"Golden Bands to Bind Them" (Veers off in the middle of "Something Blue," taking things a step further between Buffy and Spike. Light fluff, but with plenty of humor.)

Buffy nestled in the rough sheets of the cheap motel where she and her new husband were spending their wedding night. Her head was cradled on his chest, tucked just under his chin, where she could feel the vibrations of his voice tickling her ear. Strong arms held her tight and secure. Their left hands twined together as they admired the metallic glint of their wedding bands.

She wondered idly how he had managed to secure the rings on such short notice, but shrugged off the thought remembering instead how sweetly he had presented them to her. He had declared that they would be joined for all eternity, not just in the eyes of the law of the state of Nevada. And his piercing blue gaze had compelled her to believe his words. The tacky Chapel 'o' Love, the bored minister and yawning witness melted away and all she could see was her own reflection in her beloved's eyes. As he spoke the ancient binding words that declared she was his, "With this ring, I thee wed," and slipped the gold circlet on her finger, Buffy felt such a rush of joy she thought she would burst from it. Tears slipped down her cheeks as she returned the words and the action. Her only regret was that her mother wasn't there to witness the ceremony, but it had all come about so suddenly.....it had seemed like the most natural thing in the world to jump in the Desoto and go roaring through the night toward Las Vegas and their bright future together.

Then he kissed her. The intensity of his passion was almost frightening. He fed at her lips like a newly risen fledgling seeking blood. For a moment Buffy thought he might throw her down and have her right there on the worn red carpet of the chapel. What astounded her more was that she was grabbing his ass and pulling him tighter to her, grinding into his groin until he moaned deep in his throat.

"Spike!" she finally gasped, unsuctioning her mouth. "Motel. Now."

"Yeah," he replied breathlessly. They flew down the aisle and out onto the street, where the neon blazed bright as day and the crowds were as numerous as if it were two in the afternoon instead of two in the morning. Conveniently placed next door to the chapel was a tiny motel. Buffy would've loved to have her wedding night at one of the luxurious casino hotels in the city, but understood her new husband was a man of limited means and so was content with what he could afford.

They checked in, Spike signing their names with an unsteady hand as she massaged his thigh under cover of the counter. He took the key from the clerk without looking, already turned back to his bride, covering her throat with kisses. They stumbled from the front desk, down the hall to their room and almost broke the door hinges slamming into it. Spike threw her across the bed and stripped off his shirt in one quick motion. Then he was on her.

Cue music. Insert romantic interlude here.

Now, three hours later, they lay entangled and replete, murmuring soft endearments and promises for the future, as their hands slid together and apart, playing little finger games.

Buffy was soothed by the low rumble in her ear of Spike repeating for the hundredth time that evening, "You are my world now. I love you so m......." Their joined hands froze. A shudder of something like electricity passed through them, as somewhere in Sunnydale Willow completed her words, "Let this harmful spell be broken!"


"Oh my god!" Buffy moaned, reality crashing in on her. She pulled her hand away so fast she almost snapped Spike's fingers off.

"What the hell?" Spike's cry overlapped. He jerked his arm out from under her neck and her hair tangled around it pulling her head to the side with a sharp jerk. The vampire clambered clumsily backward off the bed, dragging the sheets that were twisted around his body with him. Buffy was left naked and exposed. She sat up and began frantically pulling the covers back toward her, repeating the frenzied refrain, "ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!!!" Spike continued fighting the sheets that bound his legs, his arms pinwheeling as he struggled against gravity.

"Bloody...FUCK!" he cried, as his head cracked against the nightstand on his way to the floor. With a mighty tug, Buffy tore the sheet away from him and scrambled to cover her nudity. Spike was left stunned and naked on the cold floor, staring up at the mirror- studded ceiling and wondering how a nightmare could have such tactile reality. He closed his eyes and waited for it to be over.

Instead he felt a rain of stinging blows from a soft pillow, each blow punctuated by an angry scream, "What. The Hell. Have. You. Done. To. Me?!!!" His eyes flew open and he scrambled out from under the assault.

