Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Broken Origin II

-000-

Chapter Ten

-000-

Even though Spike was officially attempting to teach her how to shoot the crossbow Buffy held in her hands, very little of her mind was on the lesson. She could tell her distracted state was driving Spike nuts, but how could she concentrate on anything else when he was pressed so close?

She guessed all she could do was be grateful that Giles would be returning as soon as the sun set. He'd left for a few hours sleep and a shower after he'd helped her set up a makeshift target atop one of the crypt walls, and thoroughly examined Spike's crossbow.

"Well, it's new...lifted from some poor shopkeepers shelf somewhere, no doubt," he'd announced disgustedly as he put the weapon back down.

She hadn't failed to miss the faintly jealous look in his eyes as he practically fondled the shiny new weapon.

Ugh, men.

"Are you certain this is what you want, Buffy?" He'd looked around the crypt pointedly, but she'd known he'd meant a lot of things, asking that.

At the time, she'd shaken her head yes, reasoning that Spike was her best bet in defeating the monsters of Sunnydale...and he was, but...

God, how could she still be attracted to him! She should be disgusted by him, should hate the very sight of him -

"The target is up here, love, not on the bloody ground."

Buffy grimaced. "Sorry."

"Just pull back the trigger like I showed you," he commanded impatiently. "Keep your aim steady."

"M-maybe you should show me again," Buffy said doubtfully, aware that while she hadn't hit the target even one time, Spike had struck the bull's-eye with every single shot.

"Just concentrate," he snapped.

"I'm trying," she snapped back.

Spike sighed near her ear, sending the skin tingling. "Just concentrate on it until there's nothin' else. Now…breathe steady."

Yeah, like that was gonna' happen with him standing so near…!

Buffy was so on edge by the time he called it quits, she ended up dropping the crossbow while she was practicing loading and unloading it, and nearly speared Spike with one of the bolts.

Scrambling to pick the sophisticated-looking weapon off the floor, she winced as she looked up to see Spike giving her his death's-head glare, and plucking a steel dart from where it had lodged itself in the crumbling mortar of the wall beside him, taking with it a piece of his black shirt-sleeve.

"Sorry," she said as he ran a thumb over the blood welling from a neat slice in his tautly-muscled upper arm. She offered him a little smile, and he growled.

"Good thing we don't have those wooden bolts, yet, huh?" she said lightly as she came back up, flipping her pony-tail behind her.

"Yeah," he he muttered, holding the sharp bolt tightly in one fist, and staring at her with disturbing purpose for a very long moment before he carelessly tossed it down with a metallic scrape on the top of a concrete tomb lid.

Buffy lost her breath as she watched him turn away and saunter across the crypt, absently bringing up his blood-stained fingers to lick them clean. She had to force her mouth to shut.

God, she was sick! Sick, sick, sick - !

"Spike?"

"What?" he didn't pause as he picked up a blanket - her blanket - and ripped a ribbon of fabric from it.

Buffy rolled her eyes, but didn't bother protesting. They had more important things to talk about.

"Giles, and ...well, we had a talk...about you, this morning."

Spike sighed sufferingly as he twisted the fabric around the wound on his upper arm and turned to look at her. "Yeah, so what's your point?"

Crossing her arms, she forced her eyes to stay steady on his.

"So? Did you really do those...things? Before?"

Spike went very still. "Dunno. I've done lots of things, Slayer."

Buffy swallowed painfully. "The...the Potentials? The girls?"

The vampire actually looked a little confused for a minute before his eyes lit up in recognition. He stared at her, completely unrepentant. "Yeah. All that...and more."

Buffy couldn't tear her eyes away from Spike's. She'd thought hearing about his past from Giles had been bad, but hearing it confirmed by Spike himself, and seeing how totally unmoved by it he was - it was devastating.

Spike jolted her when he snorted. "Still did 'those things' less than three months ago, pet."

'Oh, God...'

It was a good thing, then, that she was learning to handle devastation pretty damn well by now.

"You want details?" Spike startled her by asking coldly. His eyes were narrowed, a vibrant, icy blue outlined by dark lashes she couldn't believe belonged to a dead man.

Buffy swallowed and finally managed to look away. She gave her head a faint shake and focused on a nasty foundation crack in one of the walls of the crypt. She didn't need any more details. Between what he'd threatened to do to her back in L.A., and what Giles had spilled to her that morning, she had an all too vivid picture-book image in her head.

Again she asked herself why she should feel so betrayed, so shocked. She knew what he was. The knowledge that he had almost succeeded in annihilating every potential slayer back in the nineteen-forties told her that. He'd killed - no, slaughtered - children. Girls up to six years younger than her, their families, their watchers...

Buffy drew in a deep breath. "So...that third Slayer?"

