Dusk 'til Dawn

by Sweetprincipale

During season five, a powerless Buffy needs to make a play for time to keep herself alive and keep Glory and company away from her family. Buffy's not sure if Spike will come through for her, especially when he might finally have a chance to get rid of her. his actions convince Buffy that he is more than an ally, he's a friend, and opens her eyes to the possibility that he's even more than that.

Author's note: Picks up within moments of where the last chapter left off.

Author's Second Note: May I humbly ask all my friends and fans to support me with my first published ebook, "Done With Dating" by S.C. Principale , a non-vampy retelling of "I Don't Date". Short, darkly smutty, and means a lot to me. For any details, drop me a line.

Author's Third and most important note- To the glorious Sirius120, who has made the world a richer place by being it for one more year. Happy Birthday, dear friend.

Dedicated to: WriterDragonfly, Illusera, juggling, notashamedtobe, RedStalkingDeath, sbyamibakura, rpfan1976 , TieDyeJackson, Wonder and Ashes, Cloongarvin, Wesfan1234, Jauntilyaskew, Jhiz, Marty Powell, Ginger0826, CalanthaS, JackieMack916, RAGAnne, and omslagspapper.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.


"I'm gonna block the entrance to the tunnel." Spike woke her as he deposited her on the lavishly spread bed. "I hated to wake you up, but figured it'd better come from me instead of the thousand pounds of falling rock."

"But… you're blocking one of your escape routes. How you get around in the day." Buffy struggled to sit up, but the world went black at the edges.

"Yeah, but you can help me clear it out once you're better." Spike eased her head up and pressed a cup of cold water to her lips. "Rubble's temporary, losin' you is permanent." He said grimly.

Buffy pushed the water away after a few grateful swallows, and pulled a handful of peroxide locks to her instead. "Be careful. I'm… I'm kind of invested in both of us making it to morning."

One of two entrances blocked, the other barricaded, and then the trapdoor bolted and secured as well, Spike finally returned his attention to the sleeping beauty on the bed. Sleeping Beauty but battered looking, grime and sweat covered, bruises showing, clothing torn and stained. "If anyone tells you I'm only after your body, Luv, you remind 'em I'm crazy about you, even when you look like shit." He mumbled to himself before getting her more water. "Here, Slayer. Drink up and let's have a look at you. Ought to be feeling better by now, yeah? Heading back to full strength?"

Buffy blinked, sipped, and considered the question. "I guess so. I could tell more if I weren't so… tired. Or is it cold? I'm both, kinda."

Spike frowned and tilted his head to one side. He sniffed and looked at his bed. "Can I look at the patch job again?"

"My back? Sure, help yourself." Buffy tried to sit, then roll to her side, which she managed with Spike's help and a lot of colorful language. "Bad?"

"Not very tidy. But-uh- it's not infected lookin', no red bits, no puffy bits and the wound doesn't seem to be openin' more. I'd say your mojo is holding it's own now. Not actively working maybe, but it's stopping you from getting worse."

"But there's something you're not telling me?" Buffy sighed.

He tried to sound unconcerned. "Lost pressure on it at some point. We'll clean it up and rewrap and that'll stop the bleeding."

"I'm still bleeding?" Buffy screeched angrily.

"Only a little bit!" Spike drew back fast. Injured and weak or not, chit's vocal cords packed a wallop. "I'm sorry, Slayer, bound to happen with all the movement of makin' the getaway and the tricky bits." Like crashing walls and sliding under debris with inches to spare, leapin' off ladders…

"I'm not mad at you. I'm just a - a little freaked." Losing a lot of blood, bleeding out- it's the way most Slayers go. So mine's a hole in the back, not two littles ones in the neck. No, I'm going to be okay. Spike is going to help. I'm not going to die. From that, anyway.

"I think this shirt's had it, Pet. I uh- I bet one of Harm's would do for you. And one for new bandages. Maybe a couple. Couldn't do much before, on the run." Spike left her on her side and went over to the pile of things in the corner. Out of the female clothes, most were Harm's left behinds, but a handful he'd nicked from the Slayer. He sighed.


