Title: TARA & SPIKE (1/1) by Bonnie

Author: Bonnie

Email: bondav40@yahoo.com

Rating: PG

Summary: After "As You Were". Tara & Spike bond when forced together. I like the pairing of sweet and spiritual Tara with wild and wolfish Spike.

Disclaimer: Based on characters not created by me.



A second explosion hit the decrepit building, shaking it to its foundations. Spike and Tara continued to run down the subterranean hall as it collapsed behind them. They had been separated from the rest of the gang in the swirl of dust and debris from the first explosion, and had headed for the only space they could find. Tara began to lag, and Spike grabbed her arm and dragged her relentlessly along until they dead-ended into an open chamber and could run no further.

The last of the tunnel collapsed right up to and filling the doorway. The pair was trapped in a small, lightless underground room with apparently no way out.

*************

This latest Scoobie misadventure had begun with the arrival in Sunnydale of a particularly powerful and ancient entity which had taken up residence in an abandoned mansion. From this headquarters, the creature had begun its work of systematically gathering the heads of as many residents as its minions could capture. It just liked head!

Buffy had mapped out a battle plan against the fiend which required the help of all her friends and....acquaintances. She had sent Willow to enlist Spike's aid and Xander to ask Tara for magical assistance, while Anya helped Buffy gather and check the weapons. So on an early Sunday afternoon the gang had marched into the stronghold of their foe and done courageous battle. Which had worked really well for them until Xander tripped a booby trap that started the series of explosions.

And so Spike and Tara found themselves caged, Tara choking on the dust that filled the room. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a crystal. "Light," she croaked, and the crystal sent a warm glow arching through the chamber. They could instantly see there were no windows or doors, only the rubble filled entrance that sealed them in.

"This...is bad," Spike stated unnecessarily. He climbed the slide of debris to check if there were any chinks at the top to indicate that something other than more of the same was on the other side. He sensed no whiff of fresh air, however, and resigned himself to the idea of a long, hard dig. Glancing at his still-coughing companion, the vampire decided she was going to be of little help. Likely the lack of oxygen would overcome her before too long. He just hoped he could reach surface before that happened cause it would be difficult to refuse the tasty treat she offered, and Buffy wouldn't reward him if she found her friend drained. He wondered if the Slayer and the rest of them had made it to safety or were crushed under wreckage and the fear made him begin to dig with abandon.

Tara, meanwhile, picked up her lighted crystal and began a slow and thorough examination of their prison, looking from floor to ceiling with great care as though a secret passage might suddenly open up in the wall. She ran her hand over the stone as high up as she could reach, but found no weakening anywhere. Sighing, she placed the light carefully on the floor, as far away from Spike's wildly hurled flotsam as possible and went to help him with the excavation.

Just then he dropped down off the pile to stand near her, as he struggled out of his coat and hurled it to the floor.

"Find anything?" he asked. She shook her head. "Want to dig, then?" She nodded. "Don't talk much, do you?" She shrugged and a wisp of a smile flickered across her face, then she went over to the wreckage and began tugging at a beam.

"Are you afraid of me?" Spike looked enquiringly at the sad –eyed girl, who appeared to be staying as far from him as possible while still working on the same project. He had rarely spoken to Tara, had indeed never given a second thought to Willow's paramour except in her relationship to Buffy. His general opinion of her was that she was a sweet, quiet girl who held no interest for him whatsoever. He had dismissed her presence since it didn't impact on him.

"No!" she spoke too abruptly. "N-no. Not at all." The stammer and shifting eyes told a different story.

"Well, for God's sake, I'm not going to bite you, you know," Spike said with some irritation, unaware that his intimidating scowl wasn't building the witch's confidence.

"I...I know." Tara gave up on the beam and started carrying smaller pieces of rubbish to the other side of the room. Spike followed her.

"What then?" It bothered him that she was so skittish for no good reason. "Have I ever done anything to you or your girlfriend?"

"Well...Willow did say you k-kidnapped her once, and....there was the time you attacked her in her dorm room. I mean, if you hadn't had that chip in your head......So, yeah, I would say you make me a little nervous." Tara carefully placed the hunk of stone on the floor.

"Fine. I admit it. I have a bit of a reputation – but that's in the past. Have I done anything to any of your friends since you've known them?

Tara silently shook her head still not meeting his eyes.

"I'm not by nature a violent person," he added. "Oh all right, yes I am, but I wouldn't hurt any of Buffy's friends."

"Because you love her," Tara said softly, glancing up.

