A HUGE thank you to Selene for this amazingly beautiful banner!!! *Squee* I love it!!

Thank you, as always, to my wonderful beta AmyB

At the first touch of soft, cool lips against hers, all the pain that she had carried around since her return seeped away; his arms wrapping around her, pulling her close against him, made her feel safe, loved, secure for the first time since she had been dragged back to this world. Her arms reached up, circling his neck as she deepened the kiss, her tongue snaking out to dance slowly with his as she melted trustingly against him.

Her lungs ached and, sensing her need, he broke the kiss, allowing her to drag desperate lungsful of air as he peppered her face with soft whispers of kisses, murmuring quiet words of praise and devotion all the while. She whimpered softly, aching once more with loss, and her fingers tangled in the soft white curls, dragging his lips back to hers, acting on her desperate need for the sweet oblivion of his kisses.
Eventually he broke from her again; pulling back, he gently cupped her face, his thumb brushing tenderly against the soft golden skin of her cheek as he stared deeply into her lust-glazed eyes.
“Buffy.” He spoke her name quietly, his voice barely more than a whisper, as if he were afraid that to speak too loudly would break whatever spell had prompted the woman of his dreams to flee her friends and seek comfort in his arms. The gentle reverence of his tone, the warmth and devotion clearly evident in his voice, drew her back, cutting through the miasma of lust and blind need as her eyes focused once more on his.
“Not that I’m complainin’ any, love, but how ‘bout we get you home; then maybe you an’ I can have ourselves a bit of a talk, yeah?” He smiled gently, leaning in to stroke her cheek and brush a soft kiss against her lips.
Buffy stared in bemusement at the vampire before asking quietly, “you don’t want me?” Her voice was hesitant, filled with self-doubt.  She’d been so certain that he had; wasn’t that what he’d sung about? And then with the kissing and the… her eyes drifted slowly downwards, widening slightly when they encountered the very obvious bulge that had only moments before been pressed urgently against her stomach.
“Don’t want…?” Spike barked incredulously. “Ah, love, I want you more than you could know.” He smiled shyly, his eyes dropping to survey the ground and his hands burying themselves in his pockets as he continued softly, “just don’t want you to regret anything come morning, is all.” With a deep sigh, he forced himself to look her in the eye once more. “Don’t think I could live with that.”
“Oh.” She smiled gently in return, her heart melting at the obvious love and devotion shining in the infinite blue depths as she lost herself in his eyes.  She stepped forward, closing the distance between them; threading her hands through his arms and around his back, placing a soft kiss on his chest, she snuggled against him, allowing her eyes to drift closed. “That’s ok then,” she mumbled into the soft fabric of his black tee.
The house was dark when they arrived, the others obviously having been further delayed. Probably still dancing a bleedin’ chorus line,­ he thought with a smirk.
“C’mon, pet. Let’s get you inside.”
He opened the door and, after reaching around to flick on the light, waited for her to precede him into the house. He had escorted her almost zombie-like form home from the alley; they hadn’t spoken a word on the walk home, the Slayer’s eyes remaining fixed on the ground the entire time. Her only response as she walked listlessly beside him had been to turn when he gently steered her around corners or across roads; her kiss still burning against his lips and the sweet taste of her on his tongue were his only proof that he hadn’t temporarily lost the bloody plot and simply imagined it all.
He waited for her to say something, to order him out of her house or maybe invite him to sit. To tell him that she was tired and needed to sleep. Anything. Instead she stood silently, her eyes fixed unseeing on a point halfway up the wall.
After a few agonising moments of waiting for some sign of life, Spike stepped forward, gently grasping her arms and turning her to face him; placing two fingers under her chin, he lifted until she was looking at him. Haunted green eyes, indecision and pain warring for pride of place in their depths, met his; there was none of the fire and the spark he had always loved to be found in her lost gaze. “Slayer?” he murmured, pausing for a moment before adding softly, “Buffy?” He watched as her eyes flickered, focusing for a moment on his face and then losing focus once more to become lost and distant.
