|Offers You Can't Refuse
Author: sweetprincipale PM
Late S.3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by a deranged Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? Someone makes Spike an offer he can't refuse- but not what you'd expect.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Buffy S. & Spike - Chapters: 33 - Words: 269,860 - Reviews: 846 - Favs: 113 - Follows: 113 - Updated: 02-21-13 - Published: 10-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8625858
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Offers You Can't Refuse
Late S. 3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by the corrupt Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? If the motivation is right, Spike will do anything to help the woman he loves.
Author's Note: Sorry for the long delay folks, but that last chapter was long enough to hold you over, I hope. (In addition, I've been on the very injured list and unable to write much.)This will seem a bit anticlimactic in comparison to the previous chapter, but then again, how could it not? Minor smut, nothing intense.
Author's Second Note: For the guest reviewers- Thank you so much. I can't respond to you unless you log in, but i love that you review anyway! Thank you!
Author's Third Note: Unknown will have chapters again soon, I promise. This little story was supposed to be a two week quickie. Ha. I'm very bad at curbing my muse, but apparently no one minds! Don't worry though, none of my stories are abandoned.
Dedicated to: Skeezixx, Ginar369, Alexiarrose, Sirius120, Jewel74, The Three March Hares, micmoc, Embers and Flames, Omslagspapper, Rosalea12, Touch the Dark, hbmckidd, ValidescopeWest, Rachel, Alottalove, Cavementftw, ammuna, Seapea, Maire Ailbhe, Illusera, ShyL, Michelle, mike13z50, Loverswalk89, N172Shay, Suzanne, KittenofDoomage, Michelle, darkeyesgirl, LunaML, Haleycc, Slayergirl, shadowcat802, Bamboo Angel, jazzyjizzle1994, Loveisrealand4eva, kerry220, Clara Johnson, and sbyamibakura.
I am in continual shock and amazement that so many readers are supporting me. I am truly grateful, thank you.
Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
Day Twenty Five...
It took three or four minutes of concentrated shouting and throat clearing to get Buffy and Spike's attention. An angry mother's voice penetrates a make out session like nothing else though.
"Buffy Anne Summers! Pick up this phone right now!"
"Mom!" Buffy pulled back from Spike with a gasp. "Mom?" She turned and hissed at him, "They're on the phone? Why didn't you tell me they were still on the phone!"
"I was consumed with the you bein' alive an' all." He rolled his eyes, then smiled. "She's back to normal! If she had more energy, I think she'd have elbowed me."
"Give me that." Buffy blushed and tried to crawl across his leg to grab the phone. Given her dislocated shoulder and weakness, she gasped and rolled back over, wincing. "Ow..."
"Sweetie! Sweetie, talk to me." Joyce demanded.
"Can we call you back? Slayer needs a little patch job before-"
"Spike- I want to talk to my family. I can get fixed up later." She laid on her back, legs over his, back to the floor. She met his concerned eyes with a small smile. "Being hurt for a few minutes longer beats being dead forever."
"I wouldn't know." He cracked a wry smile. And I'm glad I don't have to find out, as long as you're okay.
"Hi, Mom! Hi, guys!"
He watched her glow for them, and for a few minutes he was simply glad to bask in the light, and not worry about any remaining storms.
Wesley slunk off upstairs. He had been the one to identify the demon precisely. He should feel proud, feel useful. Yet, watching the emotional fall out of the four people downstairs, he felt strangely empty. Am I only starting to find feelings for others now? I am a book on legs. A very, very put out book.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fallows is in-"
"This is Wyndham- Pryce. I have information for him. Vital information."
He waited several minutes before he heard a harassed voice. "Hello, Pryce?"
"Glargk Guhl Kashma'nik." Wesley greeted him.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Glargk Guhl Kashma'nik."
Fallows turned to the weary few who remained in the Council's chambers, the majority of them having left for a tea break, gone home, or still frantically searching the stores below. "Call down to Newcombe, someone. "I want to know if anything even remotely associated with Glargk Guhl Kashma'nik is missing."
Travers started in his chair, hand slipping from its casually confident prop under his chin, paling slightly.
The room sat tense and silent, except for Fallows muttered whispering into the phone.
"Is she alive?" Fallows asked uneasily.
"Yes. Unwell, but alive." Wesley said heavily.
"How did it happen? Did they see anyone?"
"Someone poisoned her food. Made sure she'd continue to ingest it. They saw no one, but I wouldn't worry too much. Once Buffy is back to full strength," or Spike is out of her sight, "I imagine they'll hunt down the person responsible."
"Yes. Hm. If the person in question turns out to be-"
"Mr. Collins? We'll let you know."
"There's two vials of GGK venom missing from the storeroom!" Harbin burst back into the room, a log sheet held in front of him. "None has been checked out for study in three years, and now two full vials are gone!"
