First off, thanks so much to everyone that reviewed the last chapter: MMWillow13, Maverick500, Jeremy Shane, rororogers, spike'smate, Guest, Trainee Hero, cavemenftw, whiters, ladymirth, Beth-TauriChick, and Guest.

And an extra huge thanks to arina_summer for being an awesome beta!

Please R&R!

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the characters therein are the creative property of Joss Whedon and co. Damn it.


Faith stood back, leaning against the crypt she and Buffy had just been about to search when they were jumped by a vampire. A vampire Buffy was currently beating into ground hamburger.

Faith wasn't one to normally feel bad for vampires, but the way Buffy was wailing on this little guy made even the street tough Slayer wince in sympathy a few times. Yet still, an approving smirk played at the corners of Faith's mouth while she watched Buffy. It was amusing to see her usually efficient counterpart taking her sweet time and enjoying herself before staking the vamp. And, in Faith's opinion, Buffy was due to blow off some steam. So, Faith figured she'd wait a little bit longer before stepping in.

"Stupid vampire!" Buffy yelled as she repeatedly punched the vampire that she had long since beaten into submission. The vampire had fallen to the ground after Buffy's second punch and she had immediately hopped on top of him to continue her abuse.

"You're all nothing but a bunch of selfish, avoid-y jerks!" Buffy shouted. "Blowing off the people that have cared about you and taken care of you just so you can go and play poker with your stupid demon buddies!"

At this, the vampire looked up at Buffy confusedly and gurgled, "Huh?"

Buffy punched him, yet again, in answer.

"Okay, okay, I think that's enough!" Faith's voice interrupted and Buffy raised her head to the other Slayer in shock. Faith was telling her to stop?

"Excuse me?" Buffy asked.

"Not that I disapprove of your method or anything," Faith said. "I was just thinking, seeing as we've been at this glove hunt for a while now and have come up empty, that we bag it for the night and go find another way for you to get out some of that aggression of yours."

"What aggression?" Buffy said defensively. "I'm not aggravated."

"Coulda fooled me," the vampire murmured.

Buffy glared down at him. She pulled his head up by his hair, then thunked back down on the ground. "Shut up. Nobody asked you." She looked back to Faith. "Like, what did you have in mind?"

Faith smiled. "Well, why don't you stake this sorry SOB and come find out?"

Buffy pursed her lips and scrunched up her face in contemplation. After a moment, she whipped a stake out of her pocket and swiftly shoved it in the vampire's chest, cutting off the protest he didn't have time to get out before exploding into dust. Afterward, Buffy hopped to her feet and brushed away the remnants of the vampire from her clothes.

She sighed and looked to Faith. "Lead the way."

oOo

"Want. Take. Have," Faith relayed her philosophy to Buffy, ticking off each word with her fingers, as the two Slayers sat in the booth of the dive bar where the booze was cheap and they didn't card.

Buffy leaned forward, wrapping her hands around her third glass of beer. "Want. Take. Have," she repeated slowly, taking a contemplative sip. "Okaaay," she slurred. "So, in what way does this have anything to do with Spike avoiding me?"

Faith sighed. "You want him—and don't even try to deny it," she said, cutting Buffy off when she opened her mouth. "And he wants you too."

"He does?" Buffy sounded unsure, but hopeful.

"Like Wily Coyote wants the Roadrunner," Faith replied. "The problem is that neither of you has got the stones to take what you want, and so you're both miserable."

Buffy gave this a second's thought, then shook her head in dismissal. "I don't think so. I mean, Spike has never really been the inhibited type. If he wanted something, he'd take it."

Faith raised one shoulder and let it drop in a lazy shrug. "If you say so. You know the guy better than I do. I'm just sayin' I know men better, and that man wants you bad."

"Then what's stopping him?" Buffy whined.

"I've got a better question, what's stopping you? Shit, B, life's short, especially when you're in our line of work. But for a vampire... I just don't get if a girl wants a guy why she has to wait around for him to make the first move," Faith said. "I mean aren't women supposed to be liberated or some such crap? You want something done, you gotta do it yourself. Bottom line, B." With that chestnut, Faith downed her whiskey and hit the table with a "Whoop!" and stood up. She leaned over to Buffy and murmured, "Watch and learn." She straightened and slithered over to a table full of men, flashing them her most comely smile. She placed her hands flat on their table, bending over and mashing her breasts together, treating the men to a good look at her cleavage. "So," she purred, "which one of you boys is gonna buy a girl another drink?"

