A Certain Level of Trust

by Theory Queen

AUTHORS NOTE: Thanks to Ahn for the idea of Spike's mother nicknaming him "Liam," -- mainly because I just can't imagine anyone calling him William! If you haven't read Ahn's stories yet, go immediately to the slayer's fanfic archive at www.slayerfanfic.com and read them.

Part 1

Spike sat in a chair near Buffy’s bed, watching her sleep.  The  moonlight shone in the window, lighting her golden hair that was fanned out across the pillow.  He had come to her room every night for the past week, ever since he got back to Sunnydale.  At first, he’d intended to take advantage of his invitation into her house and just kill her, but then he began thinking, and that was always a bad sign.  He doubted that, even with her being out of practice and asleep, that he could take her on successfully, so instead, he studied her.

She was having a dream, he could tell.  She tossed and turned repeatedly, and fragments of sentences spoken in her sleep reached his ears.  “Where did you come from?”  she asked.  Spike looked up sharply - she might have been talking to him!  “Angel,” she said in a pleading tone.  Spike relaxed.  She was dreaming about Angel.

She was dreaming about Angel.  She walked through the graveyard in the early afternoon, and saw him coming towards her.  “Where did you come from?” she asked him.

“Hell.  Don’t you remember?  You sent me there,” he replied, walking on past her.

“Angel!” she called after him, pleading.  He stopped, but didn’t turn around.  She went to him and put her arms around him from behind, feeling his sun-warmed shoulder against her cheek.  Wait. Sun-warmed?  She turned him around and looked at his eyes.  “Are you a vampire?”

“What do you think?” he asked, looking up at the sun and shielding his eyes as she’d seen him do before, in another dream.  “What vampire can possibly walk in sunlight?”

“I can, for one,” came a different voice.  The two of them looked to see who had spoken.  Spike was approaching them, the sunlight so bright on his platinum hair that it almost hurt to look at him.  He continued, “Yeah, it’s ‘cause we’re a whole new breed of vampire.  Isn’t that right, Angelus?”  He looked directly into Buffy’s eyes.  “Vampires who love the slayer.”

“Spike?”  Buffy asked, curiously unafraid of him.

“Spike?” Buffy asked.  Her visitor’s eyebrows shot up, and he stood up warily.

“’Ello, pet,” he said.  He was halfway to the window to make his escape when she spoke again.

“What do you mean?” Buffy asked.

He was puzzled for a second, not having spoken, before he realized she was still dreaming.  She was dreaming about him, now!  He felt a cocky grin cross his face at the thought of this beautiful young woman having dreams about him.  Not that he hadn’t had the odd dream that featured her, either!  He just doubted hers were on the same, uh, level as his had been.

He was still grinning a moment later, when her eyes opened.  Quick as a cat, she was out of bed and had him pinned against the wall of her bedroom, with a stake at his chest and one arm across his throat. “Now, what do you mean, vampires who love the slayer?” she asked conversationally, as if they were just having a casual chat.

Spike raised one scarred eyebrow.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, slayer,” he managed to say.  What on earth had she been dreaming about?  He swallowed painfully as her forearm pressed into his throat.  “If you’ll let me go, I’ll just be on my way,” he smiled hopefully at her.

Strangely, though, he didn’t see any malevolence in her eyes - just confusion.  “This is real,” she said, trying to figure it out.  Spike nodded as well as he could with her arm against his throat, but he could
feel her attention wandering from him.  With any luck, he might get out of this after all.  Buffy continued, “and your walking in sunlight - that was a dream.”  He nodded again, and shifted his weight, preparing to make his break.  Buffy looked him in the eye.  “So, is your being in love with me real, or a dream, Spike?” she asked.

Spike’s eyes widened.  “No offense, slayer, but it sure wasn’t real life!”

Buffy fixed him with a glare.  “Then why were you in my room tonight?  And last night?  And the night before?  I can still sense vampires a little, you know, even in my sleep!”

“I’ll keep that in mind -“ Spike promised.  Quickly, he raised his arms and broke her grip.  Her stake went soaring across the room, and catching her off balance, he threw her backwards onto the bed.  Spike lightly brushed his lips against hers and finished his sentence, “ - for tomorrow night!  See you then, slayer!”  and was gone out the window before she could react.

Outside, Spike cursed himself.  Why the hell had he done that?  For that matter, why did he go to her room every night?  It wasn’t to hunt anymore; after their brief alliance, he just hadn’t had the stomach for killing her in cold blood, and - he was honest with himself - he didn’t think he could take her in a fair fight anymore.  He didn’t know where she had spent her summer, but she had come back different, with an edge.  And if she could sense his presence even in her sleep, he would have been in trouble anyway.

He lit a cigarette and started home.  He thought briefly of Dru, and hoped she was happy with the ex-psychologist vampire he had passed her off onto.  He was grateful to the guy for getting Dru out of his hair.  With her, Angel, and all his “minions” gone, he was quite alone.  And since his deal with the slayer  had hinged on Dru, he felt no qualms of conscience about going back to Sunnydale now that she was gone.

Not that he’d felt a qualm of conscience in a couple of centuries anyhow, he reminded himself, flicking his cigarette butt to the sidewalk ahead of him.  Something about the slayer just sort of made him want to be better than he really was.  It was getting annoying.

Part 2

Buffy, wide awake now, shook her head and picked up the phone.  She dialed the speed-dial number one, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was picked up after one ring.   “Giles, good, I thought you’d still be up.  I have a really whacked-out dream for you to pick apart.”

“So, you think Spike and Angel have these things in common?”  Giles asked, later, as Buffy scarfed down eggs and toast at his kitchen table.  The morning sun shone in the window, making his tea mug look as if it were filled with liquid gold.

Buffy shrugged and swallowed her bite of toast.  “How should I know?  I’m having dreams about Spike and Angel both professing love to me, then I wake up and Spike’s in my room.  It was weird.  For a while, I didn’t know if I was awake or asleep!”

“Strange,” Giles mused.  He opened a book and began flipping pages, then stopped and scanned down one page with his finger.  His attention had already caught on the new problem, and he had stopped listening to Buffy.  Then something she said piqued his interest again.

“...anyway, I guess I’ll find out tonight.”

“Hmm?  What happens tonight?”

“Duh, weren’t you listening, Giles?  I told you.  He said he’d be back tonight.”

She had his attention then.  He removed his glasses and wiped them, then put them back on. “I see.”  He said.  “Buffy, is there something you haven’t told me about Spike?  Such as why he has an invitation into your home?”  He sat down opposite her and waited, preparing for her to try to dodge the issue.

Buffy surprised him with a straight answer.  “Yes.  Spike and I teamed up to bring down Angel.  I invited him into the house so we could make some plans ahead of time.  He won’t hurt me, Giles, and I don’t think he’ll be likely to tackle my mother again after she hit him with an axe.”

“Intelligent choice,” Giles murmured, trying to picture Joyce in full battle mode.  “So, you feel as if you are perfectly safe around him?”  He probed.

