Title: The Bloody Awful Truth

Author: PrettyPoppy

Summary: During a heart-to-heart with Spike, Dawn discovers an interesting fact about William the Bloody. How far will Buffy be willing to go to uncover Spike's secret?

Author's Note: This is based on a suspicion I've had for quite some time about Spike/William. If any other authors would like to use the concept, please feel free. I'm sure there's a million different ways this could be done, and I'd really like to see someone else's take on it.

Takes place post "Storyteller." I just thought Buffy was carrying too much baggage by the end of "LMPTM" to put this there. Post "Storyteller" seemed like a nice, comfy place. Rated R. Spoilers through "Storyteller," obviously.

Feedback: Okay, this is where the begging comes in. Particularly with this story. I'd really like to know what you think - good, bad, or indifferent. Please, please, please R&R!

Distribution: If you want it, just let me know

Disclaimer: Joss is a god. The rest of us are just his lowly minions. I own nothing. Joss owns everything.

* * *

Dawn turned and looked over her shoulder one last time, before pushing open the bedroom window and trying to lift her leg over the sill. "Rotten miniskirt," she grumbled, as she hiked the constricting garment up even further and tried again.

"Going somewhere, lil' bit?" a familiar voice asked from across the room.

Dawn whipped around to see Spike standing in the doorway. She almost fell off the windowsill.

Spike took a step into the room, closing the door behind him, a dark look in his sapphire eyes. "You wanna tell me where you think you're going dressed like that?"

Dawn blushed slightly. Putting her high-heeled feet firmly on the floor, she pulled her skirt down self-consciously over the tops of her thighs. It sprang right back up. "Out," she said, defensive indignation in her voice.

"Out where? The Sunnydale Trollops Convention?"

Dawn rolled her eyes, and glared at him. "The Bronze, if you must know. I'm going to meet someone."

"Does big sis know?"

"As if it's any of her business."

Spike eyed Dawn suspiciously as he moved further into the room and looked her up and down. In addition to her high heels and micro-mini skirt, she was wearing a very revealing tight, black sweater and far too much makeup. Her hair had been painstakingly curled and she looked about ten years older than her actual age of sixteen.

"Dressed like that? I think it's more than her business. It's her responsibility. So, you wanna tell me what's going on, or do you want me to run off and tattle to the Almighty Buffy?"

Dawn glared at him and crossed her arms over her chest. "It's no big deal."

"All right then," he said making to leave, "I'll just go tell Buffy and--"

"No, don't!" She stopped him. "She'll kill me."

He raised a questioning eyebrow. "And with good reason, perhaps? Sit," he said, nodding toward the bed, his voice brooking no debate.

Dawn trudged over to the bed and threw herself down on the corner of the mattress. Again, she tried to pull her skirt down over her bare legs.

Spike sat down beside her and eyed her with some interest. "So?"

"So, nothing."

"Right. The world's going to end, the rest of us are preparing for battle, and you're sneaking off in the middle of the night to have a grand old time at The Bronze. And that's nothing."

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

Dawn inhaled a deep, hard breath. "You promise you won't tell Buffy?"

"That depends. You tell me what it is first, and then I'll decide whether or not big sis needs to know."

"She will kill me," Dawn reassured him.

"Don't doubt it. Now out with it."

"Fine." Dawn's cheeks began to blush a soft crimson beneath her already heavy makeup, as she tried to explain. "We're all going to die, right?"

"Some of us. Yeah."

"Well, tell me, how many of us are going to die virgins? Other than Andrew, of course."

"That's what this is about?" he asked in shock. "You're worried about dying a virgin? Don't tell me, you were going to sneak off into the night to . . ."

"Yeah, well, that was the plan." Dawn pushed herself off the bed and began pacing the room sulkily. "But you're not going to let me go, are you? Oh no, suddenly the great, evil, master vampire has turned into the morality police. Some Big Bad you are. You can't keep me from going, you know? What are you going to do? Chain me in the basement until the Apocalypse comes?"

"Well, that's one option."

She gave him a dirty look. "You can't stop me."

Spike watched Dawn thoughtfully. How to handle the situation? He couldn't let her run off into the night and do something stupid, even if the world was ending. But he couldn't come down on her like a concerned parent either. She'd just rebel and get herself into even more trouble. There had to be some other way.

"So who is this bloke?" he asked, leaning back on his elbows nonchalantly.

"What?" Dawn looked at him with some confusion.

"The one you're running off to meet?" He raised a scarred eyebrow at her. "You know, the one?"

"Oh. Um, his name is Jason," she said absently, clearly caught off-guard. "He' s on the football team."

"Oh really? Likes to pat other blokes' bums does he?"

"Spike!" she scolded.

"I'm just saying. I thought you'd go more for the sensitive type, that's all. Never pegged you for a brute groupie."

"He's nice, and he's cute, and he likes me," she defended. "What more criteria is there than that?"

He pushed himself back up to a sitting position. "Well if you don't know, maybe you shouldn't be doing this."

Dawn threw up her arms in frustration and began pacing again. In her agitation she caught the heel of her shoe on the carpet and nearly took a nosedive into the floor. Spike bounded from the bed and caught her before she could make contact with the hardwood.

Dawn steadied herself and quickly pulled away from him. "I'm fine," she said, wrenching her arm from his grasp. "I'm a grown woman. I'm sixteen! Buffy was sixteen when she slept with Angel. I'm not a complete idiot. I did figure that one out. That's right about the time he lost his soul. I have every right to live my life before I die. To find some happiness before I die the inevitable tragic, horrible death." She was shaking now, her voice trembling, on the verge of hysterics.

Instinctively, Spike pulled Dawn to him and wrapped her in a comforting embrace. "It's all right Nibblet," he whispered against her hair. "It'll all be okay. You're not going to die."

