The roundhouse kick connected with its target and the vampire stumbled back, hissing as it hit a tombstone. He fell over it and rolled over, jumping to his feet before Buffy could trap him. As she reached to pull the stake she had stashed in the back of her jeans, the vampire exploded into dust. She coughed as the acrid smell filled her nose before the dust settled.

A shadow behind the tombstone moved; she caught a glimpse of platinum blonde hair before he merged with the dark again. "I was going to get him," Buffy said.

"Of course you were," Spike replied. There was a brief flare of light from the tip of his cigarette. "After you were finished stumbling 'round like it's your first patrol." He stepped into the moonlight and flashed a smile. The cigarette was flicked to the side. "You're welcome, by the way."

"I didn't say thank you," Buffy responded. She turned on her heel and began walking away. She wasn't ready to face him. Not again. After what had happened, she wasn't sure she ever would be.

"You never do," he drawled.

Buffy stumbled when she heard the telltale steps following her. It was bad enough that she'd lost her mind and actually had sex with Spike, more than once, but now he was probably going to act like it meant something. And if she couldn't be rid of her stalker before...

"You realize that running away isn't going to make things go back to the way they were, don't you?"

At that, Buffy turned, one finger raised to point at him. "No one asked for your opinion." At the responding smirk, she turned again, now stomping in the opposite direction. As she might have predicted, Spike continued to follow.

"I understand, I really do get it," he said. His steps picked up until he was walking next to her, easily keeping up with her now frantic pace. "You've done something that you consider the ultimate Very Bad Thing and you just want to forget all about it." He chuckled softly. "Don't get me wrong, I'm quite grateful you temporarily lost your mind, or whatever you want to call it, but I don't think that's what it is."

"You don't know what this is," Buffy said. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "You're so delusion—actually, this is nothing. It was nothing." She stopped walking and turned to him. "You're nothing to me," she said slowly, sounding sure of herself for the first time since this conversation started. "So stop acting like—"

"Like I shagged you silly and you begged for more?" Spike finished for her. "I loved it when you begged," he whispered. The sting of Buffy's slap was still fresh when he smiled at her. He grabbed her arm and attempted to kiss the inside of her wrist. Buffy snatched her hand back just before his lips could make contact. His laugh followed her as she began backing away.

"Stop acting like you have some power over me now," Buffy said, her comeback coming far too late. She turned away again. That laugh told her everything she needed to know. He'd seen the longing look in her eyes when she'd realized he was going to kiss her. He'd probably heard her heartbeat pick up speed when he touched her. He knew, as much as she knew and was trying to deny, that she wanted him again. Right there if she could have him. But she'd be damned if she'd admit it.

"I don't know what it was, if I just felt sorry for you or if I've bumped my head one time too many," she said, tapping a gravestone as she stomped past it, "But there was nothing to what happened." The first, second or third round. "It will never happen again." Screaming his name or the orgasm that made her feel as if she was coming apart and finally becoming whole at the same time. "And you need to stop following me!" she screamed. Buffy cringed when her shrill voice came back to her in a slight echo, bouncing off the gravestones.

"If you'd just stop and listen to me, I could help you come to terms." Spike grabbed her arm at the wrist, pulling Buffy until she faced him.

She stomped his toe and kneed him in the groin, smiling when Spike doubled over in pain. "Fuck off, Spike."

His low laugh carried to her in the darkness. "Now don't go trying to break your new favorite toy, love. I've got to keep it ready for use."

"I'm not going to—argh!" She began walking away again, breaking into a light jog when she heard Spike following closely. This wasn't happening. Adrenaline was pumping through her body because of the fight with the vampire, not because Spike was hot on her heels. Her breathing was erratic because she was frustrated with him and herself over her slip in judgement not because he was seconds away from catching her. After everything she'd been through, this was not how she was going to lose her remaining sanity.

Spike grabbed Buffy's arm and pulled her to him; she felt his erection through her jeans and struggled in his arms, turning with a frown when he released her. "You disgust me!" she shouted, no longer caring how her voice carried. "I don't know what I was thinking letting you put your hands or anything else near me."

"I love you," Spike said softly.

"And another thing," Buffy continued as if he hadn't spoken, "You will stop coming to my house. You will leave my friends alone. You will not stalk me."

"I hate seeing you like this, all lost and sad. You haven't been yourself lately. Understandable." He shrugged. "Still, it must kill you that I'm the one person who isn't treating you like you have to fix what's gone wrong. Must be a relief from the pressure after...after everything." Her mother's death. Her father becoming little more than a small voice on the other end of the phone. Riley leaving. Giles leaving. Willow losing control. Glory. Death. Resurrection.

"Things have changed. I can give you what you need," he said, stepping closer.

"What I need is to be left alone," Buffy stated. She couldn't make herself take a step back. They were in a dark corner of the graveyard now, feet away from a high stone wall.

