Okay, this is officially the part where readers who are squicked by the bumpity-bump should go play with Dru's dollies. I warned you. If you proceed and cry me a river, then I shall laugh and taunt you a second time. :D ~FIN~


"As you wish," Spike purred in Buffy's ear.

She closed her eyes in relief, the weight of the day and evening draining away with his soothing caress on the small of her back, his fingers delving below the waistband of her jeans to stroke the soft skin of her bottom. "I can't wait to be like you," she breathed.

His movements stilled abruptly as he tensed. "You won't be like me," he corrected, pulling away to look at her.

Panic seeped into her eyes, turning them a startling shade of green tinged with yellow, as she dug her fingers into his shoulders hard enough to make him wince. "W-we won't be mated?"

"Didn't say that now… did I?" He waited for her acknowledgement.

"No, but I just assumed that-"

"You'd be like me, hmm?" he asked with a smirk. "I'd never put you through that, love… not even if you asked me. You're too pretty in the sunlight," he said wistfully, tapping her nose.

Smiling hesitantly, she nodded. "So I'll be me… except I'll be Uber-me, huh?"

Tugging on a lock of her hair, he grinned fully and adopted a German accent. "Das ist richtig, Liebes."

"I don't want to know how you learned German, do I?" she giggled.

Crossing his wrists behind her head and pulling her closer, he whispered wickedly, "It involves Grandsire Poof and a submarine."

Her eyes widened. "Angel and a sub, huh?" She tilted her head to the side and studied him. "You know, I'm learning most of your life-changing events involve Angel."

Growling low, he nuzzled her neck just beneath her ear. "This has nothing to do with that all-hat-and-no-cattle dick! Leave Peaches outta this unless you want his sorry arse here!" he hissed.

"Someone's jealous," she sing-songed with a smirk, which earned her a rather harsh slap to her backside. "Ow!"

He waited for it, the searing pain usually associated with violence of any kind, regardless of the intent. But it never came and he frowned in confusion as he searched her eyes.

"Buffy?" he whispered hesitantly, backing away from her.

She grabbed his hands before he could fully retreat. "It's okay, Spike… I knew it would happen."

Tears glistened in his eyes, his look heartbroken. "You knew the chip would fail?"

"A friend told me I needed to make my peace with that piece of hardware; that it would eventually fail. He asked me what I would do when it happened… I just didn't think it would be so soon."


Wrapping her arms around his neck, she held him tight, stroking the back of his neck. "An old friend who's long gone from here."

Burying his face in her hair he inhaled her scent, shuddering. "How'd the bugger know about the chip? Was he government?"

"Not even close. I'll tell you about it someday, I promise."

He pulled back to look at her. "Should I be worried or waitin' for the other shoe to drop?"

"After everything that's happened in the last few days, you still don't trust this, do you?" she asked, watching the warring emotions behind his blue gaze.

Drawing back, he looked down at their linked hands, caressing her scarred knuckles as he whispered, "I'm sorry that you had no choice in what happened to you, what with bein' brought back to this hell hole and all, but I can't honestly say I'm sorry you tasted my blood and bound us together." He then looked up and smiled sadly. "The claim's not complete though, only one-sided really, and it can remain that way… if you want."

"What are you saying?" Panic began to fill her.

"Settle, pet," he soothed, touching her cheek, rubbing his thumb along her hairline. "You're skittish `cause the claim isn't finished. As it is, I can feel just about everythin' flittin' about in that pretty noggin' of yours, but you're not privy to my feelings, and that makes you fearful. You can hear my thoughts, pet… but you can't feel me, my emotions… not fully leastwise. If we were completely mated… well… well, you'd feel it `cause it would sing to you, like a song that you keep close to your heart," he said with a sad smile. "I hear your song constantly, right here." He pointed to his chest then to his temple. "It's like a bloody orchestra sometimes, always hummin' and swayin', pullin' and soothin'. I can't withdraw my side of the claim, but you can be spared from hearing and feelin' me."

