Author's Note: It's been six years in the making, but it's finally done! Cue the Snoopy Dance! Heh. Many thanks to those of you who've patiently awaited sporadic updates and graciously left much-appreciated comments. Thanks also to those who have only recently discovered the story and offered your encouragement. All of you are what kept me going. I hope you find it worth the wait.
A freshly showered Buffy leaned back against the headboard of her bed, vastly more comfortable now in red cotton pajama bottoms and a white tank top. Legs outstretched, arms and ankles crossed, she watched as a fully dressed Spike—insert Slayer pouty face—paced back and forth along the length of their bedroom.
"Bloody hell! Bloody, buggering, sodding, damn-it-all-to-fucking hell!"
She eyed him curiously. "So fess up. What bothers you more? That you shared the prophecy with Angel? Or that Giles found a whole new prophecy that's just about you? Well, you and me," she amended.
"What do you think?" he growled, tossing her a sour look. His pacing continued unabated.
She shrugged. "It's a tie?"
Instead of responding, he growled again, following it up with a particularly pithy string of swear words. Most of which Buffy didn't understand since they must have been drawn from some of the demon languages Spike knew. But she was pretty sure that if she did understand them, she'd be blushing profusely.
She gave him a minute or two then tried again. "Come on. Aren't you even curious about what it says?"
This time he halted to glare at her, and she held up her hands. "I know! It's the principle of the thing. I get that. But aren't you just a teensy bit curious? It's one thing to say we're not going to buy into the whole destiny thing, but when there's actually a prophecy already written about you, to just pretend it doesn't exist feels like the opposite of genius.
"I mean, how are we supposed to know what not to do if we don't know what they want us to do? Should we just spend the rest of our lives going, 'Oh, gee, I was going to do this, but I guess I better not just in case there's a prophecy I might be fulfilling.' Only, maybe that's what makes us fulfill the prophecy and we wind up doing exactly what they want us to do anyway. Then who'd get the last laugh?"
Spike was shaking his head before she even finished. "Not the point."
"No?" She tried not to smile. "Really kind of thought it was."
He narrowed his gaze, brows drawn together in a fierce frown as he jabbed a finger at her. "Don't get it, do you? They're trying to suck us back in. We give in, might as well bend over and let them have at it."
Then he was off once more, pacing to and fro as he waved an angry hand in the air. "Need to show them we're not going to play their games. If they want to make prophecies about us, can't bloody well stop them. But we sure as sodding hell don't have to buy into it. Don't have to take note." He halted, motioning in her direction. "Look at you. You and that prophecy about the first time you died. Did you really fancy knowing you were gonna snuff it?"
Cocking her head, she shrugged. "Not big with the warm and fuzzies, no. But what if it's not always bad? Dawn and Giles didn't look all gloomy-doomy about the new prophecy. In fact, Dawn seemed pretty pumped. What if it's something good? I mean…really, really good. We could wind up missing out on it."
"Again. Not. The point," he ground out through clenched teeth.
"Then what if we find a happy medium?" she countered, pushing away from the pillows and rising to her knees. "We could pick and choose. Sometimes we could be Prophecy Couple and sometimes we could be Team Free Will. Our call, not theirs."
He glared at her. "Yeah? And what happens when we disagree on which way to go? Case in point."
"I don't know." Buffy shuffled over to the edge of the mattress. "I guess that's one of the things we'd have to figure out. Spike, we took a stand. I know it seems like we'd be backing down, but we didn't really think things through. If there's a prophecy that the world's going to end and I play some part in it, I want to know. If it helps me do the right thing, if it helps me save the world or even one person, it's worth it."
Spike squinted, long and hard. Thinking it over, or maybe just tired of arguing about it—Buffy couldn't tell. Then he closed the gap between them until his knees bumped the mattress, bringing them nose-to-nose as he invaded her space.
Piercing blue eyes searched hers. Pretty eyes. Gorgeous eyes.
"And if one of those prophecies said you had to dump me and be with Angel to save the world…what would you do?"
She'd missed those eyes so much. Not to mention the full lips, chiseled chest, strong arms and oh-so talented fingers. But most of all, she'd missed him—the whole package. And now he was here. Now he was hers.
Hard head and all.
She summoned her frowny face. "Pretty sure I remember answering that question. Not to mention almost getting squished for my trouble by Godzilla's invisible cousin."
Full lips turned petulant. "Doesn't count. Saving the world was never mentioned in that particular scenario."
