Author’s Notes: This is a companion piece to my fic Dreams Let Me Down. I wanted more Spuffy interaction in that one (and more explanation of what the heck was really going on…), but it felt like if I took it past where I ended it, it would’ve shifted the focus of the fic, and I didn’t want to do that. So this is the “spuffier” version. (Less Angel, more naked Spike – whee!)
Spike had no idea where he was, never mind how he got there. Once second he’d been in an alley in Los Angeles, getting his ass kicked by a horde of angry demons, and the next, well…
Judging by his surroundings, he’d have to say the next minute, he’d ended up in Hell.
He pulled himself to his feet and leaned against a large rock for support. He felt worse than he had at the hands of both Glory and the First, and he had a sinking suspicion that whatever was happening to him, this was only the beginning.
Spike winced as he tried to move away from the rock only to fall to the ground. He cursed when his attempt to get back to his feet failed just as miserably.
“There’s really no point in straining yourself like that. There’s nowhere for you to go anyway.”
Spike dragged himself back over to the rock and got back to his feet, leaning against the rock for support again before replying with, “I’ve never been known for doing the smart thing.” He looked over the man who’d approached him and frowned. “Nice suit, empty eyes – let me guess, Wolfram and Hart?”
The man smiled in response, and Spike easily recognized the look of a predator. “I’ve been sent to make a deal with you.”
“Save your breath and move along. I worked too bloody hard for this soul to hand it over to you gits.”
“I’m sure you’re aware of where you are, Mr. Pratt. Rejecting our offer will not end well for you.”
Spike started a bit at the mention of a name he hadn’t used in over a century, but he quickly shook it off, not wanting to give in at all to Wolfram and Hart’s games. He stood as defiantly as he could in his condition and met the man eyes. “Do your worse.”
The man’s predatory smile returned, slowly spreading over his face. “Oh believe me, Mr. Pratt – we will.”
*** *** ***
“We don’t have to continue this, Mr. Pratt. I would be happy to draw up a contract that would be suitable for both parties.”
Spike took a ragged breath, his cracked ribs aching, then spit blood at the man’s feet. “I’d tell you to go to hell, but it would be a bit redundant.”
“I can do this for all eternity, you know,” the man replied. “Is that really want you want?”
Spike tried his best to pull himself up in his chains. “Yeah. Sounds real fun, if you ask me.”
“We wouldn’t have to take your soul, if it’s so precious to you. All you’d have to do is agree to no longer interfere in the interests of the Senior Partners. It’s a simple concession, Mr. Pratt, and one I think would certainly be fair in exchange for your freedom.”
“Very well then.”
As he had when this had first begun, Spike tried not to scream.
*** *** ***
“Aren’t you bored yet?”
Spike hung limply in his chains, but as he lifted his head, a spark of defiance remained in his eyes. “Not a bit. This is just getting fun.”
“You’re stubborn. Much more so than that other vampire. He caved so very quickly. I didn’t get to try out any of my toys.”
“Yeah, well, Angel’s a pansy,” Spike replied, though his mind began to turn, wondering what sort of deal Angel had made this time. He didn’t have to wait long for the answer.
“As a matter of fact, we had him first, but he was willing to throw you in the pit in his place. Early bird, worm, all of that. Hell, getting him to sign a piece of himself over to us gets a little easier every time.”
Angel had sold him out to Wolfram and Hart? Well, he couldn’t say he was exactly surprised…
“Although it was a pretty nice deal, I have to say. He got you out of the way and he got that sweet little piece of Slayer all to himself. I can’t think of too many men who wouldn’t jump at the chance to sign up for that.”
Spike’s body grew stiff, the anger coursing through him at the thought of Buffy with Angel almost outweighing the pain.
“Ah, that got a reaction, didn’t it, Mr. Pratt? I thought it might. She’s with him right now, planning to become his wife. As far as she knows, she’s just a normal girl, and he’s the center of her world.” The man smiled and stepped closer to Spike. “But it doesn’t have to be him. We can easily switch your places, and you can be the one with her.”
“Until what, he makes the same deal again and we play musical dimensions?”
