A/N This story was written for the Twistedspuffy LJ community--a community dedicated to twisting every BtVS episode in a distinctly spuffy way. I am sure you can understand the difficulties arising when attempting this for episodes in season one when Spike hadn't even arrived in Sunnydale yet. Rising to the challenge were many authors and I believe there is now a wealth of season one spuffy for devoted readers. Here is my contribution. I hope you enjoy it.Megan

To Trick a Witch

"He is suffering."

"He was meant to."

"But he has had enough."

"He deserves more."

"But he loves—"

"That was his crime. He changed destiny—"

"And can we not change it back?"

Silence.

"Bring him forth."

The endless Nowhere was silent, but the activity burst through a tunnel of energy so frenetic that Spike almost tossed his cookies. It was just typical. He was having a good day—his numb lips almost approaching a smile when that last demon he'd been wailing on fell over and its head rolled off the roof. He'd almost entered a state of melancholy, and after a hundred years of being the Power's bitch, it was looking like a good place to settle. Maybe even buy a house; get a watch dog like that slimy bugger on The Lost Boys.

The landing felt a lot like he'd had his head split in half and like the agony of a long gone chip reacting to him bombing a substantially sized building. He screamed, the familiar pain intolerable as he tried to first cradle his head in his hands and then counteract the internal pain with external blows with his own fists. It was five minutes before he could see the colours beyond his own eyes. Even then when he all was set and clear, he wished he hadn't opened his eyes on the Greek aristocratic garb of the Oracles of the universe.

Spike groaned and dropped to his knees, feeling the weariness of a century of being summonsed to a job the Powers felt could not go ahead without him on side. A hundred years of trying to be worthy of the one he'd lost—the one who'd left him long ago in a world of eternal pain and misery.

"D-day again I take it," he gasped through chapped lips. The pain dried him out, sapping all his energy as he succumbed to the lure of the floor. The trip never got any easier. Being collected for these little tête-à-têtes was just a bit much for Spike. These were Powers that had the world at their feet. Couldn't they send a bloody fax?

"You are required, Vampire."

His chuckle was filled with wry amusement.

"A hundred years of head-splitting agony and I think I picked up on that message. So what part of the world has gone all to fuck now?" Healing was kicking in and Spike slowly made it to his feet, refusing to look at the serenely calm duo that thought they needed to have him face to face before they dished his assignments out.

"We grow weary of your complaints. You are to receive permanence in the world. Your destiny is to be renewed."

The duality of their voice in his head really didn't do anything for his throbbing pain, and the cryptic messages really got on his nerves.

"What the hell does that mean? My destiny? Bloody cancelled that out, didn't I? Met the girl, got the soul, gave up evil. How much more of my arse do you lot want?" The anger he always pushed way down inside himself was bubbling too close to the surface now. The existence he had embraced after losing Buffy in the Hellmouth so long ago was one of an emotional vacuum.

"We are not requiring any of your body parts. There is a girl that needs your skill and devotion. We will send you to exist in her world until your second time to come."

Shock and horror took hold. Face drained, a ball of dread bounced and settled in his gut. A girl. They wanted to send him to a girl. He was up on Power short-hand. They wanted him to go and be saviour to a slayer. Just the suggestion sucked out all the goodwill he may have felt for these endless beings. It carved him in stone and flooded him with terror.

No more slayers.

It had been his only request when he'd agreed to become their interdimensional champion. He'd travel anywhere, kill anything, do all manner of good—as long as they left his path empty of slayers. A century past and they'd kept their word.

"No." It was just a single word, standing alone against the power of almighty, but it held so much grief that it would make even the most evil blink on encountering it. Still, it moved them not at all.

"You have been chosen."

He flinched at THAT word and dropped to his knees, arms boneless at his sides.

"I can't do it. You can't make me go to one. I hate them. I'll kill her," he threatened spontaneously, helplessly. "So help me, throw me into the pits of hell instead but if you make me face a slayer I'll kill the bloody bitch as soon as look at her."

"You will be what you were destined to be. A chosen champion of war. You must face your grief and move on."

The finality struck him hard and before he'd finished shouting his hatred he was being catapulted through the passage again, his head echoing his angry plea for clemency. Fury whipped through his body as he was sucked through time, through places both his and not for him. His skin tightened, his eyes ached and his teeth chattered, and through it all, right up until he bumped into reality and hit a table hard, his heart and head continued to scream 'NO'.

It somehow didn't even hurt to watch.

Feeling her life slipping away, Buffy didn't feel the sense of doom she thought she would at the end of her life. She had faith in Giles—he with the spell book and the totally revolting mixture of magical reversal potion. Just because she couldn't move her limbs and her body was on fire, Giles was with the pot and it was all of the good.

He proved it minutes later. Cool and calm under pressure, he showed how it was no biggie to reverse numerous spells while the original caster was trying to hack down the science room door with an axe. Buffy almost felt bemused.

"Corsheth and Gilail! The gate is closed! Receive the dark! Release the unworthy! Take of mine energy and be sated!" Giles beseeched a little comically before he plunged his hands into the bubbling mixture.

Buffy wondered if maybe her leaning toward amusement had something to do with shock. Perhaps she was so scared that she was reacting inappropriately and finding the whole situation farcical. Whatever, the thing worked and she couldn't fault that. Felt a little strength flow back into her body even as Amy's mom tried to slice her way into the room.

And so not before time.

