AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story takes place after "Wrecked." This is my second attempt at fiction and a sequel to "Love Remembered."

DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters and institutions depicted in this story are property of Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. No infringement of rights is intended.

DISTRIBUTION: Sure. Just let me know.

FEEDBACK: Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

Chapter 1 – Sparring Partners

It had sounded like fun: a little pain, some sweat, a bit of the 'rough and tumble'.

How could he have said "no" to such a promising invite?

But, later, after having his ass kicked around the training room for close to an hour, Spike was starting to wish that he'd stayed in bed that afternoon. When the Slayer had stopped by his crypt earlier, asking him to spar with her, he'd been surprised; not by her presence in his lair—she often came around—but by her behavior toward him.

She'd been nice.

Sadly, this rare civility had only lasted until he'd agreed to go with her. After that, she'd reverted back to treating him as she usually did—like he wasn't a person.

Of course he really wasn't, but that was beside the point.

Even vampires had feelings. And his were, like the rest of his body, being beaten, pummeled and trampled by the Slayer—and with such relish! Arguably, he could've hit back with his own superhuman strength, but—unfortunately for him—he was in love with her.

And now, after being caught in the ear by a particularly nasty punch, he was hearing bells.

"Bloody hell, Slayer!" Spike muttered, shaking his head in an attempt to dispel the ringing in his ears. He glared at his tormentor and combed his fingers through his slightly mussed, platinum blonde hair.

Buffy glanced at the vampire, showing no sympathy. "Quit complaining, Spike," she said, leaping up and catching him in the chest with her foot. He staggered back, arms flailing out in front of him, but remained standing.

"You know you like it," she added with a smirk.

Spike eyed her with contempt. "Yeah, right! Getting my ass dragged out of bed in the middle of the day to be your sodding punching bag. Not exactly my idea of fun!"

Ignoring his last remark, Buffy swung her fist, landing it solidly on his chin. His head jerked back upon impact and his body swayed but he didn't fall. Her lips curved upward into a smug smile.

"Hey, you're like a Weeble," she commented, amused.

Spike scowled. "A what?"

"You know – a Weeble."

"Enlighten me!"

"Well—" Buffy did a leaping kick, catching him in the abdomen. This time, he fell back and landed with a thud on the mat.

She looked at him with feigned surprise. "Oh…guess I was wrong." She shrugged. "Weebles wobble but they DON'T fall down."

Spike lay back on the mat and closed his eyes. "That's it. Practice over. I'm done!"

"Hey, it's been less than an hour!" the Slayer protested. She walked over to where he was lying and stared down at him with her hands on her hips. "Besides, I really need the workout. My training's been pretty sucky ever since Giles left. Nobody wants to spar with me."

Spike arched an eyebrow. "I can't imagine why not," he said sarcastically.

"Oh c'mon Spike." Buffy said, offering her arm. "Like I said, I really need the work—"

In a fluid motion, he grabbed her hand, pulled her down, and rolled on top of her. His face was inches from hers as he stared down at her with a telling glint in his eye. "Actually, I had a different sort of workout in mind," he said in a low voice.

In response, Buffy pushed him away, exerting her full Slayer force. He slid across the mat to the other side of the room. "Not gonna happen, Spike!" she said through clenched teeth.

The vampire sighed and started to get up. "Have it your way, Slayer, but old Spike here is getting a bit tired of this game."

* * *

Up front, in the Magic Box, Anya was counting the money in the cash register for the third time that day. Although she knew it wasn't necessary to tally her receipts until after closing, it was a slow day and she liked the feel of the little green pieces of paper in her fingers. She even liked the way the bills smelled. She held them up to her nose, inhaling deeply.

She was sniffing a particularly aromatic fifty-dollar bill when she heard what sounded like a scream coming from the training room. Quickly, she put the money back in the cash register, closed it and headed toward the rear of the shop.

When she reached the training room door, she heard the sound again, only this time it was more like a squeal than a scream.