Buffy blinked as her own blue sweater appeared before her eyes, flung, albeit softly, in front of her face. "Hey." Her voice was puzzled, eyes cloudy as she reached for it.

"Before you say anything-"

"She used to rail on my fashion sense all the time. Ha. I had the exact same sweater."

"Buffy, I-"

"Good thing she left this here." Buffy said firmly.

She just - she gave me a pass. "If you want to look in the pile, you can take anything of hers- anything you see that you might want. Really wasn't doin' me any good, having them sit there." Just another lie, another thing that makes me the evil, no-good one, one she can't trust.

"No. Really not. But- handy this time. Emergencies happen." Buffy said stiffly, but without any real anger in her voice.

"Sometimes… you just wish someone was around, wish it so much and everything you do to move things along backfires… an' you end up doin' and sayin' stupid things." Spike said in a low voice, ripping two shirts that actually had been left by his ex into strips.

"I know about broken wishes." Buffy felt him move past the end of the bed, and smiled when he knelt in front of her. "It's okay." She whispered. "This time."

Spike nodded, gratitude in his eyes. "Gotta get the other shirt off. Want help?"

Do I want him to undress me? "Cue death by embarrassment." Buffy whimpered, but put her arms out in front of her.

"I'll close my eyes." Spike said. "Here, better idea. This shirt's rubbish, right?"

"Not even bleach can save the day." Buffy cracked a small half-smile.

"Hold the other one up to your chin, and I can cut it off from the back. I've already seen that part."

"You're being gentlemanly." Buffy accused, but gladly seized on the idea.

"I already think you're beautiful. What you show me doesn't matter as much as if I do right by you." Spike moved back behind her, one of his remaining knives in hand,making a deft incision at the collar, and then pulling the fabric in two carefully, so as not to jar her. "Late getting the idea, but I'm not as bright when my heart gets involved. Think if I'd done it from the beginning you'd have given me a chance?" He muttered, distracted by his work, hoping the answer wouldn't be too harsh.

Buffy considered. "No. So don't let what ifs make you crazy. I don't think I would have seen you like this without seeing the other side first. Nothing to compare to. And anyway- I do better with guys who have an 'edge'." She said in a resigned voice.

"You do, huh?" Spike smirked. Like that wasn't obvious- to everyone but her. "How'd you and White Bread end up together?"

"Oh, that. That was me confusing mysterious and secretive with edge. And also trying to pretend I'm more than 50% normal."

"Well, we all like a bit of pretend." Spike looked down on the back under his hands, only covered by the thin white stretch of fabric and hooks of her bra right now. The wound under it concerned him, the smooth skin around it tempted him. Easy to pretend the woman in his bed was his lover and he was patching her up, that this skin was his to kiss and she was his to comfort. And there we go- back to bad again. "I heated some water and got the first aid what not before I sealed us in."

Buffy tried not to hyperventilate. "Sealed in sounds bad."

"Locked them out." Spike amended. "An' we can get out if you want."

"No… no, I'm good, what were you saying?"

"I'm gonna do the medic bit with hot- well, warm now- water and alcohol that's meant for wounds, not whiskey. Then we'll wrap you up better."

"And hope it really stops this time. I'm getting - woozy."

"You been woozy." Spike started wiping her down, part of him focused on the task at hand, part busy marveling that she was letting him. Do. Not . Blow. This.

Sod that. "I know a surefire way to stop the bleeding. Still have to get wrapped up to keep it clean."

Buffy's voice was a sharp cry, "I refuse to let you stitch me up. Unless blood is like, pouring out." Buffy paused. "Is it?"

"No. But it's more than it should be, and it's been a few hours. I don't want it to get worse." He hesitated. A spasm of wanting, both the carnal and the desire to be useful to her, to be proven, dashed over his features. He let go of them slowly, regaining control. "The bandage should hold for now. Really no need for anything else."

"What were you going to say?" Buffy asked.

"Uh- you've heard." Spike paused as he rolled a pressure pad out of one of Harm's pink tees.

