Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

By Jenevieve

Summary: Buffy/Spike fanfic. Spike and Buffy POV. Takes place during "Chosen". On the eve of the final battle with the First Buffy finds herself reminiscing and reassessing where her heart lies.

Rating: R for sexual situations.

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own any of the characters. They are all the wonderful creations from the wacky mind of Joss Whedon, and I am only taking advantage of my love of the show to play with them for a little while.

Spoilers: Takes place the night before the final show down with the First during "Chosen" when everyone is getting through the night in their own way, so pretty much covers the ending of the Buffy series.

A/N: Opening lyrics from Evanescence "Before the Dawn" and the title is from a Sarah McLachlan song "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy".

Dedicated: To Nic – for all the encouragement, love, and faith in my writing skills. You've been a liberating inspiration and I love you for it!

----

Meet me after dark again and I'll hold you

I want nothing more than to see you there

And maybe tonight, we'll fly so far away

We'll be lost before the dawn....

----

A soft breeze began to pick up, caressing her face with the gentle touch of the summer night. She moved slowly, quietly among the shadows, the world around her silent but alive, pulsating with what was coming. She could feel it in the air and taste it in the back of her throat. Death was coming, and she was the last hope. It wasn't the first time she'd faced death and the end, but this time it was different. This time there was no prophecy to be fulfilled, no demonic villain out for blood and chaos just for the hell of it. No, this time it was her very existence, the very essence of what she was that was both the cause and the very thing that was at stake. The thought hung heavy in her stomach, a weight that not even the beauty of the night around her could lift. In frustration she kicked a rock lying in her path sending it skipping across the concrete of the sidewalk and smashing the pervasive silence like a canyon.

What was she even doing out tonight? Why bother patrol? No one was left in town, human or demon. They had all fled days before, and yet here she was wandering the deserted streets, stake in hand, her only company the long stretching form of her own shadow. She could feel her senses straining, her muscles tightening and relaxing. She longed for a fight, for a kill, anything really to help her forget what lay ahead of her, even if only for a moment. But there was no one to help lift her cross for her and with a heavy sigh she turned back to her thoughts letting her feet guide her.

The sound of rustling among a nearby series of trash cans snapped her back to reality. Looking around she found herself wandering the alley that lead to the Bronze. Instinctively she raised her hand, ready to strike, as she approached the cans cautiously, slowly. With a squeak, a large fat rat raced out from behind the cans and down the alley.

"Damn it!" she cried, her heart racing. Letting out a slow breath she turned her attention back towards the building before her: the cold, metallic exterior of the Bronze. Without thinking she pulled open the door and stepped inside.

Like everywhere else in the town the once lively night spot was deserted and in disarray, bearing witness to the hasty retreat of its patrons and owners. She moved quietly through the debris, her feet crunching on broken glasses and crumpled papers. She stood in silence for a few moments, her eyes moving from the dance floor to the stage to the balcony and around the rest of the room; her mind drifting back, remembering all the moments over the years however small. She recalled her first time inside, laughing with Willow and Xander, dancing with Faith, seeing Oz's band perform, the fights, Angel, stolen moments in the shadows with Spike, and all the other times. So much had happened within the steel walls of the Bronze and now, now it was all just fading memories. Turning she reluctantly headed back out into the night, her feet not through with their wanderings.

She wandered the town for an hour more, from the playground to the cemetery she knew so well. She made her way among the grave stones, so familiar and strangely welcoming to her, before finally finding her way back to her own front porch. She stared up at the exterior of her house, watching the candle light flickering in Willow's room. She hated what she had asked of Willow, of the pressure she was placing on her now, but they had no other choice, there was no other way. In her heart she believed Willow could do it, her doubt reserved only for herself now, and that doubt began to grow as she stood alone in the dark.

It was true, Caleb was gone. Now only the First remained, but in the end would the First be all that was left? She shuddered at the thought, and quickly pulled her mind back from the chasm of self-doubt she felt herself slipping into. But instead she found her mind shifting to a new dilemma that now lay open before her.

She had told Angel the truth the night before; Spike was in her heart. Even now she felt her heart flutter as she thought of him. It was unexpected and confusing but exhilarating all at the same time. When Angel had left Sunnydale all those years ago he had taken a part of her with him, a part she never thought would ever truly heal or feel again. She had given it her best shot over the years, especially with Riley, but in the end her heart knew the truth and he too had slipped back into the shadows, leaving her alone in what she was. Love was a luxury for a slayer and the rare connection she had found with Angel was something she believed she would never find again. And then Spike had waltz back into her life.

