A Model Romance

By Sweetprincipale

Author's Note: Strictly Spuffy, a gift for Lithium Reaper, based on four beautiful black and white photos depicting Spike and Buffy in various romantic "photo shoot" style poses.

Set in Season Six, immediately after Once More with Feeling, goes completely away from canon- you've been warned.

Thank you to all for the positive responses so far!

This chapter dedicated to Idiosyncratic Delusions, iSage, Spirited Ghost, Hannah the Bloody, and of course, Lithium Reaper, who found the art to inspire the piece.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Buffy woke up drenched in sweat, breathing hard, eyes wide. Whoa. So had never had a dream like that before. She slowly sat up and immediately reached under the pillow beside hers. Yep. Picture still there. Better hide that.

She took the photo and stuffed it in the far reaches of her sock drawer, legs trembling slightly as she walked. I was figuring I'd have nightmares. Totally didn't figure on the XXX-rated Spike and Buffy film fest happening in my sleep.

She looked quickly at the clock. About half an hour before Dawn would get up and get off to school. She would shower quickly, wash the hot, sweaty, lustiness off her. She cast a guilty look towards her rumpled sheets. She'd never had erotic dreams like that. With Angel, the dreams were about love, with Riley, they were about missions and occasionally bedroom cameos. She only daydreamed about Parker. Now, with Spike, she dreamed in vivid color, scent, texture, taste, and sound. She could hear her breathing accelerate when he first entered her, hear that smoky voice telling her to think about how she loved him, to make her open up her body to him, to make her vulnerable- and then use that vulnerability to give her earth-shattering pleasure.

She blushed again as she bathed, feeling how wet she was, how hot her skin was, how flushed. But the physical reaction wasn't the only thing she blushed for. In her dreams she told him she loved him, and he never left. I guess I did dream about heaven. A sick, twisted kind of heaven, but I'll take what I can get.

Spike cursed the daylight more than usual. Mr. Hand was no match for the soft slickness of Buffy's warm and welcoming chasm. But she had to come to him, not the other way around, at least in the light. And unless she needed information, that wasn't very likely. Still, after their time alone together, he sort of hoped things might be different.

He wouldn't give in to his burning ache. She was going to take care of it for him, after patrol, or before, or during. Hopefully all three. Bleedin' Slayer, bloody little tease. She knew exactly what to do to make him want her more and more. The way she looked up at him with those soft green eyes. The way she suddenly lashed out, just begging to find a truly masterful man to show he wasn't put off by her strength. And the way she could make love- call it whatever she wanted, but the last few times they were together, her body said "I love you" to him a hundred times louder than her voice ever could.

Dammit. Spike retreated to the lower region of his crypt. Either he would have to take care of this himself, or he would have to take a cold shower to put put the fire for now. Cold showers were the only kind he had access to anyway, with the crude spigot he'd rigged up to tap into one of the city's meandering water pipes that passed through the far corner of the lower half of his crypt. He stood between the bed, where his prized three photos were laid, and the shower, indecisive. "Why don't you just come for a visit, you little minx? End my dilemma for me?" He muttered. With a resolute sigh, he headed for the shower.

"You seem kind of jumpy." Willow finally voiced her opinion to Buffy. Willow was surrounded by her text books and laptop, and Buffy was sitting on the floor, idly playing with the remote and watching the Price is Right, constantly twitching and checking her watch.

"I just really want to get out and patrol tonight. No offense to Xander and Anya- or you, if you helped out, but I'm betting the vamp population didn't exactly do a big decline while I was away."

"I went out a couple times." Willow said defensively. And then chewed her lip. "We did okay. But you would have dusted 'em in ten minutes and been on to the next ones. Without Spike helping us patrol over the- summer- we probably would be up to our eyeballs in them."

"I'm glad you guys had him while I was gone then." Buffy shrugged, ignoring the small kernel of pain that settled in her stomach when she thought about where she'd been during summer, and that she wouldn't be going back for awhile. Although sooner than she should, she guessed. Slayers don't live that long. Ha. She hadn't, that was for damn sure.

"Did I say something wrong?" Willow asked tentatively. Her hands itched to get on the ingredients for a forgetting spell, and take all those sad thoughts away- but she knew now that she couldn't. She had promised Buffy she wouldn't screw with her life, and promised Tara she wouldn't try to use magic to force away people's thoughts or experiences, even if it seemed for the best. And as Tara reminded her, the spells could be broken, and the pain would be fresh. Let Buffy heal without magical assistance.

"I was just thinking about patrolling. Haven't been 'into' it in awhile. I mean, I know I went out and did it, but I was just kind of going through the motions." Buffy got to her feet and walked to her weapons chest. Willow looked agonized, and she could easily guess why. Slaying was her calling, and she didn't really care for the abnormality it invoked. But she did love kicking some demon butt. To hear her admit that she'd been faking something she used to enjoy so much... "I think I'm actually looking forward to it." She smiled suddenly, surprised at herself as she realized she wasn't just covering, she really was excited at the prospect.

"Y-you are? That's awesome, Buffy!" Willow tossed her history book aside and smashed into Buffy with a hard hug, completely unheeding the open weapons chest and the variety of sharp wooden objects the blonde was pouring over. "Sorry. I'm just so happy you're healing. I know it's mainly my fault- the- the being here again, but I'm so glad you're not as miserable. You aren't? Right?"

"No. I don't think I am." Buffy admitted after a second's introspection. Something- someone- was making her feel strangely (emphasis on the strange) happy.

"I'm home, and I brought leftovers from the bake sale!" Dawn elbowed her way into the Summers' home, hands full of foil wrapped packages.

