DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Well, the baddies are mine.  OK, Cortina's mine, too.  But everything else really is his.  Too bad.
SUMMARY:  All the baddies are dead, the Scoobies have made their peace with Spike, and Giles finally got a little one-on-one time with Cortina.  Now, all that's left is Spike and Buffy…


He waited until the Watcher was gone before slinking his way back to Buffy's room, taking special care not to wake any of the others as he meandered through the corridors.  Giles had deposited the wounded young woman in a different room than the one she'd shared with Spike before, and the platinum vampire wasn't entirely certain where exactly she now rested.  Should've been paying closer attention, he chided himself angrily.  Or better yet, should've just stuck around and told Rupert to bugger off.

Even as he thought it, though, Spike knew he'd never have said it out loud.  Something had changed between him and the Scoobies---their behavior back in Greece had been blatant testimony to that---and, whether he liked it or not, he wasn't so blinkered that he didn't realize being a part of the Slayer's life meant accepting and supporting her friends.  In all fairness, Giles had been the one to ensure Spike didn't turn into torchboy under the cloak of sunshine that Tara's spell had created, and he hadn't argued with the vampire's assessment of Buffy's wellbeing, had instead accepted it without question and acted appropriately.  Always a first for everything, he thought, shaking his head.  Only been telling them what they've been needing to hear for three years now.

The tingling started in his skin before he'd even rounded the corner, an electrical charge that threatened to burn its way deeper as it wrapped him in its fiery embrace.  This was it.  He'd found Buffy.  Spike thought he'd been sensitive to her presence before, but this new awareness sent those old beliefs scattering in the wind like dust, consuming him with its fervor.  If the vampire was forced to put a label onto it, he would've said that this newfound receptivity made him feel almost…alive.

His feet took him automatically to the first door on his left, but when he lifted his hand to turn the doorknob, the vampire hesitated.  Perhaps he should just let her sleep; after all, it had been a helluva day for her.  Spike almost snorted out loud as the irony of that hit him.  Hell, it had been a bitch of a day for all of them.  Nothin' like goin' from vamp to human and back to vamp again to throw a spanner into his bodyworks. 

As he stood there struggling with his indecision, the door opened, revealing a very much awake Buffy just standing there, her head tilted as she watched him hang back.  "You're never going to stop lurking, are you?" she said lightly, the tease a vague glint in her hazel eyes.

Spike's gaze swept over her tiny form.  She'd gotten some extra clothes from somewhere, and these managed to hide most of the bite marks from their earlier adventure.  All that was visible was the sweep of her neck…her wrists as they arched into those small but powerful hands.  He frowned when he saw the bandage swaddled around her right, reaching out to cup it gently in his own before rational thought could stop him.  Even through the wrapping, he could feel the burn radiating its heat up her arm, and remembered how she'd used it to extinguish the flames that had threatened him back in Greece.  Yep, most definitely preferred Action Buffy…

"It doesn't really hurt," the young woman said softly, lowering her gaze.

Spike's lips curled up in one corner.  "Liar," he retorted.

At his gentle accusation, Buffy looked up, saw the worry hiding behind the bravado in his face.  He could feel the pain as if it was his own, just like she could feel the ache in his arm where the sunshine had done its flaming damage.  Beating out the fire had seemed like the most natural thing to do, and even with the burns that now seared her hand---probably putting her out of fighting commission for a few days at least while it healed---she wouldn't have done anything differently.  Not when she could've lost him.

"Is Giles gone?" she asked, peering around him at the dark corridor.

"For now.  Probably off in search of some bum-numbing demonic texts that only Cortina can provide."  He shook his head.  "Rupert really needs to find some better ways to relax."

Turning around and stepping back into the room, Buffy grabbed the blanket off the bed.  "Great," she said.  "I'm just dying for some fresh air."  She brushed past the blond vampire, and was halfway down the hall before she stopped and glanced back at him.  "You're coming, right?"

It took only a moment for Spike to make up his mind.  She was asking for him; how could he possibly say no?  As he sauntered up to the Slayer's side, his blue eyes flickered to her outstretched hand, the left undamaged one, and he slid in his own to clasp it.  The intertwining of their fingers was automatic, a comfortable familiarity welcomed by both, and they walked in silence down the hallway.

Buffy was the first to speak.  "She really wasn't that pretty, you know," she said, glancing up at him out of the corner of her eye.  "Kinda pasty, in fact.  A regular Pillsbury dough girl.  And don't get me started on her hair.  The only thing worse than that was her really sucky sense of timing."

Spike's eyebrows knit together.  "What in bloody hell are you talkin' about?"

"Cecily.  That was her name, right?"  At his tentative nod, she shook her head.  "She makes Cordy look like Mother Teresa.  What a bitch."

"You…know…"  The vampire's azure gaze darkened, the confusion etched in his face.  "How…?"