Buffy looked down.  “As safe as I can feel around any vampire,” she answered stiffly.

Spike debated with himself whether to return to the slayer’s home that night.  One the one hand (he could practically feel the stake she had pressed into his chest), she was likely to be awake and waiting for him.

On the other hand... (he grinned lasciviously) she was likely to be awake, and waiting for him!  He put on his trenchcoat and started toward her house.  It was still early evening.

Her mother’s car was gone, and his grin widened.  Through the window, he could see Buffy sitting at the table, and he ostentatiously rang the doorbell.

Rupert Giles answered the door.  He looked at Spike keenly for a moment.  “Come in, Spike,” he said quietly.  Stunned, Spike started to back away, but Giles grabbed his arm and twisted it.  “I said, ‘come in!’” he said.

Spike followed him with the air of a whipped dog into the dining room where Buffy sat.  “Hi, Spike,” Buffy said.  “Have a seat.”

Meekly, Spike pulled out a chair and sat down.  “Uh, what’s going on?”  he asked, looking from one face to the other.  “What’s with the welcome party?”

“It seems you’re my one true love,” Buffy said sarcastically.

“What?”   Spike was bewildered.

“It’s true,” Giles said, sighing deeply.  “At least for the time being.  It seems that another prophesy has been uncovered, which has to do with the slayer’s return, and the return of her enemy and ally.  I’ve been working on it since before she got back, thinking that her enemy and ally were two different people.  But in light of her story about how the two of you conspired to bring down Angelus, I’ve become convinced that it is one person, and it is you.”

“This is mad,” Spike said as he rose to go.

“Sit down, Spike, we’re not finished,” Buffy said.  She had a crossbow leveled at his heart.  “If you want to live, hear Giles out.”

Spike sat back down and pretended to settle into the chair and make himself comfortable.  “Fine, but if we’re going to talk until dawn, what about some snacks?”

Buffy put the crossbow back into her bag and pulled out a bag of blood and handed it to him.  “It was supposed to be a bribe, to gain your cooperation, but I really prefer threats,” she said.

Spike gave a surprised laugh and took the blood.  He could learn to like this slayer, he thought.  They were two of a kind!  Except for being mortal enemies, they really had a lot in common.  Dismissing that line of thought as dangerous, he prepared himself to listen.

Hours later, he was convinced they were all mad.  Nevertheless, he had agreed to help them try to thwart this insane prophesy, about some dead enemy rising and destroying the slayer, and a whole lot of other mumbo-jumbo of which only that long-winded Watcher knew the details.

He reviewed the main points in his mind as he headed home, only a half-hour before dawn.  One, someone dead was going to rise and try to destroy the slayer and everyone she knew.  Which was fine with him, ordinarily, except that he happened to be someone the slayer knew!  Two, he and the slayer were going to have to work together to defeat this newcomer, and in order to do that, they had to trust each other.  He sighed.  Three, and this was the hard one, the only way they could learn to trust each other was to sleep together.

Disappointingly, it didn’t mean to have sex, just to... sleep together.  Right, like he’d be able to sleep at all with the slayer in his bed! Spike tried to think of unexciting things, but all that filled his mind were images of what her body felt like pressed against his when they had fought, and the way her hair had looked spread out on her pillow in the moonlight, and the smell of her blood when they were fighting and she was on an adrenaline high.  He shook his head.  He might have to learn to trust her, but he wasn’t sure he could trust himself around her!

Part 3

Explaining the prophesy to Spike turned out to be easier than explaining it to Xander and Willow and the other two, but Giles gave it the old college try anyway.  It didn't go well.

"What?!" cried Xander.  "What do you mean, she has to sleep with Spike?  SPIKE?  You do remember who we're talking about here, don't you?  Vampire, big pointy teeth, wrinkly forehead, drinks blood?"

"Yes, Mr. Harris, I remember," Giles sighed.  He was beginning to feel the back of his neck tense up.  "What you don't understand is that if they do not team up and learn to trust each other, everyone here who knows Buffy will be destroyed.  I told you that.  If you cannot listen to me, why be bothered coming here at all?"

"Well, Giles, you have to admit it's a little... unusual."  Willow said.

"Yeah.  I mean, what happens if she kills him?  Or if he kills her?  Do we all have to die, then?  That's not exactly fair, is it?"  Cordelia spoke her thoughts on the matter.

Oz responded, "Yeah.  That's why I live on the hellmouth.  Because unlike the rest of the world, life is fair here."

Cordelia looked at him seriously.  "You know, I've heard that, but I just don't believe it!"

"So do you think they can, um, do it?"  Willow asked Giles.

"Hey.  Nobody's doing anything with anyone around here.  Especially not with Spike," Xander ordered.

"Uh, Xander," Willow looked pointedly over Xander's shoulder.  "Hi, Buffy!" she said brightly.

"Hi, guys.  Well, it's official.  I have a date with a demon."  Buffy announced.

"Gee, Buffy, it's so brave of you to go ahead with this, after what happened with the last demon you dated, with you having to kill him and all," Cordelia gushed her admiration, until Buffy fixed her with a look.  "What?"

Giles pointedly ignored Cordelia, and spoke to Buffy.  "Well?  What happened with your meeting with him?"

Buffy told her story.  As an initial show of trust, Spike had told Buffy where he was sleeping for the day.  In response, she had gone to see him, and hadn't brought a single stake with her.

Spike's manners were still good; he stiffly invited her to come in, and stiffly, she did  so.  Spike didn't say anything, but turned his attention back to the television, and perforce, Buffy did the same.  He was watching "Rob Roy," starring Liam Neeson, and when the man's name showed up on the credits, Spike grunted.  "That's what my mum used to call me," he said.

"Rob Roy?"  Buffy asked, confused.  He rolled his eyes.

"No, Liam." he said.  "Short for William."

Buffy sat back on the couch.  "Oh, yeah, I remember.  'William the Bloody, got his nickname from torturing his victims with railroad spikes, yada, yada.'"

He looked hurt.  "Hey, a bloke has to have his fun, right?"

Buffy sighed.  "Spike, do you think I'm ever going to trust you, if you keep spouting off lines like that?  Do you really want to be destroyed by this unnamed dead guy, just because you and I have swapped punches from time to time?"

He nodded.  "You're right, slayer.  Listen, how about we make a deal?  I don't kill you, and you don't kill me.  Then, if we trust each other, we can defeat this evil-Jesus-wannabe, and then get on with our lives.  Sort of a cease-fire, for a special occasion."

Buffy picked up the VCR remote and fast-forwarded to the sword fighting scene.  "Darn, I should have done that to Angel," she muttered, watching Tim Roth's  swordfighting moves intently.  "Uh, sure, Spike. Hey, why do you think we have to sleep together?"

He grinned.  "Well, I'm not planning on that part to be a chore, slayer!"  He caught her look and stopped grinning.  Seriously, he said, "I guess it's because if we just say, 'let's not kill each other,' we
might not mean it.  We have to prove it, maybe."  Spike already had his own proof that he wanted to sleep with the slayer, but he didn't think she'd appreciate it.  He grinned again.  "So, baby, what'cha doing tonight?  Want to go to bed with me?"

