A/N: This one is kinda angsty and deals with a lot of the mess in season 6. Expect to dislike Willow and Giles for the time being. All my stories are Spuffy, so if you're a Bangle person, leave now and your eyes won't bleed. ;) Dialogue taken from season 6 and 7 of BTVS. Disclaimer: Joss owns it all, but he can lend me Spike anytime he wants.


"Bloody hell, Slayer!" Spike raged, wiping the trickling blood from his nose.

Buffy cringed. "Spike, you got in the way. Next time move when I tell you to!"

Grumbling to himself, Spike looked over at the mess that was the latest demon to be dispatched by the Slayer. Admitting to himself that, had he actually been focused on the fighting instead of watching the Slayer's cute little arse, he probably would have escaped the now throbbing pain encasing his sinus area. The roundhouse kick that was meant for the ugly monstrosity in orange had instead brought bursts of starlight and pain sweeping across his face.

"Bollocks," he muttered.

"I heard that," Buffy panted with exhaustion. "You really need to pay attention if you're going to continue patrolling with me. I've warned you."

"Well, dangling certain bits in front of m'face doesn't help with the concentration, love," Spike snarked.

"Shut up, Spike…you're such a pig," she groused, too tired to really get into a verbal battle with the annoying pest.

He just leered at her and waggled his eyebrows, the smirk he was sporting showing just how much of a pig he could be, given the chance. Buffy shook her head in exasperation and turned away, barely noticing the slight frown starting to mar Spike's handsome visage.

Handsome? Buffy, girl…you've been dead way too long!

"Slayer, is this demon known for carrying…doilies?" Spike asked in sincere curiosity, cocking his head and looking at something lying on the ground near them.

Buffy focused on what he was staring at and frowned. She moved between the headstones and bent down to pick up what looked like a very frilly, white doily. Buffy rubbed her fingers over the material and realized it was satin, not the normal material for a handkerchief. She touched the fine lace stitching that had bordered the entire cloth and noticed an M monogrammed on one of the corners.

"Hmmm, wonder if his name was 'Monty' or 'Mickey,'" she mused aloud.

"Demons' got hankies now? How considerate of 'em. First you slay their gooey arse, then they leave a rag for you to clean up with. Bloody brilliant!" Spike laughed as he took in the look of extreme skepticism and annoyance from the Slayer.

Buffy rolled her eyes and stuck the Idemon hankie/I into the back pocket of her jeans, leaving just a little frill peeking out over the top. She checked her watch and groaned softly. It was only 9 pm and it felt like 2 am to her. She'd been alive for about a week and a half, feeling tired and useless for the majority of it. Plus, her friends treated her like some fragile Ming vase, or something as equally priceless, by constantly asking if she was all right – which was getting on her very last nerves.

INo, I'm not all right. I want to go back to where I was. I was so happy there, and I feel dead here./I Buffy's eyes misted and she bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. The only thing that kept her functioning at this moment was Spike's presence. Go figure.

Buffy remembered, back in her other life, that Spike had declared his love and devotion to her, albeit in a totally Spike way – by chaining her up. After she had gotten free, she immediately revoked his invite to her house, promising him that he'd be dust before she'd let him cross that threshold again. It turned out to be an empty promise. Time and time again, he'd proved his professed dedication to her and her loved ones by putting himself in harm's way. Glory had nearly killed him for the information concerning Dawn. And baring the 'Buffy-bot' incident, Spike had earned the right to call himself a Scooby. Regardless if the others thought so or not.

Which, case in point, everyone had turned their eyes towards Spike when Buffy had said she needed to start patrolling again. Whether they wanted him to make sure that any demons or vamps didn't take a bite out of her while she was rallying or to make sure that she didn't off herself, she never knew. Willow and Tara seemed to tolerate Spike more often than not, especially Tara. Anya cast no aspersions, as she was an ex-demon herself. Xander and Giles, however, were barely civil to the vamp that had probably saved their butts more than once throughout the summer.

Buffy sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. She watched as Spike tilted his head back to keep the blood from pouring out of his broken nose, flinching when a flash of pain clouded his beautiful eyes. She really was sorry about that misdirected kick, but he happened to be in the way as she brought her foot down, nearly hurling when she heard the bones break.

So the million-dollar question was: When did Buffy start caring about what happened to Spike? If Buffy was honest with herself, it was when he nearly sacrificed himself for Dawn. And had she not have died, Buffy could see herself falling mighty hard for the vamp with no soul. But her dying had changed everything, making her feel twisted and empty inside. How could she give herself to someone in a relationship when there was nothing to give? Spike had done too much for her and the Scoobies to be treated that way.

