Offers You Can't Refuse

By Sweetprincipale

Late S. 3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by the corrupt Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? If the motivation is right, Spike will do anything to help the woman he loves.

Author's Note: Smut warning! Also a little blood, but in a meaningful way, not in a carnal way. Not exactly carnal that is. The point is, it's relevant. Oh, heck. Standard author's warning- Smut warning! Skim if you gotta.

Author's Second Note: For those of you who were demanding answers and expressing confusion- this chapter offers some illumination, more to follow.

Dedicated to: Skeezixx, Jewel74, The Three March Hares, Ginar369, Alexiarrose, Sirius120, micmoc, Alottalove, Embers and Flames, Haleycc Omslagspapper, Rosalea12, SushiBar, Touch the Dark, ValidescopeWest, Rachel, Cavementftw, ammuna, Cantanatova, marty powell, Sanity Fair, Hbmckidd, DragonMouse,Seapea, Blade Redwind, Maire Ailbhe, Illusera, ShyL, Illusera, NausicA, Kerry220, ry123red, mike13z50, Lyzzybelle, and PeaceHeather.

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

Part XIX

Day Eighteen (Pacific time)...

"We should move, huh?" Buffy was enjoying just sitting near him, or rather, halfway on him.

"I know. We'll do the wash, get the door put back on, and figure out someplace else to go. Don't think we can fly, so it'll have to be -" Spike regretfully slide his arm from under her shoulders.

"I meant move as in 'get up'. 'Cause we've been vegging and we have stuff to do." Buffy got off the couch and frowned.

He frowned as well. "All well and good, but after we get this place back to outwardly normal, think we'd better hightail it."

Buffy hesitated, then shook her head. "No. I'm done running."

Spike looked into her eyes. There you go. She's the real deal, the thing monsters hide under the beds from. No off switch either. You just trained yourself out of a job. "Alright then." He felt something that had recently started to fill in get hollowed out again, get pained and a little angry, with a lot of denial thrown in. "Well, I'm fixin' the damn door before we go! I signed a rental agreement- with a false name. And a dead man's credit card- so... So never mind. But I do need somethin' to wear an' I think we probably have three or four more hours before they get the next delegation of baddies out here. No, never, mind, I've been in filthy wet clothes before, I can be again, not like it's my car's upholstery we're ruinin'. Pack your bags, I'll get the car loaded." He began to storm past her.

"Huh? Whoa, wait!" Buffy snagged his arm.

"Don't!" He hissed at her. "If it's over, it's over, I don't hold on to ... fine, I do, but I'm not gonna-" An angry tidal wave of words broke, ebbed, and was gearing up for another crash, but she stopped him with a single disdainful huff.

"If you'd shout a little less and listen a little more, you wouldn't look like such a jerky ass sometimes." Buffy took her hand back and defensively crossed her arms.

"You tell him I still get the Eye. Done my end of the bargain." Spike snorted sullenly, shutting up with a scowl at the end. It's the same, init? I thought it wouldn't be with her- not that I was thinkin' like that, but... I cross lines, I break rules, I risk my life, I - I looked after her the best I can and she's leavin' when she feels like it, not even askin' me. I know it's different. This was just a job.

Hurts the same. Shouldn't. But it does. Bugger.

Buffy looked at him with apprehensive eyes, fighting down sparks of anger and the urge to just smack the back of his head for giving her the angry rambling stuff he'd just unleashed. "I mean, I am done running away from these goons he sends. Like you said, this is a good, defensible place. And there aren't too many innocent people in the way up here, and hey- we can blame a lot of crazy big monsters on angry bears." She watched him smile briefly, just a half twitch in pale lips. Ooh, pretty. Stop that! "It's always felt wrong to be running away. Slayers don't run away, we run in! We're the- we're the supernatural firefighters. 'Oh look, danger- save the day' kind of people!" Buffy tried to explain and got another twitchy smile.

"I get it. You don't run. So-"

"So I want to finish a sentence! You interrupt like a two year old!" Buffy put her hands to her head. "I can't go home either! This is like- this is like a tactical position thing now. I'm not hiding, as much I'm worried about them hurting my-" she swallowed, "my mom. Or my friends. In the process."

"I still think you oughta hide a bit." Spike mumbled.

"Well, yeah because it's me. Like I'm worried about my family because I care about them, you're worried about me because you c-" Oh. Oops. I don't think we're supposed to say that. "Because you like me enough not to want me to get killed. Right now." Buffy rambled, twisting her hands suddenly.

"An' what's that make me?" He joked to relieve the overwhelming emotional tension she'd just released. "Chopped liver? Cannon fodder? You want me out here with you. Don't you?"

Blue eyes flickering, green eyes shy, but unwavering, trying to look cool.

"I know you can take care of yourself. That's all. I don't want to go home and put everyone else at risk, and there's no point in running away again either. He keeps finding us, and there's not a lot of places we can go with a thousand bucks, fake IDs, and no passports. There isn't going to be a safe place." Except with you.

Except with us. We're a damn fortress. "I never liked runnin' away either. I'm the stayin' and gettin' dirty type." Spike murmured with a quiet nod of agreement.

"Okay then."

"Right. Better call an' check in. Maybe this trial or whatever they're doin' will be over soon an' we can get an ETA on the good news."

