Marie & Liquidram - September 30 2001

WARNING: This one's for adults! Rated R, with the occasional foray into NC-17 land.

I would die for you
I would kill for you
I will steal for you
I'd do time for you
I will wait for you
I'd make room for you
I'd sink ships for you,
Take the cross for you
Make me a part of you
Because I believe in you
I believe in you
I would die for you

Prologue - 1995

Tears burned her eyes as they seeped in-between the swollen flesh of her eyelids. She cowered on the floor of the kitchen afraid to make a sound lest he return to finish the job. A sob escaped her, shaking her, and a searing pain hitched in her side where his fist had mercilessly battered her ribs. Words spoken softly filtered into the kitchen but were too faint for her to make out. She prayed that he would leave with the visitor who had chosen such an opportune time to come calling.

"Kay!" her husband's sudden scream terrified her.

She inched her way painfully toward the kitchen door, hoping to put as much distance between them as possible, but stopped when he called for her again.

"Kayla, please."

She stopped, uncertain what to do when faced with his anguished cry. She had loved him once when life was simpler with only promises of the future ahead of them. Lost jobs and miscarried babies had been alien to them in those earlier times. Kayla often envied those sweet babies their release from the painful world she found herself trapped in.

Regardless of her weaknesses, she was a good woman. He sounded frightened and needed help. Is it a trick? When I go to him, will he finish me off, this time? Slowly, she pulled herself up and moved toward the living room, favoring her left leg where he had kicked her feet out from under her not one half hour ago. The front door leading to the porch was open but she was unable to see him at first. Then she heard a low moan from the porch.

Summoning strength she wasn't aware she possessed, she quickly opened the door wide, revealing a young, fair-haired man kneeling over her husband. The stranger glanced up at her, his concerned look twisting into something darker when he noticed her condition.

"Madam, I'm afraid your husband has suffered quite a nasty fall here. If you would allow me to assist, I will help him into the house while you call a physician." His voice was soft, comforting, and she hesitated for the briefest moment.

"Kayla," her husband moaned, shaking his head from side-to-side, "No."

The stranger bent down to him, but continued to speak to her. "I'm afraid he's falling into shock. It's urgent that you call the doctor as soon as possible. May I please bring him inside for you?"

"Yes, thank you. Please bring him in while I-"

Even as she spoke, the stranger reached down, grabbed her husband by the neck and twisted violently. Kayla shrieked and attempted to slam the door in the stranger's face, but he was too quick. The last thing she saw was his face shifting into a horrible mask. He lowered his mouth to her neck. Her world turned black.

Kayla could not open her eyes. They were swollen shut from the beating she had suffered. The bed she was resting in was far more comfortable than the one in her own bedroom, but she barely noticed as she tried to burrow farther into the comforter, her body racked with chills and pain. She was dimly aware of a quick, sharp pain in her arm followed by languid warmth that lulled her back into a dreamless sleep.

She tossed about the bed, her body moving freely once again as her bruises healed. She struggled to wake from the dream. The mask of her husband's killer floated in and out of her vision, coming closer. She tried to scream as he opened his mouth exposing the razor sharp teeth reaching for her throat. Oblivious to the pain, the dream soon evaporated along with her fear.

Something woke her, and she lay there for a moment, disoriented. She thought, confusedly, Someone's crying... a girl...is she hurt, too? A low voice murmured softly until the girl's sobs quieted and then stopped. The room was once again completely silent.

The pleasant tinkling of a harpsichord drew her to consciousness once again. The cushions were feather soft beneath her and a cool cloth scented with lavender laid across her brow. Several pillar candles placed at sporadic intervals around the room dimly lit pleasant shadows on the walls. Afraid, she kept her eyes closed hoping that the owner of the cool hand checking the pulse in her wrist would believe her still asleep. The horrors of her memories were at odds with the beauty and comfort of this room and the gentle touch on her wrist. If not for the vision of the monstrous mask, she would believe she had been delivered from a hell on earth to this comforting place.

"There you are." The soft voice of her memories interrupted her thoughts and her complacency turned to fear at the slightly mocking tone. Afraid, she stole a look at the person leaning close to her whispering into her ear. She stared at the face of her captor. His handsome, sculpted features with the full soft lips curving into a placid smile showed no trace of the monster she had witnessed. But he's beautiful! she thought. Did I imagine it? His eyes, a clear cerulean blue stared back at her. He reached behind her and plumped the pillows behind her head, allowing her to sit up. Surprisingly, the pain in her ribs was all but gone and Kayla wondered for the first time how long she had been in this place.

"Feeling better?" He stood and walked over to a dresser in the corner of the room. The harpsichord tinkled in time with each footstep he took across the floor. He poured water into a goblet and brought it over to her, holding it to her lips for her to drink. He moved away when she nodded that she had enough. There were so many questions she wanted to ask, yet she blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"You killed my husband." It was merely a statement, not an accusation.

"Yeah, delivered you from his fist, looked to me." He lit a cigarette from the candle closest to him. The acrid smell of the smoke nauseated her and she laid back down into the soft confines of the pillow, taking note of the unfamiliar room.

"Where am I? When can I go home?"

He paused without answering for a moment, the smoke from the cigarette wafting up into long tendrils blocking his eyes from her view. He tossed it onto the floor, scorching a perfect round hole into the carpet before being ground out under the heel of his boot. "You are home." He turned and walked out of the room, and there was silence, but for the gentle tinkling of the harpsichord keys.

Los Angeles - 2001 -

Well, I keep holdin' on to yesterday
I keep holdin' on, enough to say
That I'm wrong

The Host set down the glass he was polishing, momentarily transfixed by the loveliness of the young woman's voice. She stood on the stage, her arms hanging loosely at her sides. She sang only to herself, her eyes closed. A single tear streaked down her lovely face.

I keep thinkin' that I'm lonely
But it's only missin' you inside
Days that we were once together
Seems will never come alive

He had heard it all. Pain, anger, vengeance and fear, but the simple sadness of her voice affected him more deeply than usual. He perched on a stool close to the stage to listen.

Lord I don't know when I'll see you
I can't reach you anymore
But, if I'd only known I'd need you
Then I'd keep you like before

He'd been wrong about her singing only for herself. Her song was for another.

I keep holdin' on to yesterday
I keep holdin' on, enough to say
That I'm wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong
To keep holdin' on
My yesterdays have all gone by

The song ended, but she did not open her eyes or move from the stage, still lost in the words. An uncomfortable silence screamed in the room, but she remained oblivious. Lorne made his way over to her and gently touched her arm, afraid of startling her.

Huge brandy-colored eyes, the identical color of her shoulder-length hair, fringed with eyelashes reaching nearly to her eyebrows opened slowly. She was not beautiful but he could not take his eyes off her. She blinked quickly and became aware of him standing in front of her. The sadness of mere moments ago dissipated and she graced him with a stunning smile. She reached out her hand to shake his and her tear-rimmed eyes lit with honest kindness. I was wrong about that too, He thought. She is beautiful.

Taking her hand in both of his, he squeezed it and then gestured to an empty table.

"I have to say, sweetness, I have heard thousands of songs and none have been sung more beautifully."

She smiled at him again, uncomfortable with the compliment. "I like to sing," she replied shyly.

Lorne could see that she was not interested in trivial conversation. "What can I do for you?"

She hesitated, unsure why she was even in this strange place. Demons did not frighten her, but opening her heart to this stranger did. "An acquaintance of mine said that you might be able to help me if I came in here and sang for you." Her eyes did not waver from his.

For once, Lorne had no pithy comments, no clever comebacks for this woman. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a white business card. Meeting her gaze, he handed her the card. "You need to go here. He'll tell you where you need to be."

She glanced at the simple line art on the card. "Angel Investigations. We help the helpless." She smiled up at Lorne. "I came across that pathetic?"

