Chapter Twenty-six

True to his word, Spike spent the entire night awake, listening to Buffy's breathing and her even, regular heartbeats. His nose told him there'd been no more bleeding from the scrape across her scalp, and by morning he felt comfortable closing his own eyes and drifting off to sleep.

Sleep which didn't last long as he woke up to Buffy's whimpers coming from the bathroom. He leapt out of bed and ran to the open door.

"What's wrong, love? Do you need to go back to hospi—" He broke off when she turned around and waved the bandage at him.

"Look at me! Did they have to shave half my head for this?"

"This" being the large hairless spot on the right side of her head surrounding what he had to admit was a fairly small and already healing wound.

Smothering the urge to laugh, he said soothingly, "In all fairness to them, love, they had no way of knowing you were going to heal up so quickly. I'm sure they felt it was safest to keep any hair away from the open wound until it had a chance to close up."

"It is closed," she pouted. "And I'm bald!"

"You're not bald, Buffy. In another day or so you'll be able to comb your hair right over that and on one will ever notice it." He turned away, thinking he could get a little more sleep.

"Where are you going?"

"Back to bed. I got up because I thought something was wrong. It isn't, so I'm going to try to get some more kip before I have to face the day." He continued his way to the bed and fell face down on it, putting a pillow over his head.

"I'm going to take a shower…." When there was no response, she huffed and slammed the bathroom door. Even with the door shut, she could hear his growl and she smiled to herself as she turned the water on.


To her surprise, when she emerged from the bathroom, wet hair combed as best she could without touching the still tender and delicate wound, he was sound asleep and as still as the corpse that she knew he was but never allowed herself to think about. She understood he had probably stayed awake all night watching over her, which made her feel guilty about waking him, so she crept around quietly to get dressed. When she went out to the kitchen to have some breakfast, she pulled the bedroom door closed behind her. She knew it wouldn't really keep him from hearing anything, any more than would the pillow he had over his head, but it made her feel a little better about having interrupted his sleep.

She'd promised her mother a visit, but one look in the mirror near the door changed her mind about that.

"I'll give it a couple more days," she muttered as she studied the still-healing, but by no means disappearing wound. "You'd think slayer healing would include things like faster-growing hair."

"If it did, you'd be shaving your legs twice a day," Spike growled as he walked naked to the refrigerator.

"I thought you were asleep!"

"I was, but somebody was walking around talking to herself out here." He put his blood in the microwave and sat on a stool to wait for it.

"Um… you know you're naked, right?"

"I can't be naked in my own kitchen?"

"Considering that the kitchen and the front door are kinda in the same room…."

Buffy's phone rang, interrupted her scolding.

"Hi Tara. What's up?"

"Oh, yeah, sure. Just come on down. We're both awake…. 'K, see ya in a few minutes."

She turned to look at Spike. "You sure you want to stay here like that?"

"Tara won't care."

"I'm pretty sure she will… and I care! Go put some clothes on! She's coming down to say good-bye before she leaves for New Zealand."

"Bet she won't care," he muttered, even as he went into the bedroom to put on jeans and a shirt.

By the time Tara knocked on the door, he was already dressed and seated at the counter again and drinking his breakfast.

Buffy opened the still-locked door and smiled to see both Tara and Max.

"So, today's the day? I thought you had till the end of the week?"

"I was able to get an earlier flight, and it just seemed like a good idea to leave now…."

Tara looked briefly unhappy and smiled sadly. "Willow isn't taking it well, and I'd rather not spend my last few days here arguing about it. I do love her, but I think the time apart is going to be good for both of us."

Buffy nodded her reluctant agreement, then raised an eyebrow at Max. "Are you going with her?"

"I'm just accompanying her to the airport," he replied. "I had thought about joining her on the trip, but I don't like to be gone from the building that long. I've become quite the hermit in my old age."

No one mentioned that they had no idea what that age actually was, and Max smiled at them in appreciation of their lack of nosiness.

Buffy and Tara hugged tightly, while Spike wished her a safe trip. He tried not to look pleased when she hugged him too, but Buffy wasn't fooled and she and Max exchanged smiles. With much waving and "safe trip" and "call when you get there" they watched from the doorway as Max and Tara helped the driver load her luggage into a cab.

