|You an' Me Against the World
Author: sweetprincipale PM
Set immediately after Something Blue. A run in with commandos ends up modifying Spike and Buffy's memories and isolating the pair. Believing themselves to be estranged lovers, they try to reconcile and still beat the Initiative. Spuffy, eventually M.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Buffy S. & Spike - Chapters: 28 - Words: 217,460 - Reviews: 281 - Favs: 129 - Follows: 117 - Updated: 07-14-12 - Published: 08-07-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7262054
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You an' Me Against The World
Author's Notes: Set in Early Season Four, immediately following Something Blue, then departs from canon. No smut yet, but I promise, it'll get here eventually.
Direct quotes from songs and shows are obviously not mine but belong to the enormously talented people who created them.
Thank you for your support! This story has been nominated at The Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards, (located at /indexdothtml) in the following categories:
Best New Author, Best Drama, Best Pairing Conventional, Best Unfinished
Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
"You're sure this is where?"
"No, I am not bleedin' sure this is where. I was escapin', starvin', half-drugged, an' scared out of-" Spike stopped speaking abruptly and studied the terrain at the edge of the grassy campus.
"You were scared?" Buffy couldn't imagine Spike ever admitting he was scared, unless the threat of losing his precious Drusilla had been involved. Now that he was on his own, she had never expected to see him show a "human" side again. Even when he came to them for help after escaping he was angry and demanding. Maybe desperate, but not scared.
"Oh, go on an' gloat." He dropped to his knees and ran his hands along the turf.
"I'm not gloating." She wasn't. She didn't like the way these guys operated. If you're going to take out demons, take them out, don't torture them and mess with their minds. Do that, and you're just as bad as the evil you want to stop. "I was-"
"Shh." Spike held up a hand and crawled forward a few spaces before stretching out flat to the ground. "Faint. Hummin'."
"Like singing humming or machinery humming?" Buffy got down on the grass with him.
"Yes, an entire chorus of little magic elves is singin' as they work down the mines." Spike rolled his eyes and belly crawled forward more, groping and squeezing along the grass to see if he could find some seam in the earth.
"Joke all you want, but this is the Hellmouth."
"Then they'd be evil elves, wouldn't they?" Spike groused. "It's like electrical hummin'. They must have their own grid, Slayer, they're runnin' a fuckin' huge lab and a buggerin' great number of electrified critter cages." He sat up on his knees in triumph, "Okay- it's leading' to that rock formation. I came up up from a grate in the grass, but this works, too."
"What are you doing?" Buffy grabbed his arm and he fluttered his lashes at her.
"Grip a bit lower, Pet- "
"I will break your nose." She hissed. He paused, he knew she would do it, no hesitation. Sparing a second for a smug smile that she had him under control, she repeated her question. "Spike, what do you think you're doing?"
"I can still beat the shit out of a rock, even if pulping humans is out of the question. Gonna bust it, get in, get one of 'em by the throat, an' get m'self fixed." He drew back his fist to slam into the slab, and again Buffy grabbed his arm.
"There are so many holes in that plan I cannot even count them!" She cried in a near hysterical tone. "You do nothing. We wait for the others to get here."
"Easy for you- you're not the one who's gonna wither up, but not die, no, just exist in agony for-fuckin'-ever 'cause you can't eat."
"You shouldn't eat people." She ignored the images conjured up in her mind by his impassioned argument. These people were sick. Kill a vampire or demon if they were a threat. Don't subject them to a slow starvation- that would never end. "Look, we'll- we'll make sure you're fed, okay? But if you bust in there, you can't grab anybody anyway, and there are tons of them, and two of us."
Bint had a point. "Fine." He had a sudden thought. "Watch your back, Slayer. In there."
"Going to feed me to some of your old cell mates?" She demanded sarcastically. She really, really wished Giles, Willow, and Xander would hurry up and arrive. Of course, they'd kinda have to track them. They must be half a mile away from the original point Spike thought he'd escaped from.
"Not me!" God spare me from fools- oh wait, Him an' I aren't exactly on speakin' terms. Which would explain bein' lumbered with Harmony and this twit in close succession. "You said it yourself, I can't hurt anyone. But what do you think they'll make of you? Little Miss Slayer, able to lift up any one of the big soldier boys in there, wrestle any demon you want into submission." He sidled closer to her. He did so love to annoy her. " 'Course, some vamps might submit to you without too much wrestlin'."