"You'd do that to me?" she whimpered, her bottom lip wobbling.

Sighing in frustration, he dropped one of her hands and ran his fingers through his gelled curls, releasing them from their stiff prison. How do you explain to the one person you love more than your own existence what being mated resembled? He knew she had no idea what it was truly like; the constant awareness of one another and the jump in powers were just the beginning. Because she hadn't claimed him yet, her confusion and trepidation were still there, clouding her from feeling anything from him as he searched for a way to make her comprehend what she was getting herself into.

Hoping he was doing the right thing, to give her some perspective, he gently took one of her hands and laid it across his chest, pleading evident in his eyes. For the first time in a century plus, he wished his cold, dead heart still had the capacity to beat.

Hear me, see me, he pushed through the bond.

Unable to keep them open, she closed her eyes and opened herself up to him, as he cupped her face. One of her hands gripped his as it held her cheeks, both of them trembling. He leaned his forehead on hers, inhaling deeply and slowly exhaled her name, willing her to feel and hear him through the connection.

Her blood sang to him, calling out through her lavender scented skin, ebbing and flowing, as it held him in sway with every beat of her heart. It pulled at him whenever he gazed into the changeable, luminous eyes that could see beyond mere mortal realms. It changed him fundamentally that she could hear as well as he could, catching a breathless sigh or the thrum of her heart.

Images assaulted her mind and powerful emotions battered her soul as he showed her how she affected him by letting her hear his thoughts, letting her see his love without the shuttered walls he usually put up when somebody looked into his eyes. He even let her feel the physical proof of what she did to him as raw, undiluted feelings flowed through her and she collapsed against him from the intensity of it all.

"Oh, God," she sobbed against Spike's chest.

"I could spare you that," he murmured against her temple.

Gripping his shoulders tightly, almost to the point of pain, she nuzzled his chest. "Don't you dare," she seethed. "And I'm so sorry… for everything, for thinking you were beneath me all those years," she apologized, trying to bury herself under his skin. "You have a soul, you have me… I'm your soul, and you're my heart."

Lifting her chin, he laid his forehead against hers once more. "Don't have a heart, love, least not one that beats… how can I be yours? Want to though, want it so very much."

"Doesn't need to beat in order to love, you should know that," she admonished him gently, raising her vivid blue gaze to his. "Look at what you've done in the name of love." She traced his pert lips with her thumb, loving the way his tongue darted out to taste her skin. "You were always there for me, even when I refused to see it," she gasped, closing her eyes when he pulled her finger between his teeth, biting lightly. "I know your heart, Spike… it beats just fine, right here." She pulled on his hand and laid it across her chest, lacing her fingers with his.

He couldn't help himself. Trailing kisses down her throat, he latched onto his mark and embedded his fangs. "Mine," he snarled, pulling her close to him.

Threading her fingers through his hair, she gripped the curls tightly and arched her neck for him. "Always."

After the last pull, he sheathed his canines and licked the remaining crimson drops clean from the pale column of her throat. "We need to do this now… I can't stand being apart," he panted against her lips as if in pain.

Nodding in agreement, she laid her cheek flush to his. "How do we do it?"

Tugging on her blonde strands, he wound them around his hand. "Not really somethin' I can readily explain, pet. It's all about the actions and few little words." He sighed at her confused look. "Most vampires claim other vampires - it's rare if we claim humans. You already know what my blood has done to you, but you'd have to take a bit more," he explained, rushing to assure her as he watched her carefully. "Just a wee bit, though… not nearly enough for a transfer, mind you."

Pressing a fervent kiss just under his ear, she nipped his lobe, loving the gasp that he issued at her action. "So what are we waiting for?"

With a surprised yelp, she was hauled up over Spike's shoulder and promptly carried up the staircase. As she tried to wriggle free, he growled and swat at her ass.

She squeaked and smacked him across his lower back. "You're such a Neanderthal! Put me down!"

