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Pull me under, run through my veins
To a place where I feel no pain
Be the pillow for my head
Cover me when I’m in your bed.
Take me higher than I’ve ever been
Take me down and back again
Come to me be my disguise
Open your coat let me crawl inside. 
            J.Bon Jovi/R.Sambora/D.Child


He saw her; she was broken, shattered into pieces, held together with duty and obligation but with none of her fire or spark, none of the life, the spirit which had drawn him to her like a moth to a flame. She was still there, though, he knew that. Somewhere under all the pain, behind the emptiness, somewhere his girl was hiding. Somehow he had to find her.

They’d fought, what was new about that? They'd slashed at each other with their words, pummelled each other with their fists. Then there was the sex; that was all it was, as much as he liked to tell himself otherwise—that they were making love—he knew better. It was a set pattern of events, they would fight, they would fuck, they would fight again and then she would leave.

He couldn’t do this any longer; he knew it was killing them both. It was time to break the pattern.
Moving carefully so as not to startle her, he walked to where she was dressing hurriedly, and stood in front of her, not too close, not invading her space, not threatening. Softly, gently he spoke to her, “'s not how I wanted it to be, love. Not like this. Want to make it all better for you, if you’ll let me.  Buffy, love, let me help you. Please! Let me take the pain away,” his loving blue eyes locked on hers and he thought for a second that he saw something; a brief flicker, a flash of life.
A shudder ran through her body as she tried in vain to hold everything back. One huge sob shook her tiny frame, and then another. Before she could stop it; before she could lock it down and seal it up, a huge wave of anguish and grief came pouring out of her. Strong arms folded gently around her, soft words of comfort and love floated through the air as whispers of kisses brushed against her hair. He held her, rocked her, murmured gentle words into her hair for what seemed, to her, hours. All he could do was be there for her while she cried out all the hurt inside—everything she had locked away in the darkest recesses of her heart, everything that she had refused to feel since she had been dragged back to this world. Everything that was too hard, too much to deal with, because she'd been afraid that if she let herself feel it, let herself go there, then there would be no coming back.

Slowly her sobs lessened as the great ball of grief that had lodged in her chest progressively shrank, before finally dissipating altogether.
Gradually awareness of her situation stole through the haze of tears and Buffy realised that her face was buried against Spike’s chest.  She registered the tenderness in his gentle soothing hands as he stroked her back and hair. Allowed herself to float in the peaceful warm cadence of his voice as he whispered soft, comforting words; words that repeated over and over—the words themselves not as important as the comfort supplied by the rhythm of his rich, loving voice. The exhausted Slayer drew a deep breath in an attempt to quiet the raking sobs that still shuddered occasionally through her.  She looked up and was confronted by the raw emotion reflected clearly and openly on the vampire’s face; love, patience and devotion shone in the clear blue depths as his eyes held hers momentarily captive. He softly kissed her forehead and then laid his cheek gently against her hair.
“Why?” she pleaded, too quietly to be heard, unless the one doing the hearing was a vampire.
“Why, what, love?” He continued to stroke her back softly nuzzling gently into her hair; enjoying the tender moment that he was terrified wouldn't last.

There was silence for a while and then a soft, hesitant, “Why are you being so kind to me? The way I have treated you...” another shudder ran through her at the memory of her recent actions. Her eyes brimmed once more, a single tear breaking free to slowly track unheeded down her face. “How can you not hate me?”

“Couldn’t hate you, Buffy.” Once again he captured her eyes with his; they were swollen, red and bruised from so much crying but to him they had never looked so beautiful. She was there. He could see his girl, his Buffy, his Slayer, in those eyes. There was pain there still, he could see that, but the emptiness, the deadness was gone. “I love you pet. 's all I know how to do,” he told her with such honesty that her breath caught in her throat and tears formed afresh.

He can’t, she thought, her mind scrambling to deny what her heart knew to be true. Giles, the Council, Angel they had all taught her, told her repeatedly that vampires can’t feel, can’t love. What they'd taught her was wrong. Or a lie. She knew that now; his eyes had taught her that lesson and she knew beyond doubt that they spoke the truth.

“Can I stay Spike?” she asked quietly. “Can you be with me, just hold me?”

A soft moan escaped him and she felt his breath catch. It's funny how Spike always seemed to forget that he didn’t need to breathe.

In answer to her softly posed question he picked her up and carrying her carefully to the bed he lay her down gently. He climbed in next to her and wrapped his arms around her as she snuggled against him, barely allowing himself to believe that this was anything more than a dream.

“Thank you, Spike.”

“What ever for, love?” he marvelled.

“For loving me,” she whispered against his chest before slipping softly into a peaceful, dreamless sleep for the first time since she had been dragged back into this world. 

the end