She twitched uncomfortably. Well, as long as she was wishing for a speedy arrival of her friends, and wishing that they could accurately track her, she supposed she could wish she and Spike had never kissed and gotten semi-heavy with the petting when under Willow's spell. Then she wouldn't have bad, half-appreciative thoughts in her head when he put out his way overused innuendos. "Grow up, Spike. Oops." She gave him a saccharine smile. "Guess you lost that chance." His eyes narrowed and she glared at him. "I'm a human. Not in danger."
"First off, I'm a human- well, partly, an' it didn't matter to them. Second, you ain't a 'normal' human, Slayer, no matter how you dress it up, and I reckon they'll think you're some sorta half breed, jus' like yours truly. And lastly, Cutie, you might be a human but you're about to try an' get dirt on some big secret government show. I don't think slayer strength is much good against a magazine emptied into your pretty little chest."
She gulped. That was true. She didn't think she was at risk, not from other people, but what if these guys were the "shoot first, lie about the bodies later" type? Knowing what they did to Spike supported that idea. They didn't seem big on sharing and mercy. "I'll watch my back." She conceded.
"See that you do- because I certainly won't watch it for- down!" Spike ended his self-satisfied retort with a sudden backwards scramble.
"Huh?" Buffy found herself tugged backwards into a dense pine growth.
"Vibrations. Humming was more intense. Where the hell are your back up singers? This curtain is goin' up, an' I'm goin' in, with or without you!" Spike whispered angrily. 'Cause it'd be better to die fightin' than live like a shadow, depending on people I pretty much hate.
"Fine, go in. Maybe you'll get wasted or maybe they'll do me a favor and put another chip in, something to control your mouth!"
The trembling in the ground beneath them became strong enough that Buffy could feel it for herself. "Fine, you've got a point." Spike conceded, backing farther into the pines. Death he could cope with, not bein' able to talk might drive him mad. She remained almost visible on the edge. With a muttered curse he pulled her deeper into cover. So much for not watching her back.
"Holy cow, it's every secret agent special ops movie Xander ever forced me to sit through." Buffy breathed as she watched the rock formation open from the inside and six heavily armed, masked commandos run out, sporting all manner of strange looking gizmos on their backs and in their belts and chest packs.
"Shh." Spike cautioned, a sudden wave of fear making his pupils dilate and his head swim.
"Sir, there are lights bobbing, heading this way."
"Flashlight beams. Probably college students. Adams, get out in their direction, and if needed put on civvies and run standard protocol."
"The rest of you keep the neuro tasers out, but don't deploy unless you know you can bag the hostile, or we'll never get any data."
"There's a heat signature here." One of the commandos who had been silent up to this point suddenly seemed aware of a readout one of his hand held gadgets was giving.
Buffy and Spike heard a static crackle and then a voice. "Gray leader, three civilians. At a guess I'd say two students and a professor. I'll run the standard protocol, but suggest you exit the perimeter through the west side for safety, over."
"Understood. When it's done, buzz in and we'll give you our coordinates. Over and out." "Gray Leader", whatever that meant, fiddled with a button and the static went away.
Buffy clutched Spike's hand to get his attention, his eyes unwavering as they followed every movement of the small squadron. When he finally looked at her, her eyes were wide and frantic. In silence he spread his hands and raised his brows, not sure what panicked her.
"Willow, Giles, Xander- out there!" She mouthed and pointed in the direction the lone commando had gone.
"No danger for them." Spike mouthed back, even though he didn't believe it entirely.
"Willow, Giles- magic." Oh God, and Giles had a tattoo of a demon symbol on his arm. What if they knew that? What if "standard protocol" is beat to a pulp or use a "neuro taser", whatever the hell that was?
"What are we doing?" Spike's whispered cry was angry and insistent, only audible to someone with abnormally sensitive hearing.
"Getting to them before 'standard protocol' man does." Buffy hissed, and began working her way through the ever darkening forest. Spike followed her with many silent curses, even though this was the complete opposite of their plans.
"Heat signature's moving, Sir!"
"This isn't another deer, is it?"
"Picking up words, very, very faint."
Spike and Buffy exchanged a worried glance and froze. "Split up?" She whispered, lips against his ear, knowing that with vampire hearing she just need to breathe the words and he would hear them, but no one else would.
"Another faint sound on the register!"
Okay, so no one without vampire hearing or super James Bond spy lab equipment, Buffy thought ruefully. Spike rolled his eyes and pointed, indicating he'd go out towards the road, she could go towards her friends.
Abruptly, the decision was made for them. A tiny pinpoint of red light hit the ground between their feet. "Bloody fuckin' hell." Spike groaned in a voice that Buffy could barely hear. They were in someone's rifle sights. And there was no way of knowing if it was shooting bullets or tranq darts unless you wanted to stand around and get hit.