"Hello! Heavily implied!" She sighed, reaching up to cradle his face. "Spike…my answer still stands."
"So you say now." His gaze slid away from hers. "But what if you knew, in no uncertain terms, that's what it would take?"
Searching his face, Buffy wondered if it would always be this way. If deep inside there was some part of Spike that would never feel good enough. Never feel secure enough. A part that would always question the depth and duration of her love. She might have to spend the rest of her life convincing him.
Tugging his head closer she leaned in, dropping slow, feather-soft kisses on his forehead, his nose and finally his mouth. When she pulled back, she gave him the only answer she had.
"I'd find another way."
Then they were locked together, fast and hard—tongues teasing, teeth nipping, mouths ravaging in brazen abandon. She clung to him desperately, arms twining around his neck as their bodies melded together from chest to thigh. Desperate fingers tangled in his hair, wreaking havoc on the slicked-back strands.
Somewhere deep inside him, a low growl reverberated. A primal call, felt more than heard, it sent her eyelids fluttering shut and dark, delicious shivers racing down her spine. At the same time, a muscled thigh nudged its way between her legs, almost tipping her off balance. But strong hands steadied her. Gripped her backside. Pulled her into him. Made it clear exactly where this was heading.
As if there could have been any other choice.
She shuddered against him, crying out as he nipped the tender flesh beneath her ear. Then answered in kind, biting an earlobe before sucking and nibbling her way along the strong column of his neck. He groaned. She hummed. He growled. She gasped. Together, they created a symphony of raw sexual need.
When his mouth lingered in the hollow of her throat, she clutched at his arms, nails digging deep into rock-hard biceps. Her head fell back, the better to accommodate him as his relentless licking set every nerve ending in her body on fire.
Fighting against a tide of sheer sensation, a thought surfaced. With superhuman effort, Buffy forced out the words.
"So we're…good…with the prophecy…right? Find out…our options."
Spike's head lifted. Passion-glazed eyes regarded her beneath a quirked brow. "You really want to talk about this now?" he demanded hoarsely.
They stared at each other, the sound of ragged breathing breaking the silence. Then by unspoken consent, they dove back in.
Eventually, Buffy found herself stretched across the bed—head hanging off the edge as Spike's mouth lavishly worshipped at her breasts. Pajama-clad legs were locked around his waist, fiercely seeking the contact she craved. Along the way she'd lost the tank top and nearly her mind—only a last shred of lucidity allowed a persistent knocking sound to finally register.
Buffy let out a sharp hiss, tugging frantically at Spike's head as it traveled south, along with her pajama bottoms. Still caught up in a lust-induced haze, he resisted her efforts until a well-placed jab brought him to his senses.
"Bloody hell!" he yelped.
"Shhhh!" she hissed, slapping a hand over his mouth. then called out in what she hoped was a reasonably steady voice.
"Who is it?"
A few beats passed before a timid answer wafted through the closed door.
"It's…it's Kitty, miss. I've come with your stew."
Buffy licked the last bit of gravy from her spoon, dropping it into the bowl with a satisfied sigh. Turning her head she eyed Spike, stretched out beside her on the bed, and smiled.
"Her timing could have been better, but I've got to admit I was way hungrier than I realized." At his amused snort, she rolled her eyes, adding primly, "For food, I mean."
Shifting a bit, Buffy leaned across him to the bedside table, depositing the bowl next to a glass holding the last dregs of Spike's liquid lunch. Then she eased herself back against the headboard and rested her head on his shoulder.
"There's something else I've been wondering…about that whole prophecy-sharing thing with you and Angel. What happens now? I mean, you're not human, but maybe you're not as much of a vampire either. You can tolerate more sunlight. Maybe even work your way up to something that passes for a tan, as long as you don't get stupid. But what else has changed?"
He shrugged, sending her head bobbing up and down. "Got no bloody clue. Too busy trying to bring you back to do much thinking on it."
Shifting, Buffy lifted his arm, draping it around her shoulders as she snuggled closer. Her head tilted back, the better to bask in his heated gaze.
"So we figure it out as we go, huh?"
"Reckon so. Though now that we've got you back safe and sound, something tells me dear old Rupert may have a few tests already in the works."
Buffy snorted softly, lips curving in a wry smile. "Wouldn't surprise me. You going to humor him?"
"Expect so. Have to keep my girl's family happy, don't I?"
Her smile faded into something more serious. "No. You don't," she stated firmly. "You only do it if you want to, clear? You don't have to keep anyone happy. Except for yours truly, of course. And just to give you fair warning, expect to be very busy in that area," she added, shooting him a wicked grin.