Desperate to bring her back from wherever she’d gone, yet mindful of her fragility, he cupped her face tenderly, his fingers gently combing into the long golden locks as his thumb brushed a soothing rhythm against her cheek. His heart leapt with the force of his relief when she blinked slowly and tilted her head, nuzzling her cheek into his hand and placing a soft, lingering kiss against his palm.
“I’m tired, Spike. I don’t think I have ever been so tired.” Lifting her face to once more look him in the eye, she continued wearily, “How can I be so tired?” She smiled briefly, the corners of her mouth twisting into a sad, cynical mockery of happiness. “After all, I’ve been sleeping for months, right?”
Spike stepped back, stuffing his hands roughly into his pockets to hide the fists clenching reflexively as he swallowed back a bitter retort; he knew full well that, no matter how justified, any derogatory remarks toward her friends would not be welcomed. He restrained himself instead to a quick snort of laughter and a brief less-than-enthusiastic smile in response.
“Why don’t you head up and get some sleep then, Slayer? I’ll stay down here an’ wait to see that the Nibblet gets home safe before I head off.”
Buffy stared silently at the floor for several minutes, and Spike was beginning to wonder if she had heard him or if her thoughts were once more in a place too distant for him to follow.
“Would you stay?” Her voice was quiet, tiny and lost, and it wrenched again at his unbeating heart that his strong, proud Slayer was so broken, her inner strength and fierce, indomitable spirit seemingly lost when she crawled battered and bleeding from her grave.
“Yeah, love. Just said I would. I’ll make sure Dawn’s safe ‘n sound before I head home. ‘s ok, you just get some rest.”
“No.” Buffy ceased her contemplation of the floor, her eyes seeking and holding his, burning into them with an intensity he hadn’t seen since her return.  “I meant, with me. Will you stay with me?”
Spike froze, held captive by her words as he warred briefly with his emotions. He saw the hurt begin to creep once more into her eyes, her face closing off as he hesitated, and he mentally kicked himself for the git he was. “You sure ‘bout that, kitten? Not sure it’s such a good idea.” She stiffened fractionally at his rejection, and he rushed to quell any fears caused by his question, “Not that I don’t bloody want to, mind. It’s just… I want what’s best for you, Buffy. Isn’t about me, much as I’d like it to be.” He smiled tenderly at her, reaching out and then stopping with his hand hovering uncertainly for a moment; allowing himself to take the chance, he closed the last few inches and stroked her face gently as he stepped closer.
“I love you, Buffy. You know that. That hasn’t changed, and isn’t bloody likely to either. But I have learned a thing or two in the last year, the most important of which is that if we are to have any sort of chance, love, any chance at something real, and lasting, then you have to want it too. And I’m not talkin’ about a quick roll in the hay here, pet. I’m talking about us together as a couple; ‘m not willing to settle for less, and I don’t think you would be either, not really—it’s not who you are.” He brushed a soft kiss against her lips, all the while aching to deepen it, to taste her fully. “I just want you to be sure. Don’t want to risk losing what we could have by rushing into something you’re not ready for.”
Reaching up, Buffy placed her hand over his, leaning her cheek into his hand for a moment before entwining her fingers with his. “Just… just stay and hold me. Is that ok?” she asked, squeezing his fingers gently and silently willing him to agree.
At Spike’s mute nod Buffy turned, her fingers still entwined with his, and led him up the stairs, her heart lighter than it had been in the long weeks since her unprecedented return.


A loud high-pitched squeal pulled her grudgingly from her dreams; the pillow beneath her face groaned loudly, and her eyes flew open in surprised confusion.
“What the bleedin’ hell?” Spike shot upright, the arm already banded around Buffy tightening automatically, holding her close to his side as his fangs slid to the fore, amber eyes rapidly seeking out whatever threat was causing Dawn’s screams.
“Oh my god, ohmygod, ohmygod!” Dawn’s squealing continued, and it was a moment before Spike realised that the horrendous noise was not in response to some form of danger. In fact, if the teen’s hand clapping and jigging were any indication, it was founded more in excitement than in terror.