A killer, a monster in every conceivable sense of the word he had become an unlikely and often unwelcome alley, de-fanged by the power of technology. He was everything that Angel was not and as much as it enraged her she couldn't deny that part of her found it intriguing: two vampires so alike yet so different. And then he had confessed love for her.

Looking back on it now she was ashamed by how she had reacted, how she had treated him, but considering the situation and who he was then it was only natural. Even after he had won his soul back for her, after she had so cruelly used him and he so brutally attacked her, she felt guilt for how she had seen him for so long. And now, now he was deep within her heart in a way that Riley never had been, in a way that rivaled even her passion for Angel. But what did that mean?

She had thought long and hard over her relationship and feelings for Angel, reassessing and reevaluating more times then she could count. How many nights had she wished to feel his presence by her side, to know that he had her back? How many times had she dreamed of his face, the warmth of his arms, and the softness of his voice? Yet when he had returned to her, ready to stand by her side to the bitter end he was not the one her heart and soul cried out to, he was not the one whose presence she longed for. Instead, it had been William, and when she had spoken the words and told Angel to return to L.A., to allow Spike to be her champion in the battle, something deep within her had awakened. For the first time she felt a warmth and hope she had thought had vanished with Angel's parting, and now it had returned in the arms of another man. William. Spike. But what exactly was she feeling? Did she dare to speak the truth she had felt bubbling up inside of her since her conversation with Angel? Did she even know what she really was feeling?

The sound of arguing drifted out through the window panes of her dining room, pulling her attention back to reality. Suddenly she was aware of the chirping of crickets and goose bumps speckling the skin of her arms. Rubbing her arms, she opened the door and stepped back into the warm candlelight of her home. As she shut the door behind her she was acutely aware of the fact that it might be the very last night she ever stepped across the threshold of her house, and the thought caused her to pause momentarily, her hand resting gently on the familiar wood before her.

"How was the patrol?" the sound of Giles's voice startled her.

"Oh, fine," she replied with a shrug, turning to face the group bent over the dining room table. There was a game board and dice spread out across it's surface, a snoring Anya sprawled across the far corner. The smiling faces of Xander, Giles, Amanda, and Andrew stared back at her. She blinked a few times as she took in Andrew draped in a red cloak and looking like a very befuddled cross-dressing Red Riding Hood.

"You know what, I'm not going to ask," she raised her hands in surrender, a smile breaking out across her lips as she moved towards the kitchen.

"Want to join us?" Amanda piped up.

"Thanks, but no," Buffy replied, her eyes falling to the floor boards, her mind drifting to the basement below. "I have some things I need to take care of."

"Well try to get some sleep," Giles replied.

She nodded, heading through the kitchen doorway. As the sounds of the game continued behind her she made her way to the kitchen sink and poured herself a glass of water. Gulping it down, she placed the glass back in the sink and quietly made her way towards the basement door, careful not to let the others see her. She wasn't embarrassed, she just wanted some privacy. She needed time to talk with him. Quietly she made her way down the stairs.

----

He had been pacing for awhile now, the thick chain of the amulet wrapped firmly around his hand, the large jewel thumping soundlessly against his thigh. Every now and then he'd pause, scooped the jewel back into his palm and stared down at it. Finally with a heavy and exasperated sigh he heaved the necklace onto the small cot that he slept on and raised his arms over his head stretching. Closing his eyes, he turned his head from side to side in an attempt to alleviate the tension in his shoulders, but he found little relief.

"Bloody hell," he muttered to himself, shoving his hands deep down into the pockets of his leather pants and pulling out a crumpled pack of cigarettes. Stuffing one between his lips, he dug around frantically for his lighter and ignited the tip of the cigarette as fast as possible. Tossing the closed lighter onto his bed, he took in a long drag, his eyes closed, feeling the smoke pour into him filling him up. Slowly he let it out, watching it curl upward towards the wooden braces of the floor above, fading away as it floated into the shadows. He took two more long drags in the same way, feeling the smoke fill him up and then curl away as he exhaled. He had to admit he suddenly felt a bit better.

Sitting down heavily on the edge of the cot, he clutched the burning cigarette between his fore-fingers and absentmindedly ran his index finger along the scar that crossed his eyebrow, nearly burning himself in the process. He cursed quietly, popping the cigarette back into his mouth and leaned back, his arms folded behind his head. Staring up at the ceiling he listened to the others moving about.

It was a surreal sort of feeling, staring up at the blank ceiling listening in on secret conversations above, removed and forgotten in his fortress of solitude below. Despite what he had become he knew he was still unwelcome by most of them. They only tolerated him because she demanded it, and he still did not know why she continued to believe in him, to come to him.

