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 11-15

Chapter 11

Buffy woke up very aware of the warm, naked body pressed up against her. Her eyes opened and then bulged when she saw Spike. The events of the night before rushed back to her, and Buffy turned bright red. How could she have done that with Spike ? The very thought was disgusting.

Only it wasn't. It should be, Buffy knew. The thought of letting a vampire touch her like that. Well, a vampire that wasn't Angel. Because he had a soul, and that made him different.

But Angel also didn't make you feel like that… Buffy wanted to scream at the traitorous voice in the back of her mind. The same one that always said things she didn't want to hear when Spike was around. Like how sexy that thing he did with his tongue was, or how hot his butt looked in those tight jeans…

She shook her head. No. She wasn't going to even begin to go there. She was just going to get up, find her clothes, and get away from Spike. She started to, when Spike muttered in his sleep, pulling her closer to him.  Her eyes widened when she felt that at least part of him was awake. She was definitely getting away now. There was no way she was going to stay here with him like that .

But instead of moving out of the bed, she moved towards him, pressing herself back against his erection with a low moan. She could still remember the way it had felt to be with him the previous night, and lord help her, she wanted him again…

"Mmm…mornin', pet."

His deep, husky voice rumbling against her was her undoing. She knew she shouldn't want this, that being with him was wrong even if, in this place, she wasn't the Slayer and he wasn't a vampire, but the damage had already been done the night before. She cursed that little brat Elizabeth for getting into this mess. If she hadn't started things with William, then Buffy never would've felt the need to finish them with Spike.

Or want to go again now.

Buffy gasped as Spike's hand snaked down between her legs. "Wet already, kitten? Were you having naughty dreams?"

"No," Buffy replied, the word followed by a desperate whimper as she arched herself into Spike's hand. "It's just from waking up next to you." Buffy's eyes widened at her admission. Why in the world had she told him that ? She decided Elizabeth must be affecting her again.

"That so?" he replied, his other hand coming up to play with one of her nipples. He thrust his hips against her backside. "I suppose you can feel what waking up next to you does to me."

Boy could she ever… Buffy decided that right then, she didn't care about right and wrong, or the effects of this stupid novel, or even what would happen once they got out of it. She rolled over, pushing Spike onto his back and poising herself over him. She held herself just above the tip of his cock, watching him as he stared up at her, his breathing labored and his eyes dark with desire. "You want something, Spike?" she asked with a teasing smile.

"You know I do, luv," he replied, his hands trembling from the strain of trying to keep from shoving the hips they were currently holding on to down. He'd let Buffy set the pace. It would make it harder for her to blame it all on him once they got back to Sunnydale. Not that she probably wouldn't find a way…

She lowered her upper body, her hands resting on his shoulder, then slid down slowly, inch by inch. Her head was thrown back, her eyes closed.  Spike kept his gaze trained on her, marveling in the look of pure bliss on her face. He'd dreamt about her like this more times than he could ever begin to count, but not even in his most vivid dreams did he ever know she'd be this beautiful being so wanton. She opened her eyes once he was completely inside, looking back down at him with a look of determination as she began to move.

The night before Spike had been so caught up in the experience of being inside Buffy that he hadn't taken the time to really observe her. But now that he could lay back for the ride, so to speak, he did, watching every expression of pleasure that graced her features, hearing every moan, gasp, and whimper. She was amazing, his own golden goddess.

Soon, the movement of her hips got more frantic, her moans turning into keening yells. As much as Spike wanted to keep up his careful study of her, he couldn't anymore, the things she was doing to him overwhelming. He dug his fingers into her hips, meeting her every thrust with a powerful one of his own. Her breathing got harsher, until finally, she stiffened, bucking sporadically, her head thrown back as she came. Spike let the tightening of her inner muscles around him pull him over the edge, and he lost himself inside of her.

Buffy collapsed on his chest, trying to bring her breathing back to normal as Spike rubbed her back gently. She wondered if any of this was real, or if the book had merely put them into a vivid dream state. Maybe Spike wasn't even here, just another part of her mystical romance novel illusion.

But if that were the case, then why on earth would her mind have chosen Spike to be there with her?

Maybe because you've wanted him from the moment you saw him…

There was that damn inner voice again. Buffy decided she really needed to get a gag for that thing. Still, somehow, she knew what was happening now was more real than it should be. She was trapped in a pirate-infested bizzaro land with Spike, and they'd just had sex—for the second time. Her bare skin was pressed against his, and she could feel him softening inside of her.

And then it was all too real. She pushed herself off his chest and began to search frantically around for her clothes. Spike frowned, sitting up. "Buffy?"

"I…I can't," she said, finding his jacket and wrapping it around herself before hurrying outside the shelter.

She hadn't gotten very far before she stopped, her eyes glancing around nervously. She felt disoriented, as if things weren't quite as they should be.

"Elizabeth!"

She turned sharply, pulling the jacket more tightly around her as she saw William striding towards her, clad only in his breeches. She trembled, not knowing if she should move towards him or run away.

The decision was made for her, however, when she felt William's arms wrap around her trembling form, pulling her against his well-muscled chest. He stroked her golden tresses, speaking soothingly. "What is it, my darling? What has spooked you so?"

Elizabeth looked up at him with wide, watery eyes. "I…I don't know, William. I just feel so very confused!"

William steeled himself before asking his next question, knowing her answer could potentially break him. "Do you regret what we've done?"

"No! Oh, William, don't ever think that! I could never regret something as wonderful as what we shared! It's just…" Elizabeth turned away from the intensity of his penetrating blue eyes.

William cupped her chin, turning her face so she was looking at him again. "Then what is it, kitten? Tell me what has made you cry."

Elizabeth sniffed. "I'm scared, William."

"Of being on this island? Elizabeth, my dearest angel, I won't let you become like the man we found. I promise you that."

"No," Elizabeth replied, shaking her head. "I'm not afraid of being on the island—I'm afraid of leaving it."

"Whatever do you mean?" William asked with a frown.

"If we are ever rescued, we'll be pulled apart. No one will understand what we feel for each other, and they won't let us be together. William, I love you! I can't bear the thought of losing you now that I've felt what it's like to be in your arms!"

William's grip on her tightened, as if holding her now could keep her with him always. "I won't allow that to happen, Elizabeth. Never . I love you, too, and I won't let us be separated."

"But what if it's beyond our control? Oh, William, I have a terrible sense of dread when I think about our future!"

William moved his hands to her shoulders, clutching her tightly. "I won't let us be torn apart. I swear to you, I won't allow it."

"But how? How can you promise such a thing? If we ever get out of this place, you'll be a pirate again, and I, a lady."

"I don't have to be what I was before. I'll changed, leave my old ways in the past. I'll be what you need me to be, Elizabeth. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you."

"William, I want to believe you, I do. I'm just so very frightened."

In all honesty, William was frightened, too. Being with Elizabeth made him feel a way he never had before, and the thought of losing her chilled him to his very core. He couldn't fathom anything driving them away from each other, couldn't even contemplate something so horrific. "Let's not dwell on the future, my love. We have each other now. No reason to taint the present with fears about what might be, is there?"

Elizabeth shook her head. William was right, although worry was still churning in her stomach. "Can…can we go back to bed?" she asked softly. "I need to feel you touching me again."

William nodded, a lump in his throat preventing him from speaking. Instead, he simply led Elizabeth back to the shelter to fulfill his lady love's request.

*** *** ***

Dawn walked into the Magic Box, finally winning the battle of wills with Joyce that allowed her to come and check first hand on the progress made on the "Save Spike and Buffy" front. At the moment, it didn't seem like much. Xander was passed out on a pile of old books, Willow and Tara were talking in hushed tones over what Dawn figured was either ingredients for a spell or soup, and Giles was nowhere to be seen. The only person in the room who appeared to be the least bit animated was Anya, who was reading a paperback book as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. After saying a quick hello to the witches, Dawn made her way over to Anya. "What are you reading?" Dawn asked, peering over Anya's shoulder.