"I better call." Buffy realized and hustled away. He followed her a step or two, then turned back to shore up the door.



"I don't throw people away. I know what it feels like." Buffy told him quietly, not looking back at him, then went to find the phone.

Spike smiled as he pushed the couch into a firmer angle and wedged it so it couldn't be budged easily, and jammed the coffee table beside it instead of on top of it. "Knew I liked her."

"It's her!" Willow whispered in a thrilled, relieved screech.

"Of course it's her, who else would call on the wallet-phone?" Xander's voice was quickly growing louder.

"The wallet-phone. That sounds so lame and sort of like Bat Mobile-y." Willow chided.

"Mother's rights, give me that." Joyce pulled the phone away breathlessly. "Sweetie?"

"Mom! Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't we be? Are you okay, that's what we want to know."

"Oh... yeah. Yeah. we're fine. You know. Chilling. Missing you and being terminally homesick. Needing to go to the mall so bad."

"Buffy." Joyce's tone indicated she didn't like the sugar-coated version.

"Seriously! We're fine. We're just about to do some laundry and uh- we went for a walk and swim this morning." If by walk you mean fleeing for your life and by swim you mean plunged into a chilly lake from the top of a semi-mountain.

Joyce looked at the phone curiously, then sighed. "We haven't seen anyone from that agency-"

"The Council." Willow supplied.

"-around, but Mr. Giles said they would be keeping an eye on us."

"You're not being left alone are you? Like- you guys are staying together as much as you can, right?"

"Yes. Willow even did a protection spell- or was it a charm?- around the house."

"Look at that, Super Witch!" Buffy grinned, fighting a tug of warmth and wave of frustration at not just being able to reach out and high five her best friends or hug her mom. The emotions won, and made her stomach cramp up with longing. She sat on the bed and rubbed her abdomen, trying to keep her tone perky.

"Well... it's sorta working." Willow spoke into the phone as Joyce tilted it towards her.

"The mailman thinks your mom's house have really bad static electricity." Xander muttered, trying not to laugh.


"It gives off a little shock to anyone but us, okay? I'm new at this! Which brings me to your protection spell-"

"No hurry!"

"It won't work. You need monk wort burning in a silver bowl."

"Um. I have a pot and a frying pan?"

"That's not the issue. It's the monk wort. You'd have to go into town and buy some at a magic store, or go on the internet-"

"No internet."

"Or to a library with a big botany - or occult section-"

"No library."

"Or have me show you a picture - which I know, I can't do that either! So somehow, without knowing what it looks like, you'd have to go out and hope you could find some growing wherever the hell you are!" Willow slammed her spell book closed and rubbed her head.

"Whoa. Wills..."

"I'm a witch! I'm supposed to be able to do something useful with magic!" Willow sniffled in annoyance, letting Xander put his arm around her as Joyce patted her shoulder soothingly.

Xander took the phone. "Look, the thing is, you need some kind of herb to do almost all these spells we found, even if you're not able to 'perform' magic. As long as you have the right words and some funky leaves, you're good. But magic stores- not so easy to find. And um- we don't know who is watching you, or where. Some magic stores are bad guy friendly, some aren't, some... yeah. We hit a wall and the Willster is getting a little cranky."

"All of us are getting a little cranky." Buffy sighed. Outside the bedroom door, she could hear Spike cursing away and banging around- looking for laundry detergent, she imagined.

"But they haven't found you yet, that's the main thing. They haven't, right?"

Outright lying wouldn't work. So she hedged."Well... maybe they found us a little. No big. We took care of them."

Her words caused an outbreak of screaming and gasping, everyone talking over each other in a frantic cacophony. "Look! I know it's scary! I can handle it! We can handle it! But I need to talk to Giles, okay?"

"He's not back yet."

"He's not? Have you- have you guys even heard from him?" Buffy's stomach tightened again, throbbing with tension, swarmed with images of hit men in dark suits and dark corners attacking her friend.

"He can't call us. It'd be too risky." Joyce reclaimed the phone. "He can't call this phone because if they're watching him from over there, they could get this number, and if he calls our house phone- well, he thinks they're still checking the phone records, and we can't explain a long distance call from England too easily. He's officially not supposed to be out of the country. I don't know he's managing to convince- never mind. That doesn't matter now! Who found you, how many, what did you do? Did they see you, did-"

The line abruptly fell silent. "Mom?" Buffy sat up straighter, then stood. "Mom!"

Spike put down the near empty bottle of cheap detergent he'd found under the kitchen counter and cocked his head, muscles suddenly stiffening.

"It's Oz. His van just parked on the street. He's been coming over, or Willow sees him at his place, every day." Joyce hissed. "Willow's going to tell him we're busy now-"

"No, listen. I know it's for his own safety that you don't tell him- or anyone else- that I'm alive. But I know," she swallowed, "what it's like to miss the people you're close to. Tell him to stay and hang out. Watch movies, eat popcorn, don't spend all your time looking in books. Go get your mind off the bad. You too, Mom. I know they're just kids to you, but they're cool kids. Well- in the outcast way."

Joyce waved Willow to the door and hurried upstairs, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Her baby sounded so grown up, so mature, so- so wise. It scared her. "They're very sweet."

"I know. I love you. I love everyone. Tell them, okay?"

