Chapter 22: Drained
Slowly opening her eyes, Buffy groaned at the pain in her body, immediately closing her eyes once again. She felt like she’d been hit by a truck, and as the memories returned to her, she was almost regretting not going to the hospital. At least when she’d allowed Angel to feed from her, she’d woken up with enough pain medication flowing through her to keep her numb to the actual pain. Of course she’d been much closer to death at the time, and that was a feeling she wasn’t looking to relive anytime soon.
Turning toward the soft-spoken voice, her eyes fluttered open, and Buffy had to smile at the worried look on Spike’s face.
“How are you?” he asked nervously.
“I’ll be fine,” she murmured, her voice tinged with pain as she rolled toward him, seeking comfort. She frowned when something felt different. Looking around, Buffy realized that Spike must have moved her to the bed at some point. The soft mattress and silky sheets caressed her body, doing their part to soothe the aching in her sore muscles.
“You shouldn’t have done that, pet,” Spike whispered, tracing his fingertips along her cheek.
Breathing a sigh of relief at the comforting feeling of being able to hear him and feel him, Buffy snuggled closer to his body, tucking her head under his chin and trembling when his hands traveled lower, slipping beneath her shirt and stroking the skin he came in contact with. “I had to do it,” she murmured. “It was my fault.”
“It wasn’t,” Spike insisted, pulling back to look at her. “Your ex boy wonder is the only one to blame.”
“But if it wasn’t for me, he never would have shown up wanting revenge,” she said softly, leaning back to study him for a moment. There was no swelling in his face and some of the bruises had already faded. The cuts were closing, making it look as if Spike had been in a fair fight and he was simply healing from a few injuries. Her memory blocked out the way he looked when she first showed up and the thought of what could have happened if she hadn’t been there. Her Slayer’s blood was doing what it was supposed to do, and that’s what she needed to focus on.
Seeing tears shimmering in her eyes, Spike tilted his head to look at her with a worried expression. “What is it?” he asked in a whisper, causing her eyes to travel to his again.
“What if I hadn’t been here?” she said in a choked voice. “What if I hadn’t felt that something was wrong? The sun would have risen and you…”
“You felt something?”
Buffy nodded, sniffling slightly as he studied her. “I can’t explain it. I just got this confusing feeling, and then I realized that you were in trouble and I got here as fast as I could.”
Looking up at him to gauge his reaction, Buffy was surprised at the confusion written all over his face.
“What are you thinking?” she asked, watching as he turned to look at her, his brow furrowed.
“It’s not important,” he replied, shaking his head. “I was just trying to figure out how we’re feeling each other.”
“And that’s not important?” she asked, a pout forming on her lips.
“It’s important, luv,” he whispered with a smile. “Just confusing.”
“Yeah,” she agreed in a soft voice, seeing Spike’s expression change once again. “I’m not a mind reader, Spike. Tell me what’s going on in that head of yours.”
“It’s just…if I didn’t know better, I’d say we were mated.”
Buffy stayed quiet, avoiding his gaze as she picked at the invisible lint on the sheet. Spike studied her for a moment before drawing her attention back to him. “I’m not a mind reader either,” he said with a playful smile that Buffy didn’t return.
“If we were mated…that’s like a form of marriage?”
“Yes, luv, but we’re not.”
The disappointed look on her features didn’t go unnoticed by him, but he chose not to say anything about it.
“Why don’t you talk to your Watcher and see if he can find out anything,” he suggested, pulling her closer to him.
“Yeah,” she murmured, looking up at him with wide eyes that were more expressive than he was used to seeing.
Slowly lowering his lips to hers, Spike gently kissed her, eliciting a moan when he tried to pull away. Buffy eagerly sought out the comfort the kiss was providing and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her as his tongue slipped past her lips to brush against hers.
Pulling away breathlessly after a moment, she saw Spike looking at her with lust-filled eyes. The startling navy shade almost made her jump with the intensity of his gaze. “I love you,” he whispered, pressing another kiss to her lips before breaking away all too soon.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” she murmured, tracing her hand along his cheekbone. “I mean…I know what you want me to say, but…”
“I’m not trying to pressure you. I just thought you might need to hear it again.”
