He awoke in Buffy’s bed, in the dark. She was straddling him, which should have been nice. Except that she was too still, and had made herself too heavy. The sound of her breathing wasn’t right, nor was the gleam of her eye whites, reflecting the bit of ambient light that evaded the drawn blinds.
None of it was right.
Especially not the stake digging into his chest, just above the unbeating heart.
Not right at all.
He tried to move, and discovered she’d cuffed him, in his sleep, to the metal headboard. The cuffs seemed skimpy, a good sharp yank would free him. But he didn’t try it, because of the stake, not just poised, but planted, held here with both her rigid hands.
This did not seem like a game.
It seemed very serious indeed.
Last night when she’d first brought him to this bed, he’d prayed to die at her hand, but he’d certainly not meant so soon.
They’d spent the whole long evening here. Dawn was passing her Friday night visiting with Tara at the university. They’d made a token patrol together in the hour after sunset—more a crypt run than anything else, to get him fresh clothes and cigarettes. She’d been quiet, but that wasn’t unusual. Back at the house she’d made her desires known; he was over an hour between her thighs. Every time she came just made her want more. The smell and taste of her overflowing quim, the way she thrashed and squirmed, made him so excited he vamped out, and that only got her crazier. She slid right off the bed onto his quivering prong, rode his lap and all the while stared into his feral yellow eyes, transfixed. Her fearlessness almost frightened him; there was nothing anymore to keep him from biting her. He could think of nothing else. As much as he needed the amazing fuck she was giving him, he needed to sink his fangs into her neck, drink her, fill himself with her as she was filled up with him. He couldn’t think clearly enough to understand why he held back. She scraped at his skin with her nails, sank her own teeth into his shoulder, taunted him for a monster and a beast, until he flipped her over, pinned her arms up and covered her like one. He spent inside her three times, and still she didn’t tire. He lifted her back to the bed, took her again with her knees over his shoulders, slow and deep, back in his William face, and she gazed up at him with a sad little smile, her hands wandering over her breasts, and whispered that he was so pretty and sweet and must never never never stop fucking her. And a little while after that, when he was done in and thought she was too, she did what he’d not dared to ask or hope for yet. Knelt beside him and took him in her mouth. Surprised him by not being very adept, or sure of herself. Too gentle. It almost wasn’t enough. He was tired, and even a vampire had his limits. But he couldn’t say that. Had to tell her, after a while, that she mustn’t worry about hurting him. So timid—she didn’t seem like the same girl who’d howled beneath him before. It was the heat of her and the sheer astonishing intoxicating sight of his prick between her lips that brought him off at last. She’d swallowed, and kissed it when he’d done, her cheek on his thigh, and he’d thought again that he wouldn’t want to go on living after she’d finished with him.
But now it seemed she had.
She knew he was awake, she’d felt him stir and tense. The pressure of the stake was hard enough to break the skin. He didn’t dare move lest she thrust it home. The full force of her slayer strength weighed on him. His mouth and tongue were dry as the dust he might turn to at any moment.
“Is this . . . “he struggled to form the words, “is this goodbye then, pet?”
No, decidedly not a game.
Her breath was ragged; her thighs squeezed his flanks almost hard enough to pop ribs. And the stake. The stake dug into him, a point of concentrated pain that radiated out to all his extremities, a harbinger of gathering death.
Ah well, he thought, when a thing seems too perfect to be true, s’usually because it is. He’d had a good innings. A hundred and twenty years of it.
And a couple of real good days.
The last two, the best.
Let her bring it on, the queen of his dead heart.
She leaned in closer to him. He could see more now than just the gleam of eyes and teeth. She stared at him with blank concentrated attention. “Why didn’t you take me?”
“Take you?” But he knew what she meant.
“Why?” Point of the stake jabbed just a little tighter. Just a little more pressure, it would push on through. He felt the trickle of his blood welling around the tip.
He couldn’t draw breath enough to more than whisper. “Wouldn’t hurt you. Not for worlds.”
“You wanted to. I saw you.”
What was this? A question of trust? But it wasn’t an accusation she was making. More of a plea.
“I’m the only one in all the world you could drink. Have you forgotten that already?”
“No, love. It’s what made you ready for me at last.”
“Then do it.” She drew down closer, still holding the stake in place, and presented her neck. “Go on. You told me, one day, you’d slip it in.”
He felt her trembling, and he was trembling now too, with sick fear and pity for her, and love. His cock was hard as the stake she held on him, and this was not a sham, and he could not bring up his game face though his life depended on it. Which it did. But there’d be no life if he did what she asked. Only despair.
Her goose-bumped flesh brushed against his mouth; she pressed her neck against it. Used one hand to turn his head, force him closer. The trembling had advanced to quivering, like the presage of an earthquake that animals and demons could feel in their bones; the blood behind her skin’s thin veil galloped at him, howled for him.
How unhappy she was!
And he: how powerless.
No help, no help after all.
He kissed her neck, then wrenched his head around.
Buffy reared back and slapped him. The stake slipped a little; he bucked and gave one good jerk against the handcuffs. The chains snapped, but not before the headboard gave way, and the bedframe collapsed beneath them with a jarring thud. Spike grabbed for the stake and tossed it away. Not that it mattered now whether she held it or not. Buffy was weeping, weak and loose-limbed as a kitten in her tangled hair. When Spike sat up in the wreck of the bed and took her in his arms, she sobbed “I hate you, I hate you,” and struck at him with her balled fist. The blow was no harder than a hand-clap, and to spare her the embarrassment of it, he captured her hand and kissed it and held it.
“Sssh. Sssh. It’s all right. Sweetness. It’s all right.” He tucked her head against his neck and rocked her.
“It’s not all right. Now the goddamn bed is broken and where am I going to get the freaking money to have it fixed? Oh God.”
“Forget about it. I broke it, I’ll fix it.”
“How? How will you fix it?” She was still sobbing; the tears sluicing down his chest.
“I . . . I know a demon who knows a guy. I’ll take care of it. We can sleep in the witches’ bed the meanwhile. Don’t cry anymore, pet. You’re starting to scare me.”
“Starting?” She picked up her head, and looked at him for the first time.
“See what you did to me?” He brought her hand to touch the little wound she’d made in his breast. She touched it as if its presence surprised her. Suddenly, her tears redoubled, and she threw her arms around him.
“Oh God oh God if I’d killed you—!”
He thought of that for a long time after, and the expression on her face, the dropped remorseful mouth and saucer eyes as she took in what she’d almost done.
It wasn’t I love you, but it was near enough.
It was, he thought, very near.