"I'll tell them. Honey, are you sure you're..."

"I'm fine, Mom. Tell Giles to call me as soon as he can." Buffy hung up the phone before her mother could protest more. Dammit. I wanna go home. She rubbed at her eyes.

Spike's low, brusque voice made her jump, coming from behind her in the doorway of the bedroom. "Mum and the brats alright?"

"Uh-huh." Buffy stood and forced herself to smile brightly.

"Told 'em?"

"Some. Interrupted."


How do we have so many big moments that keep slamming down into little seconds where there's nothing? Buffy forced the smile to remain. "Laundry?"

"Yeah, an' this time I got the soap right. Gimme your dirty stuff."

She looked around in a daze, mentally about a thousand miles down the coast, with people she wondered if she'd ever see again. She absently piled up her clothes and he gently took them from her arms after she stood holding them for a moment, a vacant look in her eyes. "Thanks."

"No worries." Spike took the clothes and made his way back to the small stacked washer and dryer hiding in the corner off the kitchen. He took off his stained and torn clothes as well and shoved them all in, hearing the agitator creak and thud as it tried to shift everything around the basin. "As long as you don't overflow or soap up the place, you're golden." Spike told it conspiratorially, then patted the machine's lid and strolled back into the bedroom.

The Slayer was on the edge of the bed, picking at a torn nail with strangely bright eyes. "No flooding?" She heard him enter, but didn't look up at him.

"Not a drop." He sat down behind her, pulling the sheet to his bare midsection. "It'll be dark enough to drive in a couple hours. Hit the lumber place first, get a few sketchy directions, then the shops, yeah? Little outing?"

"Mhm. We can head down now if you want. I was half-asleep when we drove up the first time, but isn't town about an hour away? I can drive that."

"You? You wanna drive down the mountain?" Spike pressed his palm to the back of her neck. Right. Cool hands. Perceive the heat but not strictly accurate, so he wasn't sure if she had a fever or not. She flinched slightly under his touch but didn't shrug him off.

"I didn't get killed by five big demon dudes made out of coal and attitude. I threw myself off of a cliff. I bet I can drive. Some." She shrugged blandly.

His hand continued down the side of her neck, to her tight shoulder blades. "Okay, Luv, bet you can. But not on your own."

"Of course not, you'd hide in the-" Buffy turned to face him. Her eyes widened and she gasped, then fell off the edge with a thump. "Why are you pants-less?" She demanded.

Spike had to laugh, she looked so shocked, and pretty damn comical, sitting on her backside with an "I-just-woke-up" expression. He sprawled face down on the bed, arms crossed under his chin, smirking down on her. "Because, Slayer, you tore my last clean clothes right off my back."

Buffy blushed, recalling the frenzied moments earlier. "Oh. Yeah. Still, those weren't your only clothes!"

"I didn't pack much, and every stitch I own is in the wash. An' unless you fancy me goin' around in nothin' but m'coat..."

Well, that's an image. Buffy's heart pumped a little extra blood due south. "H-how long does that thing take?"

"Put it on max, what with blood an' mud an' all. Maybe an hour? Then that again for dryin'? I dunno, I was preoccupied last time we did the laundry, what with you caterwaulin' in my ear about bein' a bad houseguest and then those damned nosy neighbors..."

Buffy shook her head at him. He's like a- a really pale, smooth lion or something. The king of the jungle never thinks he needs clothes. Like Spike. Just prowls around, sprawls out, confronts civil servants- without ever thinking "Hey, maybe some boxers would look good on me right now." Nah, boxer briefs. Or maybe one of those really tight- what am I doing!? "You are one of the weirdest people I've ever met." Buffy finally sighed, rolling her eyes and sitting on her knees. An arm's length separated them.

His arm made use of it. His fingers reached out and touched her freestyle hair, clouding in wisps over cloudy eyes. "Same. But not weird. Unique. Amazin'."

"Strangely amazing." Buffy scooted her brow against his teasing fingertips.

He waited. Her eyes cleared, as he'd predicted. "You think?" She asked him, inching forward. His hand slid behind her head and pulled her forward, lips touching lips. "I know it, Buffy."

Somehow the kiss turned into a tug of war, all one sided, him anchoring his hands behind her neck to drag her from her knees to the bed beside him.

"I hate days like today." Buffy edged up beside him and crashed onto her back, looking up at him as he was propped up on his side.

"I used to. Invasions, threats, fire, demons with lighter fluid fingertips, nosy men with badges... Then I saw you in action."

She smiled. "You look pretty impressive yourself. When you're on my side."

"You look damn hot as a badass. Makin' deals with demons, layin' it on the line." He rested a hand on the thin fabric covering her hip. "Like you bein' on my side, too."

"I'm not. You're on mine." She corrected sternly.

"Yeah?" He taunted playfully.

"Yeah!" The fight abruptly left her. She didn't feel like playing. "No. Fine. Whatever, no sides, okay? Just - just us."

Defensiveness and teasing left him as well. "Sure." We- we've done that before. I guess. "Just us."

No one said it was only for now, only some until their individual somedays arrived, no one said anything about who they ought to be with or used to be with, or how things ought to be, full stop.

No one said much of anything.

