A/N: Unfortunately there will be some Buffy/Riley in this chapter, mostly reflection, nothing too explicit. I compensate with Riley bashing later and throughout. Lyrics to "Stay" by Flyleaf. A couple things to note – in this reality, Spike has already dumped Harmony, and Buffy has already been informed by the Watcher's Council that Glory is a hellgod.

Friendly warning: Per TieDyeJackson, this is not suitable to be read at work. ;-)

All direct quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to their respective owners and the talented writing team. For this fic, scenes and dialogue from season five are incorporated throughout. However, this story is all mine.


Better Than a Deathwish

By AGriffinWriter

Chapter 1: Betrayal

The house was wonderfully quiet. No Dawn with her whining and interrupting. No Mom saying odd things as the tumor – now gone forever – messed with her brain. Just candles, soft music, and a boyfriend who had just enough skill and fortitude to microwave TV dinners.

"Thanks," Buffy sighed over her reheated chicken tortellini, swallowing another mouthful. "I needed this."

"Anytime," nodded Riley, his eyes on his own ceramic plate.

Something, maybe the tone of his voice… it struck oddly against Buffy's ears. She'd gotten used to overlooking his non-verbals over these last couple months – the heaves of his shoulders, the glum looks when he thought she couldn't see him, the watch-checking. He was obviously frustrated by all the time she'd been spending either hunting for the mysterious and dangerous Glory bitch or helping her mom through all the hospital visits and rounds of medication.

If she didn't know him better, Buffy would've thought he was sneaking out on her to see someone else. Oddly enough, there had been some nights when she'd woken up to find Riley missing from beside her, and though she wasn't too deeply worried when this occurred, it did seem to be happening more frequently.

"So," the Riley actually sitting beside her interrupted her ponderings, "do you want to… go up to bed?"

Buffy looked at him… really looked… into those grey eyes. He wanted what every normal boyfriend wanted from his girlfriend… assuming a normal boyfriend just wanted five minutes in missionary position and a pillow to rest his head afterwards.

Buffy was so tired. Tired of hunting down cryptic facts about the super-bitch, tired of holding her sister's secret so close to her chest, tired of all-nighters at the hospital with nothing but nasty coffee to keep her going. But outside of all that, she was tired of the lack of satisfaction in bed.

Sure, Riley had his satisfaction, got off every time after four minutes and fifty-one seconds, like clockwork. It made her a little sick inside that she'd actually timed him. And then he would always kiss her forehead, murmur something synonymous with "that was great", and then flop over before she could say "No Stamina." Buffy could count the times she'd orgasmed during sex with Riley on one hand, and three out of the four were during that haunted Frat House incident.

Sometimes, after he rolled his too warm, too heavy body off of her and fell asleep, she would help herself finish, or start, depending on if their little amount of foreplay had been any good that night. And sometimes, she imagined other hands… non-Riley hands… slender, strong, cold hands on her skin, exploring far more intimately than they had during that single night of dancing last month. She tried not to think of those hands – or lips – mostly because she was afraid she might accidently whisper a different name into the darkness of her bedroom.

"Buffy?" Riley cleared this throat. "Did you hear me?"

Buffy stared down at the remaining chicken and pasta on her plate for a few seconds before she responded. She really, really didn't feel like being Riley's blow-up doll tonight.

"Um, can we just, um… sleep?" she asked, biting her lip and giving him a plaintive grin. "Everything that's happened… no energy left."

"Sure." Disappointment flickered across his expression, but then he seemed to remember something, and the frown subsided.

It added fuel to the 'sneaking out on me' theory.

The bite of chicken in her mouth suddenly seemed to taste like sawdust. Stiffly swallowing, Buffy crumpled up her napkin in one fist and carefully set down her fork.

"Riley, is there something you might want to tell me?" Sheesh, now I sound like a scolding mom.

"No," he replied, his voice emotionless. "Everything's fine. Whatever you need."

"Well, I… I know you have needs too… and I… I know I've been all slay and no play Buffy lately. And with Mom sick… it's just been a lot and I'm sorry I haven't been… available."

"I get it, Buffy. It's fine."

"No, it's not fine. I can tell by your voice. Riley, if… if it's been… too much… a-and you don't want this anymore, just tell me."

