Lucky Number

This story takes place during S5 after Riley has left. Many thanks to Mahaliem for her input.

From out of the darkness a voice said, “So remind me again - how did we
get into this mess?”

“Well -” said another voice, considering the question carefully.

A pause, and then in unison, the first and second voices said, “It was your fault!”


Buffy had spent the better part of an hour tracking the Forgath demon to its lair in the woods north of town. It hadn’t been easy. The beast was big but it moved stealthily and she wasn’t exactly trained in reading bent twigs or slightly crushed leaves, especially not in the dark. The full moon helped a little, but from what Giles had discovered, it was that same full moon that had triggered this demon’s feeding frenzy.

The trail of dead woodland animals was easy to spot though. Wincing as she stepped over another mangled squirrel corpse, she emerged from the trees in front of a cave mouth that yawned wide and dark. Sort of the same view the squirrels had had as their last sight on earth, she mused.

Buffy would have put killing the demon low down on the scale of priorities if it hadn’t been for the fact that its first victim was a toddler, happily playing in the park at the edge of the woods. The boy’s mother had managed to make enough noise to scare it off and save the child, but she had received a slash from four inch talons that had almost severed her arm and put her into intensive care.

Shrugging slightly to dispell her unease, Buffy gripped her axe firmly and moved across the small clearing. Peering into the dim depths of the cave and wrinkling her nose at the musty dampness, she didn’t notice the shadowy figure some yards behind her.

Once in the cave, Buffy slipped on a headlamp, cursing as the strap tangled in her hair. She needed it to see and keep her hands free for fighting but the whole spelunking look just wasn’t her.

The first cave was empty but Buffy hadn’t really expected it to be that easy. This demon liked rock around it, liked to crawl deep within the earth and sleep, after the kill lust had faded. Hopefully it would wake up to find itself dead. Buffy snickered to herself at that thought and made for the back of the cave. As she had expected, there was a tunnel leading downwards. The being eaten image just wasn’t going away, she thought dolefully.

There were no side tunnels to complicate matters and Buffy began to move faster. Her boot slid on a patch of gravel, making a skittering noise, and she froze, listening to see if she had alerted the demon. She frowned. There was no movement in front of her but she could have sworn she heard a sound from behind. A boot thumping down on rock? She listened hard but the silence was complete, almost hurting her ears with its weight.

“Getting seriously creeped out now,” she murmured to herself. Stepping carefully, she continued to follow the tunnel, moving cautiously around any blind bends. The tunnel began to open out and she found herself on the edge of a cavern. She groaned. The thin beam from her headlamp was lost in the large space but she could see a floor of boulders, uneven and impossible to navigate quickly, and several tunnels leading out of the cavern. Her task had just gone from simple to difficult. She stood still, chewing the inside of her cheek, and wondering if it wouldn’t be simpler to go back to the first cave and wait for the demon to come back out. Of course, there might be more than one exit from the cave system. And it might be a long wait. She hated waiting.

Coming to a sudden decision, she climbed up onto the boulder in front of her and made for the first tunnel to her left. Scrambling over the scattered rocks wasn’t easy and she was forced to slide the axe back into its holder on her back. It slipped around to her side and thumped her elbow with monotonous and irritating regularity and she fell into a rhythm of pushing it back after each movement. Twice she paused and spun around, a prickling down her spine warning her that she was being watched, but she couldn't see anything in the blackness. Forcing back unreasoning panic, she concentrated on keeping her footing.

It was a relief to be able to stand upright and walk, weapon in her hand again, but the tunnel petered out after a hundred feet, dead ending at a solid wall of rock. Buffy sighed, turned round and headed back to the cavern, slinging the axe on her back again. The second tunnel didn't even merit entering. It looked like a passage way from far off but when she got closer, she could see that it was no more than an alcove.

“Might have known it would be the third one,” she thought, rotating aching shoulders. As soon as she began to walk along it she knew that she'd found the trail again. The small lump of bloody fur was as good as a glowing arrow. This tunnel was narrow, the roof just a few inches above her head, sometimes coming down so low that she had to stoop. It would be a bad place to fight in.