"Heard what?"

"Vampire spit. Seals bleeding wounds."

"What?" Buffy raised her head in alarm.

"Well, think about it. Fangs gotta nick things accidentally sometimes, spit's like a cauterizing agent if we want it to be. Kinda like releasing a venom- uh- a good kind of venom."

"You're saying- if you put your spit on my back- it heals the wound?" Buffy demanded.

"No, seals the edges, so it'll stop bleedin'." Spike answered uncomfortably.

"Why didn't you bring that up before?"

Spike's jaw dropped. "Why didn't I-? I thought you'd clock me just for mentionin' it! And I figured you knew! You're a Slayer and you've been with a vamp, plus you've been bitten and didn't die so… yeah. Mostly I figured since it was me, you'd break my nose."

:"Because an excuse for you to taste my blood is totally what you would love."

"Yeah, that." No. Yes and no. The idea of my mouth on your skin makes me forget all the finer things, even for a little bit.

"But you just did mention it."

"Things change. You know I'm willing to burn for you, so I hoped you would realize if you trust me to save your life, you can trust me to give you a little 'transfusion'."

Buffy bit her lip."That's true."

"Right, well, I said the bandages would- what'd you say?"

"It's true."

Spike watched her weak muscles try to tense. "Your mum ever wipe somethin' off your cheek?" He asked quietly.

"Huh? More Dawn. Dawnie and chocolate- her first love."

"Well, I'm willin' to bet it went somethin' like this." He licked his thumb, and traced one edge of the seeping wound. It slowly stopped bleeding on that side. "I didn't taste anything, and my- uh- my mouth is nowhere it doesn't belong, all right, Slayer? And you're not gonna keep bleeding on my sheets." That's for later. Someday. If you ever want to find out the true meaning of love bite. Bloody hell, I need to go for a walk and I can't.

"That worked?"

"So far."

"Okay. Do your thing." And he did. Buffy was amazed at how fast he was done, her back rewrapped and his back turned as she struggled into the warm sweater. He helped her tug it down over her back once she gave the all clear for him to turn. "Feeling better already."

"That's all I wanted." Spike heaved a deep faux breath. "Not long now, Luv. Maybe under three."

"Thank God."

"You wanna sleep?"

"They're going to track us. The one up top probably will probably get here first."

"Maybe he's waiting for his pals."

"Maybe he's not."

"I shoulda brought the chair down." Spike grimaced, and sat on the footlocker sized chest at the end of the bed.

"How would it even fit?"

"I dunno. One of these days I'm gonna figure out how to put a telly down here."

"You never need a telly down here." Buffy laughed tiredly.

"You said you were too tired to flirt!" Spike accused, laughing shortly.

"I am. So I must've actually thought it. You can lay down if you want."

"No. No, I -uh- sitting's good enough. Need to be alert."

"Shouldn't I be alert, too, then?"

"Prob'ly. Part of me just likes the idea that I could keep you - you've been taking pity on a toothless vampire for a year now. Sometimes I earn my keep, tip offs, handful of helping out your lot, doing whatever I can, with typical screw ups… but you're right. Other times you've been weak, I looked at it like an opportunity to get one over on you, to get the win, you know. This way, this once, I'm helping you, like you help me. And at least in my head, I'm the good guy. Good guy- with an edge."

Buffy smiled. "A bunch of sharp, pointy ones."

"If the guy's heart is in the right place, you don't mind so much about the teeth." Spike nudged, smirking.

"I kinda base it on soul in the right place." Buffy reminded him. Without looking she could feel the crestfallen look. "But, as someone pointed out earlier, the actions can be bad or good, and souls don't really prevent the bad. I guess they help, but they don't determine."

"Easier to do bad without 'em. Humans who murder an' maim, they have to ignore a soul screaming to stop. Vampires- we have a demon eggin' us on."

"Then it's harder to do good without them? You have your own thing to tune out…" Buffy mused on this as she struggled to remain alert.

