Author: geeks_girl_tm
Summary: Helplessness is the worst of all emotions and sometimes the people we least expect see us through the most difficult obstacles we can face. Season Three, response to Challenge 349 of Bloodshedverse. Challenge guidelines at end of fic. This is my first challenge so bear with me.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Violence, language, sexual content
Disclaimer: Joss is our God, who brought us seven happy years of televised gold. It is our honour to carry on out of love, not profit. All the characters are entirely his.

*****

The worst thing about the sting of betrayal was usually the disappointment. There was always one person in your life you could trust completely. When that person let you down, sometimes it felt like the end of the world. And she definitely knew what the end of the world felt like.

Wasn't like she hadn't been there before.

But Giles...

The pain was devastating. She was supposed to be enjoying these precious days- turning eighteen was not something that happened often. It only happened once. And she had wanted to share her acceptance of adulthood with her surrogate father. The man she trusted like only a child could trust a parent. She had wanted to go to the ice show, eat copious amounts of junk food, and watch Giles roll his eyes in boredom and amusement at her childish behaviour. Instead she was wandering the streets, her coat pulled tight around her to block out the cold, battling with the fact that her Watcher had just destroyed every ounce of trust in her. He drugged her and taken away her powers.

She was helpless. For the first time in her life, Buffy truly didn't want to be just Buffy. Having that power and losing it, made her feel weak and incompetent.

Feeling normal sucked.

The wind picked up as she took the familiar shortcut down an alleyway to Revello Drive. She was still twenty minutes from home, but she couldn't force her wind-chilled legs to walk any faster. And as she got halfway down the alley, she wished she could. Noises assaulted her from every direction. Cats meowed in the distance and bags rustled along the floor, causing her heart to quicken. The realisation of her powerlessness hit her with a full load of terror.

Maybe I should have stayed at the school.

The knowledge of the things that lurked in the night was all too real now. As a slayer, she was accustomed to the fact that death did indeed lurk round every corner. But at least she had had a fighting chance. Now she didn't.

Stop being a girl.

But she was. At that moment she was just a girl. An ordinary girl with no powers. She didn't even have mace on her. There wasn't usually a need.

How the hell does Willow cope with this?

A noise from behind her made her stop and turn. A crash of a trashcan falling over made her jump. Her eyes watered with unshed tears of worry. This was scary. She began to walk again, her eyes darting everywhere. She turned, walking backwards, the feeling of being watched disconcerting her. Kralik could still be out there. He could be following her. He knew she was helpless.

She came up against something solid, and she jumped, turning around. At first, her blurring vision screamed vampire, but she shook her head, clearing her vision. A man stood in front of her, looking at her with concern.

'Are you okay, Miss?'

His voice was rough, and she shivered, trying to get a better look at him. He was about the same height as Angel but nowhere near as nice to look at. He had scruffy hair, and a jean jacket on over a simple t-shirt and jeans. He reached out a hand to her, grubby fingers stretching towards her shoulder.

'Miss? Are you lost?'

She shook her head, stepping away from the offending hand. 'No...I'm just...I'm fine. Thank you. Bye.'

'Hey wait...' He said, cocking his head to the side. 'Do you want someone to walk you home?'

Yeah, but not you. 'No I'm fine.'

She turned away and started to walk. Footsteps fell behind her and those grubby fingers clamped around her shoulder.

'You know, that was pretty rude.' She turned, backing away again. The concern was gone from his face, replaced with malice. He licked his lips, and swept his eyes over her. 'I was trying to be nice. But I get why you don't want any company. Business ay? Don't I look like business?'

'Sorry? What? I mean...I don't think..I'm not...' She stammered; her usual quips and retorts gone from her. He moved towards her and she looked for a way out.

'Yeah, yeah, I get it. You're a whore. Doesn't mean you can't have manners. Maybe I should show you some.'

She shook her head and found herself backed against a wall. He reached out and ran a hand down her face, licking his lips at the same time. 'Oh I bet you're a real goer as well.'

Fear gripped her insides and she pushed his hand away, throwing a punch against him. Her fist rebounded harmlessly off his chest and he laughed. She slapped him and he snarled at her.

