Tell Me You Love Me
Pattyanne 's Fic
Kings of Mercia
LoobyLoos' Fic
Jen's Fic

Part 1

She sat on the side of the bed, staring at the wall with glazed eyes.

Waiting for him. Hoping she was wrong. Hoping he would appear with his smart aleck smile and a suggestive comment about finding her in his bed.

But, in the place where she buried all unacceptable facts and ugly truths, she knew it wasn't going to happen. Not this time.

Not ever again.

Spike was gone, and she had only herself to blame.

He had asked so little of her, she knew that that it was too late.

Spike hadn't wanted to change her. He'd never demanded that she live her life on his terms, conforming to his desires, and he'd never asked her to pretend to be less than what she was.

Her identity was comprised of many parts. A daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, a slayer.

All of these things were her, and the juggling act she had to perform to keep all those balls in the air sometimes drove her to despair, leaving her teetering on the edge of a cliff, with nowhere to go but down.

Spike always pulled her back from it.

Here in this room, in his bed, she'd only ever had to be herself. Just a girl with a man who only wanted one thing from her, a thing that she had refused to give him.

Not once had she said the words, no matter that she had the feelings.

He'd wanted so badly to hear her say it, and she wouldn't. Even after everything he'd done for her...she wouldn't say it.

For her, Spike had turned his back on all that he'd been for over a hundred years. Not because of that behavior modification chip, but because of her.

The implant didn't matter. He could have gotten around it somehow, if he'd really wanted to. All he would need to do was hook up with another vampire, one who would do the actual killing.

As Drusilla had once offered.

But he hadn't done that. He'd had a choice, and he'd chosen her. To stay with her, to fight beside her, to kill his own kind, placing himself at a constant risk, because there wasn't a demon in this town who didn't know that he was allied with the slayer...and they hated him for it.

His decision. His choice.

It was a choice that Angel had never made.

Well, Angelus hadn't, anyway. Angelus hadn't chosen to stop killing, it had been forced on him. The moment he'd had the chance, he'd picked up right where he'd left off. Only worse.

Losing his soul again had freed him and made him more vicious and violent than he'd been the first time, as though he'd felt a compulsion to make up for lost time, for all those years when he didn't terrorize, and torture, and kill.

Buffy sighed deeply, rubbing her eyes.

And even if the implant did keep Spike from killing, it hadn't made him help her and protect the people she loved.

It certainly hadn't been responsible for him standing right beside her during her showdown with Glory.

Buffy had come within a hair's distance of losing that battle, and she WOULD have lost it much earlier in the game if it hadn't been for Spike's refusal to reveal the identity of Glory's key, despite hours of brutal torture.

No, that had been a choice he had made. A choice that had its roots in his love for her.

And for what? For a girl who comes to his bed every night, accepting all the pleasure he gives me...I take and I take, and I never give back...

So, why wouldn't he leave? Why would he want to stay with someone who refused to admit to having any feelings for him other than physical attraction or desire, the kind of desire that any man could satisfy, making him feel that he was what she had once cruelly called him...a convenience.

No one with any sense would want to remain with a person who flung such hateful words at them.

"I hate're a pig...why won't you just disgust're not a man, you're a evil, disgusting thing...perverse...degrading...get out...go away...stay away...tell anyone and I WILL kill you...."

The ugly words rang in her ears, making her cringe in shame.

Even after they'd gotten past that point in their relationship, she had never done anything to make up to him for her shabby treatment.

If she HAD done right by him, he'd be here with her now. All she would have needed to do was tell him she loved him, and everything that had come before would be forgiven...forgotten.

The sadness she was feeling now was taking a slow stranglehold on her throat, making her eyes burn with tears that needed to be cried.

She was lost now, and the only one who could find her had turned his back on her and walked away.



The clang bang of the door above being opened and closed sent a wild rush of hope through her...

He's back...he came back to me...

...a hope that died instantly when she turned and saw Xander climbing down the ladder to the lower level.

"Yo, Spike!" he called out as he descended. "I'm looking for...Buffy?"

She shook her head. "He's not here," she said flatly. "He's gone."

"Uh-huh. Well, actually I was looking for YOU, and I thought he might...Buffy?" He knelt in front of her. "What's the matter?" he asked, sincerely concerned. "Why are you crying?"

The tears had finally begun, brimming in her eyes, then tracing a slow path down her cheeks. "He's gone...and I don't know what I'm gonna do..."

"Gone?" Xander sat on the side of the bed next to her. "Gone where? What makes you think he's gone?"

Buffy disregarding the question. " you know why he left?" she asked, wiping her eyes on her sleeve.

Xander frowned as he considered possible answers to this question. Surely she didn't mean that Spike was gone as in...dead?

That couldn't be it. It didn't make any sense. Asking if he knew why Spike had left, indicated that he'd done it of his own free will.

But THAT made even less sense. Spike leave Sunnydale? Leave Buffy? No way.

So what the hell had happened?

"No," he finally said. "I guess I don't."

"He left," Buffy informed him, "because he loves me...and I hurt him. I hurt him so much that he had to leave town to get away from me."

Okay, NOW he knew something was off kilter. Buffy had put plenty of hurtin's on Spike over the years, and he always came back for more.

"What do you mean?" he asked. "How did you hurt him? Were you guys fighting?"

Buffy sniffled and shook her head. "I need to find him, so that I can tell him that I love him, too." A strong sob racked her small frame. "I should have told him before...but I didn't. I waited too long and...and now it's too late."

She looked at Xander imploringly, as though he was the oracle who could provide all the answers. "Why didn't I tell him, Xander? I knew that I loved him...why didn't I say it?"

Xander was still absorbing the words "I love him." Part of him was surprised at Buffy's confession, while the other part had, on some subconscious level, been expecting it.

He had know that Spike was in love with Buffy. Anybody with eyes in their heads could see that the slayer's former worst enemy had fallen for her in a big way.

Xander had stopped believing long ago in the 'vampires can't love' theory. Ordinary vampires, maybe, but Spike wasn't exactly ordinary.

Ever since they'd all banded together during the 'Glory' crisis, Buffy and Spike had spent a considerable amount of time together. He went out with her every time she prowled the cemeteries and back alleys of the Hellmouth, staking more vamps than anyone else in the gang besides her.

Xander had watched as they grew closer and, surprisingly, it hadn't bothered him as much as he'd thought it would. Though he'd rather bite off his tongue than say it, he found Spike to be fairly likeable these days.

Spike had done his share and more, when it came down to saving the world, and he'd made an obvious effort to change, to become something more than what he'd been.

