Chapter 1: Hells Bells
Spike walked into the ceremony early, complete with a date on his arm, only to be stopped by Clem.
“Nu-uh mister, that’s a bad idea.”
The girl looked disgusted at the intrusion, but Spike contemplated his friend’s words.
“You reckon?” he asked, earnestly.
“No disrespect to the lady, but I don’t think it’s fair to, uh…” Clem gestured in the direction of Buffy “…the lady.”
“Right,” said Spike. He turned to his date. “Guess you better sod off then.”
“Excuse me?” She released his arm and put her hands on her hips.
Clem shot Spike a disapproving look before telling her, “You should stay. There’s actually a quite few eligible bachelors here. If you don’t mind horns, that is.”
Either she didn’t believe the horn comment or wasn’t fazed by it, Spike couldn’t tell, but she entered the crowd willingly without him.
“Great. Now what am I gonna do?”
Clem looked at him sympathetically. “Maybe I could have a word with Buffy. Smooth things over?”
Spike waved a dismissing hand. “Don’t bother, she’s made her choice.”
Clem nodded solemnly. “But you’re both unhappy. It’s clear to see.”
Spike shrugged and slopped off to the bar.
Just then, Clem noticed Krelvin and made his way over to him, not noticing when he accidentally tripped up an old man with his own umbrella. Said old man transformed into his true demon self upon hitting the floor, causing Xander’s young cousin Karen to scream and inadvertently draw Halfrek’s attention.
“Good lord!” she exclaimed, grabbing hold of D’Hoffryn’s cloak.
He turned around. “What is it, Hallie?”
“That demon, I recognize him. He’s one of Anyanka’s.”
D’Hoffryn squinted. “Anyanka made him? You’re sure?”
She nodded. “Probably here to cause trouble.”
He let out a sigh. “There’s always one can never let things go. I’ll see him out.”
Spike was on his third Jack Daniels when Buffy walked up behind him.
“I think Clem’s matchmaking Krelvin and Xander’s Aunt Carol,” she said, conversationally.
“Only right someone should be happy,” he replied glumly.
“No, don’t,” he said. “I don’t need your pity.”
Buffy gave a gentle nod before asking in an almost-whisper, “What do you need?”
He looked back at her like she was made of gold, his eyes saying it all.
“I’m sorry,” she said then.
“Yeah, well, aren’t we all,” he agreed, before pointing behind her. “Think Red’s trying to get your attention.”
“Oh, we must be starting. You’ll stay, right?”
He nodded his assent and took another swig.
A cheer went up as the bride and groom kissed then, almost immediately, everyone was on their feet and heading in the direction of alcohol. Anya and Xander carried on their heated embrace, not paying the least bit of attention to their guests.
Buffy remained in the seating area, alone, watching them.
“Beautiful, ain’t it love?” said Spike, coming to stand behind her.
“Really is,” she agreed, wiping the tears from her eyes. “God, I’m a mess. How can I want this when I….”
She shook her head and turned to face him. “I don’t know. I’m kinda all over the place. Ignore me.”
“Never could,” he replied, brushing her cheek.
“Spike, I told you,” she said, quietly.
Just as softly, he said, “You told me you couldn’t carry on as we were. Can’t rightly say it was doin’ me much good either. But… I think this is the drink talking, but what if it was something different? Something that didn’t hurt?”
She eyed him speculatively. “You think anything between us could ever be good?”
He should have been stung by her words, but they were asked in earnest. Even so, he didn’t answer.
“If there was something good,” continued Buffy. “If we could be good…. God, I want it.”
Spike’s heart swelled. “You mean that?”
“I do,” she confessed, then laughed. “Pardon the pun.”
He smiled. “Buffy, if you’ll let me, I want to try and do right by you.”
Her eyes began to well up with tears again. “I can’t not let you try,” she said. “I can’t say no to you, but I don’t know if it’s right. Spike, make it right? Can you?”
Once more, he was silent, but his expression spoke volumes. It drew Buffy in. She couldn’t help but lean in to feel his soft, cool lips on hers again. The moment she kissed him, she knew it was different.
Then she heard Xander’s voice and the kiss broke apart.
“Woah!” he exclaimed. “What the hell, Buffy?”
