Buffy woke up in an unfamiliar bed. The dark room swayed back and forth slowly and then came to an abrupt stop. She sat up and then groaned when the pain in her side screamed at her to stop moving. She touched the wound, her fingers coming away with blood.

Buffy recalled leaving her house earlier that night, frustrated with how terrible patrol had gone with Spike. She didn't understand why she had to join forces with him when she worked so well on her own. She had fumed as she made her way through the narrow alleyways, cursing Giles and his rules. She was so consumed with anger that she didn't hear Angel when he snuck up on her.

"Angel!" she jumped, when he grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. "Jeez," she breathed, heart racing. "This creeping out of the shadows thing has to stop." But just looking at his face, knowing he was there calmed her down just like it did every time she saw him. She felt a warmth wash over her body as her eyes met his own. His troubled eyes.

"What's wrong?" she asked, her own eyes becoming worried. "Did you have another vision?" She reached out to gently stroke his temple but just like before he avoided her touch.

He seemed to think he could deal with the pain on his own.

"It's Spike," he answered.

Her eyes narrowed. "I don't want to talk about Spike."

"Buffy, I don't think he told us the truth about everything. He's hiding something."

"Is that why you came here? To talk about Spike?"

"I came out here to talk about your safety, Buffy."

She scoffed and the warmth she felt upon seeing him dissipated. "My safety?" She pulled out her stake. "I think I'm pretty safe, Angel. If you want to talk about something, let's talk about us."

"We're fine, Buffy."

"There's a 'we'? I couldn't tell. Not the way you've been acting."

"What do you want from me, Buffy?" he asked desperately, his voice echoing off the alley's brick walls. He sighed exasperatedly "When I asked you to wait for me back then, you had no problems agreeing!"

"I was 15! How would I have known I'd be waiting for almost three years!"

"The demon inside me. It's still there, Buffy."

"How many times do I have to tell you that I don't care?"

She remembered those painful weeks after his demon powers first manifested. He'd been inundated with agonizing vision after vision. After having been inseparable for the year they'd been together, Angel had begun to push Buffy away. She hadn't been able to understand it and felt helpless that she couldn't offer him solace. While Anya and Doyle had accepted their demon lineage—hell, even embraced it—Angel had completely rejected it, even going so far as to seek out healers to help get rid of his visions. She'd never forget the night Angel told her he loved her, then broke up with her, vowing they'd be together once he was normal again.

But it had been so long since things had been normal between them. The late nights on the phone talking about nothing and everything had devolved into tense screaming matches born out of frustration. She longed for the days when they caressed each other openly just for the sake of it. Now, he wouldn't even let her touch him.

"You might not care, Buffy," Angel said. "But I do."

She looked him in the eyes. "I don't know how much longer I can wait."

Angel's breath faltered slightly before he answered firmly, "That's your decision." He turned around and left her standing in the alleyway in shock. Angel had been her first everything. Did he not want her anymore?

She wouldn't allow tears to spill from her eyes, although they threatened to. In anger and despair, she moved towards the cemetery, making her way through the woods. But in her haze of emotions, she didn't see the demon preparing to attack her. With a speed she was not expecting, it pulled out a dagger and stabbed her in the gut. Before she could react, it kicked her into the nearest tree, nearly rendering her unconscious. She slumped against the bark, breathing heavily and clutching her oozing wound.

"Slayer," the demon said, rolling the 's' like a snake. "It's so good to finally kill you."

Buffy tried to stand up, but the strange wound was burning with a debilitating pain she'd never experienced. 'Help,' she thought, although she was sure no one could hear her. 'Help me.'

The demon laughed at her attempts to stand up. "Is this the big bad Slayer I've been hearing all about?" The smile on its face looked more like a grimace. It clutched the dagger in both hands high above its head. Buffy closed her eyes, willing the pain to go away so she could get up and attack.

But out of nowhere, a flash of bleach blond hair and black leather tackled the monster to the ground. Buffy watched Spike wrestle the weapon from the demon's hand and plunge it in its green chest. The knife disappeared into the disintegrating body of the foul creature.