Travers let an almost sleepy look settle across his face as he internally rehearsed his lines. Mere coincidence. A Slayer, a demon- a confrontation couldn't be more natural. You can't prove anything. My fingerprints have every right to be on every inch of this place. This is my kingdom. He fought down a possessive snarl. My kingdom and no one can take it from me. Even she is my servant, but they treat her like some god. She might be hand picked by the Universe - but without us, she is a mere freak, a mutant with no purpose in a world of ordinary humans. Without us, the Universe loses order. We bridge that gap.
"Mr. Pryce, we'll have to call you back."
"We'll call you." Wesley hung up with a small, smug smile. Buffy will find him first.
Wait. Why I am proud? I didn't train her. I have hindered more than I helped- or at least that's all she'll realize. From downstairs, he heard Giles laughing, for the first time in weeks, the rich, flowing sound of a heart light in relief. She's not my Slayer.
He plastered a broad grin on his face. "They've found the two vials of the demon's venom missing from Council Headquarters." He caroled as he went downstairs.
"Buff! Chief Butthead is practically caught red handed!" Xander cried excitedly.
"I'm sorry, but I can't be held responsible for someone improperly logging their test materials. Perhaps two were used and they forgot to record that. If you can prove that every poison and herb is perfectly inventoried-"
"No, Quentin." Fallows looked into the eyes of the man he'd worked alongside with, and then under, for thirty years. "We don't need to prove that. The fact that Buffy's Watcher just phoned to tell us that she was systematically ingesting the very toxin suddenly missing from under our own roof... There's some things you don't need to 'prove' are wrong by making sure everything else is right."
A slight flaring of the nostrils and raising of the tufted gray eyebrows accompanied Travers' voice, still trying to be cool and unbothered. "You take the word of Pryce? The man who you heard also wanted her dead?"
"Pryce, the man who strung you along, recording your conversations to turn into a board of inquiry."
The voice was becoming heated as it replied, "Pryce was in London only a few days ago for a family wedding! What is to say that he didn't come to Headquarters, -"
"He was with us." Fallows answered. "Not at some wedding. He was giving his evidence, and he was in the company of more than five Council employees. The more interesting question to this board is how two vials of such a dangerous substance happened to end up in the United States, into the food supply of a girl who's been missing for nearly a month?"
"And who said that it was so? Pryce. And who says it's poison that was stored in out laboratory vials? Even if that word was from an absolutely solid source, which I do not consider Wyndham-Pryce the younger to be, saying a certain type of poison was found in a slayer means nothing. A demon poisons a slayer, it happens all the time. Vampires, demons- they kill Slayers."
"So no one would look too closely then, if she turned up dead from a a sting from a Glargk Guhl Kashma'nik!"
When you've been talked into a corner- laugh. It's not gentlemanly, but it's more confidence-inspiring than shouting defensively. So Travers chuckled. He laughed softly, shaking his head and even sighing. "You're so eager to sew up this 'case', this travesty in Council history, that you don't see all the pinholes in it. Very carefully crafted evidence, but it still has some tiny holes you refuse to see."
"Maybe we are no longer blindly following, as you seem to expect." Fallows murmured and closed his eyes wearily. "It's after tea, and we're all very tired. We have three days from this point to find Mr. Collins or receive new evidence. Clear the room, please. Quentin- have a pleasant stay, as the Council's guest."
Forty minutes later...
"I love you, too, Mom. Mom- Mom! Breathe! Look, I promise I'll call you as soon as I can! Like tonight or tomorrow morning."
"Buffy, come home. Come home now, please. There's still some deranged man out there." Joyce refused to let Giles take the phone from her grip.
"Not until we catch this guy. If they need him to talk to the Council guys, then we'll deliver. Besides- he- he made me sick. He made me crazy. You have no idea how much he hurt us." Buffy looked over at Spike, still sitting beside her, staring. Like he'd never see me again. "No idea." She repeated in whisper.
In the last few minutes, she'd talked to them all, she'd gotten to say the things she was afraid of- sort of.
Twenty minutes ago...
I'm sorry I put you in so much danger, and I am sorry I can't do everything I should, maybe, but-"
"Buffy! Are you kidding? If you weren't here, we'd be so dead. So, so dead. I'd probably be a vampire." Willow shuddered.
"Yeah, Buff, if you didn't include us in the fighting the good fight- I'd be pretty offended. That's like hogging all the good karma."
"I love you. I love you so much, you know that, right?"
"We love you too!"
"Of course we do, Buffy." Joyce chided.
"I never meant to mess up anyone's life or anything." Buffy sniffled, but her tears were happy.
"Oh, you mean that boring lull between my misspent youth and meeting you? Vastly improved." Giles informed her.
That was the Watcher equivalent of a big gushy speech.
"So, Watcher, who has also improved my life- I have vague recollections of there being a reason I went all loopy. Wanna fill me in?"