"It's the book Spike and Buffy are stuck in," Anya replied.

Her mother had told her earlier that Buffy was trapped in a book, but Dawn was still having a hard time wrapping her head around that concept. Although really, she wasn't sure why she was even surprised. It wasn't as strange as being told that you were a mystical "key" and your whole life was a lie, after all. "Can I read it?" she asked.

Anya shrugged and started to hand Dawn the book, when Tara and Willow yelled "No!" Xander popped up at that, looking around confusedly and wiping drool from his mouth.

Dawn frowned as Anya pulled the book back from her. "Why can't I read it?" the teenager asked.

"Is Dawn trying to read the Buffy and Spike book?" Xander asked.

"Yes," Dawn replied, her arms crossed in front of her. "And I don't see why I can't."

"Trust me, Dawnie, you do not want to read that book," Xander said.

"I just want to see if Buffy's all right."

"She is," Tara said, trying to quickly reassure Dawn so she wouldn't try to get the book away from Anya anymore. "Anya's been reading so we can keep tabs on her."

"Why is Anya reading it?" Dawn asked. To her, Anya seemed like the last person in the group who would volunteer for that position.

"Because none of them could handle reading the sex," Anya replied matter-of-factly, her attention quickly going back to the book, causing her to miss the simultaneous eye-bugging of everyone else in the shop.

"The sex?" Dawn asked, her voice cracking.

"It is a romance novel," Anya said, turning a page. "Wow. They're right. You are too young to read this. Xander, come here. We should try this later."

"What? No!" Xander protested. "I'm not getting ideas for us from that ."

Anya shrugged. "Suit yourself. But it looks fun. Although I guess it wouldn't really work without the seaweed and coconuts."

Dawn gaped for a few moments, trying to process what she'd just heard. "Spike and Buffy are inside that book having sex ?"

She got her answer in the form of a yes from Anya mixed with a vehement no from Xander.

"Wow. Go Buffy." Xander, Tara, and Willow all looked at Dawn in shock, while Anya continued to read. "What?" Dawn asked with a shrug. "Spike is way hot."

"Dawn, Spike is a vampire," Xander said. "Vampires are not hot. Vampires are bad. Very, very bad."

"I don't see what's the big," Dawn replied. "It's not like a vampire boyfriend is new Buffy territory."

"Yeah, and it was a mistake then, too," Xander countered. "Spike is evil, Dawn. Anything your sister does with him other than make him dust is a bad thing."

Dawn bit her lip from arguing it further, knowing no one in this room was going to see her point anyway. Well, except for maybe Anya, but she was too engrossed in the book at the moment to back her up. She just hoped that Buffy didn't ditch Spike as soon as they were back in Sunnydale. To be honest, Dawn had a bit of a crush on Spike herself, but she'd be happy to see him with Buffy. At least Spike would treat her better than stupid Riley ever had.

"So have you made any progress trying to get them out?" Dawn asked, deciding a topic change would be the best for everyone right now. Especially Xander, who was looking rather pale.

"Nope," Willow said. "All our spells have gone ker-phlooey ."

"But Mr. Giles has gone to his apartment to get a text he thinks might be of some help," Tara added quickly when she saw the disappointment on Dawn's face.

Dawn sighed, pulling out a chair and sitting at the table. "Has anyone tried shouting out a name for the Childlike Empress yet?" she asked with a sigh, resting her chin in her hands.

Anya looked up. "Huh?"

"It's a reference to a movie," Xander explained. " The Neverending Story ."

"I'm still not getting it," Anya said.

"It's from the 1980's," Tara added. "There's this little boy who finds a magical book, and he saves the characters inside of the book from this thing called The Nothing by naming the Childlike Empress."

"That sounds dumb," Anya replied. "How can you save a world that's inside of a book by naming someone? And why didn't the empress have a name to begin with?"

"No, see, it worked because by shouting out her name it proved that people still believe in the fantasy land of books," Willow said.

"Still lame," Anya replied. "And I hate it when you guys reference something that everyone knows about but me."

"If it makes you feel any better, I've probably never seen it either and only think I have because some monks felt I should have the memory in order to make me a more convincing little girl," Dawn muttered.

Anya smiled brightly. "It does. Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

The Magic Box was silent for a bit, until Anya looked up again, her brow creased. "So how exactly was the story never-ending?"

*** *** ***

Buffy had been sliding between herself and Elizabeth so much that day she was barely sure of who she was anymore. All she did know was that she didn't want to be away from the man she was with now. William or Spike, she didn't care, she just needed him, needed him to keep touching her. She realized her words were running together with Elizabeth's, that she was telling him she loved him and he was saying it back. But what did it matter with the two of them alone on this island? Real, imaginary—those words, concepts, meant nothing to her anymore.

All she wanted was for him to keep making love to her, their bodies keeping time along with the steady rhythm of the ocean.

 

Chapter 12

Buffy wasn't sure how long she'd been on the island with Spike. Elizabeth seemed to be taking over more and more now, and Buffy had all but given up on trying to fight it. Part of her rebelled at the idea of losing herself like that, but the more time she spent sharing a body with Elizabeth, the less Buffy felt as if they were really two separate people after all.

And Spike… He hardly seemed like the vampire she'd known in Sunnydale at all, and she'd found herself thinking of him as "William," even when Elizabeth wasn't in control. With his long hair and sun-kissed skin, he'd taken on a decidedly different appearance. Furthermore, his behavior towards her had become tender, even loving. So many times he'd held her, stroking her hair and reciting poetry in his rich, soothing voice until she drifted off to sleep.

Which was where she found herself now, pleasantly sated and lounging in the arms of her lover. "I want to hear the one about the people that eat the flowers again," Buffy said, cuddling closer.

"That's the same one as last night, pet."

"I know, I like that one."

Spike chuckled, kissing her forehead. "Then that one again it is."

As she listened to his voice, her eyes drifted shut, a small smile playing on her lips. This was contentment, perfection, and everything else faded away. The darkness that existed outside this island, outside this world, didn't matter anymore. She was safe and warm and loved.

Hateful is the dark-blue sky ,
Vaulted o'er the dark-blue sea
Death is the end of life; ah, why
Should life all labour be?
Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast ,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone. What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?
All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave
In silence; ripen, fall, and cease.
Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.

*** *** ***

It had become an almost daily ritual for William and Elizabeth to make their way to the spring they'd found their first day on the island. William watched her with amusement now as Elizabeth carelessly discarded her clothing before slipping into the water, not a thought to the fact that she was exposing herself so brazenly in the presence of a man. If anything, the way she was moving in the water led William to believe that she was flaunting herself instead.

When she turned her gaze squarely on him and crooked her finger, William knew she that was exactly what she was doing. Gone was the shy virgin he'd come to this island with, in her place a gorgeous vixen that he couldn't get enough of.

William shed his own clothes and made his way through the water towards Elizabeth. Just before he was in touching distance of his goal, however, she swam away, giggling as she glanced over her shoulder to see William's look of shock. She stopped, waiting for him to approach her again before escaping a second time. Even with the coolness of the water, William felt as if his skin was on fire, and he wondered if Elizabeth knew what she was doing to him.

He didn't need to question it, for that look on her face told him that she most certainly did…

"Playing the water nymph, are you?" William asked after Elizabeth eluded him for the third time.

Elizabeth giggled again in response, then arched her back, coming up a moment later with her hair now wet, slick down her back, and water droplets traveling down her body. William's eyes turned dark with passion as he watched the display. He then moved through the water faster than he would've thought possible, grabbing Elizabeth before she had a chance to escape him once more. Elizabeth squealed , struggling weakly as William dragged her through the water and back to shore.

He was on top of her and inside her in an instant, and Elizabeth gasped, wrapping her arms and legs around him as William thrust in and out. Her game in the water had made him wild with desire, and he was quickly working her into a frenzy to rival his own. She chanted his name over and over until words had no more meaning to her, and all she could do was scream her pleasure to the woods around them.