“Nibblet. Dawn!” he growled loudly, his vampiric features retreating to be replaced by a far more intimidating murderous scowl on his handsome human face. “Stop that bloody racket, will you?”
Buffy groaned and buried her face against his neck as she complained. “Oh, god. What time is it? And what are you doing in my room anyway?”
Spike stiffened, Dawn and her noise instantly forgotten in light of Buffy’s words and less-than-chipper tone. The automated response from the teen, however, implied that a long-established sibling tradition was unfolding before him.
“Geesh, get a grip why don’t you? Like your room is anything special anyway. And I just came to make sure you were okay. It’s late morning, which you’d know if it wasn’t so dark in here,” Dawn grumbled before remembering the reason for her earlier excitement. “Except then Spike would be all kinda dusty, wouldn’t he? And can I say, oh my god!” Her voice rose once more to an ear-splitting squeal.
“Think you already did. Now knock it off before you burst my bloody eardrums!”
“Grumpy much?” Dawn rolled her eyes dramatically, hands firmly planted on her hips and the beginning of a pout forming on her face.
“Dawn. Please.” Buffy rolled her head, resting it on Spike’s collarbone so that she was facing her sister.  “Vampire, remember?” Pressing a kiss lightly against Spike’s chest, she continued, “your squealing makes me want to curl up and hide, but Spike has super-hearing.” A sudden, teasing smile stole across her face. “Like a dog. Oh! Maybe we could get one of those whistles—you know, the ones that are so high-pitched only dogs can hear them? That could be fun.”
“Oh, and maybe a collar, too! One of the ones with those big studs on them, you know, like they put on Rottweilers,” Dawn contributed, trying not to laugh at the horrified indignation on the vampire’s face.

A low growl sounded deep in Spike’s chest, and he shrugged the covers off. “Right, I’ll just leave you two bints to your giggling.” He grabbed his boots from where they rested next to the bed and made short work of putting them on. “Think I’ll go see what’s on telly.”
Buffy scooted quickly across the bed, wrapping her arms around him and resting her cheek against his back. “C’mon, Spike. You know we were just teasing.” She shot Dawn a quick warning glance when she saw her sister move to speak, and for once the teen had the grace to heed it.
“I’ll just… be downstairs putting some coffee on.” Dawn turned to leave the room, only to pause in the doorway, smiling happily as she turned briefly to face the couple on the bed. “And you guys, just so you know, I am so happy!” With that parting shot, she all but skipped out the door and down the stairs.

“Spike?” Buffy murmured as she kissed his back, snuggling her cheek into the soft black material of his shirt and stroking his chest gently. Some of the stiffness left him as he slowly relaxed under her ministrations, and she ventured further. “You do know we were only teasing you, right? I mean…”
With a deep sigh, Spike turned in the slayer’s embrace. “Yeah, love, I do. I get that now. It’s just…” He sought out her eyes, smiling despite himself when he encountered them, alive and glowing for the first time since her return, and he decided instantly that a little light-hearted banter at his expense really wasn’t too high a price to pay for removing the desolation that had looked out at him for the last several weeks. “It just cuts a little close to the bone, is all.” He brushed a soft caress across her cheek before lightly kissing her forehead. “Just hate being useless. Being the ‘neutered pet vampire’,” he mumbled.
“You are so not useless!” Buffy interrupted. “Spike, in case you’ve forgotten, you saved my life yesterday. Not to mention everything you did while I was…” She swallowed hard, determined to get past the grief and the bitterness that had consumed her since her return. “While I was dead. You looked after everyone; Dawn told me what you did. How you stayed and helped, even though… even though there was nothing in it for you. You just did it. And despite what the others might think, I doubt they would all have survived the summer without you.”
Sliding around his body, she ducked under his arm and climbed into his lap. “And as for the neutered, can I just say that I so hope you meant that in the whole ‘not biting people’ way and not in any other way?” She snuggled in against his chest, sighing happily when his arms tightened around her, one tangling gently into her hair, holding her close against him.
