Friday, 19 February 2016

The truth hurts

A little fanfic I wrote for Buffy. Hope you enjoy :) x-posted to AO3

She dived, unhesitating, through the shadow casters' portal and found herself back in the desert. Unsurprised, she followed her instincts until she found the trio of men. Already somewhat lacking in fondness for them, when she awoke with a headache, chained to the floor, she began to hate them and was not particularly open to their proposal as a result. Unfortunately the chains were deeply set and strong, giving them several minutes to convince her to listen. It worked. Specifically the line: "The First is coming and you are not prepared. We can help you if you choose." 
Still tugging on the chains, Buffy was now inclined to pay some attention.  
"There are three paths out of here. The first path is to escape the chains and walk out;" 
"That's sounding pretty damn appealing to me!" she snapped. 
The speaker continued unperturbed, "The second is to absorb the demon and all its power;" 
"Why would anyone choose that?" 
"and the third is to face the demon and defeat it." 
Buffy was startled and paid him some real attention. "Why would a Slayer have the option to run, if the demon can be defeated?" 
One of the three men struck the ground with a staff and a black mist arose, forming a trail that appeared to be seeking something.  
"The First is the root from which all evil stems. Betrayal, deceit, pride and greed are the gateways through which it moves into the human heart and builds its army." The mist thickened as it sniffed around the cave and neared her. "By accepting this demon you will gain power over these emotions in others. By defeating it you will destroy them in yourself. If you can escape it, you will return home with a deeper understanding of what you face." 
Buffy stared straight at the mist. "Bring it on, beastie." 
It swirled, gathered and charged straight towards her. As it neared, she gripped her chains firmly and perfectly timed her jumping kick to smash into and, as it turned out, harmlessly through the place she thought its face must be. The mist swirled around her before plunging straight into her chest and she felt the pain, a searing torment in her soul as it was contaminated by the demon. 
The demon looked into her heart and pulled at her strongest emotions. Suddenly Spike and Angel were stood before her. They were disoriented for a second, but then recognised the danger she was in and both launched themselves towards her. They were caught by the mist – visibly insubstantial, but to them impassable. Enchained, Buffy struggled and fought ineffectually, trying to physically pull away from her spiritual pain. She was already sweating profusely and as she tried to fight it off she groaned, giving the two vampires a clear impression that she was being tortured. 
The three men had moved and now stood in a formation which she hazily noticed seemed to form a triangular pyramid binding her and the vampires inside with the demon and keeping them safe outside it. Annoyed at these early Watchers who displayed all of the worst traits of the Council, she felt contempt for their fear, a fear which was reflected in the horror she felt as this nightmare unfolded. The demon wiggled sneakily further inside her but she was adapting to the pain and didn’t buckle this time. Stood in her chains, accepting that she couldn’t physically fight it, she wondered what she could do. Her Slayer training and instincts came to the fore, analysing everything she could see and feel and her own fear dissipated in the urgent need to do her job. 
She felt the demon’s disappointment, but it was so fleeting it may as well not have existed. It turned its attention to the two vampires. Choosing Spike first, it flung up a copy of him immediately in front of Buffy. The real Spike objected, but Buffy was unable to see him. Her Spike looked her in the eyes and told her he loved her. She accepted it, deep in her heart. She knew it was true. Spike's soul was unwavering in his commitment to her.  
With barely a flicker, suddenly she was facing Spike from a year before. He'd just asked her if she wanted to be on a date with him. She rejected him and his supposed feelings for her then and did so again. This wasn't love. She could feel a fierce independence building up inside her, rejecting the demon and she triumphantly concluded her thought - monsters can't love. 
Angel appeared. Her emotions moved so fast she was no longer capable of rational thought and she simply felt that she loved him and knew his love for her would always be true. He became Angelus and she knew he didn't love her. It hurt, but she knew the truth. Angelus would always be a monster in her lover's body. Spike returned. He loved her. She began to feel confused. 
“What is the point of this?” Her frustrated question echoed around the inside of the pyramid. 
A voice vibrated the air around her: "The demon feeds off the evil within you - lies, deceit and betrayal will strengthen it. You cannot hide. You can only face it with the truth, or escape." 