*** *** ***

It was quite some time later before they'd both had their fill of each other for the time being. They lay in each other's arms, listening to the gentle songs of the birds around them.

Elizabeth nuzzled her face against William's chest, a smile on her lips. "I love you," she said softly, feeling his grip on her tighten as she spoke the words.

"I love you, too," he replied, kissing the top of her hair.

They were both quiet for a while longer before Elizabeth announced, "I don't think this is wrong."

"What's not wrong, pet?" William asked.

"Us. People…off this island…they'd tell us this is wrong, that we're wrong. They would have a hundred different reasons why I shouldn't be here with you like this. But William, I've never felt so happy. You make me feel cherished and loved. This can't be wrong, William. It can't!"

William ran his fingers through her golden tresses. "It isn't wrong, my love. Nothing else in my life as ever been so very, very right."

Elizabeth sat up. "So then we can't be torn apart! This is the way things are supposed to be, William. No horrible fate can tear apart what is meant to be!"

"Nothing will tear us apart, Elizabeth," William replied, taking hold of her delicate hand. "I love you too much to ever lose you, my darling."

Elizabeth settled back down against his chest. "I'll love you forever," she vowed, her voice strong and determined. "Nothing shall ever make me stop."

*** *** ***

Elizabeth's gaze was concentrated on the horizon, her brow furrowed. William approached her, sitting beside her on the beach. "What is it, lamb?" he asked her.

"There's a spot," she replied, pointing. "Out there."

William followed her finger, swallowing hard when he realized what she was indicating. "That's a ship."

Elizabeth's eyes widened, and she turned to him, clutching his arm. "A ship?! William, what if it's Angelus come looking for us?"

That was a possibility, and William knew it. But the look of terror in Elizabeth's eyes made him want to soothe her fears. "It could be. But it could also be the British Navy. Could be your rescue, darling."

Much to William's surprise, that only caused her to become more afraid, her fingers pressing deeper into the flesh of his arm. "The Navy! No! You're—you're a wanted criminal! They'll kill you, William!"

William wiped away her tears with his thumb. "They wouldn't have to know who I was, kitten. We could get them to let us off at the nearest port, and we could start a life together, off this island."

Elizabeth shook her head. "I don't want off this island. Bad things are off this island, I can feel it. We…we have to stay here!"

William gathered her into his arms. "No matter what happens Elizabeth, we'll have each other. I've promised you that."

Elizabeth pulled back, and the sight of her tear-stained face broke William's heart.  "I don't want to be rescued. Can't…can't we hide? If they come here, they'll think the island is deserted. Please, William?"

"You honestly want to live the rest of your life on this island?"

"You're here with me—what else could I need? I've been so very happy here! I don't want to leave, ever!"

William felt himself pulled in two different directions. His heart wanted nothing more than for him to live out his days in this beautiful paradise he'd found with Elizabeth. But his mind warned him of what could occur if something were to happen to him. How would Elizabeth survive on her own ? The thought of her trapped here alone tore at his gut. "We'll wait, see what colors this ship sails under and even if it stops at the island at all. We can make our decision then."

Elizabeth nodded, appeased for the time being, although the threat of William being taken away from her still seemed all too real. "I want to go to bed, William," she said, disentangling herself from his arms and getting to her feet. "I need to feel you."

William stood without a word and walked with her to the shelter, his need to have her in his arms just as pressing as her own.

*** *** ***

"A ship's on the horizon. It might be the British Navy coming to kill Spike, or it might be the Dread Pirate Angelus coming to kill them both," Anya announced to the previously quiet Magic Box.

"What?" Xander asked quickly, summing up the thoughts of the other people in the room.

"I said…"

"I heard what you said, Ahn ," Xander replied, cutting his girlfriend off. "It just didn't make a lot of sense. You said Angelus is in there with Spike and Buffy?"

"Did Angel lose his soul and then come to the Magic Box and get trapped in the book with Spike and Buffy?" Willow asked.

"No. Don't be insane," Anya replied, rolling her eyes. "I mean, what would they have done, gotten into a fight where in the middle of it all three of them grabbed a book and someone began to read aloud? Please."

Willow crossed her arms in front of her. "Oh, and people stuck in a book is oh so normal?"

"Well, yeah, when it's an enchanted book. Anyway, part of the enchantment involves creating a sort of template based on the feelings and memories of the reader. Makes it more real if the other characters are people that the reader already knows."

"So that's not really Angelus in there?" Dawn asked. "How can you be sure?"

"Well, for one thing when everyone was debating over the order for Xander's latest donut run, I went and read the instruction manual. Also, I'm in the book, and I can't be two places at once."

"Wait—there's an instruction manual, and you're just now telling us this?" Willow asked in shock. "And…and what are you doing in the book?"

"It didn't tell us how to pull them out prematurely, or I would've said something," Anya replied. "Apparently I'm a cross-dressing pirate, and that's rather strange, but at least I'm mentioned—which is more than I can say for you, Willow."

"I'm…I'm not in it? Doesn't Book Buffy need a best friend?"

Anya shrugged. "Guess not. Although from reading how it's supposed to work, I think that part of the enchantment is messed up anyway."

"Why do you think that?" Tara asked.

"Because Spike and Buffy are the lovers."

"So?" Xander asked. "They got sucked into a romance novel together. It's just the book affecting them, making Buffy do things she'd never do if she was herself. It's not like she actually has feelings for Spike."

"Actually, Xander it does," Anya said. "Or at least it should. Remember how I said that the book assigns characters based on the reader's real life? Well, that goes for any other people that get sucked into the book as well. According to the manual, technically, only one person should go into the book at a time, and the default setting is for a woman to be the central figure because that's the demographic of the mystical publisher. But beyond that, well, anyone else brought into the book with Buffy should've blended into the story in a way fitting their relationship in the outside world. So then Spike should be the villain—not the love interest. My guess is that Spike and Buffy have such, um, strong personalities that the book made them both central to the story." The look of horror currently on Xander's face made Anya decide to practice restraint for once and not voice the other theory she had. She was pretty sure that one would make Xander's head explode, and that didn't sound nearly as fun as it would have in her vengeance demon days.

"So what's going to happen with this ship coming towards them?" Dawn asked, breaking the silence that followed Anya's revelation.

"I don't know," Anya replied. "This book is written as Buffy and Spike go along, so I can't flip ahead. I just wanted to give you all an update now that there's something other than hot, sweaty sex going on."

"We need to hurry up our efforts to get them back," Willow said, deciding it best to ignore the last part of Anya's latest comment. "If that is Angelus coming towards them—fictional version or not—then they're going to be in some serious trouble."

"Or it could just be the British Navy coming to kill Spike, so hey, no big loss there," Xander said.

"Well, there is the fact that Buffy and Spike are bound by an enchantment, so their life forces are most likely tied together," Anya said with another roll of her eyes. Honestly, she didn't know how Xander could be so dense sometimes.

"Oh. Well, then that's bad," Xander said.

"Huh. This is interesting."

All eyes in the Magic Box turned to Anya. "What's interesting?" Tara asked.

"Well, it seems that the answer to who's on that ship the Navy or Angelus is, um, both."

*** *** ***

Admiral Riley Finn stepped out of the rowboat and on to the shore of the island. After taking a moment to survey what was in plain sight, he turned to the man now standing beside him. "Are you certain this is where he would've taken her?" the admiral asked, his voice dripping with distain for his current companion.

" It's th'only island within swimmin ' distance from where wee Willie jumped ship with the lass." Angelus replied. "They're here. Grantin ' they didn't sink to the bottom of Davy Jones' Locker, that is."

Admiral Finn glared at the pirate. "For your sake, Angelus, you better hope that they are indeed on this island."

Angelus held up his hands. "I was bringin ' her to ye , Admiral, just like we planned. It's that bastard William ye should be threatenin '."

"Oh I shall do more than threaten him," Finn vowed. "When I find him, he shall pay dearly for what he was done to my fair Elizabeth." He cleared his throat. "Men! Search the island! If my fiancée is here, I want her returned to me by nightfall. And as for that filth that kidnapped her, bring him to me as well. I want him to suffer by my hand."