And it wasn't to score points with Buffy. Maybe at first, but not anymore. He displayed clear affection for Dawn, and seemed fond of Willow and Tara as well. He never hesitated to join in and fight, and he'd stepped between all of them and certain disaster more than once.

Even Giles has come around to trusting him, and THAT was really saying something.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," he said, feeling lame and useless. "I just...I honestly don't know what to say to you right now."

She stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. "Why am I even asking YOU?" she said bitterly. "You hated him. Even after things changed...after HE never gave him a chance. None of you did, really, but you most of all."

Xander was stung by her words and tone. "Hey, that's not..."

"How many times did he save your ass, Xander?"

"More than once...I know that. But I..."

"So damned ungrateful." Her voice was tight with anger.

"Okay, now THAT'S it!" Xander said hotly, feeling his own anger rise. "I was NOT ungrateful for anything, and I didn't...I DON'T..hate him. Not for a long time now...and neither do the others."

Buffy stared at the floor, refusing to meet his eyes. "All you ever did was insult him," she mumbled.

"Yeah! That's right!" He took a deep breath, trying to control his irritation. "And all HE ever did was insult ME. It doesn't mean that we hated each other. I mean, can you see us having a touchy-feely encounter session, where we discuss all our innermost feelings and end it with a big hug?"

She shook her head. "That's not...:

"Don't blame ME," he cut her off rudely, "because you didn't have the guts to tell him that your feelings had changed. That's not anyone's fault, but yours. You're a big girl, Buffy and..." He stopped ranting when she began to cry again.

"I know," she whimpered. "It IS my fault. I brought it...all on myself...and now I'm getting what I...deserve. It's just..." She looked at him sadly. "I just wish I could take it all it all again..."

Xander's ire drained away in the face of her heartbreak. He slipped one arm around her shoulders, holding her while she cried.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," he tried to soothe her. "I'm sorry I yelled at you like that. I didn't mean.."

"I know," she said, drying her eyes again on the sleeve of her shirt, leaving smears of mascara on the material. "I'm sorry too...for what I said before."

He shook his head and tried out a smile. "Aw, fugeddabout it. I've heard worse...a lot worse come to think of it."

After a few moments of silence, he spoke hesitantly. "Buffy...I know that it's personal and you can tell me to mind my own business, but...were you and Spike..."

"Sleeping together?" she offered. "Yes. For almost four months now."

Xander was truly perplexed. Spike had wanted Buffy for so long...and he, himself knew how that felt, having spent a certain period of his OWN life wanting her.

But, unlike him, Spike had been given the key to paradise. Had he actually given it back because she'd never told him that she cared?

Apparently, there was a lot more to Spike than Xander had ever realized.

He was startled out of his thoughts when Buffy suddenly jumped to her feet.

"I've...I've gotta get out of here, Xander. I just...I can't talk anymore about this..not right now."

She was halfway up the ladder before he knew what was happening.

"Wait a second...I'll take you home. Buffy! Wait for..."

He went after her, but by the time he'd climbed to the upper level and ran outside...she was nowhere in sight.


Part 2

(Ten Days Later)

Xander hit the double doors that led to the emergency room with both hands, ignoring the noise that echoed in the hallway when they banged against the walls.

As he made his way through the antiseptic smelling corridors, he mentally cursed himself to hell and back for letting things get this far.

Turning the corner by the nurses station, he spotted a sign that read "Waiting Room" with a red arrow beneath the words.

Is that small and dismal room, four of the people he loved most in the world sat side by side on an old, coffee stained sofa.

The other person he loved most dearly, however, was not there. She was behind yet another set of double doors that he could not go through.

Damn it...this can't be happening! It's a dream, a horrible dream and I've had enough of it and I want to wake up right now now now!!!

Willow saw him first. "Xander.." Her voice was soft and frightened as she stood up and embraced him.

He was almost afraid to ask. "How is she?"

Giles took an unsteady breath. "Fortunate to be alive.

"So, what happened?"

Willow pulled away and sat back down. After taking a moment to collect herself, she began to explain. "She was out on a patrol. I was about...I guess, maybe a hundred feet away when I saw her, and I was gonna try and catch up with her...and this vampire came out of nowhere. I don't know why, but...he totally took her by surprise, I could tell..."

"Just one?" Xander asked.

"Yeah," she nodded. "So...well, they fought, you know...just like a thousand times before. But...I was watching her and...and it.."

Xander filled in the blank. "It was different this time. SHE was different."

Willow nodded again, her eyes filling with tears. "I've never seen her like that." Her voice trembled. " was almost like she wasn't even she wanted to..." She couldn't bear to finish the sentence.

"Like she wanted to die?" Xander supplied grimly, then sighed. "Maybe she does."

Four pairs of eyes stared at him, shocked that he'd say such a thing, but fearing it was true.

Willow struggled to continue. "I ran and got hold of her bag. I found that big cross she carries and the holy know, in that squirt bottle. When he saw me with it...he let go of her and took off running. Buffy was...she was unconscious. At first I thought that...that she was..." Tears trickled down her cheeks. "I...I found a pulse, but she...she just wouldn't wake I called 911. I..I was so afraid that she might..."

Unable to say more, she wiped her face on a balled up tissue and stared at the floor.

Xander moved over, kneeling in front of Dawn. "You hanging in there, honey?" he asked, taking one of her hands and holding it between his.

Dawn nodded, dry eyed. "I'm okay," she said, trying to sound as though she really was. "She'll be all right, too. I know she will..."

Xander tried out an encouraging smile. "You bet she will," he said, sitting on the sofa next to her. On his other side, Anya moved closer and leaned against his shoulder without speaking.

Giles pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, suddenly looking much older. "I don't know why I'm actually surprised at this," he said quietly, drawing their attention. "She's been so withdrawn these last few days. Not training, and I'm sure she's lost weight that she can't spare, so I know she hasn't been eating properly....and she won't tell me what's wrong."

Xander leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. "I'LL tell you what's wrong," he said, swallowing the pain that threatened to close his throat. "And then...we have to figure out a way to make it right.


Almost an hour later, they watched as a man wearing green hospital scrubs emerged from the room where the slayer lay unconscious. He spoke briefly with one of the nurses, who nodded and gestured in their direction.

As the doctor approached them, they all rose to their feet at once.

"I'm Dr. Scanlon, and I've been the attending physician treating Miss Summers. Are you relatives?"

Not wanting to get involved with explanations, Giles simply nodded. "Yes."

The doctor glanced at the chart in his hand then looked up again. "Well...I'm afraid I don't have terribly good news right now. She's lost a lot of blood, but we've dealt with that. There are several broken ribs, but no serious organ damage."