She pulled away from him, forcing him to release her. "You don't know that. None of us do. We could all die, and then what? Do you think I should be happy about it? You think I should be thrilled that I'm going to die a loser?"

"You're not a loser," he said softly.

"Oh no? So dying a sixteen-year-old virgin doesn't make me a loser, huh? Most girls my age have already done it, and they're not even going to die young. Me, I get the privilege of not only being a stupid, glowing, key thingy, but I get to die a virgin too. Yippee."

She stormed over to the window in a huff, and stared out, unseeing, into the darkness.

"You wouldn't be the only one," Spike said quietly.

"Oh right, like I said before, I get to be just like Andrew. You going to tell me how that doesn't make me a loser?" She turned slightly, glaring at him over her shoulder.

"I'm not talking about Andrew," he said, raising his eyes slowly to hers.

"Then who? The Potentials? Not all of them are as innocent as you think. I don't even want to tell you what Willow and Kennedy do when they think no one's around."

"I'm not talking about them either, lil' bit. I know what it's like. I've been there. But I wasn't just sixteen, I was twenty-six. If you want to call me a loser, that's fine. Just know that - loser or not - you're in good company."

Dawn narrowed her eyes and stared at Spike in shocked disbelief. "What are you saying?"

"That dear, sweet William died a virgin."

Spike couldn't quite believe that he was admitting it - to Dawn of all people. But it was the truth, and if he was going to keep her from doing something stupid, it was worth it.

"You died a virgin?" she asked, not quite able to comprehend what he was saying. "But, I thought . . . I mean . . . I know you were a sappy poet and all but--"

"Hey!"

"Oh sorry, not sappy, just . . . sentimental?"

Spike snorted. "Yeah, that's much better."

"I don't believe it," Dawn said, shaking her head. "You've always been so . . . so, confident and self-assured and in control when it comes to . . . well . . . things like that. You're serious?"

"Believe me, nothing on this earth could get me to admit to something like that unless it was the truth."

"How? How is it even possible?"

"Well," he said thoughtfully, searching his brain, trying to find some way to explain. "It wasn't that I wasn't interested. It wasn't that I didn't want to. But it was a different time. Damn bloody Victorian mentality," he cursed. "I would never have even considered doing such a thing unless I was married. It's just not the kind of thing you did with a proper young lady. And I had a certain respect for that."

"And now?"

He laughed to himself. "And now? I don't know. Now, as much as I've been down that road, I've got William in here," he pointed to his temple, "and I don't know. Things are different. I sort of see the wisdom in it."

"Right. How convenient that now you go all moral just in time to give me a lecture."

"That's not it," he said harshly. "You wanna go out that window and go shag the captain of the football team? That's fine. I won't stop you. You're right. You're not a child anymore and you can make your own decisions. But do I have to like it? No. I still think it would be a big mistake. What happens if you don't die, Nibblet? What happens if you go out there and your All-American Hero breaks your heart? You gonna be able to live with the consequences?"

"I'll deal with it if I have to."

"Fine," he said, shrugging it off. "Go then. I won't tell big sis. I promise."

Dawn eyed Spike suspiciously. This was her one chance, her one and only chance to live a little before her life was possibly over. She couldn't let Spike stop her, could she?

Dawn moved back toward the window and kneeled down, getting ready to make her escape. At the last moment she turned around and looked at Spike. "So . . . then you didn't . . . you know . . . until after you were a vampire?"

Spike looked up at her. "Yeah. Me and Dru. Did that before I even made my first kill."

Dawn turned a little and sat down on the cold sill. "Does Buffy know?"

"What?"

"Buffy? Does she know? Have you ever told her?"

"No, no, of course not. What would be the point?"

"Oh, I don't know. Just think she'd like to know. Was it worth waiting for?"

A sardonic smile pulled at Spike's lips. "Yeah pet, it was. But in all honesty - and God help me," he said, rolling his eyes, "I can't believe I'm saying this to you - but it was worth even more, waiting a hundred and forty years for Buffy. Everything before that can't even compare."

"Because she's the Slayer, right? Superhuman strength and all?"

"No," he said, sitting beside her on the windowsill, "because I love her. Because I've never loved anyone like that in my entire life. My life and my unlife. She's everything."

A long silence followed. Finally, Dawn asked, "You think I should wait?"

"It doesn't matter what I think. You're a big girl. Can't tell you what to do."

"But if you could?" she asked hopefully, looking for some direction.

"I'd tell you to wait. You don't need to go getting your heart broken by the first guy who comes along. You deserve better than that."

"And if I never get a chance?"

"Like I said, you'll be in good company. Unless of course, you don't consider William the Bloody good enough company for you?"

Dawn smiled slightly. "No, no, I think I do." She smiled a little broader.

Spike turned to stare at her quizzically. "Are you laughing?"

"What?" Dawn tried to suppress the grin that was slowly spreading across her lips. "Of course not."

"'Cause it's not funny. There is nothing humorous about dying a virgin."

"Nope." She tried desperately not to giggle. "Nothing at all. I'm very proud of you Spike," she said with mock enthusiasm. "You did the right thing. I'm sure your mother was very proud."

"Yeah, well that's another story entirely," he said, as he pushed himself up and stood in front of her. "Promise me Nibblet."

"Promise you what?"

"Buffy doesn't find out about this. You got that? Promise me."

"Well," she hemmed, "I don't know."

Spike growled.

"Oh, okay," Dawn said, popping off the windowsill and somehow landing firmly on her spiked heels. "I won't tell. I promise."

"Good," he grumbled. "Now go wipe that goop off your face before your sister sees you."

"Whatever you say, William," she said as she crossed the room and made her way toward the door. Before stepping into the hall, she turned back and winked at him, a bright glint sparkling in her mischievous brown eyes.

