She went to his crypt the moment her last class of the afternoon was over the next day, eager to see how he was. The crypt was empty, the ancient TV set cold. She frowned. Surely he would not have healed that fast, to be able to go out already. Then she remembered what he had said about a downstairs. She went searching for it and found the trapdoor at the back of the crypt.
Yellow lamplight came up when she opened the trap. There was a ladder leading down. She went down a couple of rungs and ducked her head beneath the concrete of the ground floor to take a look around.
He had made it surprisingly cozy down there. There was a big bed, rich rugs, candles, books. Very lush and sensual.
'Try not to think that, Buffy,' she told herself and went the rest of the way down the ladder, then hesitantly over to the bed.
He was there, starfished on the bed, his arms and legs flung out, fast asleep. The half-kicked-off top sheet only covered one leg and his groin. He was clearly naked under it. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart started to race. God, he was beautiful! All sculptured muscle and silken skin. She wanted to run her hands all over him, wanted to feel him against her. She bit her lip hard, trying to keep herself from just plain jumping his bones.
The gauze was gone from his chest and so were the butterfly bandages. She saw them lying a few feet from the bed where he had obviously thrown them after ripping them off. She leaned over him, peering at his chest. With surprise, she saw that the only evidence of the gashes he had suffered were four thin white lines, and even those were starting to fade.
Slayer blood and vampire healing. She smiled in triumph, tracing the lines with her fingertips a couple of inches from his flesh. She didn't dare actually touch him. If she touched him with even a fingertip, she wouldn't be able to stop touching him.
She looked down again at all that gorgeous male nakedness, then summoned up all her willpower and turned away.
Then gasped as his hand whipped out and caught her wrist.
"See anything you like?"
"Spike! God, you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
He smiled up at her, his eyes amused and very blue. "It's starting to become a recurring fantasy of mine, waking up naked and finding you beside my bed."
"I...I just came to see how you were."
He brushed his free hand across the scars. "All healed up. Powerful stuff, Slayer's blood."
"You took the bandages off."
"Didn't need them and the cuts started to itch as they healed."
She reached out and daringly ran her fingertips delicately along the fading white lines, feeling his flesh cool and oh so tempting against her skin. "Does it hurt?"
"Not at all."
She started to turn away, but his grip on her wrist pulled her back.
Her breath shook in her open mouth. "What?"
"Buffy. Stay." The blue of his eyes was darkening, growing intense. "You know you want to."
She did. She caught her breath in wretched indecision, knowing that if she took this step it would change everything, that they would never be able to go back to what they were. Her heart was racing in her chest, pounding so hard that it hurt. Then she realized that she didn't want to go back to what they were.
He pulled at her wrist suddenly and she lost her balance and fell onto the bed beside him. He rolled over and his torso was over hers, all that cool, hard muscle pressing her down into the mattress.
"We could be so good together," he whispered. His lips brushed hers lightly, the barest touch, but making her intensely aware of the cave of his open mouth. "I could make you feel so good. Let me show you."
She didn't have to be shown. She knew he could. She felt the hard muscles of his chest against her breasts and her breath caught and her body heated under his. He wasn't constraining her in any way. His hand had left her wrist and his weight was on his forearms on either side of her. She could push him away if she wanted to. She didn't want to.
He bent his head and his open mouth brushed hers again, coaxing, and his tongue ran the line of her lips so smoothly, so sweetly, that her lips parted without a thought. And, oh God, the way he kissed, the long slides of that wicked, knowledgeable tongue against hers, taking possession of every corner of her mouth. No one kissed like Spike, so intensely, so urgently, with his whole body and his whole concentration, as if nothing in the world existed but her. He kissed her and kissed her, his mouth so eloquent with everything that he was feeling, his hands tangled in her hair, whispering endearments between kisses.
"Buffy," he whispered. "Let me make love to you."
She had no breath, but she didn't need breath. All she needed was his mouth twisting on hers and the taste of his tongue and the little sounds he was making in the back of his throat and the feel of his torso heavy upon hers. The world spun away. There was only him and the way he felt against her. All her senses focused on that lean body under her hands. She couldn't even feel the bed beneath her; she was only aware of his skin silken under her stroking fingers, the sculptured muscles of his chest and ripped abs and strong arms vibrant against her. He was so fine, his body vibrating against hers, so vital and vivid.
"I love you," he was muttering almost beneath his breath, his words a vibration against her sensitized mouth, tender from his kisses. "God, I love you so much."
She was trembling in deep, helpless shudders. "I..."
He raised his head and looked down at her. His face was tense with passion, but there was a warmth and tenderness in his eyes that stopped her heart.
"Not there yet? Doesn't matter. Do you want me, Buffy?"
"Yes," she whispered. "God, yes. I want you."
"The rest will come then. Don't let it weigh on you. I can wait."
He would take anything that she chose to give him. If she chose to give him nothing, he would accept that too. She saw in him suddenly the patience and the gentleness he had given Drusilla for over a hundred years. He had so much more courage than she did, she realized. He threw himself headlong into everything he did, holding nothing back. She was like that physically, but emotionally she held back, afraid to risk the pain. He never did. He always risked everything, risked the pain and bore it stoically if it came. He was more than she was.
