A Pirate's Life For Me by Addie Logan

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Post Blood Ties. As the Slayer, Buffy Summers is certain she hates the vampire Spike. But when an enchanted book pulls her into a world where she's Lady Elizabeth Summers, trapped on the ship of famed pirate William the Bloody, things start to look a little different…

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Chapters 24-27

Chapter 24

Xander watched as Anya went into his closet, pulled out a wad of sheets and a pillow, and deposited them on the couch. " Ahn , what are you doing?" he asked.

"You're sleeping on the couch."

"Huh?"

"I said , you're sleeping on the couch. I don't much feel like sharing a bed with you tonight."

"Then go home."

"No. I want you to sleep on the couch. It's a time-honored punishment for men who have upset their wives or girlfriends. Once, I cursed this guy to sleep on the most uncomfortable couch in the world for all eternity."

Xander blanched. "This is insane!"

"So is you being all mean to Buffy and Spike."

"What?! Anya, Buffy's letting Spike bite her. And doing other things with him that I can't even begin to think about."

"Then don't think about it. It's none of your business. And he isn't feeding off her, Xander. It was a claiming bite."

"A bite is a bite! There's only one reason why a vampire would sink his fangs into a Slayer!"

"Oh, so you're a vampire expert now?" Anya asked sarcastically, her hands on her hips.

"I've been fighting them for five years. I think I know a thing or two about them!" Xander exclaimed.

"A thing or two, maybe. But everything? No. I've known quite a few vampires in my time, and I know from personal experience that there is more than one kind of vampire bite."

"I don't want to hear that."

"You don't want to hear a lot of things. But that doesn't make them any less real. Buffy and Spike are mated. If you want to be Buffy's friend, then you're going to have to learn to live with that."

"I can't do that! It's disgusting, her doing that with a demon."

Anger flared in Anya's eyes, and she slapped Xander hard across the face.

"Ow!" Xander cried out, reaching up to stroke his sore cheek. "What was that for?"

"Is what we have disgusting, Xander? Is that what you think of our love?"

"No! But we're different. You're not a demon anymore."

"So if I was still a vengeance demon, you couldn't love me? If I'd never become a human again, you couldn't still love me for the person I am?"

Xander stared at her. The phrase "you wouldn't be a person" was on the tip of his tongue, but he stopped himself before he said it. He'd never thought of that before, where he'd be if Anya had stayed a demon. Would he have fallen in love with her? Part of him wanted to say no, he could never love a demon, but at the same time he couldn't imagine Anya not in his life. "I don't know," he said finally.

"Then maybe you should figure it out," Anya snapped before going into his bedroom and locking the door behind her.

Xander sighed and started fixing himself a bed on the couch.

*** *** ***

Spike woke up to the sound of Buffy crying. They'd decided to stay there at her mother's that night, and while she'd gone to bed in a good enough mood, Spike had felt her anxiousness coming through the claim. It infuriated Spike that her friends would do this to her and then have the nerve to call him evil.

He leaned over and kissed her shoulder. "Sweetheart?" When she didn't respond, he pulled her closer to him, her back to his front. "Buffy?"

"What?" she said, obviously trying to keep the tears out of her voice, though Spike could still hear them. "I told you I didn't want to have sex with my mother in the house."

"Not pushing for that, kitten. You're upset. Thought you might need a little comfort."

Buffy turned in his arms then, burying her head against his chest. Spike held on to her, and her cries turned into sobs. "He couldn't look at me, Spike," Buffy said, the pain in her voice making Spike's heart break. "Giles couldn't look at me."

"Shh. Watcher didn't mean that, pet. He was just upset."

Buffy looked up, her face stained from crying. "Yes he did. Giles hates me. I disgust him."

"No. There's not a bloody thing disgusting about you. He's the one in the wrong here."

"But it hurts, Spike. It hurts so much."

"I know, baby," Spike said, guiding her head back down to his chest. He stroked her hair and back, murmuring softly to her until she fell asleep again.

He glanced over her head at the alarm clock beside her bed. He still had a little time before daybreak, although he'd be pushing it. Still, it was worth the chance that he might get stuck somewhere for the day. His girl was hurting, and he needed to fix it.

*** *** ***

"You know, leaving your door unlocked in a town like Sunnydale, not the brightest idea. All sorts of monsters could just wander right in here."

Giles looked up, his eyes narrowing as he saw Spike standing in his doorway. "Most monsters don't have an invitation."

Spike took another step into the apartment, wrinkling his nose. If the empty bottles and glasses weren't evidence enough of what Giles had been up to since he'd left the Magic Box earlier, the stench of too much alcohol rolling off the Watcher certainly was. "Well, I do. And we're going to have a little conversation."

Giles grabbed a stake that was on his desk, standing up shakily as he pointed the weapon at Spike. "The only 'conversation' I want to have with you, Spike, doesn't involve words."

