Title: Blood Loss

Author: KeepTheFaith (Laura)

Feedback: May be provided here or sent to

Disclaimer: Buffy is owned by Joss Whedon and ME, I'm just borrowing them

Spoilers: Set during season 4, after "Fear Itself"

Pairings: Buffy / Spike

Rating: R

Subject: More dancing between Buffy and Spike as they try to deal with the consequences of their attraction, Sequel to Here and Now

Blood Loss

Chapter 7 - Unreasonable Reasoning

Angel's long, black coat fanning out behind him, he entered through the Emergency Room of Sunnydale General. He was sure he was in the right place. He could smell Buffy's blood... and Spike. His single imperative was finding Buffy, to make sure she was alright.

Buffy had to be alive.

Buffy alive - it was the single manta he could allow to run through his mind, until he was offered incontrovertible evidence otherwise. He'd left so she could have a normal life. A boyfriend who could walk with her in the daylight. Someone who was living and breathing, not an undead fiend. Spike was of his bloodline -- hell he'd taught Spike a few of his nastier habits, although his grand-childe had picked up quite a few on his own.

Hospital Corridor

Spike turned the corner as he stuck his right hand in his pocket, fishing for his lighter, and found himself pressed half-into the wall. When he looked into the brown eyes of his enraged sire, his desire for a smoke evaporated.

"Bloody hell. Hands off mate." Spike shifted and struggled, but one-handed he was unable to remove Angel's forearm from its position across his windpipe. It was lucky he didn't need to breathe, but somehow he didn't think Angel gave that thought much consideration.

"What did you do to Buffy, Spike?"

Spike pulled his right hand out of his pocket, flipped the lid of his lighter open and flicked the flame to life. A few seconds later, Angel jumped back, slapping at the flames licking up his sleeve.

"You bloody well know what I did," Spike replied with a smirk. "Felt it didn't you?" He remained well beyond arm's reach of Angel, as he watched his sire stew. It was quite pleasant to be on the giving, rather than the receiving end this time.

"If she's dead..."

"Buffy's fine. Or she soon will be."

"I'm supposed to believe you?" Angel asked, brushing past Spike and striding toward the Emergency Room desk.

"Where do you think you're going mate?" Spike asked, as soon as he caught up with Angel, matching his stride to his sire's. He had no intention of letting Angel see Buffy alone. She was his now. Leaving her vulnerable to anyone, especially a former lover, wasn't gonna happen.

Spike didn't fear she might be temped to take Angel back - not much anyway. Through the claim, he could feel her every instant. He knew Buffy was his now.

"I'm not leaving until I see Buffy," Angel said.

"Then by all means you should see her now. The sooner you see her the sooner we'll see your back. Follow me." Spike lengthened his stride, passing the Emergency Room desk and strode down the corridor toward the bank of elevators. Two sets of feet tapped as they waited for the elevator. They stood in silence as it whisked them to the second floor.

Spike led Angel to room 206, putting his palm on the door to hold it shut, as he turned to face Angel. "Buffy's probably sleeping. She's tired and needs sleep to heal."

"Why's that Spike?" Angel asked, with an unmistakable sarcastic snark in his voice.

Spike growled and almost went game-face, but he held his demon in check, while he remained silent.

"Are you going to let me see her?" Angel asked, his clipped tone matching the taut line of his mouth.

Spike opened the door and stepped across the threshold.

"I want to talk to her alone," Angel said.

"That's not gonna happen mate." Spike shook his head, walked over to the side of Buffy's bed, and gently shook her shoulder. "Buffy, wake up luv."

Buffy's green eyes cracked open. "I know it's not day yet, so why are you waking me?"

"You've got another visitor pet."

"Couldn't they have waited until tomorrow to see me?"

"He was a touch insistent pet," Spike replied, stepping aside enough to allow Buffy to see her visitor.

"Angel," Buffy whispered. "What are you doing here?"

"I felt something. I was afraid something had happened to you. I had to make sure you were alright."

"As you can see, I'm fine," Buffy replied, twining her fingers with Spike's, where his hand rested on the bed beside her.

"Are you?" Angel asked. "What has Spike done to you?"

"Nothing I didn't agree to."

"So now you've seen. It's time for you to leave mate. I've got things taken care of here. No need for you to hang about, where you're neither needed nor wanted."

"Buffy, is that what you want?" Angel asked.

"Yes. Please go," Buffy said, looking directly at Angel. Then she looked over at Spike and her gaze softened. "I'm fine. Spike will take care of me."

Spike couldn't hold back a sigh of relief as Angel left. "Poncy bugger," he said, almost under his breath.

Buffy pulled his attention back to her, slipping her palm over his cheek. "You were worried, weren't you?"

"Not a bit," Spike lied.

"Yes, you were," Buffy said. "But you don't need to be. I'm yours from here on out and that's the way I want it to be."

