Willow glanced up with her best "May I help you?"
smile firmly in place when the front door of
Magic Bos swung open.
When she saw who had come in, her smile began
to fade. She couldn't have
been, or looked, more
surprised if the Queen of England had walked in
and asked for directions.
"Well, look who's
here," Spike said, producing his
most charming smile. "My favorite little witch."
He strolled casually across the
room, with his hands
tucked into the front pockets of his trousers. "How've
you been, luv?"
to return his smile. "I've been good,"
she said, striving for the same nonchalance that he
displayed so effortlessly.
"Thanks for asking."
As surprised as she was to see him, she couldn't
help being intensely aware of the fact that
fantastic. Although his basic appearance hadn't
changed, and never would, he still looked different.
had the same platinum blonde hair, sculpted
features, and penetrating dark blue eyes, but he
seemed to have gotten over
his love affair with the
<Well, there's some black, but at least he's
not covered from head to
toe in it...>
His trousers were beige brushed suede, and clung
attractively to his well formed thighs. A
colored turtleneck lay beneath a silk shirt almost
the same color as his eyes, that was buttoned
with the ends tucked neatly into his
His coat, the black duster that defined him so
well, was new. The
same basic style, but
fashioned of buttery soft suede.
He looked, Willow decided frankly, devastating.
around in her mind for something to break
the silence, she fell back on inane small talk. "So,
where...HOW have you
Spike smiled, watching her play nervously with
a lock of her hair. "To answer your first question,"
replied, crossing the room to the counter she
was standing behind and sitting on it, "I've been
all over the world.
As to your second question, I've
been quite well, thanks."
"Oh! Well...good. That's good. Could I ask another
she ventured timidly.
"Why not?" he said indulgently. "I'm feeling generous
Willow wiped her sweaty
palms on the front of her
skirt. "Okay, don't take this the wrong way, but
why are you here? I mean," she clarified
"why are you in Sunnydale, not...you know...why
are you in the Magic Box?"
Spike leveled his perceptive
gaze on her, narrowing
his eyes. If his intent had been to unnerve her, he
that you have to have a reason or anything. I
mean, it's a free country...for YOU too." She
knowing that she was babbling
like an idiot, but unable to stop herself. "And anyway,
it's not like you have to tell
ME the reason you're
here, because like I said...country...free."
Finally running out of steam, she took a deep
Fortunately, her demeanor seemed to amuse
him. "Relax, Red," he said soothingly. 'I'm not
to do you any harm, I promise." He chuckled.
"No bottles in your face or teeth in your neck."
Willow forced out
a weak laugh. "That's...good
to know," she stammered. "So, um...you're just
Spike said, shaking his head. "Now
enough of the pleasantries. Where's Buffy?" he
her stomach tighten. "Why?"
He laughed again. "So protective," he commented.
"Don't fret, luv. Goldielocks
is perfectly safe from
the big bad wolf."
"Again...good to know." She swallowed hard. "But
I'm really not
sure where she is tonight," she added.
Spike looked at her for a nerverackingly long mo-
ment. "You wouldn't
lie to me...would you, luv?"
Despite the smile on his face, his tone had a hint
of a warning in it.
Willow said, a little too loudly. "I wouldn't do
that. I mean, I try to be an honest person and...and
lying is wrong,
and...well, I've never been very good
at it, anyway," she admitted.
Spike met her unwavering gaze for a few more
"You know what?" he said abruptly, sliding off the
counter, "I believe you. You're probably not very good
Willow needlessly rearranged items on the counter,
neatening what was already perfectly neat to begin
"So...it's been nice seeing you," she said cheer-
fully, "but I was just getting ready to close up when
you got here...so...."
ignored her words. "I've already been to her
house and there was no one home. She living on campus
hesitated. "No...she's still living at home, but
she's...sort of out tonight."
"Hmm," he nodded. "Patrolling?"
She took a step back from the counter. "Dating."
Spike frowned slightly, his eyes flashing yellow for a
instant. "You don't say?" he asked quietly. "And
who is she doing that with?"
"Oh, with a guy. Just a guy.
Spike gave her a look that demanded further infor-
"A guy that...that she has a
couple of classes with."
"Give me a name, luv."
She almost made up a name, then thought better of
she remembered her lack of skill in the
art of mendacity. "Parker...somebody. I don't know
his last name." She
got another inquisitive stare. "I
really DON'T," she added defensively.
A few seconds ticked by, stretching
her nerves to the
"All right," Spike finally said, turning to leave. "Thanks
for the help luv."
hand was on the doorknob when Willow gathered
her nerve and spoke up.
"You don't have a right to be made because
dating, you know. I mean, YOU left HER, remember?