“You sure this is what you’re wanting, Slayer?”
“Mmm hmm,” she purred contentedly, her eyes drifting closed for a moment, shutting out everything except the feeling of his hand running soothingly through her hair, the strong chest beneath her cheek and the overwhelming sensation of ‘rightness’ that came from being in his arms. She had spent the night happily curled around him, his arms holding her close, anchoring her to this world with his love, his strength, and the strange serenity that somehow only his presence seemed to provide. “Want you,” she murmured sleepily, “want us.”  They sat in silence for some time, enjoying the simple peace of each other’s company; Buffy was the first to speak and break the spell. “Spike?” she asked as she raised her head, leaning back slightly to look at him.
“Yeah, love?”
“I’m sorry,” she offered, thoughts of her most recent treatment of him still fresh in her mind.
Spike frowned, clearly confused as to where the conversation was coming from. “What for, kitten?”
“For the way I’ve treated you since I came back; mostly sorry for yesterday.” Her voice was quiet at first, swallowed up by the shame she now felt at her treatment of him, but it steadily grew stronger and more confident. “And… well, before that, too. Last year, and pretty much ever since you started helping us, I guess. I’ve never thanked you—and I’ve pretty much been a first-class bitch. I don’t know why you put up with me.”
“Shh, s’ok, love. ‘s all over. Wasn’t exactly always a prince m’self, was I? Water under the bridge, yeah?” He leaned down and kissed her lightly for a moment before drawing back with a pained groan as her tongue traced tentatively across his bottom lip, requesting admittance. “Buffy, love, you’re killing me. C’mon, kitten, the bit’s waitin’ downstairs for us, an’ if I know Dawn at all, she won’t be waiting much longer before she comes barging back in here demanding to know what’s taking so long.” His words combined with the pained longing in his eyes to take the sting out of his rejection, and Buffy had no choice but to agree that he was probably right. Just as she was climbing reluctantly from his lap, an arm snaked out to wrap once more around her and his deep, rich voice sounded next to her ear, sending thrills of longing coursing through her. “I’ll be taking a raincheck on that though, Slayer. Don’t think I won’t.”
Pulling quickly out of his embrace, she bounced to her feet and spun to face him. “Oh, believe me… I’m counting on it, Vampire,” she smirked, allowing her eyes to drift appraisingly down his body, lingering for a moment on the straining denim covering his crotch. “With interest, too.”

They made their way down the stairs in time to see the front door swing open to reveal three sombre faces, Xander entering first, followed closely by the two witches.
“I know, Will, but we’re not just talking a few months downtime in LA, we’re talking Heaven. You know, the whole…”
“Buffy! You’re up. We were just… we had to go and… The Magic Shop, we promised Anya...” Willow babbled, her hands wringing nervously as she looked frantically around her for help. “And Xander, Xander was there, and he came back with us. We thought that… we thought maybe we could, you know, talk to you. About…”
“Will, enough. Let’s just drop it for now, ok?  I’m hungry.” Turning to look at the man beside her she smiled warmly. “Come on, Spike, let’s go see what disaster Dawn has made for breakfast.”
“Hey, I heard that,” an outraged squeak sounded from the kitchen. Spike chuckled at both Buffy’s grin and the unrelenting torrent of complaints wafting out of the kitchen about ungrateful, inconsiderate people.
The Scoobies followed the pair into the kitchen, arriving in time to see Spike drop a kiss to the top of Dawn’s head, accompanied by a mumbled, “Mornin’ Nibblet.”
Grabbing two mugs, Spike poured coffee and handed one to Buffy, sneering at the contents of the frying pan that Dawn was stirring haphazardly. “What is that mess?” he asked and then, deciding it didn’t really matter as he wasn’t going to be eating it anyway, he added, “You’re gonna poison yourself ‘f you eat that.”