Room 206

The following morning, Giles entered Buffy's room after she finished her breakfast.

Giles smoothed the lapels of his unwrinkled tweed jacket, to have something to do with his hands. He was relieved to see Buffy looking in the pink, so to speak. Only last night he might have found her pale as death.

"Buffy, you're not thinking of letting Spike into your life are you?" Giles asked. "He almost killed you last night."

"But he didn't, did he? Isn't that the point?"

Giles felt Buffy's beseeching verdigris gaze drilling him. He supposed she was hoping to elicit his sympathy, rather than another lecture. She was fighting a lost cause.

Giles pushed his glasses up his nose as he peered down at her. "Buffy, Spike drained you of over four and a half pints of blood. It was a miracle the ER was able to pull you through."

"The only reason they did was because Spike got me here so quickly." Buffy turned her puppy-dog-eyes on Giles again. It wasn't going to be that easy to break through his stiff, British reserve. He was resolved.

"Would you stop that Buffy?" Giles snapped. "Sorry. I know you're still a bit on the weak side... from the blood loss."

"Are you ever going to let me live this down?" Buffy asked.

Giles huffed, then shrugged. "I'm not your Watcher anymore Buffy. You can do what you like. That doesn't necessarily mean you should."

Buffy nodded. "I need to see Spike."

Giles looked down at the gray linoleum floor and then back up into his former charge's flashing emerald eyes. He couldn't love her more if she were his own daughter. It wasn't merely her Slayer strength and responsibility that he loved either. It was everything about her: her unorthodox approach to Slaying, her friends, and the way she charged in where angels would fear to tread. Fighting demons, vampires and averting apocalypses. But this... Spike thing, was too much, too dangerous. Unorthodox as well, of course that was Buffy's strong suit - making a fresh approach work.

"I know he's here. I can feel him," Buffy said, her lower lip trembling just a bit.

"Buffy, what exactly have you... and Spike done?"

"Spike didn't bite me to hurt me Giles. He bit me to claim me."

"What?" Giles yelped. He yanked his glasses off his face and proceeded to clean them with an almost manic intensity. Although his mouth remained open, he didn't utter another intelligible sound. Finally he clamped his mouth closed and simply stared at her.

"I wanted him to do it Giles. It was the only way," Buffy stated, as though her explanation could hope to explain her near brush with death.

"Spike almost killed you Buffy," Giles enunciated each word slowly and clearly, as though it might somehow change the unpleasant statements she'd relayed.

Buffy nodded. "I know. But it wasn't his fault. Spike didn't know that Angel had bitten me before. He couldn't have known there was a previous claim already in place, especially since I didn't either. To claim me, Spike had to break Angel's prior claim before he could forge a link with me."

"A vampire claim!" Giles jumped to his feet, stunned at her revelation. "Why would you attempt such a thing without mentioning it to me?"

"I didn't think you'd approve," Buffy admitted in a soft undertone.

"Bloody well right! I don't approve." He shook his head. "But my approval or disapproval isn't the point. You are a grownup Buffy; making your own decisions. I care deeply for you. I worry about you. If you'd come to me first...."

"What? You'd have talked me out of it?" Buffy asked, brow quirked and a half-smile curving her lips.

Giles huffed a bit, then admitted, "Eventually, you would have followed your own course, but we might have ensured medical attention was readily on hand, ready to be administered at need."

Buffy nodded, then shrugged. "What's done is done. Spike has claimed me and I can feel it, binding him to me.

"Spike showed me some Watcher's journals that had notes about Slayers who had vampire lovers, Giles."

"What?" he asked, shocked and miffed that Spike had managed to find something in his books he had all but forgotten about. "Oh, one of them must have been Carruther's Watchers journal. Jacaranda was the name of the Slayer mentioned, if I recall correctly. I don't recall reading about any other Slayer with a vampire lover."

"But you were aware of at least one?" she asked.

"Yes, the Carruther's journals are full of some fascinating Slayer and vampire facts."

"I'm sure Spike intended to return your books."

"I'm blood well not," Giles replied. "I'll ask Spike to return them... or perhaps you could next time you see him."

Buffy nodded.

Willow knocked lightly, then poked her head into the room to ask, "May I come in?"

"Sure, Will, come on in," Buffy said. "Giles has to leave." There was nothing more she could tell her ex-Watcher and father figure that wouldn't send him even further round the bend. No way could she tell Giles or anyone else she could feel the flip-side of the claim as well, like a steel-forged chain binding her to Spike. Giles might have a seizure, or at least another proper British snit fit.

Willow walked in as Giles bent to give Buffy a kiss on the cheek. Buffy was surprised, yet pleased, by one of his rare displays of open affection. "Just promise me you'll be careful Buffy," he whispered. "If there's anything you need, don't hesitate to ring me," he added in a normal tone, before turning and heading out the door.