Buffy believed him, feeling the same certainty she did when she saw Angel and the voice continued; "The demon will find its path into your soul through lies. Each truth sets a barrier in place whether it is yours or someone else's. If the demon embeds itself within her, the Slayer has the power to leash it. If you defeat it, you will earn a new immunity to the forces of evil. You can still escape at this point, the demon will not follow." 
Buffy desperately hauled at her chains, suddenly terrified and desperate to escape, but not sure why. Reality blurred for a second and four men stood before her. Two Spikes, Angel and Angelus. She rejected Angelus instinctively, turning towards Angel and ignoring both Spikes. There was a question in the air, an unspoken feeling of testing her. She focused on the one thing she had to cling to with certainty. "Angel," she said, gazing into his face, taking refuge in the warmth of his smile. "Angel, I love you."  
Angelus stepped towards her with a snarl on his face, looming over Angel's shoulder. She recoiled, yanking on the chains as she did so. Both Spikes had faded and now Angel disappeared leaving her alone with Angelus. His taunting voice filled her, mocking both her misplaced love and the weakness of the human soul that shared his face. 
Back in the real world a demon emerged as the portal closed. After a brief tussle it easily escaped the group who frantically discussed ways to get Buffy back. Realising they needed the demon, Spike declared his intention of bringing it back and got as far as turning towards the door before he froze. It lasted only a few seconds but when he returned he roared to Willow; "Open the bloody portal! Now!"  
"I can't! I don’t know how! We don’t know enough about it...” 
"Buffy is chained up in there, facing off against some bloody powerful demon who wants to steal her body. I am going in there and I am going to get her out!" The room stood aghast before Xander reminded Spike; 
"Yeah? Seconds ago you were leaving here to catch the demon we needed to make the exchange. What happened to that idea?" 
"Buffy dies in there, we all die out here. You keep telling me I'm not wanted here: you go fetch the big ugly. Besides," he sniffed slightly, "if it's an exchange of a demon for something better, you might get lucky with what comes out when I go in." 
Robin sneered, "If it’s too much for you, I'll get the..." Spike froze again as some part of him was pulled back into the cave. In LA, Angel's soul returned to his body and his first words were "She's trapped with Angelus." Lunging for a phone he frantically dialled until Andrew answered. His message convinced the group that Spike had spoken the truth and they had to get the portal open immediately. Robin departed to retrieve the demon to make the exchange and Willow collapsed shaking on the floor. 
Buffy's words earlier about none of them really contributing began to silently echo in the room and this combined with the statue of an angry Spike taking up the space was driving tension to a peak. Xander snapped first and punched Spike as hard as he could. There was no response from the vampire, but the rest of the group stared at him in shocked bewilderment. “Just making sure he’s not faking.” Xander explained. The rest of the group continued staring. “What!?! Oh, come on, we’ve all wanted to turn Spike into a punching bag for years.” 
“He has a point.” All eyes turned to Anya, startled. 
“I’m gratified…” began Xander, only to be interrupted. “Not you. We need to retrieve Buffy and Spike is a demon we could possibly use as a transfer. And sure, Willow might try to kill us, but at least we'll have Buffy back to stop her.” 
Willow jumped up and punched the air in emphasis; “Enough talking! Especially about how useless I am.” 
“You’re not useless Willow. We believe in you.” Kennedy's voice was oddly gentle compared to the usual tones she employed to "encourage" people. 
“Yeah,” Xander’s voice seemed unnaturally loud, “you were doing magic for ages before it went wrong. Remember teleporting Glory? No sweat, and no bad Willow.” 
“I’ll help with the research,” Dawn volunteered, and ran off to the stack of books, impatient to start the process rather than sit talking about it. As she ducked around Spike she glanced up at him briefly and asked: “But what about him?” 
Regarding him, Xander suggested: “We could turn him into a lawn ornament? Of course, the sun's still out so there wouldn’t be time for photos…” 
“Maybe we’d know what Buffy was fighting if we could figure out how he was being held.” Anya spoke with complete disregard for Xander’s words, which he acknowledged with a shrug. “It seems like Angel and Spike saw the same thing, so they were probably there. I’ll talk to Angel. Unless he’s frozen up again too.” 