"Ooh. Now I'm really happy." Buffy giggled and got to her feet. She hugged her sister, ignoring her yelps that she was crushing the sugary treats, and then began rifling through the packages. "Oh, yes. Snickerdoodles. Slay-food. Sugar on sugar." Buffy began plowing in. "Wha?" She asked with her mouth full.

"You're eating. And no one's bugging you to do it." Dawn said softly. "I'm glad you like things again, that's all." Dawn deposited her bag on the floor, pulled out her math homework, and then stared at her sister.

Buffy looked uncomfortable. "I know it makes you happy that I'm better. But I'm not all better, guys, and the 'look, she's eating!' routine doesn't help."

"Sorry." Willow and Dawn said contritely.

Willow cleared her throat. "So, what other goodies are in here?"

The trio spent a few minutes sampling and critiquing Dawn's stash, and then Buffy headed to the kitchen. "I'm gonna put in the leftovers from last night. Okay?"

"It's kinda early for dinner." Dawn pointed out. "And Tara isn't home yet."

"Well... I just wanted to get on patrol a little early tonight."

"Are you going alone?" Dawn asked nervously.

"Don't I usually?"

"Yeah, but- I don't know. I guess I liked knowing you had someone to watch your back. Can't Spike go with you?"

"Dawnie." Willow admonished softly. The last thing Buffy needed was for someone to cramp her style, or to piss her off and make her mopey again. On the other hand... "That's a good idea." Willow changed camps abruptly. Spike tended to cause Buffy's temper to flare- and anger was a far more productive emotion than depression. With depression, you sat and let the darkness fill you until you did stupid things. Anger made you get up and take risks, also stupid, but if Spike was patrolling with her, the worst that would happen was a broken nose- his.

"I'm sorry? Did I hear that right? Both of you want me to take a neutered vamp with a punk rock obsession with me tonight?" Buffy forced herself to sound incredulous and annoyed. "I can totally handle this myself, you know."

"We know that. But Spike makes me feel less worried." Dawn wheedled.

"And like you said, the Scoobies didn't do such an awesome job patrolling while you and Spike were away. There's probably dozens of vampires roaming the streets, and you could use an extra pair of hands, right?"

Buffy poked her head through the doorframe into the dining room. "Fine! I'll see if he can patrol. If he doesn't have something more pressing to do, like gamble or catching up on his soaps. But it can't always be this way." Buffy withdrew, back to the kitchen and early dinner preparations, fighting down the smile on her face. If only they knew...

Dawn came in and passed Buffy a large bundle of crinkled aluminum. "For Spike. Different cookies and some brownies." Buffy allowed a reflexive frown to come to her face, and Dawn put her hands on her hips. "You don't have to pretend with me, remember?" She whispered.

"I know. I know I don't, Dawn. But I still think I'm having trouble not pretending with myself." Buffy let her sister pull her into a hug.

"It's a good thing he's so stubborn." Dawn laughed suddenly. "You take a loooong time to see things that are right in front of you."

Buffy gave her sister a playful slap on the arm. "I'll take the damn cookies. Geez, you with the reasoning and the wisdom." She looked at her little sister suspiciously. "You learned that from Spike, didn't you?"

"And I can totally fleece people when I play poker, too." Dawn smiled triumphantly. Buffy groaned and hurried up. She wouldn't admit it to anyone, not even herself entirely, but she couldn't wait to see the vampire in question.

As soon as sunset began, there was a knock on his door. Spike threw it open as if he'd been waiting beside it the whole time. To hell with casual. He just wanted to see if it was her. It smelled like her, the heartbeat was right, but he'd thought of nothing besides her all day, and he could well-believe he'd caused himself a sensory mirage.

"Hi." She greeted, hands twisting in her black leather coat, face anxious.

"Come in, Luv." He smiled softly, chest muscles unclenching.

"Do you still want to patrol?" She demanded.

"Yeah." His smile faded. "We're back to business as usual, then?" He whispered tightly.

"I-" Buffy swallowed. "No." She forced the word out. She'd let almost a full day pass, had every opportunity to talk herself out of it. And like the moth to the flame, she was back. No, not like that. She wasn't going to get burned, not by him. "No. Not just- not like before."

"Good. Good." He let out a shaking laugh. "Scared me."

"I? Scared you?"

"Well, yeah. Bloody hell, Slayer, you've always made me a bit nervous. Find that absolutely irresistible, y'know." He paced around her, circling her into the wall, placing his hands on the cool cement behind her head, pinning her there without touching her. "You're a bit early for patrol, Pet."

"You can go out if the light's this low." She argued, trying to make her blood stop pulsing so hard, and make her flushing cheeks turn back to their normal shade.

"If there's cover. From here- not movin' for at least another, I dunno, 20 minutes?"

"Twenty minutes? Spike, it's almost dark already!" Buffy caught his eye as he smirked seductively. "Oh."

"Oh." His fingers gently tangled in her hair and he pulled her close. "Missed you all day, Luv. Didn't sleep at all last night. Wanted to stay awake and think about you." He bent his head and kissed her gently.

Her soft moan rippled against his lips. "Tell me you missed me?" He pulled away to stare into her eyes intensely.

"I didn't miss you. But I thought about you a lot." She admitted. Spike's hardness suddenly pressed into her as his hips pushed her more firmly into the wall. "Spike..."

"You thought about me a lot, did you? Wet thoughts, Pet? Me inside you thoughts, Luv?" She kissed him again, silencing him. He broke the kiss before he could give into it completely. "It's okay if you did, you know. I did."

"Yeah, well, you're a pig." She found her arms going across his back, one hand finding his shirt tail and untucking it from his jeans.