"Me?!" he roared. "I was minding my own business. Just trying to get away from you lot and suddenly this....this....THIS happens. I didn't DO anything!" He grabbed the bedpost and hauled himself to his feet.

"Oh my GOD! Cover yourself!" Buffy shrieked, burying her face in the pillow. Spike spun around in the darkened room looking for his clothes, spied his duster lying in a crumpled heap near the door and trotted over to toss it on. Buffy removed the pillow from her face, eyes wide and staring. "Magic! That's what it is," she muttered. "Yeah. Like the time Xander was a hyena."

"What?" Spike turned around with one sock flopping from his hand and his long coat gaping open over various bone-white body parts. "Hyena?"

"Yes. We were possessed," Buffy continued excitedly. "That's the only reasonable explanation." She snapped her fingers. "Or like that time the demon blood got on me and I could hear people think. I've been infected!" She looked up. Saw Spike. Shuddered and looked away. "That explains me, but what about you?" A light went off in her head and she glared at the vamp, who was now struggling with his pants. "You! You took advantage of me in my sickness, you pervert!"

"You're off your nut!" Spike's face twisted in a grimace of disgust. "As if I'd ever touch you without being under a spell of some kind." His eyes opened wide as his own GE electric lit up. "Oh-ho! That's it!" He stopped with one leg in his jeans and the rest of him hanging out and pointed a finger at Buffy. "Your little witchy friend. She's gone and bollixed up some wiccafest no doubt."

"Puh-leeze." Buffy wrapped the sheet even tighter around her chest, as she hopped off the bed and began scanning the floor for discarded clothes. "Willow would never....I mean, she's never messed with magic she couldn't control....." Her voice trailed off. "It just doesn't.....I mean, it doesn't even make sense! Why would she want you and me to....you know."

"Thus the phrase 'bollixed up'." Spike was beginning to sound less stunned and more infuriated as he gathered steam. "Go ahead. Call her. See what she's got to say about it."

Buffy glanced at the phone that was chained to the little table by the bed. "Gotta get a cell phone," she thought as she reached for the grimy receiver. She hesitated, wondering how she was going to phrase the question.

"Go on!" Spike urged, pulling his boots on and beginning to lace them up. "I want to know who to blame for this so I can pull out their entrails and string'em up."

Buffy rolled her eyes at the empty threat, grabbed the phone and began to dial. No one at the dorm room. Must mean everyone was at command central - Giles' house. She dialed again.

"Buffy! Buffy are you all right?" Giles' comfortingly familiar voice was like a swift dose of sanity. "Where are you? Were you successful in recapturing Spike? Does...Has anything....unusual happened?"

"I don't know, Giles. Some pretty....," Buffy looked over at Spike, who had shed his coat and was now pulling on his Tshirt, "...weird things went down. But I'm okay."

"You, too?" Giles sighed. "What was it? Deafness? Boils? Willow was apparently toying with a spell that went awry and caused.....several unfortunate side effects."

"Uh, none of the above. Something much worse, actually. But, what happened to you?" Buffy asked with concern.

"Blind as a bat," he replied succinctly. "And poor Xander was beset by demons. Evidently Willow was successful with her reversal spell since I'm able to see again. I don't know what has befallen the others. All I can do is wait for their return."

"Poor Willow." Buffy moaned. "I mean, I know she's been really upset over Oz' leaving, but she....she messed up big this time."

"Buffy?" Giles' voice was grave. "What has she done? Where ARE you?"

"Wouldya believe....Las Vegas?"


"Yes. Seems Spike and I eloped when we realized neither you nor my mother would support our marriage," she said dryly.

Utter silence came down the telephone line.

"It seemed like the right thing to do at the time," she added.

"Oh, Buffy."

"No big. Don't worry about it. The important thing is whether the others are okay." She paused. "Look, Giles, we'll start back right now and check in from a pay phone when we get halfway. Just hold tight, okay?"

