Part 1: Invitation
The blue light of the moon shines down, a beacon lighting winding paths through the cemetery. Buffy moves among the graves in a fugue state, thoughts skittering, skin tingling. She doesn't know where she is heading, but she trusts that she'll find what she seeks.
Coming to a stop where the edges of the shadows meet the moon's light, Buffy looks at the tombstone in front of her. She's avoided this place for months, but at this moment, she craves peace. Tara was the only person who'd managed to bring that to her life since her mother's death.
Buffy sits on the ground and leans back, resting her head on the rough surface. It feels like ice on her neck, cool and soothing. "So tonight's my night for socializing with the dead and buried. Hope you don't mind my being here."
She draws her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around them. "You told me it was okay if I loved him, Tara." A stake finds itself in the palm of her hands, and she begins to toy with it. "You said he'd done good things, that he loved me."
"I thought you were wrong...he left. They always do. And then, in the church, he.... I was just starting to believe, when..." Buffy's head droops forward onto her knees. "It's never enough, is it?"
A long shadow falls across her legs. "What's not enough?" Buffy looks up to see who is interrupting her misery, surprise coloring her face when she realizes it is Nancy, Xander's worm friend.
"You know, dog walking in graveyards at night time's not such a bright idea." Buffy stands and dusts bits of grass from her pants, looking at the woman expectantly.
Nancy has the grace to look a bit shame-faced when she answered. "You're right. I shouldn't be here. But I owe you something for helping me, before." She shifts uncomfortably, eyes darting from side to side and back before meeting Buffy's again. " I followed your ex into the cemetery."
"My ex?" Buffy's eyes narrow. "You mean Spike? Looney-Tunes blond? He's here?"
Backing up away from Buffy, Nancy answers, "Look, I don't want to get involved here, but...I think I saw him attack someone near the apartment building. He ran this way, and Xander said you hang out here, so I'm telling you."
The dog on the end of the leash pulls its owner away. "Gotta go. Good luck... or something."
Buffy stares at Nancy's back, hefting the stake in her hand. "Yeah. Or something." With a shrug of her shoulders, she turns and walks in the direction Nancy came from. The path to the crypt is utterly familiar. She's traveled it over and over again, in life and in dreams.
But what she finds on arriving doesn't meet her expectations, real or fantasy. He isn't prowling the cemetery on a hunt, nor is he prowling his crypt waiting for her. He lies crumpled against the crypt door, asleep. Pale skin and lightening hair reflect the glow of the moon -- he could be an angel, but for the smear of blood on the corner of his mouth.
Thoughts of what she would do chase through her head. She chokes back a laugh turned sob at the memories that race through her. Memories of his hand on the rounded bone of her hip, his breath on her neck, whispering darkly to her shattered soul. He'd offered her heaven while she lived in her own personal hell.
What would Xander say about this hesitation to do what needed doing? He wouldn't hesitate, she knows. Xander doesn't see the beauty of him, or feel the pull of darkness, wrapped in all that light.
Unable to help herself, she moves forward silently, a breath away from touching.
She wants to touch him, but then he'll wake. Maybe with a flinch. And then they'd dance.
Her hand moves of its own volition. Just one gentle touch, barely there. It couldn't hurt now. This time, she'll do it right. No D'Hoffryn will appear to save her from duty, no gypsy spells to recast, to fix this broken soul. And no Xander with broken crayons to save the day once more. Only the music that has fueled their passion since that day long ago.
His entire body jerks at the touch of her fingertip to his cheek. Sleepy eyes regard her warily as he pulls his head away, a turtle trying to find its shell.
"So cold... Why're you here, Slayer?" His voice is heavy, wrapping her in somnolent recall of a time when she'd thrilled to the question, the sound of his voice an invitation to a place where she could give herself completely over to instinct.
She lets her finger trail from his cheek down to the corner of his mouth, wiping the smear of blood with her thumb and holding it aloft.
