Chapter 1: Denial
Crisp air turned cheeks rosy, noses red and caused nipples to tighten into deadly points. Winter was well and truly on the way. Which was surprising, really; Sunnydale was generally one of those abnormal little towns that were sunny and bright almost all year round. Apparently not this year.
Buffy pouted as she wrapped her arms around her torso to guard against the chill, her flimsy cotton shirt providing little protection. “Stupid weather forecaster,” she muttered with annoyance. It would be the last time she would forego a sweater on patrol.
Deciding her appendages would appreciate the extra blood circulation, the blonde slayer dropped down from the headstone she had previously been perched upon and resumed the circular pattern of her patrol. Tonight had been exceptionally dead, no pun intended. Save for one incredibly stupid fledgling, which had struggled to free himself from his own grave, the night had been uneventful. Bored didn’t adequately cover how Buffy felt right now.
The slayer had swept Weatherly Park, the factory district, and Shady Hill Cemetery tonight, her travels covering a good third of the town. Proximity wise, there was normally one other place she would patrol when doing this particular sweep. A place that tonight she was using every delay tactic in the book to avoid.
Where Spike lived.
Scrunching up her nose in disgust, Buffy studiously flooded her mind with hate filled thoughts of the bleached menace in an attempt to drown out the less than unsavoury images that popped into her mind. No matter how hard she tried to quash them, the surround sound, cigarette smoke-scented, leather-filled visions were refusing to be ignored.
It wasn’t fair.
Ever since Willow’s ‘my will be done’ spell, Buffy hadn’t been able to get Spike out of her head. At first the thoughts had been righteously indignant, as was to be expected. But now? It bothered her to admit that Spike was in her thoughts more often than not.
They’d been betrothed; there’d been talk of cakes and place settings and honeymoon locations. Thinking about how excited she’d been then didn’t make her feel queasy like she’d have hoped. Not that marriage was something Buffy didn’t think about. Being a slayer didn’t make her that different from other girls. The future of a slayer was uncertain and unguaranteed; happily-ever-afters were not something a chosen one lived to experience. Perhaps that was partly to blame for the numerous hours that had passed during her earlier teenage years, daydreams of a life with Angel, complete with the wedding, house, a puppy and 2.5 kids.
When he’d left Sunnydale, left her those many months earlier, any and all dreams of a perfect future dissipated. Angel had been Buffy’s life, and when he disappeared he took her heart with him. Rude much…
Buffy hated Angel for that.
Completely and without reservation she’d trusted him, given him her heart and love. She basically put him on a pedestal. And what had he done? Pocketed the best bits and put the rest through a mince grinder for her to piece together again. “Bastard,” she cursed half-heartedly.
Until recently, Buffy truly believed her heart would never recover. The damage caused by her relationship with her former true love, combined with the gut-busting realisation that Parker had used her to get what he wanted—nothing but a tacky physical release—would have broken a weaker girl. Should have broken her. Physically, Buffy’s strength was extraordinary. Emotionally, she was as fragile as a porcelain doll. If not for her friends she might never have begun to heal her wounded heart.
Even with their support, she was unconvinced it would ever be whole again.
Then she met Riley and things were beginning to look up. A nice, normal, human guy, someone Buffy could actually have a future with. Riley liked her and he didn’t seem like the heart shredding type… not that her heart was on the menu. What Buffy had liked most about the TA was the way he’d look at her. It was a look that caused little butterflies to fly around in the pit of her stomach. Nothing monumental, but it was something—a big something to a person who was worried they’d lost the ability to feel.
Thoughts of a possible relationship with Riley used to conjure up imaginings of what kissing him would be like. Now, any thoughts of kissing caused a different face to rise in her minds eye: a countenance with razor sharp cheekbones, scared eyebrow and the permanent fixture of a cocky grin.