"I'm not the one undressing me." He pointed out with a roguish grin. She huffed in annoyance and withdrew her hand. He leaned into her and kissed her again, this time letting her drive it, surprised again that such a small figure could have so much force. He found himself suddenly sitting down hard in his battered armchair, his blonde bombshell kissing him in a positive fury, and this time he gave in, hands eagerly sliding under her shirt, almost gasping in delight when they touched her skin. "I missed you so bloody much, Buffy. All day, wanted to touch you here and -" Spike's voice died away abruptly when the back of his hand found a hard crinkly bulge along her side. "What is that?"

"Oh, cookies! From Dawn. The bake sale?" Buffy stood and reached into her inner coat pocket and passed him the lumpy package. Spike stood up, examining it.

"That's sweet. Guess Bit knew you'd be seein' me?" He asked leadingly.

"She packed them just for you." Buffy gave a half-smile.

Think they're safe to eat?" He opened the bundle cautiously and peered inside.

"Yeah, I don't think they're all made by Dawn. And besides, Tara helped." Buffy poked her finger inside and pushed a snickerdoodle to the front. "Here. These are good. My favorite non-chocolate food in the world."

"An' you saved one for me?" Spike nuzzled her cheek suddenly. "You 'ave it."

"No, I ate like five as soon as Dawn came home." She pushed the cookie into his hand. "They're good."

"You really are my girl, aren't you?" He whispered.

"You're my guy?" She felt an unfamiliarly pleasant tingle spread through her. Happiness. I've got a guy. Who won't leave me.

"Any name you wanna call me, Luv, as look as it's something of yours. Your guy. Your man. Your vamp. I'm everything for you."

The cookies were suddenly forgotten, hastily dropped onto the top of the television in front of the chair as there hands scrabbled over each other needily. "I want you. Wanted you all night, and all day." Buffy breathed desperately, admitting it with her eyes closed, suddenly not caring anymore.

"Shh, I'm here. I'll see to you." He bent his knees and picked her up.

"Put me down, I can walk." She insisted. "Not a princess, remember?" He put her down, a thoughtful and regretful look on his face. "Okay! Pick me up, sweep me off my feet if it's gonna be a big deal."

"No, Luv, not that. It's properly dark now." He leaned against her, waists together, eyes meeting. Spike shoved down the fierce desire gripping his loins. Protectin' the innocent was the core of what she did. And as much as he'd like her to just take another night off and give into everything they were feeling, he knew he had to prove that he wasn't going to be a selfish bastard- at least not when lives were on the line.

"Oh. Lots of vamps and baddies waiting?" She sounded small and disappointed.

"Probably not, Pet. Didn't come home until almost light. Killed- I dunno how many, but a lot of nasties" He hoped she realized that was something he'd done for her. They lived on a Hellmouth, and there'd always be somethin' for her to fight. He was trying to make things easier for her- for a few days anyway. Give her a bit of peace, let her deal with the admissions she was making to herself and her friends. "Found a nest down in the old warehouse district, maybe ten or twelve vamps holed up there. Was gonna take 'em out, but the only reason I even saw 'em was they were all headin' inside before the sun came up."

"You were gonna take on a dozen by yourself?" Buffy felt a surge of fear for him, an almost completely foreign feeling, a feeling she'd only felt a few times in their entire partnership. And then she remembered who she was talking to.

"Well, yeah. Wouldn't you have?"

"Yeah- but- you... I guess you can handle yourself, can't you?"

"The more of 'em the better. But didn't want to got stuck in a soddin' warehouse all day." He shoved his hands in his pockets, eyes locked on his boots. "The best chance of takin' 'em all out is to get 'em just as they wake up. If we wait, some'll be out snackin'."

"Let's go then." Buffy took a steadying breath. Spike held open the door for her and she rolled her eyes, smiling inside.

"I'm not givin' you the brush off. Damn near splittin' my seams for you, an' it bleedin' hurts." He walked uncomfortably.

"You just did the good guy thing, huh?"

"I guess. Sod it." He kicked at a headstone. "Was I about to get you in my bed?"

"I- maybe." She said noncommittally. "Your bed?" The words created a violently graphic picture in her head. Pictures she shouldn't want, but desperately did. Spike's bed. Wanton and wrong, and oh God... "Unmm." A lost little whimper of longing suddenly wheezed out of her lips, and earned her a devilish, lip-licking gaze from her partner.

"Things seem awfully quiet." Spike remarked significantly as they walked to the warehouse district, Slayer and vampire speed and strength in play, propelling them twice as fast as normal humans could move.

"Mmhmm. And Dawn knows I'm patrolling. That I'll be out late." Her voice was tight.

"I'll have you home by midnight, Slayer, if that's what you want. But you're welcome to spend the night."

"I can't spend the night!" Buffy didn't mean to sound as she was ridiculing him, but she handed out the statement with flat, hard, denial. "Not- there. Not that I don't want to." She whispered, letting her hand brush his as they walked.

"You want to?"

"Yes. I want to sleep next to you. I want to wake up next to you. Like we did for the past couple days. I loved it."

His eyes were like torches, and then dimmed. He'd thought she was about to tell him. But he could bide his time. "I'm glad, Pet."

She had said she loved sleeping beside him. That was a high compliment from a woman who claimed that she didn't know if she could even stay for an hour. He knew for a fact that she hadn't always slept beside Captain Cardboard through the whole night. He couldn't count the number of times he'd watched, hidden in the shadow of the oak, to see her sneaking out of her room and out on patrol, a quick slay, and home before the bloke even woke up. White bread. The girl hadn't been satisfied, any arse could see that. She needed someone with stamina. Someone with finely tuned senses, who could feel her stir, feel the bloodlust rise, and quell it, cool the blood by heating it to a boil and letting it overflow, 'til it slowed, and she slept again. That was why he was meant for her.

