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Falling from Grace

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FRT-13/PG-13 rated

Falling from Grace

Part 1

Buffy rounded into the cemetery, her last stop on the way home. A little way ahead of her, his back turned, was Spike. She shifted her stake into a more comfortable position, about to challenge him.

"Bleedin' poncey git!" he yelled, at nobody in particular, lashing out at a tombstone. "Bloody bastard poof of a souled vampire! What the bloody hell do they see in you anyway?"

Buffy froze. No prizes who had got on Spike's rag this evening, but Angel wasn't anywhere to be seen. Her stomach would have been doing back-flips by now if he had been. She sighed, then stiffened. What had Spike just yelled? What the bloody hell do they see? Who were they? Her eyes narrowed, and she lowered her stake, wondering if she'd find out any more.

Spike didn't disappoint. Unaware of her in his inebriated state, he continued his harangue of his sire. "Tisn't enough to have a pretty little slayer to make doe-eyes at," he snarled. "Have to come and make doe-eyes at Dru as well, bleeding great poof. She's mine, I tell you, mine! Why can't you just leave her alone? Go back to your slayer, let me have my princess..." He slumped down onto a tombstone, bottle of Jack Daniels hanging limply from his left hand. "'S not fair," he whined, to nobody in particular.

Spike might as well have kicked Buffy in the gut. She knew only too well that it was true. She'd had her suspicions all along. But hearing it like that... She scowled. Angel was going to be in so much trouble, once she'd found out precisely how far it had gone.

And Spike thought she was pretty? Even if he used the term in a derogatory way... he thought she was pretty? Where the hell had that come from?

She glowered at the now sobbing vampire from behind. "You want I should just stake you and put you out of your misery? Or d'you wanna fight first?" she drawled, drawing level with him.

He looked up with bloodshot eyes. "Sod off."

"Not until," she said dangerously, "you tell me exactly what Angel has been up to with Drusilla."

"Oh, you heard that did you? Oh, well, look, it's not..."

She grabbed hold of his t-shirt, pulling his face close to hers, eyes blazing. "Are you trying to protect him?"

Spike shuffled his feet, looking embarrassed. "Um. No," he said, looking away. "Actually, I was trying to protect you."

Buffy released her hold, confused. "Huh? You try to kill me, and now, suddenly, you go protecty on me? What is with you guys?"

He shrugged, abashed. "Dunno. 'S different. Day-to-day business, trying to kill the slayer, slayer trying to kill me. This isn't business."

"So it's what, pleasure?" she rasped.

He gave her a wan smile. "Hardly."

“Will you tell me what the hell is going on? I am not some china doll that’s going to break at the slightest pressure. What is Angel doing with Drusilla that’s so bad you go and get drunk and can’t tell me about? And when... did you start thinking I’m pretty and going all protecty?”

Spike knew he should just tell her to drop it, ask Peaches herself what was going on, get up and walk away. But the previous bottle of Jack Daniels had put paid to that idea - he had no bravado left for that kind of game. Instead, he mumbled, “Which bit d’you want to know first?”

“Angel. Drusilla. What’s the sitch?”

He sighed. “He’s always been her ‘daddy’. She’ll do anything for him, she adores him, despite what he did to her, and her family. She wanted me as a plaything, something to control, just a toy. But she worships Angelus, and he knows it.”

“And now?”

“The supreme souled one is trying to get her to be a good girl for his sake.”

“Personally, I’d say that’s a good thing.”

“Yeah, problem. He was trying it by making doe-eyes at her...”

“Doe-eyes mean nothing,” she said, more firmly than she really believed.

“And it didn’t stop there. He was all over her - touching her face, stroking her hair, making out she was the most precious thing to him in the world. It’s not fair! He shouldn’t do that, she believes it, and it’s not true... you’re the most precious thing in his life, why can’t he be satisfied with that?” he trailed off. “He was inches away from kissing her when I couldn’t take it any more. They hadn’t known I was watching them. Then she curled herself around him, saying she was going to be ‘a good girl for daddy’ and dragged him off. I could still smell him on her when she came back. I know what they were doing. And I know she’s been unfaithful to me in the past. But it always hurts more when it’s him...”