His mind moved over the last few years from their first meeting to their unholy alliance against Angel to the moment he realized she was in his blood and he was lost to loving her. He remembered the rage, the hatred, the fire and the obsession. How he had longed to kill her, to taste her blood, but more than that he remembered her nearness and his surrender to her. He remembered lying to himself when she came to him and used him, body and soul, and he remembered the feel of her body around him, of him within her.

But more than any of that he thought of what she had done for him, the courage and the faith she had re-ignited within himself, the same fire that had now brought him to this moment. Spike, a champion; the idea still felt unnatural and alien to him. He had been called a lot of things but never a champion.

The cigarette had burned nearly to his lips and he sat up slowly, taking in one final drag before flicking it to the floor. Leaning forward he snuffed out the fading embers with the toe of his shoe, his eyes falling on the crinkled cartoon drawing of Angel that was still attached to his punching bag in the corner. He felt his fists clench and unclench instinctively as he thought of the older vampire, and rising to his feet he began to pace again.

The image of Buffy kissing Angel in the temple swam before his eyes, and again he could hear the seductive and temptuous whisper of the First in Buffy's form, "That bitch!" He shook his head. No, he didn't blame her, he couldn't blame her. And as much as he wanted to he couldn't blame Angel, though it didn't stop him from hating him for it.

"Why couldn't you have minded your own bloody business and stayed away," he growled to the empty concrete void that surrounded him.

Not that he had any more claim to Buffy than the next guy. Angel, more than anyone else, had the right to kiss her, but still it hurt just thinking about it, especially after what he and Buffy had shared the last few nights. Closing his eyes he recalled the last two nights; the way she felt in his arms, the way she smelled, the way she breathed and looked when she slept. He had never felt so deeply and so completely for another person or demon in his lives, both living and dead. She had burrowed herself so deeply and completely into him he wasn't sure he had ever really truly felt love before her, and yet he could never truly have her.

It was a reality that he had begun to face each morning when he awoke to find her gone. Even now, when all he did was hold her, he would awake to find his arms empty, the imprint of her body in the sheets cold and fading. He knew she didn't feel for him the way he did for her, but he had resigned himself to take what little pleasure and comfort he could in the moments when she came to him for support and courage. And the pleasure had been greater than he could have imagined, as he would lay beside her willing everything that he was into her that maybe she could draw some strength from it. If he could he would give his life for her and considering the situation they now faced he very much might, and he took comfort in that thought.

Again his eyes fell back to the amulet on his bed, the jewel glittering in the faint candle light. Sitting back on the cot he lifted the necklace in his hand and held it out at arms length, watching the jewel sway gently, uninhibited in the air. Did he really have what it would take to be a champion? Did they even have a chance of winning? What if he failed? What would happen to her? He swallowed hard, his eyes narrowing as he stared into one of the shimmering faces of the amulet. How could such a little thing make any sort of difference?

He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn't sense nor hear her until she reached the bottom few stairs. Looking up, his eyes met hers and quickly he dropped the amulet and rose to face her. For a moment they just looked at each other, each standing on opposite ends of the room, unsure of what to say. Finally he spoke, "Couldn't take the sleep-over upstairs either?"

She smiled, casting her glance to the floor in front of her, grateful for his gentle humor. "You know me, doing hair and taking Cosmo quizzes, not really my scene anymore."

"Face one or two apocalypses and you're suddenly too good for Cosmo? I see how it works now." He smiled back at her as she started to move towards him.

He stepped to one side as she reached out and touched his face for a moment with her hand, just staring up into his eyes. Then slowly she dropped down onto his cot, scooting her way back until her back was against the wall. Silently he followed her lead, sitting down beside her, his arms lying in his lap.

"Can't sleep either?" she finally asked, staring up into his eyes.

"Nah," he shook his head, reaching for the amulet again. "Been distracted all night but this bloody Crown jewel reject."

Reaching out she took the amulet from him and held it in her open palm. "Hey at least you'll be the belle of the ball tomorrow." She tried to smile at her own words but she choked slightly on them instead.

"Hey," he touched the side of her cheek with the back of his hand, causing her to life her face back towards him. Her eyes shone with so much emotion in the flickering light that he found himself transfixed momentarily by them. "It's going to be alright," he finally whispered down at her, his hand still resting against her check.

Slipping her hand into his open palm she gentle squeezed his hand as she nuzzled her check against the back of it. "I know," she whispered but her voice was anything but confident.

"Hey, you listen to me now. Red will work the magics and the rest of us will get the chance to work some tensions out just like you planned. Of course I get to do it looking like bloody Liberace, but hey we all can't look this glamorous in battle." When she didn't reach to his words he slipped his arm around her shoulder drawing her close to him. "Buffy, it's going to work."