Spike sighed heavily and damned himself ten kinds of a fool. Maybe he shouldn't have been so quick to confide in the lil' bit after all.

* * *

Late the next morning Dawn found Buffy down in the kitchen trying to make herself some pancakes.

"Did you talk to Spike last night?" Dawn asked, as she pushed herself up on one of the stools and turned to watch her sister.

"About what?" Buffy asked absently as she tried, unsuccessfully, to flip a pancake over in the skillet.

"Oh, I don't know. Stuff?"

"What stuff?" Buffy turned around and scrutinized her sister. "Dawn? What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing," Dawn said innocently as she turned toward the table and started reading the back of a cereal box one of the Potentials had left.

"That sounds like a pretty big 'nothing' to me. What's going on?"

"I uh . . . I just think you should ask Spike, that's all. There's something he might want to tell you."

"Might? Dawn, I don't have time for this," Buffy said, bringing her attention back to the stove. "Whatever it is, I don't have time to play Twenty Questions. Can you just spit it out?"

"Well, actually, no. I can't. I promised him I wouldn't tell you." Dawn still refused to look up at Buffy.

Buffy narrowed her dark, hazel eyes at her sister. "You can't?"

"No. I promised I wouldn't."

"Does this, by any chance, have something to do with The First?"

"Nope. Nothing to do with The First, or the battle, or anything of earth-shattering importance. It's just something about Spike."

"Something he told you, but not me? Something he doesn't want me to know?"

"Well, I think there's a bit of an embarrassment factor," Dawn said, finally looking up.

"Embarrassment?" Buffy asked, dumbfounded. "I can assure you there is nothing on earth that could possibly ever embarrass that man. You wouldn't believe the things he's . . . Never mind," she caught herself, before Spike wasn't the only one suffering from embarrassment. "Is it something I need to know?"

"Not really." Dawn bounced off the stool. "I just wanted to give you a heads up. That's all. Ask Spike. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to tell you."

Dawn skipped out of the kitchen leaving Buffy to wonder just what the hell was going on. Spike had a secret? An embarrassing secret? How was that even possible? The man didn't know the meaning of the word embarrassment. If having sex in the middle of The Bronze couldn't embarrass him, what on earth could?

* * *

Later that night, Buffy and Spike were out patrolling in one of the many cemeteries of Sunnydale. It was more a distraction than a necessity really. Anything to get out of the house and away from the noise and chaos of those omnipresent Potentials.

Buffy was walking beside Spike, swinging a stake lazily by her side. "So, not really much action tonight," she said, as they continued to walk.

Spike turned his head slightly and raised an eyebrow in question. "No. Not really."

"What?"

"Nothin'," he said, as he turned away and looked straight ahead again.

"You were looking at me funny. Why?"

"No reason."

"You have something you want to tell me?" she asked hopefully.

"What?"

"Dawn said there was something you wanted to tell me."

"Bloody hell!" he cursed. Spike stopped walking and turned toward Buffy. "No. There was something I didn't want to tell you. Something I made her promise not to tell you. You know, there's something to that old adage, 'Children should be seen and not heard?'"

"She's not really a child anymore."

"Oh really?" he asked defensively. "'Cause she certainly acts like one. Bloody snitch. Tattlin' on me. You're tellin' me that's not childish?"

"I think she thought it was okay. Something I should know."

"Bollocks!"

"So, you gonna tell me? Or do I have to beat it out of you?" she asked cheerily.

"Sod off, Slayer. Not gonna happen."

"Oh," she said flatly. "I guess it really is embarrassing then, huh?"

"Is that what she said, the Nibblet?" he asked in horror.

"Said it was embarrassing and that it somehow didn't involve the end of the world. Something personal."

"I used to suck my thumb as a baby," he replied mockingly. "All right? Is that good enough for you?"

"Not really."

"Well, that's all you're gettin'. I'm through talkin' about this."

Spike sat down on a nearby tombstone and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it, took a long drag, and did his best to ignore the damned inquisitive look Buffy was giving him.

Slipping the stake she'd been carrying into the back pocket of her long denim skirt, she crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him with determination. "Let's see . . ." she said, as she began to pace in front of him, "is it about Dru maybe?"

He didn't look at her. Just continued to stare straight ahead, nursing his cigarette.

"Okay, not Dru. Harmony? You really, really liked Harmony. You miss her and wish you could somehow fill the void she's left in your life?"

Spike growled, but still wouldn't look at her. He flung his cigarette to the ground and immediately pulled out another.

"Not Harmony, not Dru. Hmm." Buffy stopped and stared at Spike. "You gonna give me some kind of hint? Animal, vegetable, or mineral?"

"If you don't stop with the soddin' questions, it's gonna be dead Slayer in a minute," he said darkly.

"So I'm getting close. Okay."

Spike flung the second cigarette. "You are not getting close!" he said, as he pushed himself away from the tombstone. "There's nothing to tell. Just leave it."

Spike started walking again. Buff quickly followed.

"Come on Spike," she said, as she grabbed the sleeve of his duster and stopped him. "I didn't mean to tease. I'm sorry."

"Can we drop it then?"

"Sure. Whatever you say."

"Good." He pulled away and continued on their patrol.

"You . . . wouldn't want to make a bet, would you?"

"What?" He swung around to stare at her.

"A bet. You know, where two people each wager something and rabid competition ensues?"

His eyes narrowed and began to bore into her. "Not up for a wager pet."

"Really?" Buffy asked, moving up closer and stopping just an inch in front of Spike. She titled her head back and stared up at him. "Afraid you'll lose?"

Spike snorted. "Not quite."

"Then, we have a bet?"