"I cannot catch a break." Buffy muttered, and they ran as one, her leading towards campus, thinking that they couldn't hurt them in front of witnesses- but that was also heading towards Giles, Xander, and Willow, She veered sharply.
"That isn't losing them, Slayer!" Spike shouted harshly. They had the speed and strength advantage on their side, plus they were running like a well oiled machine, senses kicking in to help them dart and dodge around fallen logs and between trees and branches, But the soldier boys were still gaining. Must be good old army steroids, Spike thought bitterly.
"He clearly wanted us to return, and seemed adamant about us not heading back into the woods." Giles led Willow and Xander into the woods through a sidelong path. "Hopefully he didn't watch us to see that we doubled back."
"They must have found the entrance then, right? If they're trying to stop us from getting in? Right?' Willow asked in a nervous, hopeful voice.
"Uh- guys? Do you hear a lot of loud, crashy sounds? Like men in army boots charging this way?" Xander held up a questioning hand.
"Oh dear Lord." Giles paused and changed routes yet again.
"Slayer! On your left!"
Buffy's well placed kick sent a man reeling to the ground.
"Confirmed, escaped HST Seventeen!" A deep voice boomed. "This must be its mate!"
"HEY!" Buffy and Spike both took exception to that.
"Bag 'em! We never had a mated HST!" The leader ordered.
"Shit." Spike knew he couldn't fight them, and his exits were rapidly closing. He dove between one pair only to feel a sizzling pain in his skull unlike anything he'd ever experienced, a dozen times worse than the chip. He staggered, the world going fuzzy gray and red. He was dimly aware of Buffy's shouted taunt at one of the men, and forced himself to just keep moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other.
God, what's it take to stop that guy? Buffy watched in horror when some metal thing was shoved at the base of Spike's skull. The force of the blast knocked him forward a good ten feet, but he kept walking. Some little part of her found time to be impressed.
"Retrieve him!" The commando in charge ordered, still chasing after Buffy.
This was ridiculous, she ran past Spike but couldn't help him right now, and then felt her stomach twist painfully as two things happened at once.
"Hey, where's the paintball party?" Xander's voice was far away, but loud and carrying.
"The guys at McClosky Hall said this was the area." Willow's voice was loud and stiff, she was no good at acting.
The second thing that happened simultaneously along with hearing her friends' voices was that she felt the back of her head explode and all her brains try and squish out of her eyeballs. But the pursuit stopped for a moment. It took her a painful second to realize that the chase hadn't ended- she was just slammed forward far enough to be out of range for a minute.
Spike used the split second he heard the voices to yank free from the soldier who'd managed to get him by the collar of his coat. His assailant was frozen, all of them were. Caught with their hands in the cookie jar, he laughed inside his head, glad that no matter what, he could go out with a snarky thought. He wasn't moving too gracefully, and he couldn't move fast enough to warn her. He watched the Slayer fly forward and he slogged towards her at his hampered speed. The commandos were regrouping waiting to see if the civilian voices would turn into civilian bodies in their midst.
"C'mon." Spike's hand was feeble but it was insistent, and they stumbled away, still running, still pursued, but now the footsteps were stealthy. Others were nearby.
"Is that what they hit you with?" Buffy gasped.
"Not last time. This- didn't black out."
She nodded and they both stumbled to their knees. "You okay?"
"Never better, Slayer, up you get." Spike muttered caustically.
"I heard him. He has that bloody annoying voice." Giles swung the beam of the flashlight but turned up nothing.
"But at least they aren't captured."
"Nor will they be. We'll stay here until we find them, or we've given them enough time to- oh gentlemen! This is the all night laser tag?"
Six very flummoxed young men turned to face two scared looking teens and one smiling older man. "I'm sorry, Sir- this is a private party."
"B-but there was paintball. McClosky Hall had posters." Willow protested faintly, and untruthfully.
"And laser tag." Xander backed up Giles.
"Ohh. You know what? You guys want the woods on the other side of Becker Arts Center. This is ROTC."
Unable to think of a good response to that, Giles nodded stiffly.
"Sorry, Dudes." Xander waved and dragged Willow away, frozen in place as she was. "Do you think that was enough time?" He whispered in a nervous undertone.
"We'll keep looking for them. But with their speed- I'd say yes, even thirty seconds could put them quite a long way away." Giles spoke confidently.
"I feel like I'm carrying the football team on my back." Buffy complained.