*** *** ***

When the ship had come close enough for them to see its colors, William had been able to identify it as a British naval vessel. He had tried to convince Elizabeth that allowing themselves to be rescued would be the best course of action, but she had refused, telling him she feared too much that that would lead to him being hanged for piracy.

She was right, he knew, but his love for her outweighed his concern for his own life. Elizabeth would be safer back in civilization.

In the end, however, her tears and pleas had won out, and they were now headed deep into the forest and away from the ship that could bring Elizabeth to safety. The strength and depth of her love for him shocked William to the very core of his being as he realized she would give up everything she'd ever known just to be with him.

He gripped her hand tighter as the continued on.

*** *** ***

The poem Spike recites is a stanza from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Lotos -Eaters." It's a great poem, if you want to check it out.

 

Chapter 13

Admiral Finn knew his men thought him mad to order such an extensive search of an island that seemed to be deserted, but he knew his darling Elizabeth was there. And when they stumbled upon the small shelter, complete with evidence that someone had recently dwelled within, he became even more firm in his belief.

He stood inside the shelter, surveying the tiny room. His stomach turned as he noted signs of what most likely had occurred there, and his need to find Elizabeth intensified. The thought of how terrified the poor girl must be in the hands of such a ruthless man as William the Bloody chilled him to the very core. No, not a man… His pure, innocent Elizabeth had been at the mercy of a monster. Finn could only pray that anything that may have been done to her had not driven her to insanity.

"Admiral?"

Admiral Finn looked up as his first Lieutenant, Graham Miller, walked into the shelter. "Yes?"

"They still cannot be located, sir."

"Keep looking! Elizabeth has been here, in this very spot!"

"Sir, if I may…are you certain that it was indeed Lady Summers? Then men, well, they've found the bones of a man, sir. It could have been he who was living her, not the lady."

The admiral turned a cold gaze on the lieutenant. "My fiancée is at the mercy of a cruel, heartless pirate. I do not want to hear anything but a promise that every inch this island will be searched, that no man will rest, until she is returned to me. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Admiral Finn, sir."

"Then go."

Lieutenant Miller gave a terse bow, leaving Riley alone in the shelter again. The admiral's eyes came to the make-shift bed, then narrowed. "Mark my words, William," he said aloud. "You will pay for daring to touch my Elizabeth."

*** *** ***

Elizabeth's entire body ached. She'd been running with William for hours she knew, and yet, she refused to stop. They had heard voices a few times, and she knew their pursuers weren't far behind. Any wasted second could be just what it took to tear her away from William.

However, her steps were getting slower, her body not responding as quickly as she wanted it to. She was moving now by sheer force of will alone, and she wasn't sure how much further that could take her. She clung to William's hand, giving herself a tangible reminder of why she had to push forward.

Suddenly, she was falling forward, her foot snagged on a tree root. William caught her before she could hit the ground. "Elizabeth?" He frowned, seeing the exhaustion clearly written on her face. "You're tired, my love."

"We can't stop. If we do, they'll catch us." She clutched tightly to his strong arms.

"I could carry you."

"That would only slow you down! We have to move quickly or…"

"Or I may just find ye ."

Elizabeth felt cold fear grip her as she turned and met the cold eyes of Angelus. "No…" she gasped.

William moved her behind him, attempting to shield her with his own body. "I will fight to protect her, Angelus," he informed his old rival.

"I'd love fer ye to, Willie. Would mean my new friends here would get to shoot ye ." Angelus grinned brightly as several British naval officers stepped forward, their bayonets trained on William.

"You're working with the Navy?" William asked in confusion.

"Told ye I was before ye went and kidnapped the lass off me ship. I was tryin' to bring the girl back to her lovin ' fiancé."

"You were not!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "This man is a scoundrel! Don't believe his lies!" she implored the soldiers.

"Life on the island must've made her crazed," Angelus said with a shrug. "Best be gettin' her back to the admiral."

"No! Just let us go!" Buffy pleaded. She clung to her lover in desperation. "William, please, make them leave us alone!"

William swallowed hard. With the number of weapons pointed at him now, he didn't have a chance to fight his way out, even if he had been armed. Still, if Elizabeth hadn't been there, he may have tried, but he would never put her in that kind of danger. "I can't," he said, a helpless expression in his eyes that Elizabeth had never seen before.

And that's when she knew it was over. They couldn't escape, couldn't keep running. Her only choice was to let herself and William be led to the person who would tear them apart—and quite possibly kill the man she loved. With tears in her eyes, she made her way through the woods and back to the beach, William by her side for what she knew could be the last time.

*** *** ***

"Admiral Finn! I've got the lass and that villain William the Bloody!"

Before Elizabeth could even begin to protest Angelus's words, Admiral Finn had grabbed her, embracing her tightly. Elizabeth's eyes widened. Her fiancé had never shown her such affection. "Riley?" she managed to say, his beefy arms almost squeezing the breath out of her.

Riley pulled back slightly then. "Oh, Elizabeth! My darling! How I have feared that I should never see you again, my heart!"

Elizabeth had never before noticed how cold his terms of endearment left her. They held none of the passion of William's, nothing there to make her feel as if her heart and body were aflame. "No danger befell me," she replied. "William took care of me."

Riley's eyes widened, and his arms dropped to his sides. "Whatever do you mean? William, he's…he's the filthy pirate who kidnapped you!"

Elizabeth winced. "That was before. Things have…changed, Riley. You must understand. I've fallen…"

"No!" Riley snapped, not allowing Elizabeth to finish that sentence. His men were present—what would they think of such a thing? "No, Elizabeth. It's…it's the heat! It's made you go mad!"

Elizabeth felt the urge to roll her eyes, and a small voice in the back of her mind told her to inform Riley that he was a "totally lame freak who needed to turn down the wigging factor," whatever that could mean. Maybe she had gone mad from the heat if she was thinking such nonsensical things… However, she instead looked at Riley defiantly and said, "William is a good man, to whom I own my life!"

"He's a pirate, Elizabeth! Pirates can never be good men!"

"He's right there, lass. We're a mean, cruel lot, we pirates."

Elizabeth turned slowly towards Angelus, the look in his eyes making her shudder. "Why are you working with him, Riley? He tried to kill me when I was aboard his ship!"

"I did nothin' of the sort, Admiral! The chit's gone mad, just like ye said."

"No! Riley, please, listen to me!"

William watched the scene in front of him with a heavy heart. He knew the overgrown admiral would never accept what Elizabeth was telling him. He also knew that nothing he could say would help her. They could both plead all they wished, but Admiral Finn would never allow them to be together. William had lost the woman he loved. The inevitability of losing his life as well seemed to pale in comparison.

Riley glanced between Angelus and Elizabeth before settling his gaze on William. "Take this blackguard to the brig."

"No!" Elizabeth yelled again. She tried to run to William as the Navy men brought him back towards the ship, only to have Riley grab her, pulling her back.

"He's a pirate, Elizabeth," Riley said, his tone a harsh whisper. "A lowlife and a scoundrel. Do not embarrass me by forgetting that."

"You know nothing about him, Admiral," Elizabeth replied angrily. "I owe him my life! He has done nothing but keep me safe since that animal attacked us!" She pointed to Angelus.

"I tried t'save her!" Angelus insisted. "Got the lass off his ship. Tried t'get her back to ye before Willie jumped ship with 'er."

"No! That is not at all what happened! Angelus is lying!" Elizabeth said, her voice almost hysterical.

"Angelus is in my employ," Finn said tersely. "His task has been to help save you, which he has done."

"But he's a pirate, too!" Elizabeth exclaimed, clearly exasperated. "If you won't trust William, why will you trust him?"

"We will discuss this no more!" Finn snapped, grabbing Elizabeth's arm tightly and dragging her off. "We are going to the ship, and you will speak no more of this nonsense."