"What have you done, Spike?" Sorrow lingers, echoing through her words. When his eyes pause on the stake then raise to meet hers, she sees a flicker of hope behind the madness.
A bright glow lights his face, like a child on Christmas morning.
"You do love me."
Part 2: Arrival
A ghost of that sexy smirk twists his lips. "We'll have a go at it, then?"
"Yes," Buffy holds out a hand to help him to his feet. "They're playing our song. Let's do it right, just this once?"
He takes her hand, sending a thrill of electricity singing through her veins. They'll make their own music for this.
He rises to his feet with a grace that has been absent more often than present since his return. With a glance, he pulls his hand out of hers, and ducks his head at the gleam in her eye.
"Won't be easy, you know," he says, raising his chin and holding her eyes with his. "I'll hold on for as long as I can--we'll make it good. The other one will run, or beg you to end it quickly. Of course it will gladly dance, though you may not like its tune." Spike tilts his head as if listening to some silent song. "Him, though. He wants you dead, not dancin'."
Buffy watches as the sometimes dear, often hated, face passes from elation to timidity, through lust to pain, and back again, then the blank look she'd almost grown accustomed to settles in.
He speaks with icicles on his words, and they chill her to the bone. "All of us want to play, my dear… Come now..." He does a chasse, ending in a bow, "It's showtime." He slants a cold, calculating glance her way as she reaches for the stake and throws him against the crypt door.
Showtime, indeed. All or nothing this time around and she can't hold back an inch or an ounce, for either of them to survive. "You could die now," she purrs, "But you promised me a dance." She traces the stake along his neck and points it directly at his heart. "Since when do you break promises to ladies?"
A rapid succession of expressions crosses his face again as he reaches up to grasp her wrist. Never has the crossbreed lilt of his voice been more welcome than when he whispers in her ear, "Did you say the music's playin' for us, love?"
Ah...there he is. Relief fills her where the dread has been. This one she knows how to deal with. Sliding her knee between his legs, she tilts her head upwards and trails her tongue along the underside of his chin, ending at his ear. "It's the prelude to a dance," she whispers, then snakes her ankle behind his to throw him back through the door and into the crypt. Her voice grows stronger as she finishes, "And we've not been introduced."
A wicked glint enters his eyes as he bounces back to his feet. She can almost hear the rustle of leather swishing around his ankles. He makes a run at her, and at the moment of contact, she freezes. His hands slide up her arms as if she belongs only to him, and for the briefest instant, she does. But when her breath releases in a harsh gasp, he shoves her away.
Turning his back to her, he begins pacing inelegantly, head down. "Introductions...yes, yes. A little late now, though. Still--" He turns to stare nervously at her, then bows with a courtly flourish. "As milady wishes."
Long, delicate fingers stretch out, proffering a waltz with a shaky hand. "I've been here from the first...though the poorer for only now having met such beauty. Will you dance?"
Buffy looks at him and sees the young man he'd been looking back at her through ghostly glasses. Reaching forward to smooth the hair from his forehead, she smiles, "It's nice to meet you."
She's known him all along, and has never allowed him entrance. Dawn had sworn it was true, but she never really believed. After all, the hotter than hell stuff he'd spouted over and over as they'd pulled the crypt down around their ears time and again would hardly have come from this creature's mouth. A shudder runs through her at remembrance of heat that only he could generate.
Almost without thought, she takes his hand. It might have been that her touch was flame to his candle, setting his eyes alight as his chin burrows into the soft black cotton of his shirt. She would hate to lose this one now that she's found him.
"You shouldn't touch us," he murmurs as the whisper of his hand in the small of her back shows her why, in his day, the waltz had been reserved for those betrothed or married.
She gives away a bit of her soul in that moment, clinging tightly to his hand and moving in time to the chirping and creaking of a lonely, wistful night's dream. Her fingers wind their way into the tiny, curling hairs at the back of his neck, and she giggles at his tense lead of their dance across Eden, in moonlight.