Buffy had a sick feeling in her stomach, but still asked, “And the other thing?”

Spike looked up at her, a humourless smile on his lips. “I always thought you were pretty, Slayer. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that you’re hotter than every other girl in town.”

She flushed slightly at the compliment, but gritted out, “and? Protecty?”

He looked away again. “I’ve always had a protective nature. Usually, I protect Dru. Now she’s off... with Angel... I guess I needed an outlet for it. And I know how much it hurts when the person you love is being unfaithful, so in that respect you were the obvious target for my protectiveness. The fact that you also happen to be the Slayer is just the most cruel trick Fate could play on me - and she’s had a fair few shots.”

Stumped, Buffy sat on the tombstone beside him. In a gentler tone, she said, “You know... getting drunk probably isn’t the answer?”

“I know,” he sighed. “But you always think it’ll take the pain away for a while.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Too young to drink?”

“Yeah. No ID, I’d never get served.”

“Sucks.”

“Tell me about it,” she replied feelingly.

Something occurred to him. He held up the near-full bottle. “Want some?”

To their surprise, she hesitated. “No. Best not. Mom’d find out, somehow, then I’d be in major trouble.”

He shrugged and took another swig. Slowly, gazing into the depths of the liquid, he asked, “So... you going to ask Peaches about it, or just let it be? Or what?”

She bunched her knees up under her chin and hugged them tightly. “Dunno. I just... dunno,” she said lamely.

“Tough one,” he acknowledged.

“I mean... if it really bothered him that much, not having sex...” she said, thinking aloud.

Spike peered at her. “You mean... you haven’t...” at her scowl, he back-pedalled. “I mean, um... none of my business...”

Her frown deepened. “No. We haven’t. And no, it isn’t your business.”

“Just surprised, that’s all.”

“Why?” she snarled.

“Well, with you so... I mean, I’d have thought he’d want... anyway, um...” he said uncomfortably.

“Not legal to do that yet, either,” she snapped, embarrassed.

“Oh. Oh! I see.”

“Yeah.”

There was silence for a while. “I didn’t mean you to hear it, y’know,” Spike said, finally. “I didn’t realise I wasn’t alone. I just needed to get my frustration out somehow... y’know?”

“Yeah,” she said quietly. “That I really do understand. Times like that, I just train till I drop.”

“Yeah? Bet the poor punch-bag takes a right battering.”

To her surprise, she laughed. “Yeah. Tomorrow, it’s gonna be Angel I’ll be imagining thumping to a bloody pulp.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You usually treat your boyfriends like that?”

“Oh, well - no. Not that I’ve really had any boyfriends before. Too busy doing Slayer stuff and burning down the school gym.”

Spike chuckled, pulling a cigarette from his pocket. “Sounds like a wild enough time. I guess you don’t smoke either, Miss Goody-Two-Shoes?”

She frowned until she realised he was just winding her up - given that the comment had come straight after the one about having a wild time. “No. I don’t. It’s a filthy habit.”

“Yeah. You’re not wrong.” She noticed, however, that despite the lack of concern in his voice, he blew the smoke away from her. “He’s not right for you, you know.”

“You know, everyone keeps telling me that? Just because he’s a vampire.”

“Well, has it occurred to you that ‘everyone’ might just be right? And I’m not vampire-biased, and I still say he’s not right for you. Not because he’s a vampire, but because he’s a bloody bastard, and an unfaithful one at that.”

She scowled. “Why do you have to be right?”

He tapped his temple. “Perceptive.”

“So... the guy I love isn’t right for me?”

“He won’t make you happy. Ever. As you’re well aware.”

“And Dru... is she right for you?”

“No. But you can’t choose who you love.”

“Too right,” she sighed, dropping her chin onto her knees. “God, why couldn’t I fall for some nice, loyal guy who’d love me for who I am... not some two-timing vampire? Fate really must have a sick and twisted sense of humour.”

“And again, you’re not wrong. Sick and twisted about describes it.”

She hesitated a moment. “Do you... do you think it’s sick that I love Angel? I mean... with me being the slayer?”