He took a deep breath before hitting them with the worst of it. "The blow to her head was severe. She has a subdural hematoma...a deep bruise and swelling on the brain...and it's put her into a coma."

"Oh, God," Willow moaned, clutching Giles' hand.

The watcher's voice was shaky. "And...and her prognosis?"

Dr. Scanlon shrugged. "It's wait and see right now. We want to give her time to wake up on her own, if she's going to. I'm hoping surgery won't be, she appears to be at least ten pounds below an ideal weight. Has she been ill recently?"

They all glanced at each other. "She's had some...emotional upheavals," Giles answered. "She lost her mother not long ago, and...well it's been difficult."

"I see," the doctor nodded. "Listen...I'm sorry that I don't have anything better to tell you right now, but it really is touch and go at the moment." He gave them a time to absorb these words, then said, "I'm sending her up to Intensive Care for now, and I've placed a call to Martin Daley. He's one of the best neurologists in the state."

He walked them towards the elevator. "My advice for all of you would be to go home and get some rest...but I'm doubting that you're going to follow it."

Giles shook his head. "I'm afraid not. She's...she's very important to us."

"I can see that," Dr. Scanlon said, giving them a sympathetic smile. "The ICU is on the fifth floor, and it has a much more comfortable waiting room. I'll come up and talk to you again when Dr. Daley arrives."

They murmured their thanks as he returned to the nurse’s station, then fell silent as they waited for the elevator.

Xander was the first to speak. "You guys go on upstairs. I have to make a phone call first."

When the elevator doors slid shut, he pulled a handful of change from his pocket. Returning to the waiting area, he began feeding coins into the payphone, then listened to the beeps and clicks as his call was put through.

The number rang four times before it was answered.

"Hi, it's Xander..I've been better...Something's happened....Yeah, it's pretty bad...We need your help...SHE needs your help...I think you may be the only one who can...Okay, just listen, cause it's a hell of a story...."


Part 3

The car pulled into the gravel and dirt parking lot of a seedy looking bar nearly a hundred miles away from Sunnydale.

Any other time, Xander would have enjoyed the opportunity to drive the powerful little red car that the Scoobies jokingly referred to as 'Giles' Mid Life Crisis Mobile', but tonight was not the time for casual cruising with the top down and the sound system cranked.

He scanned the lot, searching for a particular black and silver Harley. There were at least two dozen motorcycles lined up next to each other...and one all by itself, parked well away from the others. A loner, like the guy who rode it.

"Way to go with the symbolism, Spike," he muttered beneath his breath as he switched off the engine.

For several minutes he just sat and stared at the crappy looking little building, knowing what kind of horror show he'd find inside, and hoping he could summon up the nerve to enter.

AW, geez..I do NOT want to go in there. Bad vibes...really bad...

But he had no choice.

Shaking off the feeling of approaching disaster and possible death, he stepped out of the car.

For Buffy...gotta do it for her...

Xander forced his feet to start moving quickly, keeping his eyes peeled for 'unfriendlies', afraid that if he lost his momentum, he'd chicken out.

A large silver cross hung around his neck, hidden beneath his shirt, and he had a stake concealed in the sleeve of his coat, but these things were small comfort at the moment.

It was one thing to take on a vampire or two when you had the comforting presence of the slayer backing you up. It was quite another to go blindly waltzing into a tavern loaded with them all by your lonesome.

Giving himself a mental kick in the ass, he squared his shoulders and entered the bar.

It was just as bad as he'd imagined it would be.

Vampires in full game face were sitting around the tables, talking and laughing. Every stool at the bar was occupied, and all four pool tables were in use.

Shit...they're everywhere...

He hadn't seen this many vampires in one place since Graduation day.

A bakers dozen of them were beating up on a bank of pinball machines lined up against one wall. There were several intense card games being played, as well as darts, checkers, and an arm wrestling competition that would surely deprive one of the contestants of an arm.

Music blasted from an old Wurlitzer juke, and there seemed to be an argument going on between a couple of members of the undead club as to exactly which song would be played next.

Actually, had it not been for the predilection of the clientele towards violence and blood letting, it looked like a fun place to hang out.

It was almost amusing to see vampires doing ordinary, everyday their own weird way.

All of them...every last scuzzy one...was drinking some kind of alcohol. Vampire waitresses bobbed and weaved around the crowded bar, looking every bit as professional as the ones who worked at the Bronze, different only in the intimidating growling and snarling they displayed whenever a customer tried to play a little grabass.

Most of the mixed drinks on the trays they carried had a familiar red tint. A Bloody Mary was an entirely different beverage in this joint, and NOT because there was no celery stalk garnish offered.

Xander had never felt so out of place in his life, and he wished desperately that he could be anywhere...ANYWHERE ...else in the world than here.

Back in high school, standing in front of a class wearing nothing but a jock strap; or sucking face with an Incan mummy; or sitting in a steam room with the future entrees at Tony's Seafood Shack, inhaling fishy steroids until he grew gills; or in a cage, waiting to lose his virginity and his head at the same time.

Shit, he'd even rather be back at dysfunction junction, sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with his entire family after a day spent watching them drain a bowl of spiked fruit punch and a keg of beer, while they argued about which football game to watch.

No, scratch that last one..I'd much rather be here...

Fortunately for him, despite his glaring 'humanness', none of the bar's patrons appeared to notice him.

Now, let's just keep it that way, shall we?

His eyes searched the room until they found the object of their quest sitting at a table by himself in the farthest corner of the bar. There was a glass and a bottle on the table in front of him, and Xander could easily see what sort of mood he was in. He looked tightly wound up and hostile, as if he were daring someone to bother him.

For HIS part, Xander didn't particularly want to be that someone. When Spike got pissed off enough, he sometimes forgot about the chip in his head until after he'd planted his fist in the face of the person who'd angered him.

"Here goes nothing." Screwing his courage to the sticking place, he lowered his head, hoping that if he kept his lack of vampire features hidden, he might arrive at his destination with all his innards still intact.

But, as HIS luck would ALWAYS have it, a cold hand clamped down on his shoulder when he was less than ten feet from his goal.

Shit! Shit, shit, shit and double shit!

"Well, don't YOU look fresh and yummy? And I haven't eaten in hours."

Xander turned to face his admirer.

The vamp had thin, greasy hair, and a face that looked like it had been smacked with a shovel. Flat and upturned, his nose could pass for a snout, and his yellow eyes bulged almost out of their sockets as though he had an over active thyroid gland.

