by Sweetprincipale

Author's notes: Set during Season Four, basically an episode re-write of Where the Wild Things Are. For the sake of the piece, I played with some of the settings and events, but not the main feature of the plot.

Short, smutty,Spuffy, with hints of deeper emotion. I needed a break from my big pieces.

Please read and review!

Wordy- explanations and conclusions occur.

Dedicated to BaDWolF89, Fangface Andrea, DLillith21, Vera Snape-Evans ,Dreylin, Little MIssy 123, jaimee01, and ginar369

Direct quotes from songs or shows are obviously not mine, but owned by the talented people who created them.

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

Part V

"Bloody hell!" Spike distanced himself from Buffy in a flash of black leather.

"Oh, you'll be in hell, bloody or not." Riley adjusted his aim, stalking forward with the crossbow tension ready to release.

"Riley! Stop!" Buffy leapt up, wiping her eyes hastily. "Baby, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to-"

"You didn't mean to what? You slept with Spike! Spike, Buffy, Hostile Seventeen!" Riley spat.

"Riley! Riley, whoa!" Xander shoved his way into the room, Anya behind him, and the footsteps of Giles, Willow, and Tara could be heard on the stairs.

"Hey, we already explained! She couldn't help it!" Anya cried.

"Neither one of them could help it!" Tara was suddenly in the doorway.

"You're defending Spike?" Riley lowered his bow when he turned to face Tara.

"Uh- not- not exactly. But-" Tara stumbled over the words.

"I don't need to be defended! I didn't do anything wrong! Didn't want to touch your girl, an' she didn't want to touch me, you get that through your head!"

"Then how come you two obviously did a lot of touching?" Riley shook his head and looked sick.

"Riley, please- can we talk about this?" Buffy reached out for him and he pushed her hand away.

"We can help explain, we saw the woman who used to run this house and the things she did created such a restless element-" Giles found himself cut off by Riley's shout.

"Just for once, could I talk to my girlfriend without her surrogate family shoving their noses in?"

"Well... really!" Giles looked highly offended.

"We love Buffy, too! We were scared to death!" Willow shouted.

"Who the hell almost got drowned and took on an army of psycho plants to get in here? Who the hell was working on this for the last couple hours and where the hell were you?" Xander demanded, eyes sparking in protective rage.

"Stop it!" Buffy slammed her foot down, cracking a floorboard. "Stop it! I don't know what happened, but I know Spike didn't do anything worth getting dusted for. Not this time."

"See?" Spike crossed his arm and looked pointedly at Riley. "Told you so."

"Spike!" Buffy hissed.

"I'm goin'." Spike nodded and beat a hasty retreat, pushing his way past the crowd in the doorway. "Never comin' to a party here again, don't care what kind of booze you've got." He muttered. Once he was safely past the last member of the Scooby gang he paused, turned and sought Buffy's eyes.

Buffy tried to focus just on Riley, on calming him down and explaining, but her eyes did find Spike's. He opened his mouth and took one hand out of his pocket as though about to gesture with it, and then let is fall. He closed his mouth, but didn't need to say the words aloud anyway. Buffy understood. She didn't smile but tilted her chin in the merest nod, letting him know that-odd though it was- things were not worse between them. He nodded back, a hard fast bob, and slid like a shadow down the stairs.

"How long were we gone?" Buffy asked.

"A few hours." Anya answered.

"Gone?" Riley asked.

"The room- the bed left the room. I know it sounds weird, but believe me, okay? Please?"

Riley said nothing but Giles looked interested. "You appeared to be in another place?"

"No, not appeared to be, were. In a black hole type of a place. No floor, no light, no windows, no walls, nothing but this sound... roaring wind sound and blackness." She shivered. "We tried to get off the bed- there was no ground. Spike even lowered me over on a sheet and I didn't make it halfway down before I had to get pulled back up. If you fell in there- you could fall forever."

"Is that possible?" Xander asked in a nervous voice.

"Oh yeah. Entities that manifest into the physical world leave a pocket in the metaphysical world. All the emotions they represent create a bubble on the surface I guess. You got shoved in, they got shoved out." Anya explained easily. Everyone stared. "What? I was around for a thousand years. You learn stuff."

"And these- manifestations? Were they kinda- um- horny?" Buffy blushed to the roots of her hair and looked at her shoes, she couldn't bear to meet Giles or Riley's eyes. They must think I'm such a slut. Oh God. I cheated on him. I didn't mean to, but I knew it was wrong and I didn't find a way to stop it. I'm a failure. I'm a total failure as a Slayer- I didn't even try more than once to find a way out. Giles must be so disappointed in me...

But Giles was not. He firmly made his way past Riley and put his hands on Buffy's shoulders, making her look at him. "We love you and you're safe. You were acting out whatever impulses the apparitions fed you. They did something wrong, not you."

Buffy sniffed once, hard, suppressing her tears. "Thank you for understanding. I didn't- I should have found a way to get out, I know, but I just- I just couldn't even think straight and it was so hot and dark and it felt like we had to..."

Riley snorted. "So we're all okay with this? That's the deal?"

