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Buffy paced the length of Spikeís crypt, lifting the hem of the lurid green bridesmaid dress that she had worn to Xanderís non-wedding. Checking her watch again, she sat down on the stone crypt and removed the pins from her hair, allowing the sleek bun that Anya had insisted on to unwind, sending soft curls around her shoulders. She sighed, massaging her scalp to relieve the tension she felt. It didnít work.

She checked her watch again, angry now. There was probably no doubt what, or who, he was currently doing. Narrowing her eyes, she thought of the psycho punk girl he had brought as a Ďdateí to the non-wedding. She had not lied to Spike.
It hurt.

It hurt really, really bad.

Getting to her feet, she resumed her pacing until she noticed a stack of
drawing tablets in the corner. She brought the lantern that Spike kept on hand closer and flipped it open, gasping when she saw amazing drawings of herself on each page. With her mouth open, she picked up another and another, only to find the same unbelievable drawings. Sitting in the tattered chair he had lugged halfway across town, she turned the pages slowly, not believing her eyes.

There were drawings of her smiling, laughing, looking pensive, crying and smiling up at her mother. Buffy lingered on that one for a moment, wondering how he had captured her motherís eyes so succinctly. Turning the page, she was shocked to see a drawing of the headstone her friends had placed on her grave after she died. She gave an involuntary shudder and started to turn the page, but paused when she saw two words scribbled in the corner. ĎI failed.í Her thumb traced those words for several long minutes before she finally flipped to the next page.

Hands. He had drawn her hands after she had clawed herself free of her
coffin. They were ripped and the flesh was bruised and abraded. She tilted the page so she could see it better and noticed that he had sketched his own hands under hers, exactly the way he had held her that night while they waited on Dawn to find bandages. It startled her what staring at the picture did to her heart.
What she had come to realize he was doing to her heart.

She dropped the tablet and picked up another. The blush crept into her face so quickly that it made her lightheaded. In every drawing she was in the throes of passion, her mouth open, her head thrown back. Her body was sketched with the precision of someone who had come to know every inch of it, down to the scar on her stomach and the one on her chin. He had not drawn himself into any of the scenes, but it made her tingle to recall how easily he could bring her to the ecstasy he had so beautifully depicted.

"See something you like, love?"

Buffy jumped and dropped the pad onto the floor. She had to fight to hang onto the lantern, which almost toppled, but she righted it before it could hit the ground. "I was looking for you."

He stared at her, then at his drawing books. "Do you make it a habit of going through my things when Iím not here?"

She straightened her back and lifted her chin. "At least I didnít steal anything, which is what you used to do to *my* things."

"Whatever." He tossed his jacket into the chair and moved across the small expanse of the crypt, grabbing a bottle of whiskey off a rickety table. "Iím tired. What do you want?"

"Where were you?"

Spike lowered the bottle and lifted an eyebrow. "You really need to ask?"

Buffyís heart fell a little and she leaned back against the wall, trying to remain stoic. "So, whatís her name?"


"Thatís appalling."

"So sayeth the girl called Buffy." Spike took a drink from the bottle. "Why are you here? And if you want to know the definition of appalling you should check a mirror. Why are you still wearing that?"

Buffy stared at the floor. "Xander left Anya."


"The wedding didnít happen."


Buffy told him.

"Damn." Spike hopped up onto the sarcophagus and studied her. "And that brings you here because ...?"

"I was looking for Xander."

He glanced around the crypt. "Xander! Are you here? Xander?" After a few seconds passed, Spike shrugged. "Guess he isnít here."

"Did you sleep with her?"

Her question caught him off guard and he choked a little on the whiskey he was trying to casually swallow. He wiped his mouth, took another pull from the bottle, and smiled "What do you think?"

She felt tears welling in her eyes and turned away from him, giving her full attention to a spider web that had gotten dangerously large over the past few weeks. Her feet were not cooperating, not steering her toward the door.

Spike watched her, expecting her to say something biting before she stormed away. His arms itched to go around her and he ached to rip the ugly dress from her body and prove to her that she was the only woman he thought of. His anger over their last encounter in his crypt was still too fresh. He said, "What did you expect? That I would sit here and pine for a century? You dumped me if memory serves. So that means you donít get to be upset."

"I am not upset," Buffy lied through clenched teeth. Her throat ached from trying to keep the tears at bay, but she refused to tell him that she had been wrong, that she wanted him. The tears slipped and she bit her lip when the words tried to pour forth.

"Well, you entertain yourself with whatever else of mine you want to pilfer. Iím going to bed." Spike slipped off the tomb and moved past her, grabbing his jacket from the chair. He turned, intent on heading for the rough steps that led to his underground lair, but he caught her profile and stopped, cursing himself as he did so. It was such a Buffy thing to do, to look like he had shattered her and turn on the waterworks. "Why the hell are you crying?"