'Feisty.' He grabbed her hands and pinned them against the wall, licking her jaw line, slobbering over her neck. He pushed his mouth against hers as she struggled to free herself, feeling her skin tear from her hands as she dragged them down the brick wall. He forced his tongue inside her mouth, an overabundance of saliva with it and she gagged, biting down. He yelped and pulled away, serving her with a vicious punch to the face.

Boy did it hurt. She never missed her strength more than now. Not when he was standing over her, a deep chuckle echoing into her bones.

She hadn't missed being the slayer before. But as he bore down on her, she wished more than anything that she was capable of it now.

*****

Spike walked along the street, hands thrust inside his pockets. The wind was chilly tonight but it didn't really affect his vampire countenance. If it did he wouldn't pay attention. His mind was going a mile a minute. Ever since coming back to Sunnyhell, he'd done nothing but think of the slayer. And it was driving him crazy.

His escapade to get Dru back had fallen short. She'd laughed in his face and told him outright, in a moment of rare clarity, that he was obviously in love with sunshine. That he should be dusted. A mockery of vampirism she'd called him. And with that he'd turned on his heel and headed for California, all in an effort to kill the Slayer and prove a point. He was a vampire. He was a ruthless vampire with an appetite for destruction. He craved the violence, the bloodshed and everything that came with being a vampire. It was his destiny, and a nature he could not and would not deny.

A rolling can distracted him from his thoughts and he kicked it brutally across the street, watching in satisfaction as it hit a curb and dented, haphazardly wobbling away down the gutter like a wounded puppy. The interlude to his thoughts was filled by noise from his surroundings, and his intense hearing picked up the faint sound of a woman's cry.

He stopped, sniffing the air in curiosity. The smell of arousal and fear was potent and his scarred brow lifted with a mild interest. Something was happening down one of Sunnydale's many alley ways. A human crime, something he had never really show any interest in. Whilst his hunger for chaos was insatiable, he had never really indulged in the pleasure Angelus had often talked about concerning the rape of innocents. Spike much preferred luring his target, seducing and satisfying them before taking their lives. Whilst some of his kind found fear made the blood much more potent (something he would not deny when it came to the ordinary kill), he had always found when it came to sex and business, the two mixed could produce some very interesting results, but not in violence. He still enjoyed the kill, but when you were trying to get something else out of it, forcing that on someone somehow dimmed the pleasure for him. Although Angelus had always insisted that most victims of rape were asking for it. But then back when Angelus was killing, most of the rapes were committed on prostitutes.

Boredom was the only thing that drove him to that alley. The scent of the man committing the crime, the feeble whimpers of the victim. A sharp cry split the air now and then. For some reason the fact that a mere human could commit such atrocities angered him. It made his blood boil that some humans claimed the title of evil when creatures like him were far beyond their capabilities.

Besides, he was hungry and playing the hero sometimes made him feel all manly.

The guy was dressed in casual clothes, and the girl beneath him, no more than a teenager, was dressed typically so. Her face was pressed to the wall, blood visible from wounds on her body. The scent only made him push further. He'd probably end up killing the girl as well, but then why would he care?

'It seems to me that you're a little desperate mate. Can't get a normal girlfriend?'

The guy stopped, pulling away from the girl and yanking his trousers up. His victim slumped against the wall and slide to the floor, exposed and crying for all she was worth.

'And it seems to me that you're interrupting something that isn't any of your damn business.' The guy grunted, dragging a small blade from his pocket. Spike looked at it and smiled, baring white teeth.

'Not very big is it?' He scoffed and the guy pointed it at him. 'Now now, do you really think that is going to hurt me?' He revealed his game face, and power surged through him as the rapist turned white with fear. He backed away, the knife thrust out in front of him further, waving it in panic.

'What are you?' He spat out, fear tainting every feature in his body. Spike was in front of him in a flash, yanking the knife from his grasp and closing his hand around the rapist-turned-victim's throat.

