Disclaimer: The work contained within is merely my playtime with the characters created by Joss Whedon and I in no way own any of them, or anything like that. Unfortunately. It sucks. But I'll just continue my plot to kidnap and clone James Marsters for myself.
Rated NC-17. Just in case.

This story picks up straight after the conclusion of "Si Primo Venit". You will need to read that first to understand most of this.

In Medio Ignis

This Fire Still Burns

The sun was warming his skin as he stood ankle deep in the brilliant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. He could feel the sand beneath his feet, and the waves broke gently on the coast, bringing with them the only sounds on the deserted beach. Their beach.

Spike smiled as he feel Buffy approach from behind him, wrapping her slim arms around his bare waist and leaning her cheek against his shoulder blade.

'It's nice out here.' She whispered. 'Quiet.'

'Is at that.' He replied, turning to face her, keeping her arms around his waist. She pulled back a little, looking down at his toned stomach.

'The view is nice too.' She said, bringing her eyes back up to meet his with a cheeky grin. He smirked back, sweeping his appraising gaze over her bikini clad body.

'Couldn't agree more.'

With a flash of movement, Buffy found herself in the water, spluttering as the vampire towered over her laughing. She scowled indignantly as he doubled over with mirth, then grabbed his ankle, sweeping him off of his feet to land on his back with a splash. Her scowl dissolved into laughter as the vampire flailed in the shallow water, his hair coming loose in curls over his forehead.

'Hey!' He said, looking exceptionally put out by the retaliation.

'You did it first!' She cried out, giggles escaping her. He lunged, and she dashed away, moving into the deeper water, Spike hot on her tail. She was waist deep down, and laughing so hard she couldn't keep up the pace. He was upon her in seconds, his fingers finding her sensitive ribcage and tickling her into submission. For long moments they fought for dominance, until both collapsed into the water, laughing hard.

The mirth dwindled from them and they clashed together, mouths meeting in a furious battle. Her hands wandered over his wet skin, and his followed suit. She needed to breathe, and broke away, bringing her palms up to frame his face.

'God, I love you.' He whispered.

Somewhere in the Narobi desert, Kenya

His agonised scream sound like her name in his head. But to anyone passing by it just sounded like pain. Pure, unadulterated pain.

Not that anyone was casually passing by in the desert.

The bugs were all over him, in him, crawling through his body like it was their own personal rat run. It was excruciating. He wanted to curl up into a ball and die, but the pain rendered him unable to move, unable to do anything but endure and hope he came out of the other end. When the bugs began popping through his skin, leaving bloody trail in their wake, he screamed harder, until his voice gave out and he slumped forward onto his front, too exhausted and torn apart to do anything but lay there and wait for death.

He didn't know how long his face was squashed against the cave floor; it felt like forever. But he felt his wounds knit, felt his bones mending, albeit slowly. After an eternity, he pulled himself upwards, blinking wearily at his surroundings, trying to remember how he got here.

It came back to him in drips; his quest, his journey...his Slayer. He was here for her. He had to persevere for her. How many challenges had there been? He couldn't remember anything but fire and pain.

'You have passed the required trials.' The demon's booming voice came from the darkness, followed shortly by his weird luminous blue and green eyes appearing. Spike could hear his tail swishing back and forth in the dirt on the floor. 'You will be given what you asked for.'

The vampire breathed unneeded air as he looked up, fairly sure he was looking at the demon. 'You'll anchor the soul? Makes me what she deserves?'

The demon might have nodded. Spike couldn't have told you - even his vampire vision didn't penetrate this kind of darkness.

'We will make you what was prophesied.'

Then his hand on was Spike's chest, and oh god, it burned. It burned with the ferocity of a thousands suns, sweeping through his dead skin and organs, lighting them on fire. Another scream erupted from his throat as the demon pulled away and Spike fell backwards.

And there in the darkness, he heard a beat.

And another.

And another.

A steady rhythm he hadn't heard for over three centuries began to play in his head.

It hurt.