"Like walkin' in treacle." Spike agreed. Everything was blurry and headaches were sending strong messages to close his eyes and sleep it off.
"Where are we going? And why do I hurt?"
"They zapped us, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah. Where are we going?"
He couldn't recall. "Oh! Cave. Uphill."
"Uphill? No, no, I can barely do flat. I cannot do uphill." Buffy protested.
"We have to, now move your little bum and shut your little mouth."
"Why do we have to?" She leaned exhaustedly against him, and kept trudging.
"Because-" He blinked. "God, my head hurts."
"Someone was chasing us. They hurt you." She remembered.
"Must've hurt you, too." Spike caught her as she fell forward.
"No, before. They hurt you before."
"That's right! They used a - chip." Nothing was making sense.
"So why don't we go back to our houses?"
"They're still after us." He realized, and it renewed their sense of urgency.
"Don't worry. I- as soon as I sit down- and eat about a pint of Ben and Jerry's -polish off a handful of aspirin- I am going to go kick some army butt. No one will ever mess with us again." She gave herself a pep talk and ignored his snicker.
"Army. Bloody army wankers!" Spike remembered holding cells, surgery- pain in his head. Not the same kind he had right now, mind you, but a bad pain. Pain that made- problems.
"What's a wanker?"
"Jerk off." He replied tersely.
"Spike, you don't have to insult me. If you don't want to tell me, just say so."
"No... that's what a wanker is." He explained with a sigh. "Slayer."
"Slayer. I can't- that's not your proper name, is it, Luv?"
"Buffy. Okay, I'm seriously freaked about you now."
"Buffy! Dammit, I knew that. I'm Spike, you're Buffy, we're in trouble, and we're gonna find this cave about- well, I know it's this way..."
"Why are we in trouble, again?" Buffy bit her lip. "I should know that. Spike, I should know that!"
"Don't get emotional on me, Slayer. They knocked our brains for six, that's all. A little rest, and we're good."
"I was very clear about not using the neuro tasers until you had bagged them." Professor Walsh was thin lipped.
"We had them bagged, Ma'am."
"Obviously not, as we are down two HSTs, one an escapee, and the other his mate!" Her fist crashed down on the desk. "A mated pair! We've never had a mated pair!"
"We'll get them back, Ma'am. They were hit with a midlevel tase, they can't go far before they pass out."
"That's on humans. A midlevel charge may barely phase vampires, or whatever type of demon the female was. It almost certainly will not erase their memories completely, and we don't know if there will be accelerated recovery or decreased recovery time. We won't know if it works with long term to short term memory like human subjects! For all we know, we've erased the last 24 hours and nothing more, or we've erased everything but the last week! We won't even know if their memories were affected at all!" Dr. Walsh's tirade was reducing the six battle hardened soldiers in front of her into quivering piles inside of uniforms.
But she wasn't done. "The data you've lost! We could have seen if wiping the slate and reprogramming was more effective and quicker than behavior modification. Even without reprogramming, we could have measured how long their accelerated healing took to begin rebuilding memories. Or if their demon constitution prevented them from losing any memories of significance. The implications to psychology alone-" She put her hands to her head, too distressed to speak any further.
"We plan to do a dawn raid on the area, and the area Hostile Seventeen was originally bagged. They'll have no option but to sit, as running would end in flames."
"You get to do nothing, Leland. I'm placing your spill in Finn's hands for clean up. Give me all your team's recorded data and written log." Her voice was brittle, and she toyed with suggesting he be one of the human control subjects for seeing how long, if ever, it took for a lifetime of memories to be rebuilt after a full strength neuro taser charge. She knew the government wouldn't allow it, not for one of the boys they'd spent time and money training in a special ops course, plus this Initiative program, so she merely stared daggers at him.
"Yes, Ma'am." Leland felt ice shoot straight through him and waited to be dismissed.
"This is it. I think." Spike pointed to a craggy gap in a jagged rock face.
"Don't you know?"
"Yes, I know." Spike huffed and resolutely walked the last few yards at a quicker pace. Even injured, they had made good time- well, good time for humans, pitiful for them. But they were a few miles up and over, off of the campus he was sure.
"What are we doing here?"
"Lyin' low until your mates find us or daylight. Then you can walk home, an' I'll- I'll make my way back eventually."
"Mates." Buffy blinked at him. "They thought we were together, didn't they say that?"
"Jus' proves how idiotic they are."
"Yeah. So- what mates are we talking about?"
"Yours! Your pals! The Scoobies."
"That's a television show."