Then a sigh follows, from one or both, only the tombstones could tell. It breaks her heart, that they've never loved, and he hears it. In a desperate motion, he throws her swirling from him, "You shouldn't touch us. Dirty, nasty, evil things." He spits at her feet. "Not good enough to touch, to love..."
She reaches for his chin, pulling his head up to look at her. Determination that she'll succeed confronts his despair as she finishes for him, "...you."
The fear she reads in his eyes mirrors her own. Leaning against a cobbled wall, he drops his head back and throws his arms apart. "Just do it then."
The plea in his voice brings her low, cutting deeply where she has the least protection, and she pulls him in close, dragging the stake to his heart as she tries once more to find his strength. "Not until he's gone."
He is still too frightened. Perhaps she needs to have a go at the devil she knows before taking this poor soul in hand and heart.
Slowly and quite deliberately, she takes the tip of the stake and draws it across her collarbone, cutting deeply enough to let the blood well up but not spill. She'll walk the edge more closely than ever before, and she'll win what was lost all those years ago.
Spike lets loose a wild cackle and shoves her body forward while holding tightly to her hand, then reels her inward until there is no space left between them.
"The poet knows the steps," he growls. "But not how to use them."
Buffy feels herself drowning in the pool of his embrace. This is the man –the demon-- she knows. He hisses as she sinks into him, sliding her hand up his shirt and rending buttons from cloth.
The smooth flesh of his chest is exposed, a canvas to burn her impression on, to rub her essence in far enough that he'll never escape her. There is a smell to their dance, all green wood and smoky bourbon, and she could lose herself in it.
His mouth is on her neck, a delicate touch wending its way up to her ear. Slithering tongue flicks at her skin, teasing, barely touching, as wicked whispers sink past hearing to light a fire in her core. Buffy's eyes roll back, closing on the flood of returning memories. There is nothing he can do now to surprise her, no place he can touch that is unguarded.
Her imagination lays faint promises of his touch where she craves it most, heightening the sweetness of the pain that flares when he sinks his fangs into her earlobe. Her breath jerks sharply, and her grip tightens around the stake.
His mouth is sharp and soft all at once, pulling and sucking at the sensitive flesh of her ear, jagged edges of teeth dragging through pinprick wounds to create an uneven gash from which blood begins to drip, then run. Her free hand reaches up to feel the ridges of his forehead, and she willfully opens her eyes to stare directly into glowing yellow ones. Her hand strokes his misshapen cheek, then descends to wipe her blood from his mouth.
Buffy hesitates only a moment before taking the next step. She knows that her only prayer is to keep him off balance, to call them both together to overthrow the other. Steeling her resolve, she stares at the blood on her hand for an instant. Deciding that it just might be enough to send this one over the edge, she pulls her fingers into her mouth, licking her own salt first from them, then directly from him in a wild, deep, desperate kiss.
"You want to bite someone, Spike," she breathes into his mouth, "you bite me."
Part 3: Dance Card
His grip on her loosens, and his face slides back to human as she moves down his body, delicately smearing blood across his chest and licking it off. With a proprietary gleam and a belly-deep growl, she mouths every inch of his body, making him hers, and hers alone, all the while unaware of the demon's departure.
Murky aqua eyes glass over with desire, then widen in horror. A cry from far away escapes his lips as his glance shifts to ice, "Oh, Buffy, love. You can't mean to..."
Lifting her head at his words, she watches helplessly as man and monster both disappear into a smirking nothingness that grasps her chin and pulls her up, clucking its tongue, "I like it nasty, baby."
He's back. Predatory instincts take hold. Buffy shifts her weight and, with a flip of her wrist, sends him flying across the graveyard to land in a grassy patch beneath a tree.
Advancing on him, a cat toying with her prey, Buffy kicks him back against the trunk. "You don't know what nasty is until you've messed with what's mine."