Spike didn't blink. "Second, if you wanna get all technical. Yeah, I bagged her, too. Danish chit, gave me a bit of a time - an' her keeper. Old hag had it on for me, too. Dru had fun with that one - somethin' about the eyes of a Seer..."

"That's why it was ...unconfirmed," Buffy murmured, rubbing her jaw with an unsteady hand. She felt sick. "You killed her Watcher, too."

Across from her, Spike shrugged. "Didn't kill her, really. Went mad, last I saw her. Sure, it was unfortunate - never could put a real claim on that one, but I never concerned m'self too much about it. After all, all I have is time," he drawled arrogantly, cocking his head to one side as he gave her a meaningful once-over.

When Buffy didn't respond with anything, he took a long stride nearer to her. She didn't move, knowing he was trying to draw a reaction from her.

"We gonna get physical about this, Slayer?"

Her eyes flew up to meet his, and then nervously skittered away again. "I-I don't know. No... not...not now," she stammered quietly.

"So," he began in a light, yet knowing tone, "that's how it's gonna be. 'The enemy of my enemy' an' all that rot? Use me 'til ya get rid of the immediate threat, and then stake me right 'n proper when my usefulness is over?"

Buffy heard him snort, and when she looked up again, he had turned away from her. She frowned as she watched his run his fingers through his hair, and wondered why in the world he sounded like she was feeling.

Confused, betrayed...

Maybe she should remind him he wasn't supposed to care if she was using him...God, he was the weirdest vampire she'd ever met.

'And I'm the stupidest Slayer ever for caring anything about him, so we're probably a matched pair,' Buffy thought to herself wryly.

-000-

Later that evening, Spike and Giles stood in the cemetery, watching Buffy in action several yards away.

It had to be a first in the entire history of the world - and a certain sign of a coming apocalypse - that a vampire and a Watcher were seen working together for a common good...but that might have been going a bit too far, Giles thought to himself with a grim and wary glance at the creature to his right.

Spike was enjoying the show, a smirk playing on his lips as he watched his girl draw out the kill of the vampire she was battling, well aware that she was showing off for the Watcher.

The girl may not be much to look at at, but she was turnin' out to be one hell of a fighter - all thanks to him, o' course...now if he could just get her to stop bein' so bloody clumsy...

He whistled lowly in appreciation at a complicated kick-punch-sweep combination before he pulled his smokes from his pocket and lit up. He hopped up onto the top of a stone tomb and lay down on his back, drawing one knee up as he made himself comfortable and looked at the night sky.

"I must admit," the Wanker was muttering, "her skills at this stage are rather remarkable, considering she hasn't really had any formal training."

Spike craned his neck around to look at the slayer, who'd attracted a couple of more fledgling vamps, one of which had picked up a length of rusted re-bar from somewhere. He gave a short laugh. "Yeah, she's tricky, alright...look at that," he commented lazily. "See how she staked the two of 'em with that thing?"

The two very confused vampires were stuck together by the re-bar the slayer had thrust through their respective ribcages, and had no choice but to stand, struggling, in one spot while she produced her sword and cut their head off.

Hooting at the sight, Spike gave a contented 'just so' nod and rested his head on the stone again, his satisfaction clear in his voice when he spoke again. "Yep, baby likes to play - resourceful, my Slayer, ain't she?"

"She's not 'your' Slayer, Spike," Giles said warningly.

Spike arched a scarred brow in challenge. "Right, then - ask her who she belongs to," he told him smugly, possessiveness burning in his eyes.

"She's a child."

"A child," Spike repeated insolently. "Yeah, a sixteen-year-old 'child' who's killed more in the past week than most vampires I know."

"Demons, Spike, she'd killed demons. And that is her duty. A duty she has obviously been lacking in, in places, of late." Giles eyed him pointedly.

Spike's skin drew tight against the slashes of his cheekbones and the line of his jaw as his expression hardened. "Oh, right. You think she shoulda' offed me by now, eh? Must be puttin' some kind of awful twist in your knickers, the fact that I'm still wanderin' free because of her." A sudden inspiration struck him, and his lips curved into a gleeful smile in the darkness as he warmed to his subject.

"Know what? Never thought about it, really, but it must be givin' you nightmares, eh? Bet you been up all-hours, worryin' about the big, bad vampire, and if he's got his cold, dirty hands all over the Chosen One's lily-white skin."

"She knows what you've done to girl's her age - and younger!" Giles sputtered, outraged. "She knows what you are capable of doing to her!"

Spike's grin dropped away as he brought up the now strangely troubling subject.

"She's been with me a while now, mate," he said indifferently. "'Course she knows."

"She knows because I told her - because it was my duty to warn her about you," Giles elaborated.

"Warn her away from me, don't you mean," Spike growled. "So, what exactly did you tell her?"