"You're gonna want to put that down, Watcher," Spike said, his tone icily calm. "You know what that'll do to Buffy."

Giles let the stake fall to the ground. "I should've pushed you out into the sunlight the moment you came to my door seeking help. I never should've let you get this close to Buffy."

"Wasn't your call. You didn't let her do anything. Buffy made the choice to let me close."

"And you wasted no time in taking advantage of that error in judgment, did you?" Giles sneered.

"What are you on about? I didn't take advantage of Buffy!"

"You most certainly did!" Giles tried to advance on Spike, but wobbled, clinging to the side of his desk for support. "That book, it did something to her. Messed with her mind. And you…you took advantage of that. Put a claim on her for who knows what sick purpose."

"I claimed her because I love her. I claimed her because I wanted to make sure she knows that I will stand beside her until I'm dust. What could I possibly gain from tying myself for all eternity to a woman I didn't love?"

"You'll only hurt her."

Spike narrowed his eyes. "I'm not the one who's hurting her. What you said to her today… She was sobbing tonight. You broke her heart."

"She acted with very poor judgment. She…"

"No! Bloody hell, are you seriously that blind to what Buffy's feeling? It doesn't matter what you think of her actions. The point is you turned to a girl who sees you as her father and told her you couldn't stand to look at her. That she's a disappointment. Do you have any idea how cruel that is?"

"Well, I guess you'd know about cruel, being a demon and all. You don't love Buffy. You cannot love Buffy. You're not capable of it."

Spike forced himself to refrain from acting violently. Wouldn't exactly do to prove the other man right. "Look, personally, I don't care what you think. You can spit back the tripe the Watchers' Council fills the heads of its girls with all you want, doesn't make a damn bit of difference to me. I know more about vampires and what we're capable of than all your books put together. But it matters to Buffy. You matter to Buffy. And that makes it important to me. If someone hurts her, then it's my duty to make it right."

"So you're what, going to threaten me? Tell me you'll find a way to enact horrible tortures on me if I don't give my blessing to this unholy union?"

"No. And not just because the chip won't let me either. My mate sees you as family, which means you're under my protection. I'll never lay a finger on any of you so long as you're dear to Buffy. What I'm saying is you might want to think about what you're doing. You don't have to like me. Hell, I don't like you. Think you're a right git. But what Buffy and I have, it's forever. I don't expect you to know all the reasons why Buffy and I decided on a claim. That's private. Just between Buffy an' me. And you don't have to approve of it. Your opinion doesn't change what it is. But I won't have you treating Buffy that way. She doesn't deserve it. For whatever reason, your opinion means something to her. And I know you care about her. You don't approve of what she's done, but you still love her. So bloody act like it. Don't turn your back on her because she's trying to find a little happiness in this hell of a life she lives. Girl's suffered enough without you adding to her pain."

"I don't need advice from you, Spike."

"Fine. But keep in mind that you're the one who's going to be missing out when you lose Buffy from your life."

Spike walked out of the apartment, leaving Giles alone with his thoughts and his scotch.

*** *** ***

Spike ran in through the backdoor of the Summers ' house, narrowly missing the first rays of the morning sun.

"Cutting it a little close?"

Spike looked up sharply, surprised to see Joyce awake. "Yeah. Made it though. Mornin', Joyce."

"Good morning. And, um, where were you exactly?"

"Had to go talk to Giles."

"About Buffy?"

"Yeah. He didn't take to the whole claim thing very well."

"Oh." Joyce looked pensive for a moment before asking, "Would you like a cup of hot chocolate?"

Spike knew there was more coming that just hot chocolate. Joyce had something on her mind. But he also decided it was best to go along with it. She was his mother-in-law now, after all… "Sure, Joyce. That would be lovely."

Joyce smiled as she got up to put the pot on the stove. Spike sat at the kitchen island as she fixed them both a mug. After she finished, she handed the drink to Spike, who took it graciously. "Thanks."

Joyce sat across from him, wrapping her hands around her own mug. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

"I figured you were getting to that. Go ahead. Can't promise an answer, but I'll do what I can."

"Can you explain this claim thing to me a little more? What does it mean for my daughter?"

"Means she's mine."

Joyce frowned. "You own her?"

"No, not like that. Buffy's not my possession. She's mine. But I'm hers, too. Forever."

"Forever? Buffy won't live forever, Spike. She's human…isn't she?"

"Yeah, she is. But she's tied to me now, and I'm not. Claim won't make her a vampire, but it'll keep her with me. Binds us together. I live, she lives."

"And if you die?"

"She wouldn't fall right to the ground. Don't worry about that. She wouldn't be immortal anymore, but it wouldn't kill her right out."

"And if Buffy dies?"

"I walk into the next sunrise."

Joyce blinked a little at that. "You love her that much?"

"I love her with everything that I am. Buffy's my everything . Vampires don't claim mates very often. We're not exactly a species known for monogamy. But when we do make that choice, it's sacred. Protecting for and caring for his mate becomes the top priority for that vampire. And for me, that's Buffy."