"Yeah. At first. I dunno. My demon's gotten a bit quiet around you, Slayer. Still prone to violence and certain wicked thoughts." He smirked. "Save the violence for other demonic types, and the wicked thought - not really too wicked, actually. But they're yours. Right. That's done." He scooted away from her rapidly, suddenly unsure if his confession, started out teasingly and heading into something deeper had just set him back.

She didn't say anything for a minute. Spike thought maybe she'd taken offense, then maybe she'd fallen back to sleep. He narrowed his eyes and listened intently to concentrate on a change in heart rate.

Buffy whispered, no careful pretext or clever quips now. "You said you're not as bright when your heart gets involved. I just wanted to say, I think it made you smarter. You're the first guy- in ever- to just tell me the truth and tell me what you were feeling. It didn't have to be some crisis between us to get the truth out."

"Nah, just a crisis around us." He let a low chuckle escape, hesitated, then eased down beside her, facing her this time as she rested on one side.

Buffy's heart thudded in an unexpected way at the genuine smile he had on his face, the twinkle in his deep blue eyes that was visible even in the almost nonexistent lighting. He's - kind of beautiful. The smile's real. That makes all the difference. "You're always brave, always willing to do the not-so-bright risk taking when your heart's involved. I get that. But I think this time you were smart, on all kinds of levels."

"Well, this time's different." Spike swallowed. One hand came up and lightly stroked her blonde hair, letting a damp tendril curl around his finer before moving it hastily away. "The way I felt- the way I feel about you- I never felt about anyone else. Not Dru, or Harm- or anyone. Take that how you like, Luv. It's the truth."

I don't know exactly how I feel about him, either. But I've been confused before, that much is for sure. "Thank you." Buffy dragged her hand up and found his.

She's holding onto my hand, her soft little one, one that could crush my windpipe just as easily. She's holding onto it in my bed. While she's "weak' and it means he trusts me. He shifted, a frustrated, wanting sound coming out before it was swiftly forced back down.

Buffy sluggishly shifted as well. Both of them had, hips, heads, and hands, all closer together. In spite of the intensity of her pain, she noticed a new one, an aching in the the one soft spot no one had managed to hurt tonight. Inside her aching body all the soft pink walls did their own painful, curious throb.

"We gotta get you better." Spike murmured, his hand against her cheek.

"I know." She replied almost too quickly. It was scary to think about this. About the ache under all the other aches, the pulling sensation that made her curious and want to risk everything again, to give into the ideas that he- could be someone she could release those urges with.

"We need a plan, because eventually they'll find us. Killing them is the first step to makin' sure you get better an' stay that way." He pushed physical urges back as hard as he could, willed his brain up front and center.

"Wait until morning and I'll have my powers back."

"But you won't be a hundred percent as soon as the sun hits. The wound got a bit worse before it got a chance to get better. We talk about the day coming like it's the cure all."

"We both did." She reminded him.

"Before we had a few scrapes and falls along the way."

"Spike, I can't stay here longer." Even if this is kind of weirdly nice. Even if just being alone with Spike, as bad as the situation is, gives me some kind of a break. "You know they need me." Buffy whispered determinedly.

I know I need her. The bloody world needs her. "I think we gotta kill 'em, get one to talk before we off him, and get your Watcher over here to get you to a safe spot in town. Heal you up and get you away from this bitch and anything else hunting you."

"I have to be where my family is- where my friends are." Buffy tried to sit, but he shook his head, meaning physical bravado was not needed. "I'm not her real target."

"No, but you are the one thing keeping her from it." Spike ground out.

"I already tried to get Giles to take them into hiding." Buffy admitted in a somewhat defeated tone.

"What, without you? Never work." Spike snorted. "You need to move the whole lot of you or dig in deep here. But they don't stand a chance without you."

"I can't leave the city with Glory in it." Buffy shook her desperately. "This is- this is what sucks, Spike. Slayers aren't supposed to have friends and family to make them vulnerable, and normal college students aren't supposed to worry about fighting off ancient, evil gods."

Spike gathered his features into a sudden sharp frown and held it.

