A/N: Angsty. Sometime during Buffy's relationship with Spike. Skirts very close to the!sex. And hey, I wrote dangerously near the realm of smut and didn't blush. I call that progress! Aren't you proud?


Buffy stalks across the cemetery with determination in her strides and singular purpose written on her face. Her steps are swift enough to keep up with the beats of her newly resurrected heart and anyone who would see her on her journey through the headstones--anyone who knows her and her reason for being, at least--would think she were on patrol, as always and that nothing was amiss.

There is nothing that could be further from the truth. Everything is amiss and patrol is secondary to her actual goal.

She's on her way to see Spike.

She's on her way to see Spike because today was particularly horrible and she needs the few seconds of freedom from agony that only he can offer.

Her eyes still sweep over her surroundings--it's too much a part of her training that's been ingrained in her mind over the years for her to do anything else--but her mind is preoccupied with thoughts of him.

He's become her drug of choice; she realizes it somewhere deep within the confines of her heart--a heart that beats but shouldn't. She uses his love for her the way an alcoholic uses whiskey, but it's far more addictive than that. Ever since she's been back on Earth the only thing that has kept her from seeking heaven once more is the touch of a dead man--the thing that gives her a few fleeting seconds of euphoria and makes the pain of living retreat.

She can't decide if what he does to her with fingers, teeth and tongue is so profoundly earthquake-like because that's what it truly is, of because she's just desperate to feel something--anything but the acute awareness that her heart beats within her chest and shouldn't.

Death was rest, life is…so much work. He gives her a few minutes of forgetting all the work and destiny awaiting her out there. She knows what she feels for him is nowhere near the overpowering devotion he feels for her, but she does feel…appreciation. Even as she bursts through the entrance to his crypt, breaths coming in short, anticipatory gasps, she feels an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness when he darts up from his place on his dumpster quality sofa and eyes her appreciatively.

The words they exchange each time she does this are unimportant; they're merely the brushstrokes, not the painting itself--and the message is virtually always the same and ends in an identical fashion.

She pounces on him, not caring that he tastes like ash, smoke and an undercurrent of human blood, only caring that his unnaturally cool touch ignites a fire within her that makes her feel as alive as she actually is. Everything in comparison to this moment, with his arms wrapped possessively about her waist, his kisses drugging her senses to the point she doesn't know which direction the sky is in anymore, every little everyday action is dull and colorless and dead when set next to this uninhibited passionate embrace.

And suddenly the room is far too hot and her clothes far too confining and he is far too well dressed for the occasion and its inevitable conclusion; a situation she seeks to rectify by yanking the soft cotton of his t-shirt up over his head and dropping it on the floor.

She knows it can't last, as they move in tandem towards more appropriate surroundings for their current choice of entertainment, she realizes that someday in the near future she'll have to put an end to it...but for now she's perfectly happy with forgetting everything and letting her world shrink down to this. Him, her, hot and cold, ice and flame, unnatural death and unnatural life, clashing, melding and finally becoming one in the heat of a moment that never should have been, both striving towards a common goal of forgetting everything but the ride and the accompanying mind bending rush.

Fireworks explode behind Buffy's eyes, her breath hangs in her throat, caught on some sort of verbalization that is trying to become his name and her entire form shudders as she reaches the height she came here for…

In the afterglow, lethargic and coming down from the stratosphere, her breathing comes easier and his arms cage her, holding her close in a kind of intimacy that has both nothing and everything to do with the act itself. It's tender and possessive and…it's wrong. He loves her, she's using him…and it's wrong.

But, he presses his lips to her forehead in the gentle gesture of acceptance, and she can't bring herself to care. For now, he's helping to make her whole again. For now, she'll bathe in his freely given love as if it were the sun itself, warming her chilled corpse to a more human temperature.

For now, though she knows it will not last, she's content to keep chasing bliss.