Grinning at her antics, he nipped her thigh, smelling her arousal flooding through the material of her jeans, loving the fact that it was all for him… finally! Tonight, he was going to show her just how much he loved her with every movement of his body, every gentle caress, and every word he could ever utter, whispered in her ear as he was seated deep inside of her.

He'd learned much in the years of his unlife and how to love without a soul was the biggest lesson he'd undertaken. She would understand the strength of his love by the time he'd finished with her and, knowing Buffy, she would enjoy every last damned minute of it.

Slung over his shoulder, he carried her up the stairs to the main landing, nipping her thigh all the way to the master bedroom door. She put her hand on the entryway before they could cross the threshold, preventing them from going any further.

"Spike, that's their room! I don't think you want to leave eau de Buffy and Spike all over their sheets." She giggled when he started a low growl that reverberated throughout his whole body.

"Serves `em right for what happened," he grinned wickedly and waggled his eyebrows at her over his shoulder. "Besides, Red and Glinda might kinda like the scent of He-Man and She-Ra."

Coughing a laugh, she rolled her eyes in disgust. "What is it with you and cartoons or comics? It's like you're a kid or something… instead of a master vampire."

"Oi! I'm a kid at heart, love. Least the Whelp appreciates my sense of nostalgia."

"Do tell," she grunted, trying to breathe properly while hanging upside down.

Seeing she was red in the face, he let her slide down his body in front of him, only to be braced against the wall. "We've agreed to give each other free reign to our assorted collected works of greatly treasured comics and porno mags," he mumbled in her ear.

Her eyebrows rose. "Porno mags? I knew it!" she accused with a smirk.

Taking both her wrists and pinning them above her, he ground his erection into the apex of her thighs, leaning down to breathe against her skin. "Every woman was you, Buffy. I cut out their faces and replaced them with your picture," he admitted, hovering above her lips. "I couldn't even get hard thinkin' of anyone but you."

She groaned softly as his tongue traced the shell of her ear, whimpering when he abandoned it to repeat the gesture on the other, his breathy pants making her hair flutter. She shivered when his hands skimmed down her arms, past her hips and behind her thighs, gasping when he parted them, pulling her up to wrap her legs around his waist. Locking her ankles, she held on tightly as he moved from the master bedroom towards her room.

Kicking the door shut with his booted heel, he turned and slammed her against the wood, grinding against her as if trying to be absorbed through her skin. "The first time won't be gentle, love," he warned, his lips bruising hers. "I've been strung too tight for too long to be tender."

Staring him straight in the eye, she smiled slow and seductively. "Then I guess you'd better fuck the 'hell' right out of me."

His growl was feral as he started ripping off her shirt, her bra in shreds before he stopped for a moment to gaze at her breasts for the first time. Tracing the dusky skin around her nipple he grinned at how the soft tissue puckered from his touch. The ruched peaks begged for his attention, and he dipped low to clasp his mouth around the succulent flesh, inhaling her aroma.

"Dreamed of this so many nights," he whispered around her pebbled bud. "Being free to taste and touch you."

"I'm so sorry," she whimpered, overwhelmed by the sensations his teeth on her skin were creating. "I wish I could've-"

Never bothering to stop his suckling, he raised a hand and pressed it over her mouth. "No more apologies," he snarled, finally releasing her with a wet 'plop', staring hard into her eyes. "You want this… now, here, and I'll be damned if I'll ever let you go."

The color in her eyes flashed a vivid indigo and he could feel her smile underneath his palm. "Promise?" she muffled.

One side of his mouth quirked up in surprise as he removed his hand. "I'll be able to find you, Buffy, regardless of where you are. Death holds no dominion now."

Tears welled in her eyes. "I love you."

Pulling her close, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and shifted, moving them towards her bed. Just as he began to lay her on the comforter, an envelope fell out of her back pocket, both sets of eyes staring at it for a lengthy moment. Finally, he slowly lowered Buffy to the floor and she bent to retrieve the bulky packet.