"Well, yeah. I think that's pretty general knowledge by now," Spike said peevishly.

"But she doesn't love you."

"Thank you for pointing that out."

"D-do you ever think... ," the girl turned nervously away again, "..never mind."

"What? Do I ever think, what?" He took a step toward her and she sidled away, back to the wreckage. Again he trailed along behind. "Come on. You're the earth mother in the group, right? So give me your wisdom."

Tara turned to face him again. "I'm what?"

"Well, sure, you're the person everyone wants to confide in when they have a problem. 'Cause you keep your mouth shut and listen. All the others love to hear themselves talk too much."

Tara shook her head. "Oh, I don't think I'm...."

"Trust me. You're the mother figure. So spill. What should I do? Or not do?"

"Well," the young woman chose her words carefully, "Everyone keeps telling you you're no good for Buffy, that you don't deserve her. Have you ever considered maybe she's no good for you? She's just hurting you over and over. Even watching from the outside like I am, I can see that. You can find someone who would truly love you, Spike. Don't you think you deserve it?"

He stared at her, amazed by her earnest words, the most he had ever heard come out of her mouth at one time. Then he broke the moment with a cocky grin and offhand comment, "Ah, but I always want what's bad for me. Moth to the flame and all that."

"So you torture yourself with the unattainable?"

"Not necessarily us unattainable as you might think."

"Just because you have s-sex with her doesn't mean you've won her." Tara put a hand out toward him, resting it lightly on his arm, "It's only going to get worse."

"Enough bloody advice," Spike frowned, shook her hand off, and whirled around to begin digging at the rubble again. He removed several heavy chunks and cast them across the room in a fury. "Besides, what makes you the bloody expert? I don't see you having such a good time of it with your gal pal lately."

He looked up at her silence, and instantly regretted his harsh words as her lips trembled and eyes reddened. Just what he needed, a crying female! He sighed, and, crossing to her, patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. "There, there. I didn't mean it. You two will work everything out. You're meant to be together."

"Are we? I don't know anymore. I love Willow, but...." Tara began crying in earnest and Spike had no choice but to wrap his arms around her and pull her into a big hug.

"It'll be fine! You just have to have some patience with her. Little girl, you have no idea how seductive the dark powers can be, and someone like you - you never will understand."

She pulled away, scrubbing at her eyes with her sleeve. "I don't know why you think I'm so...so innocent," she said, almost angrily for Tara. "Just because I don't like confrontation and I'm not aggressive doesn't mean I don't have bad thoughts and feelings like everyone. I just keep them to myself."

Spike put up his hands, "Whoa! Truce. You win. You're the Big Bad Tara. All hail your evilness."

He grinned at her and, despite herself, she smiled back. He was such an outrageous tease.

"Let's dig our way out of here, okay?" she said, still smiling. They worked side by side at the pile of rubble for the next half hour, using his strength and her magic to lift about half the pile away from the opening.

"I have to rest," Tara finally admitted, sweat dripping from her forehead and a grimace of pain indicating her throbbing headache.

"Go ahead," Spike tirelessly continued tearing away the barrier between them and freedom, then noticed the girl was sitting and shivering despite her perspiration. He stopped, picked up his duster, and pulled it snugly around her shoulders. "The magic really takes it out of you, doesn't it?" he asked and she nodded.

"I'm not really a natural like Willow."

"Hey, you kept our light going this whole time, didn't you?" he indicated the little crystal, which was still valiantly casting its glow throughout the chamber. Just then it dimmed and went out leaving them in pitch blackness.

"Oh!" she gasped.

"Well...Guess I should've kept my mouth shut."

"I'm sorry. I couldn't hold my concentration any more."

"That's okay. I see just fine in the dark," he reassured her. He tripped, slid on some rubble, and sat down hard next to the Wiccan. "Holy fuck!" he cursed, sucking at his skinned and bloodied hand.

"Are you all right?" she reached out blindly, poking him in the eye. He seized her wrist and pulled her hand away from his face roughly enough to make her gasp, but quickly calmed her fears by patting the back of her hand and laying it to rest on her lap.

"Better just keep your hands to yourself, luv," he cautioned, rubbing blood from his scraped hand into his injured eye and yelping at the sting.

"Sorry," she mumbled. "I'll try to make light again."

"Naw. You better give your head a little rest first. I could use a break myself, then we'll both get back to it."