She leaned into him, the fingers of her right hand intertwining with those of his left hand. "I wish I could be so sure." Turning her head she looked up at him, "You know we wouldn't have come this far if it weren't for you, Spike."

Her eyes captured and held his gaze for a moment, but quickly he forced himself to look away, too overcome by the emotions he saw seeping out, emotions he saw her showing towards him. He suddenly felt unworthy and yet acutely aware of how close her body was to his. "Nothing doing, luv. You would have figured it out sooner or later on your own."

"No Spike I mean it," she sat up now looking him square in the eyes. "You need to know just how much we all owe to you, how much I owe to you. I know you still don't believe what I said the other night but it's true. Without you I would never have gotten the scythe or defeated Caleb. But you've done more than just that. All these years, all the times you've helped us and fought with us, with me, and I..." her voice trailed off and she looked away. With a deep swallow she recomposed herself and turned back to him, "And I treated you horribly. I took you for granted, I used you. I'm sorry."

"Don't say that," he turned slightly so he was closer to her. "You treated me like I should have been treated, like the monster that I was. I'm not proud of what I've done, but it is what I was and I can't take it back. You used me but I used you too. I hurt you and those you loved. We've both made our fair share of mistakes, but that's over now. No apologies, no more guilt, ok?" He stared down into her eyes, his face so close to hers. He could feel the gentle brush of her breath against his checks, feel her heart beating quickly in her chest. His face moved a few inches closer to her face.

"Spike, I..." she began her voice barely a whisper when suddenly they felt a rumble beneath them. With a loud creak the cot gave way, snapping down the middle and sending the two of them tumbling into each other in the middle of it.

The lay there for a few seconds, their bodies pressed together, the two sides of the cot sticking up above them. Suddenly they both burst into laughter and clumsily they pulled themselves from the wreckage. Still laughing they stood looking down at the carnage, the bed frame snapped in the middle, the mattress torn open, and springs sticking out. It was a mess.

"First casualty of the battle," Buffy grinned.

"Yeah go ahead and poke fun, wasn't your bed that just imploded," Spike feigned annoyance but couldn't hold the face for long, breaking into laughter again.

"You know if the others see this they are going to want to know what exactly we were doing," Buffy raised an eyebrow at him.

"Let's leave it then. Let them talk up a storm."

She grinned up at him. It was amazing how quickly he could put her mind at ease, how hope seemed to come alive inside of her when she was with him. Standing there beside him, looking up into his eyes everything just felt right to her, even the pounding of her heart in her chest. Again she felt the overwhelming sensation that they were going to win tomorrow, that he was right, everything would be alright, and she silently thanked him for it.

"So much for sleeping tonight," he muttered, still staring down at the pile of springs, wire, and padding.

On impulse she reached out and took his hand, leading him towards the stairs. He arched an eyebrow but she pressed a finger to his lips and so he surrendered, allowing her to lead him upstairs. Quietly she pushed open the basement door, and poked her head out.

The downstairs of the house was silent. Andrew's red-hooded head lay snoring away on the dinning room table next to Amanda's. Xander had carried Anya out of the dining room and the two lay sleeping on the couch. Only Giles seemed to be still awake, sitting out on the front porch in one of the dinning room chairs, staring up at the stars.

"Guess the tension finally wore everyone out," Buffy whispered to Spike as she shut the door behind them, then taking his hand they made their way up to the second floor.

Tip-toeing down the hall, Buffy quietly opened the door to her bedroom and ushered Spike in. The sound of snoring girls echoed softly down the hall.

But just as she was shutting the door behind her Willow's voice broke the silence, "Buffy?"

Buffy glanced back at Spike then opened the door and quietly wandered back down the hall towards Willow's room. "Hey Will, didn't think you'd still be up."

Willow smiled wearily back at Buffy from her spot in the middle of her bed. Before her a pile of papers were sprawled out, a sleeping Kennedy lying beside her, the younger girls' arms wrapped protectively around Willow's waist. "I thought Faith was staying in your room."

Buffy leaned against the frame of the door way. "She was but this morning she said I could have it back. She's spending the night over at the school with Robin. They're running over things one last time to make sure there's no way the vamps can get into the sewer system and make sure they come right up to us. I think she's worried the First might try something before tonight is over so she volunteered to keep an eye on things."

Willow nodded, rubbing at her eyes.

"Try to get some sleep, Will," Buffy moved to go.

"You too, Buffy," Willow yawned back as her friend disappeared down the hall.

"Everything alright?" Spike whispered from the shadows of her room as Buffy shut the door.

"Yeah, just Will," Buffy replied. Quietly she moved around the room pulling down the shades, while Spike looked around.