“Like you’d know. It’s perfectly,” Dawn tasted a spoonful in demonstration, her face scrunching comically, “horrible! Urgh, that is so gross. Quick, give me coffee or juice, anything.” Her hands flapped frantically as she tried to fan the taste from her abused tastebuds. She quickly snatched up the coffee Spike handed to her, swishing it around in her mouth like mouthwash to remove the taste. “Ok, that was so unbelievably bad,” she announced once she had recovered.
Dawn looked from her sister, who was busily loading pop-tarts into the toaster, to the vampire leaning nonchalantly against the counter sipping his coffee. She studiously avoided looking at the three newcomers, not entirely happy with them in the wake of Buffy’s revelation and her own near-descent into Sweet-ville because of Xander’s recklessness. “Ok, you guys, come on, give.”
Spike glanced nervously at Buffy, wondering how well she was going to take her sister’s broaching of the subject in front of her mates.
“There’s nothing much to tell, Dawnie. Nothing you haven’t already worked out by barging into my bedroom without even knocking, that is!” Buffy reprimanded, moving to take Spike’s hand in hers as she sought his eyes, capturing them and allowing herself to bask momentarily in the love and adoration therein. Turning back to her sister, she continued quietly, “Spike and I are… well, Spike and I.”
The silence that followed her statement was deafening, a moment of complete stillness before hell itself broke loose.
Dawn’s excited squealing returned, accompanied this time by shocked gasps and loud denials.
Buffy leaned back against Spike’s chest, contentment washing over her as she was enfolded in his arms; closing her eyes, she allowed herself a brief moment of peace and tranquillity amidst the cacophony that raged around them, steeling herself for the coming confrontation. Sighing resignedly, she opened her eyes, as prepared as she could be for dealing with the aftermath of her pronouncement.
“You,” Xander spat, turning an accusing stare on his oldest friend, “you did this. You messed up the spell and you… broke her. Or... or it is some sort of after-effect from being pulled out of Heaven…”
“No, Xander. You’re wrong.” Buffy moved swiftly across the room to cut him off as Willow noticeably blanched, the stricken redhead backing into her girlfriend’s embrace. “What I feel for Spike started last year; in fact, it started way before I jumped. I just… there was so much going on and…” She turned her eyes on the happily bemused vampire, smiling at the wonder written so clearly on his beautiful face. “I was too afraid… of what you guys would think,” she looked around the room, “of why I was feeling this way.” She paused, raising her eyes once more to Spike’s bright blue gaze. “Mostly, I was afraid of falling in love with another vampire, afraid that one day I might have to kill the man I love again because some all-mighty power decided in their infinite wisdom to make me the Chosen One.”
Spike moved quickly, gathering her in his arms and peppering her hair with kisses. “Buffy, love, I would never do that to you, kitten. Would never do anything that would make you have to…”
“I know. I know that now, Spike.” Buffy reached up, cupping his cheek gently before continuing, “I know that you would never hurt me, or Dawn, like that. That you would sooner dust yourself than hurt us. It only took me dying, and coming back, and nearly dying again for me to figure that out.” She shrugged, a smirk almost worthy of her vampire love forming as she continued blithely, “no biggie.”
“Buffy, you can’t… I mean. He’s a killer. He…”
“And you’re not?” Buffy turned angrily on her friend, green eyes flashing furiously.
“Me? What? No!” Xander stared incredulously. “How can you say that? I…”
“How can I say that? Were you even there yesterday? You summoned that demon.”
“That was just supposed to be a bit of fun. I just wanted to find out…”
“People died, Xander. Tell their families it was just a bit of fun. I nearly died, and if it wasn’t for Spike…”
The soft growl from the vampire drew their attention, and they watched with trepidation as his eyes rapidly flickered between amber and blue while he sought to regain control. Buffy placed a hand on his arm, rubbing soothing circles with her thumb. “I’m ok, Spike. Thanks to you, I’m ok.”
“Buff…” Xander tried again.
“You know what? Enough! I don’t answer to you, Xander. Or you, Willow,” she continued as the other girl opened her mouth to speak. “I don’t tell you guys who you can and can’t date. My life. My business. So just deal.”  She looked around fiercely at the shocked faces of her friends, silently daring them to say another word.