He wasn't sure just how long he'd lain on the dirt, breathing heavily, sucking in greedy gulps of air. It tasted stale, and it tasted like death, but he needed it now. The demon was gone, or he thought it was. He couldn't hear or smell anything, and certainly couldn't see anything.

After long moments of trying to gather his wits together, he pulled himself up, wincing at the effort. It would have been nice if the demon could have healed him as well as bringing him back to life, but apparently it wasn't on his agenda. Neither was sticking to the boundaries of their agreement, apparently. He'd only asked for the soul to be anchored; he wasn't interested in being human.

Human was useless to Buffy. Human was liability.

Spike had never missed it, never wanted it back. He was a vampire and he was a damn good vampire, despite the lack of actually doing evil. He enjoyed being a vampire, more the point, and didn't want to be a sissy nancy boy again.

He stood, looking around and trying to stretch the soreness out of his joints. The majority of his wounds were closing, and it felt strange for a moment, as he looked down at his battered body. He felt...no different. Thumping heartbeat aside, he felt the same. Focusing inwards, he called out his demon and was shocked when he felt the bones in his face move, bringing out his true face.

What the hell had the demon made him in to?

He took a step forward, wincing when he stood on something sharp, and he looked down, seeing the discarded Gem that had granted him the sun. A small green Gem, apparently useless to him now. Bending down, he picked it up, holding it in the palm of his hand. This was too dangerous to be left lying around, even in the desert. If any other vampire got hold of it...

His palm closed around the Gem as he looked around, then put it in his pocket. He would have to take it with him, and hope he could find a way to destroy it. A brick would probably do, but he was slightly void of those right now. Best to keep it safe, then.

His demon mask remained in place as he picked his way through the maze of caves. He was hungry, and thirsty, and struggling to remember how far it was to the village he'd come from. He knew it was a couple of miles, and he wasn't entirely sure if he could make that, even if it did appear he still had the demon within him. He was so hungry he felt like he was going to be sick.

Sunlight suddenly filled his vision as he came closer to the exit of the caves and he sighed in relief, stumbling forward and hugging the walls. It hurt when he caught his bare skin on the jagged rock, but he shrugged it off, eager to get to the sunshine. Moving out into it, he smelt the fresh air, and the hot sun and sighed in relief.

He felt a bit better being out here.

'You know, even after having that ring for nearly a century, you're still white as a ghost.' A voice sounded from behind him, and he spun, shocked at the presence of another person in the middle of the desert.

Leaning against a four wheel drive truck, Whistler tipped his hat, and Spike squinted at him. 'What the hell are you doing here?' His voice was raw from dehydration and screaming. Whistler reached inside the open window of the vehicle and threw him a bottle of water, which Spike opened and drank greedily, letting ribbons of it spill down his throat and chest. He'd never tasted anything so good.

'Well, let's see.' The demon started. 'I got you to come to Sunnydale because, let's face it, Angel wasn't up to task. And boy did you do a fantastic job. Got yourself right in there, suffered in hell, saved the world.' He looked at the blond pointedly. 'Fell in love with Slayer and then left to anchor your soul for her. And a little extra on the side by the looks of it.'

'What of it?' Spike threw the empty bottle back at him, and Whistler caught it deftly.

'Nothing. You did good. You're on the right path. Trust me, if you hadn't been around, things wouldn't have gone so well.'

'Right.' Spike eyed the truck, and then looked in the direction he thought the village was in. 'So, are you here to just exchange words, or are you gonna give me a lift?'

Whistler turned, opening the passenger door of the truck. 'Hop in. Your journey's not nearly finished.'

'So I'm not human.'

'Not technically.'

'So what the bloody hell am I?'

'You're unique.' Whistler didn't look over at him from the wheel. They'd been driving for hours now, and although it had given Spike some time to sleep off his injuries and eat the small amount of food the demon had brought for him, he was now only hungry for answers.

'Unique? I've still got my demon, I'm fairly certain humans don't heal this fast but there's this pesky pounding in my head that I can't quite shift.' His tone was laced with heavy sarcasm and irritation.