"I'm so tired. I'm sorry..." She trailed off and rubbed her eyes. I can't remember his name! "Spike! I'm sorry, Spike. For the not remembering." She could see her friends faces and hear their voices, feel that she loved them- and couldn't remember a whole lot else about them right now.
"Shut up...Slayer. We'll just wait for -" He couldn't remember what they were waiting for and his head was throbbing more and more insistently.
"Shhhh. Head go boom." Buffy slid ahead of him into the dark crevice, and he followed. In a moment she heard an almighty crashing sound and she fell to her knees, clutching her head. "What part of 'head go boom' don't you get?" She whispered brokenly, unable to open her eyes.
Spike's voice was close to her ear. "Had to block the entrance. Sent some rock over it. We can get out- won't look like we're in here though." Selfish little twit. The noise almost killed him, he was right next to it, she was a few feet away. "I got us here. You keep first watch."
"First watch? This isn't some espionage movie." She forced on eye open and met his.
"Close enough." He muttered. He wrapped his duster tightly around him, and rolled onto his side.
"This place sucks." Buffy complained, and immediately felt like a spoiled brat. It was a cave to hide in. It was supposed to suck. It was probably a four star hotel if you were a bear or a bunny. "Spike! Are there bears in here?" She shook him. He didn't respond. "Spike?" She rolled him over and pressed her hands to his neck. No pulse. No breath, his chest didn't rise and fall. "Oh my God... what'd they do to you?" She put a trembling hand to her mouth in horror. She sank back and tried to process the confusion in her mind. She knew she should be really upset- this man was dead. But... he was already dead. Vampire. Oh, God, duh! What was wrong with her? She slugged him hard and demanded again, "Spike! Are there bears in this cave?"
"I hope so." He opened one eye and glared at her. "They'll eat the one who's alive an' movin' about. You're an entree for Mr. Grizzly if he's in here." He closed his eyes more tightly.
"This is all your fault." She scooted back against the stone wall and shuddered at the thought of spiders and bugs and drippy cave water that would probably trickle down the back of her neck at some point and scare her to death.
"It isn't. Bitch." Spike fell back into a black unconsciousness, oddly at peace because that girl- the blonde bitch- wouldn't let anything happen to him. For some reason.
Buffy didn't realize that she was passing out. She thought she was just exhausted. If she hadn't had something horrible jammed into the base of her skull she might have remembered that sleep didn't come in blood red waves and fuzzy gray memories slowly drifting away. "Just for ten minutes." She thought weakly, and let the darkness take her.
"She didn't return to the dorm?" Giles paced and held the phone to his ear with one hand and wrapped his fingers around his glasses nervously with the other.
"No. And I'm scared." Willow whispered. It was after one. Hours of searching in the dark hadn't located the two, and eventually the trio returned to their respective homes. "Th-there's no message. I don't want to call Mrs. Summers because she might be just fine, but if she isn't just fine, I should call Mrs. Summers, but I don't know if she's fine or isn't fine, Giles!" Willow wailed.
"Calm down. Just calm down, Willow, I'm sure everything will be resolved soon. Now, logically, we know that Buffy could handle any number of humans without any exertion. And Spike, while not able to physically fight, is resourceful and ruthless...and knows I'll rip his bloody head off if he comes back and she doesn't, so we can assume they're working together. Most likely, they were followed, and are either working on losing their pursuers, or they lost them but don't want to return to the dorms or my flat, in order to keep us safe."
"Spike isn't that thoughtful." Willow shivered.
"But Buffy is." Giles soothed.
"What if- oh, hold on, another call. It's probably Xander."
"I'll hold." Giles paced as far as the black stretch cord would allow. What an utter load of rubbish he'd just spewed. Spike would head straight here, demand sanctuary and cigarettes. Buffy would come barreling with the demand for weapons and speaking a mile a minute, all of it peppered with the desire to just go right back out and slay something. As for working together- well, it was possible. Spike did know what would happen to him if he was the lone survivor. Giles tried to wash the anger and worry away with scalding sips of tea but it didn't help.
"He and Anya haven't heard anything!" Willow's voice was back in his ear and bordering on the frequency where humans would find it inaudible.
Giles spluttered and croaked, swallowing too quickly. "Have they looked-"
"At the Bonze, and they drove past Buffy's Mom's house but didn't see anything and they didn't want to disturb her in case it only made things worse. Then they hit the Espresso Pump, the high school, in case they were hiding out there, and the all night pharmacy." Willow babbled frantically.
"The all night pharmacy?" Giles didn't understand why that would merit a search.