He grinned at her. "When you meet Cordelia, you'll understand that quaint bit of marketing. Just go see Angel. You can trust him completely."

She rewarded him another brilliant smile, before turning to leave. Lorne watched her until she was gone from his view. He knew he would never see her again.

The imposing building loomed tall above her, once grand, yet still retaining an aura of glamour from days since past. A bicycle roared toward her on the sidewalk, forcing her to jump off the pavement onto the grass and straight into the shoulder of a young woman walking from the opposite direction. The pretty brunette was juggling two bags and a tray of Styrofoam coffee cups while digging into an oversized tote bag slung against her opposite shoulder. Tray, cups and bags went flying as the two women collided on the grass.

"Hey watch it!" the girl exclaimed, scrambling away from the hot liquid splattering around her legs. Her tone abruptly changed and she reached for her head as a spasm of pain overwhelmed her and she sank to the ground, moaning softly.

Kayla grabbed for the girl as she fell to the ground but was unable to stop her descent. She looked around for someone to help, but the other woman grabbed onto her hand.

"No, I'll be okay, please just --" she stopped speaking as another wave of pain slammed in to her. She looked up at Kayla, startled, and fainted.

"Cordy? Cordy!" A young black man ran from the front of the building, calling back in through the door, "Wes! Get out here. Now!"

He reached the girl and lifted her head, cradling it in his lap, while crooning to her softly. "Cordy, wake up, honey. Come on, come back to me." He coaxed, his voice becoming louder with concern. He pushed her hair from her eyes as he attempted to rouse her.

Wesley had reached the couple and was also down on the ground, holding the girl's hand. "We've got to get her inside." He noticed the red blotches on Kayla's legs where the spilled coffee had splashed her. "Miss, come inside. I will attend to those burns." He spoke with a refined English accent that sent a shiver down her spine. He stood and held his hand out to her, motioning her to follow. The younger man lifted the brunette into his arms and started toward the entrance of the old hotel.

Apprehensively Kayla stood, and walked with them toward the building, calling softly to the Englishman, "I was sent here to talk to Angel."

She followed the two men into the hotel lobby and sat on a sofa watching them fuss over the girl. Cordelia started to moan and jerked awake in the young man's arms. She struggled against him for a moment, fretfully calling out.

"Gunn, get Angel! It's Spike! He's kil-" her frantic words cut off when she noticed Kayla sitting on the sofa next to them. She inhaled deeply to calm herself and repeated. "Get Angel." Gunn repositioned her more comfortably on the sofa and left the room.

Alert, hearing Spike's name, Kayla was unsure what to do. Who are these people? She shifted uncomfortably on the sofa, glancing from the the man and back to the girl. Wesley, sensitive to her anxiety, moved closer to her on the sofa, speaking calmly to relax her.

"Miss, let me take a look at those burns." He looked to her for permission to proceed. She nodded and he took her ankle in his hand, turning it carefully to assess the damage from the coffee spatters. "The redness is already fading. Are you in any pain?"

Kayla shook her head and turned to Cordelia, sitting up on the sofa. "Please, Cordelia, is it? You just mentioned Spike. May I ask what you know of him?" The younger woman was quite pale and still shaking from the ordeal of her vision.

Cordy frowned. Why is this woman interested in Spike? Easily one of the most vicious vampires she had ever had the displeasure of knowing, she still carried the nasty scar from being impaled when Spike kidnapped Xander and Willow. That's all the reminder I need. Willow's explanation of the government chip planted in his head and his newfound relationship with her old friends was still too difficult for her to accept. The last time he was here, he tortured Angel. If it hadn't been for Oz ... She was spared having to answer by the arrival of Gunn returning to the room with Angel following close behind.

So intent on Cordy's answer, Kayla didn't immediately notice the second tall man walking into the room,. Her skin prickled and she felt a flush of heat on the back of her neck. She saw Cordy glance behind her and turned to see what had grabbed her attention.

He stood there, eyes heavy with sleep. He was buttoning a dark burgundy shirt, but she still caught a glimpse of pale muscles as the shirt shifted tighter over his chest. Angelus. The name came to her, unbidden. His head lifted at her quick intake of breath.

She stood, wondering if her legs would be able to support her. She held her hand out to him. It took him so long to grasp her hand that she was afraid that he would not. She risked the question. "Please, tell me where he is." She didn't know how she knew, but she was certain the vampire would understand what she was asking. He motioned her back to the sofa. She sat, waiting for him to speak.

He moved behind Cordy and reached out to put his hand on her shoulder, his unspoken concern for her obvious. He bent down next to her ear and motioned Wesley closer. They spoke so quietly that Kayla could only hear the occasional word. Cordy finished her explanation and stood. Gunn followed her out of the room while Wesley and Angel turned to Kayla.

Angel spoke to her for the first time. "You know who I am?"

"Angelus! I'm lost!" Drusilla's scream echoed through the hallways. Spike had been dozing in front of the television in Kayla's room. Instantly alert, he dashed out of the room without explanation.

The next evening, they were walking on the path in the garden and had stopped to watch a pair of bluejays splashing in the birdbath. "Who's Angelus?" Kayla asked him, casually. She was not prepared for the venom in his answer.

"He's in the past and of no concern of yours. Do not mention him again." He strolled pass her and walked into the house. She did not see him again for two days.

She looked at Angel, considering her words before answering his question. "I know of you." Well, sorta. "The demon at the karaoke bar said that you would help me and that I can trust you." She met Angel's look, not allowing him to see that he was succeeding in intimidating her. "I just need for you to tell me how to find Spike and I'll be out of your hair."

Angel bristled at Spike's name and moved in closer to her. "What could you possibly want with the likes of him?" Wesley reached over to lay a restraining hand on his shoulder.

"I don't believe that's any of your business." Kayla snapped.

Angel shrugged Wesley's hand from his shoulder and stood, towering over the woman on the sofa. "I have friends involved with him in - where he is, and I'll be damned if I send you off on some vendetta against Spike where one of them can get hurt."

Kayla stood, to even the distance between them. "I have no vendetta with him. We're, well, we were - friends."

"Friends?" Angel snickered. "Spike has no friends. " He frowned, remembering Willow's explanation of the changes in Spike and his actions in helping Buffy and the Scoobies. I'll believe it when I see it.

Kayla gathered up her jacket and purse from the sofa and moved toward the front door of the lobby.

"Whoa, where are you going?" Angel trotted up next to her and laid a hand on her arm. He quickly removed it at the caustic look she gave him.

"Obviously your friend was wrong and you are going to be no help. I'm really sorry I wasted your time. I hope Cordelia is okay." With that, she moved once again toward the door.

"Miss, um..." Wesley called after her retreating back. "Please wait a moment." Kayla stopped and turned to him impatiently.

Wesley spoke quickly to Angel. "Cordelia saw this woman and Spike in her vision. I think that maybe she is supposed to go to him. If what Willow told us is true, and we have no reason to believe that it isn't, then Spike is harmless to humans with that government implant." Addressing Angel's unspoken concern, he added, "There is no indication that it involves Buffy."

Angel contemplated what Wesley had said. "Fine. Guess we need to look into it. But I don't have to like it." Would like another go at Spike, though. He turned back to Kayla. "Come back in here and relax while I get a few things packed."

Now it was Kayla's turn to bristle. Spike's words echoed: He's in the past and of no concern of yours. Don't mention him again. " "No! I don't need you to go with me; this is not your concern. Just tell me where I can find him."

Wesley watched Angel and then Kayla, neither appearing willing to stand down. "If I may make a suggestion, Angel." Both of them turned to him. "Perhaps it would be wiser if Gunn went with her. He has no history with Spike and would probably enjoy the break."

".... A break, me?" All heads turned to the tall young man who had helped Cordy out of the room a few minutes before. Gunn nodded to Angel. "She's upstairs with Fred; still shook up, but okay."