Roughly, she jerks him up and reels him in. "And as for not meaning to have them-- I can..." Hazel eyes flash fire, and with a quicksilver motion, she slides her hand into his pants. "And I do." A momentary flash of yellow lights his eyes, but is gone before she can hold it.
She needs the poet to stick it out, or they have no chance. Rude gestures and violent blood-play won't call him to her; only honest emotion has a prayer.
She pulls her hand from his jeans and summons every ounce of courage she possesses. Looking straight into those emotionless eyes, Buffy leans in to kiss him gently on the lips, whispering her heart, "I need you, William."
He hisses as if she's burned him, then pushes her backward and lunges in for the kill. Buffy closes her eyes as she falls. If this is the end, she doesn't want to watch him bring it.
When moments pass with only the sound of her breathing, she opens her eyes to find him regarding her with a mixture of hope and despair. The longing in him stretches his body taut as his fingers find the bridge of his nose and slide anxiously up, as if to push glasses that don't exist into a more comfortable position.
"You mustn't goad him, girl."
Scrabbling to his knees and looking her in the eye, he reaches out as if to touch her, then pulls away. "I cannot protect you from it, and you must kill us all to save yourself from him."
She leans toward him, and the invisible gap between them forces him back against the tree. "He's the one who needs to worry. You're mine..." The feather light touch of his hand on her hair urges her forward.
Faced with every frantic dream, every forbidden fantasy she's denied in the long, lonely months since he'd left to destroy himself for her, she draws a deep breath, "And let me show you how to handle it. I have plenty of experience."
Buffy is frozen in place by the man in front of her. She is lost in his musky scent, mesmerized by the soundless bobble of his Adam's apple as it jerks in his neck. Her aggressive stance feels faintly familiar, and her words bring to mind the lessons he'd sung to her shadow not so many months ago. Attack, relent, tease, deliver -- love...leave.
Her eyes harden. She won't let him leave her again. Not now that she knows: they've both been there all along.
His mouth moves as if to speak, and she lays a finger on soft lips to still his protests. "Shhhh. You belong in the moonlight, with me." The power she holds ripples through her as his body shudders at her touch. She inhales his sweat and fear. "Trust me."
Part 4: Interlude
Gently, quietly. Carefully. She pulls him closer and rubs her head against his shoulder, exposing the smooth flesh of her neck. "You have to learn to live with your shadow." She lets her tongue laze a wet trail up and down his neck, pulling his taste into her mouth as if he were chocolate, then driving her teeth into his skin. "It's mine, too."
The sound that escapes him at her physical claim is more groan than whimper, and she raises her eyes slowly to stare straight into vivid blue anguish as he pulls away from her embrace. She feels the fear bubble up in her chest as she closes the distance, burrowing her arms beneath his open shirt and jacket. "I won't let him have you."
His hand reaches up to touch her face, heart all too human and glowing in his eyes. She reads the plea there and shushes him when he moves to speak. Her eyes hold his with an earnest look. She understands the pain involved with accepting your darker side. He's taken her there and back more times than she can count.
Maybe it would be a kindness....
The stake flies over his shoulder. "I can't --won't-- do it. Together you're strong enough to fight."
He taught her that. And more besides. "I'll show you how." Her eyes shine with the knowledge that this is her last, best hope to avoid a repeat of her making all those lifetimes ago, and she pulls back to touch his cheek. "If you want me to?"
She hadn't meant for the question to ring in her voice. She's reached for the Slayer and found only the woman.
The reality of what she is doing slams through her body, vivid, painful images of the mansion on Crawford Street flowing like vinegar over open wounds. Her chest feels heavy, and breathing is a forgotten skill until the sound of his quiet voice rings in the night.
"I think I know." Decades' worth of hesitation and longing fill the distance between them. "This is where I... you..." He drops his head to avoid her stare and his words are whispers she strains to hear, "...where we dance."