"Anya said they needed more condoms. Anyway, no phone calls, no sightings, and I'm freaking, Giles!"
"Yes, I can see that." She must be. Willow saying "condoms" to anyone would be a rarity, saying it to him was nigh unfathomable. "As soon as daylight hits, we'll meet at your dorm, in the lobby. Will you call Xander?"
"Sure. A-are you going to call Mrs. Summers?"
"Not yet. If I haven't found anything by tomorrow night I will. No need to alarm her unnecessarily." And Joyce will kill me. She already blames me for the summer Buffy ran away, I shudder to think what she'll do when I say I've lost her in the first semester of college on a routine information gathering patrol...
"What, Willow?" Giles realized he hadn't heard the last thing she said.
"Is there some kind of spell that might help? Find them?"
"Oh, any number. But you are not to do them." He said severely.
"That's kinda- not fair." Willow squeaked, even though she knew exactly why he said it.
"You are worried, I'm worried, we all need rest. Trying to do magic when you're upset has had- less than spectacular consequences."
"But this is for Buffy, not for me and my broken heart!" Willow pleaded, desperate to help.
"I know." He spoke gently, hearing the grief in her voice. "Let's give it until daybreak, a few hours of searching when we can actually see, and then we'll do a locator spell. A simple one, and I can help you." He could do it himself, but he wasn't trying to punish her, and he realized that was how he'd come off to her the last time he'd advised her against performing magic.
"Thanks, Giles." She said softly. "You're probably right. Last time my spell put Buffy and Spike together in mega bad ways. Who knows what might happen this time?" She tried to lighten the mood, all the while wondering if they were together, as in captured together, in the same cell, or worse, same operating room... A wave of fear made her gag silently.
"Well, the cookies that came after were marvelous." He also tried to lighten the somber situation.
"Guilt induced cookies have extra chips." She confessed.
"Ah, I see." He moved some items around on his desk and found a half plate of cellophane covered cookies and stuffed one in his mouth. Stress made him drink, but he needed to be sharp for tomorrow. Cookies and tea would have to suffice.
"Giles. Promise me she's going to be okay?"
"I- I promise she's going to be okay if there's anything we can do about it." He made the best vow he could.
"Okay. Umm. Goodnight, I guess. What time do I tell Xander?"
"6:00. It should be light enough to search."
"Okay. Bye, Giles."
"Goodnight, Willow. Try not to worry too much. Just pray and hope." He hung up and began doing as he prescribed.
Spike sat up first, with a deep, painful gasp. "I've gone blind!" He cried. Then he tried to focus his eyes, and realized that though the area he was in was pitch dark, he could see very well. "Now that's weird."
"Oh, man. Oh, God..." Buffy opened her eyes and whimpered in pain and a little bit of fear. It was dark but she could see fairly well. Still, her head was on fire, spreading from the back of her neck up and penetrating her brain.
"Hey." A cautious voice reached her ear.
"Hi?" Where am I, who am I with, Buffy thought desperately. Why am I here, wherever this is?
"My head feels awful." She struggled to stand and gave up instantly. Why fight gravity?
"Not as bad as it was when we got here." Spike scooted closer to her. Dammit, what was her name? Why were they in here, again? He knew that... somewhere in his mind he knew that, and he'd known they were hurt when they'd gotten here.
"True. Sleep helped." She inched towards him until they were a foot apart, facing each other. I know him. We were- escaping together. Wait. Why would I ever have to escape from anything?
Images of him pulling this little blonde up a hill and her trudging beside him, crouching with him in the darkness seemed very strong in his mind. And not a hell of a lot before that. "Um. Do you- seem a little fuzzy on the details this mornin'?" He rubbed his aching eyes.
"Oh thank God. It isn't just me." She said with evident relief.
"No, it's both of us. Whatever they did- whoever did it- it's hurt us both." He tried shaking his head and wished he hadn't. "Word of advice- holdin' still is the best pain relief at the moment."
"Noted." She winced. "I know you. I know you- really well."
"Yeah... but I don't know a lot else." He confessed. "An' I'm real lackin' in the details department." I can't remember her name. But she- we have a history, I just can't remember it. I feel it.
"You're Slayer." It clicked.
"Buffy!" She knew her name. She was sure about it.
"Buffy, I knew that- but I - I call you Slayer." He knew with absolute certainty that he did, and that he had strong feelings about calling her that. That it was a huge part of who she was to him.
"Yeah, yeah you do." She nodded, warmth flooding her suddenly. "And it feels right to be called that."
"Must be a pet name." He managed a smile.