"Ew!"  Buffy said.

He looked hurt.  "Why ew?  What's wrong with me?"

"Um, gee, Spike, I don't know.  The words 'evil undead' pop into mind."

He looked at her seriously.  "Luv, you know there isn't a thing I can do about that, nor would I if given the choice.  The whole reason I'm willing to work with you at all on this is that I happen to enjoy my un-life.  You have to accept that about me before we can do anything else."  Buffy hesitated, then nodded in resignation.  Spike relaxed a bit; leaning back, he gave her a smile.  "So, aside from the fact that I'm a vampire, what do you have against me?"

"You mean, what wouldn't I like about you, if you were human?" She asked.  He nodded.  She thought for a moment and said, "Your fashion sense.  I mean, it's okay to like one particular outfit, but it's also okay to give it a break and wear something else once in a while!"

"Go on.  What else?" He asked, lighting up a cigarette and taking a long pull on it.

"That's another thing.  You're always smoking those cancer sticks, and your breath smells.  When we fight in close quarters, it's all I can do not to stake you just for that!"

"Continue," he said mildly, the word lined with smoke.

Buffy grimaced and continued, "And your taste in women sucks.  I mean, it must be like being on 'Lifestyles of the Weird and Psycho.'  It can't be easy living with Drusilla.  What do you see in her, anyway?"

Spike leaned forward and put out the cigarette.  His eyes met hers.  Without expression on his face, he answered, "It wasn't.  That's why I got rid of her.  She's with some head shrinker vampire we met in Brussels a few decades ago, who fell in love with her.  And anyway, who are you to criticize my taste?  You, Miss do-the-nasty-with-a-vampire-and-make-him-lose-his-soul?  First he was a whiny moron, then, thanks to you, he was a cheating bastard.  Give me a psycho any day.  At least you knew what not to expect from Dru."

Buffy launched herself at him and tried to punch him in the face, but he blocked it and grabbed her arms.  Her emotion at the mention of Angel lessened her usually strict control, and she couldn't prevent him from pinning her down on the couch.  "Little sensitive when it comes to taking it, but you sure can dish it out, can't you, pet?" Spike said softly.

Part 5

Buffy struggled half-heartedly, then stopped.  She took several deep breaths and said, "Spike, would you please not mention Angel to me again?"  She looked up into his dark eyes and saw...sympathy?  No, that couldn't be it.  She slowly sat up, and Spike let go of her wrists and sat back, saying nothing.  Buffy's usual nervous reaction kicked in, and she started to fill the silence with whatever came into her head.  "You see, I'm still sensitive about Angel -- wouldn't you be sensitive too, if you had to kill Dru, to save the world?  And I think Willow tried the spell again, because he had his soul restored just before I had to kill him, but the portal had already opened up and it was getting bigger and I only had a minute to tell him I loved him before I had to kill him and send him to hell.  So I kissed him and told him to close his eyes and then I shoved the sword into him to close the portal and yeah, Spike, you're right, I am a little sensitive when it comes to taking it."  She had to pause for breath and closed her eyes, not wanting to see Spike's mocking expression.

Spike sat quietly for a few moments, digesting the story, and feeling his admiration for the slayer soar to new heights.  He had known she was plucky, but hadn't known the depths of her courage.  He realized that if Buffy hadn't stabbed and killed her love, the world would have ended.  He touched her shoulder and she looked up miserably.  "I suppose now's the wrong time for an apology?" He asked.  She looked puzzled.  "I mean, I went off and left you alone when Angel had you at swordpoint.  I was pretty sure that you'd pull out of it and save the day, but maybe if I'd stayed and helped you wouldn't have had to kill him."  He looked away, then looked back.  "I'm sorry."

Buffy was stunned.  Here was a vampire apologizing to her for not helping her kill another vampire.  What on earth was going on?  "Well, I, uh, I'm sorry about that crack about Drusilla." she managed to say.

Spike thought it high time to change the subject.  He cleared his throat.  "So, getting back to what you object to about me, we're down to breath and fashion.  I'll have you know that I do have more than one
outfit.  I have several shirts, one coat, a few t-shirts, and six or seven pairs of trousers.  It's not my fault that they're all the same color, now, is it?  It's not like many people can see well enough in the dark to critique my sense of style before I kill them, is it?  And for the breath thing. May I remind you that vampires don't need to breathe, except to talk?  And smoke, of course.  So, admit it, you made that up. You're just looking for excuses not to like me."  He finished, grinning.

Buffy rolled her eyes and changed her tactic, going on the offense instead.  "Well, what about you?  Putting aside the fact that I'd like nothing better than to turn you into dust, what do you have against me?"

She was completely unprepared for his charmingly smiling reply.  "Not a damn thing, luv."

The unwatched movie had long since ended by the time she left, but they had agreed that they would try the "trust test" that night.  Spike gave Buffy permission to tell Giles where he was living, because he was aware that trusting the slayer also meant trusting her watcher.  Also, it was another step in the process.  Buffy left and went to the library, just in time to hear Xander and the others arguing about what was and wasn't going to happen between her and Spike.

"Do you feel you can trust him, Buffy?" asked Giles.

"Well, he could have had me for lunch this afternoon and didn't.  Also, he could have killed me any night this week and didn't.  It's a good start, I guess."

"Whoa-whoa-whoa!" Xander said.  "What's been going on 'any night this week,' Buff?  Does this have anything to do with anything I might not want to know about?"

"Do you think he likes you?" Willow asked suddenly, leaning forward with a hopeful smile.

Buffy rolled her eyes.  "Will, he's a vampire."

Xander said, "Willow, that's sick.  Perverse, even.  How could you even think that?"

She ignored Xander and persisted.  "But do you think he likes you?"

Buffy told her quietly, "Will, don't you think the rest of this conversation would be better finished somewhere else?  Like in the girls' room?"

"Ooooo!"  Willow squealed.  "He does like you!"

"Willow!"  Buffy hissed.

"Oh.  Sorry."

Cordelia looked up from filing her nails.  "Well, all I know is, I would have a problem going to bed with Spike.  I mean, what if he has bad blood breath, or if the fangs get in the way of kissing?  And what about that 'ho he used to hang out with?  I wouldn't want Drusilla going after me in a jealous fit.  I mean, look at what she did to Kendra when she didn't even know her!"

Not trusting herself to even make a reply, Buffy grabbed Willow's arm and started toward the door with her friend in tow.  She looked back over her shoulder, said, "Giles, I'll call you later with the plan," and went out.

"Cordelia, at some point in the future, you might try exercising the slightest amount of tact in your dealings with other people," Giles suggested as he rubbed his eyes.

Cordelia shrugged.  "What did I say?"  Xander groaned and grabbed her hand, dragging her out of the room.  Giles reflected that he should thank Xander later for that service.  He looked up, realizing he wasn't alone yet.  He still wasn't used to the newest member of their little club.