"I suppose you didn't have a claim with that other woman then, did you? The one you were upset about the time you came here?"

"Drusilla? No. She wouldn't allow it." Spike looked down. "I tried, but she wouldn't reciprocate. Got mad at me for trying to erase her connection with her 'daddy.'"

"Daddy?"

"Angel. He was Dru's sire—the vampire that made her. He held a place in her heart that I could never fill."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

Spike looked up again. "I'm not. If Dru had let me claim her, I couldn't be with Buffy now."

"And you love Buffy more?"

"Yeah, I do. Never thought I could love anyone more than I loved Drusilla, but Buffy… Your daughter's really something special, Joyce. The things she can make me feel with just a smile…it's bloody amazing."

Joyce reached across the island, placing her hand on top of Spike's. "Thank you."

"For what?" Spike asked, his brow furrowed.

"For reassuring me. For letting me know my daughter is going to be loved and cherished for the rest of her life. There's nothing a mother wants to know more than that."

"No reason to thank me for that. I'm honored that I get to."

"Still, I'm…"Joyce patted his hand . " I'm glad to have you for a son-in-law."

"Thanks, Joyce. Couldn't have asked for a better mother-in-law myself."

Joyce smiled and took a sip of her hot chocolate.

 

Chapter 25

Buffy took a deep breath, her hand poised to knock on the door to Willow's dorm room. She hated this, the uncertainty she was feeling over having a conversation with one of her closest friends. Willow was supposed to be one of the people she knew would always be in her corner. She steeled herself and rapped her fist against the wood.

Willow opened the door a moment later. "Buffy! You came!"

"You asked me to," Buffy said. "You told me you wanted to talk."

"Um, yeah," Willow replied, clearing her throat. She stepped back, giving Buffy room to enter. "Come on in."

Buffy gave a small nod, entering the dorm room. She stopped short when she saw who else was in there. "Xander? What is this, yet another intervention? Cause to be honest, I'm really sick of those."

Willow shut the door, then took a step towards Buffy before the look in the Slayer's eyes made her stop short. "We just wanted to talk to you, Buffy."

"Yeah. Remind you who you're real friends are," Xander said.

"My real friends?" Buffy gave a short bark of laughter. " Real friends wouldn't be here telling me that being with the one man in my life who has ever made me truly happy is wrong!"

Willow held up her hands. "We're not telling you you're wrong, Buffy. We're just thinking maybe you're…confused. After what happened in that book, it's only natural that you would be confusing Spike and William. But Spike isn't a romance hero, Buffy."

"He's a cold blooded killer. He's murdered thousands. You can't be with someone like that," Xander added.

"So you're not with Anya?" Buffy replied. "Cause you two look pretty damn cozy to me."

"This isn't about Anya," Xander said. "This is about you getting yourself all worked up over another vampire."

"And you just can't stand that, can you?" Buffy asked, turning towards Xander. "You can't stand the fact that I'd choose another vamp over you."

"No! It's not that!" Xander said, taking a step back. "Spike is still a killer. If he got that chip out of his head…"

"And if Anya ever got her demon powers back…" Buffy retorted. "You are not the person to be telling me not to be with someone with a bloody past, Xander Harris. Anya's body count is bound to dwarf Spike's, and I'm not even sure if she thinks anything she ever did was wrong, or if it was all in the name of righteous vengeance. What would stop her from going right back again if D'Hoffryn asked her? What would stop her from taking vengeance on you if she was called on to do it?"

"Because she loves me!"

Buffy crossed her arms in front of her, feeling that her point was made even if Xander wasn't willing to see it. "And Spike loves me."

"Spike can't love you, Buffy," Willow said, trying to keep her voice soft and sympathetic, though to Buffy's ears it was still harsh. "He doesn't have a soul. It's just going to be like Angelus all over again."

Buffy turned back to Willow then. "No. Spike is nothing like Angel. He loves me in a way that Angel never could, with or without a soul. And we're mated. That's forever. No amount of misguided intervention from the two of you will change that."

"Buffy, Spike's only going to hurt you," Willow insisted. "And…and this mating thing, I think there might still be a chance to undo it. I was looking into spells, and…"

Before Willow could finish her sentence, Buffy had her pinned up against the wall. "Don't you dare. I swear, if you do anything to come between us, you will be sorry." She stepped back, letting Willow go. "Spike will never hurt me. He's my mate . He can't hurt me. And that includes hurting other people, because he knows that would rip me apart. And he's going to fight with everything he has to make sure that I'm never hurt by anyone else either."

"Claim or not, he's still a vampire," Xander sneered.

"Exactly! And vampires protect their mates!" Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm in love. And for the first time since I was called, I feel like there's some level of peace for me. Someplace where I can escape the turmoil that is the life of a Slayer. And that place is in Spike's arms. If the two of you were really my friends, you'd be happy that I finally have that."

