CHAPTER 1: Behind the Darkened Door

CHAPTER RATING: T/M

CHAPTER PAIRING: Spike/Buffy

TIMELINE/SPOILERS: Post-TV Series AU; takes place immediately after my story "A Midwest Monster of the Highest Grade"

DISCLAIMERS: All BtVS characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. I'm just fixing their mistakes!

CHAPTER CREDITS: A reference to a line in the BtVS episode "Once More, With Feeling".

CHAPTER NOTES: To understand this story from the beginning, I recommend you first read "A Midwest Monster of the Highest Grade". I plan to take this story in a direction that includes some common Spuffy themes, though I will try my best to avoid it being overly cliche. My pace of writing/updating this story will probably be slower than the last due to some other writing projects I need to complete, but I do not anticipate this story to be as long as the previous one. For those of you who like to read with a soundtrack, this sequel is inspired by the old-school Goth band Fields of the Nephilim. I hope you enjoy!


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No one dared go in there. Not after what happened last night in the ruined factory. Spike's bedroom door stayed locked shut. The feral growl Spike had given when they had all returned to his apartment had been the only warning needed.

Tara had been the one in charge of everything afterward, as the others had been incapacitated in some way, shape, or form. She had released Willow from her own misdirected spell, and the two witches had gone about patching up Buffy, Dawn, and Spike as best as possible. Tara had (amazingly) been able to remain corporeal as long as she had taken one side of Dawn while Willow had the other; that was how both witches had managed to get the unconscious girl out. Spike, despite his extensive injuries, had insisted upon carrying Buffy. Thankfully for all involved, Clem had finally woken up and had been pacing on the sidewalk in front of the RV.

Now, they were all spread out in Spike's apartment. Willow and Clem were camped out in the living room, Dawn was in the guest bedroom refusing to let go of Tara, and Spike and Buffy were cloistered away in his room, doing what the others could only imagine.

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Even with his eyes swollen shut, Spike knew the Slayer was wincing. Her injury had looked angry when he had seen it in the factory, though he no longer smelled her blood. That was good, he hoped. A sign that perhaps Glinda's mojo had worked. Certainly, however, the pain was still there. Nothing that mangled could be all sunshine and puppies so soon. He heard Buffy's breath hitch with every few inhales, as though she were trying to control it even in her sleep. The sound made him want to climb into his bed—where he had placed her last night while he was still able to see—and comfort her, but he reasoned that he had forced himself on her enough in the factory; this time he'd wait for her permission. Last night had been a meeting of desperation between two people who had neither expected to see each other again nor to survive; of course reason could be excused in such circumstances. But now, with both bodies and souls intact—he had time.

Spike ran his tongue over his lips to wet them and shivered. The Slayer's blood still lingered there from the anguished kisses they had shared last night. A gasp slipped from him then, echoed softly by Buffy as he held vigil over her.

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She could feel the borrowed blood coursing through her. Even just the little bit that had dripped from his wounds was like some incredibly ancient potion healing her from the inside. She had first noticed it when he had laid her in his bed. There, surrounded by the long-missed scent of him, she had felt something tighten inside her—almost like a thread pulling a stitch taut, but on an atomic level. It wasn't like the feeling she'd had when her body regenerated itself after Willow's resurrection spell. And it wasn't more of whatever Tara (Tara! How?) had done to keep her from dying. No, this was different. This was definitely something of his, something of him. She gasped involuntarily at the feeling.

All night she had been plagued with intense dreams. She'd call them Slayer dreams, only they featured her not as herself but as Drusilla: first as she turned Spike, then as she fought some sort of prophecy to keep him. Buffy had no idea what to make of it all. She only knew that each time she woke from them, Spike was there breathing softly. He used to do that years ago for her, after she had mentioned how Angel's stillness reminded her of how abnormal her life was. She hadn't appreciated Spike's efforts back then, but now... it made her panic subside.