After walking for a minute or two she finally reached the lair. The demon lay curled up in a fetid nest of rags, dried blood crusted on its tusks and talons. Buffy wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Ugly bugger, isn’t he?” commented a quiet voice at her shoulder. Buffy shrieked and whirled round, her axe slicing the air.

“Hey! Watch the coat!”

Buffy hissed with disgust as she saw who her companion was. Spike. Typical. Not content with following her and giving her the wiggins for the past hour, he was now spoiling her hunt. Huffily, she turned her back on one problem only to face a new one.

The demon had been asleep but Buffy's scream had been enough to waken the dead and it was still very much alive. And angry.

“I’ve got your back, Slayer,” said Spike sounding confident. Buffy's elbow shot back unerringly and landed in his stomach.

“Get that,” she said through gritted teeth, “and get the hell out of my way.”

In the small space the axe was less effective than she’d hoped but she managed to get in some good hits. The demon hadn’t come close to touching her and it began to get desperate. Backing off into a corner it vanished behind a slab of rock that had masked another passageway. Buffy sighed with frustration and followed it. She had to drop to all fours and crawl after only a few yards which didn’t improve her mood. The tunnel was wide enough but the roof was very low. The demon was about her size but it seemed to be much better at navigating in enclosed spaces and Buffy couldn’t help wondering what was at the end of this rabbit hole.

A trickle of earth landed on her head and she glanced up sharply. The walls of the tunnel were trembling slightly. When she’d grasped the significance of that, so was Buffy. A native Californian, all her instincts were clamouring at her to get out but she couldn’t. She heard a scrambling sound behind her and guessed that Spike had recovered enough to follow her. Great. She had frozen in place until the tremor had passed but Spike hadn’t and he soon caught up to her, on her left side.

He had managed to crawl despite his duster, she noticed and he had a grin on his face as if this was the most fun he’d had in ages. She supposed vampires didn't mind small, dark, enclosed places. Shuddering, she dragged her mind off that thought. She wasn’t a vampire and they bothered her more than she'd realised up till now.

“You okay, Slayer? Look a bit pale.”

“Do you mind? I’m tracking here!”

Spike glanced casually down the tunnel. “On your merry way then.”

Buffy hesitated and then began to crawl forward. Spike matched her wriggle for wriggle and she stopped, turning her head and giving him an exasperated look. His face was so close that she could have counted his eyelashes if she'd wanted to. She didn’t think she’d ever been this close to him, not since that spell of Willow’s had turned them into a pair of besotted, wedding-planning lovers. His eyes held hers, a look of slightly puzzled enquiry in them, and she struggled with a sudden wave of lust-inspired dizziness that made her head spin.

“I don’t need you to follow me!” she said, trying to sound decisive. “In fact, if you don’t get out of my way, I’ll let the demon have you as its last meal. Am I getting through that thick skull yet?”

It came out harsher than she’d intended and she felt a tiny pang as she saw hurt flicker in his blue eyes. It was quickly swamped by anger and he said thinly, “Fine. Be seeing you around. I’ll tell them where to look for your bones, shall I?”

With a flurry of leather and a scuff of his Docs, he managed to turn around so that he was facing back the way he’d come. In the process he brushed against her and her heart began to pound. She was wearing a thick sweater and jeans and his hand had barely trailed across her knee and breast but she had felt the touch of his fingers as clearly as if she’d been naked. Naked. With Spike touching her. These were not good thoughts to be having.

Spike flicked his coat out of the way and prepared to crawl off in a dignified snit. Suddenly he paused, his nostrils flaring. “Buffy,” he began, “do you -?”

He never finished his sentence. The demon reached safety and triggered the trap that was his last line of defence. Rock crashed down in front of them, barring the way forward. The reverberations, combined with the earlier tremor, brought the walls crashing in and Buffy and Spike were buried in rubble and earth.

The noise, the dust, the horror of being trapped - Buffy felt hysteria clawing at her gut, and knew that if she opened her mouth, it would spill out in a corrosive stream, destroying any chance she had of staying sane.

She refused to let that happen. Keeping eyes and mouth tight shut she began to count in her head, taking tiny breaths through her nose, willing the dust to settle. When she reached fifty she opened her eyes a crack. It had been too much to hope that the headlamp had survived intact and it hadn’t. She was looking at darkness. It wasn’t very interesting. Breathing shallowly through her mouth, she tasted grit in the air and felt it began to seep into her through every crevice, every pore.