Did you think she was gonna sit and wait forever? It's
what...over a year since you took off?"
Spike pulled the door open. "Well, I'm here now," he
said, without looking
at her. "And I WILL take back
He walked out the door, closing it with a loud bang.
to ten, then reached for the phone.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Spike stood on the front
porch of Buffy's house,
thumb pressing firmly down on the doorbell, then
rapped on the door with his fist.
not home?" He walked the perimeter of the
house, searching for signs of life within, finding
nothing but silence.
the hell are you, Slayer?" He checked his
watch. Almost midnight. "You'd best get your
shapely ass home soon,
girl. If I have to come looking
A car pulled into the driveway, and he moved back into
and sporty looking, with an obnoxious bright
yellow paint job, the sort of car a rich father would buy
for a spoiled
child, it came to a stop. Music blasted
from a top of the line sound system.
Spike watched as the driver turned
to face the girl
sitting beside him.
<If you value your life, boy, you will NOT touch...>
"Son of a..."
he bit out when he saw them begin to
exchange kisses. It took every ounce of will power
at his command not to drag that
boy out of his kiddie
car and beat him to death.
A moment later, the passenger side door opened and
out of the car. Spike glared as she
leaned down to say goodnight to her date and closed
sensational. Even prettier than he remember-
ed, wearing a pair of jeans that looked painted on, and
a red silk blouse
that clung to her curves. Her hair was
longer, a gorgeous mixture of honey and golden brown
that reached halfway
to her waist. It was thick and shiny,
and the memory of it's softness made his fingers itch to
play with it.
waited until she'd unlocked the front door and gone in-
side before he left his hiding place. The boy had already
his car out of the driveway and driven off, music
Spike turned the doorknob quietly, but she had
up. Breaking the lock presented no problem, but he
would wait and see if he needed to. He rang the
bell, smiling when he heard her running down the stairs.
She must have thought that her date had returned
reason, judging by the expectant smile on her face...a smile
that disappeared instantly when she saw who was
"Hello, sweetheart," he said, his voice low and suggestive.
"How's my girl?"
didn't reply with words. Instead, she tried to slam the
door, forcing Spike to place his foot in the way to block it.
the edge of the door in one hand, he said, "Now,
now...is that any way to treat your lover?"
"Maybe not!" she snapped.
"But it's definitely the way to treat
YOU!" She stopped her attempts to close the door, but
stood her ground and
blocked him from entering the house.
"What the hell do you want?" she demanded.
"Just you, baby," Spike answered.
"Just what belongs to
me." He placed his other hand on the door. "If you don't
want this door torn off it's
hinges, you'd best let me in."
Buffy glared at him. She knew from past experience that
Spike didn't make idle
threats, and he never gave more
than one warning. Since she didn't want to have to ex-
plain to her mother where
the front door had disappeared
to, she opened it all the way and took three steps back.
Spike stepped into the entryway
with a smirk that she
wanted to slap right off his face.
"Close the door, baby," he said, walking into the
room without a backward glance. "It's getting chilly outside."
Shedding his coat, he tossed it across the back
armchair, then settled himself on the sofa, smiling at
Wishing that she'd had the presence of mind
to have had
Willow revoke his visiting privileges after he'd left, Buffy
slammed the door so hard that the living room
rattled in its frame.
Stomping into the living room, she folded her arms across
her chest. "Now will you
tell me why you're here?"
"I've missed you, sweetheart," he said, patting the sofa
cushion beside him in a clear
invitation. "Come here and
give me a kiss hello."
She ignored the gesture, choosing to sit in a chair
the opposite wall, sending an equally clear message
by putting as much distance between them as she could,
leaving the room.
"I'll pass," she said curtly, turning down his offer.
To her surprise, Spike merely shrugged.
"Fine. But you're
only depriving yourself. I mean," he added, winking at
her, "kissing is one of the things we do best,
Buffy shifted nervously in her chair. Of course she re-
membered. This wasn't the type of guy you'd
"Actually, I don't," she lied, hoping he'd buy it.
He didn't. "Oh, please," he scoffed. "You can't
lie to me.
Why do you even bother trying?"
Leaning back against the sofa, he stretched his legs
out and laced
his fingers together on his abdomen, mere
inches from his belt buckle.
"You know damn well that you remember the
we'd make out for hours, right here on this sofa. I'd kiss
you so long and hard that your pretty little
be all swollen and tender."
Buffy forced herself not to call up the memory, digging
her nails into
the padded arms of her chair. "Just cut
it out and tell me why you're here!"
The amusement abruptly left his face,
and his dark eyes
stared intently into hers, nailing her to the back of her
chair like a butterfly on a hat pin. "Who
the hell were
you out with tonight?"