"I just want to go up to bed." He stood, piling their plates on top of each other and stacking them with the rest of the mess by the sink. "Maybe you'll change your mind."

Right. I guess I might change my mind. It's only four minutes and fifty-one seconds, right? God! I sound like I'm heading off to the dentist for a root canal or something.

"Riley, all I really want to do right now is sleep, okay? Can't we just snuggle?" At least that sounds kinda sexy.

"Sure." Same tone, same impatient and nearly bored expression on his face.

"Or, would you rather just leave?" Buffy snapped. "You obviously have somewhere else you want to be."

"No I don't," he said hastily, too hastily. "Really."

She decided to accept him at his word, not because she believed him, but just to avoid arguing. Leaving the dishes and the rest of the clutter, she stood up and climbed the stairs, hearing Riley follow her.


/ Green light, seven-eleven
You stop in for a pack of cigarettes
You don't smoke, don't even want to
Hey now, check your change /


When Buffy got to the bedroom, she threw her jacket onto her vanity desk chair with a little excess force, nearly tipping the chair over onto the floor. Her shoes went next, clunking into her closet and probably leaving small dents in the drywall. She decided against wearing something sexy and just dug in her bureau drawers for a comfortable t-shirt.

"I'll change in the bathroom," she muttered, stopping Riley from closing the door.

"I don't get to watch?"

"No. Not tonight."

He shrugged in disappointment and moved over to the bed. While Buffy lingered for a minute, picking up discarded laundry and stuffing the items into her hamper, she heard him remove his own shoes and get underneath the covers.

"Okay, I'll be back in a minute." She glanced at him, then narrowed her eyes, wondering if the semi-darkness of her room was playing some bizarre trick on her eyesight. "You're wearing a woolen turtleneck to bed?"

"What?" He looked down at himself, as though just then realizing he was still wearing it. "Oh. I guess."

Her suspicions ramped still higher. It was mild November weather, even for California, and yet he'd been wearing the ugly, long-sleeved, high-necked sweaters more and more lately. She could see and smell the sweat marks at his underarms.

"Riley, what is going on?"

"Nothing."

"Then why are you dressed like we're huddling for warmth in some kind of god-forsaken tundra?"

"It's nothing, Buffy. I'm just a little chilly."

"You must be sick, then, because you're sweating all over the place in that shirt. Tell me what's really going on. What are you hiding from me?"

"Nothing!"

"Riley, just spit it out!"

"Fine!"

Glaring, he kicked off the covers and stood up in his tacky striped boxers, yanked the turtleneck over his head, and dropped it to the floor.

Buffy's mouth went dry instantly. There were gauze bandage pads over one side of his throat and the insides of both his elbows, small enough that the bulky fabric and texture of the sweater had made them imperceptible.

"You got hurt… and you didn't tell me?" she whispered, voice filled with both concern and betrayal.

"I didn't get hurt, Buffy."

"Then… the bandages…"

"I chose this."

"What are you talking about?" she demanded, voice rising in volume and harshness.

"Vampires."

Stepping forward and seizing his arm before Riley could back away, Buffy ripped the tape off one of the pads and pulled the gauze aside. There, in the cleft of his elbow, were layers of twin pinpricks, numerous vampire bites scarred over each other into a messy jumble. The topmost two holes had only partially scabbed, and removing the bandage had caused them to reopen, oozing a little.

"Oh my god. You… you…" She couldn't find words bad enough to translate the stinging tears in her eyes. "Where? How?"

"A place downtown. A group of vampires that don't have the skills to fight. Mostly women. Clients pay them."

Women… other women… vampires… killers, with their fangs sunken into his skin, drawing life from him to fulfill some twisted fantasy I never would have imagined he would ever want… and he PAYS them to bite him and to do who knows what else?

"How long?"

"Since right after you let Dracula bite you."

"I did not let Dracula b—"

"I know," he interrupted, reaching for his sweater again. "But I wanted to know how you felt. I wanted to know why Dracula and Angel have so much power over you."

Buffy shook her head, determined not to allow her voice to tremble. "You so don't get it."

"I wanted to get it, Buffy. I wanted to get you."