"Buffy, we are your friends," Willow said. "And we want you to have that. We're just not sure you can with Spike."

"I can," Buffy said. "And I will. I'm not giving him up. And I care about the both of you, but…" She glanced at Willow and Xander, meeting them both in the eye before she spoke again. "If the two of you want to be my friends, you're going to have to accept Spike in my life. Otherwise, I don't have anything else to say to you."

"You'd just toss away our friendship for him?" Xander asked in disbelief.

"Losing Spike would destroy me. If you really want to do that to me, then you're not my friends anyway." Buffy walked out of the dorm room, leaving Willow and Xander in silence.

*** *** ***

Buffy hit the bag in front of her as hard as she could, grunting with the exertion of the punches. How could they call themselves her friends and try to take away her happiness? And Willow had actually thought about trying to mystically erase the claim? How could she?

She hoped she'd convinced Willow that trying that would be a very bad idea. Although even if Willow did find a way that—which to be honest, Buffy wasn't even sure if you could break something as strong as a claim, even with magic—Buffy would only go right back to Spike and have him bite her all over again. He was hers, and no one could take that from her.

"Thought I'd find you here."

Buffy stopped suddenly, spinning around to see Spike emerge from the back entrance of the Magic Box. "I didn't hear you come in."

"Or feel me, apparently. Something's got you good and worked up, luv. Things not go so well over at Willow's?"

Buffy's shoulders slumped. "Xander was there, too. It was another one of their damn interventions."

"They want you to give up drinking?" Spike asked with a small grin.

"And they're not too happy with my crack addiction either," Buffy replied. She sighed heavily. "They're supposed to be my friends, Spike. They're supposed to be happy that I'm happy."

Spike wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against his chest. "I know, kitten. They just have their heads too far up their arses at the moment to see that."

Buffy sighed, moving away from him a little. "I wish they'd pull them out. I really don't want to lose my friends."

"I know, baby." He pointed towards the punching bag. "You're never going to work off the tension with that thing."

"Yeah, but it's still light out. There's no vamps around to pound on."

"There is me," Spike replied with a leer.

"I'm in the mood for a fight, Spike. Not… that ."

"I know." He dropped into a fighting stance. "C'mon, Buffy. Give it to me good."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to fight you. Besides, you can't even hit back, so where's the fun in that?"

"Neither can that punching bag."

"Yeah, but it doesn't have feelings. You…" Before Buffy could finish her sentence, Spike had taken a swing at her, though he'd purposely missed her in order to avoid a firing of the chip. "Hey!"

"Come on, pet. Put up a fight. Always did like it when you were…beating on me."

"You are such a perv ," Buffy replied with another eye roll. Spike struck at her again. "Knock it off."

Spike's only response was to grin and throw another punch at the air beside her head.

"Okay, fine. If that's the way you want it…" Buffy took a swing at him, only to have Spike grab her arm and flip her onto the mats. She looked up at him, her eyes narrowed. "Oh, now you are in for it."

Spike ran his tongue over his teeth. "Such sweet promises there, Slayer."

Buffy jumped up and lunged at him, only to have Spike block her every move. He couldn't hit back, but he could certainly keep up. It had been so long since she'd gotten the chance to fight him, and even if it was just sparring, the feel of facing off against such a capable opponent got her blood racing. Suddenly, she stopped fighting, launching herself into his arms and pressing her mouth hard against his.

"Thought you weren't in the mood for this," Spike said as she broke the kiss.

"Changed my mind."

Spike grinned. "Sparrin' with me get you all hot, Slayer?"

"Oh yeah."

Spike pushed her against the wall, licking his marks on her neck. "Always did, didn't it baby?"

Buffy knew there was no reason to lie now. Not with what they had between them. "Uh huh. Had so many dreams about you throwing me down in the middle of a fight and fucking my brains out."

Spike groaned, thrusting hard against her. "Wanna make those dreams come true?" he asked, his voice husky.

Buffy ran her hand down his cheek. "You make all my dreams come true."

"Oh, Buffy," Spike moaned, crashing his lips down on hers. Buffy pushed him away, and Spike frowned before he realized she was simply ridding herself of her pants. He grinned. "No knickers, luv?"

"Figured it was the safest way to keep you from ripping them off me at some point."

"Good idea." Spike unbuttoned his jeans, pulling out his cock and stroking it, shivering at the way Buffy's eyes followed the movement of his hand, her pink tongue darting out to lick suddenly dry lips. "See something you want, baby?"

Buffy threw herself into his arms. Spike stumbled slightly, only to regain his balance by pushing her up against the wall. She hooked her legs around his waist, and Spike thrust home, groaning in heartfelt pleasure as he felt Buffy close in around him. He pulled out only to immediately push back in again, setting a rough but steady rhythm. His growls mixed with the sounds of Buffy's grunts and mewls as well as the sound of her hitting the wall with the power of his thrusts. She clung to the leather at his shoulders, her mind not registering anything but the bone melting pleasure of having him inside her again.