"No, we're not 'okay' with this. But we're not going to stand around and bash Buffy!" Willow snapped. "We know those things were feeding off of their sexual energy and they were basically giving them the lines to make them create more and more." She took Buffy's hand. "We think that you kept the house from going 'poof', by feeding the spirits for so long. And if you had stopped... well- it's like the lightbulb burning out. O-only you'd be the bulb and we're really glad you're not burned out." Willow squeezed her hand.

"Guys, this is so weird. All of this. You're going to have to explain it all some other time." Buffy laughed shakily. "I think Riley and I need to talk."

"Yeah, I think I said that." Riley snorted.

"Would you stop being a dick? You make me really want my powers back." Anya clenched her fists.

"I'm upset because the woman I love was sleeping with someone else - in my bed! I'm allowed to be upset."

"Of course you're allowed to be upset." Giles cut off any protests. "It's terribly upsetting. It affects everyone when someone is victimized. Some people-" He looked at Riley unblinkingly from over his gold rims, "mistakenly blame the victims. But you won't do that, will you?"

Riley took a deep breath. "I'm not blaming anyone. I just want to talk to my girlfriend alone. Okay?"

Heads nodded and with hugs, murmurs of reassurance, and promises of talking later, the group left.

Riley looked at Buffy, standing tiredly against his dresser. "Did he hurt you?" He asked softly.

"Nope." Buffy replied, starting to feel better. He was just so upset, he just was worried and scared. It's going to be okay. "Not at all." She pushed herself into his arms, pillowing her head on his chest. "I was so scared. I thought I'd never see you again. We thought our number was up." She mumbled into his warmth.

Riley held her tightly. "You're not hurt?"

Buffy looked up at him, trying to smile. "No. Not even a little." She pushed down images of his teeth mauling her sensitive breasts and hands digging into her spread thighs as his mouth went to work. She'd never been treated like that- but it hadn't hurt. No, not even a little...


Buffy tuned back in. "Why what?" She berated herself for zoning out.

"Why aren't you hurt?" Riley asked in a clipped voice.

"Huh?" Buffy didn't understand.

"You knew it was wrong. You said that. You said you knew it was wrong. So why did you let him do it? I mean, I'd expect you to put up a fight."

"I did! We both did! But we didn't fight each other! We weren't the ones calling the shots." She tried to explain, an undercurrent of confused anger prickling at her.

"So what happened?"

"Riley, I don't know how to explain, Honey, I just know what happened." Buffy took his hands in her own.

"Try to tell me. I need to know why." He insisted.

Buffy supposed she owed him that. If he'd been caught with Harmony she'd have wanted to stake her, too. And she'd have demanded an explanation, and it would have to be a damn good one. "You're right, we have to stop doing that thing where we don't talk until it's a big problem. It's not going to be easy but we can get though it, right?"

"Right." Riley answered, but privately, he didn't feel sure.

"Okay, well, first, we ended up getting trapped in the room. You left, and we all split up because there was major weirdness. Ghost people and scary grabby vines..."

"I saw that." Riley nodded and he felt slightly better. At least this part of the story matched what he knew.

"Willow was trying to open the door, because it was stuck. She did a door opening spell- but I guess the house got feisty just then, because we went flying into the darkness, and it was hot and murky and..." She trailed off. Overwhelmingly sexually needy. But I don't want to put it like that. "Anyway, we were on an island in the middle of a lake of blackness, and the bed was the island. We tried to get off, and when we couldn't we figured you would be here soon and we'd get out. So- that's what happened. You did come, and you got us out of wherever that was.

Riley looked around the room. Rumpled sheets trailed off the bed onto the floor, along with a pillow and one of Buffy's bobby pins and cigarette butt. "You're telling me you weren't in the room? You were in a mystical 'void'?"

"Yes. And you know it can happen, Anya said so." Buffy didn't like his tone.

"Then why is there a cigarette butt on the floor under the bed? Huh?"

"I don't know!" She didn't. If it had all been an illusion- if they'd been floating in the room the whole tome... She felt so stupid. But she hadn't known, had no way to check. The cigarette could've been tossed there before, or fallen with the bed. The point was- illusion or not, they'd been trapped and unable to change it.

"And we could hear you! Hear you- moaning and groaning and letting him.." Riley turned away from her.

"Are you saying I lied? Why would I lie about being stuck in your room or anywhere? So I can give into my deep, hidden passion for a really cocky jerk, who by the way has tried to kill me so often I've lost count, and who I can't even stand to be in the same room with for more than five minutes?" Her voice rose as her temper flared. "Are you nuts?"

"I'm starting to think I might be, if I let you make me believe that a bedroom could get sucked off the face of this earth so you guys can get horizontal."

Buffy swallowed angry tears and an angrier retort, something along the lines of how horizontal was not the way she was going to play anymore. Not now when she knew about diagonal, vertical, backwards and practically upside down. Damn, that vamp could do things... But things she'd never want to let him do, never want to do with him. It was Spike. Spike had been inside her and she knew she should feel cheap and dirty and bad- except that he'd made sure she didn't. He didn't use her. And even though the house was trying to make them puppets, they hadn't let it do that either. They might not have had much control, but they used whatever they had left.

"I know you're mad and I'm mad, too. I'm grossed out and I'm sorry, and I'm really wishing I could stick a stake in a ghost thingy and do some damage. But I can't. And you can't put this on me. You know how everyone was acting. We were running up here like rabbits when we both got interrupted. If we hadn't gotten separated, you'd have been in here with me and we'd never even have realized anything was wrong, we would have just thought we were having a really good time, for a really long time."