"Buffy, are you all right?" Giles insisted.

"Yes. All good. Nothing really happened." Spike snorted and shook his head. "And it's all over now, so.... I, uh, I have to go. See you soon." Buffy hung up quickly before the tears that threatened to choke her came spilling out.

Buffy could feel Spike opening his mouth and held up a hand. "Save your 'I told you so'. If you say it right now, I'll punch you through the wall."

He closed his mouth with a snap and yanked his coat back on. "So....ready to go, Slayer? Night's awasting."

She glanced at the window and saw it was indeed lightening toward dawn. Buffy gathered up her scattered clothes and headed toward the bathroom. She stopped in the doorway and turned to her 'groom'.

"Spike, if you take off while I'm in there dressing, I swear to God I'll track you down to the ends of the earth no matter how long it takes and kill you twice as dead as you are now." She slammed the bathroom door behind her.

*********** When she reemerged, feeling a little fresher and cleaner and, at least, shielded by clothing, Buffy found her companion of the night tugging furiously at the ring on his finger and muttering curses. It reminded her of her own gold band and the girl reached down to slip it off her hand before Spike noticed she was still wearing it. She pulled. Stuck! Pulled again. It wouldn't move even as far as her knuckle.

Buffy put her finger in her mouth and wet it with saliva. She gave another pull....and the ring never budged. It was as if it were welded to her skin.

"Spi-ike!" her voice rose warningly, and he glanced up. "Where did you get these rings?"

Spike didn't answer, only swallowed hard, and went back to his fruitless ring-tugging.

"Where, Spike?" Buffy demanded. "What the hell is wrong with them?"

"Stupid. Bloody...." he pushed past her into the bathroom, and she followed him. He silently coated his finger in soap then handed her the bar. They lathered, rinsed and repeated until their hands were red, but the rings were not moving.

"Fuck me," Spike groaned in frustration as the soap shot out of his hand and went zinging across the bathroom into the shower. "These buggers are NOT coming off. Not today. Not ever."

"What have you done?" Buffy was beginning to panic as she scrubbed furiously at her hand.

"Remember? I told you! Told you it was for eternity. Bought these from my friend, Clem. He runs a kind of pawnshop - for demons. The rings are crafted by H'rassee. They mate for life. Take the bond real serious and make rings that are a symbol of their commitment. Once on - never off. Never. You understand, Slayer?"

Buffy gazed at the ring in horror. "My mom is gonna kill me," she said faintly. Then she turned her eyes up to fix Spike with a baleful glare. "What were you thinking?" she hissed.

"Seemed real romantic at the time, didn't it?" he explained. "Don't blame me. It's that stupid, red-haired twit's fault! Whyn't you punch her in the nose for a change?"

"Arrgh!" Buffy roared out her frustration, wiped her hands on a towel, and grabbed Spike by the collar of his coat. "Forget it. We'll deal with this when we get back to Sunnydale. Let's go." She manhandled him through the door and soon the happy newlyweds were in the Desoto headed back toward home, no tin cans on strings trailing behind them.
********* An hour into the drive, the sun streaming through the chinks in the blackened windows and blistering his skin became too much for Spike. He turned the wheel over to Buffy, despite her protests that she couldn't drive his big boat of a car, and burrowed under the blanket in the back seat, tendrils of smoke curling off of him. For just a moment the Slayer entertained the idea of pulling over and yanking him out of the car into the desert sun. It would certainly take care of his bitching and moaning over the immovable ring!

She glanced down at her left hand gripping the steering wheel and was transfixed by the sight of the gold band winking on her ring finger. Images and sense memories from the wedding night began to drift through her mind. After the initial onslaught of sex-crazed Spike and Buffy lust had culminated in mind-blowing orgasms for both, the edge had been taken off their hunger. They had relaxed into an easier rhythm, slow and sweet, graced with many endearments and proclamations of love.