Buffy shrugged.  "Who knows how any of this works?" she said quietly.  "The memories started when your demon jumped into me, and then they went into super-turbo overload when you came up onto the platform."  She hesitated.  "Did…you…get any of mine?"

There was no point in lying.  "Yes."  His face relaxed as he smiled.  "You know, if I still had the Gem, we could've acted out that little dream of yours.  Maybe finished it properly."  Her blush was his only response, and he chuckled as he gave her hand a squeeze.  "And you're right.  She was a bitch."


As she emerged from the cave, Buffy tilted her head back, inhaling the crisp desert air, closing her eyes in bliss as it filled her lungs, refreshed her tired muscles.  Somehow it seemed like a century since she'd been outside, and she was mildly surprised to find that she was really missing her nightly patrols.  It would be such a relief to get back to those once she was home again. And now, Spike would be able to officially help her with those.

The vampire hung back, watching as the Slayer revelled in the cold moonlight, stretching her arms over her head before bending deeply at the waist.  Although her feline grace was a joy for him to behold, part of him tugged at his head with doubt.  "Don't be overdoing it," he cautioned.  "Rupert's just lookin' for an excuse to put a stake through my heart."

Straightening, Buffy glanced back at him over her shoulder, a twinkle in her eye.  "Since when is Big Bad afraid of a little ol' Watcher?" she teased.

"Since he found out I'm in love with his Slayer," Spike growled, grabbing her around the waist and pulling her against him. 

As her own arms twined around his back, the young woman met his azure gaze, darkened by the velvet sky, and felt her heart skip a beat.  "Do you feel…different?" she queried.  "Now…after what happened in Greece?"

"You mean other than knowing what Captain Cardboard likes in the sack?" Spike responded dryly.  "'Cause that'll scar a man for life."

"Oh, like I'm not going to be stuck with Drusilla dreams for all eternity," Buffy retorted.  "No, I mean…inside.  God, I wish I knew how to describe it.  Kinda like, all of a sudden, when I look at you…I am you.  And I can see me as if---."

"---you were inside my head," the vampire finished.  One hand came up and pushed the golden hair off her forehead, sliding down to cup her cheek.  "Yeah, know exactly what you're talkin' about."

Abruptly, the Slayer pulled herself from his embrace and reached over for the blanket she had tossed on the ground immediately upon exiting the cave.  Spike watched as she opened it up, laid it out on the desert soil, and sat herself down near the edge, knees bent, arms propping up her torso as she leaned back and looked expectantly up at him.

Rather than sit at her side---something he knew she was expecting---Spike stepped around her, settling himself behind the young woman, long legs splayed to surround hers, and pulled her backwards so that she could use his chest as support.  His arousal pressed into her ass, and he couldn't help but smile at the sigh of contentment that escaped her lips.  He had waited a long time for this; now that it was here, it almost didn't seem real.

"It is real." 

He was glad her back was to him, that she couldn't see the surprise or shock on his face at her vocal reassurance of his unspoken thoughts.  If she could sense his, then maybe…And he knew, without hearing it, without her saying anything or moving in any way.  He just…knew.

The vampire's head lowered, and his lips brushed softly against Buffy's bare neck.  A shudder ran through her body, sending a wave of tremors undulating through her skin…into his...and he drank in the heady perfume of her scent as he attempted to control the impulses that were racing throughout his system.  Not that way, he told himself.  Not tonight.  Tonight is going to be…magic.

His lips were a feather as Spike's tongue outlined the vein in her neck, following it upward to her jaw, and then tracing the path back to her earlobe, taking it between his teeth in a gentle nip.  Her gasp announced her arousal, even more so than the distinct musk emanating from between her legs, and the platinum vamp felt the quickening of her heart as it sent vibrations through her skin and into his.  Though the urge was strong to do otherwise, he deliberately slowed his pace even further, tracing the inner scroll of her ear with just the very tip of his tongue, tightening his arms around her almost imperceptibly.

Buffy's hands reached down, grasped his thighs, holding on as if the very touch of him would ground her, prevent her from floating away into the star-speckled night.  The fire he was building inside her was smoldering, fanned by his dancing caresses, and the young woman yearned to just throw caution to the wind and jump him then and there. 

His chuckle was a rumble in her ear.  "Do that, and you won't get this," he murmured, and his icy hand slipped under the hem of her shirt, stroking her abdomen, before gliding downwards…under her waistband…over the cleft where her hip met her thigh…into the slick channel between her legs.

She bucked as she felt his fingers slowly slide inside her, the cry ripped from her throat as her nails dug into his legs.  Quickly, Spike pulled her back against him, forcing her to stay in contact with his chest, pinning her so that she was helpless to struggle against his lazy exploration.  As he pushed his hand deeper, he was rewarded with another scream, this one cutting through the silent desert sky with its passion. 