When her orgasm hit her, Buffy screamed, the force of it almost too much for her to bear. She clenched tightly around him, and Spike sank his fangs into her neck, succumbing to his need to mark her again as he came inside of her.

Spent, they slid down to the ground, Spike moving to sit beside Buffy against the wall. Suddenly, the door opened, and Buffy scrambled to cover herself with the side of the duster Spike was still wearing.

Anya stood in the doorway, her arms crossed in front of her and a frown on her face. "You think maybe next time you're in the mood for a little hanky panky in the training room, you could just do what Xander and I do, and wait until after business hours? All that screaming and banging scared off all the customers. I think they thought someone was being murdered in here." She slammed the door, leaving Buffy to turn back to Spike, burying her face against his shoulder in mortification.

"I can't believe people heard us."

Spike wrapped his arm around her. "Least we gave them something good to listen to."

Buffy smacked his chest, though she didn't have the energy for more than what amounted to a small swat. "Pig."

Spike leaned down and licked a drop of blood that was running down her neck. "Oink, oink, baby."

Buffy jumped up, scrambling to find her pants and put them back on. Spike looked up, concern in his eyes. "Buffy, did I…"

"We have to get to your crypt…now."

"What…"

"Look, Anya says I can't have sex with you in here anymore, and if I have to wait much longer for round two, I'm going to spontaneously combust, so get a move on."

Spike grinned, getting to his feet and re-fastening his jeans. "Let's go, princess."

Buffy took his hand and walked with him through the sewers and back to his crypt.

*** *** ***

Buffy lay in the bed with to Spike, curled up against his side. At the moment, the fire inside her had been calmed, but she knew it would be only a matter of time before she was desperate for Spike's touch again. He stirred something deep, something primal inside of her, and she knew that even if they made it through to eternity, she'd never get her fill of him.

With any other man, she might have been frightened by desire this intense, but with Spike it just felt right. She needed him, and he needed her. It was the way things should be.

"Oh, I got something earlier I wanted to look at with you," Spike said suddenly, reaching over the edge of the bed and picking up his duster where it had been discarded. He pulled out a glossy magazine, tossing it on top of the mattress.

Buffy's eyes lit up when she saw what it was. "An apartment guide!"

"Yeah. Thought we should get a jump on this. As much as I like your mother, I don't fancy living with her forever."

"I still need to be close by, though," Buffy said. "You know, in case Glory…"

She stopped as Spike flipped to a page he had dog-eared. "This one's in a complex two miles away from your mum. They've got washer and dryer connections in the units—so you can get to work on those pesky demon stains right after patrol—cable's included in the rent, and there's a pool for a little late night swimming fun." He wagged his eyebrows at the last part, making Buffy giggle.

"Sounds like you've been doing your homework."

"They've got a two bedroom available, which I thought would be good since one apocalypse or another might leave us with a mess of houseguests. Or Dawn might just want to spend the night with big sis." He shrugged. "Either one."

Buffy looked at the pictures from the complex he was talking about. It certainly did look like a nice one, and it was in the good part of town. The rent was reasonable, too. "Can we call tomorrow? Ask if we can come see it or something?"

"That would be the next step, I suppose," Spike replied, kissing the top of her head. "Although really, I'm about as new to this as you are. Usually if I wanted a place to stay, I just ate the current occupants."

Buffy gave him a dirty look. "Charming."

"Well, I'm not doing that this time. You've made a right ponce out of me."

Buffy replied with a soft kiss, "I'd like to think I've made a good man out of you."

 

Chapter 26

Tara stopped short at the door of the Magic Box, watching as Willow took items from the shelves and dumped them in a cardboard box. "You know, the store's closed," she said.

Willow didn't look towards Tara. "I know. I didn't want Anya here when I got these things."

Tara stepped into the store, a scowl on her usually-placid features. "This is about Spike and Buffy, isn't it?"

"Tara, he's done something to her. That claim, or whatever it is, is making it so she can't think straight."

"Buffy's thinking just fine, Willow. As well as anyone in love can think, anyway."

"She can't be in love with him! That book made her all confused, and Spike took advantage of the situation and put some kind of sinister hold on her. I have to make it right again. I have to save Buffy." Willow continued to pull items from the shelves as she talked, never once pausing to face Tara.

"Willow, what are you going to do?"

"I read…I read about a woman who had a claim forced on her by a vampire. A witch made it go away. I can do that, I know I can."

Tara approached Willow then, taking the box out of her hands and setting it down on the counter. "No. You can't do this. It's wrong, Willow."

Willow turned around, her eyes pleading with Tara. "How is it wrong? How is helping Buffy wrong?"

"Because you wouldn't be helping her. You'd be hurting her."