"Never really been in here before," he stated rather flatly. "I mean I've been in here, but never really had much of a chance to look around before." He picked up Mr. Gordo. "Cute."

"Give me that," Buffy blushed, snatching Mr. Gordo out of Spike's hands and placing him gently onto her dresser.

Just as quickly Spike snatched up her diary that lay out on top of her desk, opened it to a blank page and began to feign reading a juicy passage in as girly a voice as he could muster, "Dear Diary, today's another day in slayerette hell. These girls are driving me nuts. If the showdown with the First doesn't come soon I may kill them all myself! Oh Angel-poo, the great big poof of a man, showed up today. Gave me a big wet kiss. Of course he's nothing compared to Spike who doesn't wear lifts and whose face registers emotions other than brooding and deeply brooding."

"Will you knock it off," she cried, clapping her hands over her mouth as her voice echoed off the walls. Spike just grinned and waved the book in front of her, until she snatched it away. "Just sit and don't touch anything."

"Whatever you say, pet," Spike chuckled, dropping down on the edge of her bed. As soon as he felt the mattress beneath him he turned and stared down at it. He was sitting on Buffy's bed in Buffy's room. Glancing up at her, his eyes were suddenly dark and very serious. "Why are we up here anyway?"

"You needed a place to sleep," she replied nervously sitting across from him at her desk. "I just thought you deserved a good night's rest."

"And where are you going to sleep?" he pressed suddenly sensing something different in her voice, something new.

"Depends on if you want the whole bed to yourself," she replied, her eyes unable to meet his.

"Why break a good tradition," Spike replied, gently patting the side of the bed next to him. She smiled, rose, and sat down beside him.

For a moment they sat side by side in silence then ever so slowly Buffy moved towards him, until her head was finally resting against his shoulder. She could feel her heart pounding away in her chest, her mind suddenly feeling very heady, her blood pumping in her veins.

Spike glanced down at the top of her head as she leaned in against him. Her nearness was intoxicating. It was amazing. He as sitting in Buffy's room on Buffy's bed beside her. Even during their tumultuous affair the year before he had never set foot this far into her bedroom let alone sat on her bed. She had always come to him and left him when she was done; always keeping him at arms length, no strings attached. But this, this was different. This time she had invited him into her last personal sanctuary. Slowly he wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"Spike," she whispered looking up into his eyes, her face so close to his. "Thank you."

He smiled back down at her, feeling the warmth of her heart spreading over him. Her hand came up and she cupped the side of his face in her palm, gently stroking his cheek with her finger tips. He stared back into the deep luminous pools of her eyes, his heart and mind completely lost to her and suddenly, before he knew what he was doing he leaned down and kissed her. The kiss lasted only for a moment because as soon as he realized he was doing it, Spike pulled back, his eyes full of fear as he stared back at Buffy.

"I'm, I'm sorry..." he began to mutter as he pushed her hand from his face and started to turn away, but before he could move away completely she reached out and pulled his face back to hers, kissing him back.

Their second kiss last a few more seconds than the first, until once again Spike drew back first. He looked down at her, surprise and confusion etched across his face. He was so afraid of reading her wrong, of doing the wrong thing, but she smiled up at him and he could not resist, leaning in and kissing her again. Slowly Buffy's arms moved upward, wrapping around Spike's neck as his ensnared her waist, pulling her closer to him. As the seconds ticked by their kiss deepened, lips parting giving way to deeper and longer kisses.

He tasted her, her lips, her tongue and found her sweeter than ever before. His mind raced. The kisses were like air to him now, breathing new life into him. How many times had he kissed these lips before? Yet somehow they felt different, new. Maybe it was his soul but it felt like there was something more too them. So long passion and sex had been the center of their trysts but this time he felt much more, more than he could ever put into words and the craziest part about it was that he felt it reflected from her. Where once he had imagined so much more in what were really hollow kisses, the kind of kisses that seek only to devour until the hunger is slacked, he now felt warmth, tenderness, innocence, even apprehension. Was he dreaming or was there more in Buffy's kisses?

Buffy's fingers wound through the soft curls of his hair, as she met his kisses with equal vigor. She felt like she was free-falling and it felt amazing. She had no idea what she was doing and yet she didn't care. For the first time in a long time she was letting her heart guide her and it felt great. Spike's kisses melted away the fear and uncertainty that had guarded her heart so well since Angel's departure and she welcomed the rush with every fiber of her being. Everything felt different but it was a refreshing sort of change and she dove into it full force until her heart felt like it would burst.

Finally they broke apart, both gasping for air, their foreheads resting against each others. Buffy's arms were still draped across Spike's neck, his hands tenderly holding her waist, his fingers gently rubbing her bare skin. Slowly Buffy tilted her head back so she could look Spike in the eyes, a smile breaking out on her lips. Her smile was contagious and soon they were both laughing softly, still trying to catch their breath.