As the group of men vied for the chance to purchase Faith's drink, Buffy sat back and pondered the words of her fellow Slayer.

Want. Take. Have.

The more she thought about it, the more it started to make sense.

oOo

Ever since getting his soul, Spike was no stranger to being kept awake by nightmares–he was just used to the nightmares being his own. Spike growled as he pressed the pillow he had held over his head down harder, trying to drown out the sound of Angel in the room across the hall. His sire was talking in his sleep, begging some nameless entity for mercy. Angel's cries sounded like they were right in Spike's ear, despite his effort to muffle them.

Spike remembered how he used to cry out in his sleep at night when he was first cursed and how Buffy would crawl into his bed with him and hold him to calm him down.

Well I'm certainly not doing that for Peaches, he thought. That's where I draw the bloody line.

Seeing as how the pillow wasn't doing him any good anyway, Spike tore it from his face and chucked it across the room. He sighed, heaving himself up from the bed. Since it wasn't likely that he was going to get any rest, Spike figured he might as well go watch some telly, even though at this time of night—or morning, really—the only thing on was crap infomercials—Angelus had been too cheap to have cable installed.

Spike spent half and hour channel surfing, and as he had expected the quality of programming at this time of night was less than engrossing. Letting out a sigh, Spike tossed the remote aside and got to his feet, deciding to go have a late night snack, maybe that would help him get to sleep.

Spike opened the fridge and grabbed out one of the Styrofoam containers filled with blood. He popped off the lid and began to drink straight from the container, not bothering with heating the blood. Spike took the container from his mouth, swallowing with a satisfied ahh, and capped the plastic lid back on the container. He placed the blood back in the fridge and began to rummage about for something solid to munch on when he heard a noise outside that brought his head up. The hackles on the back of his neck rose and a tingling sensation shot down his spine.

He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply through his nose. The sweet scent went straight to every pleasure centre in his brain. Spike had to struggle to bring himself down from the high he was feeling. Now, back down on Earth, Spike was able to think clearly and he knew that no matter how good it might feel to have Buffy so close, it was a bad idea for her to be in the mansion right now.

Which meant that he was going to have to think of a way to get rid of her. Again.

"Bullocks," he muttered, slammed shut the refrigerator door. Clenching his jaw tight, Spike stalked out of the kitchen.

oOo

"Want. Take. Have," Buffy repeated the mantra as she made her way clumsily up the walk to the mansion. "Want. Take—oomph!" Her foot caught on a step sending Buffy down on her knees. "Hey, who put that there?" she wondered aloud, frowning down at the step that had tripped her. She groaned as she pulled herself up on shaky legs. She brushed herself off and continued undeterred toward the entrance of the mansion.

"Want. Take. Have."

"Hello!" Buffy called out into the dark cavernous foyer as she stumbled inside. "Spike? Are you here? Heelllooo!"

"Buffy, what're you doing here?" came Spike's voice from behind her.

Buffy whirled around a bit too quickly. "Oh–whoa." She put one hand out as if to balance herself and the other to her spinning head. "There you are," she said, squinting at the blurry vampire. "Hey, hold still, would ya?"

Spike narrowed his eyes at the dizzy Slayer. Now that he was closer to her, he could pick up the scent of whiskey that surrounded her; she smelled like a distillery. "Are you pissed, pet?" he asked, though he very well knew the answer. His lips curved up in the hint of a smirk despite himself.

"Oh, I'm pissed all right," Buffy replied, staggering forward. "You bet your lilly-white ass I'm pissed. Pissed at you, pal," she said, pointing an accusatory finger at Spike.

Spike felt a rush of panic go through him, wondering if Buffy had somehow found out about him hiding Angel from her.

The vampire nervously licked his lips. "Pissed at me? Why's that then?"

Buffy let out a huff. "Why do you think? Because of how you keep brushing me off and the general avoid-yness. What's up with that? And don't give me that rap about needing your own life–I'm not buying it. I know that there is something up with you and I want to know what it is. So you better tell me." She walked up to Spike and rammed her finger into his chest, then, only just noticing that it was bare, Buffy laid her hand flat on Spike's chest and pet it. "Ooh, smooth," she commented dreamily. "Hey, how come you don't have any chest hair? Angel didn't either. Is it a vampire thing? Like does it just all fall off when you get bit or something?"