He was only medium height, but he had to go close to three hundred pounds, with a gut hanging down over his belt. the hell do they get so fat when all they eat is blood?

Trying to look like he wasn't about to crap his pants, Xander smiled pleasantly. "Hey, know what? I'll bet there's a snack bar in this place that has a snack with your name on it. Why don't you go find it, and stuff yourself?"


The vamp was no more pleased at his behavior than he was himself, and it released an impressive growl when Xander tried to disengage his shoulder from it's grasp.

Painfully tightening his hand on his prospective meal, the vamp spun Xander around and lunged at his throat. The thing moved so fast, that he had no chance to use his stake or fumble out his cross.

Well, this is it for me. This is where I die. Goodbye Anya...sorry, Buffy...

He yelped with surprise when he felt a hand grab him by the collar of his coat, jerking him out of reach of his attacker's fangs.

Spike dragged him a few feet away, then stepped into the other vampire's path.

"I'll tell you what" he said. "I'm gonna give you a chance to re-think this. I'll count to three, and if you're still standing here then I'm-gonna-killyou-one-two-three."

Fatty stood his ground for a moment, then backed off. "Hey, we're good, man." He raised both hands in a conciliatory gesture. "No problem. Didn't know he was YOUR dinner. No hard feelings, huh?"

Spike said nothing, staring the vamp down in deadly silence.

Xander watched as his would be chow hound slunk off, heading for the bar. "Thanks."

Spike turned to face him, scowling. "What in bloody hell are YOU doing here?"

"Um...looking for you. Believe it or not."

Spike continued to glare. "For me?" He shook his head in disgust. "Well, isn't that just bloody marvelous?"

Returning to his table, he sat down and filled his glass. "I just can't win," he mused bitterly. "Every time I think I've finally shaken the dust of that shitty little town off my heels...."

Tilting his head back, he practically threw the alcohol down his throat.

Knowing that if he waited to be asked he'd be standing there until Judgment Day, Xander pulled out a chair and sat down across the table from the angry vampire.

"Look, I didn't come here just to piss you off," he explained. "I've got something to tell you that I think you'd want to know about."

"How the hell did you even find me?" Spike asked, slamming his glass back down on the table. "This isn't exactly a popular tourist attraction."

Xander hesitated. "I had help."

"From who?"

"From...someone with connections to this type of place."

"A vampire...with connections...helping you?" Spike looked doubtful. "Right."

"Yeah, right!" Xander insisted, leveling a direct gaze at Spike. "Someone who knows how you operate...where you'd go."

"IS that so?" Spike poured another drink, then offered the bottle. "And just who would that be?"

Xander was about to refuse the bottle, then changed his mind. He had no intention of drinking from it...God only knew what was in it...but he figured he should try to keep Spike from getting too hammered.

"That's not important right now," he said. "I need to tell you something else first...and it's not good."

Spike released a short laugh. "It's not good? When did you ever tell me anything that WAS good?"

"It's about Buffy." Xander watched Spike's face for a reaction.

"Buffy?" Spike drained his glass, his face impassive. "What about her? And, more to the point, why should I care?"

"Because she's..."

"Did the slayer send you after me? What's wrong? Something big and scary due to show in Sunnydale and try to end the world? Something little Miss I-Don't-Need-Anyone can't deal with?" Spike reached for the bottle. "Well, that's just too damn bad. She's gonna have to figure this one out on her own. I don't wanna play anymore."

Xander rolled his eyes, sighing. "Cut the crap, Spike. I know all about your thing with Buffy, so don't bother trying to cover."

Spike raised icy blue eyes to meet Xander's gaze. "Just what do you THINK you know?"

"I know that you're in love with her," Xander shrugged. "But I've known about THAT for a long time." He met the vampire's glare unflinchingly. "I also know that you're...sleeping together..."

He was surprised when Spike's eyes darted away at these words. "And I know that she loves you."

Spike stared at the wall for a few seconds, then looked back at Xander with a bitter smile. "Well, you're partially right. But she...she doesn't love me."

"That's not what she told ME." Xander leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.

Spike frowned. "What are you talking about?" he asked. "What do you mean?"

"I found her in your room on the day you skipped town," Xander replied. "She was upset and crying, and when I asked her what was wrong...she told me the whole sordid tale."

Spike leaned forward. "What did she say?"

"That you left because she wouldn't tell you what her true feelings for you were. I asked her what she meant and she said that...she loves you, she's IN love...with you."

The vampire sat back, shaking his head in disbelief. "You probably misunderstood her. I don't think..."

Xander cut him off. "I didn't misunderstand anything. She said, and I quote, "I love him, and I never told him." Those are simple words...even for a simpleton like me."

Spike was silent a moment, trying to process this information. "But, if it's true...why didn't she come herself? Why did she send you to this...this well connected vampire? Why didn't SHE come?"

"She can't come," Xander said. "And she didn't send me. This was my own idea."

Spike stared at him. "What the hell do you mean, she didn't send you?" His voice rose in anger and volume. "Does she even know you're here?"

"No." Xander shook his head. "She's..."

He stopped when Spike banged one fist down on the table, making the bottle and glass clatter.

"Then how do YOU know this is what SHE wants?" he demanded furiously. "How do you know she even wants to see me?"

He was almost shouting, and Xander glanced around uneasily, hoping this little scene wasn't drawing unwanted attention. "She does," he said firmly and quietly. "You'll just have to take my word for it."

"NO!" Spike hit the table again, with the flat of his hand. "No, I bloody will NOT! If she wants to talk to me, why doesn't she damn well come herself?"

Xander's patience ran out. "Because she's in the hospital!" he said sharply. "Half dead!"

Spike looked at him in shock, all the confrontational anger draining out of him. "The hospital? Why? Why is she in the hospital? What's wrong?"

Xander took a deep breath, knowing that things were about to go from bad to worse. "The other night, she..."

"Is she sick? Did she have an accident?" Spike's jaw dropped. "She wasn't trying to drive was she?"

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Xander was a little amused at the look on Spike's face. Yeah...I can see how much you 'don't' care...

"Settle down and I'll tell you."

Spike's jaw clenched. "Tell me fast!"

With another deep breath, Xander began again.

"The other night, she was out on patrol. She met up with this vampire and...she got hurt."

"Yeah?" Spike was obviously waiting for something bigger. "Wait...are you telling me that she fought ONE vampire and got hurt? Not a whole group of them?"

Xander nodded. "One vampire."

"One ordinary, run of the mill vampire. No special powers? Magic spells? Hypnosis?"

"I don't think so."

Spike looked pole-axed. "One plain vampire hurt her?"