Who would have guessed, Buffy thought, that Spike's skin could be so very soft and smooth over those hard, lean muscles. Her mind played with that concept for awhile, making a chant like the Bud Lite commercial, "Soft skin! Hard muscle!" Then she smiled, recalling the ticklish spot she'd discovered right in the hollow of his throat. One dip of her tongue in there and he was wriggling like.....oh my god. The smile erased. What the hell was she doing? Reminiscing about her night with.....Spike?!

She glanced over her shoulder at the blanket-covered mound, almost afraid he could see her thoughts. And considering how close they had been last night, she wouldn't be surprised if he could. There had been moments of such unity, as they talked quietly together after the sexapalooza, that it seemed words were superfluous. They had completed each other's thoughts and shared the most intimate secrets about themselves. Buffy had told him things about her fears and self-doubt that she had never shared with anyone, including herself, before.

And Spike had understood. Had totally understood. He had admitted, if not in words, how much of his swaggering bravado was a calculated act, a hard candy personna built to protect his mushy caramel center. Or maybe not candy. Maybe more like a Gusher. Buffy suddenly remembered other things that had burst in her mouth with a satisfying gush and began blushing furiously. Oh, this was not good. He knew too much about her now. He knew her weaknesses. She was as good as dead.

In the back seat, Spike shifted uncomfortably beneath his ragged blanket. He was, of course, not asleep. He doubted he'd ever sleep again, because now he knew that he was in the Slayer's power. She could be plotting anything up there. Mulling god knows how many evil plans in her shifty little brain. And it wouldn't be so simple as a staking now, oh no. Slayer didn't kill helpless little creatures. Instead she would extract her vengeance in the most humiliatingly public way possible. He didn't know how and he didn't know where, but he knew he'd given her the ammunition to hurt him badly.

He cringed and twisted around as memories of his deplorable behavior from the previous night played in his mind. Not the sex. That had been fucking brilliant. Slayer had knocked him for a loop with her sheer enthusiasm and willingness to try anything. God, the heat of her! A couple of times he'd been sure he would combust from it.

No, it was the bits around the sex that lodged in his brain and sent out evil tendrils, like a cancer; the flirting and teasing and hand-holding in the car on the way to Vegas, the tender declamations of love, trust and fidelity at the wedding ceremony, and the shared confidences and lovers' daydreams as they cuddled in bed together later. Cuddled! Yes, cuddled. It was enough to make him lose his lunch, if he'd had any in him to begin with. As if on cue, his stomach began to rumble, adding to his misery.

The worst of it was the power he had unwittingly placed in her deadly little hands. She knew all about him now. Knew his weaknesses and secret dreams. The best thing he could do would be to get far away from Sunnydale as soon as possible. Right after he'd paid back the little Wicked Witch AND found a way to get this sodding! damn! buggering! ring off his finger. He continued to tug compulsively at the offensive object.

"Spike! I can hear you squirming around back there. I know you're not asleep," the Slayer's sharp tone halted his movements. "Before we get back home, we need to get our story straight, so sit up and talk to me."

"What, Slayer? What story? There's nothing to tell," Spike's blanket draped head bobbed up. Buffy couldn't see it in her rearview, but a quick peek over her shoulder let her know she had his attention. "Little Witch did her spell - whatever the hell THAT was about. We found ourselves getting married at the Chapel 'o' Love and we headed back to Sunnydale. That's ALL that happened."

"Right," Buffy agreed. "Keep it simple." She paused, considering. "But how do we account for all the hours we....."

"Casino. Thought we'd make a little nest egg to pay for the down payment on our, uh, house. Lost it all."

"Okay." She nodded. "Good. There's nothing else to discuss then."

"Nothing at all," Spike agreed. He flopped back down on the seat.

"Good," Buffy repeated, faintly. "Good."

********* Spike woke from a light doze when they pulled over at a gas station just off the highway. Since it was a bright mid-morning in the desert, he couldn't get out so he had to beg the Slayer to buy smokes for him.