"What, I can't complain about being totally non-match-y things?" Buffy demanded, waiting for the guilt trip. Angel's about not embracing the Slayer, Riley's about not maintaining normal girlfriend expectations.

"No, you can. But it's perfect. You're so bloody perfect!" He seized her face with both hands and gave her a resounding kiss on the forehead. "I've got it. They want to numb the Slayer piece and deal with a puny little scrap of a thing, we'll deliver."

"Do you sound crazy, or is it the blood loss ?" Buffy asked, eyes wide and forehead feeling more like it had been smacked than kissed.

"Both, prolly." Spike was a blur around the room, one she couldn't turn fast enough to keep up with, so she closed her eyes and sighed.

"Explanations?" Buffy finally asked as he pushed a few things around under the bed, and rummaged in his footlocker.

Spike stopped, head popping up in front of hers, his normally slick hair half tousled and streaked with dirt and soot. There was a massive grin on his face, a pleased, "I'm a sneaky bastard and I'm going to win" smile. "You, Slayer, have one effed up life- and it's why you're the ultimate fighter. You have this- this ruddy angelic beauty combined with a set of moves that can dust a bloke in ten seconds flat. You look like prey and you're the hunter. You're the soddin' siren!" He paused, smile softening. "And you don't abuse that power. That's what makes you not just someone good- but good itself." The smile wavered, cracked, and disappeared. "An' I see why you wouldn't want to be with someone evil, in any way evil, because it's just the polar opposite of what you are."

"Spike-" Buffy found herself wanting to contradict him, especially on that last part, but he wasn't giving her a chance.

"That last bit doesn't matter now, what matters is that you are the best bloody ace up the sleeve in the world, and we're gonna use it." He reached down and lifted up a cross bow and a shot gun, dropping them on the bed beside her, making Buffy pull back slightly.

"What…?" Buffy blinked and trailed off.

"How'd you like to join me in some Little Red Ridin' Hood action?" Spike asked with a very predatory grin.

Buffy swallowed. "I'm the helpless little girl?"

"Oh no, Baby. You're the wolf." The teeth flashed wider, matching the gleam of his eyes in the dark.

Buffy tensed. After what seemed like days of waiting, but was at best an hour, something had happened. Above her, she heard the shattering and battering of boots and fists and who knows what else on the crypt, tearing it apart, until they'd find the trap door. Spike had removed some of the obstacles on this side, enough to make them work for it, enough for them not to question the lack of defense.

"How many?" Buffy breathed under the covers, pulled up to her hairline.

Candles now extinguished, she couldn't see the fingers he was holding up. She heard three soft taps beside her head. "Three." She confirmed, word breathed out, and then air clenched back into her lungs and she held it as the sound of breaking iron and stone crashed into the basement a few feet from the foot of the bed.

"Where's the vampire?"

"Where's the girl?"

Buffy lay face up, one arm on a pillow, that pillow across her chest, and thick quilted comforter pulled up to cover it all completely.

"There's rocks sealing the back way." One guttural voice hissed.

"She can't honestly be hiding in the bed."

"She was weak. Dying, maybe. Fading." All voices paused. A low chuckle. "We can hear you breathing. Scared, short little bits of breathing." This time the chuckling was tri-fold, gleeful. "Poor little thing, hiding in her pet demon's bed. Wonder if he's curled up in there, her teddy bear with fangs."

Ooh. He's gonna kill that one a little extra hard. Buffy smiled and stiffened her weakened shoulders, ready for what must surely happen next.

"You take the girl from the bed. There's only one body there, you can see that."

"Well, he's still nearby, I can feel it." Another argued.

Two voices talking, a third one unspeaking but approaching with fast footsteps, sure in the dark, ripped the comforter from the bed with a triumphant snarl.

The last sound he ever made.

Buffy's finger pulled the trigger and the crossbow bolt went through the neck, her elbow crooking her arm and her aim up nicely. "May be weak, but I can still move a finger." Buffy smiled as the body toppled back, dead in an instant.

"No!" The two beings remaining rushed forward to their fallen comrade.

"You'll suffer before you die!"