'I'm your worst nightmare.' He snarled, before sinking his fangs into the guy's jugular and drinking deep. Within minutes the body was drained and Spike let it drop to the floor without as much as a cursory glance. It hit the ground with a thud and the vampire turned his attention to the victim. Her coat was ripped, blood was running down her legs, and the ripped panties she had been wearing lay on the floor next to her. One of her shoes was missing, and other wounds covered her pale shivering skin. He bent down, gripping her shoulders and rolling her over.

He never expected the hazel eyes that he found staring back up at him.

*****

She couldn't take anymore. She was wishing for death. Her attacker had ripped her clothes, before ripping her of her dignity and faith in all humankind. Nothing was worse than this. She craved the death she had experienced not much over a year before.

She didn't think someone would save her. But she heard murmured words, the pain she was feeling fuzzing her senses, so she couldn't make out what they were. But she felt the weight leave her and she hit the floor, tears creeping into the concrete, mingling with her blood and complete loss of innocence. She didn't recognize the sensations she was feeling, but she wanted more than anything for the world to swallow her whole and take her pain away.

Silence consumed the walls around her and she wondered what happened. But she couldn't move. Couldn't speak. She was silently screaming into the pavement, but nothing came out.

The strong hands that gripped her shoulders were a surprise and a fright all in one. Was he resuming his assault? Was she about to die?

But as the hands rolled her over onto her back, her vision cleared and she suddenly saw the ocean. The bluest eyes she'd ever seen were gazing down on her.

Attached to her worst enemy.

'S...Sp....Spike?' She stuttered, his responding look one of shock.

'Buffy.' He whispered, reaching out to wipe blood from the corner of her mouth. She couldn't speak anymore as the tears came again, and her body shook with the force of her experience. Without saying a word, the blonde vampire bent down and scooped her up, cradling her to his chest. She felt him begin to move, his heavy footfalls shaking her in his arms. She didn't know where she was going. All she knew was that the one person she thought would be the first in line to kill her, had just rescued her. She didn't know what he had done to the bastard that had done this; she guessed he had probably killed him.

And the part of her that usually objected to the killing of humans....was rejoicing.

*****

When Buffy opened her eyes the second time she was in unfamiliar surroundings. The events of the night came rushing back at her and she winced at the pain racking her body as she tried to sit up. Her wounds had been treated and gauze covered the worst of it. She was wrapped in a cheap motel bathrobe, her clothes nowhere to be seen. Steam floated through the room and the sound of running water assaulted her senses.

Spike.

Spike had brought her here.

Spike had saved her.

He obviously brought her here and dressed her wounds. And now he was in the bathroom, running a bath. It was oddly comforting.

And altogether terrifying.

She tried to swing her legs over the side of the bed, but pain ripped through her insides and she whimpered. The sound brought the bathroom door crashing open and Spike rushed into the room, unfamiliar concern colouring his gaze. 'Are you okay?' He asked, quickly, checking her over. Blood had once again trickled down the inside of her leg and she nodded, biting at her lip to stave off the temptation of tears. He bent down beside her, grabbing a discarded cloth from the bedside table. He wiped the blood from her thigh, and she wondering briefly how much he was reigning his demon in to do this.

'Spike...' She whispered; her voice hoarse from crying. 'Why...why are you doing this?'

'Don't rightly know, pet.' He said through clenched teeth. 'Just...didn't know what else to do. Got everything muddled up in here. I knew I should have run the bath first. Then cleaned the wounds. Gonna have to do it again now.'

'You're helping me.'

'I can leave if you want.'

She shook her head. 'No...it's okay...I just...it's a bit wiggy to me.'

Spike sighed. 'I guess...can't have you like this can I? Not when I'm the one who supposed to off you and all. Can't have you being done in by some sod of a human.'

'Right.' He couldn't help but wince at the acceptance of her tone. He was justifying himself. He didn't feel any urge to kill her. He felt the urge to heal her and it was making him feel all kinds of sick. Maybe Dru was right; he had gone soft.

'You up to this bath?'

She nodded, but as he went to pick her up, she placed her hand on his. He looked at the contact of her flesh on his and then to her – she was shaking like a leaf. 'Would you...can you stay out here?'