“Oh, leave them be,” said Anya. “It’s been building for weeks – years, even. You can freak out about it after the honeymoon.”
The mention of her honeymoon reminded Anya of a few things she had in store for her new husband, so she started telling him about them successfully getting his attention back on her.
“Quick,” said Buffy, “Let’s go while he’s not looking.”
Spike chuckled but she pulled on his arm. “Oh, you’re serious?”
She rolled her eyes. “Duh!”
His smile grew wide. “Wait, have you seen Clem? I wanted to thank him.”
“Last I heard, he was giving Xander’s parents marriage counseling.”
“That so,” said Spike. “I’m impressed.”
“Hidden talents,” agreed Buffy, grinning back at him.
Chapter 2: Normal Again
Spike woke up in Buffy’s bed with her wrapped in his arms. She was still sleeping and he couldn’t help but worry that she’d change her mind and kick him out the second she woke up, so he made an extra effort not to stir her.
‘Gonna make the most of this,’ he thought to himself, but it wasn’t long until she stretched and turned further into his embrace, slowly opening her eyes.
“Hey,” she said, softly. “You’re here.”
“That’s okay?” he asked, freshly terrified.
Buffy smiled, melting away his insecurity. Feeling more confident, he reached up to brush a stray hair out of her eyes and laid kisses across her cheek.
“God, I’m stupid,” she said. He pulled back and she quickly clarified, “I meant to have never done this before. I’m sorry.”
He breathed a sigh of relief. “Nothing to be sorry for, love. Let’s just enjoy it.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, smiling again before kissing him and making love.
The previous night was the first time she’s allowed him to make love to her – to really worship her with everything he had, as he’d always wanted. It was so much deeper, emotionally, than any of the sex they’d had before and she couldn’t believe what she’d been turning down for so long.
Later, they talked like a normal, healthy couple, and that was a surreal experience for Buffy, too. “It’s been too long,” she said. “Since I’ve been functioning properly; since I’ve been in a functioning relationship. It’s nice. I feel almost normal again, or as normal as a Slayer of demons and fighter against the forces of darkness can get. You know, for a minute there yesterday I thought Xander was getting cold feet, and that things were going to fall apart, but he went through with it. He and Anya are happy, Willow and Tara seem to be getting back together, and we…” she trailed off.
“We?” Spike prompted her, wanting to hear her put into words how things were going. If his heart could beat, it would be hammering in his chest.
“We seem to be getting things together,” she said. “And, bonus: there’s no impending apocalypse on the horizon. Everything’s not perfect – Dawn’s still not caught up in school and there’s been total abandonment of the chores – but I think things might actually turn out okay.”
“You know you’ve doomed us now you’ve said that, don’t you, love?”
Buffy frowned up at the ceiling. “I didn’t mean it, oh great and powerful Powers that Suck.”
Spike chuckled and she smiled back at him. It was a dream come true to see her so relaxed around him, and he was reveling in it. Suddenly, though, she moved to get up and panic coursed through him again. Feeling the sudden tension in his body, Buffy turned to him explaining, “I need to get ready for work. I’m not…. I wasn’t ditching, I swear.”
“Course not, pet,” he said, pretending he wasn’t scared of her falling into old habits that would have them split apart again.
“We’re okay,” she reassured him, sealing it with a quick kiss. “This is good. Better.”
After Buffy finished her shift at the Doublemeat Palace, she and Spike went patrolling together. They did the graveyard route then checked out some rented apartments that the Trio might have been using. Outside the second one on the list Willow had compiled, a large demon appeared and attacked them, trying to poke the Slayer with a sticky pole that extended from its arm. Together, they warded it off then headed towards the Magic Box to research what it was.
“That it?” asked Willow, putting a book down in front of Buffy and pointing to a sketch.
“Yeah. We’re getting quicker at this. Giles would be so proud.”
Willow grinned at the compliment.
“What’s it do?” asked Spike.
“Oh, umm….” Willow took the book back from Buffy and scanned the page again. “It has poison in its arms, that ‘Greatly diminish one’s mental state’, apparently.”
“Lucky escape, then,” said Buffy with a shudder. “Diminished mental states are zero fun.”
Willow nodded in agreement and Spike held her just that little bit tighter.