“We could make it permanent for you. Just think about it – the girl of your dreams wanting nothing more than you while your rival for her affection suffers for all eternity.”
Spike did think about it, and it made him sick. It made him sick to think of Buffy being manipulated like that, having her own life taking from her hands. He snarled, his demon roaring to the surface as he pulled futilely at his chains.
“Well, not quite the reaction I was expecting, but I guess we still don’t have a deal. It’s just as well. I do rather like the torture.”
For the first time since this began, Spike felt helpless.
*** *** ***
“Look…you want a deal…I’ll make a deal.” Spike spoke through ragged breaths, the pain nearly overwhelming.
The man stopped, wiping blood from his knife with a handkerchief he produced from his pocket. “I knew you’d come to your senses, Mr. Pratt. Tell me, what would you like the terms of this agreement to be?”
“Just…just let her go. Let her have her memories, let her make her own choice. Even…even if that choice is him, just let her be free to make it.”
“And for yourself, Mr. Pratt?”
“I don’t bloody care. Keep torturing me, kill me, I don’t care. Just let her go.”
For a moment, the man simply stared, as if he didn’t understand what Spike was saying. Then, he spoke. “You can’t make a selfless deal.”
“I don’t remember there being conditions.”
“You have to want something for yourself. Everyone wants something for themselves.”
“Yeah, well, I want lots of things for myself, but I’m not taking them from you. Any deal I make, it’s for her. You want something from me, it’s in exchange for her freedom – not mine.”
“We could give her to you, Mr. Pratt. For all eternity, if you wish. We could see to it that she loves you passionately, that you’re the center of her world. No more rejection, no more pain. Just yours – forever.”
Spike coughed, then spit red on the ground. “Don’t want that.”
“How could you not?”
“Wouldn’t be her, now would it? If she’s not driving me ‘round the sodding bend, it’s not rightly Buffy. Now if you’re not going go to give me what I asked for, then get on with the torture. I’m not going to get any bloodier on my own.”
The man snarled, his face switching to something dark for a moment before the calm, collected human face returned. “You disgust me, Champion,” he said before he vanished, along with the chains that had been holding Spike in place.
In too much pain to wonder what had just happened, Spike fell unconscious.
He was still there when Buffy found him.
*** *** ***
He was warm, wrapped up in blankets in a big, comfortable bed. The pain from his body was gone, though he was left feeling tired and groggy. He let his eyes close again as he pulled the blankets tighter around himself, not wanting to move from wherever he was.
But he felt himself drifting towards consciousness and soon remembered how he’d gotten there.
She’d come for him, dragged him out of hell, and then told Angel off, choosing him over the Forehead. All in all, it had been a pretty good day. Torture notwithstanding.
He vaguely remembered her calling the Council to wire her some money and then bringing them to some posh hotel in Los Angeles. He couldn’t remember all that clearly since he’d spent most of it slipping in and out of consciousness, but he did remember her cleaning the blood off his wounds and helping him into bed. It made him smile to think about it. She loved him…
The bedroom door opened and Buffy peeked her head in, smiling when she saw his eyes open. “Hey there, mister. Feeling any better now?”
“Yeah,” Spike replied. “Just tired.”
Buffy walked over to the bed and sat beside him, stroking his arm through the blanket. “Are you hungry? I found a butcher and picked up some blood while you were sleeping. Do you want me to heat some up for you?”
“If you don’t mind.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Of course I don’t mind.” She kissed the top of his hair before standing up. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Spike nodded in response, his eyes sliding closed again as he waited for her. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this tired, but he supposed being tortured could really take it out of you.
He opened his eyes again when he heard Buffy come back and sat up as best he could, wincing as it made his head start to throb. Buffy set the mug of blood down on the bedside table then propped up several pillows behind him. “Thank you, luv,” Spike said, taking the blood from her as she picked it up and handed it to him.
Buffy sat beside him on the bed, her hand straying to his leg, as if she couldn’t stand the thought of not touching him, or maybe she had to touch him in order to assure herself he wasn’t an illusion. Whatever she was thinking, Spike knew she was really there with him.