Spike could barely concentrate on the nonsense the inebriated Slayer was spouting. His head was reeling too much from the sensation going through him from the touch of her hot palm lying against his cold flesh. Spike was gulping in shallow breaths of air, fighting to gain some composure. But Buffy was so close and the smell of whiskey was so strong he could almost taste it. He was getting drunk on it. He must be, because he was starting to feel a bit light-headed himself.

"Uh...pet," he said, his voice coming out strained and reedy. He really couldn't think when she was so close, when she was touching him. Spike lifted his hand and put it over Buffy's, meaning to pull hers away, but when Buffy raised her head and met his eyes, Spike found himself unable to move. She looked at him with such hunger in her eyes.

"You know, Faith–you might not think it to look at her, but she's pretty smart," Buffy said, breath heavy as her finger gently traced the defined slope of Spike's left pectoral.

"She gave me some good advice tonight. She told me if I wanted things to change then I should take matters into my own hands." She slowly slid her hand up and wrapped her arm around Spike's neck.

"What're you doing, love?" Spike asked.

"Want," Buffy murmured, stepping even closer to him, pressing herself into him."Take," she wrapped her other arm around him and raised herself up on her tiptoes, tilting her head up towards Spike. "Have," she said, completing the mantra and pulling Spike down to her, bringing his lips crashing down roughly on hers.

Buffy's mouth was hot on Spike's; the kiss sent fire coursing through his entire being. It had been such a long time since the vampire had felt so warm, and when his arms naturally encircled Buffy's waist and pulled her body flush against his, Spike thought he might burst into flames right there.

Spike had been wanting this for such a long time now, wanting Buffy. For so long he couldn't rightly remember a time when he hadn't wanted her. But no matter how much he had imagined kissing her, holding her, no matter how many times he had dreamed of this moment, nothing could compare to the reality. It was beyond perfect. There were no words in Spike's poet heart that could justly describe the sensation he was feeling at that moment.

It was everything he had ever hoped for and more.

Except for one thing.

It took every last ounce of strength that the vampire possessed, but he pulled his lips away from Buffy's. Both of them were left panting from the exertion of the kiss.

"W-what?" Buffy asked once she had managed to catch a little breath. "What's wrong?"

"This isn't right," Spike told her.

"It sure felt right to me," Buffy argued.

"Yeah, and you're drunk, pet. I'm sure you'll be feeling something quite differently in the morning. I can't take advantage of you, not like this. Not when you're not in a fit state to know what you want."

"But I do know what I want!" Buffy exclaimed. "I've wanted this for a long time now, and I'm just finally having the courage to admit it and do something about it." Buffy put her hand on Spike's cheek, her thumb grazing along the sharp edge of his cheekbone. "I want you, Spike," she said. "And I thought that you wanted me too."

"Oh god, you have no idea how much," Spike said, groaning.

"Then what's the problem?"

Spike thought about it. Okay, so maybe there was more than Buffy's being drunk that made this a less than perfect moment. One of those imperfections being down the hall.

"Oh," Buffy blurted suddenly. "Oh I get it. Of course, I know why you would be wiggy. Stupid Buffy," she cursed herself. "Because you don't know, 'cause I didn't tell you. And I'm really sorry I didn't—I should have. I was going to, but I was just afraid of what might happen. Or... I'm not really sure anymore why I didn't tell you as soon as Willow told me. I'm just so sorry. And I'm telling you now that, it's okay, everything is okay and you don't have to worry about it. Okay?"

Spike was so lost, he didn't even know where to start asking Buffy what the hell she was on about. He never got the chance to anyway, as Buffy was once again pulling him into a blistering kiss.

As Spike's lips met Buffy's every other thought flew out of his mind. It had taken everything in the vampire to pull away from her the first time and he didn't think he could do it again. He wrapped his arms tightly about Buffy, never wanting to let her go. And he likely wouldn't have, had it not been for the body slamming into him and knocking him onto the floor.

oOo

Angel couldn't sleep. It had been a long time since he had had the option of sleep. He thought maybe he had forgotten how. He laid down on his bed–well a bed–put his head on the pillow and shut his eyes, and therein was the problem. The horrible things he would see behind his lids took him right back to the hell he had escaped.

But as frightening as those memories were, they were nothing compared to the ones of the time not long ago when Angelus had been back in control. The things the demon in him had done. The pain he had caused to the few people Angel had been able to call friends. The things he had done to Buffy.

But the worst thing of all Angel saw when he closed his eyes was Buffy on the day she had killed him.

A sudden pain, hot and sharp, lanced through Angel's body, he felt like he was being ripped apart and stitched back together again. Once this coalescence had completed and he was again in one piece, whole, he was left dazed and confused, wondering where this missing part of him had been hiding all this time, and what had happened in its absence.