Astonishment tinges her voice at the reminder of her purpose. Even in this state, he plays the guide. "Yes. It's what we do." She holds herself still, counting the rise and fall of her chest.
The seconds tick by in silence, and she thinks one of them will surely run. Instead, he reaches out to touch her shoulder. The rough clearing of his throat halts her thoughts in their tracks. "A man," he begins in the singsong tones of the Church, "a man leads the dance."
She feels his pain rather than sees it, and knows she'll make it worse before all is said and done.
His voice is faint, "but I am not a man. It sees to that." His hand touches his lips. "It has hurt you, could kill you, like the girl..."
Facile answers float by on the light of the moon, leaving her without words. She shifts to face him, dislodging his head from her shoulder with an angry swat. "You're wrong. The demon didn't hurt me-- that was *you*. Spike. The man-- William." Her voice fades to a shaky murmur. "An out of control demon would have drained me. It was you..."
Eyes drop, and shame colors every syllable of his answer, "I remember." Anger supports sorrow in his words as he shouts at her, "I hurt you. I did. I held you down, I watched you scream."
He begins to pace to and fro, his gait wonderfully familiar. As he hits the deepest part of the shadows beneath the tree, he turns to face her. "And I killed that girl tonight. Don't remember, but I did."
Softly, she denies it. "That wasn't you. He's been here tonight, the monster who can still kill in cold blood, but he's not you. Do you... do you remember what you did when Katrina died?"
She watches him sliding farther away, feels the shame that radiates from his silence, denying that there could have been any good in the hurt and control and abuse they'd piled upon one another last winter.
"Tell me," she demands. "Tell me what you did, Spike. Then tell me why you let me hurt you. Why you lay there, crying with your yellow demon eyes and your fangs bared and no chip to stop you?" She shivers at the memory of the all-consuming rage, the burning need to destroy, to punish. It is still there, carefully caged. But it is not for him, not any more.
Before he answers her question with words she can't hear, Buffy continues, "You could control it then. And now? It's not so different."
At a deliberate pace, she follows him into the shadows and leans in, rising on her toes to whisper into his ear, "Let it out to play. We'll dance the night through, and end this game one way or another."
Part 5: Moonlight Sonata
The touch of her hand on his neck elicits a glimmer of yellow, glowing with desire beyond blue sadness. "I knew you couldn't hurt me..."
She shivers as she feels him give over, sliding an arm around her waist and drawing her in to a place neither had thought they'd visit again. The worship she hated is there in the slide of his hand along the curve of her hip, while yellow eyes drink her in, alive with longing and shaded by innocence she's never acknowledged.
She speaks to the man as she stares at the monster. "Will you stay with him, then? I need you both." Slowly she raises her hands to his face, stroking his cheek, letting the burning between her thighs grind against the hardness in his groin and return her to a time when his body on hers was the only thing she could feel.
At an agonizing pace, his lips find hers, touching only briefly before he lays his cheek against her face and whispers in her ear, "And if I hurt you again? Love, will you do it then? End this hell for me?"
His words slice through her, shards of glass taking aim at her greatest fears, laying them open as never before. She can only nod her assent and say a silent prayer that in this, too, he'll differ from her last cold love. This time, the demon needs her too.
To have to let him go when she's only just discovered what might be seems impossible. But she's done the impossible before, and she'll do what she has to this time, too. Once, he let her use him to save her soul. She'll do it again, to save him.
With a shove she pushes him into the tall headstone just beyond the moonlit path. Surprise shocks him back into himself, and all vestiges of the demon disappear into hurt as he leans against the smooth marble.
Unhurriedly, she approaches him, sinking into herself as she draws near enough for him to trace a tentative path along her jaw with his thumb. When his fingers reach the nape of her neck to pull her head forward, she loses her purpose, pressing her body into his and silently crying to any power willing to listen that this will be enough to bind them.