"Everything."

So...that was why she'd been all Twenty-Question's earlier.

Spike took a deep drag on his cigarette. "Good," he inclined his head a little, and then looked up to pin the other man with a narrowed, glittering stare. "She knows not to expect too much from me, then."

The watcher fixed him with a frosty glare.

"Just so you know, the Slayer 'n me - we got an understanding, see. It's just as well we got no secrets between us, now. I have a healthy respect for her, she doesn't try to stake me - especially now I've lost more than a little skin lookin' after her ass."

Giles looked at him with outright suspicion. "But you don't trust each other?"

Spike lifted his head just enough to look at him as if to say just how stupid that question had been.

"Then, just how would you describe your role in Buffy's life?" Giles made a face, as if he couldn't quite believe he, himself, was even asking. "Do you see yourself as a ...a father figure, of sorts?"

"What!" Spike choked on his inhalation, and darted upright, actually fumbling and dropping the cigarette in his lap. "Bloody hell!" He scowled at the watcher as he burnt his fingers rescuing the folds of his duster from the bright orange cinders.

"It's a simple question," Giles went on, as if he hadn't just given Spike the worst kind of insult. "Do you...have a father's...lo - er, I hesitate to even use the word 'fondness'," he mumbled, "but it is obvious that she feels...safe with you..."

Spike made a revolted-looking face.

Giles matched it, line for line.

"That is to say, I haven't spent much time with Buffy as of yet, but - "

"Hell, no!" Spike exclaimed defensively, before he could go on. His vampire's ego was still smarting badly enough as it was over the whole 'safe' thing. "I'd describe my feelings towards the slayer more 'homicidal' than fatherly! Girl's enough to make a bleedin' saint swear - and I ain't joking, neither. When the mood comes on her, she'll slip away whenever I have a lie-in, and not show up 'til hours later, lookin' beat all to soddin' shit. Then she'll find the most uncomfortable, jagged bitch of a rock to kip on, then get up a few hours later and do it all over again. If I even blink, she's gone!"

Spike paused in his ranting, and lowered himself back to the tomb lid. He stared at the stars and took a rather desperate draw on the cigarette before before giving his head a shake. "Bitch drives me to raving."

Giles rolled his eyes as he was forced to dodge a violent flick of ashes, but then asked, "Wait...you actually find yourself worrying about her well-being?" He looked fascinated by the idea.

Spike shifted uncomfortably before turning his head on the cold stone to look at the watcher. "'Course I don't - I mean, me, vampire, her, Slayer - it's be twisted, wouldn't it? I'd be an abomination, or something - or a bigger one, least-wise. It's just...just really irritating, y'know, her popping in 'n out all-hours, is all. Not knowin' where she is plays hell with a bloke's love life, know what I mean? Feel like a bloody sitter, sometimes - 'cept I ain't gettin' paid." He flicked his cigarette butt away and growled in frustration as he reached out above him as if to cup some impressively large imaginary breasts. "Ah, sweet christ, do you know how long it's been since I had my hands on a pair of tits?"

"Yes, well, no need to elaborate," Giles coughed uncomfortably. "Needless to say, this just completely proves my point."

Spike looked at him warily. "Which is...?"

"Apart from you being the confirmed bachelor type, and an awful role-model for a teenage girl - Buffy should come to live with me, in my flat. It's well-furnished, and, dare I say, a sight more welcoming to a young girl than that - that crypt of yours. There is an abundance of space, and it's well-within walking distance of the school. She'll receive the training she needs - "

"Bugger off," Spike said flatly, surprising even himself with what he was about to say.

"I beg your pardon - " Giles began hotly.

"I said, forget it, Watcher. You're not gettin' it, are you? The Slayer was your - and your 'council's' - responsibility once before. Just look at how how well you lot bollocksed it up last time. She'd be dead by now if I hadn't somehow managed to take a shine to her. There's no way I'm lettin' you get her killed after everything she's managed to live through this far. She stays with me."

"Very well," said Giles reluctantly after a few tense moments. "For the time-being. The very short time-being."

"Look, if you're worried about me takin' advantage of her, don't. I'm not into ugly ducklings."

The watcher glared at him. "I may remind you, Buffy's current...emaciated appearance is is due in part to you. If you'll recall, the ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan at the end of the story - " he narrowed his eyes at Spike's skeptic snort - "but we are straying from the point again. Should you harm her - "

"Yeah, yeah, you'll stake me n' what-not."

"Good memory seems to be one of your many dubious virtues, Spike. Since Buffy seems to be rather - oddly - "

"Oi!"

" - attatched to you, I hope, for her sake, that it doesn't come to that. Just keep in mind, Spike, that a snake without it's fangs can do little harm."

Spike lit up another cigarette and watched the other man walk over to the slayer with a dark expression.