"His name is Collins..."
"I need to talk to you about this Spike person." Joyce said firmly.
"No. You don't." Buffy winced.
"Buffy." Joyce said sternly.
"Mo-om. He saved my life. And from the looks of him- he got set on fire and beaten with a shovel to do it."
"All you, Precious." Spike chuckled just loud enough for her ears. "Even at your weakest you're a vicious little thing."
"He jumped off a mountain to catch me. I remember that. And then... I don't remember much else. But he's a good bodyguard, and you need to let him do his job."
Joyce opened her mouth twice but nothing came out.
"She says that's fine, she'll see you later, love you, bye!" Willow answered speedily and then slammed the phone shut.
"I call sleep. If we sleep, we won't think about her sucking face with Spike." Xander grumbled. Willow glared. "Even reformed life-saving Spike is still a-" He caught Willow's frantic food nudging his own as Joyce seemed to lean in. Her face has a look he knew very well. Mom-wiggins. Guaranteed to make any young adult want to join the French Foreign Legion and never come back. And hey, one summer without Buffy was bad enough, two would just break the suck-o-meter. "Is still a person I do not want on my Christmas card list. Yet."
Joyce turned an began to grill Giles and Wesley.
"You owe me one." Xander hissed in Willow's ear.
"You can come sleep at my house? Mom bought pie. Oh, and she's probably going to have realized I took the car without asking by now, so I could use someone to be grounded with."
"Sounds like a plan."
"So... What the hell happened?"
"Let's just say blood does a body more good that certain kinds of milk." Spike stiffly stood and looked out at the bright sky.
"Let's say more than that. What the heck was going on? I mean- I kind of know what happened, but stuff is blurry or it's fading or it's- missing."
"You don't want to-" Spike purposely took her hand on the side of her dislocated side, and as she went to rise, he yanked hard and pushed against her chest with his foot before she could even gasp.
Buffy let out a shrill little scream and then sighed. "Ooh. That's better now."
"Goes smoother if you don't see it coming." He knew it had been coming. That slight crunching sound of socket meeting bone- he fought off a shudder. He now wanted a cig so bad he might have considered chewing it like shredded wheat. "Right, you're covered in grit an' what not, so let's get you into a nice hot shower, then-"
"Tell me what happened." She insisted.
He suddenly felt weak as she'd been. "In a minute."
"Oh dear. Henly, was it?" Travers smiled paternally at the guard escorting him back into his "quarters".
"I've just remembered something urgent. I have post that must get out as soon as possible. I may be 'on trial', but I am still responsible for keeping lines of communication open between us and our allies, putting through orders and assignments."
"Yes, Sir." Henly didn't stop escorting him.
"I may be temporarily in no position to perform other tasks, but these letters simply must go out. I shudder to think what will happen just because Fallows and a handful of crusaders neglect the day-to-day functioning of this Council."
"I'm sure that won't happen, Sir." Although- everyone did seem to be in a dreadful rush. And what does the head of Council do in his office all those hours, if not fill out important papers and send them off?
"They're in my office." Travers pressed.
"I'll notify Mr. Fallows and the secretarial staff, Sir. On your desk, is it?"
"Most of it, yes, but there's one piece I have inside my desk. Which has a coded lock." It didn't. But Henly wouldn't know that. The lowest of the low, a grunt who'd passed into the Watchers' ranks by the skin of his teeth and of course, as all Watchers, through family connections. Not so much nepotism, but the simple sense of keeping such secrets in the same families, making sure their operation remained hidden from public knowledge. And its members loyal. Such sad times...
"You can give someone the code then, Sir."
"It's encrypted. To touch."
Henly hesitated. "You'll have to have your post go out a day later, Mr. Travers. Mr. Fallows and the board are down doing inventory and gave orders not to be disturbed. Unless it's a matter of life and death. Which I doubt your post is."
You might be surprised. "Henly," He clapped a hand on his arm, and watched the tall, beefy man reflexively pull his arm away, "surely you don't buy into all this conspiracy nonsense?"
Hesitation. Yes, he did, but he didn't want to tell the most powerful man in the agency such a thing, in case he remained in control. "The Board decides that, Sir. I will abide by their decision."
"They didn't say I couldn't go to my office, did they?"
"No. They told me to take you straight to your cell- I mean, accommodations."
"Henly, why don't we take another guard, another troop of heavily armed men in fact, and you can have them all stand about, guns pointed at my head-" his eyes twinkled in mocking sarcasm though he kept the falsely sincere smile on his face, "as I pull out a few letters and then hand them to you to put in the outgoing mail?"
The guard's flushed. "I don't think that'll be necessary, Sir." Henly smartly about faced them and moved a small pistol from his holster to point at the center of Travers' back. "One armed man, or two, should suffice. Ferguson! Come with me to Mr. Travers' office for a moment. He needs to post some letters."