Riley looked at her, trying to feel his way through the statement, but unfortunately he chose to focus on the most negative aspect he could have picked. "So, since I wasn't available, you slept with whoever was handy?"

"Oh, my God! Riley! Listen to yourself!" Buffy cried.

"It's a fair question! I left you and said I'd meet you back up here, and when I finally come back I find you've been doing Spike!"

"It was out of my control! I didn't fully understand what I was doing, and I didn't have a choice. Any of that sound familiar? You and Faith?" Buffy winced in her frustration.

"No, not familiar at all! You didn't have to, you knew it was wrong. I was fooled- because she was in your body. Or did Spike suddenly look like me, too?" Riley asked sarcastically.

Buffy couldn't even speak for a minute. She'd never heard her sweetheart sound like this- like a jerk. "Don't do this. Don't make this get uglier than it already is." She hissed.

"What was it? Payback?" Riley asked, some of his old sweetness shining through as his head drooped. "I know you're still upset about what I did, but I didn't think you'd ever do it to me on purpose."

"Honey, no! No, I'm telling you, this wasn't my choice. Not who, not where, not if I wanted to. The only thing I had a choice about was if I was going to let it conquer me inside, not just outside."

"I want to believe you- but you don't have a mark on you, and I know he's chipped. I know, Buffy. I know you allowed it."

Aside from feeling like her heart was going to burst. she now felt like her brain might explode, too, from his density, and his half assed logic. " Just wait- how was it in my control? The power in this house made people do all kinds of weird stuff, violent and sexual stuff, but you think I could magically get out of it when no one else could?" Her voice shook with unshed angry tears.

Riley shrugged. "Buffy, you're the Slayer, you should be able to fight through things like this."

She snapped. "And you're my boyfriend- you should be able to tell when the person you're making love to is an impostor when she acts nothing like me, no matter how she looks!"

"That's not fair." Riley protested.

"Okay, neither is what you just said. Do you think, really think I wanted to? I hated it!" Inside she admitted that yes, she hated what she'd done, but she didn't hate the good feelings it gave her. That it was nice, in a twisted, perverted way, to be able to talk to someone else with a broken heart, someone else who didn't want to move on, someone who knew what it was like to pretend to get over it. How weird that it turned out to be Spike. But he hurt just as bad. And he got it, what it was like to love someone, right or wrong. What had they said, 'It's okay to love someone who doesn't always treat you like they should"?

But she didn't deserve to be treated like this. "If you don't know enough about me by now, Riley Finn, to know that I would hate doing that, hate what happened..."

"It didn't sound like you hated it, Buffy." He said bitterly. When he looked into her eyes, she could see he wasn't just angry anymore, he was near tears. "I was trying to get to you. Why didn't you answer us? We called to you."

Buffy's tears overflowed with painful suddenness. "Because it wasn't like we were in the room, I told you it was like being suspended in some black heart of the jungle, the bed was like an island in the middle of nothing! I don't know- I don't know why you don't believe me, why you want me to repeat this over and over!"

"Fine, make all the excuses you want. You were trapped in an alternate dimension. You couldn't hear me yelling for you, even though I could hear you banging a vampire on mybed."

The tears ceased just as quickly as they came, anger shutting them off like a wrench to a valve. "Hey. I'm telling the truth. I am not making excuses!" She angrily grabbed his hand. "Look at me! Look at me! Why would I need an excuse?"

"Because when everything was over you'd have to admit that you slept with a soulless killer." He whispered.

Buffy felt strangled by her own breath. She couldn't believe this was happening. That this- this actually hurt worse and made her angrier than anything else she'd experienced in the long torturous night.

"And you slept with a souled killer who stole my body and used you to rape it. I'm not really seeing why I'd feel like I need an excuse." She whispered back brokenly.

Riley gaped, aghast. "I didn't- I never- there was no-rape, Buffy." He blanched at the thought, at the very word.

"She picked you, Riley, but she could have taken my body and let any guy she wanted violate it. If she hadn't thought she was going to be living in it, she probably would have. She probably would have done a lot of things I don't even want to think about." She closed her mind off to the images of what Faith would consider "fun" to put her through. If Faith'd thought Angelus was a catch- she couldn't imagine the scum she'd consider worth using for punishment.

"But the point is she didn't do that and I didn't do that to you. Or anyone. I was with my girlfriend as far as I knew, but you were with a vampire!"

"Faith swapped my body and let me get handed over to be imprisoned for life at best, murdered at worst. Spike's not seeming way worse right now, okay?" Buffy snapped, crossing her arms defensively.

"A vampire isn't seeming worse? What is wrong with you?"

Something inside her fell apart. Too tired to do this anymore, and too tired of asking the same questions of herself, for years. Asking what was wrong with her for years of falling in love with the wrong ones, for running away, for not saving Jenny, for not protecting anyone and everyone and not being able to be a normal girl or a normal Slayer.