"No. We do not have a bet." Spike pulled away and stared at her quizzically. "What the bloody hell has gotten into you? This isn't the back room at Willy's. We're supposed to be patrolling. At the very least we're supposed to be preparing for the end of the world. What's with the perky, cheerleader Slayer bit?"

"You really think I'm being perky?" she asked.

"Yeah, well, more so than I've seen you in a long time. So what is it? End of the world not got you down?"

Buffy stared down at her feet thoughtfully and shuffled the toes of her boots through the grass. "I guess I just figured we could both use a break." She looked up at him, all serious for the first time that night. "Before the end of the world does come."

"Yeah, well, acting like a teenager isn't going to do it. Don't tell me, next you'll be wantin' to run off and shag some glorified poofter like Dawn."

"What?"

"Oh, right." Spike caught himself. He tore his eyes away from Buffy and began walking again.

She ran after him, doing her best to keep up with his longer strides. "What did you just say?"

"Nothing. Dawn did not go out to The Bronze last night, and she did not shag anything."

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks. It took a moment for Spike to notice and make his way back to her.

Slowly, she raised her eyes to him, a glazed look clouding her gaze. "Tell me . . . tell me that Dawn did not go out and . . ."

"Dawn did not go out and do anything. Believe it or not, I wasn't being sarcastic. She wanted to, but I stopped her."

"You?"

"Yeah me, all right? Can we just get over it? Forget about it? Everything's fine. Dawn was just feeling her mortality last night, that's all. Just needed a little reassurance and she was right as rain. Nothin' to worry about."

"You stopped her? How?"

"Doesn't matter. Can we go now?"

"I want to know Spike."

"You know," he said, backing away from her, "I think I heard something, right over there." He pointed to some bushes. "Why don't I just go investigate?"

Buffy stood there silently for a moment, as Spike headed toward the foliage and made a great show of staking an invisible vamp. What on earth was going on? What was so awful that he couldn't tell her? He'd killed hundreds and hundreds of people. She already knew that. If that couldn't lower her opinion of him, what could?

Buffy was beginning to wonder if beating it out of him was her only option.

"Spike," she called, once she'd finally made up her mind what she had to do.

"Damn, bloody vamp, nearly took my hand off," he said as he raised one of his hands to his lips and started sucking the blood off a scratch there.

Buffy pulled his hand away and looked at it. "Don't you mean that evil, bloodsucking bush nearly took your hand off? What'd you do, get it caught on a twig?"

"Vamp bite, I tell ya," he said, as he pulled his hand away and coddled it at his chest.

"Right. So," she said with a weary sigh, "do we have a bet or not?"

"Oh, soddin' hell, are you still on about that?"

"So here's the deal. I win, you tell me what you told Dawn last night. Reveal this dirty little secret you've been keeping. And . . . if I lose . . . I'll do whatever you want."

Spike's eyes shot up from his rapidly healing hand and stared at Buffy. "Anything?" he asked, cocking a curious brow.

"Within reason."

"Right. Knew there was a catch." He went back to looking at his wound.

"Which means I won't kill for you - so no asking me to murder Xander - and no . . . you know. Anything else, and it's yours."

"'You know?'" he mocked. "What are we, in kindergarten now? If you can do it Slayer, you sure as hell can say it."

"Fine," she said, clearly exasperated. "No sex. Okay?"

"No, not okay." He dropped his hand and glared at her. "That's not a proper bet. You wanna know what my deep, dark little secret is, you're going to have to wager something worth risking. No conditions. You do, whatever . . . I . . . want," he said slowly, as he moved closer to her. "Then, we have a deal."

Buffy stared up into Spike's eyes, a shocked thrill shooting up her spine. She knew it was wrong, one simply did not wager one's self in a bet with a kinky sex freak, but then again . . .? Buffy desperately wanted to know what Spike was hiding. Of course, she could always wrangle it out of Dawn if she had to - she'd have to bankrupt herself buying chocolate malts in the process - but it could be done. No, she wouldn't make Dawn betray a confidence. It was better to corrupt herself, than to risk corrupting her dear, sweet innocent sister. Besides, who was to say she wouldn't win? One good move and Spike's secret would be hers.

And, if she lost?

Buffy tried to stifle the niggling little voice inside of her that was screaming that she was insane. What if she did lose? She'd have to have sex with Spike, and that road never led anywhere good. Well, for a few hours maybe, but then . . .? Well then it was always heartache and regret.

Drawing in a sharp, girding breath, Buffy put her hand out to him. "All right. You win, I'll do whatever you want."

Spike stared down at her hand suspiciously, but made no move to take it. "What's the competition luv? Exactly how do we decide who wins?"

Buffy dropped her hand to her side. "I thought that was obvious."

"Not to those of us living in the real world. I don't know where you are, but here? We haven't exactly gotten that far.

"Right." Buffy stepped back a little and crossed her arms over her chest. "Well, what is it we do best?"

A small smile pulled at Spike's lips. "I think we've already answered that pet. It's going to be my little reward for winning this bet."

"Oh please, Spike," she said, rolling her eyes, "get your mind out of the gutter. Fight," she said matter-of-factly, like she was talking to a roomful of Potentials. "Fighting is what we do best. I know it's been a long time, but I think that's how we should settle this."

Spike stared at her with some confusion in his eyes. "I'm not going to hit you."

"It's just a game. You don't have to worry about hurting me. You never did before."

"That was before."

"Spike--"

"I don't like this. I'm still triggered, remember? I could go off at any moment. Grrr . . . Arrgh!" he mocked, in his best monster growl.

"You'll be fine, as long as no one starts singing. And well, Xander hasn't been summoning any demons lately - at least none that we know of - so you should be safe. If you do go all crazed, serial killer again, I'm sure I can take you."