"Can't we do that for him?" Ferguson left his position by the hall doors and his hand went to his flank.
"Just one letter I have to retrieve from inside my desk. You can call Fallows if you wish. I'm sure he'll approve." Travers smiled patiently.
Ferguson and Henly exchanged a look. "No offense, Sir, but we'll be keeping weapons drawn at all times, and one of us will be directly behind you."
"Of course, of course. Well-trained, lads. Stout fellows, unshirking." He rambled of a litany of sturdy, Norman words at them, all the while secretly glad he had always had a contingency plan in place.
They watched him take out the letters, shuffle through, frown, and reach under his desk. He smiled faintly at the intake of breath, the cocking of hammers- and then he pretended to push buttons on the underside. After pointlessly poking on the underside for a second, he acted as if his drawer had been unlocked, and he fished out a letter, ready to mail, in its special envelope with blue and red edging and a pre-sorted priority Royal Airmail stamp already affixed. "There. Now all we have to do is get them into the night box and I'll rest easy." He rose, and calmly handed a pile of about ten letters to Ferguson, ignoring the gun aimed at his chest.
"Back to your room now, Sir. And I'll be telling Fallows you were here."
"Admirable, my dear fellow, admirable. Perhaps it would make it easier if I just dictated a list of what's inside each envelope, so he doesn't have to rip them open and readdress them? What with his poor, mislead sense of duty." Travers began ticking items off on his fingers as Henly took his elbow.
"I don't think that'll be necessary, Sir."
"There's a letter to Mr. Sosuma in Kyoto about our sword requirements for the incoming students. Then there should be one to the Procurator Fiscal in Edinburgh about that troublesome body the police found - vampires, as usual. The payroll department in Devon needed my signatures for the teaching staff's contracts. Oh, the -"
"Yes, Sir, we'll have someone look at it." Ferguson shoved the letters in his pocket.
They marched in silence down the halls and stairwells until they returned Travers to his heavily fortified room. "Pleasant evening, Sir."
"And to you, gentlemen." He waved with a gracious smile and waited for the door to lock. Then the smile was replaced by a frown and a steady pacing sound filled the air.
What if they do look? Oh yes, all routine letters, all but one. The one that must be sent, the one addressed to a California post office box, no names, no details, nothing but a simple three word note.
"Care coverage discontinued."
If Collins was found- he still had one move that could restart the game.
"I'm sorry I didn't know it was that bastard. I should never have taken in the food, Slayer."
"If you hadn't, I would have!" Buffy protested, easing her (technically his) torn shirt off. "Wow. How many shirts did you pack?"
"Not enough apparently." Spike watched her shake out her long, tangled hair, felt lust rising- and falling. Such a network of bruises and scrapes. And some slight trembling in the muscles that seemed extra defined today.
"We have hideout money left. We'll get some for you in town." She watched him moving gingerly around her, afraid to break each other, too burnt and too scarred to touch- but they'd been clinging to each other like long lost loves only a little while ago.
"Yeah. Get you some too. Maybe then you'll stop pinching mine." He sat on the edge of the sink and puffed, not looking at her.
"So I'm caught up on the poison, the who did it, the how he did it, and the why, and I have some decidedly not human-friendly ideas about what happens when I find him. I know about living in nightmare land- which apparently exists when I'm awake, too." She shivered and cranked the water up to the extent of its failing heating system's abilities. "But I don't know how I suddenly got better. Except that you did something."
"Yeah. I dragged your sorry ass back in, made one hell of a catch." Spike frowned and stubbed the smoke out on the porcelain basin, mumbling to himself- one version of himself, "Not good at sports. Ha. That'll show' em."
"Nothin'." He exclaimed hastily. "Go on, get in. Or were you hopin' to just steam clean yourself?" The hot water and the closed off room were creating a sauna-like effect.
"You caught me. I hit you for it."
"You were tryin' to get away, I was holdin' you back, of course you'd hit. No worries." He yanked the shower curtain open pointedly.
"I hit you because I thought you were going to- that you were all going to turn me over to the bad guys. Or leave me. Or- other things you'd never do." She blinked away the image of Giles polishing his sword with that sorrowful "it's for your own good" expression. "Eventually- there was nothing. Nothing, and then you were talking. Talking and vamping-"
"Blood sample. Mobile lab, me." He tried to joke.
She winced and rubbed her head, as if she scrub her thoughts back into focus. "Then your voice again. Telling me to come back and - and boy, you were like a broken record."
"Sometimes you don't listen well, you cloth-eared thing." He stepped closer to her, and was pleased when she took a hasty hobble over to the tub. "Or sometimes I have to repeat myself until I'm bloody well tired of talkin'. Like now." He stepped again- and ran into her.