Spike grinned back. Then frowned, the lascivious gleam in his eye shifting into a hard glint.
"Isn't over, is it? Dru. You. The soul. The amulet. The prophecy. And last but not bloody least, Puppet Boys for The Powers That Pull Our Strings. Something tells me I'm always gonna be tied to Angel. Doomed to spend bloody eternity sharing everything with the Great Git."
Buffy brightened. "Ooh, kinky!" Then leaning in, she gave him a long, slow kiss, at last pulling back to smirk up at him. "But naughty thoughts of threesomes aside, didn't we go over this already? Angel and I have a history, yes, and that's just what it is now…history. Maybe you'll share other things, maybe you won't. But as far as this slayer goes? From this point on and forever after, one Buffy Anne Summers is exclusively yours.
"Sorry to disappoint," she teased. "I know how much you love being right."
His lips curved in a soft, sexy smile. "S'okay. Reckon I'll live." Then he sobered, his gaze turning intense as he gave her "the look," triggering a delicious tingle deep in the pit of her stomach. Ironically enough, it also stirred up a few latent doubts. Settling back against him, she bit her lip.
"On the other hand…are we crazy? Can we really make this work? I love you, but it's not like I have a great track record when it comes to relationships. And I know us. I'll do something, or you'll say something, and we'll be at each other's throats. Literally."
Spike stirred, shushing her. "It'll work, love. We'll make it work. Waited too long. Been through too much for it not to." He planted a light kiss on the top of her head, his voice low and soothing as his arm tightened around her. "I'm not Angel. I'm not Finn. And I'm not gonna leave, if that's what you're thinking. Yeah, we'll fight. And we'll shag. And we'll fight and then shag. Because that's what we do. That's who we are. I don't know about you, but I think it would be bloody boring any other way."
She thought it over as his hand rubbed gentle circles along her pajama-clad thigh. "So we're good, right?" she ventured at last. "I love you, you love me, we love each other and we both know it. And we can be together now. As in officially-a-couple together."
"Buffy…" Spike hesitated.
Suddenly still, she eyed him warily. "What Buffy? Buffy, what?"
"It's just that…"
He trailed off again. Something in his voice worried her enough to propel her up and off the bed. She glared down at him.
"No! Whatever it is, no! We just got everything settled!"
Rolling off the opposite side of the bed in a single fluid move, Spike came gracefully to his feet and looked at her apologetically. "Not everything, love. There's still Sunnydale."
She stared at him. "What are you talking about? Sunnydale is gone. Dead and buried."
"Yeah, but what happened there isn't." Circling the bed, he closed the gap between them, stopping just short of touching her. "Mistakes were made. The kind that leave scars. Need to get some things said before we can move forward."
Buffy's heart plummeted. She'd tried to tell him when he'd been in the coma. But it hadn't been an easy place to revisit, even though he'd been unconscious. It was even less so now that he stood facing her, a tangible reminder of that dark time when she'd almost lost herself.
Dropping her gaze, she focused on his chest. "When you were in the coma, I tried to let you know how sorry I was…for the way I treated you. For all those times I hurt you. I hoped that somehow you heard me. I am sorry, Spike. I really am."
Buffy's head jerked up as he laughed harshly, her gaze drawn to his face. His eyes shone with a dangerous glint that looked like a mix of anger and disbelief.
"You're sorry," he echoed. "About how you treated me?" He shook his head. "Could have been a bit nicer sometimes, yeah, but you weren't wrong. Maybe in the how of it, but not in the why. What about the things I did to you? What about that night…in your bathroom? Never really talked about it, did we? After I came back. Not the way we should have. Never talked about where we stood, what we felt. Tried to go on like…" Trailing off, he looked around, reaching for the words. Gave up and sighed. "Tried to go on."
Buffy gazed up at him. "I thought you knew I forgave you. I mean, eventually." Even to her own ears, her voice sounded very small.
"Course I did, love." He rushed to reassure her. "Saw it in your eyes that night in the basement. Before the Bringers carted me off. But some things can't be washed away that easy."
Buffy hesitated, remembering what Angel had said about Spike and the Shanshu. That maybe his reasons for wanting it had run deeper than a simple need to win out over Angel. That perhaps he might have considered it a sign of redemption.
Her brow crinkled as she gazed at him intently. "Is that the reason you stayed away? The real reason you didn't let me know you were alive? Because you've never forgiven yourself?"
