He stared at the floor, unblinking. He couldn't move. Bloody buggering hell. Paralyzed again, and this time he couldn't move a damn thing. Fecking witch couldn't leave bloody well enough alone. She was dragging him like a sack of potatoes, no respect at all for the toothless vampire.
She was laying him out on his back when the pain hit. God, Buffy was hurt. He could feel the ripping of her flesh as his own. He stared at the ceiling, his eyes drying out. The stupid bint was going to kill them both.
The ones with control issues were always the nutters. It was such a shame, Angelus, little red witching hood, both of them needing to have things their way, neither one of them seeing the forest for the trees. Angelus had destroyed any chance he'd had to enjoy his unlife with Dru, and Red was stealing the future he had just begun to imagine with Buffy.
"I am sorry. I don't really want to stake you, but I have to get Buffy free of the spell. She will never forgive me if she loses her chance for a normal life." Willow nudged the side of his head with the toe of her sneaker. "You probably can't even hear me."
His head shifted and he could see the painting on the wall. The painted goddess had nothing on his girl. He thought of her shy smile as they had stood admiring their new mattress, the gentle flush that had tinged her cheeks. It might not bother him so much to dust if he'd had a few years to explore the promise of that gentle blush.
He could feel Buffy, fighting, trying to survive. The girl was all grit and sheer determination, but the pain was so intense. He tried to close his eyes.
Dru started singing. Of course, the daft bird would sing him off to dust with one of her dingbat medleys when the only voice he wanted to hear belonged to someone else.
Buffy was dragging herself on the damp pavement, using every bit of her power to make inches of progress. The lights had gone fuzzy, and she knew that seeing Spike again just wasn't in the cards. He would dust, waiting for her to come home for dinner. She closed her eyes and tried to dredge up enough strength to keep going.
She had always thought it would be Angel she thought of at this time, but she couldn't even bring him into focus in her mind. Her head was filled with Dru's voice, but she could only see his bright blue gaze and sardonic smile. She collapsed on the wet pavement, the pain finally fading as the darkness overwhelmed her.
The silverish car pulled up next to her and Giles surged out of his tiny vehicle. He fell to his knees and started assessing her. He rolled her once he determined that it would do her no further harm. He bit back the urge to vomit as he looked at the slashes in her abdomen. Why wasn't she healing?
Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled weakly up at him. One hand rose up from the pavement to grab at him. She missed.
"Please, take me home. I need to see Spike. Need to say I'm sorry." Her eyes fluttered shut and Giles scooped her up and put her in the passenger seat of his aging Citroen.
"I think we should head to the hospital." Giles said as he gave up on buckling her in, too afraid of the damage the belt might cause.
"Giles," she opened her eyes. "Take me home. The doctor's couldn't touch me without causing me more pain. I want to go home. I want to hold his hand. Please."
Giles nodded and closed the door. He trotted to the driver's side and slid in beside her. Prayers he had long since quit believing in running through his mind, he drove toward her new home.
"Need to tell Drusilla, I'm sorry," Buffy muttered as she shifted. "He can tell her. He can talk to her and be happy."
"Yes, Buffy, I'm sure he can." Giles choked out the words as she started humming some silly little song.
He turned into her drive with relief. The windows were aglow. It looked warm and inviting. He opened his car door and screamed for Spike. He knew the vampire could hear him, but was probably being difficult on principle.
"Spike," Giles screamed. "Get out here, Buffy is hurt. Stupid vampire won't come and help me when his life is in the balance."
"Get me in there," Buffy smiled. "Something must be wrong. He should be here by now."
Giles lifted her from his car with great care and headed toward the house. He walked under the garden arch and watched her wince as his fingers brushed her bare skin. He felt her shudder.
"I don't have a key, Buffy."
"Just get me close enough to open the door. I don't need one." She forced a smile to her face. His heart ached. She was too pale and the bleeding hadn't stopped. He was going to lose her, and he wasn't ready. He watched her hand touch the door and press and it opened. "It's charmed to open for me."
He pushed the door open all the way and felt his stomach drop. Spike was on the floor, laid out like Vitruvian man. Willow looked up as she marked on the wood floor with chalk. Her eyes were black. Giles felt Buffy stiffen and snarl as she shoved up, pushing free of his arms.
"What are you doing to my mate?" Buffy growled as she forced her feet forward on the floor. "Stop the damn magic now, or I will hurt you. If it's the last thing I do, I will hurt you."
"Just let me finish. I'm gonna set you free." Willow pleaded and stood up.
"No, I'll bet you're what's killing me." She stumbled forward, her blood dripping from between her fingers. "My powers aren't working right. My healing is failing. I don't have a whole lot of time left."
"I'll finish quickly and you'll be free." Willow bent down to pick up the chalk. "He'll be dust, and you'll be free."