Spike kept his arms around Buffy, pulling her against his chest as they watched the cab pull away.

"So, what's the plan for today, love?"

"I thought your plan was to sleep," she said, leaning against him and tilting her head back to meet his gaze.

"Still might be. I was just a mite hungry. If you don't need me for anything, I'll probably try to catch some more kip."

"Go ahead. I'm not going to see Mom until my head looks better, but I think we need some groceries, and you need more blood, so I'll go run some errands. I'll have my phone with me if you need me for something."

They stepped back into the apartment and closed the door. Spike went back to his blood, making a face at how much it had cooled off, and Buffy picked up her phone and purse. They exchanged a quick kiss while the blood was rewarming in the microwave, and then Buffy went out the door.


She decided to swing by the Magic Box before buying perishable food, and was surprised to find Winston already there with Giles. Buffy glanced around.

"Where's Anya?"

"It appears that she and Xander are having that important conversation about whether or not they're ready to marry, and it seems to be an ongoing discussion. She may be in later if they have resolved their issues." Giles's expression indicated he felt that was unlikely.

Winston said to Buffy, "What, exactly, happened in your time?"

Buffy shrugged. "Well, Xander did that spell that brought Sweet to Sunnydale, and I guess he and Anya sang about their doubts then, but they went on with the wedding plans anyway." Buffy looked embarrassed. "Honestly? After Sweet's visit… well that's when Spike and I started our… whatever it was. And I don't think I was paying much attention to anyone else except Spike and the Nerds. Oh, and Willow. Cause that's when she started seeing Rack…"

"Speaking of Willow…." Giles turned his gaze to Winston.

"Ah, yes. Well, I've been talking to some people, both here and in England, and we think the coven over there would be best for her. They have people who are very good at teaching young witches how to channel grief and anger constructively and without endangering others."

"And you think they'll be able to handle her?"

Winston gave a twisted smile. "The coven leader is an old friend. She is more than capable of handling Willow. Perhaps not as easily as I do, but more safely. Should anything go wrong, the coven as a group is also capable of binding Willow's power. Not something anyone wants to do," he added hastily when Buffy began to frown. "It would only be a last resort if she lost control and they feared she would hurt someone. It's very unlikely to happen."

Still looking dubious, Buffy asked, "When is she going to do this?"

"Not until Willow's classes are over for this term. It will be a while. She'll have exams to take, and will need a passport and so on. I'm planning to accompany her there, actually. There are friends I wish to see."

"You're coming back, aren't you?" Buffy stared at him in dismay, suddenly realizing how dependent they had all become on his magical assistance in important situations.

"Oh yes. I'll be back. Long before we have to worry about the First Evil making an attempt to emerge."

"An attempt we hope we've thwarted," Giles pointed out.

"If we haven't, we'll be ready for him this time," Buffy said, her cold expression causing both men to blink.

"Quite," Giles agreed, flinching at the reminder that this Buffy had already defeated the First Evil once, but at tremendous loss of life and livelihood for the town in which they all lived.

"I hope we can do it without that damn amulet. I'm not letting Spike burn up from the inside this time!"

Giles nodded. "Ah yes, the amulet Angel got from Wolfram and Hart. Well, we don't know if Angel will even end up with it this time, do we? So much has changed…"

He frowned and sighed. "It's only fair to tell you, I've spoken to Wesley and took the liberty of telling him that the three humans threatening us had been… taken care of." He appeared thoughtful. "Although he didn't go into detail, it appears that they may be having difficulties of their own… some involving Angel and his soul."

"Angel lost his soul again?" Buffy sat up abruptly. "Do they need me?"

Giles shook his head. "He seems to think they have the situation under control. He did tell me that Faith is there, so they have a slayer if one is needed. He has promised that once the situation has been resolved, he will come to Sunnydale and fill us all in on anything he thinks we need to know."

"If Angel isn't Angelus, then he must be behaving like a real jerk to cause that much trouble…." Buffy frowned her concern about what was going on in LA.

"It all seemed very complicated and he didn't want to spend a lot of time talking about it. All we can do is trust him to keep us somewhat in the loop. You did make it clear you didn't want to see or hear from Angel, so I suppose Wesley is trying to spare you having to make the trip."