Andrew followed her out of the room, while Xander and Dawn turned towards the books. In privacy Kennedy took Willow’s hand and the two of them sat in silence until Willow shook herself, determined to face up to her challenge. 
In the cave Buffy was angry. The demon had latched onto her through the intensity of her emotions for both Spike and Angel and it was niggling away at those darker parts of her that she had tried to put behind when she ended things with Spike. It taunted her with Angel and what she had lost there and brought up memories of the many and varied parts of her life that she wanted to keep shrouded in darkness. 
At first she refused to look, trying to place obstacles between herself and the thoughts the demon provoked, until the man’s voice spoke to her again: “Fear, deceit and betrayal are the pathways the demon will use to take possession of your soul.” The reminder was timely and terrifying, but the effect of the words was tangible to Buffy as the truth hurt the demon and gave her hope. She could do this. All she needed to do was counter the lies the demon told her with truth. 
She steeled herself and opened her eyes to what the demon showed. 
She watched two sets of memories unfolding side by side. On the one hand was the perfect love she shared with Angel and on the other the violent passion she shared with Spike. The associated feelings pounded through her and she was furious that the magic she had with Angel was being tainted by her sordid behaviour with Spike. As she tried to separate the two, she fought the demon, dreading what was coming in both sets of memories. 
They happened at the same time. The demon produced the moment she was betrayed by both her lovers at the same time and the pain she felt as it surged within her couldn’t stop her fear of seeing it happen. She lived through it as she had before and began shaking violently under the torrent of pain and despair. 
Spike and Angel were once again held hostage by the demon and were unable to help her, but she caught a glimpse – just a brief glimpse – of Spike as he struggled to get near her. It was enough to focus her and she tried to find the real Angel. 
Under the onslaught of the demon she was bowed, trembling and barely able to find her feet, but when she focussed on Angel, she clung to the truth of their love. She held herself still under the savage attack of the demon as it tore into her and focussed everything she had into her conviction that she and Angel were everything. Her antics with Spike were a distraction and his betrayal was proof that they’d never had anything real. Her relationship with Angel was real and he would never have betrayed her was it not for the demon within him. Like a mantra she spoke of their undying, perfect love, fighting to loose the demon's hold on her. 
Suddenly, Buffy felt strong. She stood upright, feeling power flowing into her as she gazed at Angel, knowing that their love was pure, eternal and true. Her breathing eased and she felt that she was past the worst. She could do this. She smiled at Angel, wanting to share her victory with him and was startled to see how distraught he looked. He stood, unmoving, as she became strong. Spike, meanwhile, was working himself into a frenzy. She could hear a steady stream of profanities emitting from him and she turned to him to reassure him. The bleached blond vampire was struggling through the mist and yelling at Angel to help her. Angel remained still and only shook his head as he whispered: “Buffy, I… I love you.” 
Delighted, she smiled at him and knew that what they had was the most wonderful, magical, special love the world had ever known. The demon that had been steadily worming its way into her gave a little wriggle of glee as it prepared to take the last strike to the center of her soul and she felt it. Some part of her rebelled – fought to survive – and in that moment Buffy’s heart broke in realisation as she saw through the lie. 
Everything froze as she saw with perfect clarity the deceit within her that powered the demon. It recoiled, as hurt as she was by her brief, devastating honesty. 
Impulsively she tried to reject it, fight against it, denying the nature of the beast that rode her and willing her own wishes to be true but she felt its power rise in her again as she did so and was forced to confront the truth. She and Angel had loved, but it had been merely a first love on her part and a relief from torment on his. Had it run its course, who knows what would have happened. 
