Description: Sequel to Make the Clock Reverse & part 2 of the Love, Give, Forgive Trilogy. Spuffy. S5 AU. Spike & Buffy know she's supposed to die against Glory. They need to keep Dawn & everyone else safe, including Buffy. What is in the Scoobies' control?

All characters, quotes, plot points, references, etc. that are borrowed from source material belong to their original owners. The story as a whole is entirely my own, and just for the enjoyment of Buffyverse fans. Please excuse any author's liberties taken with source material. All of this is written for the fun and love of it.

This will be rated M for all that entails. Assume much sexiness, violence, strong language, and the like.

For right now, the plan is to post a chapter every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (assuming the site hasn't gone wonky on a day I plan to post). Hopefully that'll give me enough time to get the whole shebang finished way in advance. I'm currently writing Chapter 16, and 35,000+ words in.

Thank you all for reading, and I really hope you enjoy this next installment!

Love,

Ginger

Chapter 1

Buffy'd had a major case of the jitters all morning. She tossed her yummy sushi pajamas to the bathroom floor and slipped into the steaming hot shower. It stung her skin a little, but something about that calmed her. Buffy ran her fingers through her long hair, taking a deep breath. Spike was down in the kitchen, making coffee for her mom and helping Dawn get ready for school.

Spike, the Slayer of Slayers, was playing domestic with her mom and little sister. It'd been a weird few months.

Buffy shampooed and conditioned her hair on autopilot as she let her mind wander. It was the very beginning of summer. Adam was chopped into pretty little pieces, the Hellmouth was in quiet season, and Buffy had a few months away from college stress. She wondered if Spike might want to take a night walk on the beach one of these days. It was nice being able to think about beach walks with her boyfriend every once in a while. When she lathered her bodywash all over herself, Buffy remembered that this was the day Giles was going to have some big, heavy duty Slayer talk with her. Buffy didn't even want to know what it was about. She'd milked her post-Adam recovery for as long as she could; now it was time for the business of slayage.

Buffy heard the bathroom door creak open just when she finished washing all the way off. "Dawn, I'm in here! You should've brushed your teeth before—" The shower curtain pulled back. Spike was standing there in a pair of sweats Buffy had bought for him to wear in the mornings at her mom's house. They really needed to think about getting their own place. "Oh."

"Sorry," Spike pouted. He batted his eyelashes at her. "If you didn't want company..."

Buffy grabbed Spike by the upper arm, pulling him toward her and kissing him. She could feel him grinning against her lips. He shifted around a little as he kissed her. When Buffy pulled away, he was totally naked and stepped into the shower.

"Mom gone?" Buffy asked. She took a step back to let some of the water run on Spike.

Spike nodded. "Got the place to ourselves for a minute, love."

Buffy wrapped her fingers around one side of Spike's neck. She nibbled on the other side, over his sire mark. Spike clutched at her shoulders, gasping. When she swirled her tongue over his skin and pulled back, she was immediately spun around. Buffy squeaked, bracing herself against the shower wall so she didn't fall over. Spike massaged her shoulders and Buffy almost lost her balance anyway. All of her limbs relaxed and Buffy sighed.

"Why so tense, Slayer?" Spike whispered, kissing one of her shoulders as he leaned in behind her.

"Slayer duties with Giles today."

"You worry too much."

He continued kissing down her arm. Then his hands wandered south, grazing over her tummy. Spike kept one hand there, the other sliding between her legs. Buffy lifted on her toes. His fingers worked at her nub, and she had to press her hands even harder against the wall's tiles. The water suddenly felt cold against Buffy's warming skin, and her heart was racing. She felt it burning in her center, panting escaping her until it was too much. Spike latched his human teeth onto Buffy's neck. As he sucked on her skin, she let herself go. Her entire body went limp. Spike wrapped his arm around her waist to keep her upright.

"That help?" Spike kissed her cheek.

"Uhh-rng-uh."

"I'll take that as a yes."

xxxxx

"Buffy?" Spike called from the kitchen. His Slayer was upstairs playing with her hair or whatever valley girl thing she'd gotten up to as he put his blood in the microwave. Since Buffy'd been in hospital, Joyce had gone out and gotten him a mug of his own (one that said "Beware Mama Bear" on the side) and always had Rupert deliver some blood to be kept in the fridge. Buffy had been hinting that she wanted to get a place of their own when her classes started up again over at university, but Spike knew they'd need to be around this year, to take care of the Bit and Joyce. "Oi, Slayer!"