Her fear melts into the fire in her belly as his tongue draws her into a world of hunger. Need grips her, fierce and throbbing. There are too many clothes, too many barriers, and she arches back to find enough leverage to remove his shirt and jacket.
In one moonlit instant, his chest is bare for her mouth to drink while her hands fly over his back, touching and teasing as his flesh dances in time with her heated beat. She can feel the muscles of his thighs contracting and relaxing in a frantic refrain, as she pushes him harder against the marble, working her way to one perfectly pink nipple, extending her tongue to circle and pull until it's as hard and dark as the gleam in her eyes.
Stealing a glance at his face, she lets her hands do their dance against the long muscles of his abdomen, daring the demon that watches from behind blue eyes to rise. She knows his patience can't last much longer, and she makes haste in her exploration of this territory, marking her possession with tongue and teeth until he throws her back onto the ground with a noise more like a roar than her name.
He rips her shirt, months of want and hunger fueling his impatience with the niceties of gentle love-play. His mouth is everywhere, and his words are around them, quiet, nasty whispers, washing the scene with his starvation and her thirst.
She shivers from the ends of her hair to the tips of her toes when he straddles her body and bends to cleave her in half with his tongue, that wild-boy smirk shining all the way from her navel to her breasts. Rational thought hovers on the edge of insanity, the memory of his mouth and his tongue bleeding into reality as he swallows her breast, sucking so hard the sharp burn between her legs floods outwards, through her veins.
When he pulls her pants off, she feels free. The grass and hard ground beneath her are a reminder of what they are, and she looks up to find him staring down at her, letting the moonlight and stars shine over her body as she writhes beneath him. The gleam of ownership fills midnight eyes as he strips.
The man is in possession of the demon now, and he returns to occupy her mouth with the sweetness of his, tongue entering and leaving, teasing and touching, distracting her with the dance as his hands slowly burn a path to the wetness at her center.
No one has touched her this way since she let him in all those months ago, and now she arches into his touch as if his flesh supplies the oxygen she needs to breathe. Two supple fingers slide inward while his thumb strokes her hard, slow, fast, now, more... She pulls her face away from his as she bucks into his hand, desperately pulling at his waist, wanting more, even as a harsh flick sends her flying into the night sky that is echoed in his eyes.
Her body has been waiting for this, for him, and she gives herself up to the shaking of her body as it finds release after so very, very long. She's hardly found the earth and she reaches to pull him up, to fill herself with him. She opens her eyes and sees him closing in on her neck, fangs extended.
Her heart leaps into her throat as his words wash like ice over her body, "Not nearly nasty enough, baby. I'm still hungry..." With a growl, he pins her wrists to her sides and lunges for her yet again, no sign of the man in attendance.
Fear and determination fill her veins with adrenaline as she kicks him off and into the tombstone. Grabbing the stake from the ground where it had fallen, she flies at him on the strength of her rage, a primal pride of ownership pulsating in her guttural shout, as she pins his naked, grinning form against the cold earth of a fresh grave.
She pushes away the revulsion that crawls along her skin when he warns her off, a wicked leer on his face, "You can't win this game, pet." His tongue extends to touch the corner of his lip as he mocks, "You can't do it."
"You're wrong." Fire flashes in her eyes as her hand splays over his groin, holding him in place as she straddles his supine form and clamps down, owning him with her body, "He's mine."
Memories of a dream flash in her mind’s eye as she slams herself into him again and again, riding him for all she's worth-- reaching for him with all her heart. Her words are a whisper on the beam of light that falls across his face. "I love you. All of you." A sob breaks through on her final words, "Come to me. Please..."
Even as her body betrays her into an orgasm that threatens to take her over the edge into the nothingness he offers, she raises the stake. Tears fall with the wood, only to halt a millimeter away from his chest as his hand rises to touch her face, "Didn't hurt you this time, love."