"Buffy--"

"Look," she moved closer, trying to reassure him. "Think of it as training. It's been a while since I've been in a good fight, and I could use the refresher. Besides, you don't have to hit me if you don't want to. Just best me."

"How?"

"Well, you're a vampire. And as a vampire, you're victory would be . . ."

"In the kill."

Buffy eyed him warily. "Right. So, you get your fangs against my neck," she titled her head slightly to the side, exposing an enticing expanse of flesh, "and you win. I, on the other hand, just need to get this," she pulled the stake out of her back pocket, "to your heart. Whoever succeeds first, wins."

"And that's it?" he asked with some suspicion.

"That's it."

For a long moment Spike didn't say anything, and Buffy was afraid he was going to turn her down. Just when she was about to turn away and forget the whole thing, he extended his left hand. "We have a deal, Slayer."

Buffy tentatively put out her hand and clasped it with Spike's. What the hell was she getting herself in for?

Before another thought could pass through her mind, Spike yanked on her hand and pulled her to him. Buffy collided solidly with his chest, as he quickly slipped into game face and lowered his fangs to her neck.

Not to be defeated so easily, Buffy brought up a booted foot and wedged it firmly against Spike's midsection. With a determined push, she dislodged his hold on her and sent him crashing to the ground.

"How stupid do you think I am?" she asked, as she put her hands on her hips and stared down at him. "You're gonna have to do a lot better than that if you want to win this thing."

"Oh believe me," he said, as he pushed himself up to stand in front of her again, his human mask slipping easily back into place, "I will."

"Then show me what you've got."

Spike lunged at Buffy, catching her at the waist and knocking her to the ground. He landed on top of her, but she quickly recovered. Without even thinking, Buffy pushed Spike off and sent him flying backwards. He landed in the very same bushes where his phantom vampire had been hiding earlier that evening.

Buffy advanced on him. "So, are we through playing games here? Are you really gonna fight?"

Spike growled from where he was crouched in the foliage. With predatory stealth he sprang at Buffy and tried to fell her again. She easily sidestepped his advance and averted joining him on the ground.

"Are you actually going to try to beat me, or do you really, really, really want me to find out this secret? Let me guess, you're just dying for an excuse to let it all out."

Slowly, Spike stood and glared at Buffy. With slow, even strides, he moved steadily toward her until they were just an inch apart. "There's only one thing I want to let out Slayer, but in order to do that, I have to be inside you first."

Buffy blanched. Her eyes widened and for a moment she was caught off-guard. She certainly hadn't expected Spike to say anything like that to her. Not souled Spike. Not champion of the people Spike. He hadn't said anything like that to her in . . . forever.

Quickly remembering herself, Buffy raised the stake in her hand and made to bring it to Spike's chest. He easily caught her wrist and stopped its progression. He offered her a knowing smirk in answer. "So, Slayer, you really ready to fight?"

"Oh I'm ready," she said with slightly false bravado. "I'm more than ready. Whatever you've got Spike."

"You asked for it." He twisted her wrist back brutally, forcing the stake out of her hand. Buffy quickly wrenched out of his grip and pulled back her fist. She flew her fist forward to punch Spike in the face, but only succeeded in making contact with the palm of his hand.

She tried again, with the other fist this time, achieving the same result. Whenever she tried to strike him, he was always ready for her, punch for punch, blow for blow. It was as if he knew every move before she even made it.

"So, Slayer? Had enough? Tired yet?"

"I'm just getting warmed up. This is nothing."

"Just be careful not to tire yourself out too much pet," he said, as she threw another punch his way. "Wouldn't want you to be less than ready when you make good on our little wager."

Buffy narrowed her eyes and glared menacingly at him. While Spike was busy deflecting a couple of punches, she swept her leg out in front of her and caught it behind his ankles, knocking him to the ground.

Once out of Spike's reach, Buffy rushed to the stake she had dropped and gripped it firmly in her right hand. She turned around to see Spike approaching, laughter behind his cool blue eyes.

"You really sure you want to try that again? You didn't have much luck last time."

"I'm fine," Buffy said, as she tightened her grip on the worn piece of wood and did her best to steady herself. "And it's about time we finished this."

Buffy lunged at Spike this time, but he easily avoided being staked. Finally, he willingly engaged her in serious hand-to-hand combat. A kick here, a punch here. Soon, it was just like old times - except now, they didn't really mean to do each other any harm. Buffy did most of the punching. Spike still seemed a little averse to hitting her in the face. It must have been a soul thing, she thought.

They fought long and hard until they were both aching and panting. Spike was able to catch Buffy's wrist again and swing her around so her back was pressed up against his chest.

"You ready to give up? Admit defeat?" he asked through labored breaths, as his mouth hovered dangerously close to her neck.

"Never," she said as she turned her head to look up at him, her eyes sparkling defiantly. With practiced agility, Buffy pulled back her arm and elbowed Spike in the stomach. He immediately let her go, and she swiftly turned around brandishing her stake. In one feverish move, she plunged the spike downward in a desperate attempt to make contact with Spike's chest.

But it didn't work.

Before she knew what was happening, Spike had caught her wrist. He pulled her to him, lumpies once again in full force, and brought his teeth down against her neck.

Buffy froze as she felt his fangs graze her skin. Her heart was pounding rapidly, nearly breaking out of her chest. There was the dull roar of blood in her ears and she felt close to fainting. Spike stood up against her, his body perfectly still. She wondered if he could feel the beating of her heart against his own still, silent chest.

Spike couldn't find the means to move. He had won. His fangs had made contact with Buffy's flesh, and the knowledge was stupefying; intoxicating beyond reason.

Slowly, he forced himself to pull away from her. Staring down at her neck - at the place where he had made contact with her flesh - he made a horrifying discovery. In his fevered enthusiasm, he had somehow carelessly grazed her skin, releasing two small rivulets of blood along her neck.