"Should we open this now?" she asked softly, glancing at him.

"Don't rightly know, pet. Who's it from? It has no scent." He'd only retrieved the envelope from the back porch while he was smoking; no hint of who'd left it for her.

Smiling softly, she pressed the paper to her lips. "I have an idea," she said. "But I think it'll keep though. I have a feeling the person who wrote this was the patient type."

"Whatever you say," he murmured, nuzzling just under her ear. "We've got all the time in the world."

All thought as to the contents of the package fled once his hands became busy with ridding her of her jeans. It wasn't slow or gentle, as he'd already promised, his impatience causing the denim to split in several places. Ignoring all of her attempts to keep her clothing whole, she finally gave up and let him remove everything in his way. Clad now in only her hunter green thong, she turned swiftly and captured his lips with her own, relishing his moan at the contact, loving the way he cupped her face in his hands while he returned the kiss.

Buffy had kissed several guys in her life, even some she didn't want to think about, but nothing compared to the way Spike tasted. Angel's kisses barely registered and Parker's weren't even worth mentioning. Riley was just slobbery and felt like kissing a water fountain. But with Spike… their tongues danced and she could feel him all the way to her soul. This man kissed with the whole of his being and she had no way to respond except complete surrender.

Tears misted her eyes as she buried her lips against his collarbone, gently touching the mark that Drusilla had left when she sired him. He shivered as her tongue laved the scar, gently nipping, worrying the flesh between her blunt teeth. He snaked his hand through her hair and kept her mouth at his neck, whimpering. He felt her smile against his corded muscle and slowly pulled away.

"Not just yet," she whispered along the side of his jaw and pressed a kiss to the mark. "And you're way overdressed, mister."

Glancing down at his body, he quickly toed off his boots and stripped, throwing his clothes into the four corners of her room. "That better?" he asked, pulling her along with him onto the bed.

"Not in a hurry, are you?" she teased, her breath mixing with his as she climbed up his body and straddled his waist.

He groaned when her hot thighs and moist center slid against his bare stomach, setting off sparks every time her skin skidded along his, the fire deep inside him flaming high to engulf them both. He shook when she reached down and wrapped her hand around his throbbing cock.

"Ah, fuck, Buffy!" he gasped against her lips.

His entire body vibrated and ached as she stroked his cool, rigid shaft, his breathing becoming ragged. He nearly lost it when he felt her fingers grip him, her palm brushing up, along his shaft, then down to the base where she cupped him gently. Her fingers lightly brushed the underside of him, making him even harder until he thought he would burst.

Unable to resist any longer, he trailed his hands slowly over her body, savoring every dip and curve. He'd often dreamt of touching her in this way, and now it was a reality that he didn't want to waste. Nuzzling her neck and the claim mark he'd left there earlier in the night, he let the sound of her blood coursing through her veins fill his senses, her raw Slayer energy beckoning him, making him long to claim her again.

Pulling back with a growl, he latched onto her mouth and kissed her deeply as he slid his hand to the light brown triangle between her legs, groaning at the feel of those tiny hairs teasing his fingers as he carefully separated them and spread her nether lips. He couldn't believe how wet she was already, her fluid seeping out of her slit to coat his digits, her scent lowering his restraint until it was almost completely gone. God, how he wanted her; wanted to taste every inch of her flesh, drive himself deep into her fiery heat. He resisted but a moment, wanting to savor and explore her tenderly, slowly.

She jumped in surprise when his finger touched her clit, and then moaned a welcoming murmur as she quickened her fairy strokes on his shaft, her hips bucking against his hand, which was trapped between them. He halted her movements, afraid he'd spill himself before they'd even begun and brought his drenched fingers to his mouth, sucking them clean.

"You taste exquisite, love," he whispered, nibbling a path from her neck to her breasts.