"Yeah. One." Xander said. "And he didn't just hurt her. He worked her over badly enough to put her in the hospital."

"What did he do to her?" Spike's voice was low with suppressed rage. Someone was gonna pay for this...

"A few minor things. You know...the kind of stuff she usually just shakes right off. But...he also hit her across the back of the head with something...a piece of metal pipe, maybe..."

Feeling shaky, Xander grabbed the bottle off the table and took a long swallow, no longer caring about the contents.

" put her into a coma," he went on. "And she's not waking up."

The alcohol burned a path down his throat and into his stomach, where it sloshed around unpleasantly. He set the bottle down before he continued.

"The doctors aren't sounding very optimistic. If she doesn't wake up soon, they might have to operate. Brain surgery. It's risky...and she's in no shape for it."

Spike rubbed his eyes, then lowered his clenched fists to the table. "Wait a minute," he said trying to clarify all this in his own mind. "I've seen her take on ten vampires without even breaking a nail! How the hell did this one manage to hurt her so much?"

Knowing he had to get Spike on the road soon, Xander decided to be brutally frank. "Because ever since YOU disappeared she's been skidding downhill. She doesn't train, she hardly eats or sleeps, and when she fights...she's making mistakes that she can't afford to make. It's almost like she's trying to..."

He couldn't say it, so Spike finished the sentence for him. "Let herself get killed."

"Yes." Xander pressed his palms down on the table to keep his hands from shaking. "That's why I came here looking for you. We all thought that...we hoped...that if you came back, maybe you could get through to her. If she just somehow knows you're there, then..."

He stopped and took a shuddering breath, releasing it slowly. "I don't know," he added. "It might not even make a difference at this point."

"Christ!" Spike said harshly, jumping to his feet so violently that the chair toppled over backwards. Without another word, he headed for the door, shoving vampires roughly out of his way.

Xander followed immediately, just in case his previous close encounter saw him alone and decided to take another crack at him.

By the time he was out the door, Spike was already swinging one leg over the saddle of his motorcycle. Xander had to move fast to catch up with him.

As he approached, Spike flung his head up and glared at him in fury. "Where the hell were YOU when this happened to her?"

Xander stopped in his tracks, not knowing how to respond to Spike's implication. "I...I didn't know..."

Spike just steam-rolled right over him. "She's been falling apart for days, you said. FOR DAYS! So...where were you? And where the hell was her BLOODY WATCHER? Having tea, with his nose buried in a book?"

Xander had no idea what to say. The galling truth was that Spike was right. They all should have seen it coming, him especially.

He had been the one to find her in tears and despair, the one she'd confided her unhappiness in...and he had failed her.

They had all failed her...and now Buffy was paying for it.

"Why in bloody hell did you let her go out alone?"

"She wasn't alone." Xander seized on the question as a possible excuse, then gave it a stupid answer. "Willow was there."

The moment the words passed his lips, he wished he could take them back. He knew exactly what was coming. No one dished out sarcasm like Spike.

"Ohhh...Willow was there," Spike said, true to form. "Well, why didn't you say so? Willow is SO good in a fight! Thank goodness she was there or who knows WHAT might have happened?"

Xander's face turned red under the lash of Spike's words. "All right...I get your..."

"You shouldn't have let her go out AT ALL, you idiot!" Spike snapped.

Now, Xander felt himself becoming a little angry as well. "Right!" he said hotly. "Have you EVER tried to stop Buffy from doing something....especially when it comes to slaying? What were we supposed to do?"

Inwardly, he cringed. Cop out a little more, big mouth...

"EVERYTHING!" Spike shouted. "Everything you could do, up to and including handcuffing her to her bed frame!" He reached into his pocket, digging for his keys. " what you were supposed to do!"

As he kick started the motorcycle, Xander could hear him muttering to himself.

"Hang on, baby. I'm coming. You hang on for me."

The engine fired up with a roar, and Xander had to step back quickly as Spike left the parking lot with a spray of dirt and gravel, hitting the highway with the throttle wide open.

He watched the bike's tail lights disappear into the dark, then returned to the BMW, and keyed the ignition.

Okay, God...please....please just keep her alive until he gets there...and let him be able to help her....cause he's our last hope...

With a look of grim determination, he threw the car into gear, then slammed his foot down on the accelerator and headed back to Sunnydale.


Part 4

At five minutes before two a.m., Spike walked into the waiting room of Mercy Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, startling the occupants.

"Where is she?" he asked curtly.

Willow found her voice first. "He found you!"

Spike didn't bother to reply. "Where is she?" he asked again.

Giles answered him. "Room eleven. But they won't let you in. We tried."

Spike barely spared a glance for the man. "They won't keep me out," he said as he turned his back. "Just LET them try."

He found room eleven and, bracing himself, pushed the door open and stepped inside.

All during the trip home, his imagination had tormented him with visions of what he might find when he arrived.

Just the idea of Buffy being so terribly hurt was enough to send him into a blind panic.

In spite of what he had said to Xander, Spike blamed himself utterly for what had happened to the slayer. Had it not been for his callous desertion of her, Buffy would not be here.

Knowing how frightened she was of hospitals only made his guilt worse.

This was his fault...every bit of it. Selfish bastard that he was, he had demanded she admit that she loved him, and when she hadn't, he had punished her for it by leaving without a word of goodbye.

He had left her here to fight the nightly battle on her own, with no one to help her or protect her except for a bunch of kids who tried, but could only do so much, and a watcher who felt it was high time she stopped leaning on him.

And now, just look at what had happened.

Look at what you've done, you heartless son of a bitch...look at her, lying here fighting for her life...because of you...

At least he HOPED she was fighting. Because...because if she wasn't, if she'd surrendered to that greedy bitch, Death...

He didn't even want to THINK of such a thing. He knew he wouldn't be able to bear it.

He had survived losing Drusilla. It had been painful, but he had survived it and gotten over her.

There was no chance that he would survive losing Buffy. She was his life. Without her, there was nothing.

This little slayer had burrowed into his heart so deeply that he would never...EVER be free again.

And if she died...there was no power on earth that would keep him in this world.

Buffy lived a dangerous life, courting death on a nightly basis. Over the years, his imagination had conjured up all manner of horrifying possibilities.

But all of those scenarios put together couldn't even begin to compare to the reality before his eyes.

She lay unconscious in a hospital bed that seemed to swallow her tiny frame. Her left arm was strapped to a board and had an IV needle inserted, feeding her vital fluids.

Her face was as white as paper, except for some bruising and a cut over her right eye that had been neatly stitched.

She looked so still and lifeless that for one awful moment, Spike was afraid that he'd been too late and she had died.

