He recited his mantra continually, clinging to the repetition like
a lifeline as he held the child to him. Despite his fear, he shielded
the younger boy, determined to protect him for as long as possible
from the horrifying death that encroached steadily upon them. With
his eyes squeezed firmly shut, he awaited the impending death blow,
starting in horror as the boy disappeared, leaving him frantically
clutching at nothingness. Forcing his eyes open, he turned around
to face his death alone, only to be confronted with an empty room.
The ugly club-wielding monster was gone, the door that the creature
had smashed its way through had repaired itself, and the quiet hustle
and bustle of normal hospital noises made their way into the room.
Xander carefully crawled out from his mediocre hiding place, eyes
and ears alert for any continued threat.
“You were part of my dream.”
Spinning around, Xander blinked, taking in the sight of the now-awake
boy in the bed. “Yeah, I was,” he agreed. “But you’ve
stopped dreaming now, right?” The boy’s slow nod put paid
to the last of his fears. “That’s good. So what…
uh… you know… how’d you wake up?”
“I don’t know… I think maybe it was you telling
me that I had to wake up. It kinda got to be annoying after a while,
and I figured the best way to make you stop was to just wake up.”
Spike woke slowly, Buffy’s body draped over him, the warmth
of her body and the slow, steady rhythm of her heart gently lulling
him back towards sleep. He nuzzled into her hair, breathing in her
scent, and with a contented sigh allowed his eyes to drift closed
His eyes flew open. Heartbeat? He breathed in the warm, living scent
of her, scrambling out from under her as his brain registered what
his senses were screaming at him. Human. Slayer!
With a soft mewl of protest, Buffy clung to him, her eyes opening
sleepily. “Spike? What’s wrong?” she asked quietly
as he continued to pull away from her.
The slight tremble of her voice, the barest hint of salt in the air
and the hurt reflected in her eyes quickly had him cursing himself
for a fool. Promised you’d never leave her, you git, never hurt
her. Heartbeat makes sod all difference to how you feel about the
girl, so stop acting like a bloody ponce. Gathering Buffy’s
warm, pliant body close to him, Spike ran soothing hands down her
back, whispering reassurances against her hair. “I’m sorry,
love. Never meant to hurt you. ‘s alright, kitten, I‘m
here; not going anywhere, Buffy. Not going anywhere.”
He gently tilted her chin up until he could meet her eyes, stroking
her cheek tenderly with his thumb as he searched her face. “I’m
sorry, Buffy. I heard your heart beating an’ I overreacted.
Can you forgive me, love?”
“I... I’m human again?” Buffy asked in amazement,
momentarily forgetting the hurt his rejection had elicited. He nodded
silently and her heart pounded in her chest with the force of his
revelation. Closing her eyes, she focused her senses the way he had
taught her, but the myriad of scents and sounds that had so recently
dizzied her with their intensity were dulled and muted, a poor echo
of the crystalline clarity she had quickly grown accustomed to. The
comforting awareness of ‘sire’ that Spike’s presence
automatically brought was gone, leaving her empty, aching and bereft
in its absence.
Part of her rejoiced at her newly-regained human status, and the knowledge
that the nightmares that had engulfed Sunnydale must have ended. A
large part of her, however, mourned the loss of her vampiric nature
and all that had come with it.
“Buffy?” Spike’s quiet concern cut through her musing,
and she focused on the worried blue eyes before her.
“You still want me?” she stated more than asked, as the
devotion in his eyes was clearly evident.
“Always, love.” His lips brushed gently against hers as
he continued, “Love you, Buffy. Not gonna lose you. Can’t.”
At her soft moan, he deepened the kiss, his tongue snaking out to
trace her lower lip, requesting and gaining entrance.
When her need to breathe broke them apart, he rested his forehead
gently against hers, smoothing the silky golden locks as he sought
the words to best phrase the tumultuous thoughts whirling in his mind.
“Know it won’t be easy, kitten. An’ before you say
it, I know we can’t be together if I’m feeding on people.
I’m not saying I’ll always make the right decisions, love;
‘s not easy curbing over a hundred years of instinct. But I
will try, I promise you that. An’ knowing what I stand to lose
if I stuff up,” he kissed the tip of her nose, “is damned
good incentive not to stuff up.”
Buffy reached up and stroked his face, her fingers gently cupping
his cheek as her thumb ran almost worshipfully along the knife-edge
line of his cheekbone. Sliding her hand up, she gently brushed the
errant curls back from his forehead, smiling as they sprang back again,
resisting her attempts at taming them. “I love you too, Spike.”
She kissed him gently, her eyes never leaving his as she spoke again,
“I trust you. And I believe in you—in us. We can do this,
“I have to go get…” Xander paused, not sure how
to explain to Billy why he needed to go and get his friends. “Look,
I’ll be back soon, I promise.” The boy’s tentative
half smile and perfunctory nod relayed his scepticism, and Xander
tried again. “Listen, I will be back, okay? I just have some
friends in here I need to check up on, make sure they’re okay,
and if they are, they might even come back with me to visit you. But
even if they don’t, I promise you I will be back soon.”