"Oz, uh... hello.  What can I do for you?"

"Thought I might try that reading and research thing.  If you'd like some help with that prophesy, that is.  I mean, I did go to the trouble to learn how to read.  Might as well use the skill sometime."

Giles' mouth quirked at the corners.  "I appreciate the help.  Thank you, Oz."

Part 6

Willow followed Buffy eagerly to the girls' room.  As soon as they were inside, she sat down on the bench.  "So, DOES he like you?  Tell me everything!" she said eagerly.

Buffy wandered over to the mirror and poked at her hair a little, pretending to ignore Willow's question.

"Buffy!"  Willow said warningly.

Buffy turned around and smiled at her friend, blushing a little.  "Well, he's been in my room every night this week, watching me sleep.  And the other night when I woke up and caught him, he kissed me before he left, and said he'd be back last night.  And he was.  Knocked on the door and everything.  But Giles was there, and that's when he told me about -- "

"--the prophesy?" Willow finised.  Buffy nodded.  "So, who do you think is going to rise from the dead to kill us all?"  Willow asked.  She got up and stood next to Buffy, green eyes meeting green eyes in the mirror.

"I -- I don't know," Buffy broke their eye contact and looked down.  "Whoever it is, they have to be pretty knowledgable about me and everyone I know.  Wonder how big a circle that includes?"

"Yeah, and why you need Spike, in order to defeat this one," Willow said.

Spike, for his part, couldn't figure out why he would have to work with the slayer.  If he hadn't known any better, he would swear that the whole thing was a setup.  But the fact that the Watcher guy had explained it cast it in a different light entirely.  Spike was perfectly aware that if he weren't vital to the safety of the slayer, that old librarian would kill him at the first chance he got.  But because he needed Spike, he'd promised not to kill him.  He would keep his word.  The watchers were killers, but they were an honorable bunch.

And what on earth WERE his feelings for Buffy, anyway?  She had asked him why he came to her room, and he hadn't had an answer for her.  Was he really falling for the slayer?  Was he nuts?  She'd stake his arse in a second!  Lighting up the first cigarette of his second pack of the day, Spike sat alone and, borrowing a page from his sire, he brooded.

"So, what exactly are we looking for?" Oz asked, eyeing with trepidation the large stack of books that Giles placed in front of him.

"Anything that might have something to do with the prophesy, or about who her new enemy might be, that sort of thing," Giles answered, sitting down across from him and opening the top book on the stack.

Xander came in a few minutes later, followed by a griping Cordelia.  "Hi guys.  Research party again, huh?  Cool.  We're here to help."

"What he means is that he's here to help, and I'm here to say hello before I go home and get ready to go out to the Bronze tonight."  Cordelia announced.  She rolled her eyes when Xander grabbed her arm and steered her to a seat.  He took one of the thickest, heaviest books and opened it in front of her, and glared.  She subsided.  "Oh, all right.  I suppose I can't really trust you all to keep monsters from killing me."

"Hey, where's Will?" Xander asked.  "Thought she'd be here.  Willow never misses a research party."

"She and Buffy seemed to have...things...to discuss." Giles explained.  "But they just called, and she is on her way here from Buffy's house now."

"Cool," Xander said, sitting down and grabbing a book.

Part 7

Willow left Buffy's house after helping her get ready for her "date" with Spike that night; Buffy had been a bundle of nerves, and could hardly zip her dress.  Willow had zipped her dress, made her some tea, calmed her down, and walked with her part of the way to the Bronze, where she had agreed to meet Spike.

Willow walked toward the library, keeping her ears open and staying away from shadowy parts of the street.  She made sure she could get to her stake easily, and walked with long, confident strides.  She had read somewhere that muggers were much more likely to attack someone who looked like a victim, and had concluded that it might work with vampires, too.  She made sure she didn't look like a victim.

She had been keeping alert, and was therefore not entirely surprised by the attack when it came.  She heard the soft scuff of a shoe on the pavement behind her, and instinctively threw herself sideways.  The vampire attacking her missed, and went sprawling on the pavement, his momentum having thrown him off balance.  Willow slung her cross over he shoulder so that it hung down her back, and took off running.  With a growl, the vampire took off after her.  She ran and ran, heading toward the library, while the vampire steadily gained on her.

"Why do I always have to get attacked by the athletic ones?" she wondered, her breath coming fast.

Then, to her dismay, she heard the vampire call her by name.  "Willooooow!" he said.

She chanced a quick look back and shreiked.  The school library's outer door was directly in front of her new, and she made for it with a final burst of speed that made her feel as if her lungs were on fire.

The vampire fell back as she reached the door.  "See you again, Willow.  Go on, run to your friends for safety -- I'll get them, too!"  He turned around and walked away chuckling.

Willow went into the library quietly and leaned back against the door to catch her breath.  She heard the others talking.

"So do we know who it is yet?  Can we start to prepare for the resurrection of whoever it is?"  Xander asked.

"Not really," Giles told him.  "To date, I've found very little information regarding this prophesy.  Just that Buffy will have to make an ally of an enemy in order to defeat him... or her.  We still haven't
found out who it is."

"I think I know who it is," Willow said from the doorway.  She walked into the room.  "I think it's Angel."

"You're crazy," Cordelia said.  "Didn't Buffy kill him and save the world?  What on earth would make you think it's him?"

"I don't know, Cordelia.  Maybe the fact that he just attacked me, chased me here, and threatened to kill all of you, too?"

Cordelia swallowed.  "I guess that would convince me, too."  She looked away.

Oz went to her.  "Are you all right?"  he asked, concerned.  She nodded.

"Yeah, other than really freaked out.  Well, that, and I feel like I've run a marathon.  He chased me all the way from Beacon Street."  She smiled wanly at him, and he began to massage her shoulders.

"Once again, Willow saves the day, not to mention hours and hours of useless research!" Xander exulted.

Giles went into his office and came out with another book.  The Codex. "Well, now that we know what, or who, the threat is, we can begin to form a plan to fight him.   What we must find out now is how he got out of the demon dimensions, what happened to his soul, and how Buffy and Spike can work together to defeat him.  I'm afraid our work is still just beginning."  He sat down.

"Oh yeah, Research Maniac, go ahead and rain on our parade." Xander heaved a theatrical sigh, and Cordelia, with a smug look on her face, pushed him into a chair and opened an even bigger, thicker book in front of him.  He sighed again and opened it.  Willow and Oz took their places at the table, and silence fell.

Part 8

Buffy walked the rest of the way to the Bronze, trying to ignore the butterflies in her stomach.  She felt that she had a greater understanding with Spike after spending the afternoon with him, but she felt as nervous as if she were going on a first date!  Telling herself that was silly, she looked down at her outfit and gave a mental shrug.  She had even dressed as if it were a first date!

Spike was waiting for her when she got to the Bronze, sitting at a table near the door.  He stood stiffly when she walked over, and pulled out a chair for her.  Surprised, Buffy sat down.  "Hi," she said, mentally kicking herself for not coming up with a better line.  He sat back down and looked away.  "'Allo," he said.