Wesley explained his idea of Gunn accompanying Kayla to Sunnydale.

"Hoo, yeah! I finally get to go see the famous SunnyHell? I'm there!" Gunn seemed overjoyed with the idea, Kayla not so much so. Angel started to argue, shrugged, and agreed that maybe it was better for Gunn to go. Kayla decided against arguing the point. Having someone to drive her would save her some money. She didn't know how long she'd need to stay in Sunnydale. Gunn seemed like a nice enough guy and she was certain that Spike wouldn't appreciate her bringing Angel into his town. That wouldn't do at all.

Sunnydale - 2001

Kayla looked at herself in the mirror. Her usual face looked back. So why do I feel so different? She shrugged her shoulders and turned away from her reflection. As she walked back into the motel bedroom she paused by the side of the double bed to step into her shoes and pick up her purse from the bedside table. It was quite a nice motel room, as motel rooms go. Clean, and fresh-smelling. Better than the first place she'd looked at on her arrival in Sunnydale. And it wasn't so expensive that she couldn't afford another couple of nights at least. Maybe she'd find him tonight.

The Slumbersweet Motel boasted its own diner, and she made her way there, thinking she'd grab a coffee to go, but when she pushed the door open the smell of fries and steak was too much to resist, and she sat down at the counter and picked up a . The waitress, a matronly woman with greying blonde hair, came over and filled a coffee mug, unasked, placing it in front of Kayla with a kindly "Here ya go, hon, I'll be with ya in just a minute." Kayla smiled back at her and took a grateful sip of the hot brew. It was really cold out there tonight.

An hour later, fortified by french fries, steak and salad, she put some money on the counter and stood up, shrugging on her coat. The waitress, who had been keeping a motherly eye on the young woman, glanced across at her. "Getting late, honey. You sleep well, now."

"Oh, I'm not going to bed yet. I thought I'd go for a walk. Take off some of those calories!"

"A walk?" Concerned, the older woman walked around the counter to stand by Kayla. The only other customers were a middle-aged couple seated in a corner booth. Engrossed in their own conversation, they didn't look over as the waitress leaned her head closer to Kayla's and said, softly, "Honey, this is a small town, but it's got it's share of weirdoes. Young girl like you - you don't want to be walking the streets this time of night."

"Don't worry. I'm not going to go far," Kayla lied, "just around the block, then I'm going to go back to my room. Honestly."

Unconvinced, the woman watched her leave.

She'd been searching for a couple of hours now. No one had bothered her. As she'd walked, she'd thought about her journey down here, and the young black man who'd driven her. She knew that Angel had told Gunn to stay, watch her, watch over her, though he'd said nothing to her. Gunn had some interesting things to tell her about Spike, too. A behavior modification chip, she mused, Well, well, that's gonna make things interesting.

He was a nice kid. Gunn hadn't wanted to leave, but she'd insisted. He had his own life to lead. His own demons to fight. He didn't need to be fighting hers. She wasn't much older than him, really, but she'd felt older. So much older. He'd told her about meeting Angel, and about his sister. So sad. Her mind veered away from the thought. I'll find him soon. Maybe tonight.

There were lots of cemeteries in Sunnydale, she discovered. She wasn't afraid as she wandered along the paths, and past the graves and crypts. Somehow she felt untouchable, and untouched. Apart. Part of her mind had accepted that she probably wasn't going to find him, so when she heard the sound of a fight somewhere up ahead, it didn't immediately register. When it did, she stopped, unsure for the moment just what to do. Deciding on discretion, she moved forward quietly, making sure to keep herself concealed by the surrounding headstones and monuments. Turning a corner, she came across them suddenly, and, eyes wide, she crouched down beside the grave of one Josiah Bentwood, Esq., and watched, silently.

Spike was enervated, enjoying himself. God, nothing was as good as a down and dirty dust up! As the female vampire rolled out of his way, just in time to avoid a faceful of Doc Martin's, he grinned at her. "C'mon, beautiful, is that all ya got? Doncha wanna just hug me?" As he spoke, he spun around, kicking out with his right leg, and the vampire dropped like a stone. Quick as a flash he pulled out a stake and lunged. Kneeling on the dust-strewn spot, he shrugged. "Guess not, huh?"

He glanced around. No sign of Buffy. Bet she doesn't wanna hug me either, he thought to himself. As he straightened up and started to turn, he paused, suddenly still, and listened, something in the silence, something familiar, someone familiar, forcing his game face to the surface. Behind him, then, he heard a voice say his name.


The voice was soft, almost beseeching, and he spun round. The black leather duster he wore swirled out with the sudden movement, and then he had the something by the throat. He started to squeeze, and several things hit him simultaneously - sweet, feminine scent, soft, feminine skin, and a sharp, agonizing pain flashing through his skull. He let go, and fell back a step, gripping his head, his features smoothing. "Jesus! Bloody hell!" As he sank to his knees, he was conscious of a sudden flurry, and soft cries, then he heard Buffy's voice.

"Spike! Are you all right? What the hell is going on here?"

Looking up, he stared at the woman now gripped in Buffy's arms.

"Spike? Spike! What the hell's the matter with you? Who is this? Where'd she come from? And why were you strangling her?"

For once in his life, Spike was speechless. He stared at the newcomer, who looked back at him, wide-eyed, but silent, then looked at Buffy.

"It's okay, Buffy," he managed. "I, er, know her."

"You know her? What does that mean, you know her?" Buffy looked from Spike to the woman, then back to Spike, her eyes narrowing as she sensed the tension in the air. "She's not a vampire," Buffy added. It was a statement, not a question, but Spike shook his head in negation anyway, though he said nothing, just continued to stare at the woman Buffy still held. The woman had stopped struggling and held the vampire's gaze unblinkingly.

"Look, I'm all for silence-is-golden moments, but only when Paul Simon's singing along, so would one of you two tell me what's the what here?"

Spike moved, standing up and taking a step nearer. "Buffy, meet Kayla. Kayla, this is Buffy. You can let 'er go, she's not goin' anywhere. Are you?"

Kayla shook her head, and for the first time looked at Buffy as if she was actually seeing her. "Hello. You - you aren't...?"

As Buffy gazed blankly back at her, Spike saw the humor in the situation, and laughed. "Hell, no, Sweet Pea, far from it. Look, let's get the hell away from here, eh? It's bloody cold, and there won't be any more action here now. We'll go to-" he stopped at Buffy's look, remembered Dawn, and continued "er. My place. It's nearer, anyway." Without looking to see if they followed, he turned and led the way towards that part of the cemetery he called home.

Buffy looked at Kayla, and raised an eyebrow, indicating that she should follow Spike, while Buffy would follow her. Kayla said nothing, just turned and walked after the vampire. Buffy stared at the girl's back and wondered. She was quite tall, and slender, but not overly so. Her hair was that peculiar shade of russet that looked dark brown in some lights and pure auburn in others, and fell to her shoulders in soft waves. Her eyes had been dark, but Buffy wasn't sure what colour they were, dark blue, or brown, she'd thought. She's really very pretty, in a quiet sort of way. Lovely skin.

Spike made straight for his bottle of Jack Daniels and poured himself a hefty shot, glancing back as the two women followed him through the door. Lifting the bottle, he raised a brow. Buffy shook her head, but Kayla, after glancing rather nervously at the blonde, looked back at Spike and nodded. Taking the drink from him, she looked around then sat in the only chair the room contained. Buffy sat on the edge of what to Kayla looked like a blanket-covered sarcophagus, and glared at Spike when he moved to sit next to her, so he rolled his eyes, and propped a shoulder against a wall.

There was an uncomfortable silence. Kayla knew that the blonde girl was waiting for an explanation, but she was at a loss for words. She hadn't really expected to come across Spike so quickly, and certainly not in the company of a young woman who didn't seem to be a vampire.