"What you need is to feel empowered," Spike corrected her. He moved close, until he was standing just in front of her, close enough that she could feel the coolness of his skin through the thin t-shirt he wore. "You need to feel like everything is at your fingertips again: power, control." His fingers touched on her wrist and then slid gently upward, drawing goosebumps over her flesh. "You crave what has been slipping away from you these past months, power over your own fate. It's never really been yours, you know."

Buffy bit her bottom lip. Spike held her eyes for a long moment. Her nipples were hard and she was struggling to breathe normally. She hated that he was doing this to her, but she couldn't stop it. She couldn't run. She couldn't even lie to herself about not wanting it.

Spike leaned closer until he was whispering in her ear. "You've always been on the losing end of the big fight against evil, love." One arm closed around her waist. In seconds, he had her pressed against the wall behind her. Cool stone touched the back of her neck. She leaned back, exposing herself to him. "Oh sure, you may be on the right side of the fight, but the good guys don't always win. And if they do, they pay a damn heavy price for it." His hand dropped to the front of her jeans. Cool fingers met her stomach. The button slipped through its loop.

"You're just realizing what the full price is, aren't you? Being normal, no matter how much you wish for it. No normal, boring boyfriends, or quiet friends or boring nights at home for you." His mouth dropped her neck and he nibbled lightly. Buffy sucked air in on a gasp and clutched at his shirt. His fingers slipped beneath the waistband of her panties. "You'll never have the security of a steady job or even something as mundane as a boring school term." His fingers moved lower. She was wet. Buffy moaned softly as he began exploring.

"Pretty soon, fighting the good fight might take your sanity." Buffy gasped as his fingers arched upward, penetrating her with deft precision. "Some might say it's a little late for that warning." His teeth grazed her neck again. Buffy trembled against and around his hand, her body clenching from a small orgasm. The first of several that night.

"I'll make you a deal, love," Spike whispered. "I'll give you everything you need from me—power, control, I'll be your escape, a little relief from the pressure to always save everyone and be the herione you were born to be—if you'll just give me a little compassion." He moved his fingers inside her and Buffy clutched at his arm, moaning as he began stroking her from inside. "Mind, I don't expect you to be nice to me, but a little less malice would be appreciated."

Buffy moaned again and leaned back, pressing her head against the stone wall. Her jeans had slid down and now rode low on her hips, barely being held up by her spread thighs. Her panties were tangled around Spike's hand.

"So what do you say?" He nibbled at her neck again; his fangs were dangerously close to breaking the skin. "Do we have a deal?"

In response, Buffy pushed him away. Spike stumbled back. He fell on his ass, grunting as Buffy landed on top of him. In short order, her jeans were tossed to the side, Spike had ripped through the thin lace covering of her underwear and she was working her hips over his, moaning as the vampire thrust upward to fill her.

"I fucking hate you," she whispered. Buffy moaned and tossed her head back as Spike reached up to cup her breasts through her shirt. His caresses turned to rough squeezing; Buffy dug her nails into his shoulders. "You're the most aggravating, stubborn, disgusting, ah—" She sighed as one hand moved to her ass, bringing her down hard as he arched his hips up to meet hers.

With another shudderinng cry, Buffy came, shouting his name as he continued to move beneath her. A third orgasm quickly followed the second, more intense than any she could ever remember having. For a moment she was blinded by stars. Buffy collapsed againt Spike's chest, too spent to push him away when his arms moved around her. As the adrenaline dispersed and her heartbeat slowed, she was aware of a coldness about herself. Spike was always chilly, she knew, and the wind had picked up around them, but there was something deeper, something she knew a strong cup of coffee and an extra sweater wasn't going to touch no matter how much she pretended otherwise.

She craved this...this release. It was a weakness. As much as loving her friends and wanting a normality she could never have were distractions from what she had to do, she needed this to bring her back to the cold reality that was her life. She couldn't have love with her partners or a quiet, boring life. Even time to collect herself fully before returning to the so-called good fight was too much to ask for. But she could have this. Buffy could give herself over to instinct, to base pleasure, to someone she alternately hated for bringing this out in her and appreciated because he was there where and how others couldn't be. She could be weak in his arms, with Spike inside her, in the moments between calling his name and falling back to Earth. She could simply be a woman drifting outside herself.

There was a safety in knowing she could let go this way every once in a while. As Buffy clutched the cold shell of the body beneath hers, she acknowledged one fact: Once was a mistake. Twice was the beginning of an addiction she'd be hard-pressed to shake. The third time, and she knew there would be one, would be the result of a craving she could already feeling creeping onto the edge of her consciousness. She'd worry about where this could lead and everything else later. For now, she could pretend all was right.

Her eyes had begun to drift closed. Spike squeezed her shoulder. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Buffy pushed away from him and stood. Facing away from Spike, she got dressed. "Stay away from me," she said as pulled on her shoes. She didn't spare him a look as she brushed the dirt from her jeans. Buffy walked away, trusting that Spike would ignore her brusque words and come to her the next time she had a craving.