"You're quiet." She pointed out after the silence lagged for too long. "I don't know what to do when your mouth stops moving. It's unnatural."

"Oh, I'll move it plenty of unnatural ways tonight, Baby." He purred, in a way that made her feel absolutely sinful, and loving it.

"After we get rid of these guys." Buffy let him lead the way once they got into the blackened and gritty underside of Sunnydale's wharves and warehouses.

"I'll take out half faster than you can." He teased with a challenge in his eye.

"Oh, you are so on!" Buffy puffed up with confidence. Together they stalked over to the side of the warehouse and peered into the blackened windows, covered in ten years' worth of grime and taped cardboard. "Urhg. You're definitely one of the Better Crypts and Gardens types. How can they live in this?" Buffy tried to see through the film of filth on the window.

"Not fussy. They kill, they turn, they hoard. Ahh. The good ol' days." Spike gave a deep, reminiscent sigh.

"Spike!" Buffy elbowed him.

"Hey! I'm not doin' it now, doesn't mean I can't think back on some of the fun I had."

"Fun killing people?"

"No, fun makin' an absolutely brilliant mess of a mob an' drinkin' my winnings."

"Same thing." Buffy pointed out.

"I'm not doin' it anymore, alright?" Spike demanded heatedly. "Here, lemme look, you can't see a thing in there."

"I can so!" Buffy moved reluctantly.

"Not like I can, in the dark." He pushed her gently off to the side and gazed in. "Two of 'em are arguin', looks like. But the rest seem to be in there."

"Let's go then." Buffy said with sudden grimness. She waited for the twinge of longing that she had gotten used to experiencing when she fought. Longing for death and heaven vying with survival instinct and guilt that she was supposed to be fighting the good fight, whether she wanted to or not.

"Right you are." Spike agreed, sucked in an unnecessary breath and kicked in the window.

Eleven vamps, two who were in game face and strangling one another, suddenly faced them.

"Spike!" One of the larger males cried. "Is that how you treat an old friend?"

"One hand of poker doesn't make you a friend. Can't even remember your name." Spike snarled.

"Slayer!" One of the females cried.

"Finally noticed me, huh?" Buffy smiled prettily.

"You take her, we'll take him!" The leader gestured one half of the room towards Buffy, and the other to Spike.

Buffy heard the roars of nearly a dozen vamps slipping into their fangs, suddenly feeling like she was in the middle of the big cat house in the zoo. But one cry stood out. One had a touch of rage and swagger that used to make her itch to shove a sapling through his chest, but now made her feel nothing but impressed. Some vamps were in for one hell of a hurt.

Spike seemed to be trying to work off some of his sexual tension through violence and aggression. Not content with simple stakings, he went for the hands on approach. Feet flying, fists sinking into jaws and chests, he knocked half of his foes down quickly, and went straight for neck twists and snaps, roaring over each kill.

But Buffy couldn't pause to admire. She had to get to higher ground. Pick them off better, make it quick. "Up here!" She said smugly, as she took a run and flying leap onto a stack of wooden boxes. Which unfortunately weren't too stable and soon teetered. She crashed with a splintering of wood, and lay there, waiting.

"Buffy? You alright, Luv?" Spike grunted out.

"Fine!" Buffy's eyes and face glowed with mischief as two vamps leaned over her, apparently hoping to see a disabled victim waiting for the finish. "Not what you expected?" She asked cheekily, slipping two splintered pieces of packing crate into her would-be attackers chests.

"I'm down two, how many you got?" Spike called from under a head lock.

"Two! Can't talk now!" Buffy was fending off a couple more.

"Hah! See the advantages of dating a vamp? Never out of breath!" Spike bodily shoved one of his attackers onto a projecting wooden shaft on the wall of the warehouse. "Three!"

"We're not dating!" Buffy reminded him sharply. "And it's a secret!" She threw one vamp on top of another and pulled out Mr. Pointy, making quick work of both of them. "Four!"

"Can't be a secret if it doesn't exist! So which is?" Spike laughed.

"SPIKE!" Buffy's voice sounded genuinely panicked all of the sudden, and he whirled.

"Damn. Knew there were twelve." He gasped, staring at forklift barreling at him, driven by a twelfth, previously unaccounted for vamp. He didn't really have much in the way of options.

"Get off of me!" Buffy grunted in annoyance as one of the female vamps tried to get her in a strangle hold, bare her neck to her fangs.

"Save me some!" One of the other vampires yelled, and Buffy felt herself get angry.

Spike made a split second decision, as some of his best, and stupidest, tended to be. He jumped straight into the open cab of the forklift and tumbled the startled vampire driving it out of the way. "Gang way!" He hollered as he sat up, realizing he couldn't stop it in time- and realizing Buffy was dead in its path. "Move, Luv!"

Buffy tore away from her two remaining attackers and did the same move she'd just witnessed Spike make, lunging up into the open cab, tumbling them both to the ground.

A scream and crunch, followed by twin sprays of dust heralded the end of Buffy's attacking pair. "Must've gotten 'em in the necks." Spike gasped as he pulled her to her feet.

"That leaves a couple more." She panted, heart thudding.

"It should- through there, I reckon." Spike pointed to the crushed opening from whence the machine had come.

"You and your vampire senses." Buffy puffed and shook off her jacket. "You couldn't hear a forklift twenty feet away from you?"