"What is wrong with me?" Buffy sank onto the bed. "Oh, God, you know what? I don't know. I wish I knew the answer to everything, but I just don't. Just forget it. Forget everything you don't like, Riley. No more blaming or comparing. I've had it. You had a situation, I had a situation. We can fall apart or we can move on." Her eyes pleaded with him to see she was just too tired to fight every battle, especially ones like these, where she didn't know what was the right answer anymore. Her voice softened into something she hoped sounded like love, even though she realized now, more than ever, that this wasn't what love was like. "Riley, please, I know it takes time, but we can work through this, right? We both had circumstances we couldn't control."

When he looked at her, it was so easy to give in. He wanted to take her up in his arms and shield her from everything bad. But she wouldn't let him. She wouldn't be shielded by anyone. He didn't think he could even comfort her. He didn't even think he could kiss her, not after she'd let Spike do that. She'd let him do so much more than a simple kiss.

His stomach heaved at the thought of a demon all over her. Inside her. And she had moaned a demon's name and asked for more. His mind blanked and hope fizzled. Whatever he was trying to say to save her pain backfired when his own pain reared to the front. "Maybe you couldn't control it, but you didn't have to enjoy it." He whispered.

He sounded so heartbroken that for a split second she understood his perspective. He felt betrayed. But dammit- so had she. Twice, by her own body. Her tone was hard and bitter, words scraping out that she didn't think she'd ever have to use in anger with him. "But it's okay that you enjoyed fucking Faith?"

He shook his head vehemently. "This again! I didn't - I didn't enjoy that!"

"You said you loved her! You told her you loved her when you were in bed! That's enjoying!"

"No, I told you. I didn't know it was her. I wasn't enjoying being with another woman, I was enjoying being with you. I was loving you."

"When I went into your room tonight, I didn't know it would turn into demon lust central. I didn't consciously enjoy being with another man, I just had to do it, and my body had reactions. Like something controlled it, controlled me! Don't you think I wished it was you? That I felt bad, but I knew I wasn't getting out of it, knew that a force was driving me?" She explained desperately.

"Maybe you hated it, but you didn't hate what he was doing to you. I know. I -we all- heard you, Buffy. Moaning when you - when he made you- you know what." He looked ill, as though the thought of her finding pleasure with him was too much to bear.

"I wish you hadn't heard it, or I wish it had been you with me, doing things. I know it sucks and you feel angry and upset. I am too. B-but would you rather I had been moaning because I was in pain? If some mystical force is moving you to do this, you aren't in control, Riley, and it could just as easily have made Spike hurt me. O-or what if I'd come up here with someone not chipped, chasing a vampire or- or maybe a couple of vamps? Or, God, what if it had been Adam?" Buffy shivered. What could she say? "At least Spike asked me if it was okay before we started? Aren't you glad I wasn't forced physically as well as metaphysically?" Everything sounded so wrong inside her head.

"I'm glad it wasn't any of those things." Riley shivered, too. Adam was one of the few monsters Buffy didn't seem stronger than. He would have hurt her, maybe not left her alive. Riley breathed a sigh of thankfulness that it was something harmless like Spike- but still... it was one thing for her not to be injured. It was another thing to softly moan his name when he was touching her, more than touching her. That was not forced. No, that was wanted. Nothing in the world could convince him that a spirit force had made his girlfriend have an orgasm with a murdering demon, even if it could have made her have sex with him.

"Riley? Riley? Aren't you glad this thing wasn't trying to hurt us worse, that Spike wasn't trying to hurt me?" She shook his arm slightly recapturing his wandering mind.

"No. I mean, I don't want you hurt, but I don't want you to have those feelings with him either." He explained, feeling selfish and un-understanding, but unable to rise above it.

"I'm sorry. It's done, I can't undo it." She could have stopped there, but something pushed her to get a little dig in. Maybe she knew he wasn't truly believing her, maybe she could sense his doubts. It just hurt, and she wanted him to know that she knew what he felt- and that he was making it worse. "And I really didn't want you to have had those feelings with Faith, but oh well, guess we get to work through it."

"Back to Faith! That wasn't even wrong! This was!"

"Excuse me? It wasn't wrong? Riley it wasn't your fault- but it was wrong."

"Whatever. You don't get it, Buffy, you just don't get it. You knew you were sleeping with someone who wasn't me."

"Yeah- and you didn't. You didn't even realize, not even a clue, that it wasn't me. Somehow, I don't think you come out all shiny in that scenario, Riley."

"I'm not apologizing for that anymore. I thought we agreed, it was in the past."

"I'm asking for the same chance! I know it's horrible, but we can put it behind us!"

Riley was silent for a moment. If she'd just admit she'd slipped up, maybe he could forgive it. It was her being perfect, the 'I'm a superhero, I always do the right thing' attitude he felt was masking the event. Maybe it wasn't all her fault, but the things she'd done- well, he still didn't think a woman would sound happy if the situation was what Buffy claimed. Forget the idea of the house being possessed. He'd never heard of a house making people decide it was a great idea to sleep with mortal enemies. "If you'd just say you were sorry instead of telling me all this other bull..."

Buffy leaped at the chance to end this ceaseless back and forth. "Honey, I already told you I'm sorry. But I'll say it again, I'm sorry!" Only, as she said it did she realize she was sorry, but she didn't have to apologize for anything, not to him.

"Wait- why am I apologizing? I had sex for hours with a guy I hate because of some stupid manifestation in the stupid hellmouthy house. I'm the victim!" She winced. She'd never wanted to think of herself like that, or the last four years would have been one long pity party. Even now, before he'd dragged that word from her, she had done her best not to feel that way. She couldn't let anything, anyone make her a victim, or she'd never be able to face the night and slaying again.