"Buffy," Spike's voice was soft but husky, full of emotion. "Maybe I should..."

"No," she interrupted, again cupping his chin with one of her hands. Again she just stared into his eyes, her fingers caressing the lines of his jaw. There was so much in her eyes, so much she was trying to say. How could she make him understand? "Spike," she finally whispered, her lower lip trembling ever so slightly. "Spike I need to tell you. I need you to know..."

"Shhh," he leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. "No more explanations, no more analysis, luv. Like you said before we'll be heroes first then sort it all out after."

She felt a sob bubbling up in her throat. She'd never experienced compassion, understand, and patience like this before. How could he give so much and expect so little back in return? Again a cascade of emotions so strong and so overwhelming washed over her and she made a decision. Tonight would be about him and her, no one else. No apocalypses, no tomorrows, no worries, no games; nothing but honesty, pure and unadulterated. Leaning forward she kissed him long and hard, her hands sliding up his chest over his shirt. She could feel the smoothness of his muscles through the cotton material and she kissed him harder, pushing all her longings, desires, and true feelings into the kiss. Silently she prayed he would understand the truth in her heart.

Again they broke apart panting, the edges of Buffy's shirt caught up in Spike's fingers. He pulled back further this time, looking down at her, his face a mix of confusion, surprise, and hope. Was she telling him what he thought she was? Was she actually returning his feelings with the same degree of intensity and purity? Spike's head swam at the thought, and he was sure if his heart could beat his chest would explode. No, he must be wrong, but his answer was clear in her eyes, her soft, inviting eyes. There was no mistaking it and without hesitation Spike moved forward capturing her lips once again, a happiness spreading through him like he had never felt before.

Carefully he leaned her small body back on the bed, his own body stretching out beside her. His fingers moved slowly, gently up the curves of her body just beneath the folds of her shirt, her skin warm and soft to his touch. Her arms wrapped tighter around his neck, drawing him down against her, while her hands slide down his back, moving back and forth over the muscles beneath. Their kiss deepened, and Buffy moved her hands along the inside of Spike's shirt. Breaking their kiss momentarily she lifted it effortlessly over his head, her arms greedily drawing his bare chest and shoulders back down to her as she re-captured his lips with her own.

Her heart was pounding so loud she was sure the entire house could hear it, and she felt a flutter in her stomach at the possibility that someone could walk in at any moment, but she didn't care. Everything felt so right, so complete. She never imagined that the touch of another person could complete her in such a profound way; make her feel like there was nothing else in existence but her and him. Nothing mattered now, not the First, not being a slayer, nothing but him. His warmth consumed her and she relished ever kiss, every touch, basking in its intoxicating rush.

With a happy sigh, Spike released her from his kiss, his head moving down towards her stomach. He glanced up at her, a playful smile tugging at the edges of his lips, as his fingers gently fluttered across the soft skin of her stomach, making her giggle. She slapped playfully at his shoulder and he replied with a pout before lowering his head and laying gentle kisses along her stomach. Slowly he moved his head forward, kissing upward, his fingers moving her shirt up at the same time. She closed her eyes, each kiss sending shock waves of pleasure through her entire body. Finally he found his way up to her chest and sliding a hand beneath her back he lifted her towards him and slid her shirt and bra off in one smooth motion. Finding his lips again she pulled him back to her, the bare skin of his chest cool and smooth against her own. Tilting her head she kissed her way along the side of his neck, listening to him sigh with pleasure until she found his smiling lips once more.

Spike's hands slide down to the lip of her pants. For a moment his fingers moved in soft circles along its lip before he pulled back from her kiss. Staring down at her in the shadows of her bedroom, he was overcome by how beautiful she looked. It was a sight beyond his wildest dreams and he wished he could freeze it in time. "Buffy," he whispered down at her smiling face. "Are you...is this what..."

Before he could get the words out she reached up to him, placing one hand on his cheek and her other against his heart, his dead heart. Gently she caressed the skin on his chest and nodded. It was all Spike could do to keep from choking up as he leaned back down into her, her hand remaining against his heart.

Slowly, gently he slide her pants off, before slipping off his own. Again he released her from his kiss and for a moment he lay on top of her, their bare skin resting against each other, staring down into her eyes. He wasn't sure why he was so nervous, so acutely aware of every soft curve of her body. Hadn't this been what he'd wished for for so long, to win her over body, soul, and heart? He swallowed hard.

