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Previous Chapter: Past year of her life

**Mid August, outside club Binge, LA**

Buffy was on patrol. The thought itself brought a bitter smile to her lips whenever she stepped out of her dad’s apartment. Her dad was now pretty much acting as a temporary Giles, his head buried in books filled with ancient knowledge whenever he had a moment to spare. He had taken time off work for the remainder of Buffy’s visit and spent most of that time getting up to date with everything related to his daughter’s destiny.

He’d gotten her a gym membership, dojo time and even fencing lessons for her to hone her skills. All her teachers/sparring partners were amazed at her poise, movements and abilities, the dojo master even going so far as to ask her if she were interested in a professional career as a fighter. All in all, the time since Spike’s unwanted visit – and her father’s first real vampire encounter – had seen so many changes in her relationship with her dad, it was almost scary.

It went so far as him buying her some knives and even a katana. He always did overspend whenever he was feeling guilty and his guilt over the previous year’s field trip to the mental hospital knew no bounds it seemed. Not everything was peachy, though. Hank now wanted to meet with Giles and was even talking about her mom’s need to know the truth. They had fights almost every night about that and her reasons for not telling her mom were slowly being eliminated, one by one.

Sometimes, it almost seemed like a good idea. But she was determined not to have any contact with anyone from Sunnydale until the start of autumn. Her dad was smart enough not to question that. Now, also due to her dad’s prodding, as well as to the memory of Spike having gotten the better of her, she patrolled every night, not because she felt it was her duty, more in order to train for her next encounter with the bleached blond, something she knew was coming either way. She wanted to kick his ass so bad, he’d have to concede victory and then…

There her fantasy took different turns depending on her mood. Sometimes she dusted him, other times she let him go but not before threatening him never to return and other times, especially when she was in her bed, she kissed him deeply, passionately… Shaking off her musings, she surveyed the scenario of their frenzied fighting and kissing the prior month.

Scanning for her prey of the evening yielded no results. She had found vamps feeding there on many of her patrols, and she’d somehow convinced herself that was the only reason why she always came back there and waited. She was, of course, waiting for any vamp to be stupid enough to not have figured out that this was Slayer territory, not for the leather-clad, British-sounding Master Vampire to-to… something.

Once again cursing her penchant for Spike-shaped thoughts, she decided to go to the next club on her route, which usually took her near most major clubs in her dad’s neighborhood as well as the closest cemeteries. She was smart enough to know that LA was simply too big to patrol in its entirety, even if you were the Slayer and fated to fight the forces of the night. Nights such as those made her long for the relatively small Sunnydale, where she could patrol every hot spot in one night.

Tonight, however, things were so slow she was getting itchy for a fight. It also meant—and this was something relatively new for her—that she was free to enjoy patrolling, going as far as to reluctantly acknowledge to herself that she liked the fight, the thrill of going toe-to-toe with a baddie and take him down. There was nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that while she was free to take time off, her actions had a huge impact on the demon population when she didn’t.

She rationalized that others raced cars and dove off cliffs, while she fought for her life with slobbery, unwashed demons bent on snacking off the human population. As she reached the end of her patrol, she pouted because she hadn’t gotten the chance to work off all her pent-up energy, what with only three measly fledglings on the night’s roster. She almost felt cheated.

With a huff, she decided to extend her net for the night. Rounding the corner towards the center of town, she kept to the back alleys and dimly lit parks, trying to look as much like a damsel in distress as she could. That also gave her the opportunity to work on her ability to spot bad guys through that thingy Giles had hinted at, that sort of Spidey-sense that was supposed to act like some sort of radar. So far, it was all a bust.

Finally, half an hour into her prolonged patrol, she felt something, like a tingling at the base of her skull. She realized she’d felt it before, although weaker than at that moment. Letting that newfound sense guide her, she stumbled upon a sight that made her stop dead in her tracks. In a deserted parking lot fifteen or so vampires were gathered around four bound and gagged girls, apparently getting ready to feast on them. Buffy suddenly realized that this little reunion had to be the reason for the night’s apparent lack of adversaries.

Maybe they were getting smart and keeping out of the area she had been patrolling. She resolved to start using a random pattern for patrolling each night, right before she threw a stake at the closest vamp, making him turn to dust under the surprised stares of his companions.

“You guys decided to have dinner without asking for permission. Just in case you’re wondering, you don’t have it.”

The apparent leader of the rag-tag group of idiots pointed at her and spoke with plenty of spittle dotting every word. “Get her and bring her with the rest. Tonight we eat well!”

Snarling and grunting, ten of the vampires lunged towards the girl who was already springing in the air and twirling, evading all their attempts to grab her. In the melee, Buffy managed to stake another vampire and render another two unconscious, but her situation was getting desperate.