In reality, she had experienced the worst betrayal she could imagine at the hands of her first love and everything that had followed had been fed by her need to believe it was worth it. As things got worse, her love for Angel had become cemented and her hatred for Angelus had developed. The demon lashed out to divert her with memories of sex with Spike – that first time after a brutal fight, how she had betrayed herself by dancing in the darkness. Briefly she tried to excuse it, but her falsehoods fell unformed. In this fight lies weren't her weapons to wield, so she took up the truth. She had been alone in the dark for too long and she’d needed someone like Spike to stand beside her. It wasn't shameful; it was human. While he was safe, she was never tempted to do more than exchange a few kisses but once he was a danger to her, she couldn’t resist that urge to be vulnerable, to feel in danger - the adrenalin surge and will to survive that erupted every time she felt herself to be at risk in his arms was addictive. 
She felt it spasm and retreat marginally before re-issuing its attack. Spike was behind her, touching her, and his mouth was on her neck, yet she felt no fear. The demon prompted that this was the soulless Spike and she felt with certainty: He would not hurt her. Spike, unlike Angel, could overcome the demon that drove him when he loved. Angel was led by the beast whenever it surfaced. Even knowing she was hurting didn’t give him the strength to overcome his monsters. Truth after shattering truth drove through her and she saw herself with horror. 
She hadn’t cared for Spike – she had truly been addicted, as Willow was, to the feelings that came with her actions. After a short while though, she had begun to feel real emotions. She almost liked him and one day she trusted him. She didn’t realise it until Riley told her he was the Doctor and she felt betrayed. She’d had to cut it off. When he’d attacked her – the memory was crystal clear and she flinched involuntarily – she’d felt shock, horror and deep, searing betrayal. Some part of her had believed in his love, his avowal that he wouldn’t hurt her, and that moment had deeply damaged her. She slumped in her chains, sweat coursing down her body as the fight ebbed out of her. 
Before the demon could even start testing avenues by which it could find its way back to her, she began volunteering her own truths and shutting down its options. 
Spike’s love, initially, was a demon’s love. Not impossible. Not for him. It was impossible for Angelus who was too selfish and motivated by his own pleasure to give anyone a piece of himself. The nature of Angel’s feelings for her were suddenly cast into doubt in the stark light of realisation; he was happy when they’d had sex, not when they’d admitted their love. What had turned him? Was it the depth of his love for her, or was he gratified by the pleasure he’d found with her, the first woman he'd had in decades and the only woman he'd ever wanted to love? She saw Angel before her and saw him slipping away. She tried to explore her new feelings further but couldn’t get a firm grip, so gave up the notion and simply acknowledged that their love had been real, but not the grandiose, perfect thing she’d so desperately wanted it to be. 
Spike flowed into her consciousness to replace everything else and she felt the urge to avoid this part, but the demon lurked, waiting for an opportunity. She refused to give in to it. 
She watched him, carefully. The demon portrayed him with that wicked grin, inviting her to be bad, teasing and enticing her to play on the dark side. Her memory played different versions: a gentle hand on her shoulder when she cried, a bruised and bloody protector, a demon who would put his own happiness on the line to regain his soul and a man who would put his life on the line to protect her. They were equally real; Spike, she knew, had his flaws but underlying all his interactions with her since Dawn came into her life was a single driver. “He loves me.” The words were spoken out loud and with a certainty that she couldn’t disguise. 
The demon frantically produced memory after memory of searing shame, hurt, despair, disgust and self-loathing that she blamed Spike for and she shook her head. “No,” she shouted, finding the strength to find a fighting stance for a bare second before falling into mumbling. Once again she hung limply from the chains, no longer physically able to hold herself up under the weight of her struggle, “no, Angelus wanted me to feel that. Spike... Spike tried to give me what he thought I wanted. I could stop him any time I wanted... I wanted to feel that way.  wouldn't let myself be happy with him... it betrayed how special Angel and I were.”
Spike faded out of the cave and Buffy felt the demon lashing around, shrinking, frantically seeking a way to overpower her again but becoming increasingly ineffectual. Each time it threw a lie or unwelcome truth at her she was able to bat it away or accept it easily. The most harrowing fear had been faced, the dearest falsehood exposed and the deepest, festering betrayal had been lanced.
Buffy was completely alone now, but she felt a new strength – not the power the demon had offered, but a new feeling of certainty. The demon changed tack; mocking her, it desperately revealed the plans of the First to her and asked if she would be the one to defeat it. “Maybe not,” Buffy answered, hanging in her chains. Her head lifted and her eyes glared out into the open cave, resolute and more than a little angry, “But I’m going to try!”