"So this is my fault? Hey, gee, Buffy's so mysterious. I think I'll go out and almost die. I think I'll go let some other wom—" She stared at the carpet, unable to finish.

"They made me feel something, Buffy. Something I didn't even know was missing. When they bit me… it was beyond passion. They wanted to devour me, all of me."

Buffy thought she might throw up. He didn't have to admit out loud that he'd slept with these vampire whores to make it sickeningly obvious. "Why are you telling me this? You aren't a passion to them, you are a junkie. A snack! A willing, idiotic snack."

"But they needed me," Riley insisted, pulling his sweater back on to cover the bandage spots. He also picked his pants up off the floor and donned those too. "My blood, my body. They have such hunger for me."

"And I don't make you feel that way?" Her tears were close to falling, but she tried her hardest to keep them bottled up, to be strong in the face of this impossible treachery. "What else do you want from me, Riley? I've given you everything I have."

"You say that, but I don't feel it. I just don't feel it.

"Well, whose fault is that? Because I'm telling you… this is it. This is me. The whole package. And if it's so deficient that you need to get your kicks elsewhere… then we really have a problem."

He stared her down, silent. Jaw quivering, Buffy set down her now crumpled t-shirt and pushed her door wide open.

"Please leave, Riley. Please just go."

"They want me back, Buffy. The military." He couldn't even make eye-contact with her. "It's deep cover, no contact with civilians. Transport's leaving tonight."

Instead of fighting to upchuck her dinner out her throat, now her stomach just seemed to drop away altogether. "Tonight? When were you gonna tell me about this? W-were you just going to leave tonight, as soon as you were done with me? Maybe have a pit stop with your vampire sluts?"

"I'm telling you now."

"You're giving me an ultimatum?"

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are! You expect me to get over it now or you're gone!"

"Buffy, that's not what I meant."

"What else could you possibly mean? Do you have any idea… no… you really, really don't."

Turning her back on him, Buffy seized her jacket out of her chair and found a sturdier pair of shoes, fit for slaying.

"I'm leaving, Buffy. Unless you give me a reason to stay, I'm leaving tonight."

Without speaking to him, she shoved her arms into her jacket sleeves, stepped into the boots, and left the bedroom, walking immediately down the stairs, through the front door, and into the cool night. Soft drops of moisture from the sky blended with those already on her cheeks.


/ Dressed up like a car crash
The wheels are turning but you're upside down
You say when he hits you, you don't mind
Because when he hurts you, you feel alive
Oh, is that what it is? /


Nothing dead or alive was stupid enough to get in her way. Buffy stormed down the streets of Sunnydale, not caring about the rain sprinkling down onto her. She wished it could wash away the sickening bile that seemed to be clogging her throat, disgusting images flickering through her mind of what Riley might have done with the women he'd been visiting for his bite fix.

Robot-like, she walked where her feet marched her, traipsing down Main Street past the Espresso Pump and the dark Magic Box, all its usual occupants safe and sound in their beds elsewhere in town… except her. Because her boyfriend was a cheating skank who needed a vampire to get his rocks off.

Well, she seethed silently, turning left as a lightning bolt illuminated the sign on the gate leading into one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries, maybe he isn't the ONLY one who needs a vampire for… rocks-getting. I mean, it's not as though HE is much with the satisfying. All that garbage about 'need' and 'hunger' and 'not feeling it'. Is he so stupid that he doesn't realize how rarely I enjoyed our time in bed? I mean REALLY enjoyed it?

Of course, given the fact that he'd expected her to somehow stop him when he'd sprung the information about the military's offer, to cave to his ultimatum, perhaps that was a sign how little they'd really understood each other at all.

The rain was heavier now, interspersed with more lightning. Her boots squelched in the turf and her soaked skirt clung to her legs as she crossed Restfield Cemetery toward the mausoleum she usually only approached with a wad of cash in her hand, ready to bribe Spike into helping her.

And, really, was tonight any different, except without the cash?

Hi, Spike. My boyfriend has been cheating on me, so I'm here for hot, vampire revenge sex. Plus, I've kinda been fantasizing about you ever since we danced and you made me come without touching me and I really just need you out of my system. So… can we fuck? Now? Maybe against the wall?