It infuriated her beyond belief. The feelings she’d felt were the result of a spell. When the spell ended, they should have been cut off. So why did they linger? Buffy had loved Spike. She realised that love was not something a person got over at the click of fingers, but this was getting to be beyond a joke. Magically induced feelings shouldn’t stay behind after the spell was ended. Loitering in the Slayer’s heart was neither permitted nor welcome.
An involuntary shudder rolled through Buffy’s shoulders, this time not caused by the temperature. No, this shiver was a baser reaction, her slayer sensing danger and responding to it. Vampire… it hissed.
Buffy sighed with relief, both mentally and physically, that something had at last appeared. Removing a stake from her back pocket, she moved into a defensive stance and waited for the creature to happen upon her. Any time not spent imagining the ice cool lips of —
“Spike?” she uttered with complete disbelief.
“Miss me, pet?” Spike curled his tongue behind his teeth and arched his scarred brow as he lasciviously eyed the Slayer from head to toe. She was a sight for sore eyes. Jeans sat low on her hips, and the rear view Spike had been admiring before she’d turned had been a pleasant one, the denim hugging her every curve. The red shirt she wore was no exception. Cut midway down her arms and scooped at the neck, the tightness of it left little to the imagination.
The Slayer huffed in response to his deliberate jibe, which caused her breasts to heave in a delightful manner. There was no doubt about it; Buffy Summers was a delectable little bite. This observation was not a new one. Spike had been aware of the Slayer’s obvious qualities from the first night he’d set eyes upon her. However, at the time her blood had been the only facet he’d been desperate to taste. A slayer’s blood was like nothing else, and this little spitfire of a girl had promised to be quite the tasty treat.
A week ago Spike’s appetite for Buffy had been whetted, and each night since he’d dreamed and imagined nothing else. He rememberedeverything about their little encounter as bride and groom-to-be. How gentle her loving caress was, the glide of her velvet soft lips against his, the pressure of her weight against his aching cock, and the smell of her undeniable arousal. If he closed his eyes and was very still, he could almost feel her hands ghosting across his skin as they had that day.
When the spell had been broken, Spike had been at a loss of what to think—of how to react. So he’d waited. Buffy’s disgust was immediate. He’d expected that response from her, but hadn’t foreseen was how her revulsion would make him feel. Discarded. Disheartened. Rejected.
Even reminders that those feelings were produced as a result of magic did little to numb the sharp, unexpected pain her reaction had caused within him. Did he really care what the Slayer thought of him? How she felt about him? Several weeks ago he would have said no. Now Spike wasn’t so sure.
“Why would I miss you?” Buffy scoffed, hand on hip in patented fashion. “And what the hell are you doing unshackled and out of Giles’ apartment?”
Spike clenched his jaw in frustration; annoyed that Buffy had turned the tables on him. Well, he wasn’t going to answer her question. There was one way he would be able to regain control of this situation, and Spike knew exactly what to do.
Taking three decisively precise steps forward, he manoeuvred himself within the Slayer’s personal space. Close enough so he could almost feel the heat resonating from her flesh. Slowly but surely, Spike leaned closer to speak into her ear. His cool un-needed breath tickled at Buffy’s ear and caused an involuntary shudder to roll through the slayer. The simple little response bolstered his confidence.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t missed this,” Spike purred as he lifted his right hand to trail down her left arm, gooseflesh rising beneath his touch.
“Stop it,” Buffy demanded with a lot less force than she was aiming for. What was happening? Why was she letting Spike touch her? Why wasn’t she pushing him away? Stupid vampires, aren’t they supposed to have some sort of thrall or something?
The thought that the only reason she was allowing Spike to touch her, in such a personal manner, was because of some sort of vampiric control brought some relief. But she couldn’t honestly say she believed it whole-heartedly. If Spike had the ability to thrall, why had he never used it on her before, when it would have been helpful while he’d been trying to kill her?
“Is that what you really want?”