'Course pet. I know you prolly don't want me seeing your dainties.' She nodded, but the gaze on her face was far away from this room. The slayer he had fought before was not in this room. The figure before him was a broken shell, just a girl who'd been wounded by the very race she was sworn to protect. This was not how a magnificent creature like Buffy should have ended up. He sighed.

'Look, I'll help you in there, then I'll stay in here. Want me to get some grub in for you?' His tone was gentle, much like the tone he'd used with Drusilla all the time she was ill. Good thing he'd had practice at all this.

She nodded in response to his question, but he didn't feel she could really hear him. He picked her up and carried her to the bathroom, placing her on unsteady feet. 'You sure you're gonna be okay?' He asked.

'Yeah.' She paused. 'Thank you, Spike.'

He bobbed his head and ducked out of the door, shutting it behind him. He leant against the solid wood, listening to the sounds of his slayer getting in the bath, her soft whimpers reaching his ears and making him grit his teeth. His slayer. Since when was she his slayer. He always thought of her as his to kill, but his slayer? Something was dreadfully wrong with this scenario.

He moved to the bed, sitting down and cradling his head in his hands. He wasn't sure how long he sat like that, but he remembered after what seemed like hours that he had said he'd get her food. Luckily, the motel he'd picked came with Chinese menus next to the phones. He picked one up, realising that he didn't actually know what the slayer liked. Better to get a few things than get it wrong.

Since when did you care?

His mental voice was pissing him off now. He dialled the number, focusing on the foreign voice that echoed down the phone rather than the conflicting thoughts running through his cranium. He picked a few things of the menu and rattled them off in a clipped tone, giving the motel and room number and slamming the phone down. He could hear the Slayer sobbing gently, sounds of splashing water accompanying it, and he fought the urge to run to her and comfort her. His demon was raging at the situation, the lingering smell of her blood telling him to make the kill, to claim her as his. But he knew he couldn't. This wasn't right, this was completely and utterly, off the scale, wrong.

Habit took over and he began to pace, muttering to himself, losing himself in arguing with his own demonic nature as to the situation he was now in.

'Should kill her, get it over with. Angelus would of. Am I not demon enough? Course I'm fucking demon enough, more than demon, s'why I want her up to the challenge. Wanna kill her like she should be killed. Course he always said this would be good. He was always fucking banging on about it. On and on. They ask for it. They deserve it. Don't believe in rape. S'never rape cos they're asking for it.'

A whimper tore through his thoughts and he paused in his pacing and looked towards the bathroom. Buffy was lent against the doorjamb, wrapped in an overly large towel, tears filling up her eyes as she looked at him.

'You think…you think I asked for? That I deserve it?' She stared at him, her bottom lip trembling with unshed anguish and something inside him fell apart. He rushed to her as she sagged against the door, floodgates opening and tears falling freely. He held her up and whispered to her.

'No…pet…god, no. You didn't deserve this. Not you, you're so strong, a warrior, you didn't deserve this at all.' He led her to the bed, sighing heavily as he sat her down and took a seat next to her. 'Was just…I never encountered it much before. All Angelus could talk about some days. He revelled in shit like that. But me…I never would….I would never…s'not right's what it is.' She continued to sob. He was at a loss as to what to do, and knew that someone looking at this scene, knowing what they were…it was bloody weird.

The sobs abated at last and she shuffled away from him, probably all too aware of the strange situation. She looked at him side on and sniffed again. 'You said…Angel…Angelus…he did things like this?'

Spike frowned. 'He was a mean bastard, Buffy…not what your Angel is.' He looked back down and Buffy cleared her throat gently, making it clear she wasn't finished talking.

'Did he…last year…did he…' The question was implied if not voiced. She wanted to know if the monster she had unwittingly unleashed had committed rape during his minor free period. Spike didn't know how to answer – he genuinely didn't know. Angelus had been too busy rubbing in his trysts with Dru to admonish on his evil escapades otherwise.

'I don't know pet.'