She took his silence as an answer.
"But…you came back. You stayed. Even when Giles and the others didn't want you there."
"Needed me, didn't you? And it wasn't only you that brought me back there. The First had a hand in it. Was for you I stayed, though. And after that…was for me I stayed away."
She fell silent, thinking about all the things she might have said if they'd had this conversation at any point in the past. But so much had changed in such a short time. Well, short from her perspective.
After several moments passed, she sighed. "Okay, I get it. We're big with the forgiving each other but not so great on forgiving ourselves. Even if we kid ourselves into thinking we have. So what do we do about that?"
He ducked his head, examining the toe of his boot as if a scuffed-up Doc Marten could hold all the answers. "Don't rightly know. Never studied on it. Not really my style, dwellin' on things that can't be changed."
She took a deep breath. "What about things that can be? Like now." She moved closer. "Like us."
"Come again?" His head was still down. For some reason he wouldn't look at her.
"Spike." She glared at the top of his still-tousled head. "You heard me."
"Yeah. I just…" He trailed off again.
"Just what?" she coaxed.
Raising his head, he smiled in that rare, sweet way that never failed to get to her. "Just wanted to hear it again."
She fought the knowing smile that tugged at her lips, rolling her eyes at him instead.
"You mean…'us.' You wanted to hear 'us' again."
He nodded, the warm spark in his eye catching fire when Buffy placed her hand on his chest. Walking him slowly backwards, she didn't stop until his back hit the wall. She leaned in close, lifting her face to his. Spike closed what was left of the gap, bending down to meet her—their lips almost touching.
"Spike?" she whispered.
"Yeah?" he breathed.
"This whole thing we do? Making things harder than they have to be? Ends now. No more."
He pulled back to quirk an eyebrow at her. "Just like that?"
"Just like that."
He smiled. "Bossy little bint, aren't you?"
She drew his head back down, threading her fingers through his hair as she did her best to kiss him senseless. When she finally surfaced for air, she nodded. "And you love it." She kissed him again. "So…no more baggage, okay?"
"I like baggage," he pointed out, lips and hands working their magic until she almost forgot how to breathe.
She grabbed his head. "Bite me," she panted.
"Funny girl," he murmured, kissing her again.
"No…I mean it. Bite me." She tilted her head, exposing her throat as she tugged on his hair, coaxing him toward her neck.
She could feel the tense shudder that ran through his body. "Buffy…"
"It's okay. I trust you," she promised, then took unfair advantage, wriggling against him until his eyes almost crossed.
But instead of succumbing, Spike grasped her by the shoulders, holding her at arm's length
"Buffy…love…that's something else we need to talk about first."
She pouted. "Tired of talking. We're not good at it."
"All the more reason to try then," he countered.
"Spike…why can't you just…"
It was as close as she'd come to begging, but to no avail.
"Shhh…we'll figure it out, love," he soothed. "Later."
Then, with a dizzying swoop, it was her back pressed against the wall with Spike leaning into her. Bowing his head, he nuzzled her cheek, kissing the bump on her nose ever so softly. To a weak-kneed Buffy it felt like the sexiest thing ever.
Or maybe a close second to the things his clever fingers were doing inside her pajama bottoms.
"Later," she echoed faintly, her head falling back against the wall with a soft thud.
Then his tongue replaced those fingers and she totally lost it—gasping and shuddering her way through sheer bliss. The sensations sent her heart skipping crazily, unleashing a raw deluge of emotion that was almost too much to bear.
The tremors gradually subsided, but Spike continued on, seemingly content to spend the rest of the night there. But Buffy had other ideas. Grabbing him by the collar, she hauled him to his feet, kissing him until the room seemed to spin around them.
"My turn," she ordered. Grasping his head with both hands, she directed his gaze toward the pile of pillows and rumpled bedding across the room. "Only…some place more comfy."
He nodded, his hands still gliding over her body.
"Wherever you want to start, pet. Not gonna stop till I've had my wicked way with you everywhere in every way. In the chair…" He kissed her forehead. "On the rug…" He kissed her chin. "In the bath…" He brushed a soft kiss across that ticklish place between her breasts. "And there's a nice, dark spot in the hallway…"
"Shut up," she panted. "Less talk, more action."
Spike growled. Sweeping her up in his arms, he strode across the room, her pajama bottoms left behind in a lonely puddle on the floor. His steps faltered as Buffy's mouth fastened on his neck, biting down with sharp, determined teeth.
She managed to tear off his shirt just before they missed the bed.