Like a store keeper taking inventory, she began to assess the situation. The demon wasn’t a problem. He was the other side of the rock fall and she doubted that he would double back and grab her feet. First was pain. Did she have any? She could feel a dull throbbing ache all down her spine and there was a wetness trickling down the side of her face that had to be blood from a cut on her head. Other than that, she felt more or less in one piece.

Second had to be moving. Could she or couldn’t she? Only one way to tell. She was lying half on her stomach, half on her right side, her hands above her head. She flexed her fingers and met no resistance. Cautiously, not wanting to disturb any rubble, she tried to move. To her relief she found that although she was buried around the waist and torso her legs and arms seemed to be free, apart from a layer of small stones, easily shaken off.

Her head sank down onto her arms for a second. It was still bad. With arms free and Slayer strength to draw on, she could start to clear the debris trapping her like a cork in a bottle, but it would be awkward and arduous to say the least.

Third was Spike. Had he managed to get clear? She hoped so. No matter how angry he was, she didn’t think he would leave her here to die. If he couldn’t free her himself, he’d be on his way to get Giles right now. She didn’t think it was possible to reverse an opinion so quickly but Spike’s presence in the cave had gone from being a nuisance to a blessing in less than thirty seconds.

Clearing her throat and trying to work up enough spit to talk, she called out softly, “Spike? Are you there?”

Hope died as a weak voice replied, “Where else would I be, you daft bint?”

Spike’s stock as a blessing plummeted as her hopes of a quick rescue dissolved. Buffy’s eyes rolled automatically. He was trapped too. Wonderful. Now they could die together. But it would take him a little longer. Like years. She had maybe a few hours until her air ran out.

“You hurt?” he asked, his voice laboured. She heard the concern threaded through the question and felt a tiny bit better.

“Nothing major but I’m stuck tight around the middle. You?”

“Same. Can you feel my legs?”

“Why would I want to?”

She didn’t hear the sigh but she sensed it. “So you can clear away what’s stopping me from buggering off out of here and getting help. The walls fell in, not the ceiling. I’m guessing we’ve got space between the rocks on us and the roof because we can hear each other easily. I can even smell the blood on you. There’s no point throwing the rubble in front of me; that’s our way out. You need to put it in front of you.”

“Ah. Right. I’ll try. And can I just say that your nose needs to take a rest?” Buffy reached out sideways and her hand brushed against soft fabric instead of hard rock. Her fingers spread out, exploring gently. She stretched out as far as she could and felt the ridge where his boot began and then moved upwards, sliding her hand slowly along his calf to the inside of his knee. She paused and shifted slightly, twisting her shoulders round. Better. Her hand moved along his thigh and she heard a faint gasp.

“I don’t think there’s anything on that bit, Buffy,” Spike called out. “But by all means keep going. I think I’m cramping up. Spot of massage wouldn’t come amiss.”

Buffy grinned evilly. If she had to die, going out teasing Spike might make her last moments bearable. She began to knead his thigh, marvelling at the play of muscles through the soft, well-worn jeans and then let her fingers stray inwards. His legs were slightly apart and she relished the surprised jerk as he felt her questing touch trail up to his backside.

In the dark, nothing existed for her but what her fingers could feel and the sound of his voice, muffled slightly but still audible. She squeezed one rounded cheek gently and then sighed with pleasure as her finger slipped inside a tear and touched cool flesh.

“That tickles! Bloody hell, Slayer. Will you get your act together and - oh.” His voice trailed off and she grinned secretly into the darkness. Gripping the edge of the rent, she flexed her arm and tore it down. Sometimes those Slayer powers came in so handy. Poor Spike now had nothing over the top of his thigh and most of his backside. And, oh dear, he hadn’t put on any underwear. Tsk.

Buffy ran a finger down the cleft between those hard, yet satin smooth cheeks and let it slip gently inside. It was getting tricky now as her arm was bent backwards a little but she managed to cup his balls and the sound he made as she did was pure magic. She giggled helplessly as he began to moan and her fingers inched in deeper, searching for his cock.