"Well, okay. As long as he knows I'm willing to come if they need me."

"If and when I speak to him again, I'll be sure to tell him," Giles said. "In the meantime, it sounds as if we can relax a bit for a while."

"Thanks, Giles. You probably just jinxed me for the rest of the year…." Buffy glared at him, and he had the grace to look ashamed.

"Indeed," he said, glaring at Winston who was snickering. "My apologies. But in all honesty, unless there's more you haven't told us, it would seem that we've already seen and responded to the worst of it."

Buffy tried to keep her expression blank as she replied. "Yeah, I guess we have." Memories of beating on Spike, his 'date' at the wedding that made her heart ache to see—even though she'd known it was just to make her jealous—his attempt to convince her she loved him by trying to have sex with her on the bathroom floor all flew through her mind. When she noticed how hard they were watching her, she sighed.

"Nothing you guys need to know about. There was lots of Spike and me stuff—some good, mostly bad—but we got through it. I mean, he did go get his soul back from some demon in Africa, but he did that when it was almost summer. We didn't see him again until after Dawn started school in the fall."

When they continued to stare at her with blatant curiosity, she added, "And that's all you need to know about it."

With obvious reluctance, Giles stop looking expectant. "Quite. You're entitled to your privacy about your personal life. I didn't mean to pry, I'm just not a fan of surprises."

Buffy nodded. "Neither am I. I hope Xander and Anya have a good talk and can make the right decision about this wedding she wants to have. I mean, I know what to expect, and Spike will be there to help, so the demon that made Xander change his mind just before the wedding ceremony isn't going to get near him this time. But just in case, it would be a lot better if they put it off."

"Are they not together in your time, then?" Giles asked.

Buffy took a deep breath. "They were working their way back together the whole next year, but…."

"How did Anya take having the wedding cancelled?" Winston asked with, it seemed to Buffy and Giles, more than idle curiosity.

Buffy stared at him in surprise, remembering that in his time, things had probably gone much the same way.

"In my time, she went back to being a vengeance demon," Buffy said. "Didn't she do that in yours?"

"I presume so. I wasn't here for the wedding… or lack of wedding if I'm understanding you correctly? And when I was here, it was after Tara was killed and my focus was on Willow."

"She became a vengeance demon again? What was she thinking?" Giles made no attempt to hide his shock.

"Spike said it's easier being a demon than it is being human. A human man had just broken her heart in front of all her friends and relatives, so when D'Hoffren offered to give her old job back, she took it."

At Giles look of horror, Buffy hastened to add. "It didn't work out very well for her. She'd been one of us long enough to relate to humans better, and when she worked a vengeance for a girl who didn't mean she wanted hearts actually ripped out, she relented and undid the vengeance."

Winston frowned. "That can't have gone over well with her boss."

"No, it didn't. But to punish her, instead of killing her—or letting me kill her, 'cause I was already there with my sword—he killed her best friend, Halfrek. It wasn't a great time… for any of us."

"And then the First began to rise."

"And then the First began to rise. Fun all around." Buffy's twisted mouth indicated exactly how not fun it had been.

"You say they were working their way back together…. But she's not around in my timeline. Not with Xander, anyway."

"No, she's not around anymore." Buffy sighed and avoided looking at Giles. "She got killed during the fight in the Hellmouth. Andrew saw it happen, but we couldn't go back for her body—"

"Andrew saw it?"

Buffy sighed again. "Yeah, I don't know how any of that's going to shake out next year, cause this time he's still going to be in jail." She waved her hand around. "It's Andrew. He's an idiot. Somehow he went from being all evil and controlled by the First to just being an annoying guy to have around."

"Oh my God, poor Anya!" Giles looked so concerned that Buffy patted his hand as she reminded him, "But none of that stuff's going to happen this time, remember? If she and Xander don't put off the wedding, Spike and I are going to tell him what he did in our time and make him stick to any decision he makes. Plus, like I said, we'll be there to intercept the demon that messed it up."

"And with luck, there will be no battle in the Hellmouth in which she could be killed," Winston said firmly.

"That's kinda the whole point of this little time-travel adventure, isn't it? In my time and in your time. Next year is going to be really different. Even Spike and I won't know what to expect, because we don't know how hard the First is going to try, or if it even can, now that the balance isn't as off as it was when I died and came back."