Arching her back, Buffy leaned back when he sat up to tease her nipple with his tongue and teeth, his increasingly harder bites making her burn like lava. She screamed when he sunk his fangs in the underside of her left breast, holding her still so he wouldn't injure her, as he once more he dipped his hand back down between their bodies and touched her where she ached the most.

"Mine," he hissed again, withdrawing and licking the minute dribble of crimson, leaning up to capture her mouth.

"God, I want you, Spike," she breathed against his lips, tasting her own blood.

Saying nothing, he grinned wickedly and rolled her over to lie beneath him with an ease of strength that awed her. Sighing at the feel of his hard, lean body on top of hers, she wrapped her legs around his hips, wanting more of him, aching to feel him inside her. She knew the ache wouldn't ease until she claimed him in a way no other had claimed him, not even Drusilla. She wanted to be everything he needed; his breath, his heart, but most of all, his missing soul.

Pulling back from her luscious body, his eyes flashed yellow as his demon made an appearance, his fangs visible as he breathed raggedly. He was all sinewy power and it rippled from his body into hers, those sleek, honed muscles flexing around her with every graceful move he made. Running his hands down her thighs, he pressed them outwards, opening her fully to his heated gaze.

"Look at me, Buffy," he commanded. "I want to see your beautiful eyes when you make me yours."

Swallowing, she did as he asked. Arching her hips, she felt him enter her, slowly, inch by long, full inch until he filled her completely, moaning at the power inside her and the hungry, needful look in his eyes. Once fully seated, he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her deeply.

"You feel even better than I thought you would," he whispered against her temple and she felt a shiver run over his body.

He dipped his head and took her lips in a tender kiss as he delivered fierce, fast strokes to her dripping pussy - hard, long, and deep. They tore through her, spiking pure bliss through her body as she felt something building within.

"Oh God, Spike," she moaned against his lips, chills spreading over her body.

Turning his gaze to her throat, his fangs became more pronounced, his tongue laving the mark he'd given her in the kitchen. "Please, Buffy," he pleaded.

At his prompt, she began nuzzling his neck where she had nipped earlier and heard him whimper in need, increasing his thrusts between her legs. Suckling the skin between her blunt teeth, she bit down hard, blood rushing into her mouth almost immediately, his emotions flooding her entire being. "Mine."

Tensing, he clasped her tightly as his pace quickened to a punishing beat, barely hearing her words. "Yours, always yours, Buffy," he ground out through clenched teeth.

She released his puckered skin, laving it clean while arching up and into the frantic thrusts he pounded her with. No sooner had the words left his lips than something strange started happening. The entire room lit up with a soft and warming glow of pure light, the source emanating from the two beings joined on the bed, the erotic surge surrounding them both.

"Oh my God," she breathed.

It was as if they were really one person. She felt him inside her and she could feel herself around him. He felt it, too, and they stared into each other's eyes. Her eyes! They'd become green again, that lovely color of jade, and he wondered if it would stay that way.

Her gaze remained riveted to his as she ran her hand down his back, feeling the caress down her own spine. It was the most incredible thing she'd ever experienced.

Spike quickened his strokes as she clung to him, both of them out of their minds with frenzied need, as they came together in one fierce moment of sublime pleasure when he buried his fangs in her neck and roared his release deep inside her. She gasped when she felt the deep pulling of her blood into his mouth, actually tasting it on her tongue.

"Mine," he said possessively against her ear as he collapsed on top of her.

She cradled him within her body while she floated back to herself. "Yours, Spike," she whispered against his temple, lightly stroking her fingers up and down his back as he settled against her.

"You're a bloody amazin' woman, pet," he said hoarsely a few moments later, nuzzling his mark on her skin again.

"Not too shabby yourself, Mister 'The Bloody'," she teased languidly. All the muscles and bones in her body were now goo and she felt him chuckle as he turned to look into her eyes.

"Your peepers are back to normal, love… the same beautiful green," he told her, watching her reaction.