"Spike must be, too."
"I know it isn't my given name... I can't- oh, hell. I can't remember my given name." He looked truly worried, not just pained but scared.
"It's okay. It's going to be okay." Buffy patted his arm lightly, and another flash of memory hit her. She was mad at him a lot lately- but she loved him, very, very passionately. It felt wrong to just pat his arm when she should embrace him.
"Spike and Slayer. We must raise some hell, you an' me." He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes.
She blushed and changed the topic. "Those people- why did they want us?"
"I dunno, Luv." He sighed. "I've done bad things. Must have wanted me for that."
"What bad things?" She demanded.
"I can't remember- but I must've! Why else would they chase us? Why would they chase you, you don't look like you're the type to ever put a foot wrong."
"They want me... because I'm yours!" Buffy's eyes widened in realization.
"Mine?" His eyes widened in a shock. "What d'you mean 'yours'?"
"Those men said I was your mate, I remember them yelling!"
"Mate? That means friend. Or- well, it could mean an animal's partner. Humans don't have 'mates' they have wives and husbands or boyfriends and girlfriends or -" Something struck him. "Gimme your hand." He suddenly demanded.
She stuck out her hand and he pushed it away, grabbing her left. "No ring." He pushed it back, but something was niggling at him.
The same thoughts struck her as well. "But there was. Right? A big, chunky, silver ring." Her eyes filled with tears suddenly, even though it hurt terribly to squinch her face up and cry. "We must've had a fight and I took off the ring. And now- we're being hunted down and I won't ever see it again."
"Shh, shh, Poppet." Spike pulled her into his arms and patted her head, feeling that this fit and that it was wrong all at once. "It's just a ring."
"But you asked me to- I mean, I remember..." She trailed off. What if he didn't remember? But she did know. She couldn't remember much, but very recently, he had slid the ring on her finger and asked her to marry him. Then the fight- angry, people all over, they were still working together, but not nice to one another anymore. She sniffled heavily. But she'd been so happy with him. What could have happened in just a little while?
"I asked you." He nodded. "Then - you found out about me. You must've. That I'm bad an' I'm bein' hunted. You broke it off."
"No! I probably just needed time to think, Spike! I mean- would I be out here with you, being chased by some guys with scary weapons in a dark woods if I didn't still love you?" She knew in her heart she'd so anything to help those she loved, and if this was her fiancé, the same rules must apply.
"Slayer..." He looked into her eyes. "You mean it?" Tendrils of memory eased back in. Her happy smile, her shiny pink kisses. He'd love for this girl to be his, he'd asked her, hadn't he?
"Spike, why else would I risk my life to be with you?" She squinted. That didn't seem to make sense to her, and yet, in the traditional scheme of things, it made perfect sense. Stand by your man, and all that.
"Here, Luv." He had a chain on, thick silver. "Wear this 'til we get home, an' you can put your ring back on." He slid it over his neck and fastened it on hers.
She nestled into his arms. "No more fighting."
"Slayer, I don't remember a damn thing- but I know you an' I fight."
"Well, no more stupid fights where we call things off. We just have to work through it. We're not quitters." She said fiercely, again, knowing it was true, but not sure how she knew it.
"Too right." He also knew that in his bones. He pulled her close as he could. "Sorry I got you into this."
"Don't worry about that. How are we gonna get out of it?" She whispered, head pressed to his chest.
"Well, I think we can get out of the cave for a start. I vaguely remember thinking I was obscurin' the entrance, but I thought we could dig out." He tried to stand. "But not yet. Too wobbly."
"Me, too." She comforted. Another thing she knew instinctively, was that Spike was a very proud man. And very smart. And very...cold. "Are you sick?"
"Like I drank all of New Orleans under the table." He laughed mirthlessly.
"No, I mean you're cold. Really cold and- Spike. Your heart isn't beating."
"I'm alive, Slayer, it must be beating." He said dryly. "Maybe you're goin' a bit deaf?"
In answer she jabbed his fingers into the side of his neck. "You don't have a pulse."
"How... how am I doin' this, then?" He slid away from her as she warily eyed him.
"What'd they do to you?"
"No... no, no they didn't do anything to me, except hit my head, we got away." He pinched himself. "You're warm and pulsing, right?'
She checked. "Yeah." Her eyes widened. "Spike! This must be the reason! You're- you're not human. And I found out- I freaked, I broke up with you, they're hunting you, and that's why they called us 'mates', not lovers or boyfriend and girlfriend!"
