Spike saw her dusting the magical knickknacks behind the register.
"Witch," he addressed Tara, "happen to know where Demon Girl has run off to? I need something."
"She said something about finding a woman who hates Xander."
Spike sighed, too depressed to even take the easy bate on the whelp's appeal to women.
"Maybe you can help then. I need something to dull pain."
"Are you hurt? Are you okay?" Tara leaned over to counter to assess his person for signs of injury.
"No, I'm not bloody hurt. Not where anyone can see it." He tilted his head to the side and studied the young wiccan. "Of course you're all aura reading, ain't you? I need the pain to stop. I can't take much more."
"Much more wha-"
"I used to be happy, you know," he continued, his anger gaining heat. "I'm not unliving anymore. I'm frozen in time, jerked around by her bloody whims. I'm miserable. I love her so much, and all she does is make me miserable. I'm not me. She's broken me."
Tara knew the feeling. She smiled sadly. "There's no magic in the world that can mend a broken heart. Only time."
"Yeah, well I reckon fixing this mess is far-fetched, so I'll settle for a nice patch up job. I'm going sack-of-hammers waiting around for her. I feel my heart burn a black hole in my chest. Feel empty." He bit his tongue against further embarrassment. "I need to forget."
Tara shuddered and imagined what Willow's answer to his problem would have been months earlier. If pushed, she wondered if the answer would be the same still. Doubt. The seeds of doubt could never be unsown, and her soul ached for it.
"It doesn't work that way," she said softly.
"Well it should!" Spike snapped. "All this magic, all this, and you're telling me it can't even do what a bottle of whiskey can?"
"Magic can get you high, Spike. It can take your memory, and make you giddy, but only fleetingly. There is no future with it. You can't live like that forever, and when you come down, you'll be lucky if you recognize yourself. Luckier if you can live with what you are." She walked around the counter and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You're hurt, I know and I swear I understand. I'm sorry."
Spike closed his eyes against hot tears, and shrugged away from her. "I have to make it end. Whatever it takes. For however long as I can. I already don't recognize myself, and I haven't been able to stand myself for years."
Tara felt a jolt of fear as he opened his blue eyes and she saw none of the joy or life that made him Spike. He was desperate, and she knew if she left him to his own devices he'd act out in his desperation. He'd end up on the end of a stake, or greeting the morning. He needed to dull his pain or he'd surely go insane. She needed to dull his pain.
"Does alcohol really work?" she asked, borrowing, it seemed, some of his desperation in her search for a way to help.
"No. If it did I wouldn't be here, would I? Isn't strong enough. It can't make me stop caring. Can't make me forget," he said with a resigned shrug of his shoulders. He was tired.
Tara didn't advocate even drugs by prescription, but she almost suggested them until it struck her that they wouldn't work on a vampire. His blood didn't flow through his body except when first borrowed, his heart didn't beat.
"I... I w- want to help," she said, her heart thumping hard against her ribcage. Later she'd claim the sound drowned out her rational thoughts.
"I- kn- know how to help, just a little, just for a -a while," she stuttered out before she could think better of her decision.
His eyes widened, and hope tinged the grief. "Yeah?"
She took his hand, leading him to a chair, where she motioned for him to sit.
"Magic doesn't come from thin air, it's inside." She pointed at herself. "It's powerful, and it's inside every Wiccan," she explained carefully. "That's why it can be like a drug. It's part of us, it flows in our b- blood."
Spike frowned. "You can't mean... You couldn't..."
"Vampires," she said, "can feel it like a drug. Because it's in the blood. My- my... blood."
"Tara," he cautioned.
"J- Just take a little. A little will make you... It'll- t'll work for a while."
Spike shook his head. "No."
"You need to. I'm giving you permission to. It's str- stronger than alcohol." She nearly growled at her stutter. She thought she had conquered it, but nerves bought it back.
"Even if that's true, I couldn't. Not with the chip," he pointed out, almost eagerly, as if more nervous at the offer than she.
"But you don't intend to hurt me, and I'm offering," she said, calming her stutter. "You don't want to hurt me right?"
"Then please. Please let me help."
Spike nodded slowly. In the end, the chance for relief was stronger than the vestiges of his humanity. "I'll make it feel good, yeah? No pain. I'll be careful."
Her trust warmed his unbeating heart, and stole his unneeded breath.