Spike, becoming more nervous each passing moment, kicked away from the wall and walked over to the microwave to heat up a mug of blood that he was not hungry for - anything to avoid the estrogen war he expected could erupt at any minute. He involuntarily shuddered at the memory of the last time the women in his life had confronted each other.

Kayla was sitting in Spike's easy chair, sipping on her drink, glancing from Spike to the other girl. She decided to try and ease the tension in the room by attempting to make small talk with Buffy. Listening from across the room, Spike had to give her credit for behaving gracefully in what had to be an extremely awkward situation for her. The Slayer, perched on the edge of his bier, was giving Kayla an occasional clipped response, before turning back to Spike between each comment.

Spike removed the mug from the microwave and took a fortifying sip. He hissed and swore at the mug as the liquid scalded his tongue. Bloody women.

Kayla twisted in the chair to see what had happened the same time as Buffy. The sight of Spike growling at his mug with a drop of blood running down his chin had the same effect on both of them and they started laughing at the annoyed vampire, effectively breaking the ice in the room.

"You vant I should run out and get you some ice cubes, Count?" Buffy sniggered in a poor Romanian accent.

Spike sat the mug down, and took a menacing step toward her. "I'd much rather have a perfect 98.6 degrees Slayer. Think you could manage to find me some on such short notice?"

He was so used to the casual bickering and teasing he enjoyed with Buffy that the callousness of his words and what they would mean to Kayla did not register immediately. She gasped and jumped out of his chair, her glass falling to the ground in her haste, and ran out of the crypt.

"Ah, shit!" Spike spared a quick look to Buffy before running out after Kayla. Buffy, clearly bewildered at what had just happened, watched the dark liquid from the glass drain out onto the ground and seep into the dirt filled cracks. "What is going on here?" she called to the crypt door, not expecting an answer.

Kayla hadn't gone far. She was sitting curled up against the wall of the crypt, her head lowered and her arms holding tightly onto her legs. Spike sat next to her and allowed her a moment before speaking.

"I'm sorry Kay. That was damned inconsiderate of me. Buffy and I -"

Her voice cut into his. "Are you feeding from her?" He expected tears but was not prepared for the look of absolute sorrow on her face when she raised her head to look at him.

Frowning, he said, "You have got to be kidding! She'd use me for an ashtray if I even came close." The truth of his statement caused a pang of something he didn't want to acknowledge right now, with her. "Come on, dry your eyes and let's go back inside and catch up." She allowed him to lead her back into the crypt and wondered how to explain her weird behaviour to Buffy as he went to get her another drink. Buffy glanced up as they entered, but said nothing.

Curious, Kayla picked up the abandoned mug of blood and sniffed the contents. Wrinkling her nose in distaste, she took a tentative sip. "This isn't even human."

Buffy responded harshly. "We don't take real kindly to killing people around here."

Kayla, sick of the blonde's sanctimonious attitude, favored Buffy with a smirk, reminding Buffy instantly of Spike. Her words dripped ice spoken in a voice flaming with heat. "He doesn't have to kill to feed."

Buffy choked back a retort at Spike's expression. He was holding the glass, his eyes darting back and forth between the two women as though he expected them to come to blows at any second. Buffy took a deep breath to calm her anger and made a quick decision.

"I'm tired. Kayla, you are more than welcome to come home with me for the night. You know, any friend of Spike's is a friend of mine and all that." Buffy scowled at the newest expression on Spike's face.

He knew Buffy would rather eat a boiled rat than shelter any of his old friends. She's jealous! He coughed to cover the stupid grin threatening to erupt on his face. She's jealous, she's jealous, she's jealous! His joy was cut short at the look both women gave him. They knew exactly what he was thinking and neither liked it one bit.

Kayla noticed the look of longing on Spike's face as he watched Buffy. Better do something about that. She smiled sweetly at Buffy, her come-hither body language from a moment ago gone. "I appreciate the offer, but Spike and I have a lot to talk about."

Buffy was not fooled. "He doesn't bite - not these days, anyway."

Spike looked from one woman to the other, then said "Look, Buffy. It's late. Kayla and I have a lot of catching up to do. You should go home now. Check on Dawn and get some sleep

Buffy gaped at him. "What?"

"Go home, Slayer. I need to talk to Kayla in private."

"Er..right. Well. Right, then." Nonplussed, Buffy stood and looked at Spike. "I'll go home then." When Spike said nothing, just continued to look at Kayla, she spun on her heels and stalked out into the night air. I don't believe this! He sent me home! Like a little kid! Some girl-who's-not-a-vampire comes along, and I get sent home! Huh!

For the second time that night, Spike found himself flying out the door after another female.

"Buffy, wait!" He caught up with her easily. She refused to stop walking, so he kept up along side of her. He didn't want to leave Kayla alone in the crypt for long. "I know you're wonderin' where I know her from. It's a long story. Well, not that long, really. You see, five years ago, before comin' here, I killed her husband and .."

Buffy spun around and faced him with a glare so heated he was certain he would find scorch marks on his coat, and finished his statement for him "...now she's back for revenge and if you are having some white-knighted idea about protecting me from another of your old enemies, well you can forget that. Oh, and you had some nerve bringing Dawn into the conversation to some stranger ..."

"It's not like that at all," he protested. "Do you trust me?"

She frowned at him. "Earth to Spike, uh no." Yes.

"What? " His tone was incredulous. "After every... well, bugger that. Never mind then, fine. Off you go. Get yerself a bloody good night's sleep why don't yer!"

Buffy shrugged and continued down the path, counting quietly "10.... 9....8....7...."


She wiped all expression off her face before turning back to face him, impassive.

He stood there, twisting his shirttail furiously. "I did kill her husband, but he was beating the stuffing outta her. I, uh, I let her go." He finished up without his usual cocky swagger "Saved her really."

Good Samaritan Spike? Five years ago? "Yea right." Buffy scoffed. "You expect me to believe that? You let her go? She escaped is more like it."

"She did not escape!" He amended his tone at her skeptical look. "Okay, she escaped. But from Dru. She'd suffered enough abuse at the hands of the baboon she was wed to. Didn't have the heart to kill 'er, and that's the truth of it." Most of it, anyhow. "I expect she feels some sort of debt is owed me."

Realizing it was the only explanation she was likely to get tonight, Buffy nodded at him. "Fine. 'night Spike," she said, and walked away.

As Spike walked back through the door of his crypt, he saw that Kayla had curled up on top of his bed and fallen asleep. Standing by her side, he looked down at her for several moments, searching her features. She looked well, better than the last time he'd seen her. No thanks to me, he added to himself. His gaze was drawn to her neck, the veins showing blue against the creamy whiteness of her skin. Sudden memories assailed him: Kayla, sitting in front of a mirror, brushing her hair, baring her neck for him; the sweet, warm taste of the blood she offered freely. Without volition, his features changed, the demon in him surfacing, and he had started to bend towards her, hungrily, when the now-familiar agony struck him, and he straightened with a loud yell.

Kayla jumped, and sat up with a small scream, then realised it was Spike, and not the husband who filled her dreams with terror.

"Spike! God! You scared me half to death!"

Frustrated, he answered with "What the hell are you doin' in Sunnydale, Kayla? Why d'you come lookin' for me?"

"I - I don't think now's the time... You're angry. Can we leave it for now?"

"No. We bloody well can't leave it for now. I want answers. Can't get any thrills these days, is that it? Need some vampire kisses to get high on? C'mon then, lover, bare yer throat for ole Spike, let 'im 'ave a good nosh-up, why dontcha?"

As he spoke, he placed a knee on the bed beside her and pulled her up, face-to-face, the demon in him surfacing once more. She stared back at him, frightened by his anger, but defiant, daring him with her silence, and he growled at her, and flung her back down contemptuously.