There was a long pause, during which he looked at her, saw she was looking at him, and they both looked away hurriedly.  "I -uh, like your outfit," Buffy finally offered.  And indeed he did look good.  He had changed out of his perennial favorite black jeans and combat boots, into a dark green shirt, blue jeans and casual shoes.  He hadn't even worn his customary black leather trenchcoat.

He quirked an eyebrow at her.  "Yeah, I was trying to impress you, you see, with my terrific sense of fashion."  Without thinking, Buffy laughed out loud.  He grinned at her then, and began to relax.  "You look really good," he said, eyeing her slight frame encased in a dark blue miniskirt and pale yellow, low cut top.  His eyes traveled down her legs and took in the high black boots with the big clunky soles, and he had a momentary flashback to one time she had buried that boot-heel in his stomach.  He took an involuntary breath, and she smiled, thinking his gasp was for her benefit.

Buffy shook her head.  "Isn't this weird?  Only a few months ago we were trying to kill each other, and now here we are at the Bronze, just like we were out on a --"

"--date?"  he finished.  He chuckled ruefully.  "Tell me, slayer, did you have first-date jitters, too?"

"Butterflies," Buffy informed him, "filled my stomach all the way over here."

Spike could have kicked himself for feeling relief over this.  What in hell was he doing, flirting?  His afternoon of brooding hadn't given him any enlightenment, except that perhaps he had spent too many decades with Dru, and now he was crazy too.  He'd have to be crazy, to be falling for the slayer -- which, he now had to admit, he was starting to.

For her part, Buffy was mostly just nervous.  It had been disconcerting to wake and find Spike in her bedroom, especially after the dreams she had been having about him.  Then, Giles' telling about the prophesy, and the afternoon she had spent with Spike -- she felt as if, in three days, her life had become totally wrapped up in his, and she felt overwhelmed.  It was not an unpleasant feeling, though.  She had to admit that if Spike weren't a vampire, the two of them would really have a lot in common.  And -- she thought she was crazy by now -- he really was an attractive guy.  Hey, she told herself, if she had to have a mortal enemy, she deserved to have one as good-looking as Spike!

Buffy realized he had been talking while she mused.  "Sorry, what?"

"I said, can I get you something, luv?  Mocha? Cafe au lait?"  He was on his feet already.

"Cappucino?"  Buffy requested.  He nodded and went off in search of caffeinated beverages.  She watched him walk toward the counter, with his usual bit of a swagger.  He walks as if he knows how hot he is, she thought.  Oh, god, what on earth?  Spike?  Hot?  Buffy blushed and became suddenly interested in the game of pool on the other side of the room.

Spike came back with two cups, and noticed her agitation.  "What's wrong, pet?" he asked, handing her a cappucino.  He took a sip of his espresso, eyebrows raised.

"Oh, nothing.  Um, Spike, why are we doing this?"  Buffy asked bluntly.  He cocked his head questioningly.   "I mean, according to the prophesy, we just have to sleep together -- in the same bed, I mean -- and then everything will be hunky-dory.  Why the whole 'date' charade?"

Spike kept his face expressionless so the disappointment wouldn't show.  "I wasn't aware that it was a charade, slayer," he said flatly.  "Your long-winded Watcher explained it; weren't you listening?  The whole point is for us to learn to trust each other.  I don't think falling into the sack would quite do it, even if we don't do anything once we're there.  We have to spend time together, get to know each other on some other level than just punching the Spike, you know.  That's the only way it's going to work."

Buffy dropped her eyes.  "But I don't know -- "

Spike interrupted.  "Slayer, listen to me.  We know nothing about this person coming after all of us.  If we have to trust each other to live, then we have to.  Do you think I'm not concerned about you staking me in my sleep?  Well, I am, but I'm willing to risk it to prove to you that I'm not going to wait till you fall asleep and then kill you.  That's what trust is, little girl.  It's sort of like having faith in someone.  Ever done that before?"

Buffy listened to his tirade with rising anger.  How dare he lecture her on the milk of human goodness?  He was the demon here, after all.  She got up and walked out, heading for the ladies' room.

Spike cursed himself.  Why couldn't he keep his blooming mouth shut?  Smart, ol' Spikey boy, good going, to piss off the slayer and then expect her to not kill him.  He resolved not to sleep that night, and thanked whatever looks after vampires that he had gotten an espresso!  He rested his head in his hands and closed his eyes, discouraged.

Buffy went into the restroom, checked to see no one else was in there, and kicked the tile wall as hard as she could.  She broke several tiles, and the noise of them shattering broke her bad mood.  She surrepticiously kicked the pieces into a corner and leaned down on the counter.  What on earth was she doing?  Spike was absolutely right.  They had to trust each other, and she was doing a very poor job of it so far.  And he might be a demon, but the person inside was probably much more mature than she was.  She looked at herself in the mirror, checked her makeup and hair, and went back out, prepared for whatever the night might bring.

She saw Spike leaning on his arms, looking dejected.  She went over to him and touched his shoulder lightly.  He looked up, startled.  He started to speak, but she touched his lips gently.  "Spike, I'm sorry.  You were right.  Can we maybe, um, sort of start over?"

Spike's lips curved under her fingers.  "I'm not buying you another coffee.  You didn't even touch the first one," he teased, filled with relief.

Buffy smiled.  "I don't want another coffee.  Just another chance."

"No coffee?  How about a dance?" he offered.

Halfway through, she leaned closer to him with a smile.  "I have to admit, you're a better dancer than Xander!"

"Oh, isn't he that kid who's just a spaz on the dance floor?  I believe you're right," he replied.  To his pleased surprise, Buffy stayed leaning close to him.  He put his other arm around her and held her a
little closer.

Part 9

Back at the library, Cordelia kicked Xander under the table.  "Hey, wake up.  If we aren't allowed to sleep, neither are you."

Xander blinked sleepily and lifted his head from where it had fallen face down onto his open book.  "Why do I have to research, anyway?  We already know who it is, so we can just tell Buffy to kill him.  Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom."  His head fell back onto the page.

Willow looked at Giles and told Xander, "At least you're not the only one who'd rather sleep.  Look."  She pointed to Giles' office, where they could see him through the open door.  He was slumped down in his chair.

"Way to go Giles!" Xander commended.  "Bet that's the first time in years that he's given in to his bodily urges."

"Ew!" said Cordelia at the thought of their tweedy librarian even having bodily urges.

"Under the circumstances, they being that Giles is asleep, I move to adjourn." Oz said.

"I second the motion," replied Willow.  She yawned.  "All in favor?"

"Aye," they chorused dully.  They gathered their things and went out the door, with just a short pause for Willow to turn off the lights.

The change in lighting caused Giles to stir and wake.   He looked at the clock on the wall and frowned.  It was almost midnight, and Buffy had promised to call him when she got to Spike's place.  She had spoken to him earlier, as Willow was leaving her house, and told him about tentative plan with Spike.  They would meet at the Bronze, then head back to his place, where she would call Giles.  She would stay the night there, then call him again in the morning.  She had given him meticulous directions on how to get there, just in case he didn't hear from her when he was supposed to.