And so, Buffy remained distant and isolated within herself.

Patting her pocket to make sure the cloth was still there, Buffy quietly started on her way home, counting the cracks in the sidewalk and listening to Spike follow her. Every time she moved, the frilly fabric teased and tantalized the lovesick vampire behind her.

Spike flared his sore nostrils at the sight, grousing quietly. "For Christ's sake, Slayer…could you please try not to be so damn tempting?"

Buffy turned her head, looking back at him, without stopping. "What? I didn't quite catch that," she questioned, trying not to smile. She didn't mean to tease him, but in a way, she felt alive when he looked at her…like an angel come to save a dying man. Oooo, bad choice of words, Buffy. Angel…dying…yeah, so unmixy!

Spike plastered on a fake smile and gritted his teeth. "Not one word did I say, Slayer. Best keep your eyes forward and pay attention to where you're going, else you'll trip and fall…and I'll have a right laugh at you, pet."

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head, turning back to the road leading home. Feeling Spike's gaze on her, she dared to be flirty Buffy, just for once. She sauntered her hips just enough to hear a low growl issue from the vampire behind her. She smiled lightly, and quickened her pace, trying to outrun emotions that were starting to creep up on her.

Even though he made no move to touch her, Buffy felt his burning gaze on her form as she neared her house. She really shouldn't have teased Spike like that and a wave of guilt hit her hard in the chest area. Why was her relationship with her formal mortal enemy so complicated? Most likely because of just that – he was her mortal enemy. Or was, but even that excuse was starting to lose ground. Her continuous mantra of Vampire equals bad, Human equals good was starting to sound thin, even to her own ears. Confusion clashed with years of ingrained training and she decided to, once again, avoid reflecting on where her life was headed. Blissful oblivion had its perks.

Reaching her back porch, she turned to watch Spike as he hesitantly followed up the steps and waited by the door. "Can I have a nip?" Spike asked innocently.

Buffy's eyes widened and then she frowned in confusion. Nip? Did he just ask for a nip?

"Of hot chocolate," Spike said, rubbing his hands up and down his sides. "S'bloody cold out tonight, luv. Mum always made me some," he pouted, sticking out his bottom lip. "Sides, it's the least you could do, after this," he cajoled, pointing at his swollen nose.

Oh that lip…that wonderful, sexy, pouty lip. Buffy's eyes glazed over, as she recalled tasting that lovely piece of flesh over a year ago. Snap out of it Buffy! He asked for some hot cocoa, not a kiss!

Spike noticed the look in Buffy's eyes and held his breath. Internally, he was begging the Slayer to let him in, to let him touch her, taste her…love her. But then he mentally kicked himself as he realized that the Slayer was tired and appeared completely worn out. Chit needed some good, deep kip. Needed some TLC and he hoped that she would let him take care of her. Good luck with that, mate.

Buffy averted her eyes quickly and unlocked the door to the darkened kitchen, only turning on the small light above the stove. She bustled around the kitchen to find the supplies her mother had kept on hand for Spike, even finding a bag of little marshmallows hidden in the pantry. As she bent over a lower cupboard to obtain a saucepan, her rounded arse drew Spike's stare as he watched the frilly handkerchief bobbing along with her movements. Before Spike could register that she was watching him, he let slip a groan of longing. Seeing Buffy observing him with curiosity instead of the expected disgust made him pull into himself and pinched the bridge of his nose in a gesture that reminded her so much of Giles.

"Right…well I-I," Spike stuttered. The normally verbose vampire was at a loss for words, his mouth dry with want.

Buffy just continued to look at him strangely, as if she were a deer caught in the headlights. After a few tense moments, she lowered her eyes and quietly began making the hot chocolate.

With a heavy sigh, Spike took a seat at the breakfast bar, waiting for her to finish. Way t'go mate…scare the chit to her third death! Never one to keep his hands still, he began playing with the fake grapes that were in the fruit bowl, flicking them across the room to see if they'd land in the sink.

Hearing the plunk of objects hitting the sink, Buffy turned to see a miserable-looking Spike, flicking plastic grapes into the drain. She tried to hide her smile, until one accidentally hit her on the forehead. "Hey! Those are expensive, bud, even for plastic!"

"Sorry pet! I'll replace 'em," he apologized. "I'll even get real ones, the Bit likes the green kind."

Buffy smiled to herself at the slip of domesticity from Spike. He'd taken care of Dawn all summer, making sure she ate and stayed safe from the local baddies. And for the first time since she'd been pulled from the warmth and comfort of 'heaven', her heart grew a little warmer at the thought of him. He had kept his promise to her, even after she was gone.