As superpowers were again hers, she looked up to find Amy holding an axe over her, a look of displacement battling with her shock. The gratitude for Giles was going to be hug-worthy once she got away from this freaky situation. Especially when he recovered from being all with the unconscious. Buffy jumped up from the table and took great joy in being able to pop up behind the formerly possessed Amy to offer her protection against Catherine the Great—except stealing her daughter's youth? Not so great in Buffy's book. It was hard enough being sixteen the first time around and not even the hope of being a high school cheerleader was enough to make her crave the idea of doing it twice. Not when there were things like college boys to be had!

That thought put a smile on Buffy's face. Sure, she'd missed out on cheerleading but, provided she made it out of school alive, she had bigger things to look forward to. Learning to drive, boys, college, dancing…so much to live for. So when Catherine looked to be about to put another hex on her, she was very grateful for the strange yell of 'Noooo' that came out of nowhere and distracted the witch just long enough for Buffy to kick a pole out of the way and harness the narcissistic powers of the mighty mirror. The elder Madison screeched in fear, her words jagging back at her in bolts of evil and she was gone in a snap, leaving behind a moaning bundle amidst a splintered lab table and a confused bunch of recently arrived Scoobies.

Buffy started as a head of frighteningly white hair popped up, a streak of innovating and surprising curses flowing from his mouth as he swiped a streak of blood from the back of his head. He swayed to his feet, his gaze a little dazed as he took in his surroundings, and then finally he settled on HER.

Without knowing who he was, Buffy could feel the moment he laid eyes on her and clarity pushed its way into his brain. All the air seemed to be sucked out of the room, the actions of her friends became so much background noise and her heart began to pound an erratic rhythm.

"Hey," she said for lack of anything more coherent to say to the stunning hottie that fell out of nowhere to smash the very table she'd been dying on earlier. And wasn't that lucky or she could have been all squished Buffy—and nobody would have liked that to clean up.

He didn't answer her in the same awed way. His eyes were filled with horror and Buffy started to wonder if her recent near-death experience had done something to her make-up—or at the very least left her a little off-colour.

"Buffy?"

His eyes seemed watery but he just stared at her disbelievingly, a shake of denial setting up a good swing. He stumbled backwards and nearly landed flat on his ass as the decimated table tangled with his boots.

A brow furrowed as Buffy tried to remember if she'd seen this guy before, thus explaining how he could possibly know her name. There was nothing and she knew she'd remember a meeting with this guy. He seemed to shake as she came closer, and he actually put up a hand as if to fend her off.

"Yes," she confirmed slowly. "I am Buffy. And you would be?" She felt like saying it in one of those stupid voices that parodied talking to an immigrant or an idiot. If anything, he seemed to become more afraid. He took the opportunity to throw cautious glances around the room, slowing on now recovered Giles and her friends before shooting back to hit her with one more powerful zap of blue and then he was bolting for the door, his body a streak of black leather and white hair. He barely missed Willow as he powered through the door and disappeared down the corridor.

Buffy was left with her mouth hanging open.

"Well, that was, um, interesting."

He could so say that again, thought Buffy as she continued to look at the doorway through which she'd last seen the unlikely stud. It was all Buffy could do to stay in tune with what went on around her. Questions flowed to her tongue and she had no mystery man to shoot them at. She wanted answers. He appeared out of nowhere, through a rip in time or a portal, she was none the wiser. She needed answers and needed them like yesterday. And if that just meant she'd have to locate said hottie, then so be it. This WAS the Hellmouth and she couldn't let a mystical anomaly like that just go by without any degree of investigation. She'd be a slayer letting the side down, sitting down on the job. Being all lazy butt, which she so was not. Well, not about Hellmouthy business anyway. Even if she was still new to this whole protector of the innocent gig.

Buffy sidestepped a determined Xander—determined about what she had no clue, only that whatever it was, she had no time for it. She had a mission, a sacred one at that, and she had to find this guy. Who knew what he could be up to?

Thank God Buffy was just the girl to find out.

He knew what cruelty was. Hell, he'd lived and thrived within the act for nigh on a century. But he'd handed over that evil rap, donned his white hat when Buffy had come into his life and knocked him on his arse. All it had really taken was a right hook to his schnoz and he was starry-eyed. She had a powerful wallop, she did, and what bloke could resist a chit that revelled as much in the violence and purpose of destiny as he himself did?

He was a weak man, but not this time. This time he'd come out of this fucked up notion of a Power's joke and he'd still have his balls attached—and completely the right way round, too.

He'd choked. He could admit that. When he'd seen her, he'd almost caved, was ready to forget that his Buffy was dead and grab hold of this one and never let her go. But the young perkiness reminded him just in time and he'd collected himself before he truly committed a crime of wankerish proportions and embrace her to sob in her hair.

He'd just have to avoid her until the great interfering sods had sent him back to his own time—to his own world where he could make a difference. This was why he'd never wanted to set eyes on a slayer ever again. He'd been used to putting down rising friction for so long he'd almost forgotten who he was, but during that time he was passed back and forth through a time tear, and in the back of his mind he'd feared coming across her again. Feared it and yet never prepared for it.

And wasn't he paying the price for it now.

It hadn't been a reasonable expectation, though. Why would he ever think it a possibility of crossing her path? She'd existed long ago, and where he was jettisoned back to now was a time so far back and unneeding of his interference that he was left floundering as to what the Power's real purpose actually was. What was it they'd said? He was a champion. So why the bugger had they sent him here of all places? The poof was already about and even though Buffy could have done without theBrow of Least Resistance, she didn't die from living these events. Spike's interference could truly bollocks things up. Just what the hell were they playing at?