She could see the nervousness in his eyes and gently, with a soft smile she reached her hands down until her fingers were entwined with his. Leaning upward she kissed him, as she slide her arms and his upward until they were outstretched above her head, their entwined hands resting against the back of her bed. Leaning back he stared down into her eyes, his hands holding hers tightly. He could feel the warmth of her inner thighs hugging the sides of his own legs in a soft, sensual embrace. She smiled up at him and he smiled back as they began to make love.

Their bodies moved in perfect unison, one body, one form, rocking back and forth slowly, gently, rhythmically. Seconds ticked by and beads of sweat began to break out over both their bodies as the waves of pleasure began to swell, but despite the rising intensity they kept their eyes locked on one another's; watching joyfully as waves of pleasure washed over the other one's face. Rapidly the pleasure grew more and more and Buffy sucked in a sharp breath as their bodies began to move faster, longer, deeper, shadows silently dancing across the wall of her room. Always her eyes remained quietly on his and his on hers even in the final exploding rush of pure joy, their eyes saying all that their mouths could not, bearing their hearts and souls naked before the other.

The rush seemed to last forever, and they clung to one another trembling as the final waves subsided, leaving their bodies happily exhausted and tingling all over. There in the dark and comfort of Buffy's bedroom the truth of what they were to one another lay sprawled before them in all its beauty, and for the first time neither of them felt alone in the world.

----

The soft glow of the pre-dawn filtered beneath the drawn shades, casting a thin strip of faint pink across her sleeping eyelids. Slowly her eyelashes fluttered and she awoke to the slowly growing light. She blinked for a few moments, taking in the familiar surroundings of her bedroom. How long had she been asleep?

Rolling onto her back she felt his body stir slightly beside her, his arms still encircling her waist, possessively, lovingly. She smiled as she looked at him curled on his side facing her. His hair was disheveled; blonde curls sticking out above the comforter he had yanked up around his head, strands falling haphazardly about his forehead. He looked so innocent, so defenseless laying there beside her, his feet sticking out of the end of the comforter. With a smile she turned towards him, kissing him gently on the forehead. He wrinkled his nose in his sleep and exhaled heavily, pulling his feet up under the comforter, and she had to stifle a laugh.

Kissing him on the forehead one more time, she slipped quietly out of his grasp. Leaning over the edge of the bed she scooped up his black t-shirt and pulled it on over head. Smoothing the edges down around her hips, she stood up and tiptoed over to the windows. Carefully she undid the sash that held back her curtains and pulled them tightly over the window, eliminating the thin lines of light that had started to slip in from beneath the shades. All she needed was for her champion to start burning before the battle started. That was a conversation she definitely did not want to have to have with the others.

With a smile, she glanced back over at Spike's sleeping form. She was surprisingly awake despite the early hour, feeling refreshed and hopeful. She stretched and yawned, but instead of slipping back in beside him, she settled on the corner of the bed for a few moments to watch him sleep. It had become a secret pleasure of hers, sitting there watching him so vulnerable and so innocent. It was moments like this in which his soul really shown, and not a single trace of the monster that he was remained. No matter what anyone else believed she knew Spike had changed; the demon was dead and the soul of a man remained.

Watching him sleep, her mind replayed the events of the night before over and over again and she found herself nibbling her lower lip with pleasure. When she had invited him into her room she had not intended to do anything more than talk and just be together, but intentions are one thing and her heart had had other ideas. Unlike the times before when they had slept together, last night had been different, special, and meaningful.

Their eyes had never strayed; they had stayed with one another through every wave of pleasure, every second of bliss. Not once did she have the desire to look away from him, to withdraw into herself in order to enjoy the pleasure, to enjoy leaving the world behind. Even when her entire body was consumed by wave after wave of pure bliss, and instinctively her eyes had closed, her back arching, she had pulled him to her tightly, feeling his body respond in the same way, and finally opening her eyes back to his. No, this time had definitely been different; they had shared the enjoyment, shared the retreat from reality, and it had been more amazing than all the heat, all the passion, all the carnal desire they had shared before. This time she had been there with him body and soul.

She shivered slightly in the morning chill, and with one final stretch she slid silently back into the bed beside him. Gently she pulled him to her, his arms encircling her hips, his head resting against her chest. Carefully she slid her arms around his neck, her fingers softly running through his tousled hair, her cheek resting against his forehead. With a smile on her lips, she yawned again, allowing sleep to reclaim her.

----

He awoke suddenly, confused at first by the strange shapes and shadows that loomed about him. But as he turned his head he felt her breathing in his arms and the events of the previous night came back to him. With a smile he turned to find her holding him in her arms. He stared at her sleeping face with surprise. Never had he awoke in the morning to find her in his arms, and never had he expected to awaken in hers, but there she was, dressed in his t-shirt holding him protectively, lovingly. He hugged her to him tightly, kissing her sleeping cheek.