He held out his hand, and she took it. He slowly tugged her onto his lap, explaining that the angle would help. She didn't argue. He ran his fingers up her arm, slipping her sleeve up past her elbow. Her pulse thrummed wildly under her soft skin, and he held back a moan. He hadn't had fresh human blood for so long, and this was gifted to him. Given freely by the beautiful woman perched on his leg.
"I'll go slow," he said, pressing a chaste kiss to her wrist.
She nodded, her tongue too tied to utter intelligible words.
He pressed a trail of kisses up her arm, ending at the crook of her elbow. His lips parted, and he pressed them there, drawing blood to the surface of her tender skin, causing it to glow with a red blush. He felt her stiffen against him, and wiggle, but she remained silent. His features shifted as his fangs came out, still he didn't press into her flesh. He suckled on her skin, ignoring his demon's demands. He didn't know whether fear, or his burning need to be tender kept him from biting her, but he thought it was a mixture of both.
Tara closed her eyes, and press her thighs together tightly. The effect he had on her was only a partial shock. She wasn't attracted to men, she didn't play in "boy's town", but Spike could cause butteries to swarm her stomach with a smile. She wondered if it was pure Spike, or if all vampires gave off an irresistible presence. Spike's tongue teased her skin and she shivered. She thought he'd bite her immediately. She expected him to moan against her after tasting her blood, not before. She expect it to scare her, not thrill her.
The scent of her arousal tickled his senses, and his own body responded in like, and the tightening in his jeans was almost too much to bear. He needed to finish before he ended up alienating the only person who seemed to care about him besides Dawn. He slid his fangs shallowly into her creamy skin, and her blood hit his tongue. He knew instantly he'd never be able to live without tasting her again. His arm wrapped securely around her waist, and his hips jerked of their own accord as her throaty mewls filled the space between his ears. His jeans clad hard on rubbed against her thigh, and her sounds grew louder.
Tara knew why Riley would seek the bite. Her panties flooded with moisture, and her clit throbbed with each lap of his sinful tongue. Her limbs were heavy with euphoria, and she wondered how Spike could go without blood if it felt so good. She was positive everyone would line up to feel his mouth on them, and his fangs in them. Such gorgeous lips, she thought idly as they pursed around the wound his fangs made.
He felt her fingers in his hair, and he was certain she would pull his head away, except she didn't. Her hand pushed him down into her arm, as though he were instead settled between her thighs, and her orgasm was nearing. The image made his dizzy head soar. He wanted that. He wanted to taste her. Every inch, inside and out. He wanted to hear his name in her breathy moans as she came on his tongue. But she wouldn't feel the same. He couldn't convince himself she wanted him, even as she moved and straddled his leg to rub herself shamelessly against the soft material of his well worn jeans. Even as she bit his shoulder to muffle her cries. He knew it was his bite that prompted such behavior. He knew, but he didn't care.
Her body wracked with her shuddering unraveling. Her orgasm hit so suddenly, and so intensely that she was certain her screams could be heard from miles away. Her thighs trapped his leg tightly as she rode out her pleasure with the friction.
His eyes widened and he threw his head back, arching forward as his jeans filled with his sticky ejaculation. He hadn't seen it coming, he didn't know how she made him jiz his trousers without even touching him.
Their breaths came out in harsh pants, and Tara held onto him tiredly, her forehead against his chest. The sweat from her body clung to his clothes.
Spike realized how right she was. He didn't feel the pain. He didn't care about anything except holding the goddess in his arms. His better judgment was indeed clouded by the truly drug like effects of her bood, but he knew his attraction wasn't one sided. If she didn't want him as much as he wanted her, she'd have been gone already. If it was just her being nice, and being turned on only by his bite, she would stutter and walk away awkwardly, not hold him so tightly she'd certainly never let go.
"Thank you," he murmured, wrapping his arm around her, and kissing her shoulder. He couldn't imagine his luck. If he had come earlier and caught Anya instead of Tara, he didn't know what might have happened, except that it wouldn't have been as marvelous, and earth shattering as what Tara had given him.
"It's okay, Spike," she said against his neck. "You're welcome." Always welcomed, she added silently.
"You sure you secured the cameras against Willow?" Jonathan asked Warren, though his eyes never left the screen.
Warren waved him off. "Dude, of course, now shut up. Andrew, rewind the footage."
Andrew readily did so, sighing happily as he rewatched Spike softly caress Tara's arm with his lips. He bit his tongue against any adoring remarks he might have made about the vampire. Jonathan already looked at him funny, he didn't need to give him any more wood for that fire.