And why were they using him as the King in this little game of chess? He had no desire to remain the last on the board, wanted to not even exist again here. There was already a Spike in this time, one that was taking care of his sire before he had ever heard of a slayer named 'Buffy'.

Willy's fine establishment was as much of a dive now as it was to be in later years, yet Spike felt himself strangely at home. Wherever there was booze, he could take up a seat and wallow. It was misfortune that got him here, plain and simple. Misfortune that stuck him straight back in the path of bulldozer Buffy and Spike truly didn't think his heart was up to the challenge of repeating their complicated association.

He always ran the risk of reliving the pain every time he over imbibed. The booze always forced him into a front row seat of his brain as the events of the Hellmouth and Buffy's final death played out to the shattering end. He'd missed the initial blow, hadn't seen the sword break through her skin and slice her insides fatally, but he'd seen the aftermath, and as then the tears of sorrow and futility clogged his throat.

"Buffy," he whispered into his glass, silent tears falling despite the evil nature of his fellow bar patrons.

It had almost broken him to lose her.

He'd had to cut short the clean-up, only letting the amulet partially burn his insides out as he ripped it from his throat just as the whole Hellmouth began to rumble and tilt ominously. He'd tossed the gaudy film star replica aside, all the Turok Han perished and no obstacle stood in his way as he bent down to retrieve Buffy's body.

He'd started a chain reaction, though. He'd barely made it out in time for Faith to throw a blanket over his head and he made it to the bus only slightly singed but completely broken. He couldn't let her death be alone. Couldn't let her body be consumed by a hungry mouth of hell as the town toppled and collapsed in on itself. The bus they escaped in made it to the city limits, Spike grasping and sobbing over the still body of his slayer and wondering what cosmic practical joke was at work to take her this time. Now that they'd almost reached the possibility of an understanding.

He loved her, and despite the warmth they'd shared those last nights before fighting the First, he'd never been brave enough to say the words again. Too afraid she would lie to him and say she felt it too. Too afraid she'd mean it.

So she'd closed her eyes on the world without even knowing if she'd saved it. He was sure she knew it where she was and this time he was certain she would stay where she belonged, and Heaven was at last ready for her to return. It was nothing but arrogance that he'd want her to know at the last that he still loved her. She cared for him—he'd felt that. But his love wasn't the thing she needed to cling to on her journey to the other world. Dawn. She'd be thinking of her sister and her friends and he only hoped that at the last she could believe he was one of those to her.

At the last.

He didn't want to be back here again. Not back to this place that had killed her three times and left her struggling to fulfill her destiny while trying to just be a girl. He didn't want to feel the pain all over again. He didn't want to love her again—not when he knew of the losses and the struggle to be close enough to her to make a difference.

By the time he felt her presence behind him he'd almost anaesthetised himself from the shock of seeing her again. Seeing her with alcohol rushing through his system was all the comfort he needed to think of this as just another dream. Another in the sequence of nights when he'd saved her from death only to face the challenge of life again and again. At least then she had time to embrace it, had time to cherish it before the time came to say goodbye.

He wasn't so good with goodbyes, and yet this time he didn't want to even venture a hello. Pity that Buffy Summers wasn't the type to respect a vamp and his binge drinking. Nor was she one to stand back when there was a supernatural mystery to unravel.

Rolling his eyes, Spike gave in and twisted around on his barstool. And lost the ability to breathe—outstanding luck that he didn't need to or he'd be hyperventilating at the bint's feet.

She was completely different to how he remembered. The head tilt to the side as she contemplated him was the same, yet the sparkle of humour and flirty interest was as far removed as the North Pole was from the South. She was still carefree, happy for the most part if he could read her interest right, and that very fact had him teetering on the edge of his seat.

And yet, seeing her stoked the embers of his agony and he felt close to weeping in front of her. His body trembled as she licked her lips in readiness to speak.

"You're sitting in a demon bar. Is there something you think I should know?" She grinned and Spike almost broke at how trusting and open she was to possibilities this time. Maybe if he—

No. He wasn't doing this to himself or her.

"Name's Spike." He could tell her that much, could tell her everything. Didn't mean he had to see her again. "I'm a vampire with a soul. Believe you're familiar with that concept." He couldn't hold back the smirk. Oh yeah, he had no idea when he was, though he knew enough of Buffy's history to know she met the poof too close to when she'd blown into this town.

"No way! Get. Out!" She bounced onto the stool beside his and looked at him with overly enthusiastic interest, a huge grin taking over her face. "Don't know any vampires, actually. Especially not ones with souls."

That surprised him, but obviously he'd been shipped back further than the the big revelation of the Forehead wonder. He ignored it, amazed that she sat even after his blurted introduction, but the smile was almost his undoing. So beautiful. So bright and free of heartache. She was fresh and he'd been mired in centuries of misery. He just didn't know what those barmy Oracles to those higher up had thought they were doing by sending him to her.

A sense of calm spread throughout his mind and body as she just sat there watching him, gently chewing on her lip as she seemed to find something thoroughly mesmerizing in his eyes. And he smiled, couldn't hold back the gush of feeling that here was his Buffy, throbbing with life, and she'd never looked more stunning. Or so young and innocent.

"So, that's one hell of a trick you souled guys have come up with." She didn't look away, moved closer so that her knees were resting against his wobbly ones and her elbow propped on the bar.

His spark of confusion spread to his eyes and he scratched his head as the smile wavered on his lips. "What's that, pet?" He studiously ignored their touching limbs, not wanting to combust on the spot.