He couldn't pull his eyes away from the site of it.

"Spike?" Buffy asked tentatively when he failed to meet her gaze. "Spike?"

Spike could already hear the monster inside of him begging for a taste. Tearing his eyes away, he forced himself to look at Buffy. "I'm . . . I'm sorry," he began. "I didn't realize . . ."

"Realize what?" Buffy asked, as she brought two trembling fingers up to the side of her neck. A confused look clouded her gaze as she brought her fingers forward to examine them. "Oh."

Spike stared covetously at those fingers, their soft tips covered in a small smear of blood. Unthinkingly Buffy raised them to her mouth and sucked the crimson residue from her skin. A jealous shutter shot though Spike as he watched her touch her fingers with her mouth, her tongue innocently wiping away the blood. He had gone hard just watching her.

"You won," Buffy said, matter-of-factly, clearly oblivious to his plight. "So what do you want?"

Spike slowly raised his eyes to hers. He wanted to ravish her. He wanted to attack her like the violent beast that he was, drink her blood and then ride her hard. God, it was all he wanted!

But he wasn't an animal. He was a creature with a soul now. He was better than that.

"Spike?" Buffy asked tentatively, her voice slightly tremulous. "Are you all right?"

He couldn't speak. Unwittingly, his eyes drifted back to the wound on her neck, the small scrapes already beginning to dry up. He licked his lips unconsciously, getting more desperate by the moment.

"Spike? What do you want?" she asked again.

"To taste you." The words came out before he could even think. He had tasted her blood once before. The night he had taken her into that basement and shown her all the people he had killed. He had tasted her blood, and it haunted him. He wanted to taste it again.

"All right." Buffy leaned her head to the side exposing her bare neck.

Spike looked up at her in surprise, his eyes clouded with disbelief.

"It's all right, Spike. You won. Fair is fair. I trust you," she added softly.

Spike took a tentative step closer. He could feel the heat radiating from her body, could hear the blood rushing though her veins. It was calling to him - a Siren's song he couldn't ignore - touching him somewhere deep inside.

He wet his lips again, and slowly brought his very human mouth down against her neck. With slow, steady pressure, he sucked the blood from her wound. He couldn't bite her, couldn't penetrate her. He knew that was wrong. But even a small taste of her blood was enough for him.

Spike lost himself in the taste of her warm blood seeping into his mouth. He barely noticed his body's response. He was growing harder by the minute, his basest instincts overtaking him. He wanted her, but he knew he couldn't have her. He had made his decision. He had chosen to taste her blood, instead of taking her body. He hadn't had much choice.

Spike could have stayed there forever, desperately trying to drain Buffy of her blood, but he couldn't. Buffy's gentle moan brought him back to reality and he forced himself to pull back.

"Are you all right?" he choked, frightened and trembling, as he stared down at her.

Slowly, Buffy's eyes drifted open and she stared back at Spike. "Spike," she whispered his name ever so softly. There was no mistaking the desire in her eyes.

Finally, Spike noticed the scent of her arousal. There was no denying it, she wanted him.

"Buffy I--"

She didn't let him finish. Before he could say another word, she wrapped her hand around the back of his neck and pulled him to her, covering his mouth with her own. She began to devour him, and Spike could no longer resist the temptation.

Pulling her closer, he pushed his erection up against her, reveling in the overwhelming feel of the contact. He wanted her. He needed her. If he didn't have her soon, he very well could die.

Without once breaking contact, Spike pushed Buffy backward until her back was up against a nearby tree. She wrapped both her arms around his neck and hoisted herself up so that her legs could wrap around his waist, her skirt hiking up around her thighs.

"Spike." She called his name as he finally released her mouth and began feverishly kissing her neck. "Spike now, please." She pushed herself up against him, rubbing her dampness against his hard flesh.

Spike growled. He had wanted this for so long. He'd thought he'd never get to feel it again. He wanted Buffy, and for some insane reason, she was going to let him have her.

With one hand around Spike's neck, Buffy lowered her other hand and felt for the zipper on his jeans. The sensation of her warm, little fingers against his throbbing flesh stopped him cold. Spike's eyes flew open, and for the first time he realized exactly what it was that they were doing.

"Buffy stop," he said, with some alarm.

"What?" She opened her eyes and looked at him, her hand still cradling him intimately.

"We can't do this," he said, as he carefully pushed her off of him and set her back down on her feet.

"Again. What?"

"We can't do this."

"Why? Spike, I don't care about the stupid bet. It doesn't matter that you didn't ask for this. If that's why . . ."

"It's not."

"Then what is it?" Buffy asked, genuine hurt reflected in her eyes.

"I . . . I don't know," he said as he pulled away and did his best to put some space between them, in spite of the throbbing ache between his legs. "I just think we shouldn't be doing this, that's all. After everything that's happened . . . between us. It's just wrong."

"I don't believe this," Buffy said shaking her head, her voice breaking with a small sob. "The past is behind us now. Things are different. You have a soul."

"Yeah. I do," he said, finally turning to look at her, a faint mist of tears glistening in his eyes. "And that's the problem."

"Why? Because you think you're not good enough?"

"No. Well, yeah. But no. That's not it. Buffy, . . . I've . . . never done this before."

"Done what?"

"This." He nodded toward her.

"Spike," she smiled slightly, "what are you talking about? We've done this like a million times before. Okay, maybe sometimes the positions were different. Okay, most of the time--"

"That's not what I'm talking about. I, Spike, have done this. But William . . . William has never . . ."

"What?" Buffy stared at him as if he were crazy.

"That's the secret luv. That you wanted to beat out of me?" He laughed bitterly. "That's the secret."

"What . . . what are you saying?"