"Sure. When pigs fly. I'm not inhaling your second hand smoke all the way back to Sunnydale. Besides, we only have enough money for gas and maybe a pack of Ho-Hos or Twinkies, and I'm starving."

"Oh, very nice. And you'll just leave me to starve," Spike whined.

Buffy snorted and got out of the car. He heard her messing with the gas pump as he fished in his jeans for spare change. Jackpot! A crumpled $5 was extricated from the bottom of his pocket. Spike decided to make the mad dash to the building for cigarettes. Not only were his nerves shot and in need of a nicotine boost, but it would be worth it just to annoy the Slayer the rest of the way back to Sunnydale. He made sure his coat was buttoned, wrapped the blanket around each fist, pulled it over his head, and plunged out into the sun, almost knocking Buffy over as he barreled past.

Entering the relative coolness of the store, Spike tossed the smoking blanket down by the gum machine and tried to look casual, straightening his coat and running a hand through his hair, as the clerk stared open-mouthed. The vampire strolled to the back of the store and perused the stock of beer in the cooler.

A few minutes later Buffy entered, went straight for the Hostess display and began pawing through the sugary goodies. Spike watched her shapely ass for a second, wondering how she managed to keep her hot body in shape the way she ate, while his hands, almost absently, slipped a couple of cans into his inside coat pocket. He wandered up the snack aisle, picking up boxes and reading the ingredients, while Buffy chose a cellophane wrapped pair of Snowballs, paid for them and the gas, then turned her attention to trying on sunglasses from the revolving case near the register.

The bored clerk leaned against the counter and started flirting with Buffy, giving his opinion of each pair she modeled. As she smiled and joked with the man, Spike felt the hairs on the back of his neck begin to rise and an almost inaudible growl began to rumble through him. His eyes flickered yellow and that dull ache deep inside his skull started up, but he shook it off and strode toward the checkout.

"Pack of Marlboros," he snapped. The guy dragged his eyes away from Buffy long enough to snag the cigarettes and drop them on the counter. Spike pulled out his crumpled bill. Buffy's eyes, behind a pair of rose-tinted cat-eye glasses, widened when she saw it.

"You are so not buying those! We could get a pair of burritos with that."

"I don't eat burritos," Spike drawled, staring at the clerk who was hesitating with his hand poised over the money.

"Well, I do, and I'm starving!" Buffy all but pouted and stamped her foot.

Spike ignored her and continued to gaze at the clerk, who continued to wait for him to break down and give the little lady what she wanted. When it became clear Spike wasn't budging, the clerk shook his head and sighed. He picked up the bill, looking over at Buffy.

"Hey, sweetheart, you go on ahead and get yourself a couple of burritos....on me." He smiled at her and Spike felt the ache in his head increase as he fought the impulse to lunge across the counter and rip the man's throat out. What the hell was wrong with him?

"Really?" Buffy asked. "Well...thanks." She put the glasses back and walked over to microwave herself some breakfast. The clerk completed Spike's purchase, shaking his head and frowning. A muscle in the vampire's jaw twitched as he clenched it, but he took the change slapped it down on the counter without a word, wrapped his blanket around his upper body, and hurtled out the door and back to the car.

Safe inside once more, he threw off the blanket and sat there quivering with rage. Again, what the HELL was wrong with him? What did he care if the Slayer flirted with someone or charmed him into giving her free food? Why was his demon hovering on the verge of bursting forth? And why was some deep inner voice clamoring, 'MY woman! Mine! Mine! MINE!" He looked at the glowing golden band on his finger and started clawing at it again, trying to pry it off.

After a minute of fruitless struggle, he gave up, opened his new pack of cigarettes and shook one out. He'd better light up and smoke as much of it as he could before Buffy came back and took it away from him.

*********** Buffy opened the driver's side door without a thought for the stream of sunshine she allowed to flood into the back seat. Spike howled as a beam hit him full in the face and he had to dive for cover, dropping his cigarette on the floor as he went.