She giggled and it was the most melodic sound he'd ever heard. "That whole 'ZAP' thing where you appear from nowhere and smash the science lab. It's pretty nifty. That disappearing thing when you see me, say my name like I was a ghost and then bolt was pretty interesting too. I'm thinking the Hellmouth just got all hellmouthy and forgot to tell me about it."

She didn't seem mad. She seemed more than a little amused and Spike felt himself slipping a little more. He had to stop this. He couldn't allow the closeness this time. He had no idea if he was here to for good, even though those canny bastards said he was to stay until his second death. He figured that meant he could cling to Buffy till he was dust. He just couldn't decide if he wanted to.

"Buffy, you really don't want to know what that was all about." He rubbed a hand over tired eyes, wanting more than anything to just lay down for his final rest.

"See, right there! How do you know my name?" She leaned forward, eager to hear a story that could shock her off her seat and onto the sticky barroom floor with barely any time for adjustment.

And so, in a perverse need to see her as rattled as he was, he told her.

There was absolutely no reason for her to believe him. No reason at all. As long as she ignored the mountain of facts he knew about her and the life she led in this not so sleepy little town. He knew the names of all her family—which on reflection wasn't so big a deal considering how small it actually was. But he knew of her whole experience as a slayer and it was enough to make her gasp.

So yeah, even though she had no reason to believe, had no reason to put so much trust in a supposed souled vampire's story, the pain and sadness in his voice and eyes went a long way to convince her. The way he watched her as if long starved and then would shake and shiver during certain parts of his tale.

Going that extra step and taking his story as truth only opened a door she'd rather slam shut. She was only beginning this ride in Sunnydale, and he had the proof and the knowledge of how long exactly she would last. Knew the devils that would finally take her out of this world. He didn't tell her everything—she could see that by the subtle way he'd look away at certain points. She could tell that he'd loved her future self, and that thought made her more feverish than sickened like she should have been. A vampire loving a slayer. Unusual, but by no means did it lack in the romanticism of the gesture. And seeing him so easy on the eyes, she could well imagine how she'd have fallen for a guy like him.

His barked laugh when she'd said as much was a little confronting. Suddenly she thought that maybe future Buffy wasn't as tuned into reality as she was now. But then that made no sense at all.

"Look. We made that truce, right? I let you into my house, introed you to my mom. It's obvious I trusted you—" She was cut off by another burst of laughter, one that was as far from any sentiment of happiness than she'd ever witnessed in a person.

"I'm the last bloody vamp on earth you trusted, pet. That was a crisis situation. You only let me in because you were smart enough to know you needed my help, and I was smart enough to offer it. No, that was long before any feelings developed, and you were never going to trust me that quick."

Buffy frowned. She knew herself and she really didn't think she'd allow a dangerous vampire into her home if she thought he'd be harmful to her own mother. She might have taken chances on her own, but she must have seen something worthy in Spike even then. Otherwise, the whole event didn't make sense to her.

She thought a moment, and then her eyes lit up at another flaw in his tale.

"You said when you got that thingy in your head and you couldn't feed from people anymore that you risked going to Giles's for help. Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous, but I'm guessing that you were hoping I'd be there and help you even if Giles wouldn't. Right?"

He looked embarrassed to her eager eyes, but nodded nonetheless.

She positively beamed. "See, you trusted me to do the right thing by you. And I trusted that you were telling the truth, ergo, I must have cared."

He almost fell off his chair with a jerk of hilarity. "Oh, that one's priceless. You cared alright. You cared that I might have information about something the almighty Slayer didn't. You wanted to taunt me, tease me with your glorious neck, drive me out of my bleeding mind with all the white hat crap. Care about old Spike? Not so much, luv."

Buffy's eyes narrowed and she felt an ache in her jaw from grinding her teeth. If she didn't know better she would start to think that she'd been duped into the thinking he felt things for her that she hadn't had any trouble processing. Fortunately for him, he wore every emotion on his sleeve and the naked terror just looking at her cost him was enough to make her continue this insane little fight.

"Okay, so let's get really serious. That spell you said my friend Willow did—and let me just say I'm taking a lot on your word right now that she's as powerful and undisciplined as you say. Because discipline? They rubbed out the word in the dictionary and put Willow right there instead. But that spell. We were engaged?"

He nodded again, hesitantly, worriedly.

"Why?"

He blinked, his open mouth remaining wordless for long seconds before he stopped gawking at her. "Why what?"

Buffy wiggled closer, her knee not just bumping against him but gradually sliding between his. The heat factor climbed dramatically and Buffy could do nothing to fight the flush that touching him caused to spread over her face. Still, her eyes continued to sparkle.

"Why did you ask me to marry you?" Voice husky, seductive, Buffy nearly crowed with success as Spike gulped and quickly dragged his leather coat around him in protection.

"Because I loved you, you deranged bint. Why else does a bloke ask a girl to be his intended? Wasn't because I wanted to sit at home and carve your stakes up for you."

"Uhuh!" Buffy shouted, almost leaping into his lap. "You loved me, and I said yes, so I obviously loved you. Point!"

"Are you off your bird? It was a spell wanting us engaged. Of course we loved each other. We were as close to being the other's worst nightmare come to life. No fairytale ending there without a spell on the fritz to make it happen."

She could feel the gleam of satisfaction that she had him now. He couldn't deny her this one. "You don't have to be in love to be engaged, you know. If Willow didn't wish us in love, then we must have already felt it."