Buffy had the funny feeling that Spike wouldn't really mind if she approached the topic so bluntly, but it didn't exactly mean she was any more eager to phrase it that way. Desperation didn't really look good on a Slayer.

I'll just tell him I've heard about a big vamp nest downtown and I want his help to break it up. That part's true at least. And, if I end up naked on top of him sometime either before or after we storm the vamp whorehouse, I won't complain…

Still not sure what she was going to say to convince him to join her righteous cause, she shoved the crypt door open with a thunderous bang and charged inside.

And she stopped.

The crypt was empty, completely silent. She didn't sense him anywhere within the underground hideaway.

"Spike?"

Fear clamped on her guts like a bear trap, squeezing, puncturing. Her breathing sped up as she continued to peer around, stepping between the slabs and biers to see if he'd fallen asleep in a corner somewhere, but he wasn't there.

That time when we danced, he had all those bruises on his face. What if he got too drunk and found a demon fight he couldn't handle? Or what if Glory had seen him hanging around me and decided to abduct him, to see if he knew about the key?

"Spike?!" This time her voice cracked. "Spike! Where are you?"


/ Red lights, grey morning
You stumble out of a hole in the ground
A vampire or a victim
It depends on whose around…
And if you look, you look through me
And when you talk, it's not to me
And when I touch you, you don't feel a thing /


Maybe minutes, maybe seconds later, Buffy whipped around at the grinding creak of the crypt door opening. She raised empty fists as she realized for the first time that she hadn't brought a stake with her.

Shaking water from his doused hair and clothes, Spike bolted inside and secured his door with a second loud rasp of rusty hinges. He took a moment to catch his breath before he turned around, and nearly skidded off his footing when he saw Buffy there. Their eyes locked, and he froze up like the cold corpse he was.

"Slayer… uh, nice of you to pop by." There was only surprise in his voice, no anger, maybe a hint of wary concern.

"Where were you?" Buffy demanded, her jaw tight as she lowered her fists. She really, really didn't want to start the night out by breaking down crying in front of him.

"Er…" He bit his lip, sheepishly holding up a small Styrofoam coffee cup with a label she instantly recognized as that of Sunnydale Memorial. "Hospital. Went to visit your mum, see how she's holdin' up after the operation."

"You… you went to visit my mom? In the hospital?"

"Yeah… but I swear I didn't tire her out, just a bit of talkin'. An' I know what you're thinkin', but no, I didn't go there to nick any blood, swear on it. Just thought I'd ask how she— H-hey, hey, what's—"

Buffy charged at him before he could finish the question. She slipped effortlessly between his defensively raised hands and let her head collide against his firm, wet chest before she finally gave in to her tears.

The empty coffee cup instantly dropped from his fingers. For a few moments Spike was motionless with shock, but when she wormed her shaking hands under his duster to hug him tightly around the middle, he relaxed a bit, resting his palms gently against her lower back.

"Slayer? Buffy, what's wrong? What's happened to you?"

"Shut up."

"You're cryin'…"

"I know I'm crying, you b-big jerk."

"You've been cryin'. Eyes are all red-rimmed. At least tell me what I did."

"Wasn't you."

"Then tell me who I can tear into mincemeat."

"Can't. Human."

"Bloody shame."

She gave a watery giggle through her sobs and hugged him even closer. Despite the coolness of his body, there was a warmth in his embrace that she'd missed so badly, more than she'd realized.

"Kiss me," she murmured into his collarbone.

She hadn't imagined how quickly he would rush to obey. He tightened one arm around her mid-back, lifting her flush against him, while his other hand scooped her chin, turning her face up. His cool lips were perfect against her mouth, moving tenderly, fitting just right. He kissed her as though he'd memorized her lips, knew just how to please her the most.

"Mmm… you're soaked, luv." He squirmed in her hold, and Buffy almost pulled away in confusion until she felt heavy leather being laid on her shoulders – dry and comforting on the inside even though the outside was peppered with droplets – and then his arms were around her again, gently rubbing her back. "Didn't you notice the rain?"

"No."

"That bad?"

"Yeah. Kiss me again. Make it better."

