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Title: Remember Me

Author: Margie

Rating: R

Pairing: B/S

Spoilers: None - Fantasy AU

Summary: Buffy and Spike have been best friends since they met in college nearly 10 years ago. Spike needs Buffy's help, asking her to attend a weeklong business trip as his pretend fiancé. After some cajoling she agrees. During the trip, Buffy has a mild accident. Spike discovers his problems have only just begun when Buffy wakes to the belief that she really is Spike's fiancé!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Joss owns it all damn him!

Feedback: Yes please!

Archive: If you want it just email me to tell me where it's going. It will eventually be on my own website when I get the chance to update (



"You want me to what?" Buffy asked, incredulous. She stared in disbelief at her long time friend, wondering if this was just another one of those jokes she didn't get.

"I really need your help, luv." Spike answered, giving her a pleading look. "You know what Dru's leaving has done to me." The words were spoken quickly, as if even speaking her name still hurt him.

"Oh, Spike." Buffy quickly made her way to the couch and plopped down next to him. She wrapped her arms around his wiry frame and pulled him close. She kissed his cheek lightly as she hugged him to her. "I know, sweetie."

Spike didn't want to think of his long time girlfriend...ex-girlfriend. Buffy had never liked Dru, but that hadn't stopped her from supporting him and then comforting him once the whole thing had finally come crashing down. He should have known that Dru would never change, but he kept giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Her latest betrayal was the last straw. Not only had she been sleeping with another man but Spike had caught them in his home on what was supposed to be his and Dru's 2nd year anniversary. The picture that had been etched in his memory had yet to fade.

"Buffy, luv." Spike turned in her embrace so that they could face one another. "You know I wouldn't ask if I weren't desperate."

Buffy knew that she should say no. How could he expect her to spend a week pretending to be his fiancé? And was it really necessary? She could understand him wanting to save face with the business associates he would be meeting. After all they were all bringing their spouses, and Spike had made reservations for himself and his fiancé. To show up now with no fiancé, while still trying to get over the breakup would probably not look too good.

But could she do it? Buffy had never liked Dru. In fact, she had a distinct hate for the other woman. And sometime in the last year Buffy had realized that, that was exactly how she thought of her, as the 'other woman'.

Buffy and Spike had become fast friends the moment they'd met in English