Buffy put the steaming mug of cocoa in front of Spike and handed him the bag of marshmallows. He smiled gently and dumped a handful in the cup, watching some of them dissolve into creamy foam. He took a tentative sip and found it a bit too hot, so he decided to let it cool.

"You've got a mustache," Buffy giggled, as she wiped away the milky foam that had attached itself to Spike's upper lip with her thumb. She then sucked it off her finger, her tongue darting out to taste the sweet confection.

Spike's left eye twitched. He was still trying to come to grips with the fact that the Slayer had, of her own volition, touched his lips with her fingers, when he heard her talking.

"I'll talk to Giles and ask about the demon hankie. Maybe he'll have some ideas and we can go from there," Buffy said, trying to ease some of the tension in the room.

Spike nodded silently, not trusting his voice. The woman was suffocating him with her nearness, and all he wanted to do was drown in her. Needing the distraction, he grabbed the cup of steaming liquid and drank it down in one gulp, scalding his throat in the process. Spike then took the mug to the sink and rinsed it out, like he had done a thousand times when the Slayer was gone.

Spike then turned towards the door, twisting to look back at her with his hand on the knob. "You'd better get to sleep, Slayer…more nasty buggers on the horizon, and all that."

A look of confusion flitted across Buffy's face as she came to stand near him by the door. "Did I say something wrong, Spike?"

Spike bit his bottom lip, shaking his head no, and smiling tenderly at her before chucking Buffy under the chin. "I'll catch up with you tomorrow night, yeah?"

She nodded, still confused, cocking her head to the side. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry…about this," she said shyly, carefully touching his nose. Nothing like this should be inflicted upon his beautiful face. Since when do you think he has a beautiful face? Oh get over yourself Summers; he's got the face of a freaking God! Buffy didn't stop touching Spike's nose, continuing to stroke his beautiful high cheekbones, and finally laying her heated palm against his cool cheek.

"Slayer…Buffy," Spike whispered, as he nuzzled against her hand, longing audible for both of them to hear.

Buffy bit her lips tight, trying to stifle the whimper that begged to escape. She clamped down hard on her emotional response to his whispered plea, her name sounding like a revered hymn being sung. "Spike…I," she faltered, failing to suppress the longing in her own voice.

"Buffy, don't!" Spike pleaded as he held onto the hand that cupped his cheek, his eyes begging for a crumb.

With a moan, Buffy tore herself away from Spike's grasp and scurried to the other side of the kitchen. "You know nothing good would come of it. You're a vampire for Christ's sake! I kill your kind every night!" she tried to reason, even though tears were silently falling down her face. "You're like a drug that makes me wig out every time I'm near you, making me crave you like an addiction. And that's just what you are, an addiction; one I need to cure myself of…because I can't have you, not supposed to have you!" she cried, burying her red face in her hands, her whole body shaking.

Misery edged over Spike's face as he absorbed all that she had revealed to him. "An addiction…" he murmured. "A bloody, fuckin' addiction?" he roared. "Pet, do you have any idea what kind of addiction you are to me? I wake up, I want you…I sleep, I want you…I exist, and I want you! If I could inject you into my bloody system there is no price I wouldn't pay to have it. But instead, I have to make due with a placebo, one that highly pales in comparison to the drug of choice. And you know what, Slayer? I don't want to cure myself of this addiction. But you? You do what you need to…go to AA meetin's and all…or better yet, try going cold turkey!" he said in a rage and stormed out the back door.

Buffy stared at the closed door, the curtains swaying slightly from the wake of an angry vampire. Never could she have imagined the ferocity of his words, the anger, the hurt…and it made her tremble. She slowly sat on the stool that Spike had occupied at the breakfast bar, noticing that a few drops of his blood had fell from his battered nose onto the counter. The drops were still wet and she lightly dabbed her finger in the crimson liquid until it coated her fingertip. Buffy held the fluid up to her own nose and inhaled deeply, trying to gain a sense of how vamps scented blood. Smelling only a coppery overtone, she tentatively stuck her tongue out to taste the precious lifeblood of Spike.

Thousands of tiny shivers shot up her arm and it made her giddy the moment the tang touched her tongue. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she gave a full throaty laugh at the sensory overload. She then quickly cleaned up the rest of the spilled blood with her fingers and suckled them clean, feeling the same, overwhelming sensations.

Oh my God, if a few drops can do that, imagine what a lot more could do!

Slipping from the stool, she turned off the stove light and headed towards bed. "I'm already addicted to Spike. Problem is…I don't know if there is a cure, or if I'd even want one if there was," Buffy said to the empty and dark house.

She never registered the shadow that followed her every movement.