"You won't. Sadly." Buffy felt a cold rush wash over her, waiting for the sound, wincing in anticipation.

The shotgun blast went off underneath her, and as one body fell, a smoking hole in its center, another body rose up. Spike tore from his hiding spot under the bed, golden eyes flaring, fangs flashing, the last demon his new target.

Buffy collapsed back, ears ringing. Through the din she heard Spike growl, "Before you die, you should know- with that one, it isn't fear." He turned the grotesque smile to her, and she found herself smiling back. "Pure adrenaline."

Spike dragged the now unconscious survivor up the ladder and threw him on the floor. He carried Buffy upstairs, much more gently, and thoughtfully placed her in a the chair which he'd already moved to face the tiny dingy culvert that served as a window.

"Remember what I said about violent urges, Slayer?" He rasped against her ear.

"On other demons." She recalled.

"You have to tell me what questions to ask- you don't have to watch how I get the answers."

In the gray shadowed room, she could see his face was a mask of hunger and worry, all wound up together. "I share the urges on this one." She winced as she tried to find a comfortable position. "I'm the wolf, remember?" She managed a weary smirk as she looked ip at him. "No lost little lamb this time."

"I like you like this." He began to bend, then hurriedly pulled himself back. "Ha. Violent urges now- wicked thoughts later." Spike chuckled, almost nervously, trying to make his voice lighter.

Buffy didn't break her gaze. "Later. Maybe later will work out." What am I saying? What am I thinking? "But -um- you have info to get. I have a hole in my back to stitch up, and your bedroom? Ugh."

"I know. The only dead guests I like are vamps. Face it, if the fourth one is alive or if anyone figures out where they went, I don't stand a chance stayin' here. This place is burned, Luv."

He gave up his home for me. It's a freaky home, but it is his. "I'm so sorry."

"I don't really mind losin' the place, as long as I don't lose you. So. Right. Better go figure out what this one knows."

Buffy expected "torturing" to make her feel more squeamish. Maybe it didn't since these guys were not only a threat to her, but to Dawnie. Or because she'd been mentally and indirectly physically tortured for the entire evening by them. Most likely it was because Spike, for all his bravado, wasn't as much about his follow through as he was about his creativity. Just hearing the horrible things Spike said would prompt an outpouring of information.

"How many of you are left? Let's count, shall we?" Spike grabbed his captive's hand and started ticking off fingers, with his unorthodox method of breaking the bones. "There's one dead in the tunnel you chased us in…" A grunt. "One blown to bits on my nice dirty floor downstairs…" A gasp of pain. "One bled out by the girl you tried to turn into a helpless victim…" An outright scream. "There's you- who, by the way, I'm plannin' to tear your tongue straight outta your head mate, 'cause you said some very unsociable things earlier. But maybe-" A vicious crack, "if you help us out with some information, I'll leave it alone. I might even leave your head on your body." Spike said smoothly. "You were nice enough to offer me a deal, I'll offer you one."

Buffy closed her eyes and grinned. He must be great at poker. For a few seconds, I couldn't even tell he was bluffing.

"There's one left- guarding the back of the cemetery. He will come with me, he will not leave until I order it, but once we are free to go, neither of us will report to Glory or trouble you again." The Aur k'Ach appeased.

No, you won't. In two minds, one thought blazed.

"Is he the one the Slayer hurt pretty bad?"

"His injuries are severe but not fatal."

So you think. Another twinned thought.

"Why is Glory after me?" Buffy asked quietly.

"The lady asks, you answer. Or I decide you don't need your tongue anymore. Clear?"

The answer fairly flew in response. "You are a threat- you've been interfering in her plans."

"What else?"

"I don't know what you-" A sudden sharp crack , some much larger bone- earned a scream and then an admission. "You are in the way of her work- and of her Key! She knows you are protecting whoever it is."

Silence. Buffy's heart thudded into the ice cold depths of her stomach. She knows it's human. For sure she knows it's a "who", not a "what". "Who does she think it is?"