He scoffed openly. "Some victim. You didn't sound like a victim, and you just kept doing it..."

"I thought you understood. Giles said part of keeping it up was survival instinct. If we'd stopped, we could have died. And sounds like everyone in the house would have gone kablooie too." Riley's face remained mulish. "Are you- are you saying you'd prefer that?" She asked incredulously.

"I would prefer it not to have happened."

"It did, and we have to deal."

"Fine. I'll deal. You let him do you." He muttered.

"I did NOT LET anything! I just said, the choices were die or keep going." She punched the mattress. "Riley- this is hard for me, too. Harder, if you're thinking about it. I need you to tell me I did what I had to. That I made the right choice. I got out alive. That you're not mad at me." She pleaded. And she was met with silence. Her soul shrank inside her. "Okay. Be mad. But at least- at least can't you admit I made the right choice? I stayed alive. Isn't that what matters?

"If you say so." Like you could die if you didn't have sex. Sorry, that might be what high school boys try to tell stupid girls, but it didn't work on grown ups.

Buffy was too stunned to speak for several seconds. "You would rather I had died."

"No. Of course not!

"Then tell me I did what I had to do. Don't- Don't make me feel more guilty than I already do."

"Well, at least you feel bad about it." He gave in.

"You want that for me?"

"You fucked Hostile 17 in my bed. Yeah. I want you to feel bad about it."

Buffy lunged up and off the bed, gathering odds and ends she'd left in his room during the week, speaking in quiet rage. "I'm going to go. Obviously a guy who'd rather I'd died during possession-o-rama than even give me a shred of dignity and comfort for having to - to have what happened happen to me- uggh." She lost her words and just shook her head. "What kind of jerk are you? If I had gotten dragged into an ally at gunpoint and this happened- I hope you would treat me better, because it's sort of the same thing." She reminded him softly, walking to the door.

"If you'd gotten dragged into an ally at gunpoint you'd have fought them off. You- You let him. You can say whatever you want, but you let him. And you liked it." He didn't move from the place he'd stood during the whole time. He couldn't bear to sit on what he now viewed as a filthy bed.

Her voice dripped with sarcasm. "Yeah Riley. I let him. And I liked it. I don't feel violated or weirded out at all." She laughed bitterly, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. "And I'm real thrilled my boyfriend would rather have me dead instead of alive but 'damaged goods'."

"At least you would have died without being yet another vampire's sex toy." He spat. He knew it was mistake the second he'd said it. The quick succession of a punch to the nose, then the jaw, confirmed it. Blood spurted and bones cracked, and the floor rushed up to meet him. Looking up at her, he saw a golden girl weeping through a haze of his own blood.

"You know- at least Spike was nice about this. I hurt worse talking to you for twenty minutes than I did in the whole time he was with me. He apologized. He asked me if I was okay. He- he tried to make it good, even though he knew we were both not going to get out of it, so he could have made it bad as possible. I never thought I'd say this- but Spike, who's a complete and total asswipe jerky bastard soulless vampire- treated me better than my sweet, normal, nice guy boyfriend. It makes me think, Riley- what the hell is the definition of monster?" She slung her bag over her shoulder, and stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

Hiding from the early morning sun in the recesses of his blacked out car, Spike sat and smoked, waiting until she came out. She did. Blood on her hands- not her own. Whitebread's. Good for her. Not that he liked the girl, but even he knew you didn't treat women who'd just been through somethin' awful like that bastard was treatin' her. He couldn't count the hours he'd rocked Dru to sleep after she had one of her flashbacks to her 'turning'.

Well, she wasn't mucked about with, he could tell, not that the idiot would stand a chance against a powerful bird like her. He closed his eyes and sighed in weariness. He'd made sure she wasn't gettin' hassled by the jerk, not 'cause he cared mind you, but because - bloody hell, he was evil, he didn't have to have a reason! He could do what he liked, where he liked, when he liked, king of the open road if he wanted, striking terror into the hearts of-

"I see you, Spike. Open up!" Buffy's harsh voice startled the mighty "king of the open road" and he jumped like a nervous cat. "What are you doing here?" She demanded, pounding on the door again.

Spike pushed the door open and held his hands up to shoulder height in mock surrender, still dragging on his smoke. "Free country."

"Fine. Smoke yourself into a coma just south of the Initiative House's front lawn." She stomped off.

Looking up at the sun and then the low hanging branches, Spike groaned and did something stupid. He exited the car and easily caught up to her up easily to her. So I was, uh, was just seein' how it went, okay?"

Buffy let out a bitter, mirthless noise that might have passed for laughter. "Oh real peachy. He'd rather we exploded in a million little poltergeist chunks than have gotten his sheets dirty."

"He- you an' cardboard?" Spike trailed off, his hands nervously gliding through his disheveled hair. "He was upset, I know. An' he should be."

"Oh goody, another lecture on why my boyfriend should be upset. I haven't had one of those in thirty seconds." She smiled with fake, saccharine enthusiasm.

"Lemme finish, you little bint. He should be plenty upset. You had somethin' bad happen to you. But he shouldn't be mad at you"

Buffy paused, cocked her head, eyes turning from bitter to mildly relieved. "So it's not just me who thinks that way?" She asked hesitantly. Both of them came to stop in a dense clump of pines.