"That poor, pathetic William the Bloody Awful Poet died a virgin. So, now you know. It doesn't matter how many times you've had sex with Spike. William's in here now," he said, raising two fingers against his temple, "and he's never been along for the ride."

Buffy felt her heart ripping it two. "That . . . that's what you didn't want to tell me? That's what you were so embarrassed about?"

"I wasn't embarrassed," he said defensively. "I just didn't think it was any of your business, that's all. I've got a reputation to uphold. I'm evil, remember? Just not the kind of thing you want making the rounds, s'all."

"Who am I gonna tell?"

"I don't know. Xander maybe. Willow. Sure they'd both get a right good laugh out of it."

"Well, Xander maybe . . ."

She heard Spike growl and Buffy instantly sobered. She moved closer to him. "Look, Spike," she reached out her hand to touch him but he pulled away.

"I don't want your sympathy. I don't want you saying how sweet it is that I was such a complete and total nancy-boy poof, all right?"

"I wasn't going to say any such thing." She moved closer once again, and this time was able to touch his cheek. She brought his eyes around to look at her. "Spike, I . . ." Buffy's heart stopped for the briefest moment. For the first time in the entire time they had known each other, she wanted to tell him that she loved him. It seemed the natural thing to do. For some unbelievable reason, it felt right. But she couldn't. She knew he wouldn't believe her. Knew he would think she was just pandering to his ego. There had to be a way. "Are you . . . afraid?" she asked, staring deeply into that hard-won soul of his.

"No," he said, without offense.

"Then why don't we . . .?"

"Buffy, I . . . I just . . . how can it be right? I know it never mattered before, but now? Now, I feel things. I care in a way that was beyond my comprehension before. Call it guilt, call it repression. I don't know what it is but . . ."

"It's all right Spike. I'll take care of you. I promise."

Spike looked down into Buffy eyes and lost himself. How desperately he wanted to believe that everything was all right. When they had been together before it was because Buffy had felt lost. He had been a soulless monster, and she had desperately needed the hurt he had been able to give her. It was the only way she had been able to feel. But now? Could he really make love to Buffy? Let Buffy make love to him? He'd never made love while in possession of his own soul. How different would the experience be?

"Are you sure you want this?" he asked, his eyes searching hers desperately.

"Yes."

He tore his gaze away from her and surveyed their surroundings. "We can't . . . we can't do this here."

"I'm not sure we have much choice. Can't exactly go back home. The word 'privacy' has kind of lost all meaning there. There's a crypt over there," she nodded toward a stone mausoleum just a few feet away.

"No. Not this time." Spike wasn't sure he could stomach making love to her on top of an occupied sarcophagus. It just didn't seem right.

"Well, then," she said, taking his hand and walking him back toward the bushes. "I guess we'll have to stay here."

Buffy led him to a secluded spot, well beyond the prying eyes of any passersby. She knelt down on the grass in front of him.

"What are you doing?" he asked, still not sure he was ready for what she had in store.

Buffy smiled slightly and held out her hand to him. "Are you going to join me, or would you rather I . . .?" She smiled wickedly as she swept her gaze suggestively over the growing hardness in his jeans.

"No!" he said emphatically. He wasn't quite ready for that. Not yet. What did the girl want to do? Give poor William a heart attack? Impossible as that was. She had said that she trusted him. Said that she'd take care of him. Now he was going to have to trust her.

Spike took Buffy's hand and knelt down in front of her. Slowly, she lowered herself to the ground, lying on her back, pulling Spike down with her. He came to rest beside her, staring down at her in confusion and awe. "Why are you doing this?" he asked, as he caught a lock of her long blonde hair and watched it play through his fingers.

"Because, I want you. Because I never stopped wanting you."

He looked up at her in surprise. "But . . . surely . . .?"

"I was angry. I admit. And hurt," she said, as she brought a hand up to caress the hollow of his cheek, "but in spite of myself, I never stopped feeling for you. Even when I wanted to. Even when I knew it was wrong. Things have changed Spike. It's all right now. We're both in a very different place. I don't want to waste any more time waiting for things to get better. Because they are better. And with the world ending, this may be the best they ever get. I don't want to wait anymore."

She slipped her hand behind his head and drew him to her for a tender kiss. Spike couldn't believe how soft her lips felt. He didn't remember them being so soft, her body being so warm. He wanted to touch her everywhere all at once, kiss every inch of her heated flesh, but he had to move slowly. Something inside of him was forcing him to hold back, to savor and treasure every last moment with her as if it were his last.

With trembling hands, Spike began to caress her. Breaking away from her mouth, he kissed the hollow of her throat and slowly moved further down, desperately trying to make contact with every last inch of exposed flesh. Without thinking, he slipped his hand beneath the hem of her skirt and rested it on her raised knee. Slowly, he moved his hand up her thigh and began tracing small circles with his thumb just the barest breadth away from the beckoning heat between her legs.

"Spike," she moaned from deep within her throat.

Tentatively, still somehow unsure of himself, he moved his hand that extra inch and touched the moist warmth that was waiting for him. With practiced dexterity, he slipped his fingers beneath her panties and traced his fingers along the wet heat of her opening. Buffy arched into him, pushing the tips of his fingers inside her ever so slightly. She moaned again, and Spike nearly lost himself.

Tearing his mouth away from the valley between her breasts, he pulled back a little and stared down at her. Her eyes were closed and she seemed lost in the ecstasy of feeling his fingers toying with her. For a moment, he felt that old, long-buried pang of embarrassment, of guilt. William was inside of him now, and it was just the nature of his soul to be a bit timid, to feel that such matters were not to be taken lightly, or performed outdoors, or with a woman he hadn't promised himself to. It was bloody, bloody ridiculous. He knew. But still the feeling lingered.