"She told Xander and me that she didn't want to be our friends anymore if we didn't accept Spike. How could that be, Tara?" Willow asked, her eyes filling with tears. "We're her best friends. She can't possibly choose Spike over us!"

"What would you have done if your friends couldn't have accepted our relationship?" Tara asked.

Willow blinked. "This is different."

"Not to Buffy," Tara replied "She loves Spike, and you're telling her it's wrong. Would you have been able to just drop what we have if Xander and Buffy had told you that they couldn't support us being together?"

"It's different!" Willow insisted again. "That would just be them being narrow-minded and judgmental. Spike could hurt Buffy."

Tara shook her head. "No he couldn't."

"He could! He's a vampire. Blood-sucking fiend, remember? And hey, Buffy's the Slayer, so hurting her—pretty high up on his to-do list."

"Willow, I tried to tell you this the other night, but you wouldn't listen to me. I've seen their auras together. It's real love. And that claim, well, I don't really fully understand what it is either, but I know it wasn't something forced. Buffy and Spike are both very happy with what's between them. And they are in love. It's coming off them so strongly…" Tara reached out and took Willow's hand. "You'd see that if you looked at this with your heart."

"But he's a vampire…"

"I know. But I also know what I saw when I looked at them together. It was beautiful, Willow." Tara turned her gaze on the box of magic supplies. "If you do this, you've lost Buffy. She'll never forgive you for trying to interfere this way." Tara paused, then added softly. "I'm not sure if I could either."

Willow's eyes widened in shock. "Tara, what are you saying?"

Tara took a deep breath and turned her eyes back to Willow. "I'm saying that if you would do this to someone, you're not the person I thought you were. You're not the type of person I could be with."

"Tara…"

"I'm serious, Willow. Spike and Buffy…you shouldn't interfere. Especially not like this. It's wrong. Very, very wrong."

"I'm worried about her," Willow said, her voice small.

"I know. Spike won't hurt her. But if you do this, you will." Tara gave the hand she was still holding a gentle squeeze. "Let's just go home, okay?"

Willow looked back and forth between Tara and the box, the conflict warring on her face. Finally, her shoulders slumped. "Let's go."

The couple walked out of the store, hand in hand, the box still resting on the counter.

*** *** ***

Spike couldn't help but grin when he saw how happy Buffy was. She was practically glowing as the woman showing them the apartment stepped out for a moment to let them think it over.

"I love it," Buffy said, taking hold of both of Spike's hands. "I want to live here."

"Me, too," Spike said, his grin widening.

"This room we're in right now, this is going to be our living room." Buffy pulled one hand out of his, pointing. "And that. That's going to be our kitchen."

Spike tugged on the hand he was still holding, pulling her against him. "And that room in there will be our bedroom," he said nodding towards the room in question.

Buffy's smile turned into one that reminded Spike of the Cheshire cat. "Complete with our bed."

Spike shivered. "I like the sound of that."

"Good," Buffy said as she jumped back. "So let's sign the lease or whatever so we can start having sex in every room."

Spike threw his head back and laughed. "God, woman, I love you."

"I love you, too." Buffy kept her hand entwined with his as they walked back into the hallway outside the apartment.

"So what did you and your husband decide?" the woman asked Buffy as she saw them approach.

Buffy felt warmth flood her insides at the sound of someone calling Spike her husband. So what if her friends couldn't accept it? The rest of the world could. "It's exactly what we're looking for," Buffy replied.

The woman smiled. "I'm happy to hear it. It's so nice, seeing a young couple just starting out."

Buffy smiled even more brightly as she felt Spike's arm wrap around her shoulders. "So what do we have to do?" Spike asked.

"We can go down to the office and fill out the forms," the woman replied. "Just follow me."

Spike and Buffy kept their hands linked as they walked down the hall towards the next step of starting their new life together.

*** *** ***

Xander didn't understand any of this. Buffy had threatened to stop being friends with both him and Willow, and Anya wasn't talking to him. All because of Spike? It didn't make sense. Spike was just a monster. Why would anyone want to take the side of a monster?

But there was still hope. Willow had said she thought she could break the claim. Then the hold Spike had on Buffy would be gone. Buffy would probably even finally get around to staking him after what he'd done to her. Then she'd be grateful to her friends for saving her from such a fate. And Anya would have to forgive him, too, once she saw he'd been right the entire time. Everything would be back to the way it should be.

When he heard a knock at the door, Xander jumped out of his chair, running to open it and finding it to be Willow, as he'd hoped. "Did you do it?" Xander asked quickly as he ushered Willow in.

"I can't," Willow replied.

"Why not? Did the Magic Box not have the right ingredients?"

"No, they were there, but I can't , Xander."

"What? What are you talking about? You're a powerful witch. I'm sure you can break any spell Spike put on her," Xander said in confusion.