Spike's hands slid easily under her shirt. He'd seen this body multiple times now, but he only enjoyed it more. Like he was seeing it through new eyes, not lust driven, or hidden in flickering lights, or through the pain and rush of injury then victory. She's just a girl. My girl.

When did the kissing get so... real? Buffy's tongue stroked his thoroughly, caressingly. All of their motions were caressing this time. Every little swathe of muscle and inch of pearl, just for her fingers. So much stress, or was it hardness? Layers and layers to this guy that she wanted to find out about.

Because I want him with me and I want him to be- I want him to be with me.

This was different from any of the other times. This was- gentle and seeking.

Spike nuzzled his head to hers and kissed down the curve of her honeyed neck, kissing his recently inflicted bite, making her shiver but not pull away from him. "Such a givin' girl."

"Mhm." Buffy shivered again.

"When's the last time someone gave back what you give?"

"You. Then before that... you." Rueful smiles exchanged.

"Well then, let's-'

"Hang on- what about you? Did you two...?" Buffy trailed off. She liked this. The pleasure and the conversation and the not really having to choose her words carefully to avoid hurting a broody, moody guy who it was hard to start conversations with anyway.

Spike considered. Like this? Purely giving and all soft and sweet and- without the thrill of a looming sudden surprise, either disturbing or enjoyable? "You. And before that... you."

"You don't have to lie."

"Look at my eyes, Baby. Do I look like I'm lying?"

That's so sad. But the first time or a hundred times- it's still pretty sad we had to wait to get into a situation so ludicrous that we had to have sex- or make love- with our mortal enemy before we could get to this point. "Well then. Let's."

He nibbled his way from neck to breasts and lovingly lapped at her tight little peaks. She groaned when he so much as touched the pointed nub. Her hips lifted off the bed when he closed his teeth around the crinkly circles surrounding them. Instead of pushing that envelope and seeing if he could make it happen again, for some reason he decided he ought to keep moving down the side of her breast, paused, and wriggled her up onto her side.


"Pretty front, pretty back." He informed her between kisses and swished his tongue over her shoulder, making a soft trail until he could kiss each notch on her spine.

Buffy's muscles locked as his palm pressed her from her side to face down. Shouldn't be behind me, I can't see what he's doing, her hyper aware slayer voice hissed.

He has my back. Figuratively. Literally. This is just more literally. He has control over himself, I saw that. The rush of blood made all her pulse points pound, and the recently probed one on her neck reminded her she trusted the man cupping her waist.

Spike felt her relax, heard her sigh and settle. She does trust me. He waited for the evil-fueled contrariness to prod him into doing something, even something small, just to make her jump. Nothing came.

Slayer-whipped. His dark brows drew together and he sucked particularly hard in a neglected spot on her lower back.

"Ohhhh. Spike. Mm." She moaned, and the sighed prettily.

Forget whipped. Just Slayered. "Yeah, Baby?"

"You're really good at this." Buffy's toes flexed. Should be scared. Should be freaking. I basically slapped Travers in the face with a "you can't get me" glove, like they do in old movies before everyone starts counting off ten paces.

But I feel safe when he's near me.

She squirmed up abruptly, just as Spike sank his thumbs into her perfectly plump enough cheeks and was about to bow down for a little oral delight. "Hey?" My treat, dammit...

"I can't do any giving in that position." Buffy smiled and stole a kiss, leaning into him as they both sat or knelt on the bed.

"Actually, there are a lot of-" Spike cut his own sentence short this time, as her warm, flicking, tasting tongue captured an earlobe and almost made him giggle. He smiled instead and laid back, loving how easily she fell with him, and how he could feel her smile against his skin.

They weren't used to this, him because he was out of practice, her because it had never happened. It was reminiscent of their first night of semi-intimacy in that hotel room, long, unhurried kissing and touching, only this was beyond lust or comforting. This was even beyond the gift they'd given each other earlier. This was deliberate - caring. Showing how much they - cared. Because it felt eerily like the "other word" sometimes, so care was the word that kept reasserting itself in both their minds.

"Do guys like this?" Buffy locked her lips over his chest.

"This guy does." He let both his hands wander down to massage her breasts, thumbs stroking over and down, over and back up, making her nipple indent and spring back on each stroke. "God, these things are just such fun." He couldn't contain his exuberance. Buffy sank her teeth firmly into his own little cluster of flesh and he yelped- happily. "Oooh. I love that."

Her heart gave an extra hard thump.

He could feel it. "Love everything you do." He whispered. The telltale zing under her breast, under his hand, happened again.

Poor little thing. Must be awful to think you've already had and lost the one great love of your life.

I should know.

Buffy forced herself to stop thinking sticky gooey thoughts and made her breathing stop speeding up. "If you like that, then I know what'll blow you away." She skidded down him, before he could anchor her, and winked as she paused below his waist. "No pun intended."

"Oh God. Ohhhh, bloody hell. Bloody, fuckin' hell, Luv you could convert vampires y'know." Spike groaned. Such an agile mouth and so much hotter and wetter than what he was accustomed to. She was enthusiastic this time, although he suspected it was only going to last for a minute, just a gesture.

"Ew. This is not for vampire conversion. This is for you.This is because I love- making you -" Crap! I don't love making him happy, I don't know what I meant to say. I don't know what this is. I don't really care. She kissed his thigh with a frustrated little noise. "We were doing way better without the talking."