"How are you?" Willow asked, sitting on the edge of the bed and giving her friend a searching look.

"I'm going to be fine," Buffy replied. "A slight bout with near traumatic blood loss is all. No big."

"Yes big, very big and bad. I had to break up a testosterone fest in the waiting room last night, between Xander and Spike."

Buffy shook her head, but didn't voice the though that leapt to her mind, Spike would never hurt me. If she said it, Willow wouldn't believe it anyway. Sometimes she could hardly believe it herself. Plus, the fact that Spike was the one who put her here, tended to stretch the credibility of the idea, despite her feelings to the contrary.

"Willow, something has happened between Spike and I."

"From what I heard, Spike almost killed you - again."

"That's only a small part of what happened Will, and he didn't mean to."

"Are you sure I'm talking to Buffy Summers?"

"Yes. Things change. People change."

"Spike isn't a person. He's a vampire," Willow said.

"Angel is a vampire too."

"Angel has a soul Buffy, which makes a big difference."

"Does it?" Buffy pondered introspectively, speaking more to herself than her friend. "Willow, please talk to Xander for me."

"I don't know what you think I can say."

"Tell him that Spike... well, Spike is part of my life now, so Xander needs to chill and deal with it. Spike isn't going away anytime soon." Buffy thought to herself, He's not ever going away. What's even weirder is that doesn't give me a big wiggins, it feels good, comfortable, and right.

"That's what I don't get Buffy. When did Spike become such an integral part of your life? You never mentioned you were even seeing him, except in the sense of him being your big, bad enemy before." Willow gestured somewhat wildly, using a Buffy staking motion to illustrate her point. "You and Spike together, makes me uncomfortable too. I can understand why Xander might freak."

"I need you on my side Will."

"I am, Buffy," Willow replied. "I am. Its just..."

"Its giving you the wiggens."

Willow nodded, allowing the ghost of a smile to shine through.

"I know Spike has tried to kill me, more than once, but things have changed," Buffy said.

"How?"

"Spike and I have a bond." Buffy smiled a secret smile, only hinting at the depth of her happiness over that fact.

"A bond? What..." Willow began, her emerald eyes widening as she stared at Buffy.

"Spike claimed me."

"What exactly does that entail?" Willow asked, before her face turned almost as bright red as her hair. She held up her hand, like a stop sign. "No, no... I don't think I want to know the details."

Buffy felt the heat rush into her cheeks, quickly cutting off Willow's train of thought, which unfortunately wasn't that far from the mark. "Nothing like that," she denied. Truthfully that part of it hadn't been part of the claim itself, merely a prelude to it. "Spike bit me and drank some of my blood."

"Didn't you come in here almost drained?"

"No worse than when..." Buffy cut herself off, realizing she was about to tell a lie that Willow would probably see through like plate glass. "A little worse than the time I made Angel bite me, but Spike rushed me to the hospital as soon as he realized. If he wanted me dead, he had the perfect chance to have his one good day with me and he passed."

"That doesn't necessarily mean..." Willow began.

"Maybe, maybe not. I believe that the claim is enough to keep him from harming me, or any of you."

Willow raised her brow, clearly unconvinced.

"The way Spike explained it, the claim makes him incapable of hurting me intentionally. Since hurting any of you would hurt me, there's little chance he'd do anything to any of you now. Even Xander. No matter how exasperating Spike might find him."

"You know how Spike can be."

"It's different now. He's different."

"I suppose he said he loved you or something." Willow dragged a hand through her short red hair, continuing her stare down with her best friends.

"As a matter of fact he did."

"And you believed him?"

Buffy nodded. "Why would he lie?"

"I can think of about a thousand reasons." Willow replied.

"It would have been stupid and one thing Spike isn't - is stupid. He may have tried to play me... us, in the past, but this time..."

"It sounds like Spike has you wrapped around his little finger, instead of the other way around."

"Like I said before, the claim makes it so Spike can't harm me, or by extension any of you." Buffy tried to sit up straighter, but when she started to feel lightheaded, she laid back down on the partially reclining hospital bed.

"How do you know that Spike's telling you the truth about this claim thingy and how it works?" Willow asked.

"I talked to Giles about it. He's heard about vampire claims before. Besides, Spike had Watcher journals that listed Slayer's who had been claimed by vampire lovers."

"So now he's your lover?"

Buffy shrugged.

"The next thing we know, you'll be telling us that you love Spike."

Buffy inhaled sharply, then said carefully, "No... I care for him. I wouldn't have said yes to the claim, if I didn't." Maybe that was a little lie, but Willow was definitely not ready for the truth about my feelings for Spike. I'm not sure I'm ready, but my friends -- nope, they're definitely not filled with readiness for that kind of revelation.

To be continued...