On the other side of the barrier, Spike had had enough. He had sensed the flare of desire that she had felt just before the rocks came down and he was ideally positioned to confirm that she was even more worked up now. His vampire eyes had adjusted enough that he could see very dimly and her legs were moving languidly as her hand and fingers dove deeper into his jeans. She smelt scared and aroused and it was a combination that affected him like catnip on a tomcat.

Making an effort, he twisted round so that her hand had easy access to his zip. She took the hint, pulled it down and reached inside, freeing his cock, erect and tingling at her every touch. She still hadn’t wrapped her hand around it; she was stroking it with her finger tips, exploring it slowly and delicately and he bit his lip savagely, restraining the moans that he knew she was getting off on. Twisting round had another benefit - he could reach her easily. Sliding his hand between her thighs and smirking with satisfaction at her startled yelp, he gripped her lower thigh and tugged it so that she was on her side, facing him. A few stones trickled down as their positions shifted but he ignored them. With careful precision, his fingers darted out and took hold of her zipper, pulling it down smoothly.

“Spike! No! Zip that back up,” she ordered, her busy fingers pausing.

“Make me,” he challenged her, tugging at her jeans and sliding them down over her bottom in a series of sharp tugs.

It wasn’t the wisest thing he could have said to a woman with her fingers inches away from the most sensitive bits of his body. Buffy’s nails dug deep into his balls and his legs kicked frantically. The pressure eased up and he sighed with relief.

“Well?” she said. “Get me dressed!”

Spike pursed his lips. Not going to happen, pet, he thought. The Slayer had chosen to go on patrol wearing a satin thong. Spike had touched it as he pulled down her jeans so he knew it was smooth and skimpy. Making a guess from his memories of her undies drawer, he correctly went for thong rather than panties and his fingers slid between her thighs, hooked into the thin strip of material and wrenched. The material ripped apart leaving her bare to his touch. As she gasped in outrage, he cupped her hot wetness and caressed her clit with his thumb. When his hostaged cock was patted, not punished, he started to explore her more thoroughly.

They didn’t speak after that. Words would have broken the spell that held both of them as surely as the rocks that pinned them down. Under Spike’s fingers, stroking, thrusting, rubbing hard, Buffy came, her panting gasps his only reward. He paused then, wondering if she wanted him to continue, knowing that she might feel a little sensitive for a while. She solved his problem by finally wrapping her strong fingers around him, her thumb going up to smooth the liquid seeping out of the head of his cock, swirling it around in small circles. His skin felt like velvet over granite there and she realised that he was thicker and longer than Riley had been. Too bad it was impossible to measure him the best way.

As her hand slid up and down his shaft, her grip shifting as she teased him, sometimes slowing down and squeezing hard, sometimes fast but barely touching, it occurred to her that he was going to come eventually. As his hips began to jerk and his cock, already hard, went rigid, she realised that it might happen sooner than she’d planned.

It would be messy. Practicality didn’t exactly overcome her lust, it just provided a solution that worked for everyone on every level.

As Spike felt her mouth slide over him, taking in as much of his erection as she could, given the angle, he decided that the rocks had killed him and improbable though it was, he’d gone to heaven. Making an effort, he stopped himself from coming and moaned in sheer pleasure as she eased off and began to lick at him with slow laps of her warm tongue, occasionally taking him fully inside her mouth but not sucking hard. It felt so good that he wanted to share.

Leaning forward he pulled her towards him and put his mouth on her, tasting what his fingers had teased from her body, sliding his cool tongue deep inside her hot depths. Soft. The Slayer had never seemed yielding before and a wave of tenderness made him press his lips gently on the silken flesh of her inner thigh, a kiss that she felt burn her as ice burns. Mewling and whimpering didn’t come easily to her but now, in this place, it was easy to give in, surrender to the instincts that had her begging wordlessly for his mouth on her, even as she subjected him to the same loving torment.

They came together, crying out incoherently as their bodies arched in release, an explosion of passion that left them shaken and spent. Patting her leg gently, Spike eased her jeans up and felt her attempt to do the same with his ripped jeans, with less success.

As if nothing had happened since Spike asked Buffy to begin clearing away the rocks, she reached for one and sent it flying away.