Tara sighed and closed her eyes against the blackness that felt as if it were pressing down on her with a palpable weight. Pitch black was really, really black, she thought. She began to feel short of breath and panicky, sure signs of claustrophobia, and wondered what would happen if she went berserk and started throwing herself at the walls or something. Beside her, Spike heard the girl's heightened breathing and smelled her fear. He attempted to distract Tara with a conversational gambit.

"So.....how's the lesbian thing working out for you, then?"

"Excuse me?"

"I just wondered. Not knowing any of your kind before. Is it good for you? Are you satisfied in every way?"

"Uh, yes. It's fine....I'm....fine. (pause) Thank you for asking."

"Did you always like girls?"

"Yes. Well...I did have a crush on Michael Jackson when I was about 10, but he's almost like a girl so I don't know if that counts."

"Hm. Never had a hankering to see what you were missing?"

"Not really. I'm just pretty much attracted to women."

"How many lovers have you had?" Tara didn't respond at first. "Come on, tell Uncle Spike. It'll pass the time."

"Well, I had a special friend back in high school, but that didn't go much beyond a little kissing. My first real girlfriend was when I was 19. It didn't last. And now, Willow."

"So, what kinds of things do you birds do together?"

"I really don't want to talk about this," Tara shifted uncomfortably and Spike grinned to himself in the dark.

"All right then. Your turn. Ask me anything. I'm game."

Tara considered the many questions about vampires she had and started with the simplest. "Why do you smoke if you don't breathe?"

"Just something to do with my hands. And I do get a nicotine fix."

"How? If your heart's not pumping and lungs aren't working, how would your blood circulate? It really doesn't make a lot of sense."

"Vampires are a mystery," Spike answered enigmatically. "It's a state of being. Don't try to make too much sense of it."

Tara changed tactics. "I know you were changed by that Drusilla, and I've wondered....why you agreed to it. In the moment it was happening did you change your mind? Did you really understand what was going to happen to you or what you would become?"

"That's more than one question. Anyway, it's my turn again."

"But you haven't answered anything," Tara protested.

"Yes I have, the smoking thing. Now you – what was your family life like growing up?"

"I was kind of a black sheep. An embarrassment." Tara admitted.

"What? A good little girl like you?"

"You've seen my d-dad. Remember? The time you hit me in the face?"

"Mm-hm. As I recall, he said you were a demon."

"He's very religious, and I just never fit into his expectations. No matter what I did, it was never right or good enough..." she trailed off sadly.

"But you found your own way. It all worked out, right? So cheer up." He reached through the dark and, finding her hand, clasped it firmly. "You want to know a secret? I was a bit of a misfit myself in my human life. Shy, like you, and kind of a dreamer."

"You?!" Tara tried to imagine the confident, swaggering vamp as a bookish youth and could not manage it. "What happened?"

"Drusilla happened," he said dryly. "Handed me the world on a platter, she did, and I took a big bloody bite out of it."

The images of death and carnage that statement conjured up caused Tara to withdraw her hand from his comforting grip. "Don't you...don't you ever feel guilt or remorse for all the pain you've caused people?" she asked and sensed his shrug.

"I don't know. I never really thought about it 'til recently. I just walked through life taking what I pleased. It's a vampire's nature. You don't hate a leopard for bringing down a water buffalo now do you?" he paused, then spoke almost to himself. "But lately....Maybe I really am changing like I told her."

Tara didn't need to ask who "her" was. Spike sighed, then tried to shake off the gloomy mood they had cast around themselves with another devilish question.

"My turn. What's the hottest thing you and Red have ever done? And where?"

"I'm not going to answer any of your sex questions, Spike. Stop it!" Tara said, irritatedly.

"Aw come on," he begged, inching nearer to her in the dark. "You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."

"I don't want to know! I don't want to hear about your sex life. Maybe we should just get back to digging."

"Suit yourself," Spike agreed, reluctantly. " You're right. No time to waste."

As the Wiccan conjured light from the crystal again, he leaped up and began ferociously tearing at the rubble again. He glanced at the exhausted- looking girl over one shoulder. "Look. You just concentrate on keeping the light going, I'll work on this." Tara nodded, too tired suddenly to argue. She was beginning to feel light-headed from lack of oxygen and thirst.

The girl lay on her side, an arm tucked under her head, watching the blond vamp work tirelessly at freeing them. His movements were fluidly graceful and the muscles rippled under the skin of his back and arms. Why bother to remove your shirt if you can't sweat, she wondered idly, but decided the view was worth it. He was such a purely sexual creature, it suddenly didn't seem to matter that Tara preferred females, her pulse was responding to the sight of him anyway.