"Love makin' you feel good too, Pet." Spike worked his fingers easily under her chin, and crooked them, guiding her eyes to his. "I don't have to talk to show you."

"Sometimes I think-" Buffy lifted her shoulders, inadvertently snuggling his cock between her breasts as she held this position over him. He spasmed happily, and she was forced to smile in return. "Sometimes I think I get carried away."

"Sometimes you get carried to nice places, isn't that all that matters?"

Buffy swallowed. "As long as you don't hurt anybody going, I guess."

"You know I won't hurt you. An' you already promised me once," he hated to spoil the pretty picture of buttery cleavage against him, but needs must, "that you wouldn't go stabbin' me in the heart." He drew her towards him.

"I wouldn't. I would never do that to someone I- care about." Buffy winced as the words escaped.

He thought his heart was beating, but it was only the rapid flexion of his chest, the contraction of his shoulders. "I can tell. Same for me." He blinked hard.

"Really? Same?"

Oh fuck, here we go... I can always claw m'way back out. If I fall.

Never have before.

Yeah, but I never had her before. I can do all sorts of things around her.


Amazing how something so intense can be so gentle.

He moved into her, and in and out, long, even strokes, chest to chest, forehead to forehead, him unblinking, her with eyes closed.

He was going to crack her in half. And that was good. Deeper was better. Her hands dug themselves into his cheeks and pulled.

"Shh, Sweetie." He broke off kissing her as his tip was put in a fleshy lockdown and her petite frame bucked hard.

"Didn't talk."

"Your body is screamin' at me." He bent his lips to her ear. "Doesn't have to. I'm a real good listener. Fluent in Slayer."

"Nu-uh." She argued breathlessly.

"Am so. Fast learner."

"Prove it."

"I love a challenge."

The washer had long since stopped, and neither cared. The light filtering through the blue curtain gave off an orange glow. They had to get going soon, things to be done.

It's hard to leave paradise, though.

They rolled for the final time, this time having been a mass of long deep strokes and thrusts and endless position changes. Buffy wouldn't class what she was doing as riding him, instead flattened to him and swimming across him, her legs making lazy butterfly motions while his arms were draped protectively around her back and sides, one hand on the back of her head, holding her so tightly to his chest.

She could feel him shuddering, his fingertips bruised her back as he clung, hips sending him deeper, more searchingly inside her.

Spike could feel her grinding and pulsing, only everything was set in slow motion. Her teeth sank lightly into his forearm and he groaned under her whimper. "Let it go, Luv, it's time."

She shook her head stubbornly. Some burning pleasure hadn't reached the explosive level she expected. Maybe it was the angle. "Gimme a minute."

"I'll give you a lot more than that." He chuckled and locked his elbow tight to the back of her head, tilting her face up. Spike bent to kiss, she scooted up and met him. He pounded into to her from underneath as she rained down on him with the same fevered intensity, both suddenly unleashed.

But it's still- it's still something more. His kiss was passionate and determined and longing, and his hands were locked with hers now, resting on his chest.

What's she do? How's she do this? Make it feel all soft and sweet- and like you won't stop shootin' for an hour when it finally pops?

Dunno, but I like it.

Whatever it is, I want it. I want to keep feeling like that.

Twin gasps, twin eruptions, a long, slow race with a sprint at the end.

"More, more, more, dammit, push yourself you can do it." Spike growled in ecstasy.

"Oh fuck! Fuck, I love this, that's - oh wow!" Buffy lost whatever reserve she had as she pounded to him, raising off a little then sinking all the way on and then still but for her climactic shaking. His climax, juddering, uneven spurts streaming out inside her at the most sensitive, already quivering part- sent her over again.

That's new, Spike thought appreciatively, watching his orgasm prolong hers. Although I can't blame her... Her walls trembled on his tip and made him growl again. I love this woman, bloody hell, she's fantastic. In his enthusiasm, he wasn't even aware of the deeper aspects, the hinting, of his sexually based thoughts.

He waited for some even louder commentary on her pleasure. He found her silent scream, her frantic mouthing of "Spike... Spike!" with her rapidly pounding heart and flying blood, topped with fluttering eyelids, to be immensely more satisfying.

With a final shudder she fell back to his chest, sweat damp hair over his neck and his hands involuntarily kneading the soft pad of skin where her back widened to her hips.

"Beautiful." He murmured.

"Way beautiful." She mumbled hazily, kissing his shoulder as she sat up.

"We gotta get up. Night's comin' on."

"Can't move. Leg muscles died."

"Alright, Superhero. I'll go swap the clothes, you enjoy being weak and feeble. For once." He winked and kissed her lingeringly. And again.

"This is not getting the clothes dry." Buffy finally pushed him back gently. "Also, for the record, I'm not weak and feeble. I'm just a little jellied."

"True." An' I'd like to see what' it's like to take you again, when you're limp and boneless. But the job demands sacrifice... Damn white hats and responsibility. He pushed her off with a burst of wetness across them both, and ignored the blush on her cheeks. "Be right back."

"I'll be right here."

Spike sat up and shook out his muscles, staring down at her as she buried her face in the mattress with a contented sigh.

He watched her turn, admiring her beautiful, lithe body, the supple spine, those grabbable cheeks, that hot little pink- oh shit.