“N-n…nobody would do that, sweetie,” Tara assured her. “If Spike makes you happy, then we’re happy for you. Right?” She waited for her girlfriend’s concurrence, only to be disappointed by the redhead’s words.
“We only want what’s best for you, Buffy,” Willow explained, clearly trying to reason with her friend.
“And you get to decide what’s best for me, right?”
“No... Buffy, I...” Willow’s face fell as she realised that Buffy was right—she was trying to do exactly what her friend was alleging. With that realisation came the recognition that, in many ways, making decisions for Buffy had become a habit they had all fallen into. Ever since the ‘Angel debacle,’ they had begun to treat the warrior of their generation like a child who couldn't be trusted to make her own choices and forge her own path, and for what reason? A single impulsive, if somewhat uninformed, decision, made with the heart of a teenage girl rather than the mind of a hardened protector.
“You’re right,” Willow acquiesced, “and Tara’s right, too. If being with Spike makes you happy, then I’m all onboard the ‘yay Spike’ train.” Her face hardened as she turned her eyes on the vampire in question. “But if you do anything to hurt her—anything at all—I will turn you into a toad, with warts and... and Frenchmen with cutlery chasing you and… and don’t think I won’t, Mister!”
Spike held his hands up in the universal gesture of surrender, fighting hard to control the laughter that was threatening to break free. “Don’ worry Red, ’m not doubting you for one second, pet.” The merriment in his eyes melted away, his face softening as he turned his adoring gaze once more on the woman he loved. “You’ve got nothing to worry ‘bout, though. I’d never do anything to hurt her. Sooner cut my own heart out.”  Tears prickled as Buffy reached up to claim his lips, the world disappearing as they lost themselves in the sweet, tender embrace.
Xander opened his mouth, eager to continue his protests, only to be hauled bodily from the room by three determined women.
“Xander, don’t. She’s happy, can’t you see that?” Willow hissed at the struggling boy as they continued to drag him away from the oblivious couple in the kitchen. “I mean, look at her—well not right now, ‘cause, kinda busy—but you know what I mean. She hasn’t been happy, not once since we brought her back, and now—majorly happy. So the way I see it, this thing with Spike can only be of the good.”
Xander sagged, defeated. “But it’s Spike!”
“I know, sweetie,” Willow comforted him, “but, hey, could be worse. It could be Angel again.”

He paced anxiously about the room, waiting for Buffy to return from the bathroom and her post-patrol shower. An anxious, wary look graced his face, his body held tense in uneasy expectation as he waited for the dream to fade, for the bubble of happiness that had surrounded him all day to burst. The house was otherwise silent, all the other occupants long since asleep. The water cut off and his agitation grew; sure, she had gestured toward her bedroom, telling him to make himself at home, that she’d be out in a minute. But with each passing moment he worried more that he’d got his wires crossed, that he would shortly be facing the wrath of one mightily brassed-off slayer when she came back to her room only to find him in residence.
His mind made up, he took the only logical option—he fled, heading back down the stairs to the safety of the empty kitchen. At a loss for some other form of distraction, he set about making a cup of Joyce’s famous hot chocolate for each of them, following carefully the steps he had memorised during their countless late-night visits. A wistful smile gently curved the corners of his mouth as he allowed his thoughts to drift away from his current dilemma and towards the graceful lady who had shown him such kindness and friendship.
Buffy leaned against the doorframe, her eyes devouring him as he moved with an easy, loose-limbed grace around the kitchen. She started with his beautiful face, with its chiselled cheekbones; the soft, lush oh-so-kissable lips; those unbelievably exquisite blue eyes, framed to perfection by the long dark eyelashes that brushed softly, tantalisingly against his cheek when he blinked. Her eyes slid lower, to the firm, muscled chest and arms; the strong rippling abdominals; the slim hips; the long, lean legs. There wasn’t one fraction of this man that wasn’t perfection, and she ached to touch, taste and worship every inch of him.