Spike's body relaxed. They'd put him in the corner, facing the wall and out of the way, so his expression was unnoticed by the others. He stared vacantly for a second before understanding dawned in his eyes and pure joy began to take over. It lasted less than a second before it was replaced by concern and hesitancy. Just because she'd admitted it there didn't mean she'd carry it through here. And just because she'd admitted as much as she had didn't mean she wanted a relationship to form between them. 
Behind him the portal opened and he span, alert, to watch the transfer. Robin launched the demon into it and moments later Buffy appeared looking shell-shocked. Knowing what she had been through Spike moved forward through no conscious will of his own to offer support, then hesitated before crossing the edge of the circle. 
Buffy's eyes were blank as she stared at her gathered friends and family. She looked around them all then returned her gaze to Spike. He didn't say anything, just kept his eyes on her in watchful understanding. She stepped out of the circle, walking straight into him, wrapping her arms around his ribs as a ripple of shock passed around the room. He hesitantly raised his own arms, one to lay around her waist, the other hand cupping the back of her head. He rested his own head against hers with his eyes closed feeling relief that she was OK, a flicker of joy that she had turned to him and the overwhelming love that drove him to give her anything she needed without expectation. They stood in a silent tableau for a few moments before he, unable to contain himself any longer, murmured questioningly: "Love?" 
She raised her head and looked into his eyes with genuine remorse. "I'm so sorry Spike." 
He stroked her hair back, accepting her words as rejection, and although the sadness was visible in his eyes he simply shook his head and said, huskily, "Nothing to be sorry for, love. You already made me happier than I deserve and I won't push it." 
She shook her head in turn; "No!" 
He dropped his hands and stepped back from her, speaking gently. "It's OK, love. I won't... I know." 
"Shut. Up! Spike." Her words were snappy and direct, an air of irritation overtaking her remorse. "I am sorry. I'm sorry for what I did to you. I'm sorry for hurting you and blaming you. I'm sorry for being so angry at you for overcoming your demon when Angel couldn't, even for me. I'm sorry that I was so absorbed in my own little world that I refused to acknowledge your sincerity. I kept writing it off - I kept writing *you* off - because if you were right, if you were able to love me as a demon and a man, it meant that what I had with Angel was less important than I thought it was." She paused for breath. He didn't dare speak, but his expression was wondering. For a second it looked like she would say something more, but she held back and looked around the group. 
"I'm sorry to the rest of you, too, for the things I said this morning. I was scared because even though it's been tough so far it's only going to get tougher. But now... I know what we're up against now and we need to throw everything we have at it, including the things we're afraid of. I don't have time for fear any more. 
"Willow, I need you to work with Giles and the coven. I need to know you can control your magics and support us. All those people who've been telling me for years they want to patrol? Well, now they get to. We need to train everyone available to us." She looked up at Spike and said: "You've been having trouble because you aren't a killer, William. I need to teach you how to be a Slayer." 
His eyelids flickered as she said his name but otherwise he didn't respond. She reached out, took his hand and reassured him "You can do this. We can do this." Turning to face the group as a whole, she informed the room; "We can do this together." 
Xander moved first, reassuring Buffy that they would do everything they could before taking Willow and her quietly spoken fears from the room. The others gradually dissipated, some with questions, some without until only Buffy and Spike remained, still hand in hand. He lifted their joined hands and looked at them significantly, before casting her a questioning glance. 
"Spike, I..." She looked around, as if searching, before looking back at him, "Can we talk somewhere private?" 
"The basement should be free." She nodded and led him there. There was an awkward moment as they navigated the first few steps down but she never once asked him to let her go and he wasn't about to volunteer to. 
Stood in the middle of the basement she still couldn't find the words she sought. After a few false starts he interrupted her, stroking her hair back with his free hand: "No pressure, love. I've got hope now. I can wait forever." 
"I don't want you to wait any more." Her whispered words broke mid way as she choked on the emotions waging war inside her.  
"What do you want?" 