Spike looked at her, recognised her smugness and felt a little sad at having to stomp the confidence out. "Buffy, would you marry for any reason other than love?"

He could feel the rapid increase of her heartbeat and her frown had a tinge of sadness attached that he wished he could remove, even though he didn't want to stay beyond this night. Rehashing the long distant past was wearing him out, exhausting him too much.

"No," she answered, finally beginning to get it.

"Neither would I. I'm a romantic bloke, Buffy. I love. It's what I do. I don't love wisely, but I love deeply. Willow wishing us to be married—wasn't going to happen for any reason other than love."

She actually answered him with a sniffle and a painful jab to his arm. "Would you stop fighting me on this? I know I'm right."

"Buffy, there's no point you looking for something that isn't there. I lost you more than once—and no, not going into the particulars—and how I felt about you, or how you felt about me, wouldn't have been even in your top five thoughts before you left us all behind." He looked down at the bar, feeling beyond miserable as he reached for another snifter of Jack.

Buffy felt herself repress a growl of frustration, stiffening her spine as she stared at his dejected posture. Okay, she meant business. There was no way that this hunk hadn't occupied many of her lusty thoughts in the future. And no way would she have been so callous with the emotions of someone who loved her—especially one who loved her so thoroughly.

"Okay, so what about that hellgod? You said I left my mother and my…sister? With you, because I knew you would protect them." The idea of a mystical key-shaped sister still threw her, but for the sake of this mission she'd roll with it.

Spike raised shimmering eyes, grief at their reiterating of events he'd held tight in his heart for over a hundred years obviously beginning to take a toll. Buffy felt like stamping her foot and shouting 'good', knowing one thing above all else that when you grieved, it was best to be upfront. Who could get over any kind of pain when you hid from it?

"You knew I was the only one strong enough to protect them if the bitch came calling. Not long after that it was obvious all I was to her was a speedbump. I was convenient, Buffy. A resource you had an inkling you could count on. You didn't come to me because you felt anything close to what I felt for you. Face it, pet. You don't know your future self. An' why should you? Lots of bloody awful things happened to shape you that way—made me last on your list of annoyances. There's no shame in what went on. You became who you needed to be to be a hero and a survivor. No shame at all." He turned glumly back to his alcoholic crutch, grasping his glass tightly and hoping that she would have had enough and just move on.

He obviously had forgotten more about Buffy than he'd thought.

Buffy's lips thinned in irritation. She so did too know herself and what she was capable of. Although the way he was acting she could certainly believe he bugged the living crap out of her—in a good way. Because as pessimistic as he was being, who could deny how adorable his pouty bottom lip was? Who could look into those crystal clear eyes and not be swept away on a wave of affection? Who could listen to him talk and not want to jump his bones and have him share hours of sexy conversation?

"Now listen up, Blondie. When did you get all scaredy vamp? Are you more depressed that you lost me without me saying I loved you and meaning it, or that you know I loved you and you can't deal with me being gone? 'Cause gotta say, new opportunities here and you're blowing them off. I can FEEL there is something there. Do you want to work out what it could be, or do you want to wallow in your—" she waved her hand toward his shot glass in an obvious lack of adequate adjectives before letting her hand settle innocently on his knee.

She couldn't hold back the gasp when Spike stared at her straight, a slow stream of tears making tracks down his cheeks.

"What I want, is to go back and have you forget you ever met me. Go on living your life. Let things flow how they were meant to and let me get back to missing her the way I was supposed to. It's my curse, you know. May not lose my soul like Peaches, but I get where he was coming from with the eternal torment. I need this."

She shrugged off his confusing fruity comments and went straight to irritated. "What, my memory? Instead of me?" Fury struck her fast and Buffy found herself striking out and slapping his cheek. "Didn't you say you got that shiny soul for me? I demand consumer's rights. My gift, I get to say what I want to do with it. And I want to prove it."

"You can't! You're bloody barmy." He felt like he was losing it. As much as this was Buffy, she was different. She wasn't punishing him for loving her, wasn't fighting him for daring to.

"Oh yeah? Watch me." Mad didn't even begin to describe how she was feeling. Buffy dragged her hands from him and climbed swiftly onto the barstool, staring furiously at the ceiling marked with something she didn't want to hazard a guess at while residing in a demon establishment. "Hey, PTB's, get somebody's ass down here who can give us some answers."

When she jumped back to the floor and braved a look at the obviously incensed vamp, she could well believe he wanted to throttle her.

"What the bleeding hell do you think you're pulling? They aren't going to just pop a messenger on down to answer your trivial que—"

"Hey, kid," piped up a voice from over her shoulder and Buffy spun on her heel to smile widely at the little guy with the hat.

"Hey," she greeted enthusiastically. "I'm Buffy, your current Chosen One."

"Whistler," he replied. "Your current ass representing the Powers That Don't Know Any Better."

"And I'm guessing you know Spike:Dumbstruck," she grinned.

"Know of," he confirmed. "He's being a little more stubborn than usual."

"Stubborn," Spike spluttered, finally regaining control of his mouth even though he'd totally lost it of the situation. "I'll have you know—"

"Easy, buddy," Whistler warned while holding his hands up defensively. "I'm just the messenger and here ONLY because you're completely mucking up the situation."

"I'm mucking it up? Oh that's rich. You buggers have done nothing but tear my life to shreds. I said—more than once if I'm not mistakin'—that I wouldn't tolerate being sent to fight alongside a slayer. Not only have you bastards ignored my wishes in that respect, you send me to THE slayer most likely to make me go bald. I mean, do you want me to put myself out of my misery? There's a nice rosy sunrise poking out of the sky soon enough."