"I'm not gonna back down." She smiled sadly up at him. "Tell me. What'd you do?"
"You already know that, Slayer."
"Spike, honest, there were some big gaps in today that I don't remember!"
"Think about it. You know what can cure a person who's too shattered to glue together." He went to turn away, and was stopped. She didn't even need to use strength, only a fingertip on the back of his arm as he pulled past her.
"You used the Eye?" Buffy whispered. A shrug, a nod. "But- but that was everything you were working for! You said- you said you had to get her some peace, that she was tortured and it was Angel's fault and all that stuff with her sisters!" Buffy felt utterly, overwhelmingly guilty. Guilty and some other strange emotion that she didn't understand, that she didn't think she'd ever understood, making her chest get tight and her skin flush.
"I know what I said." Quiet control. Don't look at her.
"How could you..." She trailed off. He's been hurt so bad. So bad, and he did so much, all for one little thing, one little thing in return for something huge! And now he won't have it at all. And it's all my fault. Oh my God, then it's true. I still hurt them. I mean it was his choice, but I forced his hand, I made this happen, I- "That was everything you were working for!" Buffy repeated desperately, eyes wide and rapidly blinking.
"Yes! It was! To heal the mind and get me the girl I love! The girl who would understand love, who knows what love is, the one I wanted, broken and confused and even down right starkers, who would still love me!" He pressed her back, her shoulder blades divided on the edge of the wall where the tub met the rest of the room, and held her there, not caring if she hurt, because he hurt too. "Everything I said got trumped by a couple things you said, Slayer! That you won't hurt my heart, you won't throw me away, you don't quit, you don't leave, and you'd rather have happiness than be at peace. You will never give me any bloody peace, but you always make some part of me happy!" He finished ins ranting shout, impassioned and gripping her hard.
Buffy gasped at him, and winced as her tender shoulder split against the partition. Her lips trembled as she tried to fight that powerful contracting sensation in her chest and tried to find a coherent reply to his outburst. Lips crashed together fora few furious minutes, all at his lead, all his explosive revelations poured into one frustrated physical expression.
I always make some part of him happy. But I know some part of him hurts so much right now. She tore her head away to breathe, and whispered, "I didn't mean to make you choose." She shook her head. I was pretending he wouldn't have to pick. Ever. But I never thought about choosing like this. "I didn't mean to."
"That's right. You didn't. 'Cause you never treat me like a toy, or love like a game." His own white lips quivered slightly, non-existent breath still seeming to flow, to make his chest rise and fall, touching hers. "I hate what Dru goes through. But there's times when she's happy. She's suffered, and she fights, an' she fails, an' she falls- and God, I want to be the one to save her from herself."
"I'm sorry." Buffy murmured softly.
"Lemme finish!" He growled and pressed his forehead to hers. "You - there was no break for you, it just kept gettin' worse, and worse, and it would have killed you. No peace, no happy, no nothin', an' nothin' for me."
"But you still didn't get-" Drusilla. But he got what he wanted. Or at least- he thinks he does. "I'm still sorry you had to make a decision like that." Buffy pressed forward.
"Me, too." Sorry anything this painful ever happens to anyone. Huh. Not much of a demon lately, am I? He wrapped one arm around her waist and became a bit harsh to stop him getting all soft and mushy. An' noticing that she's quite soft herself. All aoft and delicate, a blend of warrior and wilted flower and -Down, Boy! "You oughta take it easy on the good guy bit, Slayer- you were the one for the chop. You need to take it easy today. Let's-"
She blocked the rest of the words with her mouth. "We can take it easy."
You love someone enough that you'll give up a century's worth of woman and ways, and you save her life- several times- in one day- and in the aftermath... I feel like I'm the one with my head in the clouds. They stood, close enough to touch but barely letting fingers brush, the permission granted- but something inside him hesitated.
They swayed unsteadily against each other. I almost died. I almost killed myself. I did full blown crazy, and the only thing that brought me back was some magic doohickey. That, and a guy who traded everything to make me wake up again. Never stopped trying, or fighting, or giving- which if you think about him, is super weird, and at then end- he acts like he can't touch me.
Does she think I'm just the same as the other losers? The leavers? I didn't leave her, but it looks like I tossed Dru aside. Of course, Dru tossed me first. Tossed me damn hard, too.
I forced him to choose- not me, but the situation. Geez. I mean- someone's life over someone feeling better- I don't know, I guess the noble thing to do is save a life. Spike, noble? Yeah. Spike, noble- for love.
"Hm?" How does something so closely packed as a cramped little shower with two bodies in it still seem so lonely? He was letting her have most of the hot water, his burnt skin didn't like the heat too much anyway. She lifted her face to him, arms crossed against between their chests.
"Thank you. For bringing me back."
"Thank you for wantin' to stay."
"Of course I did! You're here."
He who hesitates is lost. Or even worse- the girl's lost.