Billy’s now-genuine smile and the belief in his eyes freed Xander
to go and seek out Willow and Giles, and he made his way quickly out
the door with only a small twinge of guilt at leaving the smaller
boy alone after his ordeal.
He had only gone a short distance when he saw the familiar faces coming
towards him. “Willow!” He ran towards her, engulfing her
in a hug and spinning her around to the disapproval of the nurses
at the nearby nurse’s station. “You’re okay! I was
worried,” he announced after placing the breathless redhead
back on her feet. “Giles!” he turned to the watcher who
immediately held his hand up in the universal signal to stop.
“Xander. We were rather concerned as to your whereabouts. I
am glad to see you are unharmed in any way.” Casting his eyes
around the hospital corridor with its usual bustle of activity he
continued, “It seems the spell has been broken. The world appears
to be back to normal, with no lasting ill-affects. And people appear
to either have no memory of the recent events or, in true Sunnydale
fashion, they are simply denying them and proceeding as if nothing
untoward has occurred.”
“That’s one of the reasons I was looking for you. And
to make sure you were okay, of course,” he added at the watcher’s
arched eyebrow. “I need you to come with me and meet someone."
On the walk to Billy’s room, he gave Giles and Willow a quick
rundown of his and dream-Billy’s adventures and proudly explained
how he had ended the spell by nagging Billy into waking up.
“Do we know what caused his condition in the first place?”
“No. I mean, I didn’t ask, I just wanted to find you guys.”
They walked into Billy’s room, and Xander quickly introduced
Pulling up a chair and speaking quietly with the boy, Giles gently
probed him for information but found the boy hesitant to speak about
the ordeal that had ended with him in hospital in a coma. The most
he had been able to deduce was that Billy had been on his way home
from a kiddie league game when he’d been attacked.
The door swung open and a woman entered, her face etched with concern
but lightening considerably when she noted the boy sitting awake and
alert in his bed.
“Mom!” Billy cried, attempting to detangle himself from
the bedcovers and scramble out of bed. Before he could complete his
task, he was engulfed in his softly sobbing mother’s arms.
After a few moments she pulled back, settling on the bed and stroking
her son’s face. “Billy, sweetheart, I’m so sorry
to have to tell you this. Your coach. He’s…” She
took a deep breath, steeling herself for her son’s reaction
but knowing it was better he hear the news from her than from an outside
source. “He’s dead. I’m so sorry. They found him
on the lower floor of the hospital near a flight of stairs. His neck
was broken, and they think he probably tripped and fell down the stairs.”
“So Buffy will be okay now, right?”
“Hmm?” Giles looked up, Xander’s question breaking
him from his thoughts. The small smile that had played momentarily
across Billy’s face when his mother had told him of his coach’s
demise seemed to answer the question of how Billy had ended up in
the condition he was in. Apparently his team had lost their game,
and it had been as he was on his way home afterwards that the boy
had been attacked. Having seemingly found the answer to the riddle,
however, did nothing to please the watcher; it merely sickened him.
“I said, Buffy will be Buffy now, right? No more with the fangy?”
“I presume so, yes. Although the sooner we find her, the happier
I will be; there is, after all, still the matter of a new and highly
dangerous vampire in town.”
“Maybe he was just another nightmare?” Willow offered
“The possibility had occurred to me; however, everything that
was affected by the nightmares has gone back to normal, and as I still
have this,” he gestured towards the healing wound on his neck,
“I can only deduce that the vampire was, in fact, real.”
“Buffy.” A strangled moan escaped the vampire as her warmth
surrounded him, her strong internal muscles caressing his cock, and
he stilled his movements to compose himself, amazed at the effect
being buried in her heat was having on him. “Love you,”
he murmured, claiming her lips once again before slowly beginning
to move within her.
Time stopped, the world spinning to a halt until there was nothing
but the gentle slide of flesh against flesh, warm caresses, tender
kisses, and softly-whispered words of love and devotion.
Buffy’s breathing quickened, her soft moans becoming urgent
whimpers, and he sped the movement of his hips as he trailed kisses
down her throat to her pulse-point and sucked gently.
As her internal walls began to flutter around him, he allowed his
features to change and gently slid his fangs into the soft, smooth
skin. He drew gently on her blood, taking two long pulls of the powerful
elixir; as her muscles clamped almost painfully around him, he followed
her into bliss, his breath cool against her skin as he murmured his
Buffy lay contentedly in her lover’s arms, her head resting
against his chest, her fingers tracing gentle patterns on the smooth
“I’m gonna have to go,” she informed him quietly,
her voice heavy with regret. “My mom’ll be worried about
me, and Giles and my friends will be too.”
“Giles? That wouldn’t be your watcher by any chance, would
‘Yeah, kinda obvious, huh?” she asked, smiling against
his skin before pressing a soft lingering kiss to one lightly pebbled
Spike toyed with saying nothing, but knew that if he wanted to try
and make a go of his unnatural relationship with the slayer, he had
to be upfront with her and hope for the best. Steadying himself for
her reaction, he closed his eyes, breathing in the delectable scent
of her and the heady aroma of their lovemaking for what he sincerely
hoped would not be the last time. “Buffy, love.” He waited
until she looked up at him, seeking and holding her eyes he continued,
“I kinda ran across him in the cemetery, just before you rose.”