Spike shook his head. "You didn't want to." He looked guiltily away, and nervously puffed on another newly lit cigarette. "When I was in there with you- seemed like the good idea. Mos' natural thing in the world, but now, guess I - guess I did what I-" He couldn't talk anymore. His pale face went even paler. Buffy had never seen a vampire look like he might throw up before, but this one did.

"Hey! Hey, you didn't want to, either." Buffy hastily reminded him.

Spike looked grateful and relieved. "No." He said simply, because he couldn't think of anything more to say on how very "no" that idea had been to him.

"I'm not blaming you. Or- or saying you hurt me." She confided.

"Not that I wouldn't love to beat you to a pulp, Slayer, but not like that."

Buffy nodded, the merest ghost of a smile on her face, the first real one in hours. "I know. I got it."

"You- God, I cannot believe I'm bloody sayin' this- you're okay with me?" Spike asked, praying to all the demons in hell and angels in heaven that no one would ever hear about this nancy, poofy conversation.

"As okay as ever. Jerk."


Buffy met his eyes. "You really didn't want to?"


Well- he'd already witnessed more of her intimate details, physical and mental, than any other guy in the world, so she might as well ask what was bugging her. In an uncertain voice, now looking just past him, "Can I ask you something?"

"Shoot." Spike said in a voice of barely concealed shock. She didn't ask to ask, she barged right in, shoutin', often as not.

Buffy's mind teemed with images of men leaving her, a one night stand, Riley's cheating. Even supernatural presences used her up and threw her away. "Was it because I'm not good at it?" She asked softly.

Spike choked and gagged on a throat full of smoke. "What?" He coughed

"You didn't want to- was it because I'm not-?" She gestured to her hips. "Good?"

"Hey! Hey, I didn't say I didn't absolutely fuckin' love the action we got up to, particularly when we broke Soldier Boy's mattress in the finale. I meant I didn't want to do it in the first place."

"But in the second place?" She asked in a small voice.

"You tryin to trick me?" He asked with a trace of anger and a lot of suspicion.

"No. No, I just wanted to know."

Dru'd just have to deal with it whenever they made up, sometime in the next century, he hoped. And you could love someone with all your unbeatin' heart, but still know the goods when you had 'em. "It was the best sex of my unlife, okay?" He admitted harshly, as if severely annoyed that he had to give her credit.

Buffy felt a large junk of self-doubt drop. Spike might be a worm, but he was a sexy worm, and he knew stuff. If he said she was good, well, there went that worry. She paused for a second and glared at him fiercely. "If you repeat this, I will stake you." She cleared her throat. "Mine, too."

Spike felt flattered, even though he knew he wasn't up against much in the way of competition. It was her admitting it that made him swell with pride. "Sun's gettin' up." He turned back towards his car, and paused, not quite looking back over his shoulder, but sort of indicating he might want to. Dead tricky to look cool but sort of interested, had taken a soddin' long time to perfect. He waited.

Buffy strolled in his direction as though she'd been heading there all along. Being cool in high school- well, before vampires messed up her life- some of the tricks still paid off. They walked close, just not touching. Comfortable in a screwed up way.

Spike broke the silence. "That thing you do? When you squeeze inside? Brilliant."

"Hey, you have the silver tongue." She praised.

"Easy when you're so goddamn honey sweet." He stated with a hint of lust.

"Hmm, you're not so bad yourself." She smiled down at the grass. There was an awkward pause which she ended by crying out in a tone of wigged disbelief, "We just started talking about sex, and there were compliments involved!"

"Still under the house's influence, Slayer, I'm sure." He replied evenly. But he knew, at least on his part, it wasn't. She was good and she was sweet, and when he hadn't thought so much, just been with her, it had left him shaking inside like an adrenaline rush.

Buffy shrugged. It was more than the house. He was talented, not that she had lots to go on. But it had felt sooo good, when she was just feeling and not thinking.

Spike broke the silence this time. "I wonder if that's why it was so good- or if we're just that good together?" He asked in a carefully disinterested voice.

"Ha! You and me?" She scoffed loudly.

"Well, we've got the stamina an' the strength an' the flexibility, plus everything else super folk'd have that regular folks don't." He pointed out as nonchalantly as possible. By this time, they'd reached his car, and they halted.

"Yeah. Oh well, guess we'll never know." Buffy shrugged.

"Pity. But you're right. Anyway, I'll leave you to it. Hope things work with him. Since, you know, he's the love of your life." He smirked in a purposefully irritating way, knowing he was being a jerk just then and fairly pleased about it.

Buffy lost her casual attitude but couldn't even work up some anger about him baiting her. "No. He isn't. And I don't think I want things to work anymore. When the guy involved in the 'incident' is nicer than your boyfriend is about it, time to look at things differently."

"I thought you might've. Got some blood on your knuckles, Luv." He smirked.

"His. He's kicked to the curb. Broke his nose. Maybe his jaw."

Spike looked impressed and clapped theatrically. "Well all right, Slayer! Good on you. He should treat you better after goin' through that."

"I thought that." Buffy said with an angry toss of her hair. "But- but I didn't know for sure. I'm so confused. Was I making too big a deal, was he right... just wasn't good anymore." She rubbed her temples.

