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It All Comes Down To A Choice

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The fight didn't last long. Fury making him see red, Spike was easily vulnerable to both his sire's cold rationality and the Slayer's strength and controlled anger.

Angel pinned him with little problem, shoving his face into the dirt and straddling his squirming hips. As his childe screamed muffled invectives, the older male looked up at Buffy who stood at his side, quivering.

His nose twitched as he smelled fear coming off her in waves, and he remembered finding the traces of sex on the ground a few feet away. The scent of fear had been there as well.

A growl broke from him and his grip around Spike's neck tightened.

"What happened between the two of you earlier tonight, Buffy?" Angel asked, his voice controlled yet hinting at incredible danger. One more squeeze and he would snap Spike's neck and sever his spinal cord.

Buffy swallowed hard and stared down at the dark vampire easily pinning down the struggling one. She had gone looking for violence to ease her troubled heart, but she hadn't expected to find Spike again.

She hadn't expected to find herself so torn between fury and fear and hatred and...something much softer.

When he'd charged them, he'd hit Angel first and she'd been knocked aside. She'd pulled him off his sire, only to have Angel grab him from behind and wrestle him to the ground.

The stake had found its instinctive way into her hand, but now she didn't know what to do with it. The Slayer in her screamed at her to do her duty, but the woman...his lover...

A confused sob broke from Buffy and she dropped the stake, then turned and ran.

Angel stared after her for a long moment, then turned his attention back to his now quiet childe. Spike lay still beneath him, most likely gathering his strength.

Obviously Buffy wasn't going to answer his question, so he needed to extract the truth from Spike. Had Buffy found him killing? Had she had sex with him before?

Or after?

And if it was after, had she been willing?

The thought of Spike raping Buffy almost made Angel tighten his grip, but he forced his fury down and brought himself under control.

"I'm going to get up, Spike. I suggest you stay on the ground."

After a moment, the older male rose gracefully to his feet and stepped to the side of his childe. Spike lay there, panting, and slowly turned his dirty face to his sire.

"Prick," he spat out with a mouthful of dirt.

"I suggest you not push me," Angel replied, his voice promising death and dismemberment if he wasn't obeyed.

Spike sneered and, ignoring the other male's order, pushed himself to his feet, backing up several paces to keep out of his sire's deadly reach.

"Did she catch you mid-kill? Is that why she's so upset?"

"I never told her I would stop killing."

"Did you fuck her before or after?"

Eyes widening at Angel's use of such profanity to refer to the love of his life, Spike opened his mouth, then closed it. He could see Angelus lurking in those dark brown eyes.

The demon was very close to the surface, and Spike really didn't want it coming out and beating the shit out of him.

He dropped his eyes submissively and spoke in a monotone, "I was training a fledgling. The Slayer found us. We fought. She tried to kill me," he stumbled over those words, his heart aching in his chest at the memories of the violence between them. "I...I..."

"What did you do, Spike?"

Spike shivered at the barely suppressed fury in his sire's voice. "I could smell her desire...I...I lost control."

"You raped her." A low growl began to spill forth from between Angel's tightly clamped lips, and his hands fisted at his sides.

Shaking his head quickly Spike took another step backwards and raised his hands to ward off the violence that was brewing in the dark vampire. "Nuh--no, no. I...she...she wanted me, but she was upset, and demon...I lost control and couldn't stop and she..."

Angel interrupted with a furious slash of one arm. "Don't you dare blame her!"

"No, no, I don't, I swear," the blond replied quickly, still shaking his head. "It was all just so confusing and a..." His eyes fell to his feet and the tightness in his chest threatened to choke him, "...mess."

"You made her bleed."

The taste of her blood remained with him even hours later, and Spike swallowed convulsively, then put the last bit of his defiance into the look he shot his sire. "Vampire, remember?"

"You bit her?" Angel growled, a part of him full of hateful envy that his childe had tasted an ambrosia he never had.

"Not on purpose. I...when I kissed her, I was vamped out and..."

"You weren't careful."

"No." For a moment Spike wavered between sullen and defeated and finally sank into the latter, slumping against a tree. "I hurt her."

As Spike finally admitted the truth, Angel let some of his anger go and his inner peace return. "You hurt her more by killing."

"Don't get self-righteous with me," the younger male snapped with a telling lack of bitterness. "She's been in denial for months. I'm a vampire. I kill. Fact of our unlife. She never asked me to stop killing."

"Would you have?"