"I don't know." Another horrible shattering sound, a screaming howl that werewolves would envy, and a babbled "I don't know! She doesn't know, we don't know, no one knows, except it's someone the Slayer is protecting. We took the job for the bounty and to avenge our cousin clan, killed in the town magic shop! I've told you all I know!"

"He's telling the truth, Luv. I can always tell by the pitch in a scream- an the wet trousers. He's a bit of a coward without four others backing him up, letting hi make the threats and insinuations."

"I apologize. You clearly are not a- a weak vampire. Maybe you have a weakness for the female, but she is attractive as humans go, very beddable."

Buffy winced at the sound- one she could only describe as "gross." No more words came from their informant, just the sound of Spike's fading growl.

"Be right back." Spike said cheerfully. Buffy heard dragging and the door scraping open. Shouts and scuffling and another scream. "Spike?"

"Be back in a tick, Luv, gotta wash up." Still chipper sounding, actually whistling jauntily. "Figure number five would come runnin' when he heard the ringleader scream. Two dead out front, two dead downstairs. We throw one hell of a party, Slayer."

"What was that -sound?" Buffy's morbid curiosity forced her to ask.

"I kept my word. He kept his head, tongue as well. His heart may have done a rapid exit via my hand in his chest, but I never said that was off limits." Spike's amiable tone turned to dark muttering. "Weak… beddable… jam his head in a vise an' twist…"

"I can hear you." Buffy reminded him.

"Not everything, I hope."

"No." She laughed lightly. "Is it- daylight?"

"It will be in a bit. How are you?"

"Better." Buffy smiled as he turned the chair back to face the interior. the smile faded. Blood and breakage everywhere. "Oh, Spike…"

"You don't wanna see the downstairs. Bedspread's a complete write off, I'm afraid."

"I'll pay you back, I might need a-"

"You owe me nothing. I was clear about that." Spike cut her off firmly.

Buffy painfully rose, surprising him, but his arms were quickly out to support her as she teetered. "Then I guess this is just a gift between friends."

Spike was the one who felt his knees go weak- and then brace up, lean in and lift her soft, shorter form up as she gave him the kind of kiss you only dream about. Hard and hot and clinging, tinged with exhaustion and frustration. Perfectly real, no fairytale, no fantasy. Those weren't real. "Just the way I like it." He whispered when he set her down. "C'mon. You're still not in walking shape and the light's risin'. Let's give your Watcher a call."

They shuffled across the grass as the stars faded. "Hurts way less." Buffy said, eyes over his shoulder, looking at the carnage on the grass, bodies dumped like trash.


"That was really -uh- hardcore. The last part."

"I know. Nice to get my hands dirty again. You know, for a good cause." Spike snickered.

"Nice save." She laughed back.

"But you believe me, don't you, Slayer?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I do." Buffy cleared her dry throat. "That thing you said?"

"I said so many bloody things, Luv. It's been a long night." Finally spent the night with her. Ended up in my bed.

I need to narrow down my dirty daydreams about gettin' her in the bedroom, because this one went a bit wide of the mark.

"You said I was good. And you aren't."

"True." A melancholy smile, a shrug they could both feel.

"I said that too."

"Your anthem, Slayer."

"You did what you did, to save me, and save my family."

"Well, of course I did!" Spike looked at her indignantly. "What'd you think I was gonna do, leave you to die, let them be next for the chop? An' let's not forget the entire world goin' to hell along with 'em."

Her eyes glinted up at him, head suddenly tilted all the way up, anchoring his eyes with her own. "But you're a demon. You play for the hell team."

"Yeah… well, I'm s'posed to." He admitted uncomfortably.

"But you don't. Anymore. Anything you did tonight, anything 'bad', wasn't actually bad when you're trying to save the world and the- the people you care for."

"So… What does that mean, between us?" Spike asked.

"That you're a good guy fighting evil, even inside himself- and that's good enough for me." Buffy told him, shocking them both.

This time, he kissed her. And kept kissing her, all the way to the phone booth on the other side of the hill, as the sun finally rose over it, and shone down on them.

Epilogue to follow…