He looked at her, looked back at his own groin, and back at her. Shit! Little tinges of red, on both of them. What'd we do? How'd I not notice it? Must be faint, must not be too bad. Bloody hell.

Buffy felt the atmosphere change in the room. Her partner stiffened, gave off a vibe that she disliked, a watchful, apprehensive vibe. "What's wrong?" The vampire looked grim, he was staring at her with closed over eyes, something calculating in them.

Buffy reached for his arm, then stopped. "Wh-what's going on?" Please don't. Please don't- she couldn't even finish the ever had one other lover. He'd pulled away too- just when she'd given him everything.

"Don't get mad." His hands went firmly to his midsection. "An' don't hit anything soft an' dangly if you do."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy cried.

"Went a little hard. Y'know, super humans..." She stared at him. "I hurt you, alright?" She trusted me. I was gonna give, and she was gonna give, and no one was supposed to get hurt.

Keep this up, I'll turn into Angelus, Darla... even Drusilla. The kind that takes for his own pleasure, not worried about the other's.

No. Never gonna be one of them.

"Huh?" Buffy shook her head. "No. No, no."

"Yes. Yes, look, I didn't mean too, but I-" He reached for her, pulled her back to his side, hands hesitating on the bunched up sheets. "Not bad, prolly, but I don't know how it works with Slayer pieces, so..." He shrugged and trailed off.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Buffy looked at him with a confused frown.

"I must've- with you ridin', and me thrustin', an' I'm hard, an' you're soft." He rambled. He gestured to her pelvis.

"I feel fine." She insisted.

"You. Are. Bleeding." He tossed the sheets back with an angry yet guilty expression.

"Oh. Oh, no, no, oh my God!" Buffy looked mortified and embarrassed and began scrambling back, away from him.

"No, Slayer, Buffy listen." He fought to get a grip on her arms, pull her back.

"You don't understand, get off, it's not-"

"Don't pull away from me!" He yanked hard, instantly regretting his outburst, physical and verbal.

She stopped resisting. Don't pull away from me. Her arm went limp in his hand.

"I never meant to hurt you." He whispered. She fell back at the slightest touch, looking up at him as he leaned over her, on his side, blue eyes desperate. "Love makin' with someone like you- I mean, there was no stoppin' an' you were so soft, an' you just felt so bloody wet, I didn't realize-"

"It's not that." Buffy cut him off.

"It's not?"

"I'm not hurt." She repeated. "We have to go to town."

"I know that, but don't change the bloody subject. An' I'm not so sure if you should come now, if you're- oh bloody hell, do we-" he swallowed, "do we go to the hospital for this?" Can you stitch that? She was loose enough, she was wet enough! Dammit, I thought I was takin' good care of her!

"I need tampons." Buffy glared.

Spike blinked. His mind froze. Blood- good. Free blood somehow related to her bits and pieces, but not painfully obtained, meaning I didn't hurt her, also good. That aisle he never went into in the grocery store- mind back to frozen. "Get in the car."


"No, right, clothes first. Stay- right there." He sniffed at her. "Although-"


"Right, stay there!"

"I need my purse!"

"Then- get your purse. Just don't - hurt yourself."

Buffy cocked her head. "You are completely freaked, aren't you?"

"No. Normal. Healthy. Yummy-"

"Don't get creepy, okay?"

"I'm not, I'm just a vampire."

"Like I said, 'Don't get creepy'. It lasts for a few days and then it's gone, okay? If I had thought we'd be on the run for more than a week I would have packed more than my 'always in my purse for an emergency' supply."

"I know! I know about humans..." He got a mulish look on his face. Just forgot about it for a minute because I actually care about you bein' okay. Feel responsible for you, even though I know I don't have to be. "I'll go put the clothes in. Do whatever."

An hour later...

They slid into the Buick and drove in silence. Buffy looked miserable, and uncomfortable.

An' that's still pain I caused her.

"I thought I hurt you. I told you I wouldn't. I told you I'd keep you safe. As I could. Felt like a jerk. An' like you'd probably bust my nose for goin' so hard."

Buffy's chest loosened, and her face transformed, still guarded but no longer so wretched. "I would have said stop if it hurt."

"No, see, that's not how makin' love is supposed to be, you're supposed to be prepared for what they want, not have to-"

"How would you know what I want? We're new at this." Buffy crossed her arms and pointed out.

"I hate that you make me feel like this." He whispered harshly, eyes locked on the darkening road.

Buffy recoiled. Feel like this? There's a this? "Sorry." She whispered back.

"Hate that I love it so much."

Recoil released, she automatically leaned into his side with a little half hiccup of a sob. "Same here. It's all part of the 'being strange' thing, right?"

"I guess."

"You didn't hurt me." She reiterated staunchly.

"I know." He answered testily.

"But if you had- I could forgive you. You know- if it was an accident!"

"I get it, Slayer."

"People hurt each other all the time. They still forgive. You- for being evil and soulless, you're obviously great at forgiving." I don't think I would be busting my butt- and every other body part-on a mission of mercy for someone who cheated on me. Especially not for someone who cheated on me while I was in a wheelchair I landed in while curing her! Man, tell that story and leave out the vampire-part, and this guy's the patron saint of love.