Elizabeth struggled as best she could, but she had no chance against Riley. Eventually, she slumped, resigning herself to the loss of her paradise.

*** *** ***

Elizabeth sat in her cabin, her features tired and drawn. Riley had locked her inside, making it impossible for her to get to William. She'd never been frightened of her fiancé before, but the way he'd been treating her since the island changed that.

She was terrified now, for both herself and for William. She knew Riley would have him hanged, and that thought made her feel cold inside. Where would she be without William? How could she survive without the man she loved so deeply?

Elizabeth heard someone at the door and looked up sharply just as Admiral Finn came striding in. "Riley…"

"I want to hear nothing from you, save for the answer to one question—did you willingly lay with the pirate?"

Elizabeth paled. What she had done with William had seemed right on the island, but now Riley was looking at her as if she'd been tainted by the vilest sin imaginable. "I…I love him," she said, her eyes begging Riley to understand.

Finn's expression darkened, and he slapped Elizabeth across the face. "Whore!"

Elizabeth pulled back, shocked. "Riley…"

"You will address me as Admiral Finn," he said coldly. "I will not take such a dishonorable woman as my wife. You have shamed yourself, and you have shamed the memory of your parents."

Elizabeth's eyes filled with tears at the mention of her parents. What would they have thought of her now? "I love him," she said again, her voice soft this time.

Riley sneered. "You disgust me." He stormed from the cabin, leaving Elizabeth alone.

*** *** ***

"Did ye just find out the lass is less of a lady an' more of a trollop?"

Admiral Finn turned, his eyes narrowed at Angelus. "I should throw you off this ship."

"Ye should, but if somethin' were to happen t'me, well, certain secrets might find a way of gettin' out."

"Don't speak of that on my ship," Admiral Finn replied, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Then ye best be rememberin' out deal, Admiral. I'd hate to see anythin' bad happen to a business partner such as yerself ."

The admiral's jaw was tight. "I won't forget our deal, Angelus. I will honor my end of the bargain." He left then, Angelus watching him as he did.

"Oh, I won't be forgettin ' it either, Admiral," Angelus said once he was sure Finn was out of earshot. "Only problem is, I'm not one fer honor…"

*** *** ***

"Okay, now that sounded sinister."

Xander frowned as he picked his head up from the table and glanced over to where Dawn had joined Anya in the book reading. "What are you doing, Dawnie?" he asked. "Didn't we establish that that thing isn't exactly G-rated?"

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Okay, for one thing, I'm old enough to up the rating from 'G.' Secondly, Spike's in the brig, and Buffy's locked in her cabin, so I don't think there's going to be any hanky panky goin' on."

"Spike's in the brig, huh?" Xander said, perking up a bit. "Well, that's good news at least."

"Why are you so dense sometimes?" Anya blurted out, managing to surprise everyone else in the shop. "William is the hero in this." She shook the book at Xander. " And he loves Elizabeth. Therefore, she is safer with him. Duh, Xander."

Xander looked offended. "Look, I don't care what sort of wacky notions that book has, Spike is nothing but bad news."

"Actually, it looks more like Riley and Angelus are the bad news," Dawn said. "They've got some secret evil deal that Angelus plans to be all dishonorable about." She turned to Anya. "How come there are scenes without Spike and Buffy? I thought the book was supposed to chronicle their actions inside of it."

"Because the further they slip into character, the more book-like it becomes. Besides the plot needed to be moved along, and Angelus and Riley certainly wouldn't have had that conversation in front of Spike or Buffy," Anya explained.

"Good point," Dawn replied.

"I've got it!"

Dawn, Anya, and Xander all turned towards the sound of Willow's exclamation. "What did you get, Will?" Xander asked.

"The answer to how to get Spike and Buffy out! This spell will be perfect! It's meant to pull people out of dimensions created by mystical enchantments. It's exactly what we need."

"Yeah, unless it manages to only bring back their toes, or turns them inside out, or something," Anya muttered.

Willow shot Anya a dirty look. "It'll work. I just have to get the ingredients together, and Buffy and Spike will be home before you know it!" Willow grinned as she started getting what she'd need off the shelves of the Magic Box.

 

Chapter 14

William rattled the bars of his cell, though he knew it would do him no good. Even if he could manage to break through the iron, he was still trapped on a ship—from the British naval fleet, no less. He saw no chance of freedom.

Though William would be willing to accept his fate if only he knew that Elizabeth was safe…

"Stop the racket, you pirate scum," the soldier guarding him snapped. "We're not letting you out until we've reached land—and the gallows."

"I need to know about the lady," William said. "I need to know she is safe."

"She's away from the likes of you," the guard sneered.

"That doesn't answer my question," William replied, his patience nearing its end. "Where did Finn take her? Is she away from Angelus?"

"I've been given permission to rip out your tongue should you give me any trouble," the guard said, a cruel glint in his eyes.

William shoulders slumped, his hands falling from the bars. He was helpless here, unable to even be told of the welfare of his beloved. He hoped that Admiral Finn would be able to keep her safe, but the sinking feeling in his gut told him otherwise. That man was fool enough to trust Angelus. Not to mention the obvious ire in his eyes back on the island when he seemed to realize what may have occurred between William and Elizabeth.

William knew his love was in trouble.

And he was helpless to save her.

*** *** ***

Angelus prided himself on being a patient man. Nothing was quite as sweet as the rewards you had to wait for. Had to work for.

And nothing was quite as pleasing as seeing a plan in its final stages, when everything fell into place.

The ship was quiet, still, aside from the gentle rocking of a calm sea. Admiral Finn had, of course, ordered some of his men to stand watch, but not nearly as many as would be around during the day.

Not to mention the members of his crew Angelus had managed to hide in the hold combined with the number of Finn's men he had in his pocket, which would more than tip the scales. He'd have this nice ship all to himself within an hour. And the admiral had practically handed it to him on a silver platter…

Angelus chuckled as the time came to set his plan in motion. There weren't many things better in this world than taking advantage of a gullible, desperate man.

*** *** ***

Elizabeth had not slept since Riley had left her. She had been able to do nothing but cry, feeling her heart break for the man she loved so desperately. The fear that she would never see him again wrapped around her like a vice, and she could not bear to face the thought of the inevitable end of her darling William, swinging by his neck in the gallows.

As night fell, the ship grew silent like the grave, the only sound Elizabeth could hear being that of her own sobs.

Then it started. A scream pierced the night, followed by a gun shot. From that, a great commotion broke out, and Elizabeth knew something was happening on deck. She feared to think of what it might be, wondering in a panic if she was going to have to suffer yet another pirate attack.

As the noise above her grew, Elizabeth clutched her head, wanting to block out the horrible sounds. She wished even more to have her William. She knew that no matter what was happening outside the room, with his strength and love she'd be safe.

When the door to her cabin flew open, she thought for an instant that maybe she'd been lucky enough to have her wish granted.

Instead, she found herself staring into the cold, dark eyes of Angelus.

He grinned at her like a predator. "Miss me, wench?"

Elizabeth scrambled backwards, only to find herself against the wall. "You…you get away from me! You're a vile creature, and I won't have you touching me!"

Angelus chuckled. "Vile creature? I love it when ye talk pretty." He advanced on her, pinning her to the wall with his meaty arms on either side of her. He leaned in, licking the column of her neck and making her shudder in disgust. "Yer quite a delicacy, ye know that? I'm gonna have quite a time takin' ye." He pulled back, grinning like the Devil. "But first, I think we should go thank our good friend William fer breakin ' ye in so nicely."

Elizabeth gasped in horror. "No…please. Do what you wish to me, but don't hurt William!"

"Well, aren't you the loyal lass? Sorry it won't do you any good. I've been waitin' too long to see the end of William the Bloody. Ye're just a bit o' extra fun." Angelus grabbed her arm. "Come on now, I want to kill yer lover so I can get around to rapin ' and killin' ye. Be a good girl and don't make me wait."

Elizabeth screamed as she struggled to break his grip. "No! I won't let you!"