She screeched a little as he hoisted her up and tossed the "take it easy" rule out the window, hugging her hard, just the way she wanted him to. "Spike!"
"Never do that again! I love you, Slayer!" He said furiously. He was furious. Furious in retrospect, that he hadn't realized it sooner, that he'd almost lost her, that there was a man out there, several in fact, and that they were still breathing even when she'd almost stopped. "Dammit. Love you, Buffy." This is when they can hurt you most- when you gamble it all, when they know they've got your heart in the palm of their hands.
"I love you, too!" He said it. He still means it. I cost him everything.
"Duh! That's not going to change just because I lose my mind!" Oh. Oh crap...
"Seems to matter in some cases." He mumbled.
"Maybe it depends on the person?" Buffy tried to soothe him, and her foot-in-mouth mistake.
"If it's the right one." Gut said it wasn't a mistake. Always listen to your gut.
Give him everything in return... "If it's the right one." Buffy nodded her agreement, and caught his lips again.
They kissed, pressed against the far wall of the shower, until he felt her shivering. "You wanna get back under the water, Baby?"
"No, I wanna get under the covers." She ran her hands down to his hips, trying to keep to the path of white skin not broken by blisters or bruises.
"I can arrange that." He teased and lifted her out.
"I can walk!" She squealed.
Earlier today she couldn't. It's good to see her back on her own two feet. He put her down, but held her tight for a second. "Sometimes I just want to get an armful of you." He smiled so she wouldn't follow him down that sad path in his mind.
Buffy laced her fingers with his and pulled him along. "It's too bright for hit man hunting, right? I mean, for both of us to go out and I'm not going anywhere without you."
"This from the girl who called me warden." He'd turned off the shower and allowed himself to be led. "Watcher Junior said you'd be sick for a few hours, so after that I'll blanket up an' we can go an'- oh bloody hell! The car! The car's out on the effin' ridge with its door open an' the radio on."
"So? It's not raining." Buffy sat on the edge of the bed and looked up at him in the blue-gray light made by bright sun on the faded curtains.
"No, but it means I'm running the battery dead. An' the keys are in the ignition. I hope we still have a car."
"We'll have two soon. Ours and Poison-man's."
"Yeah." He sat beside her and smiled. "I hope he has jumper cables."
"I meant we could probably just take his car." Buffy blushed at her own criminal impulses. Hey! Not criminal! He's the criminal. And we can give the car back. Or not take it at all. "But jumping the battery is good too." Buffy nodded.
"Not what I had in mind." Spike vamped and unvamped with a shake of his head. "Sorry. Sidetracked. I believe I was about to tuck you in."
"I believe you were about to get in here with me."Buffy pulled the covers down and scooted under, trying not to wince too much. Her wrists and arms and shoulder seemed exhausted, and every muscle ached as though it had been pulling heavy weights for an hour. Vague memories or something rough pulling her arms into an uncomfortable position. She rubbed her reddened wrists and forearms with a thoughtful frown.
He eased in beside her. "Hurts?"
"Like I did weights for hours. Like- car-sized weights, not normal people weights."
"You did fight for hours. And with not much more than your human strength, Luv. You're incredible." Spike kissed her bruised shoulder down to her scraped arm, following it to her chafing wrists. She doesn't know what happened I guess. I'd rather not tell her. Or remind her. Or myself.
But he heard himself keep talking, babbling between kisses as he inhaled her, that recreated clean, simple scent of his woman, not a walking capsule of fear. "Most humans can't keep a vampire off for even a second, but you- you just don't quit. You're a survivor, Luv. Even if someone tries to tie you down, you'll fight until you're free. That's what makes a Slayer, not the strength, the spirit..." He didn't know when his more animalistic tendencies had taken over, but he was running his tongue over her pulse points, and back up, over across her chest at gave soft heaves.
"You tied me down?"
"More like to. To the chair in the kitchen. You kept tryin' to hurt yourself, an' you wouldn't stay down for long."
Buffy took her arm back. It freaked her out a little, the thought that he'd done that. Completely unpalatable. Completely a reminder of other bad times when the enemy had hurt her, caught her. "That's..." She met worried, distracted blue eyes, eyes that roved over hers and her whole body, white fingers wrapped around scraped skin. He hated it. He had to choose. He chose lots of things he probably hated, just so I could be alive. And boy do I know that feeling. "That's what you have to do sometimes." She shrugged. His face moved over hers, letting her get a close up of four small slashes, already healing. I did that. I never stop fighting.
"I'm sorry anyway." Spike's cheek jumped in a sudden tic.
"So am I." She traced his twitching muscle. "But- " She blushed, "I heard that 'make up sex' is really good."
"Yeah?" He laughed, and the worry left his eyes. "I don't think this counts as make up sex."