An hour later, the Slayer’s hands were bleeding and sore, scraped in a dozen places, her nails broken and filled with dirt. Spike was doing what he could but most of the work had to be done by her. He was talking to her now, his soft husky voice encouraging her, a steady flow of words that kept her grounded, stopped her mind from even going near the terrifying reality that she was going to die in the dark with no enemy but the earth itself.

As she rested for a few blessed moments, Spike began to twist and flex, trying to pull himself free. Buffy still had as much debris on her as before but she had reduced the weight on him considerably. With a grunt, he heaved himself forward an inch or two and gripped a rock embedded in the floor of the tunnel. With that to pull on, he could make good use of his strength and he slowly tugged himself clear. He collapsed for a second or two, distantly aware of a stabbing pain that meant cracked ribs, but roused quickly, turning round to help Buffy. Working by touch, as even he couldn’t really see in the eternal night of the tunnel, he clambered over what was left of the debris on his side, squeezing through the narrow gap between it and the roof.

He landed next to Buffy and reached out his hand to her. She was sobbing quietly now that the end of the ordeal was approaching, the tears a sign of healing, rather than hysteria. Smoothing her hair, his fingers tangled in the straps of the headlamp and he worked it free. By some fluke, the light flickered on again and he smiled, blinking his eyes against the sudden dazzle. His smile faded as he looked at Buffy. The gash on her forehead had stopped bleeding but it was deep and her face was white with strain and fatigue. He flashed the light over the rocks that held her down, committing them to memory, and then turned off the light. Buffy moaned in protest as the darkness settled around them again but recognised the sense in saving their light source.

Spike began to work, driven both by the desire to get out of the cave and his concern for Buffy. It didn’t take him too long to free her and he pulled her into his arms, cuddling her close and kissing her dusty hair. She lay curled up in his lap for a few seconds, resting her head against the leather of his coat and then stirred, reviving slightly. Spike reluctantly loosened his hold on her, keenly aware that the intimacy they had shared was over. That thought hurt him as much as his ribs and he didn’t think the pain it caused would heal as fast. Flicking on the lamp, he began to scramble through the gap, longing to get to the cavern and stand up straight. Buffy followed him, her thoughts fixed on escape, firmly pushing back the erotic memories that lay in wait whenever her concentration lapsed.

Spike slid down the slope and looked up. “Oh, bugger,” Buffy heard him say and then she heard the roar of the demon.

“Oh, this is just too much,” she thought crossly, struggling to get through the gap and help Spike. He didn’t need it. Fuelled by the same irritation that was driving her, he was methodically bashing a rock down on the demon’s head. By the time she crawled over to him, the demon was dead but Spike’s hand continued to rise and fall.

“It’s dead,” she said gently, touching his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

He stared at her blindly and then nodded, dropping the bloodied rock. They had only crawled a few yards when a final tremor brought a chunk of the roof down on Buffy’s head, leaving her sprawled, unconscious, on the ground. Spike swore, his lips tight with anger against the fates, and began the laborious task of hauling Buffy up onto his back and shoulders and crawling to safety.

After an eternity, they reached the mouth of the cave. Spike scented the fresh air and broke into a stumbling run, Buffy’s slight body lying limp in his arms. It was still dark but he sensed that sunrise was about an hour away. Laying Buffy down on the grass for a moment, he considered his options. Leaving her and going for help would get her injuries treated faster but they might return to a corpse given the night life of Sunnydale. With a rueful twist of his lips, he bent to pick her up again. Might as well finish the job. He paused suddenly, cocking his head to listen. He could hear the sound of several people approaching, crashing through the bushes noisily, chatting away. He recognised the voices and smiled. The Watcher, the Whelp and the Witch. Perfect. Stopping only to make sure that Buffy’s jeans were zipped up, he sauntered off into the woods, away from the search team.

As he made his way back to town he heard the voices rise with excitement as they spotted Buffy’s recumbent figure.

“Buffy! Are you injured badly?” Giles asked, seeing her stir.

“My head,” she whispered muzzily. “Rock hit it. Twice. Buried in the cave. Demon’s dead though.” She raised herself up and looked around, puzzled. “Where’s - was anyone here?”

“Just you, Buffy,” said Xander. “Look, lie still. You’ve probably got concussion. We’ll take you to the hospital, get you checked out.”