"How did you find me?" she asked when he came to help her up. His blue eyes blazed with worry.

"I felt you," he said before she passed out.

She was still bleeding. She reached for the stake she'd kept hidden in her jacket but it was gone.

"That demon did you nice an' proper," she heard a voice say in the dark.


He materialized from the darkness, the streetlights shining in from the window to highlight his lean figure. "What's going on?" she asked, trying to ignore the pulsing pain in her abdomen.

He sat down on the foot of the bed next to her pink painted toes. Spike's eyes flitted across those pretty toes; how was it that she seemed so hard on the outside, but on the inside she was the girl next door too innocent to be sitting on his bed this late on a school night? No, innocent wasn't the right word. A Slayer's innocence was lost the day of Calling.

"I'm gonna clean you all up, Summers. You're bleeding all over my bed."

"I guess you want me to say sorry."

He grinned at her. "There's a lot of things I want, Buffy. An apology doesn't have to be one of them."

"Perv," she answered through gritted teeth as the pain intensified.

"You took a nasty beating out there," he said. He dipped a cloth into the water bowl in his hands and caught Buffy's eyes as if asking permission. The pain hurt too much for her to refuse his help. She moved next to him until her legs dangled off of the bed and leaned back so he could have better access.

Spike hesitantly pushed up her shirt and gently wiped the dry blood from her wound. Her belly contracted when the cloth made contact with her skin. He paused and looked up at her, scared he'd hurt her.

"Cold," she answered.

He chuckled and continued his work. He tried to ignore how smooth her skin felt. It was a rare occurrence when Spike invited a girl to his room—into his bed—and didn't at least try to have sex with her. It was hard not to let his mind drift to inappropriate places, especially when he was touching a girl who made him go crazy in more ways than one.

She was sweating from the pain, biting her lip to keep from making noise. Spike grabbed her hand. "Almost done, luv." When he finished cleaning the gash, he reached for the tube on the dresser. "This does wonders." He squeezed the clear substance into his hand and lightly rubbed it onto the wound. Almost immediately Buffy felt the pain subside, replaced by a soothing warmth.

"That feels so good. What is that?"

He waved the tube in her face smugly. "A little gift I received from the heavens."

She rolled her eyes. "If you and the heavens are teaming up then we're all going to hell."

He grabbed some gauze from the dresser and began to wrap it around her stomach.

"It was a Slototh demon," he said.

"A what?"

"A Slototh demon. The one that got you. Warrick and I stumbled across a huge nest of them back in England. That entire winter was spent getting rid of them. Those daggers, they're laced with black magic. That's why it hurt so much. Believe me, I've been cut with them a few times to know the pain. It wasn't until Warrick got nicked that he found a treatment that could ease the pain. You can only kill them with their weapons."

He paused to right the gauze that twisted against her back. Buffy watched Spike's eyes squint in concentration. She was struck with an irrepressible inclination to run her fingers through his mussed locks. She stopped herself.

"All done," he said finally with a satisfied grin as he admired his handiwork.

She rubbed the spot where the wound used to be. No pain. "Thanks," she said and pulled her shirt over the binding, suddenly self-conscious.

"Don't mention it," he said, a blush fainting his cheeks.

An awkward silence filled the room when they both realized they were sitting on a bed and there wasn't much more to say.

"How did you find me?" she asked again. "Were you following me?"

He snorted, refusing to answer the ridiculous question.

"Then how? I thought I was alone out there."

He stayed silent for a long moment trying to figure out how to explain it to her.

"I used to have these dreams. I'd be chasing down a demon, trying to protect someone else—but I'd fail. And the person I'd be trying to save would scream in agony right as I reached them. I'd wake up from those nightmares with that terrible scream echoing in my head. Almost like it was real. That's how it was tonight. I heard your voice bouncing around in my head like a bad nightmare, calling for me to help you. An' I felt the pain in my gut getting more and more painful just like yours. I felt you. For some reason, I knew exactly where you were."