With a low moan that set her legs quivering, Spike slid his hand more firmly into her hair and pressed his lips to hers once again. She'd forgotten how good he tasted, like peppermint, and when she felt his tongue peek between her lips, she welcomed it, drawing him in, anchoring one arm around his neck. She could hear the rain pattering against the door, walls, and roof of the crypt, and it made her feel safe, hidden, closeted away from the pain of the world with its cheating boyfriends and raging hellgods. There was only Buffy and Spike… and unfortunately for her, still a lot of clothes in between them.


/ If I could stay, then the night would give you up
Stay, and the day would keep its trust
Stay, and the night would be enough /


His lips moved softly from her mouth to her cheek, and Buffy leaned closer still, just listening to his breathing, how natural it sounded, just as rushed as her own heavy gasps.

"Please tell me why you're cryin', luv." Spike licked a drop from her cheek, and she shuddered against him. "Let me make it all better…"

"It's because… R-Riley's been cheating on me."

"What? The bastard." He sounded personally offended but slightly smug at the same time.

"It's c-complicated. He went out and got himself bit at… at some kind of vamp whorehouse or something. I didn't even know that kind of place existed, where humans could just… go pay weak vampires to bite them, like drug addicts. And now he's leaving. Tonight. Military gig. I wasn't really listening at that point."

"Oh. Well, the tosser's a bleedin' hypocrite and doesn't deserve these tears from you, pet. You're so much better than 'im."

"Am I?" she demanded, raising her streaming, bloodshot eyes.

"Yes. He never deserved you, Buffy. You're too good for normal chaps like him."

Her lower lip turned up in a pout. "Dating pool's kinda slim, then."

"Think I might know a bloke." He leaned in and sucked on her jutting lip, and Buffy pulled him tighter, nearly whimpering.

"Oh god… I'm such a slut."

"No, you're not," Spike scoffed, grinning. "You just said he was leavin'. He's got no hold on you anymore. Free as a lark. Free to do as you please with… whomever you please."

"Free… is good, I guess."

"And… it's likely not my place to say, but I'm sayin' it anyway. You never loved him. You never loved the sod," he repeated more firmly when she opened her mouth to argue. "A rebound, like me with Harmony. Clingy, needy, an' didn't agree with your habits. Sound familiar?"

"Yeah," muttered Buffy, ducking her face against his chest.

"Thought so. You didn't love him, it just feels nice to be wanted, doesn't it?"

"Yeah. Stupid feelings."

"Too right, pet."


/ And if you listen, I can call
And if you jump, you just might fall
And if you shout, I'll only hear you /


They swayed together, silent, her cheek against his throat and his lips at her temple. Yet he was stiffer than she remembered, less of his fluid, prowling posture and more… nervousness.

"Spike? Is something wrong?" Just please, please be honest with me

"Jus' tryin' to suss out why you came here tonight, luv, what it is you want from me. Feelin' you out."

"Rather have you feel me up," she said in a whisper a human wouldn't have heard, and he swallowed, a little gulp, his Adam's apple bobbing. Buffy couldn't blame him. After all the times she'd seriously or jokingly threatened to stake him, he had to be wary of tonight's sudden and radical change of mind.

"Careful, little Slayer," he whispered, kissing her hairline, murmuring words she remembered with a flush of delight. "I'm very easily seduced."

"I remember… and I… I just wanted… can I have my dance now? With… with your moves?"

She heard him gasp softly against her ear before his brushing kisses continued.

"You remembered."

"Didn't you?" she inquired, tilting her head, momentarily worried.

"Of course I did, Buffy. Cripes, I've barely been able to stop thinkin' about it."

She smiled, emboldened.

"Then don't stop."

One hand wringing a tight fistful of his black t-shirt, Buffy stood on her tiptoes and backed him up into the stone wall next to the door. His grunt as he hit the wall reverberated through her, amplifying her desire. The duster fell to the crypt floor behind her as she leaned in, capturing his mouth and giving his lower lip the slightest pinch between her teeth.