"Sorry," she said through a mouthful of burrito, closing the door hurriedly. "My bad."

"Bitch," he muttered, retrieving the fag and replacing it in his mouth. He sat up, slouching down in one corner of the seat and glaring at her reflection in the rearview mirror. Times like these he loved the fact that he had no image. He could glower at her to his heart's content and if his gaze lingered a little too long on her grease glistening lips and her pink tongue darting out to lick a dollop of burrito filling from the corner of her mouth, no one need know but himself. He watched her chew and swallow for a moment, then sighed and reached into his coat for the beer he'd stolen.

Buffy's head snapped around at the sound of the can opening.

"What have you got back there?" she asked, suspiciously.

Spike didn't answer, just chugged about half the can in one swallow.

"Beer? Hey, you stole that!"

His lips quirked at her outraged tone. It would've been adorable if it wasn't so sickening. Just who did she think she was dealing with? Big Bad here after all, even if he couldn't bite anyone or control minions or basically do anything vampires are supposed to do. He finished the can in another gulp. Wasn't blood, but it filled the empty space a little. He pulled out the second can and popped the top.

Buffy licked those shiny lips again and Spike's bits 'n' pieces stiffened to attention.

"Um....I forgot to get anything to drink...."

"Too bad. 'Sides, you're driving."

"Well, one little sip is hardly....Look. I'll give you a Snowball for one drink. I'm really thirsty."

He snorted, but sat up and handed her the icy can. She took it, almost dropped it when their fingers accidentally touched and she tried to pull away too quickly, and sipped delicately. He was surprised she didn't wipe his spit off the edge before she took a drink. She made a little face at the taste, then handed the can back.

"Thanks," she said politely.

"You're welcome." Spike was horrified to hear himself reply, helpless against his childhood training in good manners.

Next, the Slayer began fumbling one-handed to remove the cellophane wrap from her snack. He sighed, leaned over the seat and grabbed it from her in frustration.

"Here." Quickly unwrapping the treat he thrust it back into her hand, scattering coconut everywhere. Then he retreated back to his slouch in the corner, draining his beer and averting his eyes from the mirror so he wouldn't have to watch her lap up the creme filling.

"Don't you want a....?" Buffy offered a Snowball toward the back seat.

"Keep it," he growled.

Crushing the beer can, he tossed it on the floor of the car and settled back with his eyes closed, praying to whatever entity demons were supposed to entreat, to please, please, PLEASE get him out of this mess.

******** Buffy licked the last of the coconut from her fingers then began to drum them on the steering wheel as her mind clicked through everything she had to deal with.

First up - were Xander and Willow all right? The phone at the service station had been out of order so she couldn't call Giles for an update. The fact that the spell was broken was a good sign, but it didn't mean Xander, or even annoying Anya, hadn't been mauled by a demon. The major part of her anxiety was over their safety. This was followed by overwhelming curiosity as to what kind of spell Willow could have cast that would result in Giles' blindness, Xander's demon attraction and her bizarre marriage to Spike. Buffy shoved the fruitless wondering to the edge of her mind and concentrated on the other problems she faced....such as....missing her math class AGAIN!

It was her only morning class and Buffy had found it almost impossible to rise in time to attend it after a night of slaying. She didn't even want to think about her mid-term grade.

Then there was the Riley issue. She had planned a date, a picnic, a real, normal boy-girl interaction for this afternoon, and she didn't know how she was going to see him with this god. damn. wedding ring on her finger! Maybe a bandaid. Yes! A bandaid would do the trick. Good. One problem solved.

As for the rest of it - the immovable ring, the legal marriage to be annulled (though, how legal could it be when Spike obviously had fake ID?), and the whole nightmare of having had sex with.....and CUDDLED with.....well, she just wouldn't go there right now. Not think about it. Nope. Don't worry. Be happy.

The Sunnydale sign loomed ahead and Buffy mentally geared up to face her friends and the fallout from Willow's night of mayhem.

To be continued..........