He pondered in silence, desperate to remember, but anything farther back than him falling on his knees in front of this girl was lost to him. It was like someone had slammed a brick wall down on most of his life, and painted over major parts of what little he did recall. "Say you're right. What am I?"
"A vampire." She said with absolute certainty.
"Oh, for heaven's sake." He scoffed. "Where're my fangs, huh? An' since when was Dracula from the East End?" Wait- how do I know I'm from the East End? East End of what? I'm English, I got that...
"Well, what else can you be? If you were a zombie you'd be eating my brain and decomposing, if you were a regular guy you'd have a pulse!"
"If I were a vampire, wouldn't I be drinking your blood and making you my undead bride?" He pointed out.
"No...not if you fell in love with me and I didn't want to be undead." She squirmed uncomfortably. He was raising good points. And something in the back of her mind screamed not to trust him or love him, engaged to him or not. Maybe I have trust issues. Maybe that's what made us fight. Geez, if I don't know anything about myself, I'm so not judging him.
"That's true. I'd do anything for love." I know that. I've done it. For her? I don't know, oh sod this, I don't know anything that's actually useful right now! "I thought vampires were legends." He shook his head.
"I kinda don't think so." Buffy's squirming ended with a clatter and a sharp, wooden stake rolled across the rocky floor, ending at his knees. She looked at him guiltily, and he looked at her with pain and loss in his eyes. "Um. See?"
"You were gonna put me out of my pain? Or were you afraid of what I am?" He whispered, rolling the stake back to her.
"Neither. Neither!" Her voice rang with conviction, and both of them winced at the volume. She lowered her voice. "I don't know why I have it, I just know- I need it. But I know one thing. Not something I remember, but I know- I know when I had it with me this time, I never intended to use it on you."
"I s'pose I've got no choice but to trust you." He gave a hollow chuckle.
"Same here. What if you suddenly do decide to bite me? I mean, I seem to know, again with the knowing but not the remembering how I know- which is so frustrating- that you wouldn't ever bite me. Anymore. Now. Now you would not bite me." She nodded firmly, truth sinking in from unknown sources.
"I must love you." Spike shook his head. "'Cause I followed that deranged sentence."
"Are we gonna quibble or are we going to get out of here and get home?"
"We're gonna get home." He staggered up and leaned against the mossy wall. He watched her do the same, and then they smiled at one another.
"Just one question?" Buffy panted, exhausted just from the effort of keeping her traumatized head up.
"Shoot." He didn't need to breathe, but his talking seemed labored anyway.
"Where's home? And where are we?"
Their eyes locked. "Those are damn good questions." He sat back down.
"I know I have a home! And friends! Parents! I know it- I feel it- I just can't think of any of it."
"Don't cry, Poppet, it only makes the pain worse." He whispered. "Come here, we'll figure it out." She stumbled into him and he held her, feeling her warm body soothe him. He smiled inside. If they weren't in so much pain and so tired, he bet they'd be all over one another. I wonder if we've ever made love? We must have. How could we not have, look at her, she's so sweet, and she smells like sunshine- and oh. Oh, there're the fangs. He resolutely went back to thinking about Slayer's body, not her scent, and the fangs retracted. She'd never even looked up.
"We'll see where we are. And then- well, we need to eat. I don't have an ID card on me or anything... I don't know my address!"
"We'll find it. We'll look in a phonebook. You know your last name?"
She blinked back tears and shook her head. "I know things. Like- we're in America. I know I'm old enough to get married. But it's like there's splashes of black paint all over my brain. I remember some stuff, but not what would help us."
"You're doin' better than me. All I know is I'm Spike, I came to America from England, and I'm a vampire. And I'm engaged to the prettiest girl I've ever seen. Most of that I didn't know until you helped me figure it out." He stroked her hair.
"You're a good guy." She gave him a half-smile that melted his heart. He was sweet to try to make her feel beautiful in the midst of a much bigger crisis. "Not all vampires are bad." She spoke with certainty again.
"I dunno about that. Think with nicknames like 'Spike' and 'Slayer' you might like your boys a bit bad." He pressed his lips to her forehead.
"I know I like you." She shrugged, not sure about why she liked him in particular, if his dark side added something, or if she'd simply fallen for him as a person. "And right now- that makes up about fifty percent of all my knowledge."
"Yeah, Slayer. I know. We have a way of workin' things out. Big things. That's one of the 'can't remember, but I know it' pieces. I know even if it's just you and me against the world- we're still gonna win."
She felt hope and some measure of strength return. "That must be one of the reasons I love you." She smiled into his eyes and kissed him.
To be continued...