"Thank you," he whispered against her chest, his eyes closed as he basked in the warmth of her body.

"Spike," the soft sound of her voice rippled up beneath his head.

Leaning back he slid his body upward so he was lying nose to nose with her. "Morning, luv," he smiled, kissing her on the tip of her nose.

She wrinkled her nose and smiled back at him. "Is it morning already?"

He nodded. "Suppose we should be rousing the troops soon." As soon as the words left his mouth he wanted to take them back, a wave of sadness washing over Buffy's face.

"In a minute," she smiled sadly back at him. "Can we just stay like this for a little bit longer?"

"Yeah, sure," he whispered, kissing her forehead.

"Spike, I want you to know..."

"Not now, pet," he shook his head at her and pulled her tightly to him. He knew what she wanted to say, he had felt it in every touch, every kiss, every movement of her body the night before. He had read the truth in her eyes and believed it, but he couldn't bear to hear it, not now. He had resigned himself to whatever fate lay ahead of him in the coming battle, even accepted the strong possibility of his own death, but if she spoke what he knew she wanted to he might lose his nerve. No, he had promised her that they would be heroes first, and it was a promise he intended to keep. If they survived there would be plenty of time for words.

They lay for a few more minutes together, not wanting to let go, taking comfort in the warmth and safety of each others arms. But as with all things time stops for no one, and the eventual tap on the door forced them to face the reality of the day.

"Buffy?" Willow's voice called softly through the door.

"I'll be right out, Will," Buffy called back, unable to hide the sadness from her voice.

"Time to be heroes," Spike sighed as he climbed out of the bed after her and began to dress. Pulling on a new shirt, Buffy handed Spike back his. He held it for a few moments before pulling it over his head. It was warm and smelled like her. He smiled broadly at that thought. No matter what happened she would be with him in the fight.

They said nothing more as they finished dressing and together straightened out Buffy's bed. But as Buffy prepared to open her bedroom door she felt his hands on her shoulders as he gently turned her back to face him, and reaching out kissed her one more time.

"Believe in that, luv," he whispered, his lips retreating slightly from her own, his face still so near, "like I believe in you."

She nodded slightly as he bent and kissed her one last time. Then with a parting smile, she opened the door and they stepped out together ready to face their destinies.

----

The world was crashing down around them and she watched in slow motion as the others raced up the stairs towards the surface. Rocks tumbled down and the floor beneath her feet began to shift, but still she held her ground, moving instinctively towards him.

"Buffy!" Faith cried, looking back at her injured friend but Buffy was not prepared to leave, not yet.

She reached his side in a few short strides, flames leaping from his hands. Without question she reached out, her fingers entwining with his just like they had so many times the night before.

"I love you," she called out to him over the chaos that surrounded them, her voice shaking with emotion. Finally she had said it, words she had been trying to say for too long now. Finally he knew the truth. He was in her heart deeper than any man ever had been. She loved him, body, soul, and heart.

He smiled back at her through the pain that was slowly overtaking his body, his soul ablaze within him. "No you don't. But thanks for saying it," he replied, a playful smile crossing his lips.

He knew his words were a lie and that she knew he knew the truth, but he was trying to make it easier on her, on them both. Standing there together as the world fell around their feet Spike's fate was painfully clear, and so he lied to her to save her, to save himself. But his lies could not disguise what shone in his eyes, and she smiled slightly knowing the truth.

And then, she was gone and with a smile on his face, Spike let go and his soul burned the Hellmouth to the ground in a blaze of glory.

----

"What do you think we should do, Buffy?" Willow's voice danced across the air as the group stood staring back at the crater that had once been Sunnydale.

"Yeah, you're not the one and only Chosen anymore. Just gotta live like a person. How's it feel?" Faith chimed in.

"Yeah, Buffy. What are we going to do now?" Dawn added leaning towards her sister.

But Buffy just stood still, staring out at the crater, her arms gently hugging her stomach. A smile slowly began to creep across her lips. This was it, it was all finally over; a normal life stretched before her feet, the one thing she had always longed for and it was all thanks to him. She knew he was gone, consumed by the power of the amulet but she felt no sorrow, no grief. Deep down inside, her heart beat on as strong as ever. She could feel him, inside of her, and she knew their story was not done. Someday they would find one another again, and in the meantime the hope, courage, and strength he had instilled in her would live on, helping her to live her new life. All she had to do now was just believe.

--------

Fin.

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©2004
Ok, that's it. Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave feedback (only way I'll get better)!

Special Thanks to Angela and Candice for the beta reads! You guys are the best!!!