"For Pete's sake, what is it Spike?"

"You want me to cook ya somethin'?" He pulled the blood mug out, taking a sip as he waited for her response. He burned his tongue, winced, and placed it down on the counter.

Buffy walked into the kitchen, running her fingers through her hair. She'd thrown on some sweet cherry-printed dress. Spike grinned, using the minute before she spoke to just take in the sight of her, in her kitchen with him, pinning in some earrings. Buffy tilted her head at him. "What?"

Spike shook himself out of it. "Uh, food? You want any?"

"When is Giles coming over again?" Buffy headed over to the coffee maker, pouring herself a cup. She reached for the nearby sugar jar, pouring heaps of it in.

"Noon. We got a few hours yet, pet."

Buffy turned to face him again. He could tell by the mischievous look in her eyes that she was about to start pushing buttons. She sipped on her coffee. "Then how would you like to be my favorite vamp ever and make me some chocolate chip pancakes?"

"What?" Spike moved toward her, practiced and smooth movements. "I'm not your most favorite vampire in the world already?"

"Mm, I dunno," Buffy said, rolling her eyes.

"Rip out my unbeatin' heart, why don't you?" Spike grabbed Buffy's hips, pulling her toward him. She abandoned her mug next to the coffee maker.

"We don't have time for more of this, Spike. We've got to get ready... and..."

Spike grazed his fingers along her bare arms and her eyes shut as she took in a sharp breath. He wanted to enjoy this as long as possible. Buffy wasn't going to have the trouble she did before, when she'd been ripped out of heaven. He'd see to that. But Giles and Spike were about to tell her what might happen in this next year, the year that finally broke her, between Joyce's death and Dawn's constant danger. Spike wished they didn't have to tell her, but it was better to give her warning and try to prevent it than let it happen to spare a little bit of sadness now. Rupert had said it, and Spike knew he was right. Still, she was so unburdened right now, so bright and happy...

"And?" Spike poked the bear.

"And, um... There were arguments." Buffy pressed her hands against Spike's bare chest, watching her tan hands on his pale skin. "In my head." She pressed herself against him, wrapping her arms around Spike and taking him by surprise with a hug. "Somewhere," she muttered against his chest. Spike wrapped his arms around the tiny slayer, kissing her hair.

He heard throat-clearing from the doorway. They broke off the hug, checking the source of the noise. Dawn.

"Lurk much?" Spike demanded. He was suddenly grateful Buffy mandated him wearing pants about. Spike grabbed his blood mug and chugged the lukewarm liquid.

"It's not lurking if it's the kitchen. Not my fault William the Bloody is pawing at my sister in here," Dawn scoffed.

"What are you still doing home?" Buffy demanded, her cheeks gettin' redder the longer she spoke. "Mom was supposed to take you to school twenty minutes ago!"

Dawn popped an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest. "Mom wasn't taking me today."

"Then how—"

"Dawnie?"

Oh. This'd be bloody brilliant.

"Dawnie, where are—Good Godfrey Cambridge, Spike!" Xander smacked his hands over his eyes as he entered the kitchen. "What is it with vampires and not realizing that shirts are socially acceptable?" He shook out his whole body. "Make me want to poke my eyes out, why don't you?"

Spike choked on his blood, the image of Xander and his eye patch immediately springing to mind.

Buffy clapped him on the back. "Sweetie, you okay?"

Spike nodded, wiping his mouth.

"We're gonna be late," Dawn said. She started for the front door of the house.

"Right. Buffster, I'll see ya later?"

"Sure, Xand. Giles is coming by in a couple of hours. You want to do dinner tonight?"

"Are you cooking?" Harris asked, a flat-out look of disgust taking over his face.

"How about ordering pizza?"

Xander saluted her. "I'll come by after work."

When Harris left, Spike kissed Buffy on top of the head. He couldn't help the guilt swelling up in him, all the things he knew that could destroy her some day, the overwhelming fear that he couldn't help put off the Slayer death wish she'd have eventually, that he wasn't going to be clever enough, that just the knowledge he and Rupert were about to share would crush her.

"Kitten," Spike said, clearing his throat. "If you wanna get out the chocolate chips and whipped cream, I'll start those pancakes for you, hmm?