Buffy lapsed back into a state of sleepy relaxation as Giles picked her up, struggling slightly. His tweed coat scratched her face as the smooth leather of Spike’s duster had not and she murmured an incoherent protest. Then a thought occurred to her, one so important that she felt compelled to share it.

“Sixty-nine,” she announced clearly.

The trio of rescuers exchanged concerned glances.

“What do you mean, Buffy?” Willow asked tentatively, feeling Buffy’s forehead to see if she had a fever.

“It’s the number of eyelashes Spike has. I counted them. Well I started to. That’s as far as I got. Maybe I’ll finish doing it later.”

More glances were exchanged and Xander spoke for all of them. “Delirious. Better hurry, Giles. I’ll take her feet.”


Buffy had been standing at the cemetery gates for five minutes, indecision and obligation combining to glue her feet to the ground. She really had to thank Spike for saving her life when they went up against the Forgath demon. He’d pulled her out of the rubble, kept her calm, killed the demon and crawled on hands and knees through the tunnels with her unconscious body on his back. That had to qualify him for some Buffy gratitude.

Of course, if he hadn’t been following her, she might have killed the demon before he brought the tunnel down on top of her. And she’d saved him as well by clearing away the rocks that had landed on his back. But it was a little unrealistic to expect an evil vampire to write a thank you note.

Sighing, Buffy faced the truth. She was too embarrassed to go to Spike’s crypt. It had been two days since the cave incident and he hadn’t been near the Magic Box or her house. He should have healed by now - she had after all - but it was possible that he had been hurt more than she realised. Her forehead creased slightly as it occurred to her that he might have been staying away to spare her feelings. Was Spike capable of that much delicacy and sensitivity?

Unbidden, a memory of his husky voice unfurled in her mind like the petals of a rose in the noonday sun. He had spent an hour reassuring and encouraging her as she lay trapped, struggling to move the rocks that pinned them down. His words had been spiced with his own, particular brand of sarcasm but that had spurred her on more than anything. And he hadn’t once mentioned what had happened before she began to move the rocks, almost as if it had been as dreamlike for him as it had for her.

Ten minutes of hesitating now - and a scream from the cemetery solved her dilemma. Rolling her eyes at the stupidity of people who lived in Sunnydale and went anywhere near a graveyard at night, no matter if it was a short cut, she began to run. “They save, what, five minutes?” she muttered as her feet pounded against the grass. “And that’s worth the risk of losing several pints of blood, your soul and oh, yes, the rest of your life?”

She hurdled a gravestone and landed on the back of a tall vampire who was menacing a pair of young lovers. Their attempt at finding a quiet place to cuddle had turned into a nightmare. They still held each other close but their eyes were squeezed tight in terror and their mouths were open in a scream.

Buffy had a stake in her hand and she aimed as she jumped, the momentum pushing the stake through the vampire’s back and dusting him before her feet smacked down on the turf. She looked at the cowering teens and smiled a little grimly. “You can open your eyes now,” she informed them. “And - word of advice? Stay out of places like this. It’s really not a romantic spot what with the corpses and the dying violently. Trust me.”

She got mumbles in return, incoherent attempts at thanking her, and then they shot off, heading for the bright lights of town, innocence shattered, the night forever rendered unfriendly. Buffy watched them go, arms folded, feeling very old.

“I think it’s romantic here,” said a voice she knew too well.

“You have different definitions of lots of words, Spike,” Buffy said, not turning around, feeling a quiver of anticipation deep and low. Her heart began to hammer and she took a calming breath, spinning on her heel to face him.

He was a few yards away, leaning casually against a crypt, hands dug deep into the pockets of his duster, the moonlight shimmering on his white-gold hair. He looked almost tranquil, his mouth not curled in a sneer, his eyes friendly, if wary.

“How do you mean?” he asked, wanting the conversation to continue. To his experienced eyes, Buffy looked ready to bolt. If she did, he would have lost his final chance to build on what had happened in the cave. With a determination that he wisely kept buried, he began the fight to keep her close.

Buffy held up her hand, ticking off words on her fingers as she prepared to elaborate. “Obsession is love, pain is pleasure, killing is fun -”

She heard the snap of his leather coat but she didn’t see him move. Suddenly he was in front of her, his eyes gleaming angrily. Her breath caught in her throat and unthinkingly her chin came forward in a gesture of defiance. This was Spike. She was the Slayer. She wasn’t backing down. Ever.