"Why are you speaking like this to me? What have I done to you? All I ever did was-" She stopped short, looking down at her feet.

"Was what? Provide me'n Dru with much needed nourishment, that's what!"

She look up at that, angry herself now. "Yes! I did! Oh, I know what you thought at the time. Easy prey. But it changed, Spike, you know that! You let me go when Drusilla wanted me dead. Why did you do that if you felt nothing?"

Bloody hell, he thought, gritting his teeth. No answer to that, is there? Aloud, all he said was, "Look, it's late. I'll walk you back to wherever the hell you're staying, we can talk more tomorrow."

"Don't bother," she said, tilting her chin at him. "I found my own way here, I can find my own way back. I have protection," and, reaching into her purse, she pulled out a cross, made from two sticks tied together, and a vial of holy water. Spike recoiled instinctively, and she smiled at him smugly as she left the crypt.

He followed her to the motel, slowing only to check out the area around him. She knew he was behind her, somewhere, but didn't look back. After he'd watched her walk through the door of her motel room, he made tracks for the nearest cemetery, hoping to find someone - some thing - to pound out his anger and frustration on. Unfortunately, the night, nearly over, was quiet, and when he found himself staring at the tombstone of Joyce Summers, he hunkered down in front of it, looking at the carved name, before he finally settled himself, cross-legged, on the freshly-mown grass.

"Wotchyer, Joyce? Got any answers for me, tonight? Wanna make me some cocoa with some 'o those little marshmallows floatin' on top? Well, yer can't. Yer dead. Like me. Well, not quite like me, but you know what I mean! Flamin' women're givin' me trouble again. Why can't you be more like men, eh? Gotta get all emotional. Weepin'n wailin! Yeah, yeah, okay, so they weren't weepin'n wailin, but they would've bin, given 'alf a chance! Bloody Kayla! I mean, how long's it been? And suddenly, just when me'n Buffy are finally getting' on okay, up she turns in Sunnydale. Kayla, that is, not Buffy. And I know what she wants, too! Tryin' to make out she was someone special. She bloody well wasn't! Oh, okay, can't fool you, can I Joyce? So she was special, so what?! I don't love er...not like... well, never mind that, eh? But I liked 'er, Joyce. I ended up liking her. Well - didn't kill 'er, did I? Didn't eat her! Could've. But I didn't. Maybe I should've. Wouldn't be getting' this grief now! What is it with you lot? I don't ask for much, now do I? A little blood, a little sex... well, okay, then, a lot of blood, 'n a lot of sex - not that I've been getting' much of that lately - and have you tasted pig's blood?"

He stared at the carved marble stone, hopefully, but the carved marble stone just sat there, staring right back at him. "Bugger!" he said, and rose to his feet. He heard the noise just as he spun round. A low, feral, growl. In front of him crouched a Porculus Demon, its three eyes gleaming yellow in the moonlight, its blue antennae waving gently in the cold breeze.

"Well, well! Aren't you the gorgeous one? Just what the doctor ordered," Spike said delightedly. And leapt. The creature shrieked a high-pitched squeal and with, no apparent effort, released hundreds of sharp needle-like protrusions, which had been hidden in the folds of his hide.

Spike had little time to throw his hands up to protect his face, and a shot of icy pain shot through his arm as needles stabbed into his hands. As the demon rallied round for another attack, he feinted to the left and kicked the creature in the back of the head, making it stumble forward. Knowing he could kill this slow, stupid thing, he rushed forward, bringing his foot down again into its back, shouting out at his moment of victory.


The demon's back was not as soft as its head and Spike's foot had impaled itself smoothly with a nasty squishing sound onto numerous needles that he hadn't noticed. Now stuck to the demon, he flailed about trying to free himself before the thing got smart enough to double back and eat him or even worse, sit down. Pulling with all his might he flew from the thing spinning in an almost perfect circle, only to flay himself onto the demon's back. Pinned once again by the needles, and fairly amused by the absurdity of his situation, Spike jerked away from the creature, and before the thing could recover its momentum, he struck out with his fists and punched it in one of its eyes. With another ear-splitting screech, the demon started galloping away from Spike as fast as its stubby legs would carry it.

Swiping a fresh bouquet of flowers off a nearby grave, Spike walked back over to Joyce's headstone and laid the flowers down on the grass next to the stone. "Can't even get a decent fight from a fuckin' Pokemon, Joyce. G'night now." His entire body was stinging from the demon's needles, but he was whistling happily as he lit a cigarette and slowly made his way back to his crypt. Heal the soddin' holes in my ass and think about everything tomorrow. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to sleep, and collapsed, boots and all, onto the sarcophagus before the door had closed completely behind him.

Obviously no amount of tossing or turning was going to work. Kayla tried every trick she could think of to get to sleep. She knew better than to drink so much before bed; alcohol always worked as a stimulant with her. After switching sides on the bed, throwing her pillow on the other end to change positions and still fighting restlessness, she got up to run a bath.

The scalding water was soothing, but the memories continued to invade.


She sat in front of the vanity mirror brushing her hair. With each stroke of the brush, her nightgown slipped further off her shoulder exposing skin, which had been bruised and mottled for as long as she could remember. She laid the brush down, fascinated with the unfamiliar whiteness of her newly healed skin. She became aware of the melodic tinkling warning her of a visitor to her room, but a quick glance in her mirror showed no one.

A scream escaped her lips when the cool hand reached down and caressed the bare skin on her shoulder. She turned to face her captor. Without a word, he took her hand and pulled her up to face him. He leaned toward her and brushed his lips on her cheek. She misunderstood his attention and melted into his touch, sliding her arms around his waist and pulling herself closer to him. Having spent years without tenderness she was all too willing.

He gently pried her arms from around his waist and leaned closer to speak into her ear, his voice low and seductive. "I'm not going to hurt you." Confused, she searched his face as his features began to transform. She cried out, expecting agony, as his fangs sliced into the top of her right breast. The pain was exquisite and as he began to drink, she was overcome with a sense that being here with this creature was where she was meant to be. Her legs began to give out and she would have fallen if not for the strength of his arms holding her up. After a moment, he removed his fangs from her skin and gently lapped at the wound. He reached his arms under her legs, lifted her, and moving to the other side of the room, gently deposited her onto her bed. Brushing a chaste kiss across her brow, he covered her and turned to leave the room.

"What are you?" Her voice, barely audible reached him as he started to close her door. He paused.

"You can call me Spike."


"Spike ... " Kayla opened her eyes, awakened by her own whispered voice. Shivering, she sat up, confused. She had fallen asleep in the bath, quite a while ago judging by the chilly temperature of the water. She climbed out of the tub, somewhat disoriented and stiff from lying in the cold water for so long.

Drowning would have solved a few of my problems, she mused as she wrapped a plush hotel bathrobe around herself. Grabbing a bottle of lotion from the bathroom counter, she walked back into the main part of her room, surprised at the faint light creeping in between the heavy shades drawn across the window. He could stay in here; those drapes are thick enough. Shaking off unwanted thoughts, she began to vigorously slather lotion on every inch of exposed skin, certain that she was never going to lose the wrinkled, pale, prune-look. She dressed quickly and left the room. Time to apologize.

She stopped off at the diner to discover she had just missed breakfast cut-off. Ordering a cup of coffee and a tuna sandwich to go, she impulsively added a few chocolate chip cookies to her order, wondering if Spike still had his odd sweet tooth for human desserts.

Fragrant cinnamon wafted up from the bag Spike had tossed onto her lap. " Nicked 'em off the cart in the square." He snorted at her hesitation and grabbed the bag, dumping three crumbling scones onto the table, grumbling something about not being able to get the jam pot before the proprietor caught his eye. "You like sweet treats, doncha?" She slowly nodded in his direction never taking her eyes off the food. Satisfied by her acceptance, he started out of the room, but turned back and grabbed one of the pastries from the table and bit into it before walking out of the room.