He put his hand over hers, then lifted the mug of blood to his lips and took a drink.
And promptly began to gag. It tasted horrible, and his stomach rebelled.
“Spike? What’s wrong?” Buffy asked, grabbing the mug from his hands before the blood ended up spilled all over the bed.
Spike couldn’t respond, his stomach flipping, desperate to rid itself of its contents. He got out of the bed as quickly as he could, stumbling twice before he made it to the bathroom, getting only as far as the sink before the blood came back up.
He gripped the edge of the sink, his arms shaking and his heart pounding in his chest.
Wait…back up… Heart…pounding?
He looked up, and stared at what he was seeing in complete disbelief.
“Spike? Are you… Oh my god…”
He could see Buffy reflected in the mirror as she stood in the doorway to the bathroom.
He could also see himself.
“Buffy, what’s happening to me?” he asked, gripping the sink tighter, until bits of the porcelain began to chip beneath his hands. He loosened his grip, even as he said a silent prayer of thanks that he still appeared to be as strong as ever.
“I don’t know,” Buffy replied as she came into the bathroom. She put her hand on his bare back, then pulled it away. “You’re…you’re warm. Your skin, it’s… I think you’re alive, Spike.”
The grogginess that had plagued him when he’d first woken up was gone now, disbelief in his place as he looked down at his body, seeing all traces of the torture he’d suffered were gone. His skin was smooth, free of any cuts or bruises.
Except for his right hand…
He looked down at the palm, frowning at the strange scar there. It looked like the remnants of a burn, and he didn’t remember the lawyer ever burning his palm. Where had it come from?
Buffy took his hand, and before he could ask her what she was doing, she showed him her own palm, then linked their fingers together.
Just like they’d been in those final moments in Sunnydale…
Slowly, almost reluctantly, Buffy let go of his hands, though she stroked his cheek before she moved away from him completely. “You should go back to bed. I’ll clean up in here. And yes, before you ask, I’m sure. Just go, let me be the one to take care of you for once.”
“I love you,” Spike said, needing to say the words when he knew they weren’t going to be thrown back in his face.
“I love you, too.”
He smiled at her, and Spike could see the tears shimmering in her eyes. He wanted to hold her, to kiss them away, but his head was spinning, and he worried if he didn’t get back in bed soon, she’d have to carry him.
It wasn’t until he was alone in the bedroom again that Spike let the panic set in.
He remembered his day in hell clearly, remembered every bit of conversation he’d had with his Armani-wearing tormentor. Had Wolfram and Hart accepted the terms of his deal after all? Displeased with his own conditions, had they looked inside of him and seen what he really wanted? Because this, a real life with Buffy, it had been the stuff of his dreams for so long he could barely remember a time when it wasn’t. She was here, loving him, and he had a beating heart to give her in return.
But did she really want to be here? Had he unwittingly done the same thing to her Angel had done? And was his soul forfeit in the bargain?
His conclusion was yes. After all, why else would Buffy be with him?
He turned his head to look at her when she came out of the bathroom and saw the love shining in her eyes. It broke his heart.
“You don’t want to be here.”
Buffy’s step faltered as she came towards the bed. “What?”
“You don’t want to be here. With me. You’re only here because I made a deal. Like Angel.”
Buffy shook her head. “No. You wouldn’t do that. Maybe him, but not you.”
Spike swallowed hard. “I did, Buffy. I didn’t…I didn’t mean to, but I did. I’m so sorry…”
“No. This is real, Spike. I know it is. This can’t be because of a deal. It can’t.”
He wanted to cry, but he wouldn’t. “I’m sorry, pet. They were torturing me, and I… I just wanted you to have your life back, that’s all. I wanted you to have your free will.”
“Then I have it!” Buffy yelled at him. “Spike, I wanted to be with you before now. There’s no deal making me want this! God, why won’t you just believe I love you?”
“Because you don’t!” Spike leaned back, his head hitting the back of the bed. “How else could I have a heartbeat if there wasn’t a deal, Buffy? Vampires don’t have spontaneous re-humaning, you know.”