She was hard-pressed to keep the rest of the vampires from encircling her and attacking her from all sides. Just as she was beginning to feel her muscles nearing the point where they might falter, she heard the telltale sound of a dusting right behind her. Without pausing to investigate who might be helping her, she thrust herself into the fray with renewed vigor, managing to stake two of her opponents before their apparent surprise at whatever had happened behind her wore off.

Seeing that their comrades were losing, the remaining vamps, including the head idiot, threw themselves into the tussle. Still unable to divert her attention to whatever was happening behind her, Buffy concentrated all her senses and abilities to fight the seven vampires now facing her, snarling and clawing at the air. For the following minutes, which felt like hours, both her and her unknown helper, who was very careful to remain hidden in the shadows, made the numbers massed against them dwindle.

Finally, the remaining two vampires made a run for it and Buffy was too tired to give chase. She turned around and faced her unknown ally. Whatever words of thanks she had, however, died on her lips as she stared at the vampire who featured in her dreams and whose face was superimposed on her opponents when she whaled on them: Spike.

Without a word, they stared at each other, unmoving except for their heaving chests, even if his was just out of habit. The tension in the air was almost palpable as the two stood amongst the piles of dust left behind by the would-be Big Bads. Breaking out of the trance, Buffy rushed over to the four trembling forms on the ground and after making quick work of their bindings, told them to scatter and be more careful.

Turning once more toward her unlikely rescuer—twice now—she found him leaning against a wall, languidly smoking a cigarette. His apparent composure made her so mad she could have sworn she saw red. Stomping her way to him, she grabbed his cigarette and threw it away and then attempted to slap the smirk right off his face.

“You really have a problem with showing your gratitude, little girl. Maybe I should take you over my knee and spank some good manners into you.” He emphasized his words with a leer and an even more self-satisfied smirk.

Without knowing exactly what came over her, Buffy decided to shut him up. Apparently, the perfect way to do that was smashing her lips to his. She decided not to question why they ended up devouring each other’s mouth and why their hands were roaming, seeking any exposed flesh and every enticing curve they encountered. Just as he started fumbling with the hem of her top, trying to get the offending garment out of the way, she snapped out of it again and the slap to his face resounded throughout the parking lot.

“Bloody Hell, woman, your hot and cold routine could put even Dru’s tantrums to shame.”

“You dare call me undecided?” Buffy yelled off the top of her lungs, punching Spike in the shoulder. “What the hell are you doing here and who the hell is Dru?”

“Bloody stop, Slayer. What’s with all the sodding questions?”

Punching him in the nose again, Buffy gritted her teeth. “Answer me, Spike or so help me, I’ll introduce you to my very special stake that has your name on it.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose to stop the blood flow, Spike couldn’t help laughing. “You named your stake Spike? That’s bloody priceless, that is, Slayer. Listen, Kitten, I’d love to stay here and answer all your questions while we play another round of snog or flog, but I’ve had just about enough of you.”

 With that being said, he bent down and picked her up, fireman style, taking long strides towards wherever he decided to take her. Struggling to get free, Buffy started pounding on his lower back.

“Put me down, you Neanderthal. I’ll have your hide for this, Spike.” Seeing she wasn’t getting any response from him except a dark chuckle, she decided to change tactics. “Let me down or I’ll scream and then you can explain to the cops what you’re doing here.”

Still getting no answer, she decided to sink her teeth in the side of his torso.

“Oi, Slayer, careful what you do to me. You know how us vamps feel towards bitin’, don’t you?”

“Eww, you pig!”

“Never denied it, baby. Now settle down and enjoy the ride. Good ol’ Spike’s got ya.”

“I demand you tell me whe-ooff. Hey, be gentle, you oaf!” Buffy protested from where she was sprawled on the pavement where Spike had unceremoniously dropped her. “Where did you bring me?”

“You really trust me, don’t you, Slayer? Otherwise you could have just run off, or fought me to the death, or some such rot.” Spike lowered himself to Buffy’s level and looked her in the eye, all traces of mirth having left his features. “First of all, are you going to tell me what the bloody hell were you doing back there? You may be the best Slayer I’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to take on a sodding army all by yourself.”

“What’s it to you? First you save me, then you fight me. First you kiss me, then you threaten my dad. And then you have the nerve to say I’m hot and cold?” By the end of her speech, Buffy and Spike were both on their knees, facing each other, their height difference all but eliminated.

“Look, you infuriating chit, I’m a vampire; one of those that go bump in the night and that your mum and Watcher warned you about. What I do and why I do it is my business.”

With each sentence either of them said, the space between them became smaller, as they grabbed at each other and shouted.

“Well, you hormonal vampire, when your actions affect me, it becomes Slayer business. So what is wrong with you?”

By now their faces were just a few inches apart and getting closer, and their hands were firmly entrenched in the lapels of each other’s jacket. Unable to answer anything to himself, let alone her, Spike did the only thing he could; he kissed her long and hard, letting his lips and tongue convey the conflict raging deep within him.