Buffy smiled, looking down shyly before meeting his gaze again. “I can’t say it yet,” she whispered, noticing the brief flash of disappointment on his face before he masked it carefully. “But I know that I can’t be without you.”
A brilliant smile lit up Spike’s face, and Buffy realized that she rarely saw a genuine smile from him.
“I like that,” she murmured, laying her head on his chest in exhaustion.
“What’s that, pet?” Spike asked, his lips brushing along the top of her head, letting his hands trail up and down her arms in a soothing motion.
“When you smile,” she whispered, closing her eyes and yawning. “I don’t think I’ve seen it since we were engaged.”
Spike chuckled, tightening his hold on her, unable to believe that she was really lying in his arms of her own free will.
“Get some rest,” he said softly.
“I can’t,” she mumbled sleepily. “My mom is probably worried about me.”
“You need rest, Goldilocks,” he said, playing with the long strands of hair. “Sleep for an hour and I’ll wake you up, alright?”
Not strong enough to argue, Buffy merely nodded, breathing a sigh of relief as she held onto Spike. Her eyes briefly opened when she felt a low rumbling run through her before smiling when she realized he was purring. Closing her eyes again, Buffy soon drifted to sleep, comforted by the calm vibration running through her.
* * * * *
“Mom?” Buffy called, walking into the house a few hours later.
“Buffy,” Joyce said with a sigh of relief, walking down the stairs. “I’ve been worried sick. Is Spike okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Buffy apologized, giving her mother a hug. “Spike’s okay…now.”
“Now? What happened?” Joyce asked in concern as they walked into the living room, sitting down on the couch.
“Riley,” Buffy said softly. “Riley beat him up and…I hate to think this, but it looked like he left him for the sunrise.”
Joyce gasped, her eyes widening at the implications. “Buffy, are you sure?”
“I’m not sure of anything anymore,” Buffy said, her voice strained with exhaustion as she broke eye contact to run her hands through her hair. “What?” she asked, looking at her mother in confusion when she felt Joyce’s eyes on her.
“Were you attacked?”
“No. Why do you…”
Her hand unconsciously drifted to her neck as she looked down at the floor.
“So you saw,” she said sheepishly, biting her bottom lip and raising her eyes to her mother’s.
“He had to have blood,” Buffy reasoned.
“And I’m assuming this took place in his crypt.”
“Yeah,” Buffy replied skeptically, her eyes narrowing slightly as she wondered what Joyce had up her sleeve.
“And he doesn’t have blood in his refrigerator?” she asked, fighting the smirk that was threatening to play on her lips.
“I take it you don’t mind that a vampire fed on your daughter,” Buffy said, leaning against the cushions of the couch.
“I’m assuming it was…consensual.”
Buffy blushed at her mother’s choice of words. “I thought he was going to die, Mom.”
“I can understand that,” Joyce said with a nod. “You obviously have some feelings for him and you wanted to take care of him. It’s perfectly understandable. But you are okay?” she asked, letting the concerned mother out.
“I’m fine,” Buffy said, a soft smile on her lips. “A little weak, but Spike let me rest at the crypt.”
“I might just have to get Spike a cell phone,” Joyce said with a smile.
Buffy laughed, shaking her head in disbelief. “Amazing. I ask for one for years and then just because I lose my hearing, you’re willing to get a vampire a phone.”
“Well, you can’t very well use it, and I’d like to know you’re safe. Spike’s been around for over one hundred years, so I’m assuming that he would know how to use one.”
Rolling her eyes at her mother, Buffy stood up. “I’m going to get some rest. There’s a Scooby meeting tonight and I feel like I’m…well…quite literally drained.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Joyce asked, studying her daughter’s face and noticing that it was more pale than usual.
“I’ll be fine,” Buffy insisted. “Wake me up in a few hours?”
* * * * *
Walking through the cemetery just after sunset, Buffy hesitantly knocked on the crypt door and pushed it open. Spike stood up from his chair and seemed more than a little surprised to see her there. “Something wrong, pet?” he asked, hurrying over to her.