"A claim isn't a spell. It's something else. And I don't mean I can't physically do it, it's just that…" Willow took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I was in the Magic Box getting the supplies for the spell when Tara came in. We talked, and…and what she said made sense, Xander. What if this is what Buffy really wants, what can really make her happy, and we take it away from her?"

"This is Spike we're talking about here, Willow," Xander replied. "He's not good for Buffy. Not like Riley was. She might as well have decided to throw herself at Angelus!"

"But what if he really loves her? Tara said from what she could see of their auras, it looks like real love…"

"I can't accept that! Willow, just look at who it is. It's Spike . He's an evil blood-sucking fiend. All this is is some sort of trick. Probably part of a way to get around the chip and kill Buffy. You saw that mark on her neck."

"I don't think so. He would've killed her already if that were the case. Spike—not big with the patience."

"I can't believe you're saying this!" Xander exclaimed, throwing up his hands. "We agreed that we'd do this."

"I know, but…"

"There can't be any 'buts,' Willow. Buffy's in trouble."

"I thought so, too, but now…I'm not so sure she is."

"Willow…"

Willow held up her hands. "No. I'm sorry, Xander. Like I told you when I got here, I can't."

"Buffy's our friend."

"I know. That's why I can't do this." Willow went back towards the door, pausing only for a moment to apologize to Xander again before leaving.

Xander didn't go after her. If Willow wasn't prepared to do what needed to be done, then he'd find someone who was.

*** *** ***

"I can't say I'm particularly surprised to see you here," Giles said as he opened his front door to Xander. "Only I'm afraid that it's a wasted trip because I'm going to tell you no."

Xander blinked, still standing outside the Watcher's apartment. "No? You do realize I'm here about Spike and Buffy, don't you?"

"Yes. Which is precisely why I'm telling you no."

"I don't believe this! First Willow backed out on me and now you're refusing to help me do anything?"

Giles stiffened. "What did Willow 'back out' of?"

"She found a spell that supposedly undid a vampiric claim that was forced on a girl once. We thought it might help Buffy, but…"

"It wouldn't have helped," Giles said quickly, cutting Xander off. "That claim isn't forced—it's been reciprocated. Nothing can break it, and you'd be a fool to try."

"Then we need to get rid of Spike. He can't have some sort of 'claim' on Buffy if he's dust."

"Yes, he can. Killing Spike would cause Buffy both mental and physical anguish."

"Won't she get over it?"

Giles's jaw tightened. "It's quite common for someone to end their own life within days—if not hours—of the death of their mate. Usually if they keep going at all, it is simply to take revenge on the mate's killer."

"Giles, there's no way Buffy would kill us and then herself."

"There is if we kill Spike."

"This doesn't make any sense!" Xander exclaimed. "Why would Buffy willingly let Spike do this to her?"

"I don't know, but it's not a decision she can take back. She's bound herself to Spike—forever."

Xander's eyes widened. "Forever? That can't be…."

"It is. Linking herself with Spike made her as immortal as he is."

"Giles…"

"Go home, Xander," Giles said as he shut the door, leaving Xander on his own again.

 

Chapter 27

Spike wasn't exactly in his element at the reception Joyce had thrown for them. At the moment, the only people he knew there were the Summers women, and Joyce was currently showing off her newly-married daughter, while Dawn was put in charge of hostess duties.

Which left Spike to do nothing but give the occasional small wave when Buffy gestured to him, indicating who the husband in question was. Although he supposed this was better than actually socializing…

Spike looked up as the front door opened and four familiar faces appeared. While Xander didn't exactly share the sunny expression of the three women accompanying him, Spike knew the fact that he was there was nothing short of a miracle—and one that would make Buffy very happy, even if Spike didn't understand why she bothered to keep the whelp around.

Buffy turned from the woman she'd been talking to, her face lighting up at the sight of her friends. She quickly excused herself from her current conversation, going to them and hugging each one in turn.

Spike approached the group, his arm going around Buffy as she pulled away from Xander. "Glad you could all make it," Spike said.

Xander met Spike's eyes defiantly. "I'm only here because of Buffy."

Spike shrugged. "Yeah, me, too."

Willow took a step forward. "We're happy you're happy, Buffy," she said. "And…and I wish you two the best. I really do."

Buffy hugged the redhead again. "Thank you. It means so much to me that you're here. All of you."

"Sorry I'm lagging a bit behind the others, but it seems I was stuck carrying all the packages."

Buffy's smile widened as she saw her Watcher come in carrying several bags. "Giles! You came! And with presents."

"Some of those are from the rest of us," Anya said. "I just said that everyone should come together so some people wouldn't try not to show up." She glanced between Xander and Giles.

"Well, everyone is here," Buffy said. "And that… It means so much to me. Really. I love all of you, and I didn't want to lose you anybody."

"You won't," Xander said. "Not that I'm anywhere near happy with the thought of you shacking up with Evil Dead over there, but since this seems to be permanent…"

"It is," Buffy said, taking Spike's hand. "Spike's part of my life now, and nothing can change that. You're going to have to get used to it."