Her entire body tensed. "How is that any of YOUR
business?" she challenged,
struggling for a bravado that
she didn't really feel.
"Indulge me," he said. "I'd like to know the name of the man
enough to put his hands on MY girl." His eyes moved
up and down her body with a caressing gaze. "Call me old
call you something, all right," she said hotly. "But THAT
won't be it."
His smile came back. "My kitten has
sharpened her claws."
"Yeah. She's sharpened her stakes, too." Buffy's eyes
flashed with angry fire. "You're
sporting serious brass, show-
ing up here after all this time, interrogating me about who
you WERE dating," Spike corrected. "Past tense."
Buffy countered with her "Just who the hell do you think you
look. "Because YOU day so?"
"Now you're getting it," he said approvingly. "Because I say
so. And, because
you wouldn't want the boy to come
down with a nasty case of death, would you?"
Her eyes skittered away from his,
jumping nervously from
one object in the room to another. "Why are you doing this to
me?" she asked softly.
leaned forward. "Because you...look at me, Buffy...you
are mine." His voice suddenly dropped into a lower, more
register. "You've ALWAYS been mine, and you
bloody always WILL be!"
Buffy jumped to her feet. She turned to
run from the room,
but he'd been expecting this and was on her before she got
more than a few steps away.
her right bicep, he yanked her to a stop and
slid his free arm around her waist, hauling her roughly
strong as she was, she'd never had any real ability
to resist him. The feel of his body against hers had
depleted her strength, making her weak in the
knees, and this embrace was no exception.
Spike's arm felt like a
steel bar that she couldn't dis-
lodge. "LET GO OF ME!"
"Make me," he laughed, her struggles only exciting
more. Releasing his hold on her arm, he raised his
hand to her face and held it firmly as he lowered his
and captured her mouth beneath his.
Buffy splayed her hands on his chest and tried to
shove him away. He responded
by deepning the
kiss, exploring her mouth with passionate intensity.
She could feel her resolve melting like butter
on a hot
griddle, as his kiss brought back memories of past
embraces, of moist, feverish kisses they'd shared back
it was all new...when they couldn't keep their
hands off each other.
Spike had been right when he'd said that kissing
one of their best events. No mere meeting of lips, their
kisses had been a sexual act unto themselves, deep,
Buffy had been on the receiving end of many kisses. Some
had been casual, some had been
most had been pleasureable.
But the man holding her now had absolutely no equal. He
like there was no tomorrow.
Pressing himself against her, his hands would move
restlessly over her body, his fingers
tangling in her
hair as he whispered in her ear between kisses, telling
her how beautiful she was, how badly he wanted
<The way he's doing now....God help me....>
She tried not to fall for it, not to respond, calling
forefront of her mind all the hurt he'd inflicted on her
when he'd left...all the anger, all the sadness, and
the tears she'd cried.
The ache in her heart had taken months to become even
bearable, and she'd only just begun
to tentatively move
through it by accepting an invitation to a party where
she'd connected with Parker Abrams, one of
in her psych class.
They'd spent the entire evening talking only with
each other, and he'd called
the following morning to
ask her to dinner, and they'd been out twice since then.
Attractive and charming, he'd
shown her a good time,
and she'd looked forward to seeing him again.
But standing here now, being kissed by a vampire
had broken her heart, she was having trouble remember-
ing what Parker even looked like.
Spike knew her
so well, knew exactly how to please
her, a skill he'd perfected over long, lingering hours
could hear bells pealing in her head, and it took her
a few seconds to realize that it was the telephone
When the sound finally penetrated the haze of pleasure
she was swimming in, Buffy wedged her hands be-
her body and Spike's, managing to push him a
few inches away. "Let go," she panted.
"No," he replied, no humor
in his voice. "It's been too
long since I've held you."
He shouldn't have reminded her.
"Well, whose fault
is THAT?" she snapped. "Let GO!"
Finally breaking away, she practically ran for the phone. Pick-
ing up the receiver,
she glared at him.
"Hello...Oh, hi...Yeah, I know...He's here...I don't know...No,
I didn't check the machine...That's
all right...It probably
wouldn't have made any difference...No, I'm fine...I can't
talk right now...Sure...I'll call
She hung up the phone and punched the 'replay' button on
the answering machine. Willow's
voice was high pitched
"Buffy?...It's Willow...If you're home, pick up...Hello?...Okay,
I just wanted
to let you know that Spike was here tonight
at the shop...He's back in town and he came her looking
for you. I thought
I should warn you cause I sort of told
him that you had a date tonight and he seems...put out
about it. I think
he was heading to your place after he left
here, so...just call me, okay?"