"Spike?" she asked weakly. Her eyes blinked a few times but she didn't see him.

"Yeah, Pet?" He moved up from the floor and slowly towards the sound of her voice.

The sight of him made her gasp again, but for a completely different reason. "Oh God, your face..."

"That bad, eh?" Spike frowned, not much energy in him to snark this morning. It hurt like a bitch, so he could just imagine.

He felt his way over to her. When he reached her leg, Buffy grasped tight his sore hand. She gave it a gentle tug in her direction. Spike understood the invitation and crawled into bed beside her, happy that he had kicked off his boots last night when he was still pumped through with adrenaline; right now, it took all the energy he had just to settle himself on the mattress.

Buffy watched him carefully, assessing the damage his body must have taken last night. His joints were stiff, and though she couldn't tell because he was fully-clothed, she imagined his pale flesh was marbled with dark bruising. Those strong hands that had clutched her were purple around the knuckles, proof that he had gotten in quite a few connecting punches. His beautiful face, however, seemed to have borne the brunt of the fight. There were deep scratches down one cheek, with the flaky remnants of blood looking like war paint. His nose may or may not have been broken; she couldn't tell with the shadows in the half-light. But his eyes...oh, those cerulean eyes that captured her the moment she had first seen them... they were hidden now by swelling. It was almost too painful to look at. He'd only get worse before he got better, and his healing was either taking too long or he was injured far more than she thought. For all the times he'd saved her, she couldn't just sit back and watch him suffer.

Spike was content to just breathe in the sweet smell of her hair, but his nostrils flared when he noticed something more delicious added to the mix. That was short-lived, however, once he realized that she must not have healed as quickly as he thought. "Luv, are you...?"

He was interrupted by a hush from the Slayer, followed by a pressing of warm skin to his lips. When he realized what she had done, he tried half-heartedly to pull away, but she was having none of it.

"Please. Let me do this for you." Buffy held her hand to his mouth, wanting him to get as much of the slowly-pooling blood as he could. She hadn't made the scratch very deep, and she knew that she was barely in a healthy enough state to really feed him, but she felt like she had to do something, anything.

He wanted to see her face. The desperate way she said those words to him made him ache. He stilled for a moment, then when he felt her press her hand to him again, he held it there against his lips, reverently. The fragrance of her spicy blood was driving him crazy, but he fought back his demon. Instead, he leaned in and lapped at the wound, kissing it, suckling it softly as a man, not a vampire.

That was not lost on her.

"I love you," Buffy whispered to him, her other hand running lightly through his hair, avoiding (as best as possible) his other injuries."Please believe me." She could feel the sting of tears pooling in her eyes at the memory. "I meant it when I said..."

"I know."

Buffy swallowed.

Spike sealed the wound on her hand and laced his fingers through hers. "I knew it before you did, luv." He smiled for a moment, satisfied.

"But, then why...?"

His smile lightly faded. "Had to get you out of there. You remember... 'So one of us is living'," he sang, somewhat sadly.

A tear rolled down her cheek. "I don't remember 'living'. All those months without you..." She sucked in a breath to keep herself from sobbing.

"Hey now, none of that." Spike reached up to run his fingers along Buffy's face then leaned in, brushing his lips against her trembling ones. The swelling near his eyes had already started to go down from her gift, and he was able to open them slightly. Just enough to see the pain of loss etched on her he kissed her.

One soft kiss deepened and became another. And another. And then her fingers were feeling beneath the hem of his t-shirt, needing to touch his flesh. And his hands held her face, making sure she breathed him in, inhaled the life his body kept only for her. And then the material moved up his chest, and he let her take it off of him. And she helped him peel away her own blood-stiffened clothes, their movements shaky with pain and longing.

They clutched each other tightly, doing nothing more than feeling skin against skin, whispers of "mine" echoing in the room as shared blood pumped through each of their bodies. Healing, binding, in more ways than one.

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