Buffy fell silent and Spike stared at a very interesting spot on the floor. He didn't know what to do or say. Buffy wasn't sick, she was hurting but she wasn't sick and Spike wasn't used to caring for fragile human teenagers. She sniffled quietly next to him and he couldn't have been more grateful for the knock on the door, announcing the arrival of the food. He dug some money out of his pocket, knowing he couldn't very well off the guy if Buffy was there. But god he was hungry. As he handed the money to the guy and took the food, he willed his demon silent, ignoring the still heady scent of her blood all over the room. He watched her from across the bed as she picked at the food, nibbling here and there. He grabbed a bag of ribs for himself and hoped any lingering nourishment in them would keep him going until he could feed.

She pushed the still mostly full trays away eventually, and looked up towards the wall, finding a spot to stare at. Spike settled in his chair and watched her. She looked down at her cut and bloodied hands and he stood, grabbing a medical kit from the side and sitting in front of her, taking her hands and beginning to clean them methodically, applying new dressings in silence. It was her who broke it.

'I don't think I can do it now.'

'Do what pet?' He asked, not taking his concentration off the task at hand.

'Save them. Protect them. If people can do this, how are they worthy of what I do? There's evil inside everyone, and I don't think I can fight it all.'

'I don't understand pet. It was one guy. One guy's actions can't sum up the whole human race.' He said, stunned by his own words, softly spoken and delivered as if to a frightened child.

Which, at this moment, was exactly what she was.

'It's not just him. Giles…he took my powers away. The Council made him. Made him take everything away from me and I couldn't…couldn't fight…couldn't stop him…' Her voice dissolved into tears again and Spike, once again against his nature, pulled her to him and held her, letting her let it all out on him.

But that explained it. The Cruciamentum. Meant it was her eighteenth birthday soon. He'd never understood that. In his eyes, it was a culling ritual. An unfair one at that. But he'd be having words with the Watcher if…wait, what? Why the fuck did he care??? Here he was, cradling the Slayer, when he should be ripping her throat out and drinking deep of her rich, sorrow-filled blood. What in the hell has possessed him to pick her up from that alley and become her saviour?

He had no answer for himself. He'd always respected the Slayer – they were worthy opponent. But caring for one was out of the question. Thinking anything beyond the fight and the final gasp of breath was wrong. His demon should be screaming…wait, why wasn't his demon demanding it? Usually anything against his nature would have the beast inside screeching for blood. Sitting here, holding the Slayer, letting her sob into his shirt; and his demon was purring in contentment.

You've gone as loopy as Dru.

"You taste like ashes"

He shut his eyes, squeezing out his own unpleasant memories. This was nothing. He'd make sure she was okay and once she made a full recovery, he'd challenge her and kill her, fair and square. Good plan.

All he had to do now was follow it through.

Buffy's breathing became deep and she relaxed in his arms. He frowned and looked down, listening to her pulse steady into a rhythmic drumming against his skin. She had fallen asleep on him. Her little fists were clutched into his shirt, and she was almost drooling on him. The Slayer had bloody well fallen asleep on him. He looked up at the ceiling, cursing whoever was listening for their skewed sense of humour. Then he shifted her so she was lying down across the duvet, and went to pull away. But her deceptively strong hands were not letting go. His shirt threatened to rip and he frowned as she tugged him closer to her. The bleached blonde rolled his eyes and crawled onto the bed next to her. He shifted so she was laying with her head on his chest and pulled the duvet out from underneath them both as to wrap them both in it.

And there, holding the Slayer against him, his skin warming from her borrowed heat, William the Bloody fell asleep.

*****

The sun was filtering in through the blinds when Spike woke up. He had only been out a couple of hours and his internal body clock was telling him it was gone midday. The duvet was still wrapped around him, but the other occupant of the bed was gone, leaving him feeling slightly bereft of company. He sat up and frowned, wondering if the night before had all been some horrible horrible dream about him going soft and comforting the slayer instead of killing her and bathing in her blood.