She took her time walking the short distance to the cemetery. It was one of those beautiful California days that made Autumn seem like Spring. She munched on her sandwich, throwing stray crumbs to a couple of squirrels that frolicked on the grass alongside the sidewalk. She enjoyed the exercise, taking her time, figuring Spike would be sleeping.

She thought about the argument that was barely averted the night before. I almost told him I loved him, way to go. What's the fastest way to scare off a vampire who despises humans? She sniggered to herself. Idiot.

- 1995 -

"You can't stay here!"

Days after the reason for her imprisonment had become all too painfully clear; Spike began allowing Kayla to go outside into the fenced garden every evening as long as he was with her. They would walk the path several times before he would allow her a rest on the stone bench in front of an ornate fountain, saying that she needed her exercise to stay healthy. Sometimes he would continue walking and leave her in solitude, but after the first few days, he would spend the time sitting with her, talking.

Kayla found that the young woman she heard screaming and crying day and night was his lover. The details were sparse, but he explained enough for her to know that the woman had been brutally beaten and burned by a number of townsmen and that the couple was in hiding while she recovered. Kayla was never allowed to see the other woman he called Dru. Although curious as to why the woman never fed as he did, the occasional fresh bite marks on his throat and wrist, explained what she was too afraid to ask. He spoke of distant places and of times past and it was obvious to Kayla that this violent killer of her husband was completely devoted to his lover.

The nights were no longer frightening. He was as gentle as possible when taking what he needed from her and for the first time in her life, she was able to nurture another being who needed her completely. As days turned into weeks, the burgeoning comradeship flourished and the odd couple spent hours together, talking and watching movies. Discussions, which could erupt into heated arguments, were common, as were silent walks on rainy nights, with his face raised to the sky, water droplets resting on his closed eyelids before falling down in shimmering rivulets. Kayla became thankful for his company, this strange vampire who was intelligent, passionate and funny.

She cherished the tranquillity of the long days spent alone without the threat of pain and suffering. He kept her supplied with countless books, music and movies for the long hours spent in captivity during the daylight hours, but would not allow her to see or meet the other woman who shared the house with them. Each morning, as the door to her room was locked from the outside, Kayla pondered her lack of desire to escape. Her captor was considerate, if not kind, and after spending the past five years at the hands of an abusive husband, Kayla had no immediate yearning to leave.

And now, after all these months, he was telling her she had to go.

"She wants a tea party, Kay, and guess who, do you s'pose, is the main course, darlin'? If I allow her to feed from you directly, she will drain you dead." He glowered at her, his eyes slitting menacingly. "And you know I won't deny her anything." His cruelty was forced, but acknowledging the fact did not lessen the pain of his words.

She had begged him to turn her so she could go with them. He had grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and slit the palm of his hand. "Is this what you want?" He brutally slammed his hand to her mouth, causing her to cut her lip with her own teeth. He looked at her with barely disguised disgust. Kayla's heart was breaking and she started crying uncontrollably with the pain, more emotional than physical. Falling for another fucking monster. Great. Number two on my list of The Shit That's My Life. And her husband had been a monster. What a joke, two monsters, both bleeding me dry in their own unique ways and once again, I stood by and let it happen. The difference was that the real monster - the vampire - treated her more humanely than the creature she had married.

She grabbed his hand and started sucking on the blood from his cut, which mingled with her own. He groaned and yanked his hand back from her mouth. She glimpsed a flicker of something in his eyes that sparked a moment of hope. All hope was crushed when he grabbed her by the shoulder and pushed her toward the door. "Go, Kayla. Now."

Kayla sighed as the memory evaporated along with her appetite. He discarded me without a second thought. She tossed the remainder of her sandwich at the squirrels and threw her empty coffee cup at a garbage bin, missing it completely. She bent over, picked up the cup and tossed it into the bin along with the bag of cookies. She hadn't walked two steps when she turned around, reached into the bin and fished out the cookies.

"Go away, Slayer! The bleedin' sun isn't even down yet." Spike growled out from under his blanket when the door to his crypt opened, the hinges groaning loudly. He felt like hell. The needle gouges covering his back were on fire and his mouth felt full of sawdust. He had been telling himself for over an hour that he was going to get up for blood but was simply too tired and sore to budge. Ugly mother must'a had some sort of venom, he figured, since he wasn't healing quite as fast as usual.

"It's me," came Kayla's voice. He felt the blanket being lifted off his face. "You're awake. I was going to read or something."

With a grunt of exasperation, Spike sat up cautiously and stretched. "What's a bloke gotta do to get a good night's sleep around here without constant interruption?"

Kayla had sat down on his chair, swinging her legs over the sides, getting comfortable. "I came to apologize," she muttered, showing sudden interest in the bag in her other hand. "Besides, you don't even sleep at night, Mr. Evil Eyes." Averting her eyes, she dug into the bag and pulled out something. "Cookie?"

Damn, they even sound alike. Spike shook his head at her and stood up. "Obviously," he spat out, "I don't sleep at all with the rotating door twirling like a bloody merry-go-round." He staggered towards the small refrigerator, calling behind him. "What'ya want that couldn't wait until tonight?" He slammed the fridge door, cursing, "Dammit!" He walked over, and shoved her legs off the side of the chair making room for him to sit down on the arm. "I don't need any apology, but I do need something to eat. Hightail a trip to the butcher for me and we'll call it even."

Kayla ran her fingertip in a small circle on the denim covering his knee. "I can do something much better than that." She spared a tenuous glance in his direction and all but choked at the astonished look on his face.

He understood her implication immediately. "You most certainly can not!" he yelped, jumping up from the arm of the chair.

Kayla, matching his volume, yelled back. "And why not, Spike? It's not like it hasn't happened about a hundred times before. For God's sake, man, we were friends! You can't tell me that you enjoy that congealed mess in that mug there. It's unnatural, not to mention gross. "

Spike stared at her as though she had lost her mind. He took a moment to collect himself, patting down his pockets for his cigarettes. "And I suppose you're going to tell me that using a human woman for my own personal blood bank for months is natural, Kayla? You think what I am is natural? It was a desperate time and it was something I had to do, but I don't have to do it now, and I won't!" He attempted a menacing snarl. "And we were never friends."

Kayla, feelings hurt, refused to back down. "That's bullshit and you know it. So you're all reformed now? Got a good guilt complex going on, like your cute friend in LA?"

Cute friend in LA? Guilt Complex? "Wait a minute. How did you find me?" Spike questioned her, suddenly switching gears. Sitting back on the arm of the chair, he reached over to pick up the bag and grabbed a cookie.

Well, some things never change. Kayla remembered well the vampire's abrupt mood swings. Reassured that the tension between them appeared to be at an impasse, she explained about her visit to Caritas and then with Angel. Spike listened intently, munching on his cookie, obviously forgetting about the preservation of his Big Bad image.

"So this green demon guy sends you to Angel, Cordelia has visions and one of them led you to Sunnydale? Mmmph .. thirsty, wanna beer?" Spike walked over to the fridge musing over what Kayla had told him.

Kayla grimaced. "Uh, no, yuck. It's only 11:00 in the morning."

"Middle of the friggin' night for me," Spike groused. "Bloody Hell! Outta beer too and I'll be damned if I'm gonna drink one of Dawn's bloody diet cokes. Have you ever tasted this stuff?"

My God, Kayla thought, he's... so human, and suddenly felt very sorry for him.

"Well, I did offer to uh, quench that thirst for ya." She risked the tease hoping that his mood had improved as much as it appeared.

No such luck. Whipping around to glare at her, he lowered his voice. "Be careful what you wish for, honey." There was no affection in the endearment. He glowered at her for a minute and with a shrug moved back to the chair, having come to a decision. "Alright then. Let's give Uncle Sam's finest technology a bit of a test, shall we?" He grabbed her arm, twisting it up to his mouth. He remembered the flash of pain the night before when he had reached for her neck. The twinge that vibrated through his head was a mere annoyance.