So, the Watcher wasn't as soft as he seemed. He seemed fiercely protective of the girl already. Looked like he was one to be wary of...as if he didn't have enough to keep him constantly on edge.

He had a feeling this was all going to end badly.

-000-

Buffy was very surprised when Xander and Willow showed up at Giles's door later that night. She'd left Spike for a while on her watcher's insistence that she come and have a proper meal, and shower - but she'd still rushed through it all, her conscience nagging her. She was waiting for her clothes to dry in Giles's dryer, all-but drowning in the watchers navy blue bathrobe, when the knocker sounded on the door.

Willow was standing there, a pile of shopping bags in her arms, her friendly brown eyes peeking at her over the colorful paper. "Hi!" she called out cheerfully, trying to wave.

Xander cleared his throat next to her, and she saw him there with a tightly rolled red sleeping bag and more bags.

Giles walked up behind her just then, his shirt-sleeves rolled up, drying his hands with a tea towel. "Willow, Xander, hello - ah, I see you brought the things I asked for, excellent. Come in, come in, just put them on the table, here."

Buffy moved to one side as the two filed in and gratefully dropped their burdens. She looked over the rustling bags as Willow adjusted them, to keep them from falling off the side table, and looked at Giles suspiciously as Xander dug in one baggy corduroy pocket and handed him what looked like a shiny silver credit card.

"What's all this?" she asked, bemused.

Giles tucked the card away in his wallet and flushed slightly. "Ahem, yes, well..."

"It's just some clothes and stuff Giles asked us to get for you - and don't worry, I got somebody else's help picking out your clothes," Willow said ruefully, plucking at her own white t-shirt and plaid jumper shorts, which wouldn't have looked out-of-place on a five-year-old.

Buffy smiled and shook her head at the other girl. "You guys did all this for me?"

"Well, you did kinda' save our lives," Xander jumped in, looking slightly bashful, standing there with his hands in his pockets, his hair hiding most of his eyes.

"Not that we wouldn't have done it anyway," Willow blurted.

Buffy didn't know what to say. "Thanks."

Xander nodded, Willow beamed. "You're welcome."

Giles cleared his throat. "Won't you both stay and have supper? I dare-say, with the way Buffy picked at her food, there's more than enough left for the two of you."

"Thanks, but we already ate," Willow said with a timid smile. "Xander's mom ordered Chinese...again." She looked at Buffy with a secretive nudge.

"Hey, nobody can dial for take-out like my mom," Xander said defensively.

Willow rolled her eyes. "Actually, we wanted to know if Buffy wanted to come to the Bronze with us."

"'The Bronze'?" Buffy asked with a frown.

"Yeah, there's supposed to be a new band there tonight, so it might actually be worth the cover for once," Xander supplied, giving the dust-covers over Giles's furniture a semi-curious glance.

Buffy froze for a second. A club? As in a social event? As in social interaction? As in actually talking to other people?

Buffy looked at Giles with a flash of panic in her eyes. "I don't know..."

"Go on," the watcher said kindly. "It will be good for you...and also a good way for you to patrol. Clubs are notorious feeding grounds for vampires."

Willow and Xander went pale.

Buffy took pity on them. "Hey, sure, it sounds great! We'll be right back!" She grabbed the bags and Willow's hand and dragged her down the hall to Giles's bedroom.

-000-

The Bronze wasn't anything like the clubs she'd gone to in L.A. - it was kind of a dive, actually, but she found she really liked the dark, smokey atmosphere. It kinda' reminded her of -

"Spike!" Willow yelped at her side.

Xander jumped a mile, and looked around frantically. "Where?"

"Here," came a familiar amused voice right behind him.

"Gah!" Xander yelled, and whipped around and then noticed the stares he was attracting. He took a deep breath and glared at the vampire. "Would you stop sneaking up on people like that!"

Spike looked at him disdainfully. "Why should I? How else am I supposed to get my kicks in this dump of a town? Fellow'd have more fun diggin' out of his own grave - an' I would know."

Buffy covered her eyes with her hand and Willow and Xander looked at each other helplessly.

"Not to worry, though. Things'll be livening up quite a bit, soon enough." Spike paused and turned his head a little, to look Buffy over.

She tensed up, knowing that while she wasn't looking her best, she still looked better than she had since she'd met him - she'd twisted her hair up, put in a pair of dangly, flirty earrings - she was even wearing a little make-up, with a bit of careful, clever shading around the scar across her lips and chin.

Spike's eyebrow rose. "Nice dress, Slayer," he said quietly, making her heart skip, before meeting her eyes with a sneer. "Really brings out the red in your scar."

Hurt dug a deep gouge in her chest, and Buffy felt her throat close even as she fought through her confusion to come up with a nasty comeback - but Spike was already carelessly sauntering away through the crowd.