“I think it’s sick that anyone can love a poncey bastard like Angel, slayer or no,” he replied. “But I don’t think it’s particularly sick that you happen to love a vampire. I mean, you probably come across more of us in your line of work than you do humans. I’d say it’s pretty inevitable that if you end up working with one, you start thinking a bit differently about the whole vampire/human thing. Just ironic, that you love the creature you’re meant to destroy. But no, not sick. Apart from it being Angel.”

She couldn’t help but give a wry smile. “So if, say, I was in love with you rather than Angel, it would somehow be less sick.”

He grinned. “Gotta love that logic.”

She shook her head, dumbfounded. “You’re deranged! I mean... you’ve killed two slayers, and you’re saying it wouldn’t be sick if I was in love with you?”

“Well, following my logic, yeah. But my logic is biased against Angel and towards me, so that’s hardly surprising,” he replied candidly. “Anyway, Angel’s a rotten kisser.”

“Huh? And you know this how?” Spike waggled his eyebrows. “You’re kidding me? You - you and Angel... no way!”

“Don’t look so shocked! It was a long time ago, and I was a lot younger and more impressionable than I am now.”

“And, what, you just... I mean...”

“We had a bit of a fling. Bad idea. He wanted a shag, I thought he really cared.”

“Oh... I see,” she said softly, realising there was much more to Spike’s hatred of Angel than this latest business with Drusilla. “He... let you think that?”

“Yeah, till he’d got what he wanted. Then he lost interest,” he said shortly.

“He hurt you.”

“He could make an entire career out of hurting me,” he snorted. “It’s what he does best and likes most.”

Buffy flinched at the note of pain in his voice. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I had no idea. About any of that.”

“’S okay,” he said, mollified. “Not your fault. But someday, he will hurt you. Just like he hurt me. Just like he hurts Drusilla.”

Deep down, Buffy realised it was true. How long before Angel had a noble turn and decided he was no good for her? She’d had a job getting it to this point, where he at least acknowledged he had feelings for her enough to date her. She bit her lip, and tentatively touched his arm. “I’m sorry,” she said again. She sighed. “Sorry that you’re probably right.”

Without any conscious thought, Spike draped his arm around her shoulders. “So am I. Sorry. That I’m right.”

She dropped her head on his shoulder, feeling heart-sick and weary. She hadn’t been prepared for a lot of the things Spike had told her about Angel, and she knew, somehow, that he wasn’t lying. And it was beyond strange that the mortal enemy who had told her the things that had hurt her so much was the one giving her consolation for it - and was hurting just as much himself. "We really are a sad, sorry pair, aren't we?" she murmured.

"Yeah. Slayer and vampire, snuffling on each others' shoulders in the wee small hours of the morning," he said morosely. "Bloody weird."

She gingerly stretched an arm around his waist, amazed at how strangely companionable it felt. "It's nice to talk to someone who understands, though."

He nodded. "Yeah." He chewed his lower lip thoughtfully. "You really should think about cutting your losses with Angel, though."

"Even though that's even more likely to make him run straight to Drusilla?" she asked dryly.

He considered. "Good point. Stay with Angel, and I'll keep Dru." He chuckled lightly. "Or maybe we should swap for a bit. Angel'd come running straight back to you if he had to deal with Dru on a full-time basis. Doesn't have the patience, the great poof, she'd drive him up the wall. He never could deal with her - problems. Which he created, of course..."

“But that would mean you being with me, not her.”

He turned his head to look at her, assessing the comment. “Well... it could be worse, I suppose.”

“Worse than dating a slayer? What’s worse than that, in your book, given that you killed the last two you came across?”

“I could kill you afterwards?” he offered. “Dunno. Worse than dating a slayer...? Oh, wait. Dating Angel.”

“That’s below the belt,” she huffed.

“I meant from my point of view, not yours.”

“Oh. Sorry. Hang on, you’d rather date me than Angel? You hate him more than you hate me?”

“Yeah. Think I’d rather kill him than you, too.”

“I’m flattered,” she said wryly.

“Don’t make a big deal, slayer. Would you rather date me or Dru?”

“Oh, well, if you put it that way,” she said sulkily, “I suppose it would have to be you.”

“So don’t gloat.”

“I wasn’t gloating! I was just - expressing my surprise.”

“You were gloating.”

“Was not!”

“Were too!”

“Was not!”

“Were too!”