"You sure you're ready for this little science experiment?" He gazed back at her, dumbfounded at her complete lack of fear. She nodded, maintaining eye contact with him. She leaned closer to him, permitting him easier access to her arm. His tongue flicked out and licked the blue vein running up the inside length of her forearm. She trembled, his behavior evoking long forgotten pleasure. He nipped on her arm, biting delicately with blunt human teeth. Nothing. No twinge, no shock. He bit harder, leaving red crescents on her skin. Kayla's eyes began to tear up and she bit down lightly on her lip. The chip did nothing.

Spike saw her tears and stopped biting on her arm. "Sorry, pet, bad idea. Let's forget about it, shall we?" He tried to rise, but she clutched his arm, restraining him.

"No, please don't stop. It only hurts because you're .... " She faltered, unexpectedly embarrassed. "Your teeth are blunt. Your other... teeth... are very sharp and don't hurt as bad." She blushed and reached up to pull his mouth down to hers. He allowed her to kiss him, but drew back shortly without returning the kiss. He ran his hand over her eyes, forcing her to close them. His face transformed and he bent back over her arm, skimming his fangs lightly over her skin, testing his limits.

Kayla kept her eyes closed, focussing on her feelings for him and not the sharpness of his fangs scraping the delicate skin of her arm. When at last, he bit down hard on her arm, she gasped and clutched the back of his neck. He started to wrench away from her, crying out as a sharp jolt shot through his head. She began to caress his neck and bent to pepper light kisses on the top of his head. Spike calmed and began to gently suck at the wound on her arm. Comforted by his gentleness and restraint over his demon, she leaned her head down on top of his, lost in the sensation of finally being with him.

Kayla paced the length of her motel room, which didn't take long, and turned to look at Spike. They'd spent most of the day together, talking. He'd fed on her again, leaving her tired, but happy. When he'd fallen asleep, she'd disengaged herself from his arms and looked down at him. So beautiful, she'd thought, and left him to sleep, exploring the town for a while, before returning to her room shortly after dark to wait until he needed her again. Now he was sprawled inelegantly in one of the two chairs the room boasted, one booted ankle crossed over the other, a cigarette held loosely in one hand. Scowling at her.

"Look, Spike, I don't know what you think I want - hell, I don't know what I want myself, not really. I can tell you that it isn't your undying love and devotion, if that's what's worrying you." She gave a short laugh, but there was no humor in it. "My husband would tell me how much he loved me, every time he beat me. He'd cry in my arms, wanting me to comfort him, afterwards, telling me that it was because he loved me so much, it was my fault for making him do those things! Love! I don't want it. I don't need it. What I need.. what I want... oh, it's so hard to find the words! When I was with you, all that time... don't you see? You needed me! Without me, you - and Drusilla - would have died. I had something you needed. I've never felt that since then. Needed. There have been other men since then, but no one who made me feel the way you did. I want to feel that way again. You owe me that much."

Spike stood and took a long drag of his cigarette before answering her. "You were food, love. That's all you were," he said, cruelly. "This ain't no happy-ever-after Mills 'n bloody Boon. Ain't no Richard bloody Gere gonna come 'n sweep you off yer feet while the final credits roll up. I'm a bloody vampire! Better start remembering that, Pet, 'fore you step through a doorway you might not step back out of. I may have a bloody chip in my head, but the other parts of me still work pretty well, and if you're not careful you just might find that out."

Kayla's face drained of color at his cruelty, causing Spike a moment's concern that he had pushed her too far. She moved close to him, her hand raised and he involuntarily flinched, expecting the sting of her slap. Instead, she slammed her hand down on the arm of the chair emphasising words that were no longer pleading, but angry.

"Lose the evil vamp act with me Spike, I know you too well for that. Don't you get it? I want to find out! I want to find out if I'm still a woman! I know you don't love me, not like you loved Drusilla ... and I'm not blind. I see the way you look at Buffy, but you want me, don't you, Spike? I know you do! I smell it, the desire, the want!"

At mention of the Slayer, his face had set hard, and now he yelled at her, furious, "I bloody well don't! I don't want you, I don't desire you, and I don't bloody well need you!" And with that, he spun hard on his heels and stormed out of the door, slamming it loudly behind him. Kayla stared at the door for a long moment.

Well, I guess you told me, didn't you? she thought to herself, tiredly. She walked slowly into the bathroom, her shoulders slumped. Play Scarlett, Kay, and think about it tomorrow. Stepping out of her shoes, then her jeans, she tugged her angora sweater over her head and turned to switch on the shower tap, only to be pulled up sharply at the sight of Spike, leaning against the doorjamb and staring at her, hot fire in his eyes.

"I lied," he said, and reached for her.

Kayla was unprepared for the blurring speed with which he moved. She didn't even have time to gasp. Suddenly her arms were in a painful grip, and one motion brought her up against his hard body. His mouth came down, hot and rough, not waiting for permission, just taking. His teeth raked across her bottom lip, and at her quick intake of breath he took the opportunity to invade her mouth with his tongue.

Her heart beating wildly, she realised he was out of control. His arms had tightened around her, lifting her off her feet, and his mouth took hers with bruising force.

Oh, God! Oh, God! was all she could think, as she curled her arms around his neck, and returned his kiss with equal passion. She lifted her feet and wound her legs around his waist, and he backed them blindly through the door, and stumbled towards the bed, his mouth still ravaging hers. As he fell, he twisted so that she landed under him, his weight pinning her to the bed.

With a soft growl, he separated from her, and she started to protest, then realised that it was only to tear off his coat and then his black tee-shirt, and she made a soft, whimpering sound as she reached for him. He unhooked the front clasp of her bra, and gazed down at her breasts. Her nipples puckered as he watched, and for a long, agonising, moment he did nothing. Then, slowly, his head came down, and he laved one nipple with his tongue softly, before taking it more fully into his mouth and sucking, hard.

Heat. It surrounded her. Burned her. Molten liquid gathered between her legs. She could hear nothing but the laboured sound of her breathing, and the blood pulsing through her veins. As he turned his attentions to her other breast, his hands smoothed over her, ceaselessly, exploring the dips and contours of her body.

She was writhing, now, her hands gripping the coverlet of the bed at her sides. She wanted to scream out to him to stop. She wanted to scream out to him to never stop.

He hooked his fingers into the waistband of her panties, and tugged them down and off. Levering himself up, he struggled with his belt, then the buttons of his jeans, then shoved them down, releasing himself with a gasping moan. Muttering something she couldn't quite decipher, he kneed her thighs apart and entered her, hard and fast, and she bucked under him. Her nails dug into his back, and she reared up to meet his thrusts as he pounded into her. They rolled across the bed, and he shoved the pillows down to the floor. Spike was out of control, and didn't care. The craving was too strong, the smell of her skin too familiar.

This was what she had been waiting for; what had been denied to her all those years ago. This was where she belonged. She watched pleasure overcome the anger and tension on his face. She could see him attempting to fight back his demon as he drew closer to physical release.

"Oh, please, oh, Spike, please!" she screamed and bit down hard on his shoulder, drawing blood, as it went on, and on, the tension rising inside of her until she thought she couldn't take any more. The demon broke though and the moment they both exploded, his face transformed and she screamed, and clung to him, and sobbed, as his fangs pierced the skin of her throat and she flew off the end of the world.

She roused herself a few minutes - a few hours? - later, and shifted her head slightly to look at him. His weight still pinned her down, but it was a welcome weight, and she kissed the top of his head gently. He stroked down her arm, lingering over the scars still visible there. Old bite marks.