"Only, don't blow hot and cold," he said with sudden sternness. "Don't change your mind and throw everything back in my face and go running out of here tomorrow, saying this is all a mistake. I love you, Buffy. But I won't be your lapdog, desperate for any crumb. Either you're with me or you're not. Your choice."
She had seen what they could be together. Lovers, partners, the dearest of friends. Equals. He would always be there for her. He would never let her down. She was suddenly determined that, whatever happened, she would not let him down either.
"I'm with you," she whispered. "I'm not afraid any longer, Spike. After all this time, I've finally learned how to dance."
His breath caught and his eyes went incandescent with joy. Then his head came down and he was kissing her again, his hands tangled in her hair, muttering, "Buffy, Buffy," between kisses, his mouth devouring hers. She clung to him, losing herself in the taste of him, her hands sliding over his body, the hard muscles of his chest and stomach, the sharpness of his shoulderblades, the strong flexing muscles of his back.
"Too many clothes," she muttered. She wanted to be as naked as he was, wanted to feel his skin against hers.
She started to tug at her shirt, but he intercepted her, slipping the buttons loose one by one, licking every inch of her flesh as it became exposed, sliding her shirt and then her bra away so smoothly that she wasn't even aware of their disappearance.
Then his hands were on her breasts and then his lips, suckling on her nipple, pressing it against the roof of his mouth. She was making helpless, inarticulate sounds in her throat, her hands clenching on his head, holding his mouth to her breast.
"God, you're beautiful," he muttered.
"Want you," she whispered and felt the deep, racking shudder go through him with the words. He was shuddering continuously now and so was she, so turned on that it was painful.
He twisted around to cover her with his body. "Oh, yes," she sighed as his weight came full on her.
The length of his body was pressed against the length of hers, carven chest and hard stomach and narrow hips. But it wasn't enough. She wanted more, more. She writhed against him, her hands clawing down his back, dragging his hips against her, rubbing herself against his erection rock hard between her thighs. He made an anguished, helpless sound in his throat.
"Damn jeans," she growled, angry at them for being in the way, and tried desperately to push them off, her hasty struggles getting her nowhere.
He laughed breathlessly against the hollow of her throat. "Let me, Slayer. Just lie back."
His mouth was sliding down her ribcage to her belt buckle. He worked her jeans off smoothly, taking her thong with them. His lips slid down her thigh as he did so and she fell helplessly back on the bed, weak with desire. Then his mouth was nibbling back up the inside of her thigh, driving her insane, the little sharp pinpricks of his fangs hopelessly erotic so that she writhed and twisted desperately under him.
"Oh, God, Spike! Come on!"
"What's the hurry, Slayer?" His mouth and hands were moving over her pelvis, her stomach, her ribcage, her breasts, caressing every inch of her, stretching it out unbearably.
"Oh, God, you're gonna kill me!"
Her brain had stopped functioning, and her body was thrashing wildly, uncontrollably, under the sweet cruelty of what he was doing to her.
His forearms settled on either side of her shoulders and his body rubbed sinuously the length of hers, pressing down hard and demandingly. She moaned and her body arched involuntarily to his, thighs lifting to grip his waist. His hips settled to hers and he made that little, side-to-side wriggle that she found so touching, nestling his hips into hers.
Her thighs gripped his hips and she rubbed against his erection insistently, moved against him urgently, raking his smooth back and shoulders and biceps with her hands, kneading his flesh. She bit his shoulder involuntarily, and his whole body jerked and he groaned aloud. Bites to a vampire. She bit him again deliberately, his shoulders and his throat and his nipples, everywhere that she could reach, felt the racking shudders that went through him, clawed her nails down his back.
"Want you in me now, Spike!"
And finally, finally, he was thrusting into her. And all she could think was: he's inside me, he's inside me!
And it was utter perfection. He filled her so completely, stretching her to the limit, thick and hard, almost too much, so right, no one had ever been so right for her as he was, thrusting into her in long, deep strokes that went as far as he could go and then just that little bit farther so that she moaned helplessly in absolute completion, his hips twisting at the end of every stroke so that he hit every sweet spot in her body.
"God, the way you feel, Buffy! God, you're so tight..."
His head flung back and, through fluttering eyelashes, she saw his throat work as he groaned in rapture at the resistance of the tight Slayer muscles of her sheath.
"Oh, God, yes!" she gasped, arching against him, writhing uncontrollably under him. "More. God, Spike, more! Harder...!"
"Oh, my girl," he gasped. "That's it, take me, take all of me..."
They strained against each other, hips battling. Through flashes of dazed sight as her eyelids fluttered open and closed again, she saw him above her, his eyes closed in an agony of pleasure so intense that it bordered on pain, the cords of his neck standing out, lips parted, jaw clenched with effort.
He was ramming into her with all his strength now, driving her closer and closer to the edge, and it was too much, too intense, unendurably wonderful.