"I'm not used to that. Not lately." Spike confessed. Drusilla's ability to hold a grudge on this one issue was- well, it was illogical, unreasonable. Insane. Hence accepting the offer he couldn't refuse, the trip he was on, the girl he was with, the things they did... Hence the Slayer. That sums it up.

"I'm not either. It's either all or nothing. Nothing in the middle."

"I like all. But I'll take middle." For her. Once in a deathtime opportunity, an' it'll be over soon.

"Me, too."

Wait a minute, what are we saying? We're taking something? We're meeting in the middle? There's a middle?

"For now, Slayer."

"Right. For now..."

Day Nineteen (United Kingdom Time)...

Travers let himself into the Watcher's London Headquarters, using the private entrance reserved for the Head of Council. Watchmen guarded the building- but not every location at once. Dressed impeccably as always, and with the serious, contemplative look of a man who has important business that requires him to rush to the office in the wee hours of the morning, Travers walked through the building as if he owned it.

He passed several rooms of files and then weapons storage, taking the stairs, passing silently and unnoticed. Next the apothecary and herbal storage area, and that door he opened. There he passed the kits of drugs used for Cruciamentum- most of them dusty. No Slayer but Summers had made it to that age in many years, or those that had been called after the age of eighteen hadn't lived for a length of time to warrant the test's administration.

He opened the cabinets with a deft twist of a small golden key, the Head of Council's master key that opened all doors in the building. He slipped several vials out of the glass fronted cabinets and looked at their antiquated labels.

Inject into the vein. No good. Inject into the skin. No. Ah. Liquid suspension, to be administered orally. He chose the last and tucked it into his breast pocket, humming quietly.

"Now then... what else have we got?" He smiled contentedly as he walked to the cabinets of venoms, anti-venoms, herbs, tinctures, thousands upon thousands of potion ingredients and specimens collected for study, laboriously labeled and logged- and rarely inventoried. His smile turned faintly malicious as he slid the rolling wooden ladder across the shelves to the "M" section.

Fifteen minutes later, Travers left with several stoppered bottles clinking softly in his pocket.

Several hours later...

"This is maddening. I feel as though I'm the one on trial." Wesley paced and took a now rumpled linen square from his pocket and dabbed his forehead.

"We are on trial." Abby said, flicking ash around the pristine drawing room in which they were waiting. "Goin' against Travers is like signin' your own death warrant, if they don't take our side."

"Very comforting, old man." Robson helped himself to the decanter on the sideboard.

"Robbie! It's not even noon!"

"Just a small one, my love." Robson muttered absently. "Giles?"

"None for me. I just wish they'd stop deliberating and out with it! Reject the evidence, refute it, agree with it, only stop making a bloody mess of it so I can get home and check on her!" Giles polished his glasses and then sank back in the Queen Anne chair with a stifled groan. "Abby, stop flinging ash about this place, this is a listed home, and the furnishings are priceless." He distracted himself from his inner turmoil by criticizing his somewhat slovenly colleague.

"That's for you curator types. Looks dead naff to me. Not one recliner in the whole place."

"I'm sorry to hear you say that, Mr. Aberswyth." A well bred voice interjected.

As one, the small band of "renegades" were on their feet, and making deferential words and gestures to their host.

"We're ready to meet with you." Fallows said, and motioned them into a large room down the hall, a cross between a study and office, where grave faces confronted them.

"You have produced most damning evidence, Wyndham-Pryce."

"Yes, Sir." Wesley tried not to gasp out the words as he was talking.

Fallows, the appointed spokesperson tilted his head and looked at the polished young man. Hm. Not nearly such a snotty little swot as his father described him. Robson, good dependable sort. Aberswyth, well... the Welsh, don't you know. As for Rupert Giles... "Most damning indeed."

"You'll present the case to a full board and then to Travers, as is the proper protocol?" Giles didn't mince words, nor was he cowed by the surroundings or proceedings.

"Not as of yet." A second figure said grimly. "There is certainly enough evidence here to show that Travers expressed sentiments for her removal. However- Mr. Pryce also voiced his feelings that she was unsuitable. You requested a different position, that is a matter of record."

"Is it?" Wesley gulped faintly.

"Of course he did." Giles said through clenched teeth. "Buffy is unsuitable, especially if you're a horrid little man who treats humans as though they were particularly intelligent dogs. No offense, Wesley."

"None taken." Wesley croaked hoarsely, an expression that would have curdled milk etched on his face. "I did think that, Sir. I hadn't interacted with her for more than a few months, and she is very headstrong. She is also an extraordinary fighter. A truly goodhearted girl. She does not deserve to be treated in this manner."

"She was offered a chance to come and be retrained. She refused."

"She doesn't need retraining, she can outperform anyone we have on staff." Giles rubbed his brow and sat in one of the empty chairs.

"She struck allegiances with a vampire. Two. And was a close associate of Faith Lehane, the other Slayer who is considered to be deranged, dangerous, and rogue- if and when she wakes up from her coma."

"Who Buffy is does not rest on who she associates with, any more than the fact that you have an ex-Watcher in your study makes you an 'unsuitably emotional' man who is likely to show fatherly affection to the Slayer entrusted to your care." Giles smiled frostily at Fallow.