Chapter 3: Entropy
It had been a week since the wedding and things were good. There had been a few shaky moments, here and there – borne from insecurity on both sides – but Spike and Buffy really seemed to be getting there. What’s more, Willow and Tara were officially a couple again and Tara had moved back into Revello Drive.
One morning, while the witches were at class and Dawn and Buffy were out shopping, Xander stopped by the house just in time to find Spike looking at a camera he’d found in the back yard.
“Firstly,” Xander began, “What are you doing here, and why do you have that?”
Spike ignored him, still intently looking at the piece of tech.
Unhappy about the lack of attention, Xander snatched it from his hand. “Please don’t tell me you’ve been….” He gestured wildly. “Actually, don’t tell me anything. Get out!”
Spike snatched the camera back. “Sod off, Harris.”
“Buffy!” Xander yelled.
“She’s not in,” Spike told him.
“Yeah? Again I ask why you are.”
They glared at each other, Xander silently daring Spike to strike out and Spike wishing he could. Finally, he broke the stalemate saying, “Thought you were still on honeymoon. Demon girl hasn’t ditched you already, has she? Such a shame.”
Xander punched him. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“As it happens,” said Spike, camera abandoned and hand pressed to his jaw.
That was enough for Xander. At the end of his tether, he opened the back door and shoved Spike out.
“Bloody hell!” he exclaimed, starting to fizzle as he dashed under a nearby tree.
Xander relented a bit and threw a blanket out to him, though it was more out of fear of Buffy than sympathy. Spike tossed the covering over his head and stomped away, swearing as he reached the nearest sewer entrance. He threw himself down, back into the shade.
Xander shook his head and locked up before going on his way.
Buffy was surprised to come home and find the place empty. Looking about for a note, she spotted a camera lying on the floor. “Huh,” she said, inspecting it briefly only to shrug and set it down again.
Two hours later when Spike still hadn’t shown up, she started to worry.
She went outside on the off chance he was chain-smoking on her front lawn and started to worry more. There wasn’t a single cigarette butt on the ground by the tree, just a random ugly gnome.
“Wait a second….”
Buffy picked up the gnome she couldn’t recall ever having noticed before, let alone purchased and placed there herself. Something rattled inside and she smashed it open, finding a camera identical to the one in her kitchen.
She looked around, suddenly feeling vulnerable, and then angry that someone or something had made her feel that way. One more cursory glance and she went back inside to call the Magic Box. Anya answered.
“Oh, hey, you’re back from honeymoon. Was it good?”
“Oh yes,” said Anya. “Many, many orgasms.”
“Right,” said Buffy, grimacing. “That’s nice. Does anybody wanna fill me in about the cameras around my place?”
“Xander mentioned that earlier. Although, I think he said there was only one. Something Spike had set up.”
Buffy frowned. “What? Why?”
Anya shrugged, despite the fact that Buffy couldn’t see her. Frown deepening, Buffy asked if Xander was there and got passed over to him.
“Hey, Buff. What’s up?”
Xander scratched his head. “Don’t know what to tell you. I was ‘round your place earlier and found the bleached wonder making himself at home, playing around with one. There are more?”
“There are more,” she affirmed, not telling him that Spike was welcome in her house – that it was practically his home now, too. She didn’t want the headache. “I gotta go,” she said, finally, before hanging up, putting on her jacket, and heading to the graveyard.
Buffy walked into Spike’s crypt without knocking. He looked up at her from where he sat in his chair, took in her expression of annoyance and distrust, and knew what they’d been building had already begun to crumble.
“Damn,” he said, more to himself than to her.
She crossed her arms. “What’s going on?”
He stood up and assessed the situation out loud. “The Whelp told you I was up to no good and you believed him.”
“I…” she began, not knowing what to think. “Are you?”
His nostrils flared. “Bloody hell, Buffy. No, I’m not. And if you knew me – if you trusted me – like you said you did, you wouldn’t be asking.” Anger abating for a moment, he added in a soft tone, “You should know that I wouldn’t do anything that might damage what we have.”
She felt foolish, then, knowing he was right. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well… good.”
The harshness of his tone hurt her, but she shrugged it off best she could. “I deserved that.”
He looked at her again, a pained expression on his face, wanting so badly to contradict her; to tell her she would never deserve a single mean-spirited word said against her, least of all from him, but his pride stopped him from allowing the words to pass his lips.