“Was... Jeez, are you always this childish when you argue?”

“I’m not childish!”

“Are.”

“Not.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Let’s not get started on this again.”

He pouted. “You’re no fun.”

She blinked. “Huh? You actually want to argue?”

He shrugged. “Something to do, in’t it?”

Buffy wondered how she’d managed to spend so much of the evening - well, morning - snuggled up to and bickering with her mortal enemy. “I’ve lost it. I’ve officially lost it,” she marvelled aloud. “I’m really, really, quite insane...”

Spike groaned. “Not you as well! I have enough problems with insane women without you adding to them. Talking to somebody sane was a nice change of pace.”

“I didn’t mean it literally,” she snapped.

“Oh. Good.”

She sighed. Somehow, it felt comfortable and safe, sitting on a tombstone with Spike, talking with him as though they were old friends rather than enemies. Even their arms around each other seemed comforting, solid, secure. Even so... “I should get home. Nice as this has been...”

“Nice?”

“Well, with the talking. Not so much the finding out of what Angel gets up to when I’m not around.”

“Oh. Yeah. Well, I guess I should head home as well. I don’t really want to frazzle. Leastways, not yet.” He grinned suddenly. “Wouldn’t want to disappoint you of your quarry, after all.”

She gave him an odd look. “Night, then.”

He didn’t let go of her. “Night.” His lips brushed hers, softly, gently, and far too briefly. She gasped, and he smiled. “What did I tell you? He’s a rotten kisser.”

Buffy blinked disbelievingly at Spike’s retreating form. ‘The nerve of him...’ she thought dazedly, lips tingling slightly with the memory of his kiss. She shook her head, and her lips twitched into a smile. “The absolute nerve of him,” she chuckled aloud.

 

Part 2

“So, Angel. How’s Drusilla?” asked Buffy breezily when she next saw her boyfriend. “Glad to have her ‘daddy’ around?”

Angel eyes her warily. “Umm. Look, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that...”

“About how you’ve been smooching her? Yeah, I heard on the grapevine.”

“Well, I...”

Her expression hardened. “I’d rather have heard it from you, straight out, rather than a third party.”

“Look, I guess... you must be feeling... um... what did you hear exactly?”

“Well, basically that you’ve been sleeping with her.”

“That’s not entirely true,” he hedged uncomfortably.

“What about it isn’t true?” she asked, tapping her stake against her thigh.

“It only happened the once, I swear! I didn’t mean to, and... and I’ve been feeling so bad about it... I just, didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he finished meekly.

“Newsflash, Soulboy, finding out from someone else hurts a lot more. Or did you think I wouldn‘t find out at all? Is that it? You hoped you could get away with it?” His guilty look confirmed her suspicion. “You had no intention of telling me,” she said bitterly. “Typical guy.”

“Buffy, I...”

“I don’t wanna hear it. You know, the others? they might just be right. You’re not the right guy for me. Not if you can treat me like this. But hey, you don’t have that good a track record anyway, do you? How many other girlfriends have you hurt, Angel? Huh?”

“That was before the soul,” he whispered. “Buffy... please... I’m sorry.”

Her eyes were burning, but she refused to cry in front of him. “So am I, Angel. But this is over.” She walked away from him, heart aching, but knowing she’d done the right thing.

She walked for a couple of hours, half-heartedly dusting a few freshly-risen vamps. As she turned into the last cemetery on her circuit, she was joined by another undead presence. “Come to put me out of my misery?” she sighed.

“Was just about to ask you the same thing,” he replied with a crooked smile. The smile faded. “Wait a minute... what...”

“I talked to Angel. He admitted he’d slept with Dru, and that he’d basically never intended to tell me. So I dumped him.”

“He really has fallen from your good graces, hasn’t he?” A fledgling launched itself at Buffy and Spike, exploding into dust even before Buffy could react.

“You just dusted a vamp!”

He scowled at her. “Let’s get a couple of things straight. I am NOT one of the good guys. I am the Master of Sunnydale, and all other vampires are my minions, to dispose of as I please. And I particularly object to being interrupted when I’m trying to have a conversation with a pretty girl.”

“Again with the pretty,” she teased.

He quirked an eyebrow at her. “Like you don’t like it.”