Sighing, Buffy erased the message.
Spike sounded amused. "So cute...and such a
master at the art of understatement."
Buffy watched him warily
as he walked towards her. "What's
that supposed to mean?"
"It means," he replied, reaching for the phone and taking
off the hook, "that I wasn't 'put out' about you having a
date with Joe College." He stared into her eyes,
be sure she understood. "I was angrier than you ever want to
see me, little girl, and quite ready to snap
his bloody neck
for even THINKING about touching you."
"But, why?" Buffy demanded, stamping one foot like a spoiled
"Why the hell do you care who touches me?" She
ducked away from the hands that were reaching for her. "YOU
Spike was right on her heels as she returned to the living
room. "But I came back."
yeah! A year later! Do you think you deserve some
sort of extra credit for that?" Her voice was laced
casm. "What are you expecting me to say? Gee, Spike,
I'm SO glad you're back. Don't worry about deserting
a year ago, cause you're here now so all is forgiven, and
we'll just pick up right where we left off, take me I'm
His voice held a mild warning, but she was
too worked up to care.
"Don't!" she lashed out. "Don't even TRY
yourself, because if you think that I'll take any old
crap you care to dish out, then you have got another
Her voice rose in volume as she got angrier.
"This," she continued recklessly, "is MY life. You
up your right to have a say in it when you got in your
car and drove away."
Afraid that she was going to
start crying, Buffy paused
to collect herself.
The memory was as painfully sharp and clear as it had
the day it happened, the day her happiness
had been brutally torn away by a man who'd claimed
to love her.
had been together ever since Spike had left Drusilla
in South America, and returned to Sunnydale to stake
on the slayer. For over a year, Buffy had been
more content than she'd ever been.
So, she hadn't seen it coming.
One day she'd woken up
happy, and had gone to bed in tears.
He had come home that night displaying all the
of a foul mood...increased profanity, the
inability to sit still, and complete lack of interest
in physical contact
She hadn't been too concerned at first. She was used
to his mercurial moods, and they never
lasted long. As
the evening wore on, she had done everything she could
to cajole him out of his funk.
used all the well practiced tricks at her dis-
posal, from trying to make him laugh at her ineptitude
at telling jokes,
to seductive words that assured him she
knew exactly how to cheer him up, and that if he would
just come upstairs, she'd
be happy to demonstrate.
Nothing had worked, and she'd become more and more
nervous as she'd realized that this
was no mere mood
swing, and wondered if something she had done was the
cause of his ill humor.
When she'd finally
pried it out of him, the things he'd
said had sent her into a tailspin.
He had accused her of trying to domesticate
him her pet vampire by telling him not to hunt and feed off
people, and forcing him to exist on blood purchased
a meat processing plant.
She was making him soft, he had told her, an object of
derision in the demon world.
whipped, they called him. A frigging lap dog. She
was trying to turn him into the sort of vampire that
Angel had become
and he fucking HATED Angel.
He was being laughed at by vamps that had always
feared him, and it was HER fault!
nearly sick with pain at the thought of losing
him, Buffy hadn't been able to defend herself against
his charges. There
could be no compromise on the
issue. She was the slayer, pure and simple. She couldn't
very well slay other vampires
who fed off people, and leave
HIM alone to do as he pleased.
Hours of asking him...begging him...to leave things
they had been, were of no avail. He had left her that
night, left without indicating whether or not he would
After watching the red glow of his car's tail lights
disappear, she had run upstairs and thrown herself
on her bed, crying harder than she'd ever done
All night she had wept, and when morning finally
she'd been wrung dry of tears.
Time passed, and somewhere along the way, her
sadness had turned into anger.
here face to face with her errant lover, Buffy
seized on that anger, using it to guide her and to
strengthen her convictions.
narrowed his eyes, a gesture that...in her
agitation...she didn't immediately pick up on.
"Are you finished," he
asked, a little too politely.
Buffy plowed heedlessly ahead, ignoring...or
missing...another clear warning.
will date whoever I choose to date! And I will decide who
puts his hands on me, not..."
Her little speech
was halted when Spike slapped his
hands flat against the wall on either side of her head,
effectively caging her in.
inhaled sharply with surprise. She'd forgotten
how fast he could move when he chose to.
"The only man who
is going to put his hands, or anything
else on you, is me." His voice and his expression were
"I'll make sure of it, even if I have to lock
you in your room 24/7."
After a few seconds, his demeanor suddenly
smiled down at her, that go-to-hell sexy smile that always
turned her on.
"Don't worry, baby," he
said, leaning closer until their lips
nearly touched. "I'll make sure you enjoy every moment of