“Were you able to find out anything about the cameras?” she asked, finally.
He shook his head and, when the silence stretched on too long, she walked out again.
Chapter 4: Seeing Red
Buffy was busy making pancakes for Dawn when she came into the kitchen.
“So,” she began, idly, “If the beastie staking out the house isn’t Spike…”
Buffy glared at her. “What do you want?”
“I just thought, maybe, you’d need some help with the patrolling?”
“What?” Dawn pouted. “That’s so unfair.”
“Maybe,” agreed Buffy, and Dawn’s face lit up for a millisecond, until she added, “But that doesn’t change my answer.”
Dawn stomped her foot and turned her back on her sister to leave the room, but not before shouting over her shoulder, “Spike would have let me!”
“Yeah,” said Buffy under her breath, “Don’t give me another reason not to like him.” She sighed and tossed the burnt pancake in the trash.
Willow had the afternoon off, so Buffy got her to try and trace the camera feed.
“You’re sure it’s not Spike?” she asked, tentatively.
“I’m sure,” said Buffy, sighing.
“Things aren’t going so great, huh?”
“They were,” said Buffy, “Until a couple of words from Xander brought on the doubt parade.”
Willow frowned. “Xander’s a lovely guy, but you shouldn’t pay attention to most of what he says.”
Buffy groaned and rubbed her forehead. “It wasn’t his fault, really. I should have known better. I did know better, but….”
“It’s done now,” said Willow, soothingly. “You just gotta find a way to fix it.”
Buffy sighed again. She’d sighed so much in the past twenty-four hours, it was irritating even herself.
Willow considered her more carefully. “You do wanna fix things, right?”
“I do,” admitted Buffy, “But I don’t know if I should. I mean, I was wrong, and I hurt him. And I think I’m gonna keep messing up and keep hurting him and I don’t want that.”
“So, what?” pressed Willow. “You’re just gonna not try and hurt him anyway?”
“Ugh! I don’t know!” she said, wringing her hands. “Can we just focus for a bit? I don’t wanna think about it right now.”
Willow nodded and returned to her task. “Bingo!”
“Bingo? Already? Right, who I gotta pummel?”
Willow’s face went pale as she turned her laptop screen so Buffy could see. “Trio. They’ve been spying on us all.”
Buffy swore. “I can’t even kill them. Bloody humans!”
Willow’s eyebrows went up at how much Buffy sounded like Spike. She didn’t mention it, though, because she hadn’t seemed to notice herself.
“Got an address for me?” Buffy asked, keeping her attention on the task at hand. “I’ll have to shut them down the non-violent way.”
“Uh, sure,” said Willow, scribbling it down.
Buffy arrived at the Trio’s house to find a suspiciously familiar van sitting outside. She broke down the front door and started looking around, smashing things up once she confirmed no one was in. She took all her Spike-related frustration out on computer equipment and was about to lay waste to some comic books when heard a whimper.
Turning around, she traced the source of the sound to a closet, in which she found Jonathan.
She pulled him out and shoved him against a wall. “Where are the others?”
“Not here!” he said, emphatically. “I swear.”
Buffy glared at him for a moment, then relaxed her stance. “I believe you.”
“What are you gonna do?”
“I don’t know.” She shook her head, then sighed, then got annoyed all over again. “Why are you with these guys?”
Jonathan shrugged. “It was fun, at first. To have friends? Then we got in trouble and I couldn’t get out.”
“Well, at least you’re honest,” said Buffy. “Do you want a way out?”
“Okay,” said Buffy. “Grab your stuff and let’s go. I’ll get Xander to let you crash at his – he kinda owes me one – and you can help me take down the other two.”
Jonathan smiled at her. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, well, I’m in the mood for second chances,” she said. “If you double-cross me, though? So help me, I’ll find a way around the no killing humans thing. I could probably set Spike on you.”
He gulped. “Uh, Buffy. About Spike….”
She glared at him. “What?”
“I’m sorry,” said Jonathan in the general direction of his shoes. “You seemed happy.”
Her shoulders slumped and she admitted, “We were.”
Feeling genuinely bad for her, not to mention partly responsible, he decided to try and cheer her up. “You wanna know Warren’s plans so you can foil them?” he asked, cheerily.