/ If I could stay, then the night would give you up
Stay, and the day would keep its trust
Stay with the demons you drowned
Stay with the spirit above
Stay and the night would be enough /


"Buffy… Mmm…"

He purred her name in her ear as her left calf glided up the back of his leg to notch securely around his thigh, pulling herself tight to him. Spike's powerful hands slid down her back and cupped her butt through her thin skirt, drawing her hips against his, and she heard his moan mingling with hers at the contact, softness to stone.

"Is this okay?" asked Buffy breathily, arching slightly, pressing herself to the hard bulge in his jeans.

"God, yes, luv…"

"I've missed your mouth. Your hands. Since that dance…"

"Oh god, Slayer… I must be dreaming again. This can't really be ha—"

She bit his ear, and he groaned huskily and squeezed her ass even harder, grinding her against his hardness. Their damp clothes made squelching sounds as they rubbed against each other, but neither of them cared.

"Do you— ohhh— dream about me, Spike?"

"Every night. Every day. Who soddin' cares what time it is. I crave you, Slayer. You're all I bloody think about."

"What do you dream?"

He moaned. "The truth might scare you, luv."

"I want to know. I want it. You. All of it."

Spike pulled her even closer, his hips thrusting in opposition, and she whimpered with need, gripping his hair and shoulders. Her wet skirt clung so closely to her body that she could easily imagine his hands being directly on her overheated skin.

"Tell me."

"I dream… that you chain me down, stretch me out on the bed like your sacrificial offering… and fuck me without mercy."

"Yes…"

Her plea made him bolder, arms tighter, hands pulling her against him, squeezing her thighs so both her feet could lift off the floor and wrap around him.

"Oh, Buffy…"

"More. Tell me."

"You clamp your thighs around my head, grip my hair, and ride my face until you're screaming my name and I'm soaked in you… drowning in you…"

"Oh god, Spike."

She crossed her ankles together around his waist and bucked roughly against him. His hands gripped her skirt to keep her close, and he kept murmuring urgently as he kissed her throat and slid his mouth as far down her cleavage as her shirt allowed. She mewled his name over and over again.

"Spike, I want you…"

"… Dig your nails into my chest while you fuck me, make me beg you for it."

"Spike, I'm coming…"

"… Your hot mouth on my neck an' your hotter quim squeezing my cock, pulsing, pumping, harder, faster… until you finally give me permission to—"

She came with a near scream, her fist clenching his hair at the roots, her hips spasming for the last few seconds of firm grinding between his legs. Barely able to breathe, she clung to him as though his body was her lifeline, except that instead of holding her back, he had pushed her straight off the cliff into crashing waves of pleasure.


/ Three o'clock in the morning
It's quiet and there's no one around
Just a bang, and the clatter
As an angel runs to ground… /


There was no way she could get him out of her system now. There was no way in hell she would want to.

"Oh. Oh my god…"

Spike didn't speak, just panted heavily, holding her close while her jellied legs finished shaking. His lips were trembling as he pressed them against her cheek.

"Oh… you just… without… again… oh my god…"

"And then," he continued, his voice rougher, ragged, "I wake up alone, with sticky sheets tangled around me. Rather an unhappy ending."

"I… I kinda figured."

"Does that bother you, Buffy? What I dream?"

"No. I know it should… but no."

"Thank you, pet."

"Did I hurt you?" she wondered, a vague afterthought. Did I chafe him? Ick! That can't have been comfortable in his jeans.

"Don't think so… but if you did, I liked it."

"I just," Buffy blinked dizzily, her feet sliding back down his legs and finding shaking footing on the floor. "I just… did that. With you. I didn't mean to, but it… it felt so good and I'm not sorry at all."

"Good. Don't be sorry. If…" Spike hesitated and frowned shyly, likely not sure if what he was about to say would offend her or not, "if you just need a little help gettin' off every now and then, all you have to do is ask."

"It's not that. I mean… that's not why I'm here. Or, why I meant to be here. I just… wanted to see you and… okay, maybe I did kinda wonder if… we would…"

He was grinning so widely that she thought his face might pull apart. Pushing sweaty bangs out of her eyes, Buffy took a couple deep breaths and separated herself from Spike's touch for the first time in what felt like hours, but couldn't have been more than a few minutes.

"And now I… I actually really want to kill things. So… you should come kill things with me."

"Damn right, luv."

To be continued…