Suddenly it was so easy for her to reach up and kiss him. The merest, gentlest whisper of a kiss completely different to their previous lustful embraces. His eyes closed involuntarily, but he made no move towards her. When she dropped away from him, his eyes opened slowly, remaining heavy lidded and she held eye contact before moving in for another kiss. Her free hand crept up around his neck as she deepened the kiss and leaned into him. His spare hand held her at the waist, splayed against the small of her back, the cold burned into her consciousness. 
She pressed herself fully against him, refamiliarising herself with the feel of him. She was unsurprised to feel something else - the certainty that she had nothing to fear. The last time she had been so close to him it had gone horribly wrong, but now she knew for certain he would only follow her lead. The pain and guilt he had felt still burned in him and she didn't want that any more than she had been tempted to move further than a few kisses when they had both believed him to be leashed by his chip. She was only interested in an equal, not a supplicant.  
She pulled back and caught his face between her hands. "Spike, it's OK. We've both made mistakes. We've both hurt each other. I'm here now and I want to be here, with you. I trust you. Spike, I.. I ..." 
Still the words wouldn't come but he didn't need them. "I can wait," he repeated. "Take your time."  
But her words had made a difference, because now he reached out to her and took control of their kiss. Spike curled his fingers through Buffy’s hair, relishing the silken feel of its tangle between his fingers as their lips met, parted and the kiss deepened. He felt a burning rush of happiness as he embraced the feeling of his soul being redeemed by this woman and her forgiveness of the act he still reflected on as the only truly wicked thing he’d ever done. His fingers threaded through her hair where it fell from the band she'd tied it with, combing their way to her shoulders, tracing their way down her back until finally reaching her waist. 
He wanted to feel her, all of her, so he pulled her until she was flush against him and she shuffled to meet him. His legs were splayed in his usual arrogant stance so hers tucked nicely between his for a few minutes as they learned each other’s flavour once again. She began with her arms entwined around his neck, but soon she became conscious of all that she wanted to feel again and her hands felt too empty, so she slid them down his neck to begin exploring his perfectly formed body. The muscles in his shoulders were tightly corded as he held her and she felt in his restraint the strength of his desire to crush their bodies together being tempered by his unwillingness to hurt her. 
Her hands slid down over his chest, feeling the hard tightness of his torso and with her eyes closed her memory gratified her with a stream of visuals from all those times he’d teased and taunted her about how good looking he was and how much she wanted a piece of him. Wanting the feel of his skin she tugged up the t-shirt he wore out of his pants and ran her hands around to his back, stroking, caressing, massaging, anything, just to touch him and feel the way he responded to her. 
He followed her lead, consumed by his urge to be closer to her. He began to run his hands around the waistband of her skirt, before stopping and letting her go. He continued kissing her but she was startled by the sudden distance between them and broke off to protest. He paused, hands in midair to grin that wicked grin at her, “Don’t worry, love. You’ve got me wherever and however you want me,” then hastily pulled his shirt off before tugging his T shirt over his head. 
Before his hands returned to her, she whipped off her own jumper and they resumed their embrace, the heat between them rising with each new level of intimacy. He ran his hands over the skin on her back, absorbing the feel of her ragged breathing, the rise and fall of her chest and the constant pulsing of her blood through every inch of her body. With his eyes closed he could feel her body being flooded with hormones driving her desire and noticed the lack of adrenalin that had been present every other time. Afraid it meant she was less excited, or in some way unwilling, he hesitated. She responded by swinging one of her legs to sling around his narrow hips and he noticed that her blood was flowing to all the right places. She was excited, but in a wholly different way. 
He moaned and answered the allure of her swollen nipples by flicking open the clasp of her bra. As she eagerly shook it off, he lifted her to wrap her legs around him fully and caught one swollen peak in his mouth. She was momentarily driven back to the very first time and a thought that they’d best not do that damage again flickered through her mind. It was soon drowned by her pleasure and her hips began to undulate against his in time with the movements of his mouth. He caught hold of her and leaned back to look her in the eye; 
“I am all in favour of that particular idea, but if you don’t slow up, little Spike isn’t going to wait for you.” 