Their "jury" exchanged glances, and Fallows continued after a moment. "We think this warrants further investigation. For one thing, we need an independent translator who speaks the branch of the Urdu dialect Mr. Travers and Mr. Wyndham-Pryce conversed in on one of the tapes in order to verify what was said. Secondly, we need to substantiate the ah- 'paper trail', that was supplied," he nodded to Ginny, "and lastly, we would like to interview Mr. Spears, who you claim spoke to the vampire Angelus."

"Angel." Giles and Wesley automatically corrected.

"Very well, Angel. I rang Spears last evening but he's yet to return my call. When he does, we'll very discreetly- what is it Bartlesby?"

A butler poked his head through the door after a gentle tap. "There's a call for you, Sir."

"I'll take it in here, thank you."

"Very good, Sir."

Fallows picked up the extension on his desk and connected to his caller. "Yes?" His countenance went from serious to surprised to deeply concerned. "I see. Yes, we'll be sure to. Was there any- no? I understand. I imagine that'll be taken care of by the end of the day. Thank you."

"Council business?" Giles asked with a sad, weary smile. He waited for the words he somehow knew were about to come.

"Yes. That was the Head of Surveillance. Spears shot himself last night. He hasn't left a note."

"I imagine you ought to call down to wet works." Abby smiled sardonically. "See if it's really what you think, or if old Spears had a little help."

"Aberswyth! That will be quite enough of remarks like that!"

"But it's so unpleasantly odd." Giles murmured. "Isn't it? I know of Spears."

"As do I. He's very loyal, he's very dedicated. He's been working to get out of general surveillance and into working with a potential." Wesley whispered. "Almost ruthlessly eager to do his job."

"As all of us should be." Fallows said sternly.

"Yes, Sir. But all of us didn't shoot ourselves after successfully completing a dangerous mission that would have earned glory and honor."

Fallows locked eyes with the sons of two of his most respected colleagues, one now gone, one now high ranking, a peer. "Any additional proof is welcome. We'll let you know of our decision in three days time. Wyndham- Pryce, you'll be the one we contact, as the Watcher on record."

Wesley nodded jerkily. "Of course, Sir."

"You seem to be expressing a great deal of certainty that attempts have been made on her life, more than just these tapes and these somewhat unusual requests of Mr. Travers' indicate. Mr. Giles, if you have any knowledge of her whereabouts-"

"I can honestly state, with my hand on any holy book," Giles smiled, thin lips, sad, serious eyes, "that I have no idea where she is. Nor do I know if at this moment, she's alive or dead." He swallowed painfully, wondering what had happened in the last few days, even hours, since they spoke, knowing she'd reached a new safe location, but wondering if anything ever was truly safe. "I hope with all my soul she is alive and well."

Fallows exchanged glances with the inquiring body surrounding him. Giles sat with his head down, the picture of a man quietly in control of great emotion. That didn't add up to the picture Travers had painted when he told of his dismissal. Hm. Yet one more piece of evidence to consider.

Fallows became brisk. "You will sign these affidavits and confidentiality agreements, stating your information is correct to the best of your knowledge and that you'll only speak to those present at this time regarding what was said here today." He offered a fountain pen to Wesley first, a challenge in his eyes. "Once signed- this is a matter of official, if sealed, record. It cannot be reversed."

"Excellent." Wesley said with far more confidence than he felt and signed his full name with a flourish. "Giles?"

"With pleasure." The graying man signed in a neat, bold hand. "I look forward to hearing from you soon."

"Collins here."

"Excellent. How did the Spears affair go?"

Collins had long ago learned not to apply reason to his orders. "Done. They should find the body soon."

"Excellent. Collins, have you ever been to America?"

"A few times, Sir."

"I'd like you to meet me at the airport this evening, after business hours, of course. Heathrow. I'm issuing a ten day leave to visit your ailing uncle in Oregon. You will leave your office immediately, to go home and pack."

"I see."

"You are an invaluable man, Collins. You know your place."

Thank you, Sir. I serve a purpose."

"And in doing what I will tell you when we meet, you will serve the greatest purpose yet." Travers folded a few papers and packed a variety of vials wrapped in cloth in a nondescript black satchel as he pressed the receiver to his ear. "This is off the record. A task for true men of vision."

Collins frowned slightly. "Danger?"



"Not over the phone, Collins."


"I'll be willing to pay you for your time, as this is unofficial business, yet serves a most necessary function to the Watchers, and to the world as a whole."

"That'd be most welcome, Sir." Collins dark eyes were always watchful, now they became more so, before quickly going blank again. One didn't question one's superiors.

Collins became Travers' new favorite person, inasmuch as he liked people to begin with, that is. Of course he should have gone to a human for this task before approaching a demon, even one so skilled as William the Bloody, or with so much at stake as Mephistopheles, or even ones so powerful as a clan of the sanguis venato. Hmph. Demons. Inferior.

"This remains undisclosed until I give the word. As for Spears- I'll handle the inquiries. You shouldn't be disturbed when your family so obviously needs you."

"Just as you say, Sir." Collins put his revolver away, and disposed of his latex gloves, methodically beginning to pack his "tools of the trade."

"Yes. Exactly as I say." Travers hung up his phone and closed his eyes.

Let them ask all the questions they want. Let her scramble and flee.

She cannot be stopped, so they say.

Good. For once, for this, I want her unstoppable.

To be continued...