Her attempts to escape only made Angelus laugh again. "Don't see how much say you have in it, darlin'. Seems like ye're at me mercy—which is somethin' I don't have much of." He started dragging her out of the cabin.

Elizabeth knew Angelus was right. He had easily overpowered her, and she had no way of breaking his grip. Desperate, she did the only thing she knew to do.

She called for help.

"Riley!" Elizabeth screamed, hoping that her former fiancé would hear her and that he wasn't so disgusted with her that he'd leave her in the hands of Angelus. "Riley, please! Help me!"

Angelus laughed yet again, his tone mocking. "The Admiral's not gonna come fer ye, girl. See, it seems like the boy got himself in a spot of trouble a while back. Was takin' money from pirates, lettin' them line his pockets in exchange fer their freedom to roam certain areas o' the sea. Only problem was, he ran into one that wanted somethin' other than his gold." Angelus grinned. "I wanted this very fine ship here. And it looks like I'm gonna get it." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "And killing that lover of yours will be just the perfect thing to top off a perfect day."

Elizabeth struggled as Angelus took her to the brig, though she knew she had no chance at freedom. Angelus was going to kill William and then do things to her she couldn't even begin to think of. Her stomach turned, and she had to fight to keep down its meager contents.

"Oh Willie boy!" Angelus called as they entered the brig, the guard long gone in order to assist in the fray above deck. "Look at what I brought ye ."

William snarled at the sight of Angelus's hand wrapped around Elizabeth's delicate arm. "You get away from her."

"If you insist," Angelus replied, throwing Elizabeth hard against the wall, smiling in satisfaction as she slid down, moaning in pain.

William grabbed the bars of the cell. "I'll bloody kill you!"

Angelus pulled out his sword, the blade glistening in the dim lantern light. "Will ye now? Seems t'me like that'll be a little hard since I'm the one with the weapon, and ye're the one in the cage." Angelus approached the cell, poking the sword through the bars and chuckling as William jumped back. "Scared, boy?"

"I've never been scared of you, Angelus."

"Well, maybe it's time you should be."

Elizabeth groaned , lifting her head up as best she could with the pain Angelus's blow had caused. She could see him now, using his sword to taunt a caged William. She watched as Angelus was able to draw blood, laughing as the red liquid began to show through William's shirt.

"That smart a bit, lad?"

William snarled, trying to move away from Angelus's blade, only to be nicked again. The cell was too small for him to really maneuver, and he knew as well as Angelus did that he was trapped prey.

Elizabeth saw the glint of a sword only a few feet away from her. Her only thought being to save the man she loved, she crawled slowly towards it, careful not to attract Angelus's attention. When she had the sword in her hands, she rose to her feet, feeling the weight of it against her palm. Despite the fact she never remembered handling a weapon before, it felt strangely right, familiar somehow. "Hey, Angelus," she called. "Why don't you come over here and pick on someone armed, you big bully."

Angelus turned, the sight of Elizabeth upright and with a sword obviously taking him by surprise. Soon, however, he seemed to decide the whole thing was amusing. "Do ye wish to play, too, wench? I suppose ye'd still be good t'me if ye were all bloody."

"I don't think that's going to what happens here, Angelus." She attacked then, lashing out with a skill Elizabeth didn't know she possessed. Angelus faltered for a moment, but quickly regained his footing, coming after Elizabeth. She blocked with ease as something instinctual seemed to take over, a sense deep inside of her that told her when and how to move.

"I see you have trainin ' in the blade," Angelus said, his breathing heavy. "That's… surprisin '."

"As surprising as this?" Elizabeth quipped as she found her opening and plunged the blade into his gut. She frowned, a strange sense of déjà vu washing over her as she watched him slide to the ground.

Angelus choked and sputtered, blood coming from his mouth. Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as she watched him, gasping for breath as he clutched the mortal wound. She gave him a good kick, taking a moment of pleasure in his pain. "Who's all weak now, huh Angelus?" she asked with a grin.

Angelus looked up at her, groaning in pain. He flailed his arm out towards his dropped weapon, only to have Elizabeth kick it away from him. "Nope," she said. "You're gonna just sit there and die now. How's that for a perfect ending to your day, wench ?"

"Um, darling? A little help here? We can taunt the dying man later."

Elizabeth turned, blushing a little as she realized that she'd almost forgotten about William in the excitement of the battle with Angelus. "Right. Keys?"

"On that wall, love," William said, pointing weakly. He winced in pain at the wound Angelus had given him on his arm.

Elizabeth ran and got the keys, freeing her lover. She threw her arms around him as he emerged from the cell. "Oh, William! I thought I'd never see you again!"

William held her close, the elation at feeling Elizabeth again allowing him to ignore the pain. "We have to get out of here," Elizabeth said when they finally broke apart. "Angelus's men have taken over the ship."

"We're in the middle of the open sea," William pointed out. "Where will we go?"

"Lifeboat?"

"We wouldn't last long, kitten."

"We won't last long here, either, William. We have to take our chances. Maybe we can make it back to the island…"

William knew their chances of a successful escape were less than slim, especially since that he had wounds that needed tending to. But he also knew they wouldn't last long on the ship either. Even with Angelus dead, Riley would still pose a problem—if he'd managed to survive Angelus's mutiny, that was. The way William saw it, he would either be faced with pirates or naval soldiers who wanted him dead if he stayed here—and neither of those outcomes let him stay with Elizabeth.

"We'll try to escape," William said. "But our chances aren't good, Elizabeth."

She took hold of his hand. "We're together, William. I know we can make it as long as we have each other. Our love is that strong."

William looked into her eyes, and the hope and love he saw there almost made him believe her words. "Come on, kitten. Hopefully we can use the chaos up there as cover."

Elizabeth nodded, clutching tightly to his hand. She glanced back at Angelus once, watching him as he struggled to take his last breaths. She knew she should feel guilt for killing a man, but she had none. Instead, she felt relief knowing that such a creature was no longer in the world with her.

"By the way, luv," William said as they crept out of the brig, "Where did you learn to fight like that?"

"I didn't," Elizabeth replied. "It just…came naturally to me I suppose."

William raised his scarred eyebrow, but said nothing in response. As they left the brig, he noticed that the ship had grown quiet again, and his stomach clenched with dread.

"Going somewhere, are you?"

William heard Elizabeth gasp beside him as they walked out onto the deck only to come face to face with the pistol of one Admiral Riley Finn.

*** *** ***

"Um, Willow, you might want to hurry up with that spell," Anya said with a frown. "Angelus is dead, but Riley's got himself a pistol, and I doubt he's afraid to use it."

"Angelus is dead?" Xander asked. "How did that happen?"

"Elizabeth skewered him."

"Huh. Go Buffy," Xander replied.

"Well, she did it before," Dawn said. "And this Angelus is even nastier than the other one."

"Okay, all set," Willow announced cheerily, sitting in front of a circle composed of strong-smelling herbs. In the middle were three crystals, leaning against each other to form a pyramid. "Tara?"

Tara sat across from Willow, reaching out to take the other witch's hands. They both closed their eyes, chanting in unison.

Anya, Xander, Dawn, and Giles looked on as the three crystals began to glow, first dimly and then so brightly that they had to shield their eyes. Suddenly, the crystals burst into flames, and Tara and Willow jumped back to avoid getting burned.

"That wasn't supposed to happen!" Willow exclaimed as Xander ran for the fire extinguisher. She coughed and sputtered as he put out the fire, then looked up to catch Giles's not-so-pleased expression as he looked at the burned spot on his floor. "It wasn't! It was supposed to create a portal that would pull Buffy and Spike back into this dimension."

"Maybe they're not in another dimension," Anya said. "Maybe the book simply creates a pocket within this dimension that allows them to both be here and not here at the same time. Which would make sense, considering the results we got from the locator spell. "

"I thought you said the book created an alternate dimension," Willow said.

"Yes, but I never said it created a dimension outside of this dimension," Anya said, rolling her eyes.