“Did you ask to be alive?”
Buffy moved to the bed and sat beside him, placing her hand over his. “Then why would it be because of a deal?”
Spike didn’t move, didn’t look at her. “I wanted it. There…there was this prophecy, about a vampire with a soul getting a new life. I tried not to want it too much, tried not to focus on it the way Angel did, but deep down, I wanted it. I wanted it because I thought maybe, maybe if I had a heartbeat I could give you something useful. Maybe then I could be almost enough for you.”
He heard her make a choked sob, before she leaned forward and kissed his forehead, letting her lips linger on his skin as she whispered. “I’m so sorry. God, Spike, I’m so sorry…”
“What do you have to be sorry for?”
She pulled back and looked into his eyes, refusing to let him avoid her gaze. “For making you think that. For making you think you could ever be anything but worthy.” She put her hand against his chest, closing her eyes for a moment as if savoring the feel of the beat before she was looking at him again. “You’re a Champion, Spike. You defied everything, even your very nature, to become the man you are today. You’ve saved the world over and over again with no thought to anything but the people you love and doing what’s right. Did it even cross your mind that maybe this isn’t part of some demon deal, but it’s a reward?”
“I never asked for a reward.”
“Yeah, which is kinda what makes you worthy of one.”
“Having you, having this – it can’t be real.”
“It is.” Buffy took his right hand, entwining it with her left. “I spent all day yesterday living with ‘not real,’ Spike, and I know the difference. Everything felt wrong, but this? This feels so completely right.”
“Shh…” She placed her finger to his lips for a moment, then took it away, replacing it with her mouth.
Spike gave into the kiss for a second before pulling back slightly, unable to move away from her completely. “Buffy, we need…we need to figure this out. I’ve got a heartbeat, I…”
“Later,” Buffy said. “We’ll figure it all out later. Right now can’t we just be happy to be together? Please, William…”
It was the sound of her voice saying his name that did him in. She’d said it before, but never like that. Never when she wanted him…
This could all be wrong. He should be pushing her away, at least until he knew for sure she was really there because she wanted to be. But heaven help him, he’d never been that strong of a man.
When she kissed him again, he didn’t break away.
“I love you,” she whispered against his lips, then trailed kissed up his jaw, across his cheekbone, punctuating each one with her whispered promise. I love you, I love you…
Spike wanted to say it back, wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, but his throat felt too tight, and all he could do was hold on to her while his heart thudded in his chest.
But when he felt her kiss the tears from the corner of his eyes, he knew she knew.
“It’s going to be okay,” she whispered. “I promise you, Spike, whatever’s going on, it’ll be okay. I have you back and I’m never letting anyone take you away again.”
Spike closed his eyes and breathed in her scent, relieved to find it was just like it had always been. “Buffy, I…”
She silenced him again with a kiss. “I told you I wanted to take care of you for once, and I meant it. Just relax and let me show you.”
Spike nodded, still too tired to really argue with her. She smiled at him, then winked and pulled her shirt over her head.
She wasn’t wearing a bra. Spike’s eyes darkened with lust as his cock jumped between them, and Buffy’s grin turned wicked. “Now you’re getting the hang of it, handsome.”
He gave her his own grin in return then moaned when she reached between their bodies and took hold of his cock, stroking it just how he liked, letting him know she hadn’t forgotten his body. She leaned in and spoke against his ear, “Tell me what you want, Spike. Tell me what you want me to do right now.”
“It’s okay, baby. I want to do something for you.”
He trembled, afraid to give in to her offer, afraid he’d say the wrong thing and she’d throw him out of her bed yet again, even as he answered. “Your…your mouth. I want to feel your lips on me, kitten. You were always so good at that…”
She didn’t seem offended by his request. In fact, she looked pretty damn excited about it as she slid down his body and settled between his legs. Her hand around the shaft, she looked up at him and asked, “Do you want me to tease or get right to it?”
He smirked at her, his hand straying to her long blonde hair. “Just blow me, baby.”
“I love it when you sweet talk me,” she said with a smirk before swallowing his cock, going down until he hit the back of her throat.