That question surprised Spike and he stared up at his sire for a long minute as conflicting emotions rampaged through him and his demon fought what remained of his human self. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders, and mumbled, "I dunno."

"Maybe you should think about that."

"Why aren't you beating the shit out of me?"

Amused despite himself at his childe's attempt at changing the subject away from his true feelings for Buffy, Angel smirked. "I can if you want me to."

"No thanks."

"There's still the issue of..." Angel gestured over his shoulder to the dead body, and Spike scowled.

"I feed on the living. It's my nature."

"It's also wrong."

"What? You been living in denial too, Peaches? You know very well I've been killing. So, why haven't you staked me?"

Angel frowned and finally muttered, "Fuck if I know."

"Because you haven't caught me in the act, that's why. Same with the Slayer until now. So, you can both either accept or stake my ass." Spike pushed away from the tree and stalked away from his sire, his back tingling in anticipation of a stake being thrown at it.

"No, Spike. You're the one who has to decide what's more important. Killing humans or loving Buffy," Angel called after him, and smirked as Spike stumbled, hunched his shoulders and disappeared down the path.


Tears still streaming down her hot cheeks, Buffy hesitated at her windowsill, then slumped down onto the roof, wrapping her arms around her legs and crying quietly.

Everything was so confused and such a mess. Spike was right. She'd been living in denial. The last few weeks had been so much fun, and in her tender heart she knew she'd been falling for him.

And all had crashed down around her as reality intruded.

Stupid reality.

The last image of Spike pinned beneath Angel crept into her mind past the confusion and loss, and she physically flinched.

Angel was angry enough to kill him.

Had he?

A louder sob broke from Buffy, and she buried her face in her crossed arms.

She sensed him before she heard him, and lifted her head to find Angel crouched before her, a tender, concerned look on his face.

"Did you kill him?" she choked out.

He shook his head. "No. We talked. Resolved nothing."

"Story of our life," she mumbled, shoulders slumping. "I'm such an idiot."

"No, Buffy, you're not. You're...falling in love."

"No." But, she didn't shake her head or try to convince either of them. Fresh tears spilled from her eyes and she brushed them away. "How come I've denied his true nature?"

"Because he hid it, and he's charming and, for a demon, oddly loving." Angel settled next to her on the roof and clasped his hands loosely around one bent knee. "He told me he lost control. I could tell how sorry he was he hurt you."

"You believe him?"

"I know him very well."

At that solemn statement, memories of the sight of Angel and Spike together, the hints that they'd been very close, flooded her mind, and Buffy blushed. "I...I did want him. sickens me." Her voice died away to a whimper.

"We can't always control our emotions, Buffy. It's only natural that, even while fighting or feeling hurt by his actions, you'd want him."

"You're being awfully good about this."

Angel sighed softly and turned to look down into her sad face. "I'll always love you, Buffy, but we're not destined for a future. I want you to be happy. Were you happy with Spike?"

As a pang passed through her chest, Buffy acknowledged the truth of his words. She'd always love him, too, but she was moving on. "I was. It was so easy to just ignore the dark side of his existence. The last couple of weeks we've gone out on dates and talked and laughed and..." She saw the pain cross Angel's face and reached out to touch his hand. "I'm sorry."

"No. I'm okay. I really do want you to be happy, even with Spike."

"I was, I really was. He was...nice to me." Buffy's eyes hardened. "And all the while he's been raising an army and killing and making fledglings and feeding on human beings."

Angel nodded in solemn agreement.

"It's like dating a member of the mafia or something," she muttered, the tears gone and the anger back. "Except deep down inside I knew what he was up to and just ignored it because I'm a stupid idiot."


"No, I am, Angel. He's raising an army, for what purpose? To open the Hellmouth?"

"You don't believe that. Spike likes this world too much."

"Then to take over Sunnydale? To kill me?"

"I highly doubt the latter, but...have you asked him?"

"No, that would be too easy," she muttered.

"I think he's very confused," Angel began slowly, working through his own thoughts on the subject as he spoke. "He's doing the traditional thing for a master vampire, forming a clan, moving his way up the ranks in power. It's in his blood. But, then he found himself drawn to you. We're all drawn to you. It's natural. It's part of your make-up to draw us in. But, with Spike, you let him in, and you both went from wanting to kill the other to going against your nature and coming to care for the other. And now, neither of you know what to do with each other or your growing feelings."

"...Yeah. So, where do we go from here?"