A wicked grin snuck across Buffy’s face. “I really do.”
After dropping Jonathan off with Xander, Buffy triumphantly made her way into her own house, arms full off all the things vital to Warren’s evil schemes. Her happiness faded when she realized she had no one to share it with, however. Dawn was spending the night at Janice’s house, and Willow and Tara seemed to be out.
She frowned, feeling sorry for herself, until she heard a noise upstairs.
“Maybe not out after all,” she mumbled, setting down the stuff and making her way to the foot of the stairs. “Will? You’re gonna be so proud of me.”
To her outright surprise, Spike appeared at the top of the stairs holding her bathrobe. “Buffy,” was all he could say, before she ran up to him and threw herself in his arms.
Pulling back, they said in unison, “I’m sorry.”
“What? No,” said Buffy. “You have nothing to be sorry for. It was my bad. Totally my bad!”
“Can we…” he said, quietly, “Can we pretend it didn’t happen?”
“No,” said Buffy, hating how hurt he looked. “No! No, not like that! I mean, we can’t pretend; can’t forget, because I wanna learn from it. Need to learn from it. But, if you’re asking – if you want to… make up, and give me another chance. I wanna take it. Can’t say no to you, remember?”
Spike opened his mouth to answer her but suddenly found there was too much to say. He just pushed it all down and kissed her needily. “Can’t say no to you either.”
After several minutes of kissing and touching, Buffy finally registered a thought and pulled back a little. “Umm, why do you have my bathrobe?”
“Oh.” He laughed nervously. “Was gonna run you a bath. Try and make things up to you.”
“Aww!” She hugged him close again before untangling herself and leading him by the hand to her bedroom. “Rather make things up in he–” she continued, but the rest of the sentence died on her lips as she opened the door to find the room full of candles and hundreds of red roses. “Spike, this is amazing!”
He ducked his head. “You really like it?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I love it. I… I love you.”
They stared at each other in shock. Spike was entirely speechless, but eventually Buffy spoke again, reassuring him that she meant it.
Once more, they kissed and held each other tight, not even noticing when someone started shouting outside. A single bullet flew through the window, shattering the glass, passing through Spike and embedding itself deep in Buffy’s chest.
Chapter 5: Villains
Spike held Buffy up by tightly gripping her arms and keeping her pressed to his chest.
“Baby?” he said, trying to get a response as her eyes started to roll back in her head.
“Wha–what…?” she murmured before losing consciousness completely.
Panic fully took hold of Spike and he sprang into action. Swearing, he lay her down on the bed and grabbed the nearest article of clothing lying about to try and stem the flow. It wasn’t enough. The smell of her blood grew stronger and he heard her heart rate start to slow. He knew she’d never make it to hospital; that she only had moments left, and that there was no coming back from it, too. She’d already died twice. He’d already had to face life without her before, knowing his efforts weren’t enough.
“Never fucking enough,” he ground out through gritted teeth as tears rolled down his cheeks. He backed away from her and howled in fury. Something primal took hold of him as he slipped into game face, thoughts of heartbreak turning into thoughts of vengeance, and then he lost his ability to think altogether. Hunting instinct took over and he tore from the room and crashed down the stairs.
He ripped the front door from its hinges as Willow and Tara approached it from the other side. Willow was about to ask him what was wrong, but Tara saw his grief-stained aura and put a hand on her arm to stop her. They watched as he stomped out into the small front yard, took a long sniff of the cool night air, and then took off running.
“Something’s wrong,” said Tara. “Really, really wrong. Upstairs, go! Check on Buffy.”
Warren was sat in Willy’s, bragging about how he’d taken out the Slayer. Willy looked horrified – not for the loss of Buffy, so much, but because he knew how Spike would react. Wanting to avoid a blood bath on his premises, he advised Warren to take off.
He shook his head. “Aren’t you hearing me? No one will mess with me now.”
Almost as soon as the words had slipped from his smiling mouth, the door flew open and all eyes turned to see William the Bloody gone feral.
“Shit,” Warren and Willy said in unison, then the younger threw up a magically induced smoke screen and ran out the back door. He barely made it a single street away before Spike was upon him.
The vampire pinned the wriggling human against a wall and Warren fought to buy some time for himself. “I found out what your chip does!” he said before taking a quick breath and adding, “You can’t hurt me,” only slightly more confidently.