Buffy gave a shuddering sigh. So much for hoping the scar would go unnoticed.

"Rat-bastard," Xander growled.

Buffy pulled her gaze away from Spike's retreating back and looked at Willow, handing her one of the bills Giles had tucked into her hand before they'd left. She really needed a moment.

"Could you guys grab us some cokes? Cherry for me?"

Xander shrugged. "I'm okay. I'll stay here with y - "

"Um, sure, Buffy." Willow took a protesting Xander by the arm and dragged him away.

If Buffy had been expecting to have a minute to herself, she was about to be sorely disappointed. Almost as soon as her 'protectors' left her side, a tanned brunette walked up to her, openly eyeing her dress.

Buffy gave her an odd look, but the girl finally looked up and smiled at her. It wasn't a particularly nice smile.

"Hi, you must be Buffy. I'm Cordelia Chase."

When Buffy looked at her blankly, the girl smiled, revealing perfect white teeth. It made Buffy think of a fashionably-dressed shark.

"I helped Willow shop for your clothes today," she continued brightly. "I was going to go to the beach with some friends, but when she told me about you, I couldn't turn her down. I mean, if it wasn't for me, you'd be wearing the softer side of Sears right now, know what I mean? Anyway, anything for a good cause, right?" she trilled lightly.

Forcing a smile to her lips, Buffy swallowed a groan. She'd known girls like this in L.A. - heck, she'd been this girl in L.A.!

"So, you're from Los Angeles, huh?"

"Yeah. I grew up there."

"I'd die to live there! I mean, that close to that many shoes - ! And the guys! Why'd you bother moving here?"

"Had to," Buffy smiled numbly.

"Oh? Well, I can see you didn't have a hairdresser - I'd say your style needs updating, but you don't really have one, do you? I'd recommend mine, but he's very exclusive, you know?"

'And I'm not,' Buffy finished mentally.

Geez, what a bitch.

Lifting one eyebrow just so, Buffy made a show of looking the other girl's hair over very carefully. "Well, you're obviously not getting your money's worth," she said in an equally friendly-bitchy tone. "You have some major split-ends."

Cordelia's fake smile faded and she blinked before she realized Buffy had just not-so-subtly insulted her back.

Buffy felt almost normal in the noisy club, wearing a dress very close in design to one she'd owned in L.A., verbally sparring with another, more popular girl - she hadn't lost that ability, at least, she was grateful to acknowledge. She could still throwdown with the best of them...but Cordelia Chase wasn't finished with her yet.

"So, I saw you talking to that guy. What's his name again?"

Buffy tried not to look, she really did, but she still ended up turning her head to see Spike leaning against the bar, an amber bottle in hand, already busy chatting up a girl around their age. His clothes were a little out of place with the summer heat, but there was plenty about him that even a girl like Cordelia Chase could forgive his outright non-trendiness.

"Spike."

Cordelia finished looking Spike over with her mercenary gaze, and flicked her eyes back to Buffy.

"He's not my usual type, but he's promising. It's been a slow summer. Willow said you live with him?" The other girl looked at her with speculation.

Buffy looked back across the room at Willow with meaning, and the other girl winced where she stood in line with Xander for drinks. She brushed aside her irritation after a moment, though. Who could blame her? This Cordelia seemed like the type who could weasel anything out of anybody.

"I – er…just in a temporary capacity. A really temporary capacity."

"Hm. Yeah. Well, I gotta' ask. What's it like to be alone in a dark room with him?" Cordelia purred.

That had Buffy wincing.

"Believe me, you don't wanna' know," she settled for saying dryly.

"He is older than you, isn't he?"

You have no idea. "Way older."

"Wow. I wish my mom was as lenient as yours obviously is."

Something in her heart went cold and flinty, and Buffy let her voice go frigid.

"My mom doesn't have much choice in the matter. She's dead. Both my parents are, actually," she said flatly.

Cordelia's perfectly lined eyes went dramatically wide. "Oh, my God! You are so lucky! I mean, sorry about your parents and all, but you can so totally milk the traumatized, mourning teen angle at school this year!"

Buffy stared at her.

'Is she for real?'

"Hey, Cordy!"

Cordelia waved at someone over Buffy's head and and then said to her, "So, you don't mind if I talk to your 'friend'?"

Buffy smiled sweetly. "Not at all." And I hope he bites off your ass - !

"Thanks." Cordelia gave her one more once over, her dark eyes critical. "You are so lucky Willow came to me first. There's not much to work with, but at least you're dressed for success. Oh, well. See ya'!"

Buffy mentally gagged as she watched the other girl go across the room to hug another, long-haired blond girl with a glorious honey-toned tan she would have sold her right kidney for just then.