But the machines she was hooked up to emitted a steady series of beeps and clicks, assuring him that she was not gone.

He had no intention of letting her go. Not without him.

"Hi, sweetheart," he said softly. "I'm back. Came back to you, luv."

Lowering himself into the chair beside the bed, he took her right hand in both of his and kissed it, then pressed it to his cheek.

Her skin was cold. He could feel it, even through his own low temperature, and it frightened him badly.

Buffy had always been his golden girl, warm and vibrant, and so alive. How could this be his bright eyed princess?

"I couldn't stay away from you, luv. Shouldn't even have tried. It was damn stupid of me."

His throat was tight with pain. "Please wake up, baby," he begged. "Open those beautiful eyes. Do it for me."

He leaned closer, watching for some sign that she had heard him, that she was trying to come back to him.

"I'm so sorry for leaving you that way. I promise I'll never do it again if you'll just open your eyes."


"Open your eyes, Buffy!" His tone was a little harsher now, as though he could bully her into it. "Come've been sleeping long enough, you lazy girl. It's time to wake up."

He swallowed hard and closed his eyes.

Please...please don't let this happen. Don't take her away from me. I know I don't deserve her...but please don't take her...please..

He prayed to a deity he had lost faith in long ago, to a god who was no doubt thinking that it had certainly been a long time since he'd heard anything from this particular quarter.

When he finally opened his eyes, they were brimming with tears. "Wake up, Buffy! You have to wake up and come back to me. Because...I can't..."

His voice suddenly broke. "Damn it, girl. You fight this! Don't you dare give up! Don't you goddamn dare! You're the slayer...and you don't quit...ever! And you sure as hell don't let a vampire do this to you! Now...fight! FIGHT, DAMN IT. FIGHT..."

He had thought he'd known what pain was, but he realized now that he didn't even know the meaning of the word.

Any hurt he'd ever experienced before, both before and after being turned, was nothing compared to the agony of watching as the girl he loved slipped further out of his reach.

"I'll fight with you, Buffy, but have to help me. You...Buffy, I love you...I need you. I just..."

With those choked words, Spike finally lost whatever modicum of control he'd been clinging to by his fingertips.

Sick with pain and grief, he buried his face against her side and cried harder than he'd ever cried before. Harsh, painful tears racked his entire body.

"No," he moaned. "No, no, no...not her. Please not her...I'll do anything...anything..."

"Don't cry."

The sound was so weak that he nearly missed hearing it in the force of his tears.

He raised his head, almost afraid to hope.

"Buffy? Baby? Can you hear me?"


"I'm here, baby. I'm holding your hand." He squeezed it gently. "I'm right here."

She was struggling to keep her eyes open, trying to speak.

"What is it, baby? I'm listening." Spike said, smoothing her hair back from her face.

A small sigh escaped her lips. "Love you's you...there's"

He had waited so long to hear this, had imagined the words she would use, whether she would be bold or shy in telling him.

Over and over again, he'd pictured it in his mind, down to the smallest detail.

Where would she tell him? How would she tell him? And most of all...when would she tell him?

All this made for some truly wonderful dreams. But, as sweet as those dreams had been, the reality was so much sweeter.

"I love you, too, sweetheart," he said, smiling down at her as she tried to focus. "I love...Buffy!"

He stopped cold when he saw her eyes begin to drift shut. "Honey, no! Keep your eyes open. Don't go back to sleep. BUFFY!" he shouted.

"Stop that right now!"

Spike whipped his head around, glaring at a nurse standing at the foot of the bed.

She glared right back at him. "How did you get in here?" she demanded.

"Get out!" he snarled angrily, turning back to Buffy and seeing that her eyes were completely closed. "Damn it!" he swore softly, then raised his voice. "Buffy!"

"Stop shouting at her and leave this room, or I'll call security and they'll make you leave the hard way."

Suppressing another angry growl, Spike assumed a more protective posture over Buffy.

"I'm warning you." The nurse took a step closer.

A red haze clouded Spike's vision, and his demon began struggling to emerge, sensing a need to defend it's mate.

"!" he said, a hint of threat in his tone.

"I am NOT going to tell you again! Leave!"

Fear for Buffy, coupled with anger at this interference, finally pushed Spike's frustration level to it's absolute limit.

Logically, he knew the nurse was just trying to protect her patient from someone she saw as a threat, but he couldn't let that alter his course. He had to get rid of this bitch, and concentrate on the slayer.

And he only knew one way to do it.

Eyes blazing with golden fire, the demon broke through. Spike waited for the transformation to be complete, for his fangs to emerge, for his face to become the stuff of nightmares.

When it was done, he began to turn around, wanting to frighten this colossal pain in his ass into an early grave.

But before he could do it, he felt a small hand on his cheek, preventing him from turning his head.

"No," Buffy said, looking up at him through impossibly beautiful eyes. "Don't look at her. Look at me. There's only me."

"There's only you," Spike repeated automatically, forcing the demon to stand down. "Buffy..." She slipped her hand behind his neck, tugging weakly until he lowered his head beside hers on the pillow. "Oh,"

"Shh," she hushed him softly. "S' all right. You're home now...everything's all right."

"Yeah," he said, pressing his lips against her cheek. "I'm home...and I'm never letting you out of my sight again."

Buffy stroked and petted him, then looked at the nurse. "It's okay," she said. "I want him here." He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. "This is...where he belongs."

The nurse pulled a chart from it's slot on the wall. "All right," she said. "I'll page Dr. Daley and let him know you're awake."

Before she left the room, she turned to Spike. "No more shouting."

He gave Buffy a rueful look. "You know, the whole world is gonna come rushing in that door in a few seconds."

"I know." Her voice was a little stronger. "But then they'll leave...and we'll be the whole world."

Spike felt all the pent up tension and nausea inducing fear begin to fade away, and he leaned over to kiss her cheek again.

"God, Buffy," he said quietly. "I don't think I've ever been as scared as I was at the thought of losing you...of you being hurt like this."

"How did you know?"

"Uh...Xander. He found me. Never did tell me how." Spike chuckled. "Stupid git almost got himself eaten, coming into a vamp bar with his bare face hanging out."

Buffy smiled. "Don't make me laugh. I've got the worst headache."

"I imagine you do." He became suddenly serious. "This was all my fault."

When his gaze dropped away from hers, she cupped his chin in her hand and made him look at her. "No, it wasn't."

Spike swallowed. "Buffy...if I hadn't left...if I had just..."

He knew now that he would never have been able to stay away. Not for long. Sooner or later, the need to see hear her hold her in his arms...would have overwhelmed his resolve not to return.