Curious, she pressed her ear against the door and heard what sounded like panting, then a muffled, rhythmic thumping noise. The thumping halted for a few seconds and she thought she heard someone whisper; "Don't stop." Then it resumed for another minute or so until—There it was again – the same scream/squeal.

Anya reached for the doorknob and tried to turn it, but it wouldn't budge.

She pounded on the door. "Hey! What're you guys doing in there?" she yelled.

There was a long silence and the ex-demon heard scurrying coming from inside.

She knocked even harder. "Buffy! Are you in there?"

More silence.

Finally, the Slayer emerged, disheveled and breathless. Anya glanced past her and into the room where she saw Spike standing on the mat with his hand on his hip, looking amused. She immediately noticed that he wasn't wearing a shirt. Her eyes narrowed and she stared at Buffy suspiciously.

"Were you guys—"

"Sparring." Buffy answered quickly before Anya could finish her question. "We were just sparring." She tried to shut the door but the ex-demon pushed it back open and entered the room.

The magic shop owner persisted. "Didn't sound like sparring to me," she said, frowning. "Sounded more like—"

"Spike's showing me some new moves," Buffy interrupted. "Self defense tactics." She looked over at the vampire, silently imploring him to back her up.

He smiled mockingly then turned to Anya. "Yeah, I was just showing Slayer here some new techniques for ah…escaping," he explained. "You know, she starts off in a vulnerable position, like lying flat on her back on the floor here." He gestured to the mat. "Then I pin her down and she tries to get me off of her…by uh, wriggling around a bit at first, then bumping me with her lower body like this…" He demonstrated a series of hip thrusts. "Then she, uh, gives me a tight squeeze, using those Slayer muscles of hers, until I, uh, eventually just can't hold on anymore." Spike glanced at Buffy, suppressing a grin.

Anya still didn't look convinced. "Sure sounded like—"

"But it wasn't…that." Buffy laughed and waved her hand dismissively.

Anya was still frowning. Although not satisfied with Buffy's explanation, she turned to leave the room. She had the sudden urge to find Xander and spend some quality time with him alone in the stock room. She took a couple of steps toward the door, then stopped and spun around. "But why is he half naked and why was the door locked?"

Thinking quickly, Buffy replied "Spike's only got a few good shirts. Didn't want to accidentally rip any of them—"

"And these particular moves are top secret," Spike added with a wink.

Still looking doubtful, the ex-demon left the Slayer alone with her sparring partner and went off to call her fiancé.

* * *

After the former demon was out of earshot, Buffy glared at a now fully clothed vampire and punched him hard on the arm. "What the hell was that?" she asked angrily.

Spike glowered back at her. "Oww! That hurt!" he said, rubbing his stinging limb.

The Slayer threw her arms up in frustration. "You were practically telling her what we were doing!"

He looked at her and shrugged. "Well, if you hadn't screamed—repeatedly—little miss Anyanka wouldn't have come back here in the first place."

"It's just…" Buffy said, sounding exasperated. "I think she knows. I mean how could she not know?"

"Yeah, well we're talking Anya here, pet," the vampire replied, his voice a low purr. "The girl's pretty clueless, if you ask me." He gently rubbed the Slayer's arm and began nuzzling her ear. "Besides, who cares if she knows? They're all going to find out one day. It's bound to happen if we keep this up."

Buffy jerked out of his reach and frowned. "Well, maybe this just has to end." Her voice got softer. "Right here and now." She looked at him, her face determined. "We're done." Then tilting her chin up a notch, she added "I mean it this time."

Reaching out, Spike laid both hands on her shoulders. He looked at her and managed a crooked smile. "No you don't, luv," he whispered. He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips. Then bowing his head down, he touched his forehead to hers and caressed her cheek with his thumb.

Buffy gazed into Spike's blue eyes, mesmerized. Her mouth opened slightly and she ran her tongue over her bottom lip.


He kissed her again, then looked back into her eyes. "I've got to go, luv," he said, his voice now husky. "But, there's something I need to talk to you about later." He stared at her unblinkingly. "Will you come by my crypt this evening?"

Speechless, Buffy nodded in response. The vampire leaned over to kiss her one more time before heading out the door.