“Whatcha doing?” she asked lightly, shocked at his guilty start when she spoke.
“Just thought I’d make us a nightcap, pet. ‘s your mum’s hot chocolate; thought you might fancy a cup?”
His eyes avoided hers as he answered, and she moved quickly to close the distance between them. “Uh huh. And that would be one reason why you’re hiding out down in the kitchen. What would the other one be?” She stroked his face tenderly, her heart jumping at the adoration and wonder that filled his eyes at her actions. “Spike? If you don’t want… If you want to wait, to take things slower, I guess I’d understand. I haven’t exactly been…”
“Oh, love, no. ‘s not that. Love you, kitten. Want you so bloody much it hurts. I… I guess I was jus’ worried you’d…”
“Change my mind?” Buffy asked quietly.
“Yeah” he sighed, nuzzling into the soft warm hand that rested against his cheek. “Just didn’t want to assume too much, you know—ruin things.”
A companionable cup of hot chocolate, several kisses that had grown increasingly more urgent, and a long-overdue and much-needed heart-to-heart later, they made their way, hand in hand, up the stairs.
Buffy patted his butt teasingly as she ushered him towards the bathroom. “Why don’t you go have your shower, and I’ll warm the bed up for us?” she suggested.
“I’ve got a better idea, pet. Why don’t you join me?” he smirked, snagging her towel with one finger deftly positioned in the warm valley between her breasts.
Buffy slapped at his hand, trying not to giggle and wake the other occupants of the house. “Stop that.” She tried to glare at him, but the slight quirk to the corner of her mouth and the laughter dancing happily in her eyes gave her away. Intimidation failing, she resorted to a far more ruthless method of achieving her goal. “Come on, Spike, I need to dry my hair and make myself beautiful for you,” she pouted.
“You’re always beautiful, Slayer,” Spike responded as he relinquished his hold on her towel with a regretful sigh. “’right, then, I won’t be long.” He kissed her quickly before heading up the hallway.

Buffy lay in bed, the covers pulled neatly up to her chin when Spike returned to the room still damp from the shower, his hair tousled and curly, a towel wrapped snugly around him, and her breath caught as she marvelled once more at the stunning beauty of the man before her.
“So do I get my parade?” she asked teasingly as he settled himself on the bed.
Spike frowned, confused. “Parade?”
“Yeah, you know, trumpets and marching bands.”
In an instant, the confusion melted away.  “Trombones, love,” he snorted, leaning down and claiming her mouth for a quick searing kiss. “Is that your way of tellin’ me you’ve made up your mind, pet?”
“Pretty much, yeah.” Buffy smiled at his obvious happiness; why had it taken her so long to see what was now clearly evident every time she looked at him? How had she ever thought that Spike wasn’t capable of love?
“C’mere.”  She tugged impatiently on the covers until he climbed off the bed once more in order to slide under them. “Uh uh,” she added, shaking her head and waving a finger dismissively at the towel. “You won’t be needing that.”
Allowing the towel to drop to the floor, Spike slid beneath the covers, reaching out to pull her gently against his side; he smiled appreciatively when he encountered warm, naked skin. “Mmm, very nice, love,” he purred, his hand skimming sensually along one soft, silken thigh and up over the round swell of her bum to brush teasingly up her spine, ultimately tangling in the soft, freshly-washed mane of gold. Her leg snaked across his, her foot running slowly up and down the back of his calf, gently caressing him. Her hands traced zealously across the strong lines of his back and shoulders as she pressed eagerly against his body.
Spike moaned, his already semi-hard cock surging to life as it found itself suddenly nestled in a warm bed of curls. A swell of emotion clutched at his unbeating heart. The heady scent of her arousal pervading the air; her soft, needy whimpers; her lips pressing gentle kisses to his neck and chest; her warm hands ghosting hungrily across his body; everything combined to bring about the sudden realisation that his beautiful slayer was actually in his arms, naked and wanting.