Whistler chuckled and turned conspiratorially to Buffy. "Bit of a drama queen, ain't he?"

"Oh God, yes," Buffy agreed, releasing pent up breath in relief. She sat back on her stool, relaxed and ready to hear her beliefs confirmed. "So, Whistler, I was hoping you could help a girl out and prove that I'm right and I so totally know myself, despite what Mr. Oblivious thinks."

Spike snorted, glared at the pair of them, and turned seamlessly back to his bottle.

"Bloody irritating, argumentative woman." He threw back a very hefty shot of Jack.

"Look, buddy, you're screwing up your slayer's final wish," Whistler confided with a sad smile and a nervous look at the current slayer sitting so close to him.

Spike froze with another shot on its way to his lips; he remained turned away, stubbornly refusing to let any of them see his pain. One century later and it hadn't dimmed at all, some days feeling sharper and more devastating than the first.

"An' what's that then? What was Buffy's final wish?" He could barely speak, the words forced out on a near whisper as he waited. He felt the shutdown of his body begin, the rejection of knowledge that would either relieve his pain or renew it with harsher consequences.

Whistler looked around the bar, pointedly staring at various demons who were paying far too much attention to the newcomer who had arrived not using the usual door, but appeared out of thin air. Not that apparating wasn't possible, but it didn't happen too often.

"I guess you chumps forgot you were in the den of evil. You don't have to worry about the walls having ears here. There are ears hanging out all over the place." He bent over and picked up something from the floor, chuckling at an appendage attached to a long membranous tube. A not so gentle tug received an inhumane squawk from across the room and the rapid retraction of the ear in Whistler's hand. He wiped his palm and fingers on his trousers, his face screwed up in disgust, while Buffy watched on and turned an alarming shade of green.

"What say we hit the street, find us a more secure location to reveal what's going on?"

Spike eyed the messenger suspiciously, but had little choice if he stayed than to remain wallowing at his bad treatment as Buffy jumped to her feet and led the way out. Dread made his steps stilted, and seeing the sights of Sunnydale did nothing for him but make him break out in a clammy sweat. He felt like he was on his way to the end, that Buffy's last words, her final wishes would be too much for him to take. For the moment he'd completely forgotten that she was here, just in front of him, so like the girl he'd known and loved that he wanted to collapse to his knees and weep for her to forgive him. Tell him she forgave him for letting her die again. The amulet should have worked faster, should have taken him instead of leaving her at the mercy of hundreds of evil Turok Han.

Their walk was in silence, Spike so deep in thought that he hadn't even noticed they'd stopped and only looked up in time to prevent himself from plowing into Buffy hard and knocking her to the ground. She smiled at him, and he was struck with the thought that she saw him. Really saw him in a way he wasn't sure his future Buffy ever had.

Whistler stood as the two blondes took hesitant seats on the park bench they'd come to, a quick glance around confirming the lack of eavesdroppers for the moment. He crooked his head and looked at the girl as she was before he'd sicced Angel onto her.

"You wouldn't remember, of course, but you've lived this life before," he began to a totally rapt Buffy sitting forward so as to not miss a vital word. "You died—more than once, as Spike told you by not telling you." He chuckled as he touched his hat and winked at a bemused Buffy. "Thing is, you weren't meant to. Well, you're human, so of course you were meant to eventually, but you forgot to do something before you bit the big one this time."

Buffy, for someone who was hearing about her eventual death, looked almost excited.

"Ooh ooh, can I guess? Let me guess."

"Nah," Whistler denied. "You'll spoil the surprise."

"You spoke to Buffy?" The words were laden with grief and two sets of concerned eyes turned his way. Buffy made to put an arm around his back but he stiffened and she dropped back without ever touching him.

"Yeah," Whistler admitted, feeling the glumness for the first time since appearing in front of the pair. "She was kind of conflicted, you know?"

It was no surprise to see the return of Spike's tears. No matter the time passing or the experiences that took him away from that destructive memory, his grief had failed to wane. It was an opportunity that the Powers had thought would reward their current champion with that which he most desired, as well as honouring a final wish from the Slayer that had given them her all—three times over.

"Did she know?"

The question knocked Whistler from his reverie, and an indulgent smile spread across his lips. Oh boy, this vamp never clued up. Either his soul took away his ability to read people, or he was intentionally misreading emotions to protect himself. "Yeah, she knew, and she believed you, and she regretted in her last minutes not telling you exactly how she felt and what you meant to her—both personally and as her champion. She loved you, so much that leaving you broke her heart and forced the Power's to listen to her for about eighteen hours non-stop." The memory of when she'd argued and used obscenely insulting names to bring about this miracle was still something that randomly gave him the giggles when he recalled them.

Spike felt the sting of being torn. One hundred years he'd fought in their name. He'd left her body in the hands of her sister and friends and wandered the world looking for his final death. It had come about in a long drawn out service to The Powers That Be. One hundred years of being good, of being righteous and hearty in defending the innocent and the world. One hundred years and they'd not once told him that she'd left behind something after she'd passed. Fuck, he wished they'd transport him back through the hellevator so he could rip their celestial heads off.

"None of that, or they'll reconsider and have an angry slayer tearing them new ones. Now, do we want to hear or not? 'Cause I can stay here and watch the baby routine for approximately another ten minutes before I'm required elsewhere. Your choice."