Giles got to his feet and stretched.  He left his office and looked around, noticing the teens' desertion.  He shook his head and smiled.  "I suppose it's just as well they went home," he said aloud to himself.
"It's not as if we were finding anything useful here anyway."

"Yeah, don't ya hate those musty old books?  Never find out a thing," taunted a voice from the doorway.

Giles' head shot up.  Angel was there, wearing his usual black leather pants and white t-shirt.   "Actually, I'm rather fond of musty old books," Giles said, trying to distract the vampire with conversation until he could reach the stake he had hidden under some papers on his desk.

Angel swaggered in and leaned against the edge of the table.  "So, didja find out why I'm here?" he asked.

"I have some ideas, but I'd be interested in hearing your side of it," Giles said politely.  "Just what are your plans, anyway?  And how did you get out of the demon dimensions?"

He edged closer to his desk, but he wasn't quite subtle enough.  Angel pounced on him and threw him to the floor.  He saw the end of the stake poking out from the desk and he grabbed it and pointed it at Giles' heart.  "Honestly, Rupert, haven't you ever wondered what it felt like?"  He pressed the point lightly into Giles' chest, and grinned.  The librarian was silent, not flinching, but holding his eyes in a steady gaze.

Angel put down the stake and pushed Giles across the room into the weapons cage.  Clanging the door shut, he wandered over to another weapons storage chest and found a crossbow.  "Hmmm..." he said.  He dragged a chair up to the cage and sat down, keeping the crossbow loosely pointed at the Watcher.

"What are my plans, eh?  And how did I escape?  Long story, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version.  I convinced the demon Acathla that I could kill the slayer and everyone who's ever helped her, because I know them all.  The soul that you all helped saddle me with is burning in torment now, because I'm still live and kicking.  Well, kicking, anyway.  That's how I got out, and those are my plans. I'm going to kill you, the slayer, all her friends, her family, and everyone else who's ever helped her in any way!  Got all that, Watcher?"

Giles nodded.  "Quite.  Thank you," he said calmly, for all the world as if he didn't have a vampire threatening his life with a crossbow from three feet away.

"Good," Angel grinned again.  "Well, now that I've told you the whole plan, I guess I'll have to kill you.  Isn't that how it works?"

"Well, sometimes one gets saved by the --"  At that instant, his telephone rang, and he breathed a sigh of relief.  "--bell."  Angel rolled his eyes.  It rang again.  And again.  Then, to the horror of Giles, his answering service picked up the call, and he could hear quite clearly, Buffy's voice.

"Giles, hi, it's me.  Geez, I thought you'd hang out there till you heard from me!  Anyway, just wanted to let you know I'm all right.  We actually had a good time at the Bronze, believe it or not!  We just got back to his apartment, he's fixing me a drink -- and he hasn't even suggested anything about my providing any refreshment, which is good, 'cause I like my blood where it is -- and so I guess I'll call you in the morning.  I just hope he's got an alarm clock lying around here somewhere, or I'll sleep right through till noon.  We did a lot of dancing!  Well, g'night!"

The line disconnected, and Angel rounded on Giles, very slowly.  In a dead quiet voice, he said, "Who is she with?"

Giles didn't say anything for a long moment.  He thought of how Angel might react to the knowledge, and began to smile inwardly.  Angel glared, and waved the crossbow a little closer.

"Who is she with, I said?"  The voice was a little more gravelly, as if he had to grind the words out.

Giles took a deep breath.  "Spike."

"WHAT?"  The crossbow fell out of Angel's suddenly nerveless hands and clattered to the floor.  "Where are they?"

"Spike's home, I would assume.  Why, didn't you hear the message properly?" Giles taunted.  He went on, "And before you ask, no, I don't know where it is."  Angel looked at him in surprise, and Giles told him, "Think about it.  My slayer is spending the night with another vampire.  Do you think she's likely to tell me where they are?"

With an incoherent growl, Angel took off running out of the library.  Giles sighed in relief.  He took off his glasses and cleaned them, then opened the cage door that the vampire had neglected to fasten, and went back to his office.  "What a depressingly stupid vampire," he muttered, as he collected his things and left the building to warn Buffy and Spike.

Part 10

After Buffy and Spike's first dance, they both relaxed a bit and danced quite a few more, but once they got back to where Spike was staying, an awkward silence fell again.  Spike finally broke it.  "Uh, the bathroom is over here.  You're welcome to use the shower if you want.  Here's the kitchen; not much food in it, though.  I guess you can still remember where the bedroom is.  It's also the living room, in case you were wondering why I have the telly in there."  A bizarre thought struck him and he grinned.  "Can it still be called a living room if the person who uses it isn't alive?"

Buffy smiled.  "Well, calling it an un-living room just doesn't sound quite as warm and cozy."

Spike looked at her with a mock-serious expression.  "Ah yes, and the home of a vampire should by all means be warm and cozy."  Buffy said nothing, but rolled her eyes.  She walked in and sat down on the edge of the bed again.  Spike came and sat beside her.

"So what now?" she asked.

He shrugged.  "Dunno.  Seems kind of cheap to just say let's go to bed."

She whacked him lightly on the chest.  "I am not cheap!  And if you lay a finger on me tonight, I swear I'll --"

"Now, now, not to worry, Sweet.  Forcing unwilling women was never my gig," he reassured her.  "Besides, if trust is the name of the game..."

"I see your point." Buffy said.  Suddenly she looked up brightly.  "Hey, want to fight?"

"What, like before?" Spike asked, stunned.

"No, not like before.  I just meant, to pass the time.  Not actually trying to kill each other, but just for fun."

"Oh, you like to fight, eh?" Spike teased.

"Well, with you, anyway," Buffy said.  She blushed, and tried to recover.  "I mean, um, you're just a good fighter, and um --"

"I got you," replied the amused vampire.  "Right, I'll spar with you a little, but no stakes, hear?"

She nodded.  "And no fangs!"

Spike struck first, a backhand across her face.  Buffy recovered and punched him in the jaw, following with what was going to be a powerful kick to the stomach.  Spike saw her foot come up and dodged it, tackling her to the floor.  "And be careful with those bloody boots of yours!" he ground out between gritted teeth.  "Last time you kicked me it took me a week to get the dent out of my head!"

Buffy laughed involuntarily, and he took advantage of her distraction by pinning her wrists to the floor in a classic wrestler's pose.  "Give?" he asked.

Buffy struggled, but half-heartedly.  She really was quite tired after all that dancing.  "Give," she decided. He let her up and they dusted off their clothes.  "So you like my boots?" she asked innocently.

"Naa.  More like we've got a nodding acquaintance.  Then again, it's hard not to nod a little when you've been kicked in the throat by those monstrosities."

"Um, Spike?"  Buffy was slightly preoccupied.  "How do you know I won't stake you tonight?"