In this dreamy state, the witch drifted off to sleep, allowing the crystal to go dark, while Spike worked doggedly on.

Much later, Tara was roused from her sleep by his body dropping down next to her. "Gotta take a break," he muttered.

She woke more fully. "I'm sorry. I let the light go out again!"

"No problem."

There was silence for a few minutes, then Tara spoke again, tremulously, "We're not going to make it out of here, are we?"

"Oh, eventually. Don't worry."

"The oxygen is going. I'll die here," she stated flatly.

"Hey. Hey, don't talk like that. It's going to be okay." Spike moved the length of his body next to her and pulled her into a tight embrace. He smoothed her hair while she wept into his chest. "No tears," he chided, "You'll deplete your water supply." His low chuckle rumbled against her ear. Tara's sniffles trailed off and she lay quietly in his arms, thinking how different it was to be held against the hard chest of a man. Different, but not entirely unpleasant.

"Spike?"

"Hm?"

"If it comes down to it and I die, you have my blessing to use my blood to keep your strength up until you get out of here."

"What?! Don't say that!!! Don't you make me an offer like that!" he said, angrily.

"No really. It's okay. I won't be needing it anymore so somebody should make use of it," she said, lightly.

"That is nothing to joke about," he insisted. "Do you know how tempting it is for me to even think of that? I haven't had human blood since....I don't know when. But I never stop craving it. When I'm around all of you, I can practically feel it pulsing through your veins, and I smell it all the time. I'm always hungry. But I know it's not allowed now. Not if I ever want to win Buffy's respect. So don't offer me that gift."

"I'm sorry," Tara said. "I didn't think of it like that."

"Anyway, I'm going to get you out of here before you run out of air. Just give me a minute and I'll be right back on it. We'll be out of here in time for your breakfast."

The pair fell silent again for awhile, each lost in their own reflections. Spike's hand rubbing up and down her back was so comforting Tara began to drift off. The vampire's wistful voice suddenly pulled her back from the edge of sleep.

"That Willow really cherishes you," he said thoughtfully. "You should kiss and make up. You don't know how lucky you are to have someone love you like that."

"Yes, I do," Tara replied. "And I will. If – when -we get out of here."

They lay together in companionable silence a little longer.

"And you should think about what I said," Tara ventured. "Don't wait for Buffy forever. Don't put your life on hold."

"Well, technically, I'm dead, so…."

"No jokes, Spike. This is good motherly advice I'm giving you," she scolded.

"We'll see," he said, noncommitally, "I've got nothing but time so it doesn't bother me to let it play out for awhile."

He unwrapped his arms from around Tara and sat up. "Well, better get back to work." Then he paused, head cocked and listening. "Do you hear something?"

Tara sat up, too. She strained to hear and finally thought she could detect a scrabbling sound coming from the general direction of the rubble. "Yes."

The pair clambered blindly up the pile and began shouting and digging. In answer they heard a muffled shout from somewhere above and a renewed sound of excavation.

"They found us. They found us," Tara chanted, tears of relief coursing down her face.

Twenty minutes of frenzied digging on both sides brought them to the point of a breakthrough. Chinks of light pierced the rubble and their friends' voices floated down to them.

"Get out of my way, Xander!" (Buffy)

"Move back, Buff, we're gonna cave through right on top of them if you're not more careful." (Xander)

"I think you two need to dig more to the left." (Anya)

"Tara, are you down there? Are you all right?" (Willow)

"Helloooo! We're here!!!" Tara called back.

"Is Spike with you?" Buffy asked.

"Yes. We're both here!" Tara answered.

"Well, you'd better move out of the way." Anya's voice was suddenly close. "These two are coming through with picks and shovels."

Spike and Tara scrambled away from the opening and watched the area of light grow wider as more wreckage was pulled away. Spike pulled back into the gloom, away from the expanding daylight. Tara, who couldn't wipe the happy grin off her face, went to stand by him. He reached over and gave her hand a squeeze.

"Mind what I told you about your girl. Make things right with her."

Tara nodded. "And you remember what I said. Don't let yourself be a doormat. I'm an expert on that."

Spike shrugged and stayed silent.

Just then, in a shower of dust and stone, Xander and Buffy broke through the barrier. Buffy was the first to lower herself down through the hole they had created, and, when her eyes had adjusted to the dim light, was amazed by the unlikely spectacle of Spike and Tara hand in hand like a pair of schoolchildren.