Spike recalled the intensity of that moment. He would have done anything to get to her. Even if it meant his own death. Even now, that strange feeling of protectiveness was still coursing through his blood. He wanted so badly to ask her to stay tonight so he could watch over her and make sure she'd be okay. Of course, he wouldn't tell her that.

"I don't understand," said Buffy, watching him curiously.

"You think I do?" Spike sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I had this illogical and bat shitty urge to get to you and protect you. Which is bloody stupid because you can protect your damn self. You remind us about that every chance you get innit?"

Buffy watched him pace back and forth across the room, and felt his confusion.

"You think it's a Slayer thing? It's a Slayer thing." He stopped in his tracks. "No, it's not a Slayer thing." He continued to pace, trying to work it out in his head.

"So you're saying you heard me in your head?" Buffy asked. "Either you're crazy, or it's a Slayer thing."

He stopped pacing and looked over at Buffy who was perched on top of his bed calmly. He sat down next to her. "Why am I going mad while you seem to be taking this well?"

"Weirder things have happened on the Hellmouth. Obviously, your inner Slayer likes my inner Slayer."

"Pft. Your Slayer is the one that called out to mine."

"I don't know what's going on. But you found me when I thought that demon was going to kill me. I don't know how, but you heard me. That counts for something."

"That counts for a damn lot." With a boldness brought on by his current protective feelings for the girl sitting next to him, he placed his hand on her own. "I know you're strong, Buffy. I know you don't need anyone to look after you. But, for what it's worth, I'll have your back. I'll do what I can so you won't get hurt like this again."

Buffy's heart softened as his eyes echoed his sincere words. "You'll need someone to protect you too, Spike."

"Oh, you mean because of my two left feet?" His thoughts turned to how much he wanted to kiss those soft lips of hers.

She patted his knee and smiled mischievously. "We'll work on it."

He laughed. "There's a 'we' now? I 'ave a feeling it'll be the best of times and the worst of times."

Buffy took in a deep breath of air. From now on, she and Spike would be working together. Sure he was an irresponsible, often-annoying, oversexed smart ass, but he was good in the field. His instincts were spot-on and despite her claims that he was clumsy on his feet, his grace was like nothing she'd ever seen before. It wouldn't hurt to have someone like him on her team. Someone who shared the same duty, the same calling. Someone who understood what it meant to be the Slayer.

She'd never had someone like him protecting her. And she was sure he'd never had someone like her protecting him. She glanced at him as his eyes began to droop from sleepiness. She'd leave soon, go back to her room, and for the first time in a long time, she'd sleep easy knowing it wasn't all on her shoulders anymore.

And they lived happily ever after!

Just kidding.

Thank you to all of you who reviewed. Your feedback is much, much appreciated. And for those of you not reviewing, come out of the shadows I say! Press that little button and let me know what you think!

PenguinPillowPets: Yeah, but what's more awesome: penguins or penguin pillow pets?

Illusera: Thank you, I did have an awesome trip but I'm glad to be home. I'll try not do anymore cliffhangers just for you…or will I? Mwahahaha!

sarra ambrai: I read your review and literally shouted, "Yes! She gets it!" I'm sooo glad you went back and re-read those chapters. I was worried the Spike/Buffy emotional connection would be too subtle but I'm happy you picked it up. I'll definitely look into Elysian Fields, thank you so much for the suggestion!

LoVe BB 116: Thank you! Just like you enjoy reading the chapters, I enjoy reading your reviews. I'll try to stay away from the cliffhangers…SIKE! hahahah! But on a good note, this chapter wasn't a cliffhanger

Marene: Yay! You got through all the chapters! I'm so happy! It's great to know you like the hate/love relationship between Spike and Buffy because that's what I know how to do best hahaha. You'll learn more about Angel's story in later chapters. And Dawn will come into play later (maybe). Please let me know if anything isn't clear. That will help a lot.