Spike cursed and threw his head back, his grip on her hair tightening slightly. She bobbed up and down, her throat constricting and relaxing rhythmically, punctuated with moans. She’d done this to him plenty of times in the past but now, watching how eagerly she’d complied with his request, Spike realized something he hadn’t before.
“You like doing this, don’t you?”
She looked up at him, a mischievous glint sparkling in her eyes before she hummed in pleasure.
Spike groaned, his free hand digging into the sheet. “Bloody hell, I love you woman.”
She giggled around him, and fuck all if that didn’t feel wonderful, too.
He wasn’t going to last like this. It had been too long, she felt too good, and his blood was rushing in a way it hadn’t before. Every nerve was singing, his heart was pounding, and his breath was coming in harsh pants, driving home to him just how real this truly was.
“Buffy, sweetheart, need… Oh fuck, pet, I need you to ride me.”
She pulled up off his cock with a long slurp, kissed the tip, then got off the bed just long enough to get completely naked.
His eyes never left her as she took off her clothes, his gaze full of untempered lust. Buffy smiled and did a little turn, letting him have a good look at her. “Still like what you see?”
“Oh, yeah,” Spike replied, no longer caring about anything but being in this room with this girl. His eyes softened and he held his hand out to her, beckoning her back to the bed. “Make love to me, Buffy.”
She swallowed as something passed across her face and she took his hand. “I never did anything else, Spike. Not really. Not even when I said…”
He wasn’t sure he believed her, but he wasn’t going to argue the point now. The past was the past, and no matter what happened from here, he was going to forgive her. “I know, lamb. I know.”
Buffy straddled his hips, still clinging tightly to his hand as she used her other hand to grip his cock and position it at her entrance, allowing her to sink down and take him inside. Spike moaned as she sighed, and grabbed her hip, holding her to him.
She leaned forward, her head resting on his shoulder, and Spike finally slipped his hand away from hers to wrap his arms around her, keeping her close. “I’m not letting you go again,” she said, pressing her face against his neck. “I’m not. They can’t take you from me ever, ever again.”
“Shh… I’m not going anywhere, Buffy. I’m right here with you.”
She sat up, bracing her hands against his chest. A look of surprise went over her face, then she laughed softly, stroking the right side of his chest. “I forgot for a moment. I’m not used to the heartbeat.”
Spike put his hand over hers. “You and me both.”
“Does it feel weird? Different?”
“A bit.” He smirked. “I’m sort of in sensory overload here.”
“I’d still be doing this if you didn’t have one. A heartbeat, I mean.”
This time, Spike did believe her. “I know.”
“And…and I won’t change my mind if this isn’t permanent.”
Spike responded by cupping her face with both hands and bringing her mouth to his, kissing her thoroughly. Buffy moaned against him and finally started moving, a steady rocking of her hips that threatened to drive him crazy.
She finally broke the kiss and put her hands on his shoulders, using him for leverage as she began to move faster, harder. Spike thanked whomever it was who had given him this that they hadn’t made him weak as a human, too, because he’d be dying if he had to tell her to hold back. The best part of sex with Buffy had always been how she threw every bit of herself into it…
“God, sweetheart, missed this so bloody much,” he said as he dug his fingers deeper into the flesh of her hips, guiding her to move harder, faster. “No one’s ever made me feel as good as you.”
“Missed you, too.” She flashed him a wicked grin and tightened her inner muscles. “Same reason.”
Spike smirked in response, then suddenly decided he’d had enough of letting her have all the control and flipped them over, chuckling at Buffy’s squeal of surprise. Then, she looked up at him and pouted. “I was having fun.”
“You know when you pout at me, it just makes me want to fuck you harder.”
Her pout grew.
“You little minx,” Spike said as he grabbed hold of her legs and started thrusting, long deep strokes that had Buffy crying out in pleasure with each one.
“Oh, hell yeah,” she moaned, digging her hands into his shoulders. “This…this is fun, too.”
He smirked, she giggled, and Spike felt as if all the weight had been lifted of his newly-beating heart.
