead?

 

It had taken a bloody dream, of all things, to answer that question.

 

--

 

Spike paced his motel room, unable to sleep after hours of tossing and turning.  At least he’d chucked Harmony and could finally have a place to himself.

 

This was wrong.  So goddamned wrong it was ridiculous.  Him?  In love with the Slayer?  He’d wanted her dead only a few hours ago.  If Finn hadn’t distracted him, he’d have drunk her down right there.  And now he was in love with her. 

 

But--fuck.  He hadn’t wanted her dead then, had he?  He had wanted her beaten, wanted her blood, wanted a third notch on his belt.  But it had been a long time since he wanted Buffy Summers gone from the earth.  God, even--he’d thought about what kind of trophy he would take, after.  She didn’t have a blessed weapon to leave him a scar like that first Slayer, or a coat like Nikki’s.  Most of the time Spike had decided he’d take a bit of her hair, keep it in a locket as if he was mourning her.

 

It wasn’t like there had ever been much of a line between love and death, for him.

 

With a roar, Spike grabbed the TV from its stand and threw it across the room.  “The fucking slayer,” he told the empty room, and sat down heavily on the bed.

 

He was in love with the slayer, and he only knew it once he’d made sure she would have to kill him the next time she saw him. 

 

She wouldn’t be the woman he loved if she didn’t.

 

Spike buried his face in his hands and started to laugh.

 

“God, Dru, if you could see me now,” he said.  “S’pose I’m just like your daddy now after all.”

 

A knock on the door startled him out of that disturbing thought.  He could hear a heartbeat on the other side of the door, smell the delicious cocktail of rushing blood. 

 

Spike sat up.

 

He could feed again.

 

Forget being Angel.  He was nothing like his grandsire, never would be.  That prick had ruined his unlife--if he’d never fallen for Buffy, never lost his soul, Spike wouldn’t be in this hell in the first place. 

 

He might be in love with Buffy, but that didn’t mean he had to come over all broody.  Spike was a free man again.  He would damn well act like it.

 

Spike’s breakfast knocked on the door again.  “Housekeeping,” she called.

 

“Come in,” he said, stepping away from the doorway.

 

A woman stepped through the door, tugging her cart behind her, and took in the smashed TV.  “You’re going to have to pay for that, you know,” she said, scolding.

 

Spike smirked.  “Shame.”  No, he bloody wouldn’t. 

 

He waited until she shut the door and turned her back on him before he pinned her to the wall and sunk his fangs into her neck.

 

The taste of human blood--fresh, hot--in his mouth was the best moment of Spike’s unlife.  He groaned, knees buckling, and ignored her thrashing.  No one would come running when they heard the screams; this was Sunnydale, where people ignored that if they knew what was good for them.

 

After a few mouthfuls, the screams turned into whimpers.  She wasn’t dead yet, but she was losing strength.

 

Unbidden, an image of Buffy appeared in Spike’s head.

 

If you do this, she’ll never forgive you.

 

And before Spike quite knew what he was doing, he shifted, reverting back to his real face.  He stepped away from the woman; her hand flew to her neck, and she stared at him as if she didn’t know whether to thank him or run screaming.

 

“Go,” Spike said, tilting his head toward the door.  He licked the last of her blood from his now-blunt teeth.  “Thanks for the drink.”

 

She ran, and Spike realized he was completely fucked.