"Couldn't hear anything over your heartbeat." Spike breathed and licked his lips. "Get so hot when you fight, Luv. You know that. You're wet. Here I thought it was only for me."

"It is, idiot!" She tugged her white button down shirt uncomfortably, as if it was suddenly too tight. "You- you look good when you fight, okay?"

"Not nearly as good as you, Pet. Love when you wear your hair down. And when you run. It all streams out behind you an' all I can think is how bad I wanna catch you and make you mine again."

Her breathing quickened, and it wasn't just because they were stepping into a far more dark part of the warehouse, filled with huge reels of cable, and lengths of chain, wooden loading docks casting shadows in the half light of street lamps outside. His words made her weak, made her want him more than she could stand.

"Shhhh." He slid close to her as they walked through the partition. "I've got all night for you, Luv, just let me find out where they've gone."

"Slayer senses rule." Buffy replied, and hurled her stake with deadly accuracy, hearing a clunk of wood and a rush of dust as it connected with a vampire crouching, coiled to spring. "See?" She said triumphantly, turning to Spike- who was no longer beside her, but tracking his own assailant.

"You ruddy great git! Damn near tore my coat!" Spike was berating the vamp who had driven the forklift. "And a forklift? Twelve against two and you use a forklift? Like to fight dirty, do you?" Spike suddenly stopped his verbal assault and yanked the vamp halfway up the wall with one fist around his throat. "We coulda been pals in the old days- if you didn't strike me as bein' a soddin' great idiot." Spike jabbed a stake into his captive and stepped back brushing dust from his hands.

"And then there was one..." Buffy smiled frostily.

"This one's mine." Spike rubbed his hands together.

"No! It's whoever gets there first's."

"Like I said, it's mine." Spike insisted.

"No, you're both mine!" A voice called from above them, as a vampire stepped into sight on a rickety iron loft. "You think you're both so-"

Spike's hand was in his pocket and the folding crossbow was whipped into usable shape and fired before Buffy or the vampire could blink. The vampire exploded and Spike lowered the bow. "Goddamn ham villains."

"Please don't make me remind you about some of the crap I heard you say in the past." Buffy sighed.

"No, when I did it, it was cool. That was pathetic."

Buffy laughed and hoisted herself up on the nearest loading dock, looking more like an indoor pier, except for the cavernous, shadowy warehouse surrounding it. "I wouldn't say cool, but it was way more entertaining."

Spike took off his duster and sat beside her, stretching his legs and flexing his back as he relaxed. Buffy's eyes caressed him lustfully. "Hey. Nice outfit." Buffy whispered, softly running a finger long his jean covered knee.

"My new favorite." Spike looked down on his slightly slouchy jeans and his dark shirt, the clothes she has picked out for him. "You look lovely, yourself. Bit hot, though." His finger reached out and caressed her collar.

"I don't know why. Drafty in here." She fiddled with one of the buttons.

"Want someone to keep you warm, Pet?" Spike slid closer, this time trailing his hand across her shapely breasts, finding a slightly raised tip as his fingers hit the fullest part.

"Here? Right now?" Buffy giggled in spite of the entirely serious situation she found herself in.

"No one else here. Probably dusted almost every vamp in the area between my all night shift an' our clash with the daft dozen. Dawn's looked after. I miss you like crazy, you miss me..."

She felt herself falling under him, her hair fanning out and cascading off the edge of the platform as her back hit the solid wood beneath them. "No, we can't." Little protests, even as her hands were peeling off his shirt. She was thrusting her own chest up into his hands, feeling the buttons tugging free as he rained kisses on her upturned face.

"Looked at our pictures all night, Luv. Never thought blue jeans would get me hot, but when you're in 'em..." He growled darkly and slid his hand down to her zipper.

"You look hot in anything." Buffy gasped out as his fingers yanked the zipper down and pushed the soaking crotch of her panties to one side.

"I love you, Buffy." He reminded her.

Her heart was only an organ. The brain was where all the real love, real emotion happened, Buffy reminded herself. So why did her heart feel like it was trying to tear itself open, to let out the three little words she wanted to say to him? Words that she would not be able to say, because that's what drove the men in her life away.

"I love you." He repeated, pale chest rippling as he molded them together, one hand caressing her hair, one hand caressing her nether lips with a light, tender touch.

"I know." Buffy had another momentary struggle with the pain in her chest, all the while berating herself for not being able to control her emotions better. Love is in the brain, not the heart, so no chest pain, she silently ordered her body. "Spike. The heart is only an organ, right? The brain is what recognizes love and emotion."

"I guess so, Luv." Spike kissed his way down her collarbone, lifting her shoulder to ease her white shirt off, get down to the pretty pink undershirt beneath it.

"Your brain is obviously still active. And that's where love comes from-or at least where it gets understood. I wonder why people think you can't love?"

"Maybe they think since we're dead, that our brains no longer get the emotion. No longer get new thoughts. But I do. I moved with the times, but a lot of vamps don't. An' I know I've got a demon, luv, an' that makes me bad. But I've known thousands of bad blokes in my time, human or otherwise, and all of 'em love something, even if it's something evil. I get how to love, an' you know it."

"Yeah, I do know it. Now." Buffy wriggled under his touch and eased her hand between their bodies, finding his fly. "You're very loving when you want to be." She gasped as his forefinger found her nub and stroked it.

"So are you, Pet." He closed his eyes and groaned softly as her hands reached into his jeans and teased his hardness into her palm. "I'm never gonna get used to how warm you are on me." He breathed with a satisfied chuckle.

"And I'm used to you starting off cool and getting warmer already." She made a fist around his shaft and stroked him, raising her hips to his hands so that he could push her pants down.