"I don't," he told her honestly.  "Just like you don't know that I won't suck you dry before morning."

Buffy inferred a threat in his words, and bristled.  "Gonna be a long night, then, isn't it?"

Spike sighed.  He hadn't meant that as a threat, but that pig headed slayer seemed determined to misunderstand!  "Listen, slayer, I swear I won't try and kill you tonight.  I'll swear it on anything you like."

"Really?" Buffy asked with a strange look on her face.  She went to her bag and got out a pocket-sized copy of the Bible.  Deliberately, she placed her hand on it and looked Spike in the eye as she said "I promise I won't try to kill you, Spike.  As long as you don't harm me or anyone I care about, I won't harm you."  With a sweet smile, she held out the Bible on the palm of her hand.

Spike's heart would have been pounding, if it still beat at all.  He placed his hand firmly on the tiny book. He met her gaze evenly and repeated her words.  "I will not try to kill you, slayer.  If you don't harm me, I won't ever harm you."  He ignored the searing pain caused by his skin being in contact with holy objects.

Buffy wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant scent of burned vampire flesh.  She put the Bible away hurriedly.  "I guess you must be telling the truth," she said, "I'm sorry, Spike.  I didn't realize it would hurt you that much."

"Oh, I've had worse.  Try having some slayer drop a church on you sometime."  He put his injured hand in his pocket.

"That wasn't the entire church!"  Buffy protested.  "It was just the organ."  She grabbed his hand, ignoring the hiss of pain he gave.  "Oh, let me fix you up here."  After some rummaging, she came back with some butter and one of his black t-shirts.  She dressed his hand and bandaged it.

Then she yawned.  "Busy day?" Spike asked.  She nodded.  He said, "Here's some clothes -- you didn't seem to have brought any.  You can change in here if you like, just open the door when you're finished.  Want some tea?"

"Sure.  Oh, I need to call Giles, too.  Where's your phone -- oh, here it is.  Thanks."  Spike left the room, trying desperately not to think about Buffy's taking off her clothes in his -- HIS bedroom.  He
overheard her cheery message to Giles' answering machine and grinned.  At least she didn't sound worried anymore!

Buffy wondered at Giles' absense.  She called him at home and left him a similar message to the one she'd left at the library.  She finished changing into the tank topand boxers he'd left her, and opened the door.  Spike stood there wearing only sweatpants, and holding a cup of tea.

"'Ere you go, luv," he said.  He tried not to stare at her.  He hadn't thought it would seem quite so astonishingly intimate, the fact that she was wearing his clothes and was in his bed.  He'd seen her asleep several times before, but tonight his mind was filled with memories of a few nights ago, when he had fleetingly kissed her.  He was tempted to do so again, but his promise stopped him.  Swearing quietly to himself, he went in and lay down beside where she was sitting.  "Don't know how I'll ever get to sleep tonight," he grumbled.  "It's just about high noon, for me."

"What, are you saying I didn't wear you out enough?" Buffy asked.

He rolled to face her.  "Are you volunteering to finish the job?"

"Is that a proposition?" Buffy asked.

"Only if you accept it," Spike told her solemnly.  "If you don't, then it was just an invitation to spar again."

"I see.  Well, attractive as that sounds, I'm not exactly dressed for it."

The blond vampire snorted.  "Come on now, Pet.   You've taken me down before, wearing a sodding ball gown!  Which reminds me -- " Spike finally had the perfect opportunity to casually ask her a question he'd been dying to ask her for more than a year, "-- why didn't you kill me that night, on Halloween?"

Buffy shrugged.  "I don't know, I guess I just liked fighting you too much.  Killing you would have ended it too soon."

Spike gave her a knowing look.  "Oh I see, you're the type who likes to make it last, eh?"  He leered at her.

Buffy glared at him, "At least it's better than your way!  All you want to do is get it over with quick, so you can go brag about it to your friends!"

"Naw, I wouldn't do that with you," he said in a low voice.

Buffy lowered her eyes.  "I think I'll go take a shower."  She left the room.  As soon as Spike heard the water running, he took out a cigarette, lit it, and took a deep drag.

"That girl's going to be the death of me," he remarked quietly to the empty room, blowing out the smoke.

Part 11

Just then, there was a knock on the door.  Spike, startled, got up to answer it.  Giles stood there in his coat and muffler.  "Spike, good, I'm glad I caught you.  I'm afraid I've discovered who the threat is.  May I come in?"

Spike stood aside and gestured for him to enter.  Suddenly, Giles was knocked aside and went sprawling into the room.  Angel stepped over the librarian's prostrate form and growled at Spike.  "Where is she?"

Spike's mind was going rapidly trying to analyze this new turn of events.  Was Angel the threat Giles was warning them about?  How was he supposed to deal with this?  He was glad the slayer was in the shower and wasn't yet part of this little fiasco.

He then realized what this would look like to a jealous ex, with Buffy in the shower and himself half-dressed and smoking a cigarette.  Damn, he couldn't have set this up any better if he'd planned it!  Spike took a long, theatrical pull at his cigarette and smirked at Angel.  "She's in the shower.  Why do you ask?"

Angel gave an incoherent roar of rage, and charged at Spike.  Spike pivoted as he stepped aside, using both hands to direct Angel past him. The cigarette in his right hand was close to Angel's bare arm; Spike ground the cherry-red end into the bare vampiric flesh, grinning as Angel yelped in pain. "Oh, sorry.  Must've slipped." he said with a show of sympathy.

Angel snarled, his face morphing into a vampire's mask as he did so, and charged again. Spike had been ready for the attack but not for the suddenness of it and took a step back. It was Angel's turn to laugh as Spike tripped over Giles' unconscious form and fell. Angel pounced on him, hoping to catch Spike unready.

Spike was prepared, though, and landed a solid right cross to Angel's grinning visage. Angel's head snapped over to the right, and he got to his feet quickly. Spike was a bit slower getting to his feet, and Angel saw the opportunity and kicked him in the midsection.

Spike took the heavy blow and folded with a gasp of pain. Angel snarled victoriously and kicked him again, smirking as Spike failed to block him. Spike caught his sire's foot and pulled Angel to the ground. Both rolled to their feet and began to circle again.

Angel tried a right cross, but Spike grabbed his fist and drove it back into Angel's face. The older vampire was taken completely by surpise and stumbled back. Spike followed up with a front kick to Angel's midsection, then kneed him in the face as Angel doubled over.

Angel fell heavily.

The water in the shower stopped running.

Spike grabbed his sire and put him in a hold from which he couldn't break free without hurting himself.  "Now then, 'Daddy,' let's talk."  Giles was beginning to stir, and managed to sit up and lean against the wall.  He took in the situation and concluded that his help was not needed at that moment, a fact for which he was very grateful.  His head throbbed.

"Oh, I'd really rather fight," Angel replied.

Spike tightened the hold.  "Ordinarily, I'd agree with you, but you've been out of the loop, being in hell and all.  How'd it feel, to be taken down by the girl who loved you?  Notice I use the word in its past tense.  You see, because I wasn't the one who wanted to be the manly show-off, I wasn't the one who got sent to hell.  I'm the one who's actually around to show her a good time!"