"Please," Buffy breathed, her breathing ragged. 

It was the only invitation the vampire needed.  Pulling his hand out from her core, he kept it inside her pants as he slid it around, grabbed her hip, using it as leverage to twist her around and lean her back into the blanket.  Her golden tresses splayed around her, catching the moonlight, and he drank in her loveliness before lowering himself to her lips.

Although gentle, there was a spark as the two made contact, barely touching, eyes still wide open so that each could watch the other.  Swallowing her very breath, Spike closed the gap between them, his chest against hers, pressing her down into the ground, all the while dancing over her mouth, sending icy shivers down her spine, curling her toes into the blanket.  Buffy's hands reached around and cupped his ass, guiding his hips even closer to hers, marvelling yet again at the caged power contained within his lean frame.  Will I ever get tired of this? she wondered.  But the answer came quickly, fast even by her standards.  Not in a million years…

Their kiss deepened, lips exploring the other's as if for the first time, ice melting in flame as Spike swept her mouth with his tongue, tasting her…savoring her…delighting in that unique flavour that was all Buffy's.  Neither had thoughts; each was running on instinct, the simple drive that powered them…defined them…created their very world.  There was no desert; there was no moon; there were no stars.  There was only him…and her.

Somehow, their clothes seemed to disappear, and the young woman clung to her lover's bare back as she felt his erection tease along her wet opening.  Without a word, she lifted her legs, curled them around his hips, guided him in, sheathing him with her heat.  Spike shuddered.  He was home.  This…this haven of her embrace…this was where he belonged…and there was nothing he wouldn't do in this world to hang onto it.  Slowly, almost languorously, he began pumping into her…

…one hand tangled in the coils of her hair, keeping her mouth to his…

…the other on her hip, thumb stroking her skin as he regulated their pace…

Time stood still, ignoring the passionate young lovers as they rocked against each other, their moans echoing across the desert floor, the scent of their sex wafting along on the dry night breeze.  A cricket chirped, but neither heard, lost as they were in the glory of their union.

Spike's tempo quickened, his thrusts gradually growing harder…more demanding…and Buffy found herself matching him, stroke for stroke.  Pulling away from his kiss, she gazed up into his face, eyes flickering over the shadows cast by the moon across his cheekbones, devouring his azure eyes as they stared back at her.  "I love you," she whispered, and saw the gleam of pleasure as he hastened his movements, riding her even more strongly, burying himself with each penetration…

The wave started in the pit of her stomach, swelling as it threatened to emerge from her skin, and her breath caught in her throat, sending the world into a spiral of music and laughter.  Instead of being swept away, oblivious to her surroundings, however, Buffy found herself locked to Spike, feeling the explosion in his body as he let out an animal roar and slammed into her, that familiar face disappearing as his demon emerged, his fangs elongated.  She didn't even think, just grabbed his head…pulled him down into the curve of her neck…holding it there as his teeth sank into her tender flesh.

The bite ignited the fireworks within the young woman's being, obliterating any trace of the outside world…giving her only the ecstasy of Spike's embrace…the storm of their emotions a gale to ride in abandon. 

As it abated, Buffy felt Spike retract his fangs, lick daintily at the small wound he'd created in her neck, before lifting himself up to look down into her face.  "You didn't have to do that," he murmured.  "You've lost a lot of blood already today.  I shouldn't have---."

She cut his words off with a kiss, the coppery taste of her blood still lingering on his tongue.  "Like you hated it," she laughed, her voice low.  "It's your fault anyway.  If you weren't so damn right all the time…"

The blond vampire cocked his eyebrow.  "What is that supposed to mean?" he quizzed.

Buffy reached up and ran her index finger over his bottom lip.  "You were the one who said it about me," she said.  "And it's true."  Her hand slid around to the back of his neck, pulling him closer, lifting her own head so that her lips hovered just beside his ear.



The gentle breeze ruffled the Hound's fur as he laid his head down onto his paws.  He was tired; it had been a very, very long day, and now he was happy to be able to rest.  His new caretaker slept, and though she wasn't close, he knew she would be there for him come morning.  Unlike the dark one, she would not let her charge suffer, would tend to his needs, just as he would do whatever it was she asked.  He didn't know what tomorrow was going to bring; he was only aware that his current job was done…

…that he could sleep in peace…

…and that the hunt was finally over…

The End

Author's Note:  I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to let me know what you've thought of the story.  It's been such fun to write; I'm glad others enjoyed it as well.  On a different note, I've received a couple---unexpected---requests to write a Giles/Cortina fic, but I don't know if this something people will want to read (or just random yearnings for more Buffy fic from the masses).  If this might be something you'd be interested in seeing, please let me know.  Although I don't have tons of free time, I do really like the idea of a G/C story, so if I know others want it as well, I'll get to work on that…