"You make me feel properly alive, d'you know that, Buffy?" He asked seriously, blue eyes razing her green.

She paused before she spoke, licking her suddenly dry lips. Properly alive. That was an interesting term, but she knew what he meant. She knew now, what it was like when the body moves, but the spirit controlling it is just a reluctant passenger. "You make me feel properly alive, too." She confessed in low whisper. "That's so wrong, Spike. So, so wrong."

"I know it is, Luv. I know." He didn't even argue, he knew it was wrong according to her. Although it apparently didn't matter, or else she wouldn't be stroking him as he was warming her up with his slow, deliberate finger strokes. And he didn't try to convince her it was right. Hell, he thought it was wrong, but he didn't give a damn. Besides, when he considered it, turning to the white hats was his biggest rebellion of all, and therefore acceptable. An' he was still gettin' his violence on. Plus this. "But you're happier now, aren't you, Pet?"

"Yes." She admitted sulkily. "Stupid vampire." She muttered, and he just laughed.

"Yes, bloody, bloody, stupid." Each word punctuated by a nibble across her shoulder and down to her cleavage.

"Someone's going to walk in on us." Buffy moaned as her head lolled back.

"You wanna stop, Luv?"

"No, I'm jut preparing myself for mortifications to come."

"I'll be quick, if you like." He teased with a malicious half smirk, eyebrow arching.

"Don't you dare!" She cried. He was still lying sideways over her, his left hip above her right, jean covered legs tangling as the fabric bunched just below their hips.

"I'm gonna see to you here, an' then take you home with me." He purred. "An' keep seein' to you all night." He pushed himself up on his curled palms, neck craning over hers, lips just about to brush hers. "Want me inside, Pet?"

"Yes." Her hands stroked down his pale back to just above his hips. "If you want me around you."

"More than anything." He maneuvered one leg over, and she worked their pants down a bit farther. They were both wearing boots, and there was no way she was going to break the clinch they were in to worry about the niceties of where clothes went. She didn't need anything creative, just him inside her, right now. "I love you."

She pulled him down to her mouth and stared in his eyes. "And you know what I think." She whispered before their lips crashed into one another's hungrily.

Tight, hard, quick. All adjectives that went blowing through his mind. There wasn't a lot of room on the edge of the dock, plus the constrictions of pants. And he wasn't complaining. He loved being in her so deep, their bodies in such close contact. And there was no resistance to him, not a bit. She loved him, she wanted him. Sometimes he thought if he just kept working away at her, giving more and more of himself, suddenly she would forget herself, cry it out. Funny how he was so hungry for words, when he had all this, this beautiful girl under him and around him, eyes drowning him and lips owning him. But words implied you knew what you were saying and thinking, that you really meant it. He and Buffy were always all about the actions, the flirting looks, the quick punches, the vicious dances that were only about their bodies. I want her heart, as well.

How can he look at me like that? Like I'm something special, but I don't feel "Chosen One" special. Just loved special? Whatever it is, it makes me want him more, love him more."Spike." She uttered with a sudden arch of her spine, and locked her walls around him, letting her hips do the work, holding him still with her hands pressing into his lower back.

"Good, Luv?"

"Mmm! Oh, oh, oh, ohhhhhhhhh." The last a deep rush of air that fairly shook him.

"So, you did miss me?" He teased with a gentle smile.

"Shut up." She laughed softly and relaxed around him. "You're wonderful."

"I am?" He was so startled he forgot to resume his steady thrusts, and stared at her mesmerized.

"Yes!" Buffy blushed. "You know that, Mr. Sex Machine."

"Oh. Thought you meant-" He shrugged and leaned her forehead onto hers, a resigned sigh escaping him.

"I did. I did mean wonderful, in all ways. All the ways that count, anyway." She rubbed his shoulders comfortingly. "You're really good to me, Spike. Good to us. Annoying as hell, but- well, I guess Dawn can be like that, too, and I still love her." She laughed.

"Sayin' you love me, Pet?" She looked suddenly nervous, and retaliated- kissing him breathless, making him forget anything but the heat she was creating, stroking him with her slick muscles, dragging low moans out of him. But he wasn't to be distracted from his question for long. "Just like to know, means somethin' to me." He gasped out.

"You know I do." She cupped his strong jaw between her equally strong thumb and forefinger, training his eyes on hers. "Look in my eyes and tell me you can't see it." She ordered fiercely, a low hiss. She was crossing her bridges, the things she feared.

God, she believes it. She believes it, for real, or she wouldn't fight for it, an' that was her fightin' tone. "I believe you. Pet." He whispered. Her arms moved from his back to his neck, criss-crossing and clawing passionately, dragging his head beside hers. Breathy little moans signaled she was about to cum again, and he raced to fulfill her needs.

"Cum with me." Her lips formed the words against his ear, sending a ripple through him. "Now. While I'm thinking it."

He felt her explode around him and he exploded inside her. He bellowed out a half-human roar, his entire body crashing to hers as they knocked the rest of the world out of the way for a few seconds of unadulterated bliss. He was perilously close to vamping, and the one millimeter of his brain with any self-control left knew that would not be well received. His second cry was more of a heave. One of his fists broke through the loading dock as he channeled the primal urge to release his fangs into someplace else.

"Wow." Buffy gasped as she felt herself flooded and heard the crunch of wood. How freaking awesome is it that he's strong as me? Her boot heels had actually dug deep gouges in the wood and the combined effort of their thrusting hips had caused an alarming dent in the platform.

"Bloody great wow." Spike agreed. He waited for her signals, a "push away" indicated with a brisk joke, or a "cuddle me" indicated by her keeping his body near hers.