'You're still a vampire. Still a reanimated corpse. You're just a little more...animated than most. And no more worries about that soul going anywhere.'

'What about Angel's?' Spike asked.

'And you're still concerned about the effect on others. That's what makes you different, Spike. Selflessness.'

'Oh, I'm plenty selfish, mate. Just don't want anything to hurt Buffy. Ever.' God he missed her. Just saying her name was like torture. He had to get back to Sunnydale.

'Buffy.' Whistler smiled. 'She's really missing you.'

Spike frowned. 'How long have I been gone?'

'About six weeks.'

He exploded. 'What?!' Shaking his head, he stared out of the front of the car in horror. 'I can't have been...no...god, she's gonna hate me.'

'I doubt that.' Whistler scoffed. 'Girl's head over for you, buddy. You just need to get your kiester back to SunnyD.'

Spike sighed. 'Gonna be a little more difficult than just getting home. I've no money. Whatever I had was destroyed by Fist'N'Flames, back there. Pretty much got my jeans and that's it.'

'Don't worry about it. I've got a room in the next town. We'll get you back to your Slayer, Spike, don't you worry.' Whistler looked over at him with a reassuring smile and then looked back to the road. His voice was low as he focused on driving.

World kinda depends on it.

Buffy sighed as she dumped her last bag on the floor of the dorm room. She'd almost ended up with a crazy Cher-obsessed room mate, but at the last minute, Willow's double had freed up and Buffy had jumped at the chance to share with her best friend. The redhead was all excited about orientation and classes, and Buffy was struggling to muster the fun inside.

He'd been gone nearly seven weeks now, and she'd not heard from him in four. She was beyond worried. Giles had assured her that Spike was hard to kill, and she knew this, but it didn't stop her heart aching with worry for him. Her mom had been tiptoeing around her, as had her friends and she was sick of it. She just wanted him safe and wanted him home.

'I'm coming back. I will always come back to you. Don't ever think I would willingly stay away from you for more than one second than I have to.'

His voice echoed in her mind and she smiled a little, reaching into her suitcase and encountering the soft leather of her coat. He would come home. One way or another, Spike would come home.

She just wished it would be soon.

Her summer had passed slowly, and without significant events. Willow and Xander had tried to include her, but realised her moping would not end and eventually just gave up with nights at the Bronze and began coming over with icecream and mushy movies. When the mushy movies hadn't fixed it, they'd started on comedy, which had loosened her up a bit. Xander had been planning on a road trip around the states as he hadn't applied to college, but instead had been offered a carpentry apprenticeship with a local company. He'd accepted, keen to make his way in the world. He'd started around two weeks previous, and they'd seen less of him as a result.

Buffy had discovered one night that her mother and Giles had been meeting, secretly. Not to schedule her time anymore, but to address the blossoming attraction between them. When she'd come home one night from a brownie pig-out at Willow's house, she'd found Giles in the kitchen, wearing her mother's pink bathrobe and looking decidedly busted.

She hadn't asked. She'd just run.

Boy, could she not wait to get into the dorm. Knowing her mom and Giles were bumping uglies? Far too much information. Willow had giggled uncontrollably when she'd found out and Xander had gone a bit green. It was nice they'd found each other in all the madness that was the Hellmouth, but seriously? No one needed to see old people smooching. Ever.

Cordelia had left Sunnydale shortly after graduation. She'd been keen to make her way as an actress and so had gone to Sunnydale. Wesley had returned to England after being released from the hospital and Buffy was more than okay with never seeing him again. Angel had done his dramatic exit at graduation, and Buffy had received two phone calls from him to date. She'd been polite, but sensed his calls were merely to check up on her, and not as friendly as he made out. He never mentioned Spike, and Buffy quickly found that mentioned the blond vampire herself, made Angel suddenly have other stuff to do. Not that she took advantage of that fact.