"Well, isn't that one just a lovely?" Spike remarked cuttingly as he approached her.

"Yeah, she looks like vamp-bait to me," Buffy said spitefully, her tone threatening.

"Want me to bite her?"

Buffy felt warm for a second, thinking he was defending her, and then she remembered she was dreaming!

"Oh, yeah, like it would be such a chore for you," Buffy huffed, crossing her arms. "She's gorgeous," she mumbled, ducking her head and looking at the floor. Somehow she wasn't surprised to see a cockroach limping across it. It had obviously been trod on.

She could commiserate with the insect just then.

"Gorgeous, yeah, but she's a bitch. Don't much like her type."

Buffy laughed in disbelief. "Please. Is there anything you don't like?"

"Angry mobs. I don't like mobs."

"You're kidding."

He ignored her sarcasm. "I'd have known she wasn't worth my time even I hadn't heard her talk first. Alright for a snack, but not a keeper. Looks too high-maintenence, y'know," Spike surprised her by saying.

Buffy looked up at him from beneath her lashes. Her lips quirked. "And your Drusilla wasn't 'high-maintenance'?"

Spike's eyes snapped back to her. "Dru was insane."

Buffy shrugged and looked back at Cordelia. "I don't think it'd take much," she said pointedly. "Show her your fangs - you'll have a new pet in no time."

The muscles in his face drew taut. "Thanks, but m'not interested. Stop posturing, Slayer - you'd never go along with it, anyway," he snapped curtly. "'Sides, you've got bigger problems."

"What do you want, Spike?" She tapped the toe of her shoe. "I know you didn't come over here to chat."

"Angelus is here."

The blood in her veins froze.

"It's alright, he's goin' in the back with some blokes. Business, likely. M'gonna go check it out."

Buffy stared at him, not bothering to hide the fear in her eyes. "Spike..."

"He doesn't know what you look like, remember, Slayer? Just stay here."

"I...I can't. I can't just stand here and...and do nothing..."

"Yeah, you can, and you will." Spike stared at her, and then took her by the shoulders and stared down into her face, frowning. "Just stay here - bloody hell, you're shaking like a leaf."

"I'm fine." Buffy took a deep breath. "What's he look like?"

Spike scowled, but dropped his hands and jerked his head over his shoulder, clearly reluctant. "Little like that," he muttered.

Buffy looked over his shoulder and saw a hot-looking young guy engaged in a serious talk with some rather obvious-looking guys that were clearly vampires, and then tried to look around him. "Where?"

Spike growled, becoming frustrated, his accent becoming more pronounced. "There - the one with the poufy hair."

"Wha - ?"

"You just looked at him, Slayer! Jesus!"

Buffy looked back. "Him!" It was the hottie!

'This is the Scourge-guy?'

Angelus certainly did live up to his name. He was really good-looking - and that was an understatement. He was just - wow! Tall, and dark, with high cheekbones and deep-set soft brown eyes, and skin that was perfect and milky-white, and flushed pink lips that made a girl dream of kisses...he also wore all black, and it suited him amazingly well...

"Would you stop gawking!" Spike sputtered near her ear. "He's gonna' notice!"

"There's no way," Buffy breathed, still staring.

"What?" Spike barked, looking petulant.

"I have to kill...him? But...but he's so...pretty."

Spike gnashed his teeth and grabbed her chin, making her meet his eyes. "Listen, you stay here, understand? I'll be back soon to get you."

"But, Spike - "

"Hey, what's up?"

They looked up, and saw Willow and Xander striding towards them.

Xander stopped short. "Whoa, tense much?"

Spike ignored him, and sent Buffy an intense look that spoke volumes.

"Just do as I say an' wait here 'til I give the blighter the the slip, right?"

Buffy watched as the blonde vampire strode off, following after Angelus and his group as they were escorted to a private table in the back.

"Wow, who's the guy?" Willow asked next to her, having caught a glimpse of Angelus.

Buffy shook herself and took her drink from Xander. "Oh, nobody special. Just the vampire who wants to kill me."

-000-

Angel smiled disarmingly at the little girl who brought their drinks, and Spike resisted the urge to cave his sire's skull in with heavy base of his neighbors pilsner glass.

"I've been hearing some...disturbing things about you ever since I came into Sunnydale, Spike."

"Ya' don't say," Spike said carefully.

"What's this nonsense I hear about you taking up with a Slayer?"

Spike blanched inwardly, but only shrugged. It had only been a matter of time, after all.

"What of it?"

"What of it? You kill Slayers, you idiot, not take them in as pets!"

Angelus's roars were famous, but Spike only yawned in a bored manner designed to infuriate him further, and watched him with a smirk..

"What the hell kind of game are you playing at now, Spike? You're up to something, and I want to know what it is. You'd better give me a plain answer for once, or I'll flay you- again! If you weren't of my line, I swear I'd have staked you when you were crawling out of your grave. I ought to just kill you now and be done with it."