Branded, he thought, with smug satisfaction. He shifted slightly so that he could see her face, and what he saw seemed to reassure him, and he smiled. He was still inside her, and as she stared at him she could feel him growing hard again. Without warning, he suddenly tightened his arms around her and flipped over, so that she sat astride him. As she gave a small yelp of surprise he lifted his hands to cup her breasts, and laughed.

"Told ya parts of me still worked, Petunia!" And proved it. Again.

Yawning, Kayla slipped from the bed and went quietly into the bathroom. Spike didn't stir. He lay on his stomach, fast asleep, one arm pillowing his head, the other dangling over the side of the bed. After using the facilities, Kayla crossed to the small sink to wash her hands and brush her teeth. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she grinned. You look like you've had some serious loving, kiddo, she said to herself. Her hair was tousled, and the marks of Spike's lovemaking were plain to see on the soft white skin of her neck and torso. The marks of his other hunger were also quite obvious, in the fresh puncture wounds on her neck and arms. Thinking about that, she touched the bite marks tentatively. I feel so tired. Exhausted. How much did he take? She shrugged. Doesn't matter. He can have it all.

Suddenly she gave a startled squeak as Spike, coming up behind her silently, put his arms around her waist. Her heart beating fast, she leaned back against him and stared into the mirror. That looks so weird, she thought. Reaching up and back, she curled her arms around his neck, and laughed. She looked like she was performing some kind of odd dance. She couldn't see him, but she could feel his hands moving over her, his naked body leaning into hers, the smoothly muscled feel of his skin, the hardness of his erection as it pressed against her. She felt hot, and she could see her skin flushing with her arousal. Again? she thought, with happy amazement. Good grief, he's certainly got stamina! Risking a peek, she saw he was looking at her, his eyes gleaming with humour.

"You devil!" she laughed. "Stop teasing!"

Spike grinned. "Well, it's been a while, love. Gotta enjoy the moment, eh?" His hands cupped her breasts, the thumb and forefinger of each tweaking her nipples gently.

Then all thought fled, and she closed suddenly heavy eyes, as his hands slipped down her abdomen to caress the springy curls at the juncture of her thighs. From behind, Spike, growling softly, kneed her legs apart, and slipped a finger inside her, readying her. Kayla moaned, and tried to twist in his arms so that she could kiss him, but he held her still.

"Its okay, babe, let me..." he said, at the same time shifting her slightly, so that she leaned over the washbasin. She let go of him and gripped the sides of the sink. The small room felt too warm, suddenly, and she moaned again. Hurry, hurry! was all she could think, and as if he could hear her thoughts, he thrust into her urgently. Then the magic took over again, and she could think of nothing at all but the feel of him inside her. As they neared completion, Spike lowered his head and bit down hard, drinking greedily. Panting heavily, she reached back and pulled him hard into her. Her action took him by surprise, and as she pulsed around him, he gave a low, savage cry and joined her in the darkness.

The next time she opened her eyes, she was back in the bed, with no clear recollection of how she'd gotten there. She felt exhausted, weak, and the most feminine parts of her were tender. I wonder why that could be! she thought, amused. Turning on to her side, she saw Spike looking at her. He was leaning up on one elbow, and his expression was hard to read.

Lifting a hand to his cheek, she smiled. "Hello."

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Tired. A little sore." She blushed, and he laughed.

"You can't be shy, Pet, surely?" As he spoke, he drew back the sheet, and looked at the bite marks on her neck.

"Are you hungry, Spike?"

He looked at her, and scowled. "It's been a long time. I mean-"

"I know, love. For me, too."

"I'm not talking about the bloody sex!" At her look, he had the grace to look shamefaced. Buffy's face flashed into his mind. She'll never know... and what if she does? Not like we're ever gonna be lovers. And I am a bloody vampire, after all! Kayla was staring at him, puzzled, and he went on, "Sorry, Kay. The sex was bloody marvellous, and you know it. I meant... well, I haven't fed... er... had... fresh human blood for a long time. It's..." His voice trailed to a halt.

Kayla raised her other hand to his face, forcing him to look at her. "I know, love. You don't have to explain anything to me." He opened his mouth to argue, but she silenced him with a kiss. Then, pulling away from him, she said "I want you to! Please..."

"Aw, Kayla..." As he groaned her name, his demon face surfaced, and without saying anything more, he bent his head and took what she offered.

Buffy walked into the courtyard of the Slumbersweet Motel and turned to her right. Room 6, she said to herself. Mr. Stealth, my butt, sending me away! Legendary vampire hearing, indeed. Where was it last night, when I followed you here, hunh? Too busy following your latest honey to see me, were you! As she neared the door of Room 6, she noticed that the drapes were closed. She tapped gently on the door. No answer. Shoot! Must be still asleep, or in the shower, maybe. I'll go get a coffee 'n come back. At least this place has a diner.

Ordering coffee and a blueberry muffin, she took them with her to sit in a window booth. Annoyed at having to get up so early this morning, after getting such little sleep, she yawned, staring out at the draped window of Room 6. Bet Spike's still in bed - or should that be sarcophagus? Whatever. Hope it's damn hard, she thought, frowning slightly as her thoughts lingered on Spike's well-being, or rather lack thereof. She didn't know what to make of this girl who had turned up out of the blue. Spike's explanation the previous night had been less than satisfactory. And he sent me home! That still rankled. Willow's voice echoed in her head. You know Spike loves you, Buffy. He'd die for you'n Dawnie. You only have to look at him, and he melts. Er, not literally! I mean, that'd be... ew! But Will hadn't seen Spike with Kayla. He knows her better than he's willing to admit and he... cares for her. Buffy dumped more sugar in her coffee, stirring furiously. And why does that bother me? I mean... It's not like I love Spike! I'm only concerned about him because he means so much to Dawn and I ... I'm deeply in like with him. Yea that works. She giggled, catching the attention of the waitress, who smiled at her.

Buffy popped the last bite of muffin into her mouth. So much for saving half for Xander. She laid her hand over her coffee as the waitress drew near, refusing a refill, still reflecting on Kayla's appearance in Sunnydale. And what does this girl want with Spike, anyhow? I mean, okay, he killed her husband... not good, but hey! Wife-beater! But Spike's a vampire! Doesn't she realise they're not goin' anywhere? Thoughts of a tall, dark vampire, with gentle brown eyes evoked memories she didn't want to think about right now. She looked down at her empty coffee cup and sighed. Dammit! Spike's not Angel, and Kayla isn't me. Standing, she smiled a goodbye at the waitress, and walked through the door.

Standing once more in front of Room 6, she stared at the drapes. Still drawn. Getting' late, she thought. Must be dead to the world. She musta had a lot to say last night. Listening at the door, she frowned. Then she heard a sound from inside the room that made her blood run cold. Without hesitation, she lifted her foot to kick the door in.

Spike, completely satisfied for the first time in longer than he could remember, lay still, holding Kayla close, savoring the warmth of her body against his bare skin and and the warm, coppery taste of her blood in his throat. Closing his eyes, he muttered "God, Kay. You taste so sweet." He pulled her more firmly to him, tightening his arms around her.

When she didn't answer, he hugged her softly. "Get some sleep, love." He opened his eyes to look at her. Kayla's eyes stared back at him, sightlessly. Rearing up, he grasped her shoulders and pulled away from her. "Kay? Kayla! NO! " He crushed her still body to him whimpering her name.

Without warning, there was a violent crash as the motel door flew open and hit the wall, and he looked up with a ferocious growl, fangs bared.

Buffy stood, staring at the bed in horrified silence.

Spike's yellow eyes stared back at her, Kayla's lifeless body cradled in his arms; Kayla's blood on his lips.

Long moments passed before at last she spoke. "Don't you see Spike? Don't you see? When I look at you now... I won't see you, I'll see her..."

Then she turned, and slowly, painfully, like someone old, walked back out, the door closing quietly behind her.

And he bowed his head and wept.

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