She giggled despite herself. “Okay. But you realise you might just have saved my life?”

“Yeah? Well, I was talking to you. Can’t talk to you if you’re dead. Anyway, if you’re gonna get killed, I want it to be me doing the killing.”

“Right. Great logic,” she mused. “So. When you gonna kill me, then?”

He chuckled. “When we’ve run out of things to talk about, I suppose.”

She felt herself smiling in return. Weird, how her nemesis and she could stroll along side by side in perfect harmony, chatting like old friends. “How long d’you reckon that’ll be?”

He turned to face her. “With you? Maybe a lifetime. Who knows?” He smiled and kept walking. “Do you know the story of Sheherazade?”

“She-who?”

“The ‘Thousand and one nights’?”

“Oh, yeah. Why?”

“She saved her life by talking.” He chuckled. “Got herself a rich and loving husband as well, but that’s beside the point.”

“I’m no good at stories.”

“Maybe not. But I’m not asking for stories, am I?”

“What are you asking for, exactly?”

“Conversation from an equal. Simple as that.”

“Conversation? No more than that?”

He curled his tongue behind his teeth. “Why, you want it to be more than that?”

“No, no, I mean...”

“Sure you don’t want me to kiss you again?”

Her stomach fluttered at the memory of the feel of his lips against hers. “Umm. No? I mean, yes, I‘m sure.” At his lifted eyebrow, she reminded him, “There’s still Drusilla in the equation. Don’t bring yourself down to Angel’s level.”

“Shame, but you’re right. Who’d’ve thought it?”

She frowned, but he smiled back and fell back into step beside her. "This is so weird."

"What is?"

"You, me, making with the small-talk."

"Oh. Yeah. S'pose."

"You don't think it's weird?"

He shrugged. "Dunno. After the other night, when I was drunk... I dunno. Talking to you, just normally, it seemed - different. Not trading insults for once, not trying to kill each other... it made a nice change. And it was good to be able to talk to someone about stuff, as an equal. Dru... I can't talk to Dru. Whatever I feel for her, she's insane, you can't carry on a conversation with her. None of it makes sense. Poor girl. And the minions - you can't talk to minions. They get out of hand. Y'know? Think you're their best buddy and start strutting around like they own the place. A Master can't have friends."

"So... you want us to be friends?" she asked incredulously.

He gave her an irritated look. "Didn't say that. I just said I wanted someone to talk to sometimes." He gave her a shrewd look. "Ever feel lonely, slayer? Like your friends don't understand you, what it's like to be you? Ever feel like you need someone to talk to about slayer stuff, but can't talk to your watcher?"

"Sometimes," she admitted quietly. "I used to talk to Angel about it, but... well, I don't think he really took it all that seriously. He always wanted to make sure I was safe, and..."

"Hence your china-doll outburst the other night?"

"Um. Yeah."

"Wondered."

"It's that obvious?"

"Where the flaws were in that relationship? Do I need to answer that?"

She groaned. "No. I guess not. I really thought he loved me..."

Spike halted and turned towards her. "He does love you, Buffy. He just has a strange way of showing it sometimes."

She stared at him. "But... you said..."

"Just because someone loves you doesn't make them right for you," he said, resuming walking. "And sometimes love isn't enough. Did he ever stop to ask you what you wanted out of the relationship? Whether you wanted cosseting, and a pat on the head, and a 'that's nice, Buffy,'?" he asked, mimicking Angel's accent. At the look on her face, he shook his head. "Thought not."

"So, what, he's selfish as well as two-timing?" she asked, trying to be angry with the blond vampire, but acknowledging, deep down, that he was probably right.

"You said it, not me," he replied, lighting a cigarette.

"Any other insights?" she'd meant it to sound snappy, but it came out - defeated.

"I doubt you could really deal with hearing any more tonight, china doll not withstanding," he said, head tilted to one side. "Haven't you got yourself churned up enough for one day?"

She looked away from him, unnerved yet again at his ability to see her and read her. "Why is it you're always right?" she whispered, not looking back at him.

He didn't answer, but wrapped an arm around her waist and held her silently, her brow leaning on his shoulder. "Go home, slayer," he said finally. "Get some sleep, and get him off your mind and out of your system. You'll heal in time."