"So let me get this straight," Xander said, rubbing his temples. "Buffy and Spike are trapped inside a dimension that's in this dimension?"

Anya nodded happily, glad someone was finally getting it. "Exactly!"

"That makes no sense!" Xander exclaimed.

"Yes it does, sweetie," Anya replied. "See, the book has to create a new dimension in order to allow Buffy and Spike to travel through it, yet due to its temporary nature, it doesn't get its own plane of existence. It has to exist here while not existing here. Makes perfect sense."

"In crazy land!" Xander said.

Giles's glasses were in his hand as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Willow, do you think you can find a spell that would allow you to pull someone out of one of these pocket dimensions Anya's speaking of?"

"I…I could try. It's going to take some more research."

"Fine. Let's get started then." Giles put his glasses back on, sighing heavily as he looked down at the burned spot on the shop's floor. "And do clean that up. It looks atrocious."

 

Chapter 15

Elizabeth gripped William's arm tightly, her fear plain on her face. "Riley, please. Don't do this."

"Do what? Dispose of a pirate and his whore? Tell me, Elizabeth , did you have a part in what just happened? Did you help these pirates try to take over my ship?"

"No! William and I weren't working with Angelus. He was evil, Riley! William's a good man."

"Pirates are scum."

Elizabeth held her chin up high. "Is that why you take their money, let them free to roam the seas as long as they meet your price?"

Riley's eyes flared with anger. "Shut your treacherous mouth! It speaks lies."

"You speak lies, Riley. I know the truth about you. I know your secret. Angelus told me."

"Silence!" Riley cried, cocking back his gun. "Or I will silence you."

"I don't think that's going to be the way of things now," said a voice that Elizabeth recognized but couldn't quite place. Suddenly, an arm was around Riley, a knife at his throat. "Stand down!" the man yelled to the soldiers, "Or the admiral will die."

Finn trembled. "Unhand me," he snapped, though his fright was evident. The blade moved closer to his skin, a trickle of blood appearing. His eyes bulged. "Do what he says, men!"

Finn's men stood down, giving the admiral room. William blinked, the reality of what was happening hitting him. "Xander?"

"Aye, captain. Didn't think that I'd let ye die, did ye? What sorta first mate would that make me?"

"I'm here, too!" piped up a voice from beside Xander. "We snuck on the ship with Angelus's men together."

William grinned. "Glad to see you, too, Jenkins." Jenkins grinned, obviously proud of her part in rescuing their captain.

"So how about we get out of here, then?" William said, taking Elizabeth's hand. "You two do have an escape plan, don't you?"

"Aye, sir. The ship is docked not far from here. We can make it."

"You're not getting away!" Riley said. "Kill them!"

Xander dug the knife in deeper. "Just so ye know, my dyin ' act will be to cut off this big head of yours."

"Don't kill them!" Riley amended.

William led Elizabeth behind Xander and Riley as they backed away from the armed men. "Well, gents, it's been fun," William said with a smirk, feeling for the first time since they were captured that things were finally going his way. "Everyone just stay right where they are, and we'll let your admiral stay in one piece." He shrugged. "Or at least alive anyway."

Once at the edge of the deck, William and Jenkins prepared a lifeboat as Xander kept his blade at Riley's neck, glaring at the soldiers, daring them to move. Soon, they were in the water, rowing away from the naval vessel.

"You won't get away with this," Riley sneered. "I will kill you all!"

"Big words for a man with a knife at his throat," William said smugly. Did he ever love having the upper hand …

"You know, we're far enough from the ship now that we don't really need him," Elizabeth said. "Why don't we just dump him overboard for the sharks?"

William shrugged. "Sounds good to me."

"Wait! No!" Riley yelled. "Don't do that! I'll do anything, just don't kill me!"

William and Elizabeth shared a glance. "What do you think, kitten?" William asked.

Elizabeth trained her steely gaze on Riley. "Will you leave us alone? Let William and I be happy?"

"Yes! Just let me live. And…and don't tell anyone what Angelus told you…about…about the bribes."

"You are seriously pathetic," Elizabeth said with disgust.

William jerked a thumb towards Finn. "And you were going to marry him?"

"Was. I wised up." Elizabeth grinned, running her hand down William's arm. "And I found something much better."

William leaned in, capturing Elizabeth's lips for the first time since they'd been taken from their island paradise. She tasted even sweeter than ever, and he remembered what she'd said to him as they'd left the brig.

We can make it as long as we have each other. Our love is that strong.

And it was. In that moment, he knew it. Their love could overcome anything. In the arms of this woman, he'd found where he belonged.

Admiral Finn made a sound of disgust, and William broke away to glare at him. "Sharks," he said, his tone dark with warning.

Finn shifted. only to hiss in pain as Xander's knife pressed into his skin again.

William felt Elizabeth's hand on his chin, and he turned, letting her pull him into another kiss.

*** *** ***

William breathed a sigh of relief as they pulled ashore, his ship in his sights. Elizabeth took hold of his hands, her excitement almost palpable. "We did it, William," she said softly. "We made it."

"That we did, my love."

"I told you we would."

"I know. And you were right." Looking at the smile on her face, William was unable to stop himself from leaning in to kiss her again.

"Um, Captain? What should I do with the Admiral?"

William reluctantly broke away from Elizabeth. "Leave him here."

"What! You can't do that! I'll die here!"

William shrugged. "Possibly. Although Elizabeth and I survived an island just fine…" He winked at Finn and wrapped his arms around Elizabeth's waist.

"You are slime," Finn spat. "You will pay for this. If not on earth, then in Hell."

"Oh, whatever," Elizabeth said, rolling her eyes. "Honey, can we go back to the ship now? I think I've already had my fill of this place."

"Whatever you wish, my darling." William grinned back at Riley. "And here's to hoping this is the last I see of you, Finn."

As William, Elizabeth, Jenkins, and Xander walked away, Finn yelled at them angrily. "You'll never get away with this!"

"You already said that!" Elizabeth tossed over her shoulder, taking hold of the hand of the man she loved as she walked away from her past.

*** *** ***

William took a deep breath from the deck of his ship, watching the island where they had left Admiral Finn grow smaller and smaller. He was home, finally back where he belonged.

So why didn't he feel that way?

He glanced at the woman beside him and knew why.

"Xander?"

The other pirate turned. "Aye, Captain?"

"How would you like your own ship?"

Xander blinked his one visible eye. "Beggin' the captain's pardon, but I wouldn't want to leave yer employ, sir. I'm quite fond of this ship."

"I'm offering you this ship, Xander. I'm looking to retire."

"William, what…" Elizabeth began, only to have William give her hand a tight squeeze, signaling for her to wait to hear what he had to say.

"Captain, I…"

"It's time for me to settle down. I've gone and fallen in love, and I'm going to do right by the lady. I want you to be the one to take over my ship—on one condition."

"What's that?" Xander asked.

"That your first act as captain is to marry me and my ladylove." He smiled down at Elizabeth, taking in the shock on her face, followed by the tears glistening in her eyes.

"You…you really mean that, William?" Elizabeth asked softly.

"I do, my love. If…if that's what you want, that is."

"Oh, William!" Elizabeth exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. "Of course it's what I want. I love you!"

William held her close to him for a moment before turning back to Xander. "So will you do it, mate?"

"Aye, I will. Just as soon as the two of ye are ready."

"Elizabeth?" William asked. "When…"

"Now. I don't want to wait another moment to be your wife, William." She frowned suddenly. "Although though I do have one question."

"What's that, darling?"

"Where's Lord Rupert?"

William looked back at his former first mate. "Xander?"

"Oh, he's…um… Jenkins?"

Jenkins sighed, walking over to a man sleeping against the side of the deck and shaking him hard. "Hey, you, wake up! Elizabeth is here!" She shook him harder. "Wake up!"

Lord Rupert's eyes popped open, and he swung the rum bottle he had clutched tightly in his hand. "Huh? What…"

"Elizabeth is here," Jenkins shouted, loudly enough to make the older man wince. "She wants to see you."