The little messenger quickly darted behind a giggling slayer as Spike growled and then bared his fangs for the first time in front of this Buffy. She stared at him in amazement, transfixed by his visage as she reached a finger out to trace his lips.

"I've never been this close to a vamp before, well, not without staking them anyway." Her voice trembled and Spike stared in wonder, surprised at the lack of her fear. While they stood locked in each other's gaze, Spike's human face melting back without one noticeable change in how Buffy viewed him, he caught his breath.

Whistler hated to break into the moment, but he wasn't kidding about the time limit. He had a disappointed vamp with soul that he had to find another mission for. This one obviously wasn't going to work out.

"Buffy wanted the chance to really show you how she felt."

Both blondes swung to stare at him when his words interrupted their perusal of each other. Good, attention grabbed, now he had to get the message out and be on his merry way. As much of a romantic as he was, no way did he want to be around when these two got with the fireworks.

"Seemed the Slayer knew herself better than you think." He saw the self-satisfied smirk of Buffy as she reached over and tried to casually take Spike's hand, could see her hope and uncertainty ease as the tortured vamp allowed the hold and squeezed her hand reassuringly. "She thought you both deserved a second chance—without the baggage that took her so long to admit to herself how she felt. Stay away from Angel, kid. Hazardous to your health."

The emotional turmoil of a century seemed to roll off him all at once, leaving Spike sagging with a relief he never thought he would feel again. He fell back into the support of the bench and let his face fall into his hands. Buffy loved him. At the end, she knew and she loved him back. Great hulking sobs, held back for too many years to count, almost broke him in half. All the grief and the loss surged through and out of him in waves of cleansing tears.

This time Buffy didn't allow him to intimidate her. She sat next to him, her arm draped across his shoulders as she snuggled him against her chest, his head resting in the crook of her neck. His hand snaked around her waist and he held her tightly, leaving Buffy to wonder just how the bizarre had become her excuse for a day.

It was a long time before he could look up, but when he did it was like he was seeing a totally new world. Buffy's concerned face was mere inches away, and her green eyes were the same. The emotion, the knowledge was there and he couldn't fight himself and his need anymore. God, he loved her with every breath he didn't need but couldn't stop taking. He loved her with every pulse of blood his body missed in death. There was nothing else, no one else and he'd been all shades of a fool to think he could walk away when he knew Buffy was alive somewhere.

Maybe the little git was right. Maybe he could take this opportunity and make things right. Maybe he could allow Buffy the time and the chance to see him for who he'd become from inspiration of her alone.

And then she kissed him.

Epilogue

Buffy had never been so nervous in all her life. She felt like biting her nails to the quick, but that would so destroy her fancy manicure she'd invested in for this very special night.

Despite the watershed moment, it had taken Spike a long time to let her get close. That first kiss had tasted like honey on her lips—and it had had to tide her over for months.

Her boyfriend was a puritan, it seemed. Long innocent dates leading slowly into hand-holding. It was enough to drive her crazy, but she never fully eradicated Spike's fear until some time had passed and their tentative relationship began to blossom.

Tonight she was ready to force the issue. There was only so much distance a girl could take before she started to suspect her very hot boyfriend didn't want her. If his eyes weren't filled with awe every time he looked her way she'd be very suspicious. As it was, he made her melt every time he spoke to her, touched her hand, flattened her hair. The kisses, once she'd finally gained them back, were to die for. Totally droolworthy. But he always held her back. While she wanted to feel the hardness of his body as she leaned in and supped from his lips, he'd hold her apart. While passion transferred from his heart to her lips, he struggled to keep things cool.

Well, no more. She was putting her slayer foot down and stopping this evadeyness. She understood why he was holding back, she really did. She just couldn't be patient about it anymore. So she sucked in her previous future life with him. She'd more than made up for it now, and six months was long enough to wait for him to see that.

Her mom was out of town for days on business. It had presented just the opportunity that Buffy needed, allowed a flexibility in her plans that was about to finally come to fruition. Spike was so going to be hers by the end of the night—or she'd die trying.

She'd gone to considerable effort, dressing prettily in shades of pink and purple. She knew he loved red and black, but she thought the colour of passion thing was done to death. She wanted him to know she wasn't an evil seductress out to kill. She wanted to be a girl, on a date with her guy and ending it with an offer he would be so dusty if he refused.

A knock at the door and Buffy was pounding down the stairs, her heart thumping hard and her blood rushing through her body in giddy excitement. She opened the door too fast and it smacked up against the wall. Suppressing the cringe and mentally locating the tin of fixy stuff for the wall, she turned to her guest and flashed him an ecstatic smile.

He blinked.

Spike was obviously confused as he stood at the door, looking her up and down before darting a quick look over his shoulder—almost as if he were suspecting someone else to come bounding along.

"Goin' somewhere?" he asked as casually as he could while dealing with a sinking of his insides.

"Nope. Just staying in. A girl can dress up to sit on her own couch if she wants to. And I want to. So get your ass in here and get with the movies while I make popcorn."

Her forwardness shocked him. Not in that he'd never seen it before. So long ago the tryst that had seen her in his arms, wild and flushed, had been preempted by many instances of Bossy Buffy. This incarnation of her took longer to rev up, and it seemed that finally she'd approached the end of her patience with him.

Spike sighed as he stepped into the house, hanging his coat on the rack by the door and strutting, hands in pockets, to the sofa. He flopped down like a rag doll, eyeing off the stack of movies on the coffee table.