The note on the bedside table dashed all his hopes of that. Scrawled in her hand writing, it simply said "please stay". And he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. He frowned again, and rolled out of the bed, noticing that the Chinese from the night before had been cleared away. She'd gone off somewhere, but where. He couldn't leave, that much was a given, but he wanted to know where she was and why she had left.

And then he asked himself why he cared again. He was really losing the plot, going completely round the bend and then some. And he desperately needed a cigarette.

He located them as a quick as he could and plucked one from the rather squished packet, putting it between his lips and lighting it. As he flicked the light shut, the door opened and Buffy limped in, a paper grocery bag in her hands. She smiled at him, which was the first thing that threw him, then pulled a container out of the bag and handed it to him. It was blood, most likely animal, but he was so hungry he couldn't care less. That was the second thing that threw him. When she sat down on the bed beside him, his head nearly exploded.

'You came back.' He said, slightly bewildered, staring at the jar of blood in his hands.

Buffy nodded. 'You stayed.' She whispered. Then she giggled. 'You have sleep hair.' She reached up and tousled his curls. He decided not to rip her throat out for it. He put the blood down on the side and turned to face her.

'Where did you go?' He asked, looking at her pale face, her eyes still slightly puffy from crying the night before.

'I went home to grab a few bits. Mom's gone out of town for a few days, so I figure it's safe to go home now.' She wrung her hands. 'Would you…would you come with me?'

Spike stopped, frozen at the question. He didn't know what to say, or how to break this truce that was holding them together, the unspoken experience they had shared. He was terrified of the path this was going down, of the deep seated affection he had for this girl that had to be quashed. William was a romantic fool and Spike hated every part of him that lurked beneath the demon that he couldn't kill. He would never be free of the ponce, no matter how carnal he became.

'Spike?' Buffy's voice came through the haze and he blinked.

'Yeah, pet. I'll come with you. Just for tonight mind. Then it's back to…'

'Fight to the death, yeah I get it.' She waved him off and he reeled back as if slapped. She didn't notice and stood, walking towards the bathroom. Spike held his head in his hands and despaired.

He was truly damned.

*****

They hadn't said much to each other since leaving the motel. He had not had anything to say, his insides still churning, his mind spinning with a thousand questions. She had been quiet for understandable reasons. Several times, when another man had gone to walk past them, Buffy had moved closer to him and clung to his arm, her whole body shaking. He felt sorry for her, truly he did; the slayer, reduced to fear of mortal men. He didn't see how the Powers could ever allow something like this to happen.

It didn't take long to reach Revello. She seemed relieved to walk through the door, even with him in tow. It was only once they were in the kitchen and he was making some tea, that he dared start a conversation.

'Have you spoken to your mates?'

Buffy looked at the phone and then him. 'They left messages, since I didn't go to school. But no. I didn't ring them back. I…I don't know how to face them.'

'They'll understand. They'll know how to help you better than I can.'

'I like you helping. I know it's weird…Spike…but I feel safe right now.'

'Its not right pet.' He sighed, stirring sugar into the two cups.

'I know. I so totally know. But you…you've always been honest. You want me dead. Right now…I need an honest someone. I need the harsh and brutal truth. I don't need mollycoddling or Angel…' Spike stiffened and she noticed. 'Angel judging me.' She sighed. 'I want to not be the Slayer for a while. I want to ignore the fact that Giles betrayed me, almost got me killed. I want to ignore the past deeds of everyone and be Buffy for one night. To live in a reality where I don't have to deal with everything at once, all at once.'

Spike watched her face during her little outburst, watching how hard she held the tears back, before the floodgates could take no more and she started to sob uncontrollably. Spike moved forward on instinct, taking her into his arms and holding her tight. The sobbing did not last long, but it wrenched his cold dead heart all the same. He didn't know before, but he knew now; he understood why it all got too much for Slayers.

He finally knew why they had death wishes in the end.

Buffy pulled away from him and sniffed, looking down at her clothes. 'I'm gonna….gonna go take a shower. Will you…' The words hung between them, unspoken but clear as night.