Spike couldn't stop moving his fingers. In spite of his reservations, nothing on earth could pull him away from Buffy, from giving her pleasure. She wanted him. She needed him. And he could never deny her anything.

Watching her closely, Spike slowly slid a finger inside of her. And then another. Buffy bucked her hips upward, desperate to push him deeper. She was writhing beneath him now, gasping and moaning. She wanted her release and he so desperately wanted to give it to her.

Using his thumb to massage her clit, he drove his fingers deeper, pushing her over the edge. He watched in fascination as she came, her body squirming beneath his touch, her breath heavy and panting. Now all he wanted was to be inside of her himself.

Spike withdrew his fingers and gently caressed her exposed thigh, never taking his gaze from her face.

Buffy opened her eyes and stared up at him with glassy eyes. She smiled slightly, as she pulled his face down to hers. "Don't think you're getting out of it that easy, William," she whispered raggedly against his lips. "I'm not done with you yet."

Pulling him closer, she kissed him passionately, and Spike knew she was already beginning to recover. She was the Slayer after all. She could go all night if need be. And that was probably her intention.

Too far gone already, Spike didn't even try to resist her. He kissed her back hungrily, trying to wash away all the pain and wanting of the past year. He'd thought he would never get to touch her again, and now, here they were, ravishing each other, desperately searching for the kind of fulfillment only the other could bring.

Buffy ran her hands down Spike's chest, and with nimble fingers, undid the button and zipper on his jeans. He sucked in a sharp, shocked breath, as she moved her hand inside and began stroking him.

Spike growled. Propriety and William be damned!

Spike lowered his hand under Buffy's skirt again, forcing her to let go of him. Without a moment's thought, he removed her panties and spread her legs apart, positioning himself over her. Their eyes locked for one, fleeting moment, and then Buffy's eyes lazily drifted shut, as Spike slowly pushed inside of her.

The sensation was beyond compare. It had been so long. Spike didn't remember her being quite so hot, or tight, or wet. He tried desperately not to lose himself before bringing her over the edge again.

Slowly he rode her, all the time watching her face. He couldn't believe he was here with her. More than anything he wanted to make her happy. He loved her, and her happiness was all that mattered.

Driven by overwhelming need, Buffy began to quicken the pace, thrusting her hips up, and forcing him to penetrate her more forcefully. Spike groaned and lowered his mouth to her neck. After a few ravenous kisses, he found her mouth and made sweet contact with the heat therein.

Buffy was beginning to tremble. He could feel her tightening around him, drawing him onward to his own climax.

Lost in her passion, she tore her mouth away from his and began calling out his name. "Spike," she cried, as he pushed into her again. "Spike. Spike . . . I love you. Please don't stop . . . please don't. I love you."

Spike nearly did stop. He froze for the briefest moment, too stunned to move. But Buffy moved. In one hard action she thrust her hips forward, finally initiating his own release. Unable to react any other way, his body already trembling, Spike pulled back and thrust inside of her one last time, spilling his dead seed deep within her. Both his body and his mind were wracked. He was beginning to wonder if somewhere along the way he hadn't died - for real - and found his way into an evil hell dimension. Because, no way - even in heaven - would Buffy ever admit that she loved him.

Eventually, Spike was able to pull himself away from her. He lay down on his back beside her and pulled Buffy to him so that her head was resting against his chest. When her breathing finally slowed he asked, "Are you all right, luv?"

"Just fine," she whispered breathily, her eyes still closed.

"You wanna tell me what that was all about?"

"What?" With some effort, she pushed herself up on her elbow to look at him.

"What?" He raised a cynical, scarred eyebrow.

"I told you why I . . ."

"That's not what I'm talking about pet. You wanna tell me why you . . ." He lost his nerve. Pulling his eyes away from her he added, "Said what you said?"

"Said what I . . .? Spike, what are you . . .?" Buffy's face fell. Apparently it had hit her. Skimming her fingers over his chest in soft, lazy circles, she said, "Because it's the truth."

He grabbed her fingers and stopped their movement. "Buffy, you don't have to . . ."

"Yes I do," she said, looking up again to meet his gaze, determination in her eyes. "It's about time that I did. I love you Spike. I'm just sorry it took me this long to tell you. I didn't want it to be true, and I've been able to lie to everyone else about it, at one time or another. Even you. But I can't lie to myself. Not anymore. I love you. And I hope, that even after all this time, you still want me."

Spike nearly choked. "Want you?" he asked dumbfounded. "Oh God Buffy, you're all I've ever wanted. How could you even doubt . . .?"

"Things change."

"Not that. Never that."

"Do you love me Spike?" she asked, as she gazed down into his crystal blue eyes.

"Yes. Oh God, yes Buffy. I love you. Don't ever doubt that."

"Then show me again," she said, moving a little closer, bringing her mouth down to hover just above his.

"You think I'm some sort of superhero, do you luv? Give a bloke a minute to recover, all right?"

"Are you sure you need it?" she asked, as she slid her hand down his abdomen and absently stroked the smooth planes of his stomach.

Spike could feel himself begin to harden instantly. "You're a saucy one, aren't you?" he said, in his best William-inspired voice.

Buffy smiled down at him. "You know what I think?"

"What's that luv?"

"I think it's not fair. William's been around for more than a hundred and forty years and is only now getting to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. Do you think we should teach him a thing or two?"

"Oh, I think he's learned a great deal already," Spike said, a devilish smirk crossing his lips. "Thanks to you. Just be gentle with me, okay pet?"

"Of course Spike. Have I ever been anything but?"

A soft growl rumbled in the back of Spike's throat. Before he could say anything, Buffy brought her lips down to meet his, and silenced him with a searing kiss.

Apparently William would be learning a lot from Buffy tonight.

END