"Out of the way, Xander," Willow's voice could be heard, and the redhead quickly came sliding down the rubble. She picked herself up and flung herself into Tara's arms, crooning endearments and apologies, and expressing all her fears. Tara responded with all the love in her heart.

Spike stepped farther back into the shadows, shaking dust and dirt from himself like a dog shedding water. He watched the witches' blissful reunion with a satisfied smile as he fished a crumpled cigarette pack from his pocket and pulled out a butt.

"Got a match, luv?" Spike raised an eyebrow and Buffy shook her head.

"Is that all you can think about at a time like this? We were all scared to death. Tara could have died down here! Do you even realize that?"

"What? Did you have some trouble finding us?" he asked, innocently.

Xander called down to them all, "Hey, can you finish the reunion up here?

Willow added to Tara, "You must be so thirsty and hungry. Let's get you home, baby."

Tara nodded and, holding her beloved's hand, began to follow her toward the opening. Then she stopped. "Just a minute, sweetie." Turning, she walked over to Spike and enveloped him in a big bear hug. "Thanks for everything," she whispered in his ear. "And for the good advice."

"Same to you, pet. Guess I don't scare you any more, eh?" he pulled back to look at her.

Tara just smiled and gave him a quick, soft kiss on the lips. Both Buffy and Willow were round-eyed as Tara grabbed Willow's hand again and pulled her toward the light.

"What was that about?!" Buffy demanded, as she watched the two Wiccan girls crawl out of the pit.

"I don't kiss and tell. None of your business," Spike responded. He picked his duster up, shook it out, and tossed it around his shoulders. Then he found himself a spot in the darkest corner of the room and settled down to sleep.

"What are you doing?" Buffy began to call him on it, then remembered the daylight. "Oh. Right."

"Yeah. I'm stuck here a little longer." Spike closed his eyes, dismissing her. Buffy stood, scuffing her foot in the dirt.

"Are you coming?" Xander called.

"Just a minute," she snapped then addressed Spike uncertainly. "Well, thanks for all your help in the fight and for taking care of Tara."

"Mm-hm." He rolled over on his side, away from her.

"I guess I'll see you later then."

"Right."

"Bye."

Silence.

"Do you want me to bring you anything?"

"You could toss down a lighter if you're going past."

"Sure. I can do that. (pause) Well, see ya."

"For crying out loud, Buff, hurry up!" Xander called again. Buffy began to clamber up the pile of rubble toward the opening, glancing back once at the dust streaked figure curled up in the corner of the room. She emerged into the brilliance of a summer day, the whole building having collapsed completely.

As Buffy stood, blinking against the bright light, she saw her friends each paired inextricably with a partner: Willow and Tara, kissing and laughing, Xander and Anya, perpetually arguing. And then there was herself, always choosing to be alone...and for what? She looked back down at the pit from which she had climbed. If she walked away now, it would prove to him she meant her words. Over meant over and nothing would induce her so start up the wild sex-capades again.

But on the other hand, wasn't there a spark of friendship between them? He didn't deserve to be left behind like that, alone and friendless in a dark hole. She looked back at the Scoobies, who were already starting to walk away.

"Buffy, you coming?" Willow turned inquiringly.

"Uh. I think I'll just wait here with Spike 'til dark. I think we owe him that,' she answered.

"He's a big boy. I'm sure he doesn't need someone to hold his hand," Xander argued.

"Xander, be quiet," Tara spoke so authoritatively that everyone stopped a moment in surprise. "Come on. I'm tired. Let's go home." They trailed after her in silence.

**************

Spike looked up at the crunching of debris, to see Buffy's feet then the rest of her pert little body descend into the room. She was backlit by a golden glow that gave the impression of an angel arriving from above. An angel with dust in her hair, a grimy face and filthy clothes. He sat up, eager to see what this development meant.

"You forget something?" he drawled.

"I just thought you might like someone to wait with you," she said, plopping down next to him, and finger combing the grit from her hair. She held up a hand warningly. "No sex, though!"

He nodded and reached for her hand. "Just a little hand holding?" he haggled.

"And maybe a little snuggling," she agreed, leaning up against him.

He pulled her more firmly into his arms and buried his face in her hair, relishing the aroma of dirty, sweaty Buffy.

"Mmm. Nice." he rumbled.

Yes, it was nice, she mentally agreed, closing her eyes and relaxing. After a bit, a thought occurred and she nudged him with her elbow. "Hey, what all happened while you and Tara were stuck in here?"

"Just bonding between friends," he answered, and with that she had to be content.



END