"Sure, kill my mate, Willow. I'm sure we can dart off to the Bronze right after and celebrate." Buffy rolled her eyes. "Did he show you our bed? Did he tell you about our plans for the house? When did you decide killing him would be okay with me?"
"You don't love him, and he's a vampire. He's dead anyway." Willow rubbed her face with one hand. "It's the only way to fix what I did."
"This fixes nothing." Giles strode forward and smacked the chalk from her hand. "It might assuage some of your guilt, but it will destroy Buffy."
"Why is he laying there? Why isn't he fighting?" Buffy came to the edge of the circle and winced as the magic shocked her.
"I paralyzed him with a potion. He wouldn't lay down and just let me dust him." Willow pulled at her hair nervously.
"Spike, baby, I'm coming." Buffy closed her eyes and forced her way through the magical barrier. It burned across her already exhausted nerves. She could see him there, out of reach. She growled and pushed forward through the thickened atmosphere of the circle. The burning sensation on her skin doubled in intensity. She fell to her knees by his shoulder and pulled his upper body into her lap. "Can you hear me, baby?"
She heard her name whispered in his voice, but his lips didn't move. She shivered and stared down into his unblinking gaze. She could see pain in his expression. She worried her bottom lip with her teeth. He was paler than usual, his eyes rimmed red and sunken.
"You haven't been able to blink," Buffy said softly, and closed his eyes with a gentle slide of her fingers. She shuddered as the pressure of the magic pushed on her. Breathing was difficult, but the feel of his body against hers, the feel of his cool skin under her fingers, helped her fight back the darkness. "I wish I could do more. I'm so sorry."
The scent of her blood was driving him insane. The warm fragrance poured into his nose, filling him with purpose, with desire. He tried to move again, to find the source of the bleeding, but his body refused to respond.
In the blessed darkness she had given him, the warmth of her body against his was a gift. He could feel her straining, her muscles bunching as the spell worked on her, but she had come despite her wounds, despite the pain. She had come to his side. The scent of her tears joined the delicious scent of her blood. She shifted beneath him, moving them both.
She angled his mouth under one of her gashes, hoping her blood might free him from the paralysis. It was uncomfortable to hold the position, but at least her lack of healing might help him. She massaged his throat to help him swallow.
Giles watched Buffy for a moment, she glowed in the light, as she cradled and fed her vampire, a morbid and disturbing pietà. He had always assumed her last act would be one of sacrifice, her life for the world's safety. Here, his slayer was giving the last bit of her strength to prolong the existence of a vampire, and, strangely, he could see the nobility of it.
"Look at them, Willow. She doesn't want him dusted. She wants him to live. This isn't the way." Giles touched her shoulder and turned her toward the couple.
"The spell, that will be done spell, made her want that thing. I can set her free." Willow looked at him moving her hands in a supplicating gesture. "She can go back to normal once he's dust. It's the best option. You have to see it, Giles. You can't want another vampire in our lives."
"What do you think I am?" Buffy looked at Willow as she stroked Spike's hair with the fingers of the hand holding his mouth to her wound. "He's my mate. I have his memories, know his feelings, and wear his ring. Did you honestly think I'd be happy to come home and find him dusted?"
"Buffy, you're my best friend and I did this, I have to make it right." Willow pleaded with her.
"Stop the spell, Willow." Buffy glared at her before turning her eyes back to Spike. "This won't make it right. I'll never get over it. I don't know how to explain it. I wouldn't have picked this life, wouldn't even have thought to imagine it, but I want it. Please, I don't want you messing my life up with magic anymore. Let Spike go."
"You don't love him. It's just that wacky vampire bond thing he forced on you. I will make it better and you will be fine." Willow looked on the ground for the chalk.
"I don't love him, but I want to. I want to love him, want to make this work. I want Spike in my life." Buffy felt her shoulders slumping and knew it wouldn't matter soon. The darkness was creeping back. She shuddered and fought against her body, holding her mate, feeding him for as long as she could hold on.
"Willow, break the spell. It is killing them both." Giles said quietly. "This kind of magic is not the answer. You need to stop."
Willow dropped to the ground and touched the chalk circle, marring it. Her hair blew about her head in wild whipping motions and her eyes returned to their normal color." She knelt on the floor shaking as the magic dissipated with an audible snap.
Spike was in motion immediately. He pulled Buffy onto her back and held her down while he licked her wounds to stop the bleeding. Her body shook under his gentle hands and he sat back, fear ripping through him. She smiled up at him and he watched the gash on her forehead heal as her powers started to function.
"You don't do that again." Spike growled at Buffy. "I would rather dust."
"I was dying." Buffy raised her hand and cupped the side of his face. "I was dying, and I wanted to be with you. My last heartbeat needs to sound in your ears, okay?"
"Let's try to put that off for a good long while." Spike groused and cuddled her against him.