Her eyebrows rose at this new information. "Really? But, I can still see really great, nothing's changed… well, except for that really major voltage at the end there. That was way wicked!" She grinned. "Will that happen every time we're together?"

"Don't expect so, but I haven't sussed it all out yet. Probably the mutual claim assertin' itself. Remember, I said you could hear me, but not feel me? It's a two-way conduit now. I feel what you feel and vice versa. The claim's completed and there's no goin' back."

Content with the answer, she snuggled deeper against Spike and sighed happily. "Good. If' I'm gonna be claimed, I at least want all the benefits that come with it, not just fancy eyes or keen hearing."

It felt as if a weight had been lifted from his chest and he traced the lines of her face as he smiled softly. "I love you."

She turned to nuzzle into his hand and breathed the scent of him in deeply. "I'll never get tired of hearing that, you know." Turning, she looked at him, tears gathering at the corners. "Love you, too… so much."

His wide grin lit the darkness in the room as he kissed her soundly. They snuggled deeper under the covers and started drifting into the slumber they both so desperately needed.


Buffy awoke some time later and slipped out from under Spike so that she could go to the bathroom. Stupid bladder. Once finished, she stared at her eyes in the mirror and sighed. It was too bad they returned to their normal color, the anti-climatic results were a little disheartening. At least she still had the super-sight. Grabbing her silk robe from the door hook, she wrapped it around her shivering frame and returned to her lover.

Creeping back into the room, her gazed landed on the envelope that had fallen out of her back pocket. Quietly, she tiptoed over to the dresser and opened it as softly as she could, not needing to turn on the lights to see anything due to her enhanced vision.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, she opened the envelope, a sheet of paper and a ring falling out into her hands. Paying no attention to the ring, she laid it next to her as she curled her legs under her and settled to read. Casting a glance over at Spike, she smiled as his soft snores ensured that he was still asleep. Unfolding the paper, she closed her eyes, smelling the shoe polish and leather, tears gathering as she began reading.

Dearest Buffy,

My brave, beautiful girl… I will miss you greatly, but as I promised, I will check up on you and William in the future. I believe you'll have many adventures in store for you and your beloved. Yes, I know all about him. Actually, I 'knew' all about him. But I will save that for later in my letter. I just wanted to say that I am so very sorry for how you were treated after my passing. You deserved better, from me, from everyone. Seeing you this evening did my old heart a world of good. You were one of the only people that I'd encountered that was concerned for my welfare. Your genuine warmth and dedication to a calling that you didn't believe in proved your worth beyond gold. Again I am sorry for the pain you've suffered since. Had I the power to remove this 'curse' from your life, I would do so. Alas, it is not within my scope and as usual, I feel I failed you miserably.

Hopefully, one of my failures has been rectified. Rupert Giles will no longer be a threat to William, your adored vampire. A rather forceful heart to heart was all that was needed to help him see the error of his ways concerning you. I believe the next time you train, you will have a bit of swordplay introduced into the regime. Also, a kinder ear will be available to you, should you have need of it. I thought I'd made a mistake in choosing this bookworm of a man for your next watcher, but I find that he has the softest spot for you in his heart. The daughter he could've had, had he been given the choice of having a family. But like you, certain choices were not allowed him; so do be easy on the poor chap.

Now to William Pratt, otherwise known as Spike or William the Bloody. Yes, Pratt is his surname, but I doubt he will ever tell you… unless you force him, which might not be a bad idea. The blessed fool is totally devoted to you and yours. I would be blind, deaf, and quite dumb not to have seen it. The unfortunate incident with Liam O'Conner could have been avoided had Giles read my Watcher's diary, and for that I'll have a hard time forgiving him. It detailed Angelus' life and habits and also indicated that he should not ever be allowed near young girls, as he was a lecherous drunkard in life and it followed him into his vampiric days. He couldn't even be cursed with his own soul due to the fact it was as black as pitch. What good would it be to curse a vampire with a corrupted soul? Futile. Hence brings me to an enclosed item. I believe it was a rash decision to send the Gem of Amara to Liam in LA. Therefore, I took the liberty of relieving his person of the offending item. It is intended for the true hero of your life, Buffy. Liam knows nothing of this 'pilfering' and he never will. Not unless you tell him, which I highly suggest you don't. Let William experience the sunshine with you, as well as other benefits which neither of you are aware of yet, but I will not go into detail here. I'll save that information for a time when I check up on you two.