'I won't leave pet.' He watched her walk away, eyeing her rear and then cursing himself for his weakness. He turned and looked out of the window, sighed heavily to himself. His demon still didn't stir, feeling more content still, her scent surrounding him. But oh god, it was wrong. It was wrong and against everything that made him who he was. He loved Dru…god how he loved her. What he wouldn't give to see her dancing naked in the moonlight, pale light reflecting off paler skin. Her golden curls flowing free…no wait…that was wrong. Black tresses, Dru had black hair. Beautiful black hair. He shook his head, trying to believe for just an instant that she was there, that he could feel her.

Wait a minute. He could feel a presence. A familiar one. More than that.

Family.

Angelus.

Buffy.

Spike sped up the stairs, just in time for Buffy to back away from Angelus, sat at the window. The older vampire looked confused as to why Buffy was backing away.

'Buffy?' Spike asked, tentatively, secretly relishing the look of anger on Angelus' face as his girl went running to the peroxide blonde instead of his big brooding self. 'You okay, kitten?'

Angel frowned. 'Buffy, what is going on?'

'Spike…I can't…I can't deal with him right now…not after everything…I can't…I just can't.' She trailed off and began to cry again.

'Sshh, pet, ssh.' Spike looked up at Angel, his face solemn. 'Go sort your shower out. I'm just gonna see him along okay?' Buffy nodded into his chest and bolted from the room without looking back. Spike hesitantly took a step towards the window. Angel snarled.

'What in the hell…'

Spike held a hand up. 'Something has happened. Go wait by the back door. I'll be out in a second.'

'Like hell am I leaving you alone with her…'

'Look you sodding ponce, I'm being fucking serious here. Now you can either jump t conclusions or get your pansy arse round the back and wait.' Angel looked taken aback at the venom in Spike's voice. His demon protested the order but obeyed none the less, retreating from the window. Spike stood, face on the verge of vamping out, his demon roaring in his chest, demanding the life of the other vampire. He calmed himself, turned around and headed to the bathroom. He knocked on the door, calling out to Buffy. She responded in kind, her voice dull under the shower. He turned, satisfied she was okay for the time being and headed down the stairs.

Predictably, Angel was glowering on the back door step, his face half hidden in shadow. Every inch of him screamed attack as Spike stepped out, closing the door behind him and lighting up a cigarette. Angel was about ready to pounce when Spike spoke. 'I found her last night. In an alley. Did you know the watcher had taken her powers away? That it was the Cruciamentum?'

Angel had the decency to look shocked. 'Giles…I didn't think…what happened to her?'

'A human.' Spike spat. 'A human grabbed her, and had his way, that's what happened.' The venom in his voice was palpable. Angel scowled. 'And before you ask…I ripped the fucker's throat out. Drained him dry.'

'I still don't…'

'I'm not you. I never went for that sort of thing and I could never stand those that did. So I picked her up and took her some place safe. Thing is…she says she wants me to stay. She says she feels safe. And I…' He threw the cigarette on the ground, frustration seeping from every poor. 'I dunno what the fuck I'm doing here. I dunno why I took her. I dunno why I'm not leaving her. All I know is, she looks at me and she's so…broken.'

Angel saw it then. The anguish on Spike's face and the truly torn expression in his eyes. The younger vampire was in deep waters. But Buffy wanted him. Buffy was scared of Angel, and Buffy wanted Spike. Because some bastard human had violated her. After one she trusted had taken away that which she relied on.

The elder sighed and pinched his brow, looking at the younger with a sorrowful expression. 'Stay with her. Take care of her. I'll let the others…'

'No!' Spike said. 'It's not our place to tell. It's hers…it's…I'm gonna kill the watcher.' Spike said, snarling. Angel grabbed him.

'No, like you said, it's her issue. We can just stay here and look out for her.'

'You can't. She's terrified of you.' Spike sighed.

'Then I'll come back tomorrow night to check on her. But in the meantime…Spike, if you lay one finger on her….' The threat hung and Spike laughed.

'I'm not you.' He repeated. 'I stick to my word. I just want her better so I can fight the real slayer. Not the shell that is in there right now.'

Not the shell. The Slayer. His Slayer. In all her glory.

He would have her.

*****