"What'll it be first, pet? Girly flick? Bit of horror?" He looked up for her answer and nearly bolted upright at her ravenous look before she pounced and lodged herself in his lap. Her skirt fluttered to rest around their legs, Spike trying to get a hold on her waist to thrust her back when her hands grabbed his head and she glared before slapping his lips with a kiss designed to be explicit in intent.

Though it lacked the previous belt down of his first time with Buffy, it seemed to carry the weight of that violence in her kiss alone. The relief at being forced through his uncertainties seemed to be enough, and the hands that had held her tight to force distance, now carried a different force—one in order to support her decision and held her firmly against his rising body parts. He'd hoped the evidence of his need for her would be enough to frighten her back, make her realise she was too young or just not ready. But it spurred her on and he groaned as hot, sodden panties allowed her to mould around his denim clad erection.

"Buffy," he gasped once he tore his lips away. She was panting as her glazed eyes remained fixed on his lips, and he almost went up in pure flame as she leaned forward again and began to slowly lick each lip with her perfect tongue. "Sweetheart, you don't really want to do this."

She pulled back just enough to glare at him, then grasped his hand and gave it a path under her loose top to close around a lusciously rounded breast while she attacked his throat with kisses and sensuous bites.

"Do not tell me what I want," she moaned into his ear, her tongue flicking inside to taste the shell while her hands wandered and finally tugged his shirt up enough to whip it over his head. "I'm showing you what I want. Go with it."

As his hands touched her gently, she slowed down and lost some of the urgency she'd begun the mission with. She felt the coolness on her back as he inched her top up. Pulling back, Buffy sucked in a breath at the look of love she saw so clearly on his face, and raised her arms to lose the first of her clothing. She settled back into him once she was bare from the waist, feeling the heat of her body scorch him as her nipples scraped over his chest.

She'd never felt anything so delicious in her life. She'd been doing some reading, done some research into this losing of her virginity. The common thing in Harlequins and the stories she overheard in the locker room was that it was meant to take place in a bed, with her lying supine and receptive. Right now, that objective seemed wrong.

Her body moved, almost without her willing it. She relished the feel of his hands on her back while breasts aching for touch alternated between smashing up against his tepid skin, or tickling him with her hard nipples as they sweetly drew circles on his flesh.

Buffy's mouth reclaimed his as her hands touched him; sought him. She felt the hardness of him pushing into her throbbing cleft and couldn't stop the motion of her lower body as she rubbed back and forth over him, craving to feel the reality of appendage rather than the roughness of denim.

Spike groaned as she released the top button, then she 'eeped' as her skirt was whipped up her body and tossed to the floor. Naked bar for panties, she squirmed even more, proud he was seeing her body and dying for more of his touch. Showing no nervousness or restraint, Buffy nudged the zipper down and moaned throatily as his erection fell into her hands.

"Off," she demanded, almost growling when he didn't wiggle out of them fast enough. Bare pulsing cock was now so close to being inside her she could hardly stand it and Buffy almost cried in her demand again. "Off," she ordered and before she could breathe, before she could submit to the powerful rush of desire that stampeded through her veins, he'd torn her panties and she spread her lips around the length of him.

Spike's head fell back on the couch as Buffy rubbed heat and juice around him, his hands tightly clasped to her hips as he allowed her to drive this as hard and fast as she wanted to. When she lifted slightly and his trajectory changed, stretching so subtly the virgin lips of her pussy, he almost came with a shout. She didn't heed his warnings to be slow, obviously couldn't stop as her blood thundered through her body and almost deafened him. She slid down on him, hot molten walls expanding and taking him in, Buffy vocalizing with moans and small pain filled whimpers until she'd taken him all the way in. Until he'd rested against her cervix and she lay sobbing in his arms.

"Oh God, so good," she whispered against his lips, her body moving on impulse as she deflected the sharp and sudden pain with a building crescendo of sensation.

Spike could feel the prickle of her skin, could feel his own body temperature rise in familiar reaction to what she gave him. Hope. Such tremendous hope that he'd never lost in relation to Buffy. No matter how many times she had kicked him down, or climbed onto his cock to fuck him senseless, he'd always clinged to hope. And in this beautiful moment, it had come to fruition.

Muscles clamped hard around him, pulsing him to an excruciating rhythm. It hurt not to come, hurt to hold onto the passion that made him want to scream and pound into her for all he was worth. Buffy slid up and down, slathering him in wet, hot juice as the slow shudders of her body told him she was close. Resistance was impossible and Spike bent her back, feeling the slight change in position emphasise his place in her pussy as lips latched onto her nipple. She cried out as he sucked hard, his hands moving her hips so she bounced him in and out. Muscular tightenings were the final message and she was screaming his name, pulling his hair as her body jerked and spasmed helplessly around him.

He was free then, free to slam her quivering and still reacting body up and down his cock, relishing the sensation even as it hurt him immensely. God, the joy and the agony of being full to bursting as he felt his ejaculate surge in his balls and rush up his cock to finally explode with enough force to have him sweating and shouting her name. Jerk after jerk had him coming in ribbons, the pain of letting himself finally jet in her exhausting.

Breath rattled in his chest as he came down from the high and finally opened his eyes. Buffy was grinning, her face slick with sweat and her body shaking in satisfaction. She collapsed against his chest and he knew it hadn't been a mistake. The time was right and now she knew how thoroughly besotted he was.

His mouth opened to reveal himself fully, but she beat him, bit his lip, and beat him.

"I love you." She looked deep into his eyes, her sincerity deep in her exhaustion.

He was finally home.