Title: As she likes it

Author:Nimue

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: yes, please

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc, just borrowing.

Summary: Speculation on why Spike said, In 'Normal Again" to put ice on the back of Buffy neck.

It seemed like every night she danced this same dance. Spiraling through cemetaires, leaping from tombstones, toying with vampires until it seemed a convenient time to stake them.

Tonights villan was stranger, older, wiser than most. He jabbed her, tossed her, gave her a run for her money. Maybe her heart wasin't in it anymore. Maybe he was just the one to end her. To give her death. She heard a loud *crack* as her head head a tombstone and her body dropped to the ground. Maybe this was the last waltz. Maybe she had met her match.

As she struggled to regain her footing, to still her reeling mind, she saw a black flash atop the mosoleum. Then a streak of platinum hair. Spike dropped from above.

She was having a hard time getting up. A hard time keeping herself alert, but she could see Spike moving like a lion guarding his pride. He never wore his game face anymore. He fought with the same face with which he loved her. She had not noticed until now.

She heard his voice, then an unceremonious poof as her attacker was vapourized in a cloud of debris. She was still clutching the tombstone, trying to pull herself up, when a hand extended down to her.

"Rough night, Slayer?" he joked, pulling her to her feet.

"I...I," she stuttered, but as she stood, the world became hazy.

"Hold on, then," he said, his tone becoming more serious, his hand sliding under he back as she began to slump back to the ground. "Buffy, you alright?"

"Spike, I... she stuttered, " I think I need to lay down."

And the world darkened.

He slid his hands under her knees and lifted her in his arms. "Bloody hell, " he complained, " I alwaays get you when you go unconcious". He stopped speaking, still trudging towards his crypt. "You know, " he said to her quietly, "You are most beautiful when you sleep".

He cradled her closer, making his way home with her in his arms.

*****

She awoke slowly, staring at her surroundings. She could not place it at first, coming out of a fog like that one, but she felt she was safe. She was lying in bed, his bed, wrapped in a blanket, feeling the glow of the candles on her face. He had taken off her jacket and button down and boots, but her tank top and pants were firmly in place.

She lay still for a moment, feeling what was around her. She was on her side and the adhesive from a bandage was tugging at her hairline. She could feel the blissful sting of an ice cube sliding slowly up and down her neck. She could feel his other hand trailing from her shoulder to her elbow carressing her tenderly. His hand felt warm. And the ice, the feel of the cold against her skin, the gentle way he slid it against her.... She wanted to close her eyes again and sink back into the dream. The dream where it was OK to feel. The dream where no one was a killer. The dream where he saved her and carried her home in his arms and took care of her. Where she could love.

He stared at her battered, still body, touching her tenderly. He wished he could take her from this life. Whished he could take the lot of it back. His kingdowm for this girl.

But, as it was, all he could do was to lie next to her, watch her, and hope that she knew, somewhere, that he loved her. And he would always rub ice on the back of her neck, just because she liked it.