She climaxed with a cry of pure relief, and Spike almost wept at the sound of it. It was more than pleasure; it was true completion.
One look in her eyes, and he was joining her.
Spike fell asleep with Buffy curled against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
*** *** ***
Spike knew he was dreaming. He was still in the hotel room, but he knew as soon as he sat up in the bed that he was actually asleep.
He also knew that somehow, he wasn’t alone in this dream.
Buffy was curled up beside him, a small smile on her lips, and he knew he was seeing her as she really was then. So who had invaded his dreams?
He turned quickly, gasping as he saw Fred sitting on the edge of the bed. “What…are you?”
She held up her hand. “I’m not the First, I’m not Illyria, hell, I ain’t even really Fred. We just thought this face might be a little easier for you to see. Something familiar and all that.”
“Who are you then?”
“That’s not important. You just need to listen to what I have to say.”
Spike nodded, for once knowing better than to argue. He believed “Fred” when she said she wasn’t the First – he’d been around the First long enough to know what it felt like – and he didn’t think Illyria could invade his dreams like this. But whoever it was, it was someone powerful and someone he didn’t think he wanted to upset.
Especially since he had the distinct impression it wasn’t evil.
“I can’t stay long. Shouldn’t be here at all, really, since we don’t normally do this sort of thing, but the general consensus was that you needed an explanation before you went getting all overly introspective about the whole thing. So I’m here to explain it all, clear a few things up, ‘cause really? No one wants a self loathing vampire. It’s boring. Here’s the deal – this past year? It was a series of tests. You passed. Congrats.”
Spike blinked. “What?”
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Humans. Always take a little more explaining to. It would be cute if it wasn’t so darned annoying. Vampire Champion – there can be only one. Like Highlander, only with less beheadings. Anyway, you went and got your soul and then you saved the world, so there were two.” She wrinkled her nose. “Maybe. It was confusing. Things went sort of kerblooey.”
“Yeah, I remember that part. Thought it was all just Eve’s games.”
“Oh that was. Sort of. We were playing, too. See, here’s the deal. Two possible Champions, but only one slot open. So we stuck you two together and made you face similar choices to see who would come out on top. Honestly, we thought it was going to be a close race. I don’t think anyone expected such a landslide.”
“So wait a moment, let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Spike said, holding out his hand. “You spent a year pitting me and Angel against each other to see who was more of a Champion?”
Not-Fred nodded vigorously. “Yep. Yesterday was the final test – give you both the ultimate temptation and see who jumped at it.” She rolled her eyes. “Angel didn’t even need any torture to persuade him. A couple of nice words and a blonde dangled in his face, and he was all over it like white on rice. But you… Even faced with unspeakable horror, you made a selfless choice in the name of the love. So, ta da! You’re the Champion, you get your reward.”
Spike glanced at the woman still sleeping beside him. “Is she…”
“Part of it? No. She’s here of her own free will. Even if in the end, you hadn’t been the Champion, she still would’ve been yours.”
Spike ran his hand across Buffy’s cheek. “I don’t deserve this.”
“The universe begs to differ, buster.” Spike turned to look at her again, and her expression softened. “Look, Spike, no matter what anyone tells you, the love of another is the most selfless motive of all. I watched you, saw what was in your heart. No matter how things started out between the two of you, by the end, you had gladly put your life at risk time and time again for her and those she cared for. Even without a soul, you would’ve died just to save her. That isn’t obsession. That isn’t something dirty, something wrong. That’s selfless love, and there’s nothing purer anywhere. Even with all your sins, you deserve this.”
“I don’t… I mean…”
She smiled at him. “How about you just say thank you?”
Spike chuckled lightly. “Thank you.”
She stood and walked to him, pressing a chaste kiss to his forehead. “I’d tell you to treasure every moment, but I don’t think I have to. Take care, Champion.”
Spike woke from the dream and gathered Buffy more tightly in his arms.
A/N: Kinda sappy there, I know, but I never tire of pointing out how Spike is so much better than Angel. It’s one of my greatest joys in life.
My other great joy in life? Feedback. Leave some, and I’ll be happy.