"I can't give you that answer, Buffy. You have to search your own heart. Are you willing to know he kills and allow it to go on? Can you continue your relationship despite that? Or...perhaps Spike will be the one to make the decision that you're more important than killing."

"Did you put that suggestion in his head?" Hope warmed her voice, though she tried to stamp it down.

"I did, but I don't think it occurred to him before tonight, that something, someone might be more important than tradition."

"Stupid idiot."

Angel smiled, a brief, sad smile, then patted her hand. "You need to sit down and talk to him, no fighting, no screaming, and, if you won't compromise your values, and he won't stop killing, then I think you have to let each other go. I can't see how it won't destroy you, if you try to stay with him while he's still killing."

"Why didn't you mention that weeks ago?"

"We're all muddling through this. I didn't want to think about it either, Buffy, that Spike was still killing and you were letting him or just ignoring it. But, now it's before us all and you two need to face it. You have to come to a decision."

"Being an adult sucks," she pouted.

"I know, but there's something else you need to think about." He ignored Buffy's sigh and continued softly, "If he won't stop killing, can you put an end to him? Can you do your duty?"

"I...don't know, and that's what sickens me the most. I think...I'm pretty sure that if he was opening the Hellmouth or bringing about the end of the world, I could kill him." She shot Angel an apologetic look, acknowledging that she'd killed him for those reasons. "But, just killing random people? I know I should. All life is sacred, and my own needs and desires should never come before that, but...I think it might destroy me."

Angel slipped one arm around her shoulder and drew her against him as she started crying again.

After a few minutes, Buffy fell asleep, and Angel carried her carefully into her room and placed her on her bed. As she whimpered and curled into a ball, he removed her boots, then pulled a blanket over her. Leaning down, he brushed his lips across her cheek, and squeezed his eyes shut against his own tears as he tasted his childe mingled with her unique essence.

Reaching a decision, Angel slipped back out the window and headed towards the warehouse district.

Buffy couldn't stand herself if she allowed her lover to kill, so Spike would make the right decision or he'd find himself blowing in the wind.

Angel was finally going to be the sire his childe needed.


Buffy awoke with a start and groaned as she straightened her aching limbs. Her mouth tasted like cotton and her eyes stung from tears. It was still dark and a glance at her alarm clock showed her that she'd only been asleep for at most an hour.

As she rolled over trying to decide if it was worth it to get out of her clothes, she sensed a presence outside her window.



The curt reply made her gulp and she scrambled off the bed, her initial reaction to grab her nearest weapon. Then common sense asserted itself.

Spike could easily have killed her in her sleep.

That he hadn't was a bizarrely comforting thought.

"What do you want?" Looking towards the window, she caught a glimpse of his brilliant blue eyes and pale face, then he turned his back and slipped into a seated position reminiscent of the one she'd been in earlier.

"We need to talk."


His face an ice-cold mask, his dark eyes intense, his whole demeanor reeking of power, Angel took a seat on Spike's throne with casual menace and surveyed Clan William. An aura of fear and respect filled the air. It had been a long time since Angel had felt those emotions directed at him by his own kind.

At least a dozen unconscious minions were strewn around the floor. Several others, many nursing wounds and bruises, cowered deferentially around the edges of the large room. They'd been good fighters, but no match for him. There were only three childer in the bunch, and two were broken and had put up no fight. The other one, she intrigued him.

Reaching down, he wrapped his fingers in long blonde hair and jerked the beaten female childe's head onto his knee. She glared up at him from one good eye, the other swollen shut. Gently he brushed his thumb across her bleeding cheek, then raised it to his mouth, savoring her taste.

"Do you know who I am?"

"The traitor with a soul," she spit out, her voice hoarse from where he'd strangled her into unconsciousness.

A hard smile crossed Angel's face. "Your grandsire, childe. Show some respect."

Surprise crossed her once pretty face, as the truth sunk in. He realized she knew who he was, but had never thought of the connection.

None of the vampires in this clan had.

Lifting his head, he let his eyes roam over the group of scared vampires, then spoke, the pronouncement hardening his own heart as the words sent tremors through the clan.

"I am Angel, heir of Aurelius, sire of William known as Spike."

"And you are mine."

Murmurs spread through the crowd, but Angel turned his attention back to the female at his feet. Her one eye was wide with fear, and she whispered, "Where's my sire?"

"I'm sure he'll be along shortly, and we'll all have a chat. What's your name, childe?"


"Go fetch me some blood, Daria, and then we'll wait."

"Yes, master."