Surrendering to his heart’s desire, he claimed her mouth urgently, his tongue requesting and quickly receiving admission, his hands tightening as he clutched her desperately to him. Further deepening the kiss, he lost himself in her taste and the slow sensual slide of her tongue against his before reluctantly allowing her to break away to take great gulps of much-needed air.
Buffy pressed him back into the mattress, moving fluidly to follow and settle herself astride his thighs, her hands resting lightly on his chest. She leaned forward, running soft kisses down his neck to his chest, her tongue slipping out to lap at the drops of water still clinging to the dark, dusky nipples, caressing teasingly in circles before she took the now-puckered flesh gently between her teeth. His moans emboldened her, and she continued to explore his body, tracing every inch with hands, tongue and teeth even as his hands traced hers, his oh-so-clever fingers driving her crazy with want and need.
Her breath caught as he suddenly growled and grasped her firmly, flipping them quickly and rapidly settling himself between her thighs. With a quick twist of his hips, he buried himself deep within her, a strangled moan escaping as her heat surrounded him, her strong muscles and soft vaginal walls welcoming and then gently massaging his aching cock as her hips bucked up to meet him. After a moment he began to move, setting a slow, easy pace, angling his thrusts carefully so as to hit the spongy bundle of nerves inside her with every stroke.
He stroked her face, cupping her cheek gently.  Capturing her eyes with his own, he willed her to see how much this meant to him, for her to know beyond a doubt that he loved her, that he had changed… not because of some nasty little piece of electronic equipment in his head, not because of a soul thrust unwillingly upon him, but simply because he chose to—for her. Her gentle smile, the soft tenderness in her eyes as she reached up to run her fingers lightly across his cheek, her thumb lovingly tracing the outline of his lip; these were all the answer he required.
He kissed her gently before releasing her lips; trailing soft nips and lingering kisses along her jaw to her ear, he nuzzled urgently into the warm, fragrant skin as he murmured his love and adoration incoherently against her neck.
Buffy’s fingers tangled in the soft blonde curls, guiding him gently to her pulse. “I trust you,” she whispered. “I know you won’t hurt me.”
Her words overwhelmed him; three simple words that meant so much, in some ways meaning more even than a vow of love. She trusted him. Him—a soulless monster. Only she didn’t see him that way anymore; she finally saw beyond that, saw him. He kissed the silky, fragrant skin, breathing in the scent, the taste of her. His tongue snaked out, reverently tracing the pulsing vein hidden just below the surface. “I love you,” he breathed against her neck, his hips maintaining a deep, slow rhythm as he allowed his fangs to drop and slide gently into the soft, yielding flesh of the woman he loved; he drew deeply of the sweet, freely-given nectar, intoxicated by the taste of her and the suddenly-stronger scent of her arousal. Her hot, powerful blood assaulted his senses even as her strong, velvety inner walls fluttered and then clenched around him.
He felt his balls tighten, and then he was following her, his orgasm seizing him in an agony of bliss. Every sensation was heightened almost painfully; her potent blood burned headily as it slid across his tongue and down his throat, her breath warm against his neck as she gasped out his name, the prick of her sharp little nails digging into his flesh clutching him tighter, harder against her as she writhed in pleasure beneath him. He gave himself over to her, lost himself in the feeling of her, in the exquisite agony as he emptied his seed into her and the thrill of love coursing through him and infusing every fibre of his being.

He ran his fingers rhythmically through the long golden strands that he loved, his eyes drifting closed as he allowed her presence to wash over and engulf him. The lingering sweetness of her blood on his palate, the sunshine fragrance of her hair, the softness of the warm smooth skin as she lay draped bonelessly across him, and the scent of their lovemaking perfuming the air combined to reassure him of the reality of what had once been merely fantasy.  The sound of her heart beating a strong cadence, the steady murmur of her slow even breath as she slept peacefully in his arms, and the rich vibrant aroma of ‘slayer’ coming from the blood coursing through her veins comforted him. Spike had never before known such peace, such completion; with a contented sigh, he surrendered, allowing the gentle pull of sleep to claim him.
the end