Angel struggled vainly against his former protege.  They heard the bathroom door open, and Buffy came out wearing Spike's clothes, clinging damply to her body.  Angel saw her attire and broke the hold Spike had on him, knocking his fledgling across the room.

Buffy's eyes widened as she saw him.  Angel approached her slowly.  "Angel?"  Buffy said in a tiny voice.

"Yeah, it's me," the vampire said.  He started to smile.  If she was all emotional about his return, she'd be that easier to kill.  "I'm back, Buffy."  He stepped closer.  To his chagrin, Buffy stepped back.

"How do I know it's really you?"  She asked, her voice gaining a little strength.

He smiled.  "You just have to trust me."

Part 12

There was a moment of total silence.  Spike picked himself up off the floor and exchanged glances with Giles.  The watcher gathered himself and produced a stake from his pocket, which he handed to Spike. The blond vampire nodded his thanks and helped Giles up, and they stood together to watch how the scene played out.

They didn't have long to wait.  Buffy pushed past Angel and went over to Spike, taking the stake out of his hand.  Spike was starting to sweat. If she believed that Angel was back, maybe she'd decide she didn't need him anymore!

"Uh, slayer..." he began.

"Shut up, Spike!" Angel rounded on him.  "She doesn't need you, now that I'm here.  And I'm going to kill you anyway, for what you did to me before!"  He advanced on Spike, step by menacing step.  Spike looked unfazed, but in the back of his mind he wondered what the slayer was planning to do with that stake.  Angel continued, through gritted teeth, "You attacked me with a crowbar!  You ruined my plans!"

"And I helped."  Buffy announced calmly, coming up behind him and placing the stake against his back.  "And you know what, Angel?  Spike and I work well together."  To Spike and Giles, she said, "I want to know what's going on here.  Can we maybe do something with... this?" she gestured toward Angel.

"Got just the thing," Spike said.  He rummaged through a drawer, coming up with a pair of shackles on a short chain.  At Buffy's suspicious glare, he shrugged.  "Momento from Dru.  D'you think I actually use them?"  He looked as innocent as a vampire could, but shackled Angel with a speed that showed some experience, at least.

Buffy surveyed the bound vampire who glared at the three of them silently.  She turned to Giles.  "All right, what's the scoop?"

"Well, it seems that the demon Angel made a deal with Acathla, to let him out of hell.  The soul of Angel is still in hell, and evidently will remain there as long as this demon still lives.  The demon Angel was planning to kill you and everyone who has ever helped you -- that would be you, Spike -- as a sort of appeasement offering to Acathla, for not giving him the entire world when it was first planned."  Giles took a deep breath and gave her the really bad news.  "So, Buffy, I'm very much afraid that -- uh, that you'll have to kill Angel.  Again.  To set his soul free."

"No need for apologies, Giles."  Buffy's eyes took on a feral gleam.  "This time it'll be a pleasure."

"Want some help this time, slayer?" Spike asked eagerly.  She looked at him and started to smile.

"Just with this," she said, and pressed her lips against his.

She had meant it to be a brief peck, just to annoy Angel, but she found herself enjoying it, and she lingered.  Spike's arms held her close, and he kissed her back like she'd never been kissed before.  Angel's kisses had usually seemed sort of...tentative.  Spike's kisses were not tentative.  He kissed her as if he knew exactly what he wanted, as if he knew she wanted it, too.

The sound of Giles clearing his throat, coupled with the incoherent gurgles of the enraged Angel, finally made them break the embrace.  "Oh yeah," Buffy said, remembering the job at hand.  She looked at Spike and blushed, then got to business.

"Right.  Torture," she said.  She looked at Angel a long moment, and explained, "You see, I don't love you.  I loved you once, when you were a different person, and in order to set him free, I'm going to kill you," she said.  She feinted to the left, then plunged the stake into Angel's right shoulder, saying, "But not just yet!"  He howled with pain.  "That was for what you did to Jenny," she told him.  She pulled the stake out and plunged it into his stomach.  "That was for what you did to Giles," she told him.  "Nobody hurts MY Watcher!"  She got carried away in her enthusiasm, remembering how much he had hurt them all when he lost his soul, and she suddenly attacked and gave him a dozen or so shallow punctures.

Angel wheezed, and buckled.  "What -- what were those for?" he asked, when he could draw a breath.

"Willow's fish," Buffy replied, on the spur of the moment.

Behind her, Spike whispered to Giles, "I think I'm in love!"  He grinned when Giles gave him a disapproving stare.

"Buffy, don't you think it's time to, uh, finish it?" Giles prompted.

Buffy nodded without breaking eye contact with the demon.  She pulled him upright again.  "This is for what you did to Angel," she said, as she plunged the stake into his heart.

Angel's eyes took on a gentler expression for just a moment, and he looked at Buffy.  "Thank you," he whispered, smiling as he burst into ashes.

Part 13

Buffy sank to the floor, crying.  Spike stood there awdwardly while Giles went to comfort her, putting his arms around her and just holding her silently.  When she finally calmed, he offered her a handkerchief and stood up, once again on his dignity.

"Well done, Buffy," he said.  "Though you didn't have to torture him quite so much, but it did seem effective."

"I don't know about that," Spike said.  "I kind of liked the torture.  And she has been through a lot that I don't even think you know about, Watcher."  He went to Buffy and put his arms around her from behind, pulling her against him.

"Well, that may be so." Giles admitted.  "At least the threat is over now.  And it actually WAS the trust the two of you share, that made it possible to defeat him.  Buffy, how did you know that it was, uh, not the Angel we know and love, but his demon instead?"

"He told me to trust him.  Angel, our Angel, never expected me to do that.  And also, Spike was the one you gave the stake to.  So Spike is the vampire I trusted, in this scenario."

"Well, with the demon defeated, you two would no longer be required to spend the night together," Giles informed them.

Buffy and Spike looked at each other.  "But you're still welcome to stay if you like, Buffy," Spike told her.

Buffy's eyes widened at his use of her first name, for the first time. "Um, I, uh --"

Interested, Giles asked, "So you have built a trust which would allow that?"

Spike answered him, but kept his eyes on Buffy.  "We've sworn not to harm each other."  He looked down at his Bible-scarred palm.  "And I don't break my word."

"I don't break mine, either," Buffy said, taking his scarred hand in hers and holding it tightly.  "I'll stay, Giles, a-at least for a while."

"Very well.  I shall wish you good night, then," the Watcher said.  He nodded to them both and went out the door, closing it quietly behind him.

Buffy and Spike looked at each other.  Spike put his other hand over hers, and drew her close.  He bent his head and gently touched his lips to hers.  It was a tender kiss, as opposed to the raw hunger of their earlier one, but no less intimate.  "Hey, slayer?"  Spike asked, his voice husky.

"Hmm?"  Buffy asked.  She traced the scar on his eyebrow with a forefinger.

"Want to fight?"