"Over a Slayer?" Spike asked, playing dumb.

"I don't know her name, or even what she looks like, but I'll find out soon enough, Spike," Angelus said, his hated voice biting off Spike's name in that way that made him want to draw blood.

"If you know she's with me, why haven't you killed her yet? Not scared of her, are you?"

Angelus sneered at him. "William, my boy - don't you remember anything I taught you? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain."

Spike snorted at that. "Oh, yeah. How could I forget?"

Angelus smiled at him. "I'm taking care of things here, now, Spike. Don't get in my way."

Spike narrowed his eyes as the vampire and the rest of his flunkies got up, and started walking toward the dance floor - looking to feed, likely.

He had to get the Slayer out of here...

Speaking of...Spike looked to the place he'd left her, and cursed. Of course she wasn't there.

"Excuse me, sir? But, who's gonna' pay for all these drinks?"

"Sonofabitch!" Spike grumbled as he reached into his pocket. Leave it to fucking Angelus to do a runner and stick him with the bleedin' bill - !

Debt paid, Spike stomped over to the Slayer's friends and interrogated them about her disappearance.

"She said she was going to the restroom!" Willow cried.

Spike resisted the urge to tear at his hair. "What the hell happened to the days when birds always had to go to the bloody loo together?"

Willow looked ready to cry. "My mom says public restrooms aren't sanitary!" she wailed.

Spike shook his head and walked off, leaving the pair staring after him.

Willow looked at Xander with a pout. "Sure, it's okay for him, he doesn't have to worry about germs!"

-000-

Spike caught up with the Slayer's trail outside the Bronze and followed her for several blocks before he ever caught up with her - inside a cemetery, no less.

"Are you out of your bloody mind, runnin' off like that?" Spike snarled quietly, grabbing her arm, noting she wore a light jacket over her dress, now.

"What are you lookin' for out here, anyway?"

"I saw Angelus leave."

Spike gripped her arm, dragging her to a halt. "He was out here?"

"Well, I kind of...I mean...I followed him from the Bronze." Buffy pulled free, and marched along the cemetery path. "He's just ahead of us, anyway."

Spike joined her after a moment, his boots crunching along with hers on the gravel.

"You followed him out here? By yourself?" he asked in a harsh whisper. "I told you to stay out of it."

Buffy stopped and glared at him. "I don't 'do' orders, remember?"

"What the bloody hell would you have done if - "

"Oh, stop pretending you care, Spike! I can take care of myself! Follow now, talk-y later!" Buffy snapped. "I've got better things to do right now."

Spike sneered at her, but didn't say anything else. He stayed close beside her as she hurried along the path. They reached the far end of the cemetery, and heard the creak of hinges. The path ended at a mausoleum, which was sheltered on the sides by tall pines and ivy.

Buffy paused in the moonlight and glanced around. She saw no one, except the angry vampire standing beside her.

She hurried toward the short, squat building, and it's door. "He must have gone in here."

Spike reached the gated door before she did. "Stay here," he growled impatiently.

Buffy curled her hands into fists at her sides as he stepped into the mausoleum. She took a furious step forward just as the night wind picked up and slammed the slightly open gate closed on it's rusty hinges. She hesitated, shivered a little, but reached out and opened the door again, slipping inside after Spike.

No sign of Angelus.

"Where'd he go?" She turned in a slow circle. Nothing.

"Thought I told you to wait out there!" Spike snarled from the shadows as he saw her. He stomped over to her and snatched her arm again. He pulled her outside.

"I'm gettin' real tired of this game, Summers. I talk, you listen, you got me?"

Buffy ignored him, shaking her head and looking around the silent cemetery.

"We lost him." she muttered, annoyed. "Damn. If you hadn't - "

"If I hadn't you'd probably be dead right now," Spike snarled again. "Why in the hell did you follow him? What were you thinkin'?"

"I...I wanted a better look at him. You know. I thought I'd kind of...size him up. New enemy, and all."

Spike tensed. "Was anyone else with him?"

"Nope." Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. "Next time you'd better not make me lose him."

"There's not gonna' be a next time, you bint! He coulda' killed you!"

"Oh, please. I wasn't stupid enough to think I could take him on my own right now."

Aggravated, Spike leaned down into her face. "If he knew you were followin' him, he woulda' faced you - especially if he knew you were alone. Angelus likes his prey helpless."

""But he doesn't know that I'm the Slayer," Buffy said smugly. "So I'd have had one up on him anyway."

Spike thought grimly about his earlier discussion with his sire. "Wouldn't be so certain about that if I were you, love."

"I don't get this. You know who - what - I am. You know what kind of a threat he is. It's my job to kill him. I'll have to face him eventually."