There are many trials ahead, Buffy, and I would be doing you a grave injustice if I lied and said that they didn't worry me. In fact, some of these events terrify me, and I can only be thankful that William is by your side now, keeping you safe. I'll try and help when I can, but there's only so much I'm allowed to do before dire consequences set in – for all parties involved.

For now, my dear, I'll say my good byes and leave you with this thought; To love deeply in one direction makes us more loving in all others. Love William, Buffy and you will find the other areas of your life fall into place.

All my love and devotion,


Her tears streamed down her cheeks and she sniffled loudly as she picked up the ring and clenched it in her hand. Spike, having sensed her distress and smelled her tears, crawled towards the edge of the bed and wrapped his arms around her from behind.

"Buffy, tell me," he nudged.

Feeling the need to share the letter with him, she handed it to him. With arms still around her, he held the letter up and began reading while she fiddled with the ring, laying her head back against his chest and nuzzling his mark.

"Bloody hell! That fuckin' wanker knows my name! Who the hell is this Buffy?" he ground out, none too pleased with the information imparted on the paper.

Turning in his arms, she cupped his cheek, smiling softly. "Merrick was my first Watcher." She gave him a moment to process that tidbit about her. "I know that Slayers usually die before their time, but my Watcher died before I was fully trained. What I did learn helped me defeat Angelus. I owe him my life."

He stared at her in awe. "You've had two Watchers? What does this tosser know about me that Rupert doesn't?" Curiosity had gotten the better of him.

"For one, Giles never read Merrick's Watcher diary. They weren't so big on the mixy, since he was dead and all. They thought it was lost, but I put it with his possessions when I sent his stuff back to the Council in England. Where it went from there, who knows," she enlightened him.

"Bugger. Don't fancy this old git knowing my predilection for all things evil," he said as he worried his lip. He finished reading the letter, letting the issue drop for the moment.

Keeping the ring clenched within her fist, she waited for him to get to that part of the letter, watching him tense as he whipped his head towards her and stared. "Buffy?" he asked quietly, hope filling his voice.

Smiling tremulously, bottom lip quivering, her eyes filling with tears as she held out her hand, palm up with the ring lying upon it. If Spike's eyes could get any wider they would have popped out of his head.

He looked hard at her, afraid she would say no. "Are you sure about this?"

She didn't say anything, instead grabbing his left hand and slipping it on his ring finger. The symbolism was not lost on him and he let out a ragged breath as tears gathered in his own eyes, gulping in unnecessary air. "God, how I love you, Buffy," he sobbed quietly.

Reaching out, she pulled him into a warm embrace and kissed his tears away. "Thank you, for saving me," she murmured, feeling him shake with sobs as she rubbed soothing circles on his back with her hands.

Emotionally and physically exhausted, they both crawled back under the covers and snuggled against each other, Spike spooning her from behind, his arm draped over her possessively, their hands linked. Drifting between sleep and wakefulness, a thought occurred to her, making her smile.

Will you take a walk with me on the beach tomorrow? I want to see if your beautiful eyes match the color of the ocean.

Nuzzling his nose at the nape of her neck, he grinned so wide he thought his face would split. `Course I will, love. Want to see your hair shining in the sun, too. My golden Buffy.

No more needed to be said and the two drifted towards peaceful oblivion.

Below the window where the mated lovers slept, Merrick looked up and beamed his grizzled smile, chuckling to himself as he backed away and disappeared into the ether.

Oh, yes, what adventures they had ahead of them.