There was one person who couldn't leave Sunnydale, and Buffy had spent most of her summer visiting her in the hospital. Faith was healed from all of her other wounds, but she wasn't waking up. The doctors had noticed increased brain activity, but nothing positive. Buffy spent her visits talking to the other girl, and holding her hand, hoping she would wake up a little less angry after everything that had happened. The Council had attempted to interfere, sending a nurse to watch the girl, but Buffy had quickly solved that issue, making sure they didn't interfere again. Faith was her responsibility, as far as she was concerned, and she was going to do whatever she could to help her.

Summer was nearly over, and as Buffy sat on her new bed, she wondered what college held for her. There'd been a distinct lack of vampires over the summer, and not many demons either, so she'd been a bit bored. But then again, the rest of her time had been spent worrying about Spike, so she'd hadn't done much anyway. And tomorrow, classes would start. She'd picked Psych 101, Poetry and Literature, and Willow had coerced her in a Drama course, which she wasn't sure she'd enjoy. But she was willing to try anything. It wasn't like her career was set in stone...except it was.

Buffy Summers, Slayer Extraordinaire...depending on how long she lived.

But thoughts of death aside, she had to unpack.

Her first day had sucked. So far. She'd made it through to lunchtime and was now sat at a bench on campus, not because she was resting, but because she was completely and utterly lost. And not for the first time either.

Her poetry class had been okay, and she thought she might enjoy that one. But then she'd wandered into the wrong lecture and ended up getting shouted at. The teacher must have been some kind of demon.

She didn't feel right here. She felt out of place, and lonely. Maybe if Willow had been in the same classes, she'd have felt better. But this was a foreign thing to her, and she was just getting more and more miserable by the moment. And she had to find her psych 101 class within the next hour if she wanted to attend.

College sucked.

'Hey.' A familiar voice called out to her, and she looked up, blinking in the sunlight. 'Buffy, right?'

It was the boy from the beach. Willow had mentioned she'd seen him when she was in the book store yesterday, and she knew he was a TA here. 'Hi.' She said, her voice dejected. He frowned, and took the seat next to her.

'You okay? You don't look so happy. Not that I recall seeing you happy before.' He paused. 'Has your friend still not come home?'

'My friend?'

'At the beach. Your redhead friend mentioned someone called Spike that you were missing or something?'

Wow, someone had a good memory. She just remembered his goofy smile and the distinct feeling of wanting to leave. But she had to be polite now. This guy might know the way to Psych 101. 'Oh yeah. Spike is my...er, boyfriend.' She smiled, almost apologetically. 'He's been away for a while, and I just...miss him, you know?' She sighed. 'Sorry. I'm not happy Buffy. College is...overwhelming.'

The guy nodded. His name still escaped her. 'I understand. So, is your boyfriend in the army or something?'

Buffy frowned. 'No. He just had to...go...do...something.' Damn, she'd never been good at lying on the spot. "No, he's a vampire, and he went to anchor his soul so I could finally tell him that I love him and then let him kiss every square inch of my skin until I'm a quivering mess" probably wouldn't fly here. This guy didn't seem like he had a clue about Sunnydale's true nature. Riley - that's his name! - nodded.

'Oh right.' He looked around. 'So, why are you sat here?'

'I'm lost.' She admitted, sheepishly. 'I have Psych 101 in an hour, and I have no idea where I am or how I'm going to get there.'

'Well, you're in luck. I'm Professor Walsh's TA. So I can show you the way.' He stood, bowing slightly and motioning with his hand. 'May I?'

Buffy nodded, figuring it wouldn't hurt to have a TA as a friend, and Riley was a pretty nice guy. 'You may.' She smiled and stood, following him along campus.

Maybe college wouldn't be so bad.

To Be Continued...

Okay, so there you have it. The first chapter of the sequel. I was going to give it a little bit of a cooling off period, but then my muse turned around and pretty much said, "Er, I don't think so mate. Get your laptop, we have work to do!" I'm hoping I can get some more done this weekend, but I have my best friend's baby shower, three paintings to finish and a tattoo booked in for Saturday, plus I have to find time to do the shopping and get to the gym. So I'll try but no promises. Let me know what you all think (^.^)