"Elizabeth? She's all right?"

"She's fine. Come on, get up," Jenkins said, helping Lord Rupert to his feet and over to his ward.

"Elizabeth! You're alive!" Lord Rupert exclaimed, falling towards her in an attempt to give her a hug. Elizabeth grunted, fighting to keep the man upright. Seeing her distress, William jumped in, helping Rupert to his feet.

"Yes, I'm alive. And you're…drunk?" She turned to Xander. "What happened to him?"

Xander shuffled his feet nervously. "Well, ye see m'lady , he was right distraught over your disappearance, and we gave him a little rum to calm him—and he took to it."

"I see," Elizabeth said.

"It's quite nice," Rupert slurred. He held the bottle out to Elizabeth. "Would you like to try some?"

"No thank you," Elizabeth said, gently pushing it away. "Actually, I'm getting married now."

"Oh? Not to the overgrown ape of an admiral, I hope." Lord Rupert turned to William, who he was still using for support, and whispered conspiratorially, "I never liked him."

"Me either," William whispered back, a small grin tugging at his lips.

"I'm marrying him," Elizabeth said, putting her hand on William's arm. "I'm marrying William."

Lord Rupert attempted to pull himself upright. "Well, young man, I am her guardian, you do know. I would have to give con…con…" Lord Rupert frowned, his brow wrinkling. "Consent! Consent to such a union."

William cleared his throat. "I love her very much, sir. And I will take good care of her."

"Do you have money?"

William smirked. "Tons. I'm really quite rich. I plan to retire with Elizabeth someplace nice and warm where she never has to worry about anything ever again."

"Well, then in that case, on with the wedding!" Lord Rupert exclaimed, raising his bottle of rum into the air before he stumbled back, breaking out into song.

"Is he always this way?" William whispered to Elizabeth.

"A really big no," Elizabeth replied. "This is…different."

"Right then. Xander? The wedding?"

"Aye." Xander frowned. "Captain, I don't know anything about weddin's ."

William shrugged. "Make something up." He took Elizabeth's hand and led her to stand with him in front of Xander. The rest of the crew had gathered around, watching the proceedings with fascination. Lord Rupert grew silent again, leaning against Jenkins for support, who sighed heavily, muttering under her breath about filthy, drunken men.

Xander cleared his throat. "Do you, William, wish to be wed to Elizabeth?"

William glanced down at the woman beside him, surprised at the tears that formed in his own eyes at the question. "I do," he replied, caressing her hand with his thumb.

"And you, Elizabeth, do you wish to be wed to William?"

"I do," Elizabeth said softly, her voice choked with emotion.

"Well, then…um, Cap…er, um, William?"

William looked at Xander. "Yes?"

"Shouldn't there be a ring?"

"I don't have a ring," William replied.

"I do!" One of the pirates exclaimed. He rushed forward, placing the ring in William's hand before wiping a tear from his eye. "I just love weddings, cap'n ," he said. "They're so beautiful." He stepped back.

"Thank you, Larry," William replied, looking down at the gold ring with a bright green emerald setting he held now. "Almost as beautiful as your eyes, love," he whispered to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth found herself without words, her voice choked with emotion. All she could manage to do was hold her trembling hand out for William. He slipped the ring on slowly, finding it to be a perfect fit.

"As captain of this ship, I declare ye married!" Xander exclaimed. "Kiss yer pretty wife there, William."

"Don't have to tell me twice," William replied, taking Elizabeth into his arms. He kissed her softly first, trying to pour all of his love for her into the act. But soon, the feel of her against him was too much, and the kiss grew in passion.

When he finally pulled away, William and Elizabeth were panting, both from lack of air and arousal. He scooped her up in his arms and announced to the crew, "Xander is your captain now. Obey him like you did me." He gave Elizabeth a heated gaze. "Right now, I'm going to exercise my marital rights."

The crew cheered and catcalled as William carried Elizabeth below deck, but the newlyweds barely heard it. Instead, they stayed wrapped in each other, ready to begin their life as husband and wife.

*** *** ***

"Nervous, wife?" William asked, glanced down at the woman spread out on his bunk.

"No."

William smirked. "Well, you aren't exactly a blushing virgin."

"Does…does that bother you?" Elizabeth asked, sitting up.

William mentally kicked himself for putting that worry in her eyes and sat down beside her. "No, my love. For one thing, despite how you come to me on our wedding night, I know no other man has been with you except me." He pushed her hair back from her face. "But Elizabeth, even if you had lain with a thousand other men, it would make you no less desirable in my eyes. I love you. I'll love you until my dying breath—and beyond."

"And I you, husband," Elizabeth replied, stroking his cheek.

"Let me show you how much, Elizabeth—my treasure." William lowered her back on the bunk

"I was afraid we wouldn't have this, William. I was so afraid, when you were taken away from me that…that I'd never get to feel you again."

William saw the tears spilling down her cheeks and wiped them away with his thumb. "Shh… I'll never leave you again, dove. We're bound together now. Forever. Nothing can change that."

"I know, my sweet William. Now love me, please. I need to feel you."

William said nothing in response, only moving to remove her clothes and then his own. When nothing lay between them any longer, he pressed the length of his body against hers, slipping his hand between her thighs to find her wet and ready for him. "Elizabeth?"

"Now, William. They took you away from me for so long…"

William smiled. "It was only a day, my love."

"Too long… I never want to be away from you, without you. I ache , William. Fill me again, and make the aching stop."

"As you wish," William replied, settling himself between her legs and entering her in one stroke.

Elizabeth cried out, wrapping her arms around him, feeling as if she could never have him close enough. "William…I love you. Oh, my husband , I love you so much."

"I love you, too, my wife."

Elizabeth had never felt as close to anyone as she did in that moment. He moved inside of her, their bodies entwined, but it went so beyond the physical. Their hearts were joined as well, a bond that no one could ever break. He was her husband, now and forever, his arms the one place in all the world where she belonged. Where she felt warm, safe, loved.

They rose and fell together, time and space melting away until nothing existed but them, their love. When they reached their peak, it was in unison, climbing and falling together in perfect harmony.

William rolled over, bringing Elizabeth with him. She lay nestled in his arms as they drifted to sleep, content.

*** *** ***

Elizabeth woke to find her husband still sleeping beside her. She slipped out of bed silently, pressing a kiss against his forehead before dressing and stealing out of the cabin.

As the sun rose above the horizon, the upper deck was nearly silent, most of the crew below in their cabins. She rested her hands against the edge of the ship, closing her eyes and taking in the fresh sea air. She thought about how quickly and how much her life had changed. Only a short while ago, she had thought she'd known her path, known what the future held for her. But when a man by the name of William the Bloody had come crashing into her life, she had found everything she'd thought she'd known turned upside down. No, her life wasn't how she'd ever imagined it would be.

It was better.

She knew he was there even before he wrapped his arms around her, and she sighed happily, leaning into the embrace.

"I woke to a cold bed," he rumbled in her ear. "Not what a man expects the morning after his wedding."

"I didn't wish to wake you," Elizabeth said, opening her eyes.

"I could've worn us both out again, kitten," he replied, nipping at her ear.

"Mmm…I'm sure you could."

William slid his hand down to run it over her ring. "Forever," he said softly.

Elizabeth turned in his arms so she could look into his deep blue eyes. "Forever."

William leaned in, sealing their promise with a kiss.

The world seemed to spin around them both, and she was gasping for air when she broke away. "Spike…"

"Buffy…"

And then it all came crashing down around her. They were back in the Magic Box, her friends staring at her as she stood wrapped in Spike's embrace.

It wasn't real. None of it had been real. It had all been an illusion, and now she was back in Sunnydale. She broke away from Spike with a cry.

"Buffy?" he said, his tone soft, so much like William's had been.

But he wasn't William. Not the William from the book anyway. And she wasn't Elizabeth. The loss of it all tore at her, and Buffy did the only thing she knew to do.

She ran.

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