She turned away from him again. "Iím not."

He clenched his jaw to the point of pain and threw his jacket back into the chair. He made a stabbing motion behind her back, then clenched his fists, unclenched them, and reached out, turning her to face him. "Liar."

Staring up at him, she let the tears fall. "How could you do that to me? You hurt me! You really hurt me. And then you slept with her and you act like -"

"I did not sleep with her."


Swearing, Spike let her go and threw his hands up. "I was at the Fish Tank and she offered to blow me for twenty bucks. I asked her how much sheíd charge to be my date to a wedding and then I paid her."

"That was hours ago."

"Yeah, and then I tracked a demon for a while, killed it behind Sunnydale Elementary, walked up and down your street forever hoping to run into you and then I came home." He picked up the bottle again and drained it. "Sheís not you and I wonít take a substitute. Are you satisfied now that you ripped out my heart *and* castrated me?"

"I hate what you do to me," Buffy replied. "I hate what you make me think and feel."

"You donít feel anything. Isnít that what you keep telling me?"

"Iím trying to say something to you, Spike!" she shouted. "So shut up for five fucking seconds and let me tell you that I think I am in love with you and so help me God if you mock me or make me regret telling you that I will never, ever come near you again!"

Spike was shocked into silence. It must be the booze. He glanced at the bottle, trying to remember where he had gotten it. He had nicked it from the wedding.

"Say something!" Buffy said, her voice breaking.

"Did you drink anything at the wedding? Eat anything new?"


"Are you drunk?"

She opened her mouth, but was too flabbergasted to speak. She had just told him how she felt and he had the audacity to ignore it. "I take it back. I donít love you. I donít even like you."

Spike caught her arm as she turned on her heel and headed for the door. "Stop."

"Donít." Buffy pushed him away from her. "Youíre just like every other man. You want me as long as I donít want you, but the second you think I might actually want something more than ... whatever the hell it is weíre doing ... you donít want it anymore."

"I still want it!" Spike snarled, grabbing her again. He moved against her. "I want it every second of the day."

Her gaze traveled down to his mouth and she felt her tongue dance eagerly against her own lips, moistening them. She saw that he noticed and tilted her face up. "Prove it," she whispered.

Yanking her upward, he kissed her, long and hard until he knew she was
breathless. She moaned when he pulled away and reached for him. Shaking his head, he said, "Iím not going down this road again. We tell your friends, we tell your Watcher, and we donít hide anymore."

"They wonít-"

"I donít bloody care what they will or wonít do!" Spike raged. "I am good enough to fight beside you, to take care of Dawn, to shag you until we both canít move, but Iím not good enough to take your hand in front of them? To kiss you goodnight on your porch? To sleep in your bed as much as youíve slept in mine? I wonít accept that. So, the choice is yours."

"You donít have a soul."

"Iíve got a heart, Buffy. And it bleeds every single time you leave me. Thatís better than a soul because what Iíve got -- itís yours."

Her chin trembled and she moved forward, wrapping her arms around him. "How can we do this?"

"Together, baby." He kissed the top of her head and let his hands rest on her waist.

"Theyíll hate me."

"Theyíll come Ďround."

"They wonít understand."

"Weíll show them."

"You want to sleep in my bed?" Buffy realized what he had said and glanced up at him.

"Well, itís better than mine. Your soldier boy blew it up. Remember?"

"Thatís because you were harvesting demon eggs down there."

"I was *trying* to get money for you and Ďbit," Spike replied. "They were willing to pay over a thousand dollars an egg and I was going to put it all in your mailbox."

Her heart did that funny thing where it fell again, this time for a good reason. "You were?"

"I know itís been rough over there. Your mum, she didnít leave things quite like she would have liked."

"Yeah." Buffy nodded, then leaned her head against his chest again. "Dawn and Willow were going to Taraís to spend the night. Theyíre helping her pack. Sheís coming back to Willow."

Spike grinned, actually relieved that things worked out for the witches. "Are you coming back to me?"

"I never really left." Buffy stepped away from him and held her hand out. "Come home?"

Spike took her hand, holding it in his. He glanced down at their entwined fingers, looking at them from different angles. "Feels right, doesnít it?"

Buffy glanced at the drawing pads, one was open to the drawing of her hands in his the night that she had emerged from her grave. "It felt right since that night."

He glanced at the drawing, then back down at her. "I love you, Buffy."

"I know." For the first time, she truly believed him and she was elated and terrified at the surge of emotion she felt in return. "I love you, too."

Fingers still entwined, they walked from his crypt, the moon lighting their path across the cemetery. Neither spoke as they wove between the headstones, but words were unneeded. Something had changed between them and they both knew it, both accepted it. It wasnít just their hands that touched, their hearts had touched and neither could let go.