 

 

Part 3

“I can’t believe he’d actually do that! That he’d stoop so low!” she fumed a few weeks later as she and Spike perched on an old tombstone.

A trail of smoke floated lazily from the cigarette in his hand. “Buffy. He’s a vampire. Newsflash: we’re evil.”

She gave him a cross look. “Some more so than others. He’s meant to be one of the good guys. He has a soul.”

“Mm. Well, not exactly.”

“What?”

“He - um, he lost his soul.”

“He did what? I mean, you can’t just put down a soul and say, oh, whoops, where the tooting heck did I put that darned soul!”

“Gypsy curse had a clause. If he had a moment of true happiness, he’d lose his soul again.”

“Great. So we have a - hang on, moment of happiness? What moment of happiness?”

He bit his lip. “Dru.”

“He went back to Dru.” She didn’t even need to question it. She knew.

“Yeah.”

“And you?”

He tried to smile, but sounded dejected. “Footloose and fancy-free.”

Suddenly, her anger melted away. “I’m sorry.”

“Not the first time it’s happened. Anyway. We still... need to know what he’s up to. Instead of getting Dru to be a good girl, seems like she’s pulling him down. And like as not the rest of the world with her.”

“Meaning...?”

“We’ve no idea what they’re cooking up, but it’s bound to be nasty.”

“Can we stop them?”

“Could you kill him?”

“K-kill him?”

“Yeah. And no, it isn‘t just a way to get Dru back, if that‘s what you‘re thinking.”

“I... if I had to, I guess.”

“Be prepared, then. If the worst comes to the worst, we kill him.”

“We?”

“Hey, I want to stay Master of Sunnydale. I’d like there to be a Sunnydale to be Master of.”

“So you’ll help?”

“In my own interest.”

“Deal.”

He nodded brusquely. “Deal.”

She sighed. “Maybe I should just have staked him instead of dumping him.”

Spike couldn’t help but smirk. “Yeah. Maybe. But still, now he‘s a soulless monster...”

“Doesn’t make it all that much easier,” she sighed again. “The lines are all so blurred, now. Angel’s evil, and you - you’re helping me. Everything’s turned upside-down. I don’t know where I am any more.”

“Fighting evil in Sunnydale pretty much covers it,” he said.

She sighed yet again. “You okay?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. I was a bit gutted, y’know... but I’d been expecting it. She’ll come back to me when she gets tired of Angel, anyway. She always does.”

“She’s done it before, then?”

“Yeah. Not for a long time - not since he got the soul. But in the past, yeah.”

“Must hurt.”

“yeah, well. That’s life, in’t it?”

“S’pose.” She murmured, resting her head on Spike’s shoulder as her arm went round his waist.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he said, so softly she barely heard it. “Makes everything so much easier, somehow. Dealing with everything. Tower of strength, you are.”

She smiled. “Likewise.” She was quiet for a moment, until she felt his lips brush the crown of her head. Sure, she’d seen a softer side to Spike over the last few weeks, but she hadn’t expected that. She glanced up at him quizzically.

“Just to say thank you,” he said, shrugging. “For being there.”

“You were there for me,” she reasoned. “It’s only fair.”

“I guess.” He held her closer, and rested his cheek on the top of her head. “If only life could be like this, instead of throwing the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ at us,” he sighed.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Quietness, peace, tranquillity. Harmony and understanding between two people.”

“Friendship,” he said, closing his eyes briefly. “Might as well call it how it is. We’ve both been avoiding the issue far too long.”

To his surprise, she didn’t move, didn’t deny it. Didn’t even question it. “Friendship,” she affirmed. “What would we be without each other?”

“Sobbing messes on the floor, most likely.”

She tutted affectionately. “Always right. Always say it how it is.”

He chuckled. “Isn’t that what friends are for?”

She smiled, snuggling closer. “I guess.”

 

 

 

Part 4

 

Buffy knew that a part of her would grieve for Angel for a little while, but it didn't feel as bad as she thought it would do. He'd turned into a soulless monster, he'd hurt her and her friends, he'd killed Miss Calendar. True, she'd loved him, but she had other things to worry about right now.