The anger left his face and he chuckled, the sound caressing and intimate. “You got two out of three right, Buffy. Want to guess which one you missed?”

She compressed her lips and gave an impatient shrug of her shoulders. “Why don’t you tell me?” she suggested.

He opened his mouth and she held up a hand, halting him. “No, wait. I see where this is going,” she said unexpectedly. “You’ll annoy me until I punch you and we’ll be back to normal. That’s not why I - that’s not what I want.”

Spike felt as if she had punched him. He was lost and bewildered. “What do you want then, love?” he said, his tone gentle, not suggestive. He seemed to be genuinely curious.

Buffy glanced around. “Can we go to your place?” she said.

Spike reached out and cautiously prodded her with one finger. “You feeling okay, Slayer? Because I have to say this mood of yours is unsettling.”

She smiled, feeling the balance of power shift towards her. “Good.”


Inside the crypt, Spike settled down on the stone slab he used for a bed sometimes and looked levelly at the adversary he had come to love and desire. Truthfully, there was no battle left to fight between them. Buffy had won the war when he fell in love with her. She didn’t know it, of course, and he was damned if he was going to tell her, but she could strip away every layer of attitude that he had built up around him with one smile. Not that he could remember being on the receiving end of many Slayer smiles.

He had stayed away from her, not out of consideration for her feelings, but because he wanted to protect the memory of them being together. It was as fragile and as beautiful as an iridescent soap bubble. If she popped it with a scornful glance, a cutting sentence, shamed him in front of the Scoobies - and she was quite capable of all of those - he had a feeling that his reaction wouldn’t be pretty. Ironic really; he was protecting his memory of Buffy from the reality of Buffy.

His head tilted and his eyes narrowed as he considered her. She was biting her lip and she looked flushed. With arousal? He picked up her scent. Hmm, yes, more than a little. But she was apprehensive too. He wondered why.

“So what did your pals think of our little adventure?” he asked suddenly. She flinched and he pursed his lips. Touched a nerve had he? “Giles going to come around and award me a medal for saving his Slayer?” he pressed. She looked miserable and he nodded with dour satisfaction. “Thought as much,” he remarked. “You didn’t bloody well tell them, did you?”

“I was unconscious!” she protested, shifting uneasily and glancing at the door.

“No, you weren’t.”

“How do you know?”

“You really think I’d haul you miles and then dump you where any passing nasty could take a bite? I was going to take you home when I heard the cavalry arrive. Like the gentleman I’m not, I decided to sod off home instead of getting earache about me standing over your limp and helpless body.” He smirked. “Or are you going to tell me Xander would’ve asked questions and then thumped me? Way my ribs were aching, I decided to pass.”

“I was going to tell them but I was, well, confused. When I remembered everything, they all assumed I was alone and well -”

Spike threw his head back and stared at the roof in disbelief. “You didn’t have to share all the details! You could’ve just told them I bumped into you in the woods and you asked me to tag along as a back up. No one would’ve raised an eyebrow at that. And I’d have got some credit for being a bloody hero for a change.”

Buffy looked abashed. “I should have done. I’m sorry.” Her voice grew stronger. “And - thank you. You saved my life. Thanks.”

Spike jumped off the slab and walked to her, his face open and defenceless. “How do you do that?” he whispered.

“Do what?” she asked, taking an involuntary step towards him.

“I’m angry with you, ready to rip into you and you just, you say that, and it’s like I’m gutted. Some weapon.” He smiled ruefully. “Something they teach you at Slayer school is it?”

Buffy grinned, a flash of humour lighting up her face. “I think it’s more a girl thing,” she confided. They shared a smile.

She thought for a second and then looked at him, mischief in her eyes. “I’ll give you a choice,” she said. “As a reward for being a hero, I’ll either tell them what you did or you can, uh, kiss me.” Her voice stumbled over the last words and she cringed at the look on his face. Disillusionment wiped out his momentary happiness that she’d both apologised and thanked him.