Spike barely heard him. He was too busy trying to figure out how best to kill him. He didn’t want to bite the boy and have his tainted blood running through his veins – the thought repulsed him. His eyes narrowed as he decided to rip his heart straight from his chest using his bare hands.
At the look on Spike’s face, all of Warren’s shaky confidence fell from him and he thought, ‘He’s gonna end me even if it blows up his head’.
Spike’s arm went to snap forward and Warren closed his eyes, but a voice rang out, cutting through the vampire’s red mist.
“Buffy’s not dead!”
He paused momentarily, then said aloud, “You’re lying.”
“What?” asked Warren, opening his eyes again. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Shut up!” Spike yelled in his face before punching him unconscious.
“Spike,” the voice spoke out to him again, “I’m with her now, she’s alive and she needs you.”
“Where?” he asked, gruffly, refusing to fully let himself believe.
“Back at the house. Me and Tara got the bullet out,” Willow’s telepathic voice informed him.
His eyes widened and he fell, shaking, to the ground beside Warren’s slumped body.
“Are you coming?” Willow’s voice echoed in his head once more, effectively snapping him out of his stupor.
“Yes,” he replied, getting to his feet and dragging Warren’s body up with him. “Soon.”
Spike chained the boy up in the lower quarters of his crypt and then made to leave, but Warren started to wake up. He called Spike back.
Silently, Spike stalked up to him.
Warren whimpered, regretting opening his mouth.
“What?” spat Spike.
“You hit me. How did you hit me?”
Spike considered it for a second, thinking the chip must have short-circuited when the rage had powered through him earlier. He shrugged and didn’t vocalize the theory.
“What are you gonna do?” Warren asked, his voice trembling.
Spike glared at him, delivered a second punch, and walked away.
“He’s taking too long,” Willow said to Tara, worriedly twisting her hands.
“He’ll be here,” she replied, soothingly.
“Yeah, but will he kill Warren first?”
Tara didn’t reply. She knew there was a strong chance – chip or not. Standing up to hold her girlfriend in her arms, she caught sight of the vamp in question silently reach the top of the stairs and make his way into Buffy’s room to greet them.
Once more, Willow was going to say something to him but Tara stopped her. She led her out of the room and let them be alone.
Spike crouched by the bed and held Buffy’s hand. He started to cry again as he heard her heartbeat, loud and clear. Slowly, she started to rouse and open her eyes.
“Spike?” she said in a croaky voice.
“Baby,” he replied, in his own broken tone.
Chapter 6: Two to Go
“You got shot,” said Spike, stating the obvious in place of all the other words warring to get out of him. ‘You got shot, and almost died. I almost lost you. I love you. Couldn’t live without you; not again. I’d have killed myself. I’d have killed Warren. Hell, I still might. I can’t believe I almost never saw your face again. I can’t believe you’re here. I….”
“You got shot,” he repeated.
“Noticed that, huh?” said Buffy, trying to bring levity to the situation but having it fall flat when she looked at his face – paler than usual, somehow.
Reaching out her hand, she pulled him closer and he broke down again as they embraced.
He cursed his tears. “I thought I’d lost you.”
“I know, I know,” she replied, softly, her own tears threatening to come back to the surface.
When he pulled back to wipe his eyes, she caught him wince, briefly. Then, glancing at his torso, she exclaimed, “He got you too!”
“What? Oh,” said Spike, nonchalantly placing his finger on top of his bullet hole, “Hadn’t noticed.”
Buffy had wanted Willow and Tara to check Spike over, but he was hesitant. Finally, he admitted why. “There’s something I gotta tell you.”
“Earlier… the chip. I think it might have short-circuited. S’not working”
Buffy gasped at his admission and his eyes dug deeper into the carpet.
“Oh my god!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah,” he said, quietly. “I should go.”
“Oh my god,” Buffy said again, completely ignoring his last comment. She reached out to touch his head. “That must have been agony.”
His head shot up and his eyes searched hers for some sign of mocking, but found none – only concern. “Buffy, I…”
That was when her tears spilled over. “You got hurt so bad today,” she choked out.
After sobs gripped her and no arms came to hold her tight, Buffy wiped her eyes and looked at Spike accusingly, “What? Suddenly you don’t want to touch me anymore?”