Spike’s tone was seductive, like liquid satin, and it was doing things to Buffy’s resolve it had never done before. It’s gotta be thrall… or residue from the spell… or…
Buffy was desperately clutching at straws, searching for an explanation, an excuse for why she had let her guard down around anothervampire. There was no future in that. Relationships with vampires were bad and wrong and frowned upon by the Council and they could never end well. Was I really just thinking about a relationship with Spike?
That thought broke the moment. Buffy gasped with disgust, mostly at herself, and backtracked away from the vampire.
“Don’t touch me.”
The loss Spike felt when Buffy withdrew was immediate. And it terrified him. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Vampires were supposed to want to kill slayers, not kiss them. Because that was the very direction they had been headed right before Buffy’s abrupt departure. The very notion of doing such a thing left Spike bewildered. He wanted her. Spike wanted Buffy. Not her throat, her blood, her death. No, Spike wanted ALL of her. And it wasn’t a side effect of the spell – it was real.
The venom in Buffy’s voice was a surprise and Spike belatedly blinked in shock, having been lost in the realisation he had feelings for the Slayer. Spike, William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers, had a crush on Buffy Summers! He wanted to be disgusted with himself, wanted to deny it, but he couldn’t. The worst part of this whole situation was that the feeling was obviously not reciprocated, judging by the look on the Slayer’s face.
“You weren’t complainin’ ‘bout it the other night,” he retorted petulantly.
“That was a spell!” Buffy threw her hands up in the air in frustration. “That wasn’t real, Spike.”
Spike couldn’t, no, he wouldn’t accept what had transpired between them was solely because of Red’s spellcasting. “And just now? What was that?”
Buffy swallowed nervously. She didn’t have an explanation, but she needed to give him an answer. Something to shut him up. “It was nothing.”
“Bollocks!” Spike prowled toward her again and stopped when he was within her reach. “It was real.”
“Thrall!” Buffy blurted out. “You… you were using some vampire control thrall thing.”
“Bloody well was not!” Spike retorted.
Crap… Buffy had been hoping she was right on that assumption. “Spell residue.”
“After a week? Not bloody likely,” Spike snorted.
“It can happen…”
Spike arched a brow. “And I s’pose Ripper’s vision is still foggy? And Xander’s got demons chasin’ him ‘bout town?”
“Well, Anya is…” Buffy trailed off.
An ear-to-ear grin stretched across Spike’s face. He’d deflected her excuses and she was struggling to find an answer. Maybe he was wrong; maybe the Slayer did feel something for him.
“Stop smirking like that,” Buffy pouted.
The almost whine in her voice only furthered his amusement. Then his eyes zeroed in on her plump bottom lip and he leaned forward. Spike couldn’t help himself; it was just begging to be suckled.
Spike’s lips barely ghosted over Buffy’s when she seemed to remember herself again. With a violent shove she pushed him away from her. “Don’t touch me.”
“What the bleedin’ hell is your problem, Slayer?” Spike demanded. “We were havin’ a moment there and you had to –”
“We were not!”
Spike tried to close in on her again but stopped when Buffy took on a defensive stance and balled her fists.
“Stay away from me, or I swear, I’ll –”
“Hit me?” Spike interrupted. “And that’s s’posed to be a threat?”
Buffy stamped her foot in frustration. “When did you become such a pain in the ass?”
“When did you become such a prude?”
Buffy’s fist shot through the air with blinding speed, zeroing in on Spike’s nose.
Energy crackled in the air. There was a flash of blue light and a black circle appeared, followed by the whirring sound of wind rushing through a tunnel as two figures emerged.
One was Joyce Summers. She was wearing the suit she’d worn to the Gallery that day, and a bewildered expression on her face.
The male beside her was shorter than her, with dark hair hidden beneath a broad rimmed hat. A Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants completed his outfit. While the Slayer’s mom was obviously in shock over her sudden transportation from her workplace to what appeared to be a cemetery, he was not.
“Well Joyce, here’s where it all begins.”