He turned his back on her and strode across to a bottle of vodka on a rickety table. Taking a long swallow, he looked at her with contempt. “Nice choice, Buffy. You offer to do what you should have done in the beginning and tell them. But you don’t really want to, do you? So you dangle a kiss as well, hoping that my ‘obsession’ makes me choose that. And, oh, look at this. Not only do you avoid an embarrassing sharing of the glory but you get what you really came for. Another taste.”

Buffy shook her head, tears stinging her eyes. “No!” she protested weakly.

Spike was relentless. “Going to tell me you haven’t thought about it?”

Buffy looked at the floor of the crypt, summoning up all her courage. Raising her eyes she stared at Spike, her flush fading. Three steps brought her within arm’s reach and she stood before him. “I’ve thought about it,” she admitted. “And I’ve thought about what it means, too. If I’d been trapped like that with Xander, it wouldn’t have happened.” Spike made a heartfelt sound of relieved and disgusted assent that almost made her giggle, despite her misery. “I thought I was going to die, I was terrified by the idea of being trapped in the dark and I used you to calm down because I knew you would -”

“Rise to the occasion?” he asked with a wicked smile.

She came perilously close to pouting. “Yes.”

Spike nodded thoughtfully. “No strings, no guilt, no worries? Charming.” He studied her. “Want another chance?” he asked quietly.

Her eyes flew to his face, startled. He sighed. “Another chance to ‘reward’ me,” he clarified. Suspicion lurked in her eyes but contrition made her nod. Spike smiled slowly and drew her over to the long sofa he’d managed to haul from the dump with a little help from Clem. Sitting down so close to her that his knees touched hers, he faced her and closed his eyes slowly.

“Count them,” he said simply. “Get it right and you can do as you like. Kiss and tell, stay quiet, anything.”

Buffy gasped as she realised that he’d heard her words to Giles but Spike’s eyes remained firmly shut. “And if I get it wrong?” she asked, her voice hesitant.

“I’ll think of something,” he promised darkly.

Buffy shivered and then rallied. “How do you know the number anyway?” she asked.

Spike opened one eye a crack. “I’ve been in this body for nearly two hundred years. I know all of it I can reach. Trust me. Eyelashes is the least of it.”

Buffy swallowed and said uncertainly, “W-well, fine. I’ll count. Hold still.”

For six minutes Spike endured darkness as Buffy tallied his lashes, one by one. They clustered so thickly that she sometimes reached out a fingertip to brush them apart, placing one hand on his thigh to brace herself. Her warm breath was like the sun on his face and her scent encircled him like a soft ocean breeze, invigorating and evocative. Finally she leaned back and said decisively, “Six hundred and three.”

With his eyes still shut he drawled. “Wrong. Six hundred and four.”

Buffy tapped him on the arm and he lazily lifted his eyelids. Silently, her face expressionless, she held out her hand. Lying in the palm was one eyelash, curved like a bow, dark against her skin.

“It fell out and I caught it,” she said simply.

Spike nodded slowly, never taking his eyes off hers. “Then the choice is yours.”

Buffy regarded him steadily. “I’ll tell them.”

Spike looked at her and smiled. “Can I watch?”

“Don’t push it.”

Buffy hesitated and then turned to walk away. Spike let her take three steps before saying her name. She turned to look at him, raising a cool eyebrow. Spike looked at the pulse hammering in her neck and smiled.

“You cheated,” he said and crooked his finger. “Come here, Slayer.”

Buffy looked indignant. “Did not!”

Spike stared at her and she cracked. “It was one of mine,” she admitted.

“I know. It had mascara all over it. Did you hear me? Come. Here.”

Once again Buffy felt frozen in place. Spike swore under his breath and got up from the sofa. Buffy found herself grabbed by the arms and kissed, an impatient, bruising kiss that simmered down into a leisurely exploration of her lips and throat. Spike raised his head, eyes focused and intent, hazy with passion. “That’s for getting it wrong but still saying you’d tell,” he drawled.

Buffy brushed a kiss over his full lower lip and her hand over the outline of his erection. “And for cheating?” she asked, her voice teasing and ripe.

Spike lifted up her hand and kissed each finger slowly, using his teeth and tongue to devastating effect. “For that? You get eight of the best.”

“Isn’t it usually six?” Buffy asked, wondering if he were serious.

Spike arched an eyebrow. “I know it was dark, Buffy, but really!”

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