“No!” he said, defensive, and finally took hold of her – too sharply, causing her wound to smart again and him to step away once more. “That. I… I don’t want to hurt you. But I do, and I will. Fuck, Buffy, what are we doing? I’m not safe.”
She shook her head and told him to calm down. “Listen to me, okay? The reason we didn’t work before – well,” she interrupted her own half-made thought, “There were a lot of reasons, actually, but a main one was the bad place I was in, not you. That’s not to say you didn’t have your issues, but… I think if I’d have trusted you, and what you felt – treated you right – it would have worked then as well as it works now. Forget chips. The only thing different between the train wreck we had and what we’re building now is that we’re doing it together. Before… before, it was like you kept trying to build something, like a sandcastle, and I kept kicking it down. You had to power to hurt me before whatever happened to the chip tonight. Do you wanna know how long I was worried you might? Only about zero seconds. I know you, Spike. I know you wouldn’t hurt me. Well, not like, a lot, and not on purpose. You don’t have a soul, but you have a heart, a great big heart that’s sometimes so big and so full of love that it scares me. I thought… I don’t know. I thought that if I denied it – tried to crush it – it would hurt less. But I don’t wanna do that anymore. And we’re not. Two people need to go into this relationship, and I was holding back and I’m sorry. There are a million reasons, but none of them excuse it. I’m not gonna let the fact that you’ve gotten rid of something that should have never been there in the first place stand in our way.”
For one of very few times in his life, Spike was speechless.
“Said enough for both of us, haven’t I?” said Buffy, trying to get her breath back.
He nodded, mouth still partly open and eyes wide.
He nodded again
“Can I ask a question?” continued Buffy, not able to help herself. “I promise it’s not a trick. I just wanna know. Did you consider… when you thought I was gonna die. Did you think about turning me?”
“What? No. You would never want–”
Buffy pressed her hand to his lips. “I know, okay? I know. Not saying you should have, I’m just… you didn’t consider it, to keep me?”
“You would rather be gone than have that happen. I couldn’t. Plus,” he scuffed his toe along the floor, “Never works out the way you plan.”
She eyed him suspiciously – knowing there was something more to the comment, but not wanting to pry – so she let it go and took hold of his hand instead. Their eyes met again and the presence of whatever-it-was was silently acknowledged and forgiven.
“Thank you,” Buffy said, aloud.
Spike went to kiss her but was interrupted by Willow.
“Hey, guys,” she said, tentatively. “I – well, Tara and I – we heard some of what you said. Not eavesdropping or anything! I mean, well, there were raised voices, and we were worried.”
“You don’t need to worry about Spike,” Buffy assured her.
“Oh, I know!” said Willow, quickly. “I mean, if you trust him and we trust your judgment – which we do – then, I’m rambling, aren’t I?”
“Lil bit, Red,” said Spike, with something that resembled a smile.
“Right, sorry,” she carried on. “Anyway, we feel bad for you two and we wanted to make you both feel good, after what’s happened, so, uh… we want to give you a treat.”
“A treat?” Buffy questioned.
“Yeah! We have tickets, Tara and I. We were gonna take a weekend trip, but we both decided we want you guys to go instead.”
Buffy was about to decline, but Willow stopped her “Really, it’s okay,” she said. “Just take them, please? You both deserve a little happiness.”
“Has a point there, love,” Spike conceded, and Buffy smiled.
“Okay, Will, when do we go?”
“Tomorrow. Oh, or–” she looked at her watch. “Today. It’s after midnight.”
“Sexy slay vacation it is,” exclaimed Buffy before catching herself. “I didn’t say the sexy bit out loud, did I?”
“Sure you’re up to this?” Spike asked Buffy for the fourth time that afternoon.
“Yup,” she replied, “So thankful for Slayer healing!”
“Okay,” said Spike. “One stop first. Technically two.”
“Crypt,” he answered. “Then police station.”
Chapter 7: Grave
Spike and Buffy walked hand in hand to his crypt, in silence almost the whole way. He’d already told her Warren was there, and that he hadn’t hurt him – much.
The plan was to shake him up enough to make confessions about shooting her and killing Katrina. Enough to put him away for life.