"Mmm, Spike." She snuggled happily beside him. "Can you make the rest of the world stay out for a more minutes?"

"Sod off world." He chuckled softly, head on hers.

"Your new jeans are ruined." She said with a cat-like stretch.

"No, they're washable. Might not wash them for a bit, though. Love this scent. You an' me scent."

"Gross." She nibbled his earlobe.

"Then why you nippin' me?" Spike demanded playfully.

"Because you happen-" A horrendous groan interrupted her. "What was that?"

"Well, don't look at me, my stomach isn't growlin'. I drank two pints of blood last night, plus Tara's roast beef." The groan was now a creak. "I dunno what that is, but it-"

The pair fell to the ground with a splintering crash, still joined and emitting a piercing shriek.

"Oww." Buffy rubbed her bottom as they untangled themselves and looked at the wreckage that was once a loading dock. "Spike! What'd you do?"

"Why do I get blamed?" He shouted, cinching up his jeans against the debris.

"'Cause you punched a hole in the thing!"

"Oh." Spike admitted the truth of this. "Must've hit a support- yep, that'd be it." He surveyed the damage more critically and found the beam holding up the front corner of the dock was shattered.

"This is never gonna work." Buffy said suddenly.

"I did offer to take you home to a nice comfy bed, Slayer, but-"

"No! This. Everything this." Buffy gestured to the warehouse as a whole, but her eyes said that it wasn't just the destroyed building she was referring to.

Spike froze, hands in the midst of locating his shirt in the rubble. "What? Buffy, you just told me, not in so many words, but still, that you love me. An' I love you! Soddin' hell, Luv, you can't ignore this, even the demon broad could see that my love for you is eternal, an' -"

"Oh, no, not that! The love works, the love's totally there." Buffy waved her hand dismissively.

"You are a beautiful an' infuriatin' creature." Spike growled. "If the love works, what the hell is your problem?"

"Spike, look at us! We just killed a dozen vampires and destroyed public property for a date!"

"We don't date." He threw her own words back at her.

"For- for foreplay then! We wreck things while we're having sex."

"Never did before." He reminded her.

"It's not normal! Spike, we can't pretend this is normal!" She stood beside him in exasperation.

"You won't be 'normal' with or without me, Slayer. But with me at least you can pretend." He grabbed her arms hard and swung her to face him. "No more games!"

"I'm not playing! I- I know we can make it work, now... but it can't last. It can't last, and I guess I only just realized it when I-" She looked up at him with quickly overflowing eyes. "When I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you so bad- and then I saw my life flash in front of me- and you can only stay in it for a little while. Even if you don't want to leave, someday you'll have to."

"Baby, a little while is better than nothing, init?" He soothed, holding her closer, more gently.

"Not to me." She whispered.

"Well, then let me stay! Don't make us end it after a bit." He pleaded.

"Me end it? No! Not either of us. Circumstances end romances like this, Spike. Angel always told me -"

"Told you what? What'd he tell you, and then you tell me why you were daft enough to still believe him, when you know what he can do."

"He made sense. I don't like it, but he made a lot of sense, and-"

"And this is one more, last ditch effort to push me out, Luv. An' I'm not budgin'." Spike told her defiantly. "You're slammin' on the breaks before you go over that cliff, but Buffy," He smoothed her hair and rested his hand on the back of her neck. "Remember you an' me, an' cliffs? We fall down 'em, come back up muddy an' sore, but better than ever."

She wavered but she didn't cave. "There are things you can't sweet talk away." She finally gave voice to her pained thoughts.

"You sure? Let me have a go. Let me have one go, an' if I can't help solve whatever's worryin' you, I won't leave, but I'll let you keep denyin' whatever you want to deny."

She fought down an embittered outburst. Didn't he know she wasn't trying to deny anything? Least of all not something she had finally admitted to herself, after weeks of trying not to at all costs? It was just that some things are undeniable. "The love is there. I get that. Sometimes I wish I didn't, but I do. But what about old age? You'll stay young and beautiful. Like Melissa said. But me, not so much."

Spike almost guffawed, but realized that would end with him missing a limb, or worse. "Pet. Honestly? I already look older than you, an' I daresay you'll be pushin' 40 from the wrong side before we need to worry about it. You're so beautiful, Buffy, that no one'll look twice at us for years. They'll think you can get any man you want, older, younger, it won't matter." Her face remained mulish and he pressed home, this time allowing a small laugh to escape as he began to speak. "I already die my hair one color. What's a different shade, white or gray, gonna matter to me, as long as I'm with you?"

"Hair color is one thing, even looking like I'm the hot older woman with my boy toy isn't going to matter when I hit fifty something. Not that Slayers live that long-"

"You will. You've lived longer than any of 'em, 'cause you don't go by the soddin' rule book. An' that's another good reason to stay with me, Pet. I'm your back up, aren't I? Gonna keep you around this sorry planet as long as you enjoy it."

"Okay... but from the purely 'ewww' factor, I can't see my seventy year old self wanting to be wheeled around by my hot young- significant other." Wow with a helping of wiggins. When had she started thinking long-term relationship?

"I'm not into looks myself. Don't mind agin' myself up. Not like Mel. If age keeps me with what I love, I'm all for it. Thousands of ways to conjure my appearance, or even change it permanently." Her eyes widened in disbelief. "Luv, I haven't seen my face in a century. What do I care what it looks like, long as you're lookin' back at me?"

She knocked him over in her haste to kiss him, so moved by his words, and the sincerity behind them. "Do I pass?" He asked, once his lips were free.