"We are getting used to it," Giles replied. "It will just take a little time. He is, after all, a vampire. With everything that happened because of Angelus…"

"I am nothing like him," Spike said through gritted teeth.

"I know," Giles conceded. "And I do trust you marginally better than I would him. But the fact remains that you are a vampire involved with my Slayer, and I can't easily come to terms with that." He turned to Buffy. "But I'm also not going to abandon you. You're more than just my Slayer. You're like a daughter to me. I know what a claim means, and I know that separating you from Spike will never be an option. So I can…learn to live with this."

Tears glistened in the corner of Buffy's eyes. "Thank you, Giles. It means a lot to me that you're at least trying to be okay with this."

"I am." Giles grimaced slightly. "Now if you don't mind, could you show me where to put all of these down? My arms are beginning to tire."

"Oh, right! Of course." Buffy took some of the bags from Giles as she led him over to where the other presents were.

Spike looked at Buffy's friends. He was an uneasy fit in their group, he knew—especially where two of them were concerned—but if they were willing to try this, so was he. They were important to Buffy, and that made them important to him as well.

He turned to look over towards where Dawn had stopped Buffy and Giles on their way back. Buffy looked so bright, so radiant, that for a second, Spike could've sworn he felt his long-dead heart beat. When he'd come to Sunnydale, it had all been for Drusilla, his dark princess. But somehow he'd manage to lose the woman who had been the reason for his existence for over a century only to find something else entirely.

Something better…

*** *** ***

Buffy looked out the rolled-down window on the passenger's side of Spike's DeSoto, what she saw making her frown. "Honey, you're going the wrong way."

Spike gave a quick glance towards her. "No I'm not."

"Yes, you are. The house is the back there," Buffy said, pointing behind them.

"We're not going there."

Buffy frowned. "We're not headed towards your crypt either..."

"I know."

"Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise. Just sit tight. We'll be there soon enough."

"But…"

"Your mum isn't expecting us, pet," Spike told her. "As a matter of fact, she packed the bag for you that's currently in the trunk."

"There's a bag for me in the trunk?"

"Isn't that what I just said?"

"Well, yeah, but…"

"Learn a little patience, Slayer."

Buffy crossed her arms in front of her. Imagine Spike of all people telling her to be patient…

Spike couldn't help but chuckle at her pout. "It's a good surprise, kitten. I promise."

"I don't like surprises," Buffy said, pout still firmly in place.

"Humor me."

Buffy stayed quiet for the rest of the ride until Spike finally pulled off the road. "This is a hotel," she said.

"Yeah. Probably why they have that 'hotel' sign out front."

"If you wanted to have sex, we could've gone to your crypt. Or, you know, the apartment even though there's no furniture and we're technically not supposed to move in for another few days, but we do have the keys."

"I know, but…" Spike parked the car near the entrance before turning to look at her. "I know we can't have a real honeymoon, what with you having to guard the Hellmouth and my sun allergy, but I thought maybe for one night…"

"We could ignore all that?"

"Yeah."

Buffy placed her hand over his. "Thank you."

"It's not just for you, y'know," Spike said with a crooked smile. "I kinda like the idea of getting a night in a hotel with you all to myself, too." He looked her over once, his smile turning to a leer.

Buffy giggled. "Well, let's get to it then."

"Don't have to tell me twice," Spike said as he got out of the car and went around to the trunk for her bag.

They walked together into the hotel, Buffy waiting for Spike as he got the key to their room. She followed him to the elevator, glancing around the lobby. "This is a nice place," Buffy commented.

"Like I'd take my wife to some fleabag…"

Buffy smiled the way she always did when she thought of herself as Spike's wife. "Didn't think you would. Just making an observation."

They took the elevator to the top floor of the hotel, and then Buffy continued to follow him as he led her down the hall to the room. Spike unlocked the door, and Buffy gasped as they walked inside. "It's huge!" she exclaimed.

"It's a suite, luv."

Buffy looked around, noticing the décor. The walls were lined with wood paneling, the windows were circular, and the carpet was a deep blue. Netting and a large, silver anchor hung from the walls. She turned back towards Spike. "I'm noticing a theme here…"

"They have themed suites in this hotel. This is the 'nautical' one." Spike ran his hand through his hair. "I know it's a little corny, but…"

"I love it," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around his waist. "It's perfect."

Spike grinned. "Yeah? I'm glad you do…"

"Although I do have one question."

"What's that, pet?"

Buffy stepped back, looking at him with wide, almost-innocent eyes. "What are you going to do with me now that you have me all alone on your ship, you evil—yet devilishly handsome—pirate captain, you?"

Spike's grin widened, his tongue curling over his teeth. "I'm going to ravish you, milady."

Buffy laughed with delight as Spike scooped her up and carried her off to bed.

 


The End.

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