Buffy’s eyes widened in shock. “Oh, god, Spike. Please
tell me you didn’t kill him.”
“Don’t think so, love. Bit him, but didn’t take
much more than a few sips before I was distracted. When I went back
he was gone, so I’m pretty sure he’s alright,” he
Buffy jumped out of his arms and began rapidly pulling her clothes
on. With a regret-filled sigh, Spike lay back on their bed, closing
his eyes against the pain. His eyes flew open as a pair of jeans hit
him in the face.
“Come on,” Buffy urged. “Get dressed. I need you
to help me find him, and then we have to find a way to break all this
to my mom.”
“All what, kitten?” Spike questioned as he drew the jeans
up his legs.
“This. Me. You know, slayers and vampires and… us.”
“Your mum doesn’t know you’re the slayer?”
he asked incredulously, pulling his t-shirt over his head and
tucking it into his jeans.
Buffy shook her head as she finished dressing. “Giles said it
would be better if she didn’t know.”
“Yeah, well, that sounds like a bleedin’ watcher for you.
For that alone, the git deserves to be eaten. Look, love, how’s
your mum supposed to keep safe if she doesn’t know about the
dangers? What’s to stop her inviting the likes of me into her
house if she doesn’t know any better?”
“I know,” Buffy conceded his point. “But, hey, seeing
as you're so concerned, you get to help make with the ‘splainy.
And you can help me think of convincing reasons why I should be allowed
to date an older man, err… vampire. But first, we need to find
Giles eyed the blonde couple warily; his slayer was walking toward
them hand in hand with the vampire who had nearly ended his life.
All other aspects of the nightmare world appeared to have returned
to rights; however, the watcher could see no logical reason for the
company his slayer was keeping other than the heartbreaking possibility
that she was, in fact, still a vampire.
He mumbled quietly for the children to drop back and to be careful
as he readied a stake, keeping it hidden from the sight of the pair
rapidly approaching across the lawn.
As they neared, Buffy’s face lit into a beaming smile. “Giles,”
she cried, releasing the vampire’s hand and launching herself
at her watcher. Before Giles could raise the stake for the killing
blow, he found himself crushed in his slayer’s embrace. “You’re
okay!” Buffy murmured against his chest, squeezing him tighter
as if to assure herself of his existence.
“No thanks to your companion, yes, I am.” Giles watched
over his slayer’s shoulder as the vampire halted, casually reached
into his duster pocket and drew out a cigarette which he lit with
a flourish, taking a long draw on the cigarette before exhaling slowly.
“Spike won’t hurt you again, Giles. He won’t hurt
anyone,” she added, drawing back from her watcher and capturing
her friends’ eyes. “He promised.”
“And why, pray tell, would he do that? And more importantly,
why would you expect any of us to believe him?”
With pleading eyes, Buffy explained how Spike had taken care of her,
how he had willingly forgone feeding so as not to upset her. She told
them about the bagged blood and the old drunk in the alley, that Spike
was going to help her with patrolling and even with training. Giles’
eyes had lit momentarily at the thought of someone else being his
super-powered charge’s punching bag for a change. Without going
into detail, she explained to her watcher and her friends how much
they cared about each other. She told them about Spike’s promises
to her—their promises to each other.
All the while Spike stood apart, feigning indifference, but Buffy
could see how worried he was; she longed to go to him, to wrap her
arms around his waist and assure him that nothing would ever keep
them apart. Instead, she redoubled her efforts, countering every argument,
stressing and restressing each relevant point until finally she succeeded
in wringing reluctant approval from Giles and Xander. Willow had been
easily won over, the sight of her friend’s eyes glittering with
love and happiness every time she glanced at the vampire had been
all the redhead had needed to make up her mind.
Buffy took Spike’s hand, drawing him closer and introducing
him to each of her friends. Willow’s shy but enthusiastic smile
buoyed both his confidence and his mood. With his happily smiling
slayer by his side, even the boy’s perfunctory nod did little
to dispel it.
Shaking hands firmly with the watcher, he nodded towards the other
man’s still-healing neck. “Sorry ‘bout that, mate.”
Giles’ eyes hardened, his voice dropping to a dangerous level.
“If you ever do anything to hurt her…”
“If I hurt her, you won’t have to worry about it. I’ll
dust myself before you’d ever have a chance.”
The two men locked eyes, each studying the other for some time before
both looked away, seemingly satisfied with what they had found.
Linking her arm with Spike’s, Buffy announced the need to go
home and let her mom know not only that she was okay, but also about
her slayer status. When Giles opened his mouth to argue, she cut him
off. “No, Giles. She needs to know. Not only ‘cause it
will make my life a whole world of easier, but for her safety, too.”
Realising that this was yet another argument that he wasn’t
going to win, Giles sighed resignedly. “Alright, Buffy. If your
mother has any questions you can, of course, give her my number, just
please ask her to ring in the morning. For now I am going home, having
a stiff drink, and going to sleep. With any luck, when I wake up this
will all turn out to have been a nightmare.”