"Well, not yet, but if you move over a couple inches-" Buffy scooted her hips at his.
"I meant 'cause we weren't fightin' or arguin'. This counts as 'we're both still here an' we're together' sex. Or sleep. We need to sleep at some point, Slayer." He groaned. "You must be all in."
"True." Buffy closed her eyes. With a deep sigh, she spoke in a mumble, "We shouldn't sleep until we find him."
Spike's eyelids fluttered back open. "Keep awake, you mean?"
"On the look out." She rolled gingerly to her side.
He mirrored her. "Hm. But this bed is just so inviting..." He stretched his arm out and let it tangle with hers.
"I didn't say we had to get up. Just that we shouldn't go to sleep."
It turned into a weak tussle of kisses and licks, hungry for her taste. It turned into a desperate scrape of her hands over every uninjured patch, needing to hold onto him and never feel so lost again.
I almost died.
Suddenly feel very, very alive.
She lunged, she was the aggressor, clawing with fingertips, grasping his waist and willing him onto his back so she could capture his blue eyes and his beautiful face- which really was suddenly, utterly glorious to look on. With my alive eyes.
"Kitty feels better." Spike caught her slender ribcage and held her in place as she climbed his prone form.
"Being alive. Doesn't suck." Sometimes it does.
Yeah. But not with the right one around.
"Bein' undead isn't too shabby either, if you - whoa! Whoa, hang on!" Buffy's shoulder gave out as she braced her palms on either side of him. He raised himself as she skidded flat to his chest.
Her mouth moistened slightly, almost able to taste his lips, a combination of smoky mint and teasing ferocity. "Oops?"
"No... just the way I like it." He rolled his hips up and stuck slightly at her folds, but kept pushing, kissing away her slight wince.
She pushed down. Sore skins rubbed together, pleasure and comfort overwhelming it quickly. So exhausted, but so grateful to be with him, her head rested on his chest, and her hips and his made a slow steady wave.
His arms came up protectively over her back, wrapping her in tightly, a cross between a cradle and a shield. His own eyes, with ash gray shadows underneath them, closed heavily and he rested his cheek to her damp hair.
It doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be us, together. I don't even care if it just stops now, 's long as she stays right here. He sighed and enjoyed the heartbeat, pounding softly from outside rather than inside.
I think this is how you make love. Buffy sighed back. "We might have to finish later..."
"Not gonna be an end." He stretched under her, and she arched above him before they nestled together. She yawned, blushed, and then giggled as she kissed him.
"I figured this would be way more lively. You know. With the escaping death, you really love me, I really love you buzz?" Buffy ventured, still moving lazily around him, pleasure coming in soft, warm gulps, not mighty thrashes.
"I figured that too. Coulda been." He held her cheeks down and rolled easily in her as she began to let her juices flow. "Stopped myself a couple times."
"Well." He swallowed as she lightly kissed his adam's apple. "Think your mum'd split my head open if she thought I had put you back on the injured list."
"Oh God... my mom knows! Sort of."
He pushed on hastily, before she could dwell on that. "Think I decided I wanted you nice an' slow today. An' all day." He pressed inside and she ground down, small but sinfully sweet movements, a slow fire building in their bellies. "Maybe that rough stuff is for when you feel like you're desperate to hold on. I already felt that way all mornin'." An' most of my life. Eyes seared their mates. "We're still here. Not goin' anywhere."
"No. Very definitely no." She kissed him, and felt relief cresting over her, lulling her as tired muscles uncoiled and her sweet nectar dripped and pooled slowly around him, thick like honey. "Good to be back. So good. So good, to be alive. Be with you." Buffy murmured tiredly.
"Amen." He chuckled, feeling a familiar, if slower rush beginning to build. "An' just wait until you've got your strength back..."
Two figures, looking much restored, (though limping slightly) ambled to the car, and found that it fortunately still had some life in it. As well as other things.
"Shoo, squirrel! Shoo! Spike- don't eat the squirrel!"
"I'm not gonna eat the soddin' squirrel." He snarked and cranked the engine. "Unless it left me little brown prezzies..."
"Ew, Spike." Buffy scanned the car again, and paused halfway as she opened the passenger door. She stood looking up at the peak, squinting in the sun as it disappeared over the edge of the rock.
From inside the vehicle, Spike followed her gaze. "We have work to do." He reminded her after a few minutes. "That part's done. Payback time now." Fangs reflexively eased from his gums, as he watched something feral flash in her eyes.
Collins began to doubt that Slayers could be killed by anything but a vampire ripping out their throats, or by hordes of demons straight out of hell. In the moonlight, he saw them leaving, holding hands even!- as they ran through the woods. Probably looking for innocent humans to kill. She's gone evil, as evil as the vampire if she stands idly by and lets him murder the innocents.