Spike paused, also confused. Where the hell is this goin'? Oh, who cares? "What a bloke ought to do is get some food and hard liquor into you, then put you in a nice soft bed until the world doesn't seem so buggered up."

"That sounds good. Really good." Buffy said hungrily. She looked at him, finding him just darting his eyes away. " I'm starving."

"I know! Takes it outta ya." They grinned ruefully.

Buffy cleared her throat. "Uh, there's a twenty four hour grocery- with meat counter- on highway 61, next to a Burger Matic. I don't know about you, but I could murder a double bacon cheese burger with extra tomatoes." She said longingly."Maybe they have bagged blood at that market."

Spike swallowed. "Well, car's parked right here." No one moved. "Slayer?"


"What the hell are we doin'?"

"I don't know. Eating, talking, walking. Maybe driving?"

"Yeah. I s'pose we could do that." Spike opened his door, but made a point of not getting hers. He wasn't the bloody footman, jus' a casual- erm- thing. Somethin' or other.

Buffy rolled her eyes and jerked the passenger door open. "This has been a weird night."

"I'll never crash a frat party again as long as I unlive, tell you that for a start." Spike snorted, putting the ancient car into gear.

Buffy laughed and cautiously sat, surprised that the car didn't seem too hideous and was relatively human friendly. "Yeah. Something tells me I'll be staying away from sex-spook infested frats, too."

Spike nodded once and sighed. He fiddled with the radio as he pulled the car roughly onto the street with a crash of tires on curbs. Buffy jounced and stuck her tongue out him. Mmm, pretty little tongue. An' nice bouncy handfuls up front. He sighed. "Shame we'll never know if it was the house. Or if we're that good."

Buffy spoke with her new found confidence, and lot of guts she didn't really feel. "Oh, I'm that good."

Spike looked at her pityingly. "Right. So you say."

"I'll prove it." She dared him.

Spike managed to conceal his amazement by swerving carelessly across lanes. What in the world had come over the girl? They were off the property now, an' it wasn't the ghoulies or ghosties makin' her act like this. "I don't think you can exactly prove it, Pet."

She gave him a long, cool, gaze. "You afraid I'll show you up?"

"Ha, not too bloody likely."

"I need munchies first." She sounded calm. Inwardly however, Oh. My. God. I have lost my itty bitty sleep deprived mind! Sex with Spike? On purpose? What's wrong with me, what am I doing? Oh, what does it matter? I can't have what I want, I might as well have what feels good and won't hurt me, right?

"Agreed. Need at least two pints after last night." What is this? What are we doing, what does this mean? Why do I bloody even care? Sod it, I suddenly miss the brainless, mindless black hole we were stuck in.

"So. Burgers and blood. But after that..." She trailed off. He could reject her. Oh man, she hadn't thought about that. What if he did? Rejected by Spike. Someone call the Suicide Hotline now, please...She held her breath.

"Burgers and blood. Then- I accept your challenge." He quirked his scarred eyebrow and managed to waggle it.

Buffy looked at him, he looked at her, and they both slowly shared a mischievous smile. It was never going to be a relationship, but like they'd said when trapped inside, it was what they had left- might as well make it good.

Buffy reluctantly leaned back against the seat. "Oh. Spike? Don't tell anyone?

Spike cast her a terrified look. "God forbid, Luv! Our little secret."

She nodded. "Good."

Spike cruised to the highway. Only night folk and truckers would be out this hour, so he sped. Looking over at the coppery little package beside him, he fiddled the radio station again before speaking. In an oh so nonchalant voice he tossed out, "Of course, if we are that good-we might not want to stop after one more little test..."

Oh my God. I must be good. Or he's desperate. What the hell. So am I these days. "Hmm." She pretended to consider. "You're probably right."

"You wanna wait 'til you feel better? Maybe you aren't thinking too clearly." Spike gave her an out. 'Cause he wasn't above taking advantage, but it'd end badly- as in scattered to the four winds badly, if he tried that with her.

Buffy gave him a grateful look. Spike as a- a person (wow, weird thought)- as a man interacting with a woman really was different than Spike as- Spike. What had he said- she didn't know what he was like in bed? That'd been true. She didn't know what he was like when he wanted to act like a non-jerk, either. "Know what Spike? It's been a rotten night. But the part with you actually, in comparison, wasn't too bad at all."

A slow smile curved his ivory lips. "Mutual." He said briefly.

"I don't think the world will end if we have burgers and - and other things sometimes. Just- you know- sometimes." She clarified.

Silly girl. If you tempted him, he had to push. "I dunno. If you're that good, I don't want to share." He warned a kernel of seriousness under the banter.

Buffy laughed. "So not a big worry there. I don't think I like college boys anymore." She sighed sadly. Spike glanced at her sideways, and licked his lips once before speaking.

"Gotta thing for older men?"

She mimicked the sideways glance. "Apparently. But obviously not you. Obviously." She answered quickly. And too emphatically. Poop. So not good with the subtle.

"Well, hardly! We can't bloody stand each other."

"Totally hate your guts."

"Right. That's settled."

They drove in silence for another few minutes before Buffy started speaking as though they'd never paused, probably because she had been having variations of hypothetical conversations in the interim.