She raised her head to look around the room. There was no sign of Spike. She shuddered. What had happened to him? She'd lost track of what had happened during her fight with Angel. The last she's seen of him, he'd been trying to control Drusilla. Feeling sick, she stood up slowly.

"Love? a little help in here wouldn't go amiss..."

She'd never been so thankful to hear his voice. She ran into the next room to see him pinned down under a beam of wood. There was a long gash at his throat and another one across his stomach. She helped him push the beam off. "My God, what happened? Are you okay?"

He smiled ruefully. "I think Peaches must've booby-trapped the hall. I'll live. I just - ow - need to feed." He grinned, and winced slightly. "Suppose you wouldn't like to offer?"

Buffy bit her lip. Could she trust him? "Would you stop if I told you?"

"Yeah. Couple of mouthfuls'll do me, put me back on my feet. You'll barely notice they're missing. Powerful stuff, slayer blood."

"Umm. Okay. How, uh..."

He sat up as best he could. "Sit here. Beside me."

Buffy sat down awkwardly next to him. "Like this?"

"Yeah. Now... relax. Just... put your head on my shoulder." He wrapped his arms around her. "Okay?"

She swallowed nervously. "Yeah."

He swung her legs across his lap, then bent his head to her throat.

To Buffy's surprise, it didn't even hurt that much. She winced as she felt the fangs slice through her skin, then relaxed as Spike's tongue pressed at the jugular to make more blood flow out. She realised he wasn't even feeding properly - he made no attempt to suck the blood from her, just let it flow at it's own pace into his mouth. She closed her eyes at the sensations, relaxing fully into him.

Spike stopped when she whimpered, lifting his head. "Love? Are you..."

She took a few steadying breaths before answering. "I - I'm fine."

"You should have said you wanted me to stop," he fretted.

"I... I didn't. Want you to stop." She refused to look at him. "I..."

He pressed his thumb to the already-healing bite mark, and felt her shudder and gasp, one hand clutching at his t-shirt. "Buffy..."

"You - you can take more if... if you need to," she stuttered.

He bent his head to her neck again, but this time it was human teeth that bit at the soft skin, and the tongue that had bled her now caressed and soothed the wound he'd left. This time when she whimpered, he didn't stop, but wound her hair round his fingers, easing her head back to expose more of her throat, kissing and teasing the tender skin until she was panting, his tongue whipping her to frenzied need and desire, both her hands roaming under his t-shirt as if by their own volition. He bit her hard once more with human teeth, pulling her close into his arms as she cried out his name, and shuddered, clutching at him tightly. He held her close until she stopped trembling, then loosened his hold on her without letting go entirely.

She lay across him, panting, still supported entirely by his arms and chest. It had been weird enough being friends with Spike, but now - this? Letting him feed off her? And... she gulped. This wasn't exactly as simple as 'just friends' any more.

"You okay?" Spike's voice cut across her thoughts.

"Umm. Yeah. The, uh, bite'll heal..."

"It's already almost healed, slayer. And we both know that wasn't what I meant."

She bit her lip, blushing. "Um. I, uh. Yeah." She swallowed to clear her throat. "Um... does it, um, always feel - like that?"

"Biting?" He smiled, and stroked her hair gently. "Mostly, yeah. But it helps if you like the person biting you."

Her blush deepened. Caught.

"Course," he continued, "you'd probably only ever be bitten like that if the person biting you cared about you as well." He felt her relax a little, having tensed when he'd started talking to her.

"You, uh, care about me?" she squeaked.

He pulled her head back again gently to look into her eyes. "What do you think? Would I have become one of the good guys if I didn't?"

"Well, uh... good guys? You're, like, officially..."

His mouth brushed against hers, silencing the question. Buffy melted gratifyingly against him.

He was right. Angel really was a rotten kisser.

As if reading her mind, Spike pulled back a little and grinned at her. "Told you so."

She swatted him. "Hey!"

He laughed, and scrambled to his feet, holding out a hand to pull her up. "C'mon, slayer, lets go home."

Arms around each others' waists, they ambled home, bickering amiably and play-fighting as they went. The misery of their relationships was wiped clean by the laughter between them, until it was almost forgotten, and all that was left were bitter-sweet memories. As one vampire fell from grace, another attained it.

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