"I know what kind of a threat he is to you. I don't want...fuck!" Spike violently raked his fingers through his hair. "You'll get hurt, Slayer!"

Buffy looked at him skeptically, though her heart skipped a beat. "You're worried about me getting hurt? This coming from the guy who just weeks ago threatened to pull out my ribcage and wear it as a hat?"

Spike glanced at the sky, jaw twitching as he fought for control. "I...don't want you involved in this," he finally muttered.

Buffy brushed past him. "Whatever."

"Those other Slayers...the ones I killed?"

Freezing mid-step, Buffy cautiously looked back at him over her shoulder. "Yeah? What about them?"

Spike's voice was low, even. "They were special, like you. Strong, like you. They tangled with me. Now they're dead." He looked at her with a disturbingly alien solemn expression. "You don't wanna' end up like them."

Buffy shrugged off the chill his words gave her. "I tangled with you, and I'm still alive, aren't I?" she challenged.

Spike smiled - showing off his dimples, damn him, Buffy acknowledged sourly - and shook his head. "You're different from them. Not better, not yet, but the potential's there. You will be. You actually might be able to take me one day. Those girls...none of them fought Angelus. Neither have you. In some ways, he's worse than I'll ever be. There's...stuff I never bothered to tell you about him before. Before I...at least I usually killed 'em quick. Angel...he plays with his victims. Tortures 'em."

Buffy wondered if he was trying to scare her, and realized he really was. "What's your point, Spike?"

The muscles twitching in the vampires lean jaw sprang taut as he glared at her from beneath his lashes. "My point is that those other Slayers are just memories to me, now. I'm not ready for you to be...just another memory to me. Not just yet," he ground out fiercely.

"You're my Slayer, and if anyone's gonna' get to put you under, it's gonna' be me, understand? You remember that."

Buffy wasn't sure if she was supposed to be flattered or insulted. She didn't want to think about it too long, though. His words were giving her funny ideas. "Spike, I can take care of myself. Now let me go, I have a vampire to hunt - "

Pushed past the breaking point, he grabbed her arm again, halting her. In the next instant his arm slipped around her waist and he pulled her back against his chest. The impact against his hard body temporarily drove her breath from her lungs.

"I am a vampire, in case you've forgotten."

"Spi-ike!"

The vampire wrapped a hand around her throat, silencing her.

"What would've happened if he'd gotten you like this, Slayer?" he asked, his voice harsh and quiet against her ear. "You wouldn't have had a chance."

Wincing at the tight hold, Buffy lifted her hands to try and yank his hand away.

"I've had Slayers like this before," he reminded her, his cool fingers dangerously tightening their hold. "Right before I killed 'em. Could snap your neck in a second, Slayer - and I have. I've broken long, pretty necks like yours before - listened to bones crack and muscles tear. Felt it all grind together under my teeth..." His lips touched her ear as he leaned in close.

"If Angelus got hold of you like this now, none of your fancy Watcher training could save you. I don't even know if I could save you, come to that. He wouldn't make it quick or easy for you, either, pet."

His hand loosened just enough for her to speak. "Let...go!"

Spike dropped his hands, and then pushed her away.

"Get over yourself! We're never going to beat these guys if you keep telling me to keep out of it! In fact, I'm starting to wonder if that's really your intention at all!"

Spike came and stood over her, his eyes sparkling darkly, a brutal sneer on his lips.

"Angelus is an animal, a killer. The only way you can hope to break him is to be as vicious as he is, an' I don't think you can be that way, d'you? I can."

Buffy stared at him, trembling, and bit her lip.

Spike's head suddenly shot up.

"What is it?"

"Dunno. Somethin' don't feel right. We should get out of here - now."

Buffy didn't argue. She followed Spike out of the mausoleum and back down the path, her agitation increasing. It felt like the night had gotten colder, darker -

"Ssslayer..."

Spike came to a skidding halt as a vampire - a huge, huge vampire - jumped out in front of them.

Automatically, Buffy spun to look behind them - two more big, ugly vamps had cornered them. Her heart jumped in alarm. She'd fought some big vamps lately, but these guys looked like seasoned veterans.

"Spike..." Suddenly breathless, Buffy reached down, and pulled a stake out of the pocket of her jacket. It looked puny compared to the threat.

"The Three," she thought she heard Spike say under his breath.

"Bloody hell."

-000-

To be continued...

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A/N: Fixed the spelling mistakes, did a revision, added three pages. 8/10/05 Thanks for the feedback! Thanks for reading, everyone! Hope you liked it. (Thanks for the fanart, Vanvliet! If you guys wanna check out an awesome airbrush head-shot of Buffy from this fic, check out Vanvliet's gallery at Media/Miner/./org ). - Dev

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