“No,” Buffy replied, shaking her head. “I just…well, there’s a Scooby meeting tonight and I thought…never mind.”
“Buffy,” Spike said with a smile, grabbing her arm before she could leave. “You want me to go?”
“I just…I would feel better if you went with me.”
Realizing a moment too late that she’d said the wrong thing, Buffy opened her mouth to take back the statement as Spike’s eyes hardened.
“Don’t need you to protect me, Slayer,” he said in a low voice.
“I-I know,” she said, wishing she could rephrase but knowing that Spike wouldn’t forget that easily. With a heavy sigh, Buffy realized that it was probably just better to give up on it. “Never mind,” she murmured, pulling her arm out of his grasp and turning for the door.
Hearing his voice, she closed her eyes, trying to ward off the feelings. It was the only sound she could hear, so of course she responded to it. Turning to face him before walking through the door, Buffy stared at him for a moment. “What?” she finally asked in exasperation.
Not saying a word, Spike closed the distance between them before pulling Buffy flush against him and crushing his lips to hers. Eagerly kissing him back for a moment, she soon found herself getting lost in the sensations.
Reluctantly pulling away and feeling a profound sense of loss at the lack of contact, Buffy offered him a tentative smile. “I better go,” she said, breathing heavily from the simple exertion of the kiss.
Not letting her go, Spike looked into her eyes, studying her for a long moment until Buffy began to fidget beneath his gaze.
“Can I go now?”
“Do you really want me to come with you?”
“I did,” she admitted. “But since you obviously don’t want to go, I’m going to be late if I don’t-“
His lips once again found hers, and Buffy got lost in the feel of him. His tongue gently brushed against hers as her hands made their way into his hair. Pulling back once more, Buffy felt lightheaded, gasping for air.
“I missed you today,” he whispered, his breath so close to her that it was sending chills racing through her body.
“I wasn’t gone very long,” she murmured, watching her hands reach up to play along the strong muscles of his chest.
“Too long,” he replied, staring into her eyes for a moment before grabbing his duster. “What are we waiting for, pet? We’re going to be late.”
Buffy blinked at the sudden, abrupt change of topic. “You’re going?” she asked, tilting her head to study him.
“Well, yeah,” he said with a grin. “I need my girl to keep me safe, now don’t I?”
The smug look on his face caused Buffy to narrow her eyes at him before disappearing through the door.
“Wait up, Goldilocks,” he called, chasing after her. “You didn’t think I would actually pass up spending time with you, did you?” he asked, smiling when she turned to look at him.
“Well…when you put it that way, it’s hard to stay frustrated with you.”
“All part of my master plan,” Spike replied with a raised eyebrow.
Buffy rolled her eyes as they continued toward the Magic Box. Spike could feel the tension rolling off of her in waves and longed to put an end to it.
“Look, pet…I know you’re worried about your mates finding out about…whatever this is between us- I’ll keep it quiet.”
“That’s not what I was worried about,” she admitted softly.
Shaking her head, Buffy took a deep breath, her eyes nervously darting around the area before coming to a decision. Taking a step closer to Spike as they walked, Buffy avoided his eyes as she casually reached out for his hand, intertwining their fingers together in a tender gesture.
Looking down at their joined hands, Spike felt his heart swell. He didn’t think it was possible to love this woman more than he already did, but the simple gesture of taking his hand was not lost on him. She wasn’t the Slayer right now. She was simply a girl who was nervous around someone she liked, and Spike wasn’t about to ridicule or tease her about the thoughtful gesture.
Bringing her hand up to his lips, she visibly relaxed when he tenderly kissed the back of it before continuing toward the shop. After a few minutes, Buffy glanced at Spike out of the corner of her eye, smiling when she saw him looking back at her.
“Have I ever told you thank you?” she asked, turning toward him.
“Can’t rightly recall, pet.”
“Well, if I haven’t…thank you.”
Applying a little bit of pressure to her hand in a gentle squeeze, Spike gave her a soft smile. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”