She's strong as anything, and Travers said there was no cure, no way she could escape death. Now she's waltzing off, not a care in the world... Collins was breaking the essential rule of his creed- never feel anything for who you kill, not anger, not pity, simply do your job. But he was disgusted now. Turn her back on the world, all of it, all of it unknowingly dependent on her to do her duty, as all of them did theirs, whether it be Watching for threats, or Removing those threats- all to go and defile herself with a creature known to kill her kind.
Collins soon stood back beside his car, and kept his hands steady as he added the rest of the vials into the milk. Not just a bit. Travers must not know the strength she held. He depressed the plunger to the very bottom, three times, not even rationing the precious "essence of fear" as he'd come to think of it.
"You'll die screaming... like the ones you should be saving." Like the ones he killed unquestioningly, if they posed a threat to her. He felt ill and threw the empty vials hastily into the boot of his hired vehicle. He shook the cardboard carton of milk up and put it carefully back in the bag of groceries. He picked up the perfect duplicate of their order from several days ago. Hopefully they'd just think the rangers had been overly apologetic for walking in on the "honeymooners", or that now it was simply a standing order, repeated twice a week.
He picked up the brown paper bag and headed back towards the cabin.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Buffy whispered.
"I smell him. Faint on the wind, but I smell him." Spike's ridges remerged.
"So, let's catch him and find him first!"
"He can run, he can shoot, an' for all I know he's got a blow gun full of darts ready to load you back up with poison, and I only had one 'get out of Bedlam free' card." I'm not goin' through that again.
"What's a bed lamb?" Buffy hesitated as they finished doubling back.
"Slayer, shut up." Spike loved her. Loved her more than anything. He still wanted to smack her a little bit sometimes. "Look, I know how to hunt humans. Next time we hunt beasties, you can lead the expedition, alright?" Spike hoisted her through the bedroom window and she tugged him through by his wrist as he put one black booted toe on the sill. Like the best of cat burglars they landed gracefully, and slid like shadows through the dark cabin.
"Well, I hope he doesn't take too long. The sooner he talks, the sooner Travers gets his." Buffy grumped softly.
"An' the sooner I can get mine." Spike's knuckles cracked loudly as he prepped his hands for several hours of "entertainment".
"Hey- Giles needs him to talk."
"An' after he talks?"
Buffy tried to fight down a wave of fear and nausea that overcame her when she let herself dwell on the dark swirl of hallucinations she'd suffered because of this unknown man. "He did what Travers told him to do."
"Just obeying orders, huh?" Spike scoffed nastily.
"You killed people too, you know." He killed people. I'm in love with someone who killed people. Again. And he's still evil. Just sort of - 'motivated for good' evil. But he lost his motivation. All he got was me. I drive him nuts. He drives me nuts, too, but still...
The hollow left by her words and thoughts was soon filled by a forced cough. "Yeah. Hrm. Think I might be startin' to like venison." He lied with a shrug.
She pounced on him, kissed him hard, kissed him until he was actually wondering if it was possible his lungs had started to work, because suddenly he needed to breathe. Just as suddenly, the lie was true. If venison came with a side of Slayer- put him on a steady diet of it.
"So. After he talks?" Spike distracted his lust with bloodlust.
Buffy chewed her lip. I'm not gonna turn evil. "Spike- Slayers don't kill people. They save them." Buffy swallowed and looked into the small glints in the dark, his unseen eyes. "When I stop doing that- I've turned into my worst fear."
Put it like that... Spike nodded and brushed her hand. "I don't like to see my girl scared." He gave a fake cough to cover the mushiness he'd uttered. His demon made a snort of contempt. " 'Cept of the big bad vampire, of course."
"I was never scared of you." Buffy smiled and cocked her head. "That's a big compliment, Spike."
"Maybe now. Also kind of an insult." He grumbled.
Buffy shook her head. "You do make me get the shivers sometimes. Does that count?"
"I'll take it." Spike tucked into a crouch by the door.
"Soon?" Buffy joined him.
He sniffed at the air coming through the seams of the door. "Any minute now."
Quick, clean, and quiet. The perfect assassin, worthy of his rank, the hit man silently preened as he let adrenaline push him through any remaining hints of trepidation or emotion, on to victory.
Collins placed the sack by the door, black gloved hands leaving no prints, silent feet making no sound. When they returned, they'd take in the bag, and take in her death, hopefully the vampire's as well. He pushed the bag upright as it slumped, settling it against the door.
It fell in.
"Well, well, well. Look, Honey," Buffy stood in the doorway as Spike seized Collins' outstretched arm, still hovering over the fallen bag, "free home delivery." She smiled frostily.
Collins paled as a violent yank sent him spinning inside the house, and the door slammed behind him. In the dark, he saw yellow eyes flare into life, and rake across his face like the beam of a torch.
"Good," a low, East End snarl met his ears, " 'cause I'm just starving."
To be continued...