She had far too strong a hold on his heart.

It had taken this whole awful experience to firmly drive home the fact that any life without Buffy was unbearable...and he wanted no part of it.

"If I had...told you how much I love you...none of this would have happened. I...set this in motion." He tried to speak, but she placed a gentle finger against his lips. "Just...promise me..."

"Anything, baby," he vowed.

"No matter what happens..if we fight..or scream..or I say horrible things...promise you'll never leave me...again."

Spike smiled, tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear, a tender gesture that would have once been completely foreign to him.

"What a relief," he teased. "I thought you were gonna ask something hard."


"I promise." He leaned closer. "You know me, honey...I'm the long haul guy."

"Kiss me."

When his lips were almost touching hers, he paused. "Tell me you love me."

"I love you."

He kissed her...and the door flew open...and the whole world rushed in.


Xander stood by the door, watching everyone fuss over Buffy.

Spike sat next to her on the bed, holding her hand tightly in his, refusing to move even when the doctor examined her.

She was out of intensive care and was currently occupying a room on the medical floor. Typically, she'd begun to pester the doctors about letting her go home.

Xander had already spoken with her. He'd leaned over the bed and accepted her kiss on his cheek and soft "Thank you" whispered in his ear.

Spike had squeezed his shoulder and spoken quietly. "I owe you. You need see me first."

Only half listening to the chatter in the room, Xander sent a final thanks of his own heavenward.

Remembering that he had one more thing to do, he slipped unnoticed from the room and headed for the payphone.

This time, the call was answered after one ring.

"Hi, it's me...Yeah, I did...He's here with her now...They said she's gonna be fine...Oh, yeah I'd say so...Very happy...Do you want me to tell her that...Okay...Someday, though...I will...Of course, I promise...No, man, thank YOU...Hey, how's Cordelia?...You're kidding...Well, that's great...You tell her I said hello....Yeah, you too...Bye."

He hung up the phone and returned to Buffy's room.

"All right, young lady," he said loudly. "You want to explain yourself...letting some stupid vampire get the drop on you. Relax, Spike...I meant the other stupid vampire.'

There was a burst of laughter as the door swung slowly closed.

Three weeks later....

"You sure you're ready for this?"

"Sure, I'm sure. You know I heal fast. And besides," Buffy grinned. "You're with me and you won't let me get hurt."

"You've got that right, gorgeous," he agreed, smiling back at her. "No vampire's gonna make a midnight snack out of MY girl...except for me, of course."

"Oh, aren't you funny?"

"I've always thought so. Hey, give me a kiss and tell me again."

Buffy stopped walking and stepped into Spike's waiting arms. Raising her face, she said, "I love you," then kissed him long and hard.

After a minute, she nudged him away. "Sometimes you forget that I need to breathe once in a while."

Spike laughed. "Is that right? Well, take a deep breath, baby, cause I'm not even close to stopping."

Sliding his arms around her waist, he lifted her until her feet left the ground, capturing her mouth with a fierce and unending hunger.

After several feverish kisses, Buffy's toes once again made contact with the wet grass.

"Had enough?" she asked.

Spike shook his head. "Oh, hell no. I can never have enough. But I'll stop for now so we can get finished here and go home."

Home for them both now, was a small house on Revello Drive.

They walked along quietly, weaving in and out amongst the tombstones, until Buffy broke the silence.

"Thank you again for my ring," she said, tilting her hand to make the diamond glitter in the moonlight. "It's so beautiful."

"You're welcome, sweetheart," Spike replied, lifting her hand and kissing it. "I'm glad you like it."

"Like it? I love it!" she declared. "Haven't you noticed that I never take it off?"

"Good." His voice was proud, and a little possessive. "I want every man you meet to know that you're taken."

"Every night," she added with a sassy smile.

"Smart ass," he said fondly, giving her a light swat on the behind.

She giggled. "Can't imagine where I might have learned....HEY! I know YOU!"

Spike followed her gaze, and saw a heavy set vampire leaning against the marble wall of a mausoleum. "Don't tell me..."

"That's him," Buffy replied.

The vampire straightened up and strolled towards them with an air of pure arrogance. "Slayer! I heard you were still alive. You got lucky that night, I was a little off my game."

"Is that a fact?" Buffy asked, one hand on her hip.

"It won't happen again, girlie." The vampire gave Spike a dismissive once over and grinned. "This one won't be able to help you either."

Spike stared at the other vampire, amazed at his audacity. "You MUST be new in town."

Ignoring him, the vampire kept his eyes on Buffy. "You shouldn't have come looking for me, Slayer. But since you did, I'm gonna finish what I started."

"Do tell," Buffy said.

"I'm gonna break you apart, little girl," he said. "I'll pull your heart from your chest and swallow it whole...then I'll wash it down with every last drop of your blood." His voice rose in volume and triumph. "The blood...of the SLAYER!"

There was a short silence.

Spike sighed, rolling his eyes. "Oh, the drama of it all." He looked at Buffy. "Tell me I never sounded like THAT."

She smiled and shook her head. "Of course not, baby," she said. "You're the Big Bad...not some fat sack of demon-wanna be that's too stupid to keep his mouth shut and his fly zipped. Not that there's much to see," she added, staring the vamp right in the pants.

The vampire glanced down at himself, then back at Buffy. "You ready to die, Slayer?"

She gazed up at Spike, a question in her eyes.

Hesitating a moment, he released her hand. "Oh, all right...go and play. Just don't drag it out," he requested. "I think it's gonna rain, so kill him quick and lets go home."

Buffy's eyes sparkled. "I can do quick."

Spike watched as the vampire pulled a crow bar from beneath his coat. "Hang on," he said, catching her arm. "On second thought, make it hurt. And before you finish him...shove that thing up his ass."

Buffy's smile grew wider. "Be right back." Turning on one heel, she took a running jump at the vampire. "Let's do it, big mouth!"

Spike folded his arms across his chest and leaned back against a tree, watching the show.

No matter how many times he saw it, he never got tired of watching Buffy work.

A few moments later, the silence of the graveyard was split in two by a howl of piercing agony.

Spike winced, shaking his head. "Now THAT looked like it hurt."

The End



Spike smiled as she skipped back to him, wiping the dust off her hands.

"Talk about the perfect way to get back to business," she said.

"Did you enjoy that?" he asked, sliding his arm around her waist and hauling her close.

"I did, I really did," she replied, returning his embrace. "Sometimes it's good to be the slayer."