Buffy gave as good as she got. Unable to figure out what they were doing, what forces kept drawing them together, they allowed themselves to just stop thinking and feel. And feel they did. Both feverish and careful at the same time, they explored each other’s body through the layers of cloth and leather. Buffy mapped out his chest and abdomen, reveling in the hard muscles she could feel there while he caressed her tresses and massaged her back, his fingers inching lower and beckoning her even closer to him.

His duster slid off his shoulders under her diligent attention. Soon after, his shirt followed, pooling on his feet, allowing her fingers to trace his arms and back, like a blind person would flow over the contours of a face they wished to remember later.

Her skin was so soft. It was amazing the girl he was touching had been Chosen to fight the forces of darkness every night. Giving in to his desires, he trailed kisses down her neck, along her pulse-point, eliciting a strangled moan from her throat. Bolstered by her response and the hand that was caressing the base of his skull, Spike’s attentions to Buffy’s neck grew more urgent, teeth worrying her skin, lips sucking on her flesh and tongue lavishing her.

His hands weren’t idle during that time, finding their way under the hem of her shirt and caressing her back and middle, raising goose bumps in their wake. Lost in the sensory roller-coaster, they didn’t hear the approaching danger until it was almost too late. When they did, like one, the two warriors leaped into battle with the three monsters that were darkening the alley entrance.

They were about seven feet tall, with broad backs, blue-gray skin and glowing green eyes, their mouths filled with sharp teeth and their hands ending in hatchet-like protuberances. Spike managed to kick the legs from under the one that was wearing a black loincloth, while a brown loincloth-cladded beast tackled him to the ground. Buffy couldn’t help him, though, because the remaining monster—the largest of the three and wearing a beige cloth wrap around his torso as well as his legs—was keeping her busy with swipes of his large hands and attempts to bite her head off.

After being thrown back by a swat to the jaw, Buffy managed to find a piece of pipe on the ground and grabbed it like a life-line. With only that as a weapon, she proceeded to systematically disable her opponent’s limbs, rendering him incapable of moving. Just as she was getting ready to deliver the fatal blow, her peripheral vision caught movement at the other side of the alley. Not thinking about it twice, she rushed to Spike’s aid, who was being thrown about like a rag doll by the two remaining monsters.

Attacking the brown loincloth wearing one, she managed to break the beast’s skull open with one powerful swing of her makeshift weapon. Unfortunately, the pipe got lodged inside the lumbering giant and Buffy was left, once again, weaponless. Spike, however, got a second wind and managed to climb on the back of the remaining opponent and, in one heaving move, bend its neck until it cracked. To both their surprise, the one with the beige wrap had managed to crawl away and the two were left alone in an alley with two demon corpses.

“Serves me right, thinking a bloody alley can be safe in this town.” Spike shook his head, rummaging in his pocket for his packet of cancer sticks. Ignoring Buffy’s glare, he picked one out and lit it.

“You could help me, you know.” Buffy grunted as she was pulling one of the corpses nearer to a wall.

“Don’t bother, Slayer. These are Ghor’asht warriors. Their corpses will disintegrate come dawn.”

Huffing and blowing a stray strand of hair out of her face, Buffy stomped her foot. “You could have told me earlier, you know.”

Chuckling, Spike leaned against a wall. “What would have been the fun in that, kitten?”

Suddenly, both of them became self-conscious in light of their recent make-out session. The first to find her voice was Buffy, who was near the opposite alley wall from Spike, holding her shoulders as if to warm herself. “So what is this? Us? Is there an us?”

“Dunno, pet.” Spike threw his cigarette away and started pacing impatiently. “All I know is that since I arrived in Sunnyhell, nothing’s been the same. You’ve taken my world and turned it right on its arse.” Stopping in front of the Slayer, he placed his palms on the wall, his arms barely touching her shoulders. “What are you doing to me, little girl?”

“What are you doing to me?” She answered without backing down, her eyes slipping to his lips and the mouth that had given her such toe-curling kisses just seconds earlier, of which she still felt their lingering effect.

With a frustrated growl, Spike broke away from the wall and turned his back on Buffy. “When you figure out what you want, I’ll be in Sunnydale. Shouldn’t be too hard to find me. Either we finish what we started, or one of us doesn’t walk away. Deal?”

Still reeling from the day’s events, Buffy concentrated all her strength in her voice, unwilling to show any weakness. “Deal!”

Neither spoke another word as they headed their separate ways. Each still had unanswered questions, such as why Buffy dove into the fight without backup and why Spike was there to give her that backup. Despite this, they both knew no more answers could be found that night. Nor would they discuss their previous promises of fighting to the death, something that had dotted their earlier encounters with striking regularity.

This time they only had the promise of a conclusion. Everything would have to be settled in Sunnydale, where it had all begun.

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