"Except you were really nice-ish tonight, so -um, thanks."

Spike kept his eyes on the dark windscreen. "No worries." He looked side to side and then bolted an exit ramp.


"Liquor superstore off this road. Jus' hang on, I wanna get a bottle of Jack. Food, liquor, soft bed, that was Dr. Spike's prescription.

Buffy had to admit, at least aside from the alcohol, that it sounded like her kind of miracle cure. "Sounds awesome."

Spike turned the car down a narrow alley and then jerked into a parking spot. "Even that doesn't mean I like you, Slayer. Without this chip-"

"I'd stake your ass." Buffy interrupted placidly.

"Not before I bit yours! I mean- oh bloody hell." Stupidity was apparently sexually transmitted.

"I know what you meant." Buffy mumbled, suddenly blushing.

"Right, like I said-doesn't mean I like you."

"Understood." He didn't get out of the car. He seemed to be gripping the steering wheel like a life preserver, and she noticed her own hands had practically worn through the upholstery from digging in so hard. Maybe they didn't like each other, maybe they didn't hate each other, but they sure did know how to push the panic button around each other. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, trying to let go of all the bad stress of the day, of the night, of Riley.

It didn't make her forget at all. The aroma of smoke and leather and Spike himself overwhelmed her and all she could think of was the dark hours they'd worked their sad, strange blend of magic together, the most intensely delightful pleasure combined with mental trauma. It'd be nice to try the pleasure part without the angsty crap.

Spike watched her from the corner of his eye. She took a couple deep breaths and he enjoyed the image, her chest rising and falling. He could make his own do that if he wanted. Was nice to be with someone alive, to feel, smell, and hear all the things he missed in his undead state. Although right now, he wouldn't have traded the advanced olfactory senses for anything. He inhaled, inhaled her.

Glorious. Wetness. Hers. Wetness. His. A mixture that was pure power and sex in a pink package.

He still hadn't moved. Buffy leaned- just slightly. He did, too. With a half sigh she moved a few inches across the flat bench seat of the car and let herself try to get close.

His arm automatically lifted and miracle of miracles and horror of horrors, they were sort of embracing. His skin reverberated from her heat and his nostrils quivered like a starving dog's at her scent. Everything about her was intoxicating. Bloody hell, I might not like her, but I could do this all day...better than her tryin' to kick my ass. 'Sides, she's not all self righteous just now. I could do with that a bit more often.

Buffy looked up at him, and quickly looked away. What am I doing? This is stupid. Don't try to get comfy with him. Just get laid when you need to let off steam. Don't dwell on the nice things. Look how sweet and perfect Riley was- and look where that got you. Her heart pained her for the loss of a man she cared so much about, and warned her not to ever try to move on again. She was like Spike. A one and only type. There couldn't be too much between people like that.

Spike interrupted her reverie with a lazy mumble. "You wanna see a movie after that burger?"

She blinked, taken aback. Maybe I was wrong about what we could share... No, no it's not sharing, it's not a date. It's like a survivor meeting. Huh, better than listening to him complain and he normally never shuts up. Hm, he's not annoying me right now. That's of the major improvement goodness.

Spike cursed himself. See a show? What's next, you gonna ask to carry her books? It's supposed to be about sex, nothin' more. Except- well- she isn't so bad underneath, I s'pose. She knows what it's like to get your world ripped away an' to keep pretendin' it's jus' fine. Still, ask her to a movie? Are you completely mental?

"Erm, look, Slayer, about the movie-"

Buffy inserted herself more firmly under his arm and looked up at him with steady green eyes. "Sounds good. What's playing?"

He blinked, eyes lightening with a sudden smile. "Dunno. Doesn't matter. Doubt if I'll look at the screen much."

Buffy shook her head. "Pig."


"Can we get that liquor now? If I'm going to hang out with you I might start needing alcohol."

"You jus' want to get to the food an' soft bed part."

Buffy considered. "Yeah. Maybe I do." She straightened up and pulled out from the shelter of his shoulder, fixing him with a steely gaze, a gaze of a woman who knows what she wants, and what she can have, and knows the difference. Above all, the gaze of a woman who accepts that some things are out of her control and she can deal with it. "You got a problem with that?"

Ooh, feisty. He did love that, it was what made Slayers worth the hunt. An' maybe worth spending time with. "Not the slightest." His smile took on new proportions, ever increasing as her own smile stretched to match.

"Good." She leaned up and kissed him hard, savoring the taste, and the feel of him- knowing that he would kiss her back just as hard, and it wouldn't hurt either of them.

Spike made one of his infamous sudden decisions. He pressed against her hard and started half lifting, half shoving her back.

"What? Hey!"

"Backseat. Works as good as a bed- sometimes."

"You're crazy. Or perverted! It's first thing in the morning in a shopping center, not midnight in lover's lane!"

"Not perverted- cravin' you. Can't help it." Spike admitted between hot, lashing kisses.

Can't help it... no, some things you couldn't help. Sometimes they didn't turn out so bad.

With a giggle and soft screech, Buffy fell into the back seat, her laughing, kissing companion joining her with a thud. "It's okay if you can't help it... it's time to give in." She gasped into his mouth as they tangled together and finally, happily, surrendered.

This concludes our story. Hope you'll join us on the quest for more Spuffy in another piece sometime soon!