She smiled. “I think you’d better take me to bed then, because I do NOT want to miss out.” 
Obeying immediately he carried her to the bed and laid her gently down before him. He gazed down at her in awe and she, blushing shyly, made no move to hide herself from him. He leaned over her, stroking his hand from her neck to navel and back to cup her breast. Her hands moved to the waistband of her skirt impatiently, but he prevented her. Instead, he gently tugged her arms until her hands were clasped above her head and returned to his adoration of her torso. She moaned and gasped under his tender ministrations until she trembled in his arms. He unfastened the buttons on her skirt and gently slid it and her panties down her legs simultaneously, stroking her legs the whole way down. Feeling the cool air of the basement swirling whenever he moved, Buffy shivered and closed her eyes, like him relying on her specialised senses to take their loving to a new place. 
He moved up her body, kissing her gently as he went, picking on all of her most sensitive spots – the inside of her ankle, behind her knee, her upper thigh. There he stopped and she arched her back, offering herself up to him with her eyes closed. When he didn’t take up the offer, she opened her eyes, confused. He loomed above her, looking her straight in the eyes as he ran his fingernails up her inner thigh, until he reached that point at the apex where her labia met. Her eyes dilated almost fully as she stared up at him. He stroked the seam as though it were the petals of a delicate flower and she opened to him. 
Passion between them had always been intense, but now it was personal and he relished this moment of pure openness between them. For the first time he could feel it was important to her that it was him doing this, no one else. The thought hit something inside him that he hadn’t even realised was there. Drusilla had loved him, but only through the haze of her insanity and underlying obsession with her sire; any thoughts Harmony was capable of were totally self-centered and Anya had been in love with Xander. This, now, was the first time he’d lain with a woman where he was the whole world to them, as she was to him. Overwhelmed, he stopped the movement of his fingers, rested his hand on the cluster of curls that were gradually accruing dampness and lay over her to kiss her gently. “I love you,” he murmured, only now recognising the true depth and sincerity of his own words. “I love you and I always will.”
She reached up to his face and pulled him towards her for a long, sensuous kiss. After a few moments, his fingers slid down once again to touch the hot, wet center of her being and he played gently, caressing her, mimicking the motion of their tongues with his clever fingers.
Soon she pulled away from him and groaned; “I want you, Spike! Please!”
Only too happy to oblige he leaped up, struggled out of his jeans and shoes and returned to her arms. He lay over her and, pausing only slightly to ensure he wouldn’t hurt her, entered her. The two of them lay still, adjusting as she adapted to his coldness, and he to her scalding heat. He moved over her, thrusting slowly at first, burying himself as deeply as possible within her with each stroke, listening for every caught breath, learning every beat of her heart, timing himself for the maximum impact. Her tension built, urging him faster and faster and she heated still further in his arms until she could take it no more and the two of them cried out together.
He collapsed above her. Not from exhaustion so much as shock at the intensity of the experience. The words may never come, he knew that, but he knew with absolute certainty that he was her one as much as she was his. They lay for a long time, her breathing heavily, he revelling in the beat of her heart as it slowed and entered a slumbering state. Not wanting her to be uncomfortable, he rolled them both onto their sides and watched her while she slept, cradled in his arms. 
In Los Angeles Angel had revived surrounded by his worried friends. He looked around them as Buffy had and disregarded the questions they pelted him with. For a long time he was grateful for their concern but eventually he couldn’t bear it any more, he stood and walked away in silence. Walking out into the hallway, he shut the door behind him, the gentle click resounding in absolute silence. As he walked he cursed himself. He had stood and watched as the love of his life was consumed by a demon. Worse, it had been able to consume her because of his flaws. For long minutes he was tempted by the evening sunlight slanting through a nearby window, but eventually he gave up the idea, bitterly acknowledging his own cowardice. 
He wanted to be close to her and called the house. Andrew answered and reassured him that both Buffy and Spike were fine. 
"Can I talk to her?" 
"She's a bit... busy right now. But we'll tell her you called."
Obliged to be satisfied, Angel hung up. As the sun set he stood alone and desolate, wondering just how much he had really lost.

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