"Mmm," Bending his head, he kissed her hard. "I'm glad you got your closure," he said when he pulled away. "But that was a hell of a sacrifice for me."


"You have no idea how badly I wanted to be the one to stomp him into the fucking ground."

Spike had spent the last few weeks doing exactly three things; Changing his place of residence, spoiling Buffy 24/7, and making plans to track down and slaughter the son of a bitch that had almost killed her.

He'd put out a few feelers, searching for information about any vampires who might be strutting around bragging about the deed, but hadn't heard anything definite, and he'd figured that the guilty one must have decided to get out of town while the getting was good.

But, as badly as he'd wanted to be the one to kill that bastard in painful ways, he was glad that Buffy had been the one to do it. Tonight, she had taken back her power and it was making her look more beautiful than ever.

She was absolutely glowing. Her green eyes were dancing, her skin was flushed and a little damp, and her hair was touseled in a way that suggested....

Oh, yes.

Buffy had moved away, and was turning for home, still talking about something that wasn't registering with him. He took a firmer hold on her hand and yanked her to a stop.

"What?" she asked, her brow furrowed. "Is something wrong?"

Spike had been holding himself back since she'd come home from the hospital. As rapidly as she healed, he had come too close to losing her and he hadn't wanted to do anything that might have set back her recovery.

But he had just witnessed a fantastic display of the slayer's recuperative powers. If SHE was up for a fight, then HE was definitely up for her.

"I thought you wanted to go home."

Spike placed his hands on her shoulders, spun her around and pushed her up against the same crypt wall they'd found Buffy's attacker leaning against.

She was smiling at him now. "It's gonna rain," she reminded him.

"So?" he replied, pinning her to the wall with his body. "What's a little water? You're not made of cake."

Buffy was obviously feeling playful. "We have that nice big bed waiting for us."

"Oh, we'll get there," he promised. "Later. Right now, I have something else for you that's nice and big." He took her hand and placed it on the hard bulge in the front of his jeans.

Her fingers squeezed gently. "Oh, that IS big!" she commented. "I suppose you want me to do something about it."

He covered her hand with his, making her squeeze a little harder. " don't mind," he managed to say.

She pretended to think it over. " has been a long time since we've made love outside, hasn't it?"

"Mm-hmm." He swallowed hard when he felt her unzip his jeans. Moving his hands up her sides, he cupped her breasts, hissing through his clenched teeth when he felt her soft fingers on his bare flesh.

" deserve something nice for letting me have the kill." With those words, she grabbed the sides of his jeans and shoved them down, then sank to her knees and took his shaft into her mouth.

As always, the heat and wetness nearly undid him. He had to brace his hands on the wall behind her to keep from collapsing in a panting heap.

"Christ," he muttered harshly, closing his eyes tightly. "Yes...that's so good. Right there...use your tongue right under the ridge...oh...harder, babe..."

She released him from her mouth just long enough to utter two short words. "Watch me."

He did as she asked, opening his eyes and looking down to meet hers as he saw his cock slide in and out of her mouth.

It was a powerfully erotic sight, and he had to concentrate on not coming right then and there.

Not that she would have objected, but he just wasn't ready to stop this delicious torment, not yet.

Her head stopped moving up and down on him. He knew what she meant by that, what she wanted him to do. She remained still and he began to move his hips in shallow thrusts. Her hands pushed his pants down all the way around his ankles, and she took hold of his ass, signaling that he could pump a little faster.

He kept one hand on the wall, and placed the other one on the back of her head, fondling her silky hair.

"That's good," he murmured, "You have the sweetest mouth, baby...the warmest...wettest..ahh...use your little tongue, know...what I like."

Obediently, she stopped sucking and began licking.

"That's it," he encouraged. "That's my good girl...such a good pretty and soft."

He moved his legs apart a fraction of an inch more. "Play with me,"

Buffy brought one hand around and cupped his scrotum, fondling it, feeling his balls move in her hand.

When one finger moved even further down beneath his sac, he grunted and his head jerked back. "Stop..." he ground out.

Rising to her feet, Buffy quickly unzipped her own slacks and pushed them down and off.

Spike shoved her sweater up beneath her arms, almost tearing her bra open. She grabbed him by the back of his neck and jerked his head down to her breasts.

"Now YOU suck hard!" she demanded.

Perfectly willing to give her anything she wanted, he went at her like a hungry animal. Fast and hard, he went from one taut nipple to the other, licking each one before taking it into his mouth and nursing on it.

Buffy reached down and wrapped her fingers around his shaft, sliding them up and down to give him the friction he craved on his swollen flesh.

Without taking his mouth from her nipple, he placed his hands on the cheeks of her ass and lifted her, then turned and pinned her to the wall.

She guided the head of his cock to her wet opening and twined her legs around his waist as he pushed it into her.

"Look at me," she said again.

Releasing her breast with a wet, sucking sound, he met her hot gaze with his.

"I love you," she whispered. "Oh, honey, I love you so much."

Hearing these words always thrilled him to the core. She could say it a hundred times a day and he would never tire of hearing it. But there was something special about hearing it during lovemaking that drove his pleasure sky high.

"I love you, too," he said, thrusting harder, then moving his hips from side to side. "You're my girl...MY girl....mine..."

"Yes," she panted. "Yours...all yours."

"My baby...uhh...yeah...fuck me. You fuck me so're so hot and...wet...and..."

"Spike," she said urgently, closing her eyes as she concentrated. "I'm coming. It's...I'm doing it now...come with it...yes...oh...oh...harder...HARDER!"

He increased his wild pace even more, babbling nonsense in her ear as he pounded into her without stopping.

When she came, her internal muscles clamped down tight around his cock, drenching it with her slick fluid.

The warm pulsing wetness was all he needed to push him over the edge. He fell over it...dove into it...abandoned himself in it.

With one last thrust, he shot every drop of his semen into her, filling her to overflowing as he cried out one word.


She responded by tightening her arms around his neck, and pressing his face against hers as she stroked his hair.

"I'm here, I'm right here," she crooned softly in his ear. "Right here with you, baby."

Spike squeezed his eyes shut, as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. He tried to control it, burrowing his face deeper against her neck.

"I almost lost you," he whispered.

Buffy's heart nearly broke. He sounded like nothing more than a frightened little boy right now, and she increased the pressure of her embrace.

"But you didn't" she said fiercely, trying to comfort him. "Spike...YOU found me...and brought me back."

Her words got through to him, and he finally lifted his head to look into her eyes. So much love shone in them, and he knew that it was all there for him.

Everything was going to be all right now.

"I'll always find you," he vowed. "No matter what happens, I WILL find you...and bring you home."

The End