Warren looked relieved when the Slayer walked in, “Hey!” he said. “You’re okay. No harm done, right? Except… Your, uh,” he mumbled, uncomfortable at not being able to read Buffy’s expression, “Your boyfriend? He almost killed me. That’s wrong, right? I mean, you’re against it. I’m glad you came, to let me go before–”
Buffy smacked him hard across the cheek. “Are you done, now?” she asked, seething with anger that she wasn’t aware she’d been holding onto.
“I–“ Warren began but Spike growled and he amended his answer. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good,” said Buffy. She let her fist fly at the wall just behind his head. “Because I am so done with this shit. You wanna be a big boy? Super-villain? Fine. Do that. But know that I put bad guys in the ground. And if you think you can get around that by being human, I’m pretty sure I can find a way to get around that pesky rule. Understand?”
Warren nodded, not wanting to speak again.
Buffy glared at him for a moment more then turned her head away to glance at Spike. “Think we can trust him in the big house?”
“Dunno, pet,” he answered, meaning it. If Warren tried hard enough, he could get hold of magical items even on the inside, break out and go back to wreaking havoc.
Warren gulped. “B-big house?” he questioned.
“Yeah,” said Spike, getting in his face. “We’re deciding if you’ll reform or if we should go ahead and skip that step, get right to the part where not even your spells can bring you back. Wanna convince us which it is?”
“I – no! I can’t go to jail! Prison isn’t for nerds.”
Buffy looked disgusted at his attitude. “Want me to repeat the other option?”
He gulped again and hung his head.
“Wow,” said Spike. “You really thought we’d just let you go with just a slap on the wrist?” He shook his head then grabbed Warren’s chin until he was looking him in the eye again. “Do you have any fucking idea what you tried to do? Any bloody clue?!”
Buffy stepped between them and addressed Warren again. “Last chance,” she said. “What is it? We taking you down or are we taking you out? I am not playing.”
Warren didn’t know what to say or what to do except stand there – still strung up – just looking between the formidable couple. Finally, he hung his head again and mumbled, “Do what you want.”
Again, Buffy glanced at her lover.
He nodded and undid the chains. “Come on. Full confessions all round.”
Even after Warren did confess, Buffy and Spike still had to give lengthy statements. It took hours and when they finally left the station, Buffy looked gaunt.
“Tired, pet?” asked Spike, though he already knew the answer.
She shook her head in denial anyway. “That was just… intense.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, rubbing his thumb across the back of her clasped hand. “Wanna give the trip a miss?”
She shook her head again. “No. I wanna go and rest there.” Looking deep into his cool blue eyes, she added, “I want to lay beside you. I want you to hold me, make sweet, slow, non-exhausting love to me–” Buffy paused for them both to smirk at each other– “And I want to fall asleep in your arms. Then I want to it all again tomorrow. Except, maybe a little more exhausting that time.”
Spike glowed at her words. “Bloody hell, I do love you.”
“I know,” she said, blushing. “I love you, too.”
They kissed, then. A soft, deep kiss.
“There’s one stop I wanna make first,” said Buffy when they broke apart.
Spike quirked his eyebrow at her but she didn’t explain, just tugged him back in the direction of the graveyard. They walked to a part he knew well – a part he hated to see and a part he’d spent most of his previous summer: her now empty grave, side-by-side with her mother’s filled one.
“Buffy?” he asked.
“Sshhh,” she said, gesturing for him to sit. When he did, she placed herself in his lap.
“Hey, mom, I brought a friend.”
Tears appeared in her eyes but she waved Spike’s hand away when he tried to wipe at them.
“I almost joined you – again,” she said to the grave. “And…” she broke off in a sob, “And I didn’t. I’m still here, and I’m with Spike. I love him, and we’re gonna take care of each other. I think… I know life’s not gonna be easy, and there’ll be a thousand more close calls, but he has my back.”
Buffy smiled. “Mom, he’s gonna be good to me – he already is – and I’m gonna mature more, and I’m gonna love him more, and treat him better; love Dawn more, too, and my friends. I’m gonna make you proud.”
Silence fell for a few minutes, then Buffy shifted again, directing her speech back to her Spike. “Closure,” she said. “Essential for fresh starts. Better starts.” Then she stood up and offered him her hand. “Let’s go.”
“Together,” he said.
“Forever,” she agreed.