And then he saw her face and nothing else mattered because she was there, right in front of him. Angel wanted to reach out to her, to touch her, hold her, kiss her. As lost as he had felt without having his soul intact, not having Buffy with him had been the thing that really kept him from being complete. Without her, his soul meant nothing, because she was his soul mate.

Then, almost as suddenly as the joy of seeing his beloved had flooded him, it was cut away, as another stinging pain overwhelmed him. This time however, the pain wasn't all consuming, but localized to a specific part of his body.

Angel looked down at the sword that had been plunged into his stomach. He didn't understand. His eyes travelled up the blade to the hands gripping onto the hilt of the weapon. His lover's hands.

Disbelief welled inside Angel, accompanied with hurt and pain and betrayal, along with a myriad of other emotions. Most of all though, he was confused. He looked up into the eyes of the girl he loved and uttered the last word he would say for a very long time.

"Buffy?"

Angel shot up in the bed, his eyes popping open. His chest heaved with the unnecessary gulps of air he was taking. Drops of perspiration beaded on his forehead. Angel rubbed his hands roughly over his face, trying to erase the feelings the dream always left inside him. When he was awake he understood why Buffy had done what she had, that she'd didn't have a choice. But he hadn't known it at the time and he couldn't help the remnants of resentment that reliving the event brought back.

Angel loved Buffy and it wasn't fair of him to carry around any bitterness towards her, even in his dreams.

The vampire tossed the sheets that were now damp with his sweat off his body and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He got to his feet with the intention of going to the bathroom to splash cold water on his face, but the sound of voices coming from the foyer changed his course.

The cadence of Buffy's voice pulled him down the hall like a siren luring seamen to their doom. It washed away any of the ill thoughts the dream had brought on and filled Angel with nothing but love and longing. He wanted to go to her now and reveal himself and hold her in his arms once again, but he couldn't. Because when he got to the mouth of the hall and saw Buffy, she was already wrapped up in someone else's embrace.

Angel's blood boiled as he looked on at Spike holding Buffy, kissing her. The sight shattered any illusion Spike might have wanted to present that he was helping Angel out of kindness. As Angel had suspected from the beginning Spike had ulterior motives for keeping Angel's resurrection from Buffy. Spike wanted her all to himself. It was hardly a surprise to Angel that his childe would deceive him in such a way, and he had known that Spike had feeling for Buffy. What was shocking was the idea that Buffy could ever reciprocate any sort of affection for Spike.

It was incomprehensible to Angel. The idea of it so ludicrous, that despite what his eyes were telling him, he still couldn't believe it. Buffy would never be kissing Spike willingly.

Propelled by an intense rage, Angel sprang forward and tackled Spike away from Buffy.

"Keep your hands off her, you bastard!" Angel yelled, seething and almost blind with fury as he rained punches down on his childe's face.

Buffy stumbled back, taken off guard by the sudden attack, but as she regained some of her wits, anger bubbled up inside her. She clenched her fist and wheeled around, ready to put the hurt on whatever beastie it was that had interrupted her moment with Spike.

"Hey!" she shouted at the figure on top of Spike. Her vision blurred a bit as she lurched his way and grabbed him by what she guessed was a shoulder. "Get off of him!"

The attacker shrugged Buffy's hand away, and if she wasn't in the state she was in it wouldn't have made much of an impact, but as she was already shaky on her feet, even the slight shove sent her back on her ass.

At hearing Buffy's small yelp as she hit the ground, Angel was pulled out of his rage and stopped hitting Spike so he could turn and make sure the Slayer was all right.

"Oh god, Buffy," Angel murmured, feeling guilty for his mistake. He rushed over and knelt down beside her, reaching out his hand to her.

Buffy instantly swatted his hand away. "Don't you touch me, you stupid– " The insult died on Buffy's tongue as her vision began to focus and she recognised the pair of soft brown eyes that were looking at her, full of concern. She closed her eyes and shook her head. Slowly Buffy reopened her eyes. She couldn't believe it. How could this be happening? Her head swam, the alcohol in her stomach churning a storm, she felt dizzy and her breathing was shallow.

Buffy licked her lips—she could taste a trace of tobacco left behind by Spike's kiss—and swallowed down the bile crawling up her throat. After a moment, she finally recovered from the shock enough to speak, but barely. Her voice was no more than a whisper when she said, "Angel?"

TBC...


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