"No." She sniffled, and sat back up. "So we can look normal. But we could never be normal- no, I get that we won't be anyway, but I mean, with all the trimmings." She chose her words very carefully now, walking a mental tightrope. "There are things humans and vampires can't give each other."

"You mean kids an' such?" He puffed that away with a derisive laugh. "Please, Luv. You? You want a runny-nosed little thing hangin' round your leg? You can barely tolerate lookin' after Niblet's day-to-day things."

"That's not true! I love Dawn. I love her more than ever!" Buffy shouted.

"I know, Luv. But if you had to choose to do it, would you want the job for another eighteen years?"

"I admit I'm not a kid person. But people change. There's this whole biological clock thing they kept threatening us with in health class, and it kinda scarred me for life."

Spike put an affectionate arm across her shoulders, and put his head close to hers. "I'm not big on children myself. But if you want 'em, you're healthy. No reason you can't carry one. You'll get sperm from someone." He shrugged nonchalantly, and she frowned at him. "What?"

"You? You wouldn't care that I'm having another man's baby? Mr. Possessive- Obsessive- Stalker vamp?"

"Not as if you were cheatin' on me to get it. Would be somethin' medical, an' I wouldn't deny you anythin', Luv, that helped you. That didn't involve tumblin' with some other bloke."

"But the hypothetical child would be there for years. It wouldn't be like you had to tolerate it for one doctor's visit." She pointed out.

"I'll love it 'cause it's yours." He said staunchly. "But I refuse to change nappies." That made her serious facade crack and he smiled. "Knew I could get a grin."

"Death." She said as the laugh died from her lips. "The permanent kind. The natural kind. When I'm old. You'll still be here."

"No. I won't be, Luv." Spike turned her head to look him fully in the eye. "When we're a little old slayer an' little old vamp in a nursing home- an' you kick it," He kept his tone serious, but his words light. He'd already lived through one of her deaths and he couldn't face one more. "An' you kick it- I'll just sleep with the blinds open that day. Okay? Problem solved." His voice shook as he felt his throat getting that unswallowable lump in it. "But I don't want to think about that, Luv."

She found that she felt no pleasure in thinking of it either, and curled deeper under his arm, head pillowing on his hard but comforting shoulder. "You would do that?"

"Don't know if I can go where you're headed, Luv. No soul. But would rather rot in hell an' take a risk that I might be able to fight my way to where you've gone, than live without you. Did that once. Would've done it again- gave you the chance, but as soon as Bit was gone- I'd be huntin' for you, Precious."

"Eternal. Unconditional." Buffy unconsciously muttered Melissa's words. "Maybe she told the truth. About everything. About the models. About the- heavenly realms?"

"Maybe." Spike whispered, pain in his throat growing.

"Not that I want to find out now." Buffy reassured him. She slowly dragged her tired body to its feet. "C'mon. Comfy bed was promised."

"So it was." Spike hunted up his coat and hers and they both spent a moment trying to find her white shirt.

"What about papers? You couldn't even get into a nursing home. Or anything officially." Buffy shook out her shirt once they'd located it, and pushed her arms through it, hating the gritty feeling of vampire dust and warehouse crud on her skin.

"Papers? Please, Slayer, we're back to buggerin' papers? After agin', children, an' death?" Spike threw his arms wide and looked up at the cloudy sky as they made their way from the building. "There's a vampire god somewhere up there, an' he's laughin' himself sick over us. Papers!" Spike looked at her with a face torn between down right amusement and annoyed anger. "You drive me mad, an' I think you enjoy it."

Her smile showed she clearly did, but her serious eyes and crossed arms told him he needed to give her an answer. "Sweetlet- I once bought an unassembled ancient demon killed durin' the crusades. An' I could buy you a live tiger or a dead dinosaur. I could buy a soddin' human kidney! You think I can't wrangle some false documents?" Spike seized her hand possessively as they headed back towards his crypt, not giving a damn who saw them together.

"Spike-" She began, and he stopped her with a barking laugh.

"Every objection you can think of, I have an answer for. Keep throwin' 'em, Pet. I like a challenge." She gave up and laughed with him, fingers tightening on his. "Only one objection I can't think how to get out of." Spike was suddenly serious, and they stopped in mid step. He turned to her, and pressed his hand to her cheek. "That's if you don't love me. Or want me in your life."

She caught her breath. No one ever asked her to think like this before. With Angel she'd been blinded by love and assumed things. With Parker, there'd been no time to get to this stage. And with Riley, he was the one with the assumptions. "We have to take things slow." She said noncommittally.

"Of course." He replied. Silly inscrutable woman, unreadable sometimes...

She looked up at him and smiled. "It's pointless me telling you to stick around, 'cause I can't rid of you. I've tried."

"True, Pet."

"So how about if I tell you that I plan to stick around?" She offered.

"I'd love that. I love you." He let his fingers trail up to her temple, caressing her hair.

It was time to be brave again. The hardest thing to do in this world is live in it. If you live in it, you have to face what's cold and hard and real. Things that don't make sense. You have to let yourself feel, and hurt, and love. If you found enough love, it was like a reminder of what heaven was like, and you could be strong until it was time to go back. "I love you too, Spike." She whispered, before she watched the fireworks explode in his eyes and his smile, and he swung her up in his arms in a whirlwind kiss.

He put her down, and laughed, deep in his chest, a loud ringing, happy laugh like she'd never heard, and was surprised to hear herself letting go and laughing along with him.

So that's the end, she thought. Of some things. They exchanged a glance and quickened their pace, laughing, breaking into a run, heading towards their own safe haven. And it's the beginning of some new ones...