"I think we can rest assured it will try…. the question is, what form will the trying take?"

Buffy glanced at Giles. "If we learn of any potentials that go missing, or are killed… that would be a sign. I don't think we picked up on that soon enough in our time. The Council needs to know so they can tell all the watchers to protect their girls!"

Giles and Winston exchanged glances. "And yet, we must be careful not to appear too sure of what will happen to them. We've come this far without alerting them to your unique situation, I'm not comfortable with suddenly telling the Council that you and Spike are time travellers…."

"I agree, Winston said. "When I left my time line, there was no knowledge of any time travelling except for what you were sent off to do shortly before I was. Although, I did know to expect Spike… so that much had changed…."

"I'll let you two worry about the Council, all I want to know is when and how will it raise the Turok-Han." She stood up. "You know what? I think I need to get my groceries and go home to my… husband. Giles, you can look up Turok-Han in one of your books."


Buffy entered the apartment as quietly as she could, putting the things that needed to be kept cold in the refrigerator, then creeping toward the open bedroom door. She peered in to find Spike lying in bed, staring at her in amusement.

"You know," he said, putting his arms behind his head and flexing his biceps. "You'd think a slayer of all people, especially one living with a vampire, would remember that I can hear things you can't, including your heartbeat. You can't sneak up on me."

"I wasn't trying to sneak up on you," she said with a huffy sniff. "I just didn't want to wake you up if you were still sleeping."

"I'm not," he said. "I'm awake. All of me is awake."

"So I see." She giggled at the tent growing under the sheet. She began to remove her own clothes, kicking her sneakers across the room and tossing her jeans at his head. He batted them away so he could continue watching her strip for him. When she'd sling-shot her bra and panties at him, he sat up and growled.

"C'mere you."

Buffy's response was to leave the floor and jump toward him, with no thought that he wouldn't catch her. Which he did, grasping her waist and gently lowering her against his body.

"There she is," he murmured, as she wrapped her legs around him. Using just his feet, he managed to push the sheet down so that there was no barrier between them. Buffy raised herself up just enough to slide against his cock, spreading her moisture on it and teasing herself with every slide past her clit.

"Not sure which one of us you're trying to drive crazy with this, Slayer, but as much fun as it is…." He stilled her hips on the next slide up and lifted her just enough to put his cock where he wanted it to go. Buffy settled down against him with a happy sigh.

"This is where I belong," she whispered, keeping her face buried in his shoulder.

"That it is, my love. Want you here forever. Or as close to that as we're allowed," he added, common sense overruling his need to make a romantic declaration. He began to suck on his mark on her neck, at the same time as his hips began to move against her.

Buffy hummed her approval and tilted her head to give him better access, while falling into the rhythm he established. She used her internal muscles to squeeze him, bringing about a faster rhythm and a growl. She felt the prick of his fangs against her throat, as well as the subtle change in the size and angle of his cock. Her humming changed to whimpers as she quickly approached what she hoped was going to be her first orgasm of the afternoon. The first hard pull of her blood sent her over the edge and into a repeating cycle of sensation as she clutched him with every muscle in her body.

I love you.

You are mine!

As he released her throat, she bit down hard on the small scar on his neck, adding her thoughts to his.

I am yours, and you are mine!

Never doubt it, love. I belong to you eternally.

As they both stopped trembling, Spike fell backwards and they rolled to one side so as to be facing each other. He pushed a sweaty tendril of hair off her face and smiled at her.

"Now that's what I call an Afternoon Delight."

She smiled back and snuggled into him. "I have an idea," she said, almost shyly.

"Which is?"

"You know how most everybody thinks we're married on account of that's what we said when we rented the apartment? And you know how our mutual claim means we're more married than most married people?"

"I do…. Where are you going with this?"

"What if we really did get married? I mean like regular human people do? Just because Xander and Anya might not get married this year doesn't mean we can't."

He cocked his head to one side and began to smile, then released her and slid off the bed to kneel beside it. He took her hand in his and kissed it before saying, "Buffy Anne Summers, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

"Why William Pratt. I thought you'd never ask! Of course I will!"


(of this story. To be continued in Part 4 of I Would Still Have Loved You, title TBA when it has one and when I've actually written that story.)