"Oh, yes," she muttered, unable to keep delirious, wordless, inarticulate moans of utter delight from spilling from her throat. "Oh, yes."
His forehead dropped to hers and she saw his face more naked than his body, saw that look in his eyes, that look that said she was the center of his universe, that she was amazing and beautiful and powerful and precious, that she was cherished, that she was loved. Saw that absolute, unconditional love and adoration and tenderness in his eyes. And that look sent her spiraling over the edge, splintering into a million fragments of insupportable joy.
"Love you," she whispered and felt his body seize up and his cock pulse within her and a groan of unbearable pleasure tear from his throat.
His whole weight came down on her and she sighed with satisfaction, holding him as he panted into her shoulder. After a moment, he raised his head and stared at her in awe and disbelief.
"What did you say? What...what did you say?"
"Love you," she repeated and kissed his astonished mouth.
"But before...you didn't..."
She wrapped her arms around his head and sighed against his cheek. "I meant to say it then, but I lost my nerve."
"When did you...?"
"I think I started realizing it when I learned you had slept with the other Buffy. I was...so angry and upset and hurt. I was jealous. You're mine!"
"Always yours," he whispered. "Till I'm dust. You own me."
"And I'm yours."
"Buffy, do you mean it?" His eyes were helpless, so vulnerable that she caught him to her and kissed him fiercely.
"Yes. Always wanted you, y'know..."
"Yes. You said it yourself once. 'You know you wanna dance.' And I did. But I wouldn't admit it. A Slayer with a vampire? I thought it was wrong. Until I got thrown forward in time and saw what we were in the future. It wasn't wrong. It was right. Absolutely right. That Buffy had no problems with it. And that Buffy was happy."
"Best spell that was ever cast," he muttered.
"And then when that Chiriwan...I was so scared...I thought you...I was terrified. That's when I knew what I really felt about you."
He caught her shoulders and dropped his face between her breasts, burrowing there, replete and spent, breathing in her scent. "God, this is unbelievable. Everything I ever wanted."
She caught sight of the ring on his left hand, asked what she had been wondering about ever since she came back. "Why did she give you that ring?"
He smiled into her skin. "You are jealous."
She thumped his shoulder lightly with her clenched fist. "Answer the question."
He raised his head and looked down at the ring on his finger. "It was a promise. That one day you would say what you just did. That you love me."
"Oh." It was a long sound of complete understanding, everything falling into place, finally accepting what Tara had said. "She isn't 'she', is she? She's me."
They looked at each other, smiling. Then he drew the ring off his finger and started to lay it on the night table. She stopped him and held out her hand. He lifted a brow, then dropped it into her palm. She picked it up and slid it onto the middle finger of her right hand. He let out a little breath.
"That's the finger she...you...took it from."
"Figures. That vengeance demon really has everything neatly wrapped up."
Spike sat up abruptly. "What?"
"Didn't you know? It was a vengeance demon that cast the spell. Future Tara confirmed it."
Spike had a panicky look on his face. "Buffy..."
Buffy's mouth fell open. "Oh, God, it was you, wasn't it? It was you who made the wish!"
She jerked upright and grabbed his shoulders. "What did you wish for? Oh, God, Spike! Don't tell me you wished I'd fall in love with you! Because if what I feel is just a spell..."
"No! No! I wouldn't want it that way either! That all of this should just be a spell, that it wouldn't be real. Couldn't bear it if it wasn't real."
"Then what did you wish for?"
"I just wished you could see how good we could be together."
They stared at each other blankly for a moment, then slowly began to smile.
"Well, I did," said Buffy wryly, then laughed. "One of your better ideas."
He nodded, tongue curling behind his teeth. "Worked better than I ever dreamed."
They fell into each other's arms.
It wasn't the crypt any longer. Between one step and another, her surroundings changed to her living room in Revello Drive.
Buffy lost her balance and fell against the wall. Spike was at the front door, apparently just leaving. The thud made him swing around and brought him racing back.
He grabbed her shoulders to hold her upright. "Slayer, are you all right?"
She caught at his duster. "You're still here! You didn't dust!"
"Why should I dust? There's no...Buffy?" His eyes widened as he met her gaze. "My Buffy!"
"Oh, yes. Your Buffy."
Their arms swept around each other.
"It's weird having two sets of memories," Buffy remarked a little later. "Think one of them will fade after a while?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. Doesn't matter." Spike stroked her hair back from her face, sifting it through his fingers. "All that matters is that you're back here with me and that you're my Buffy."
"And that you're not dust." Buffy wrapped her arms about his neck and held him fiercely close. "I was so scared. I couldn't have borne it if I'd lost you."
"Only needed the slightest hope, pet. Just a crumb." His eyes blazed down at her, incandescent blue flame, completely adoring. "Wouldn't give up this dance of ours if even the tiniest grain of hope remained."
She nodded, sighed deeply with relief and satisfaction. "This is perfection."
"That's why it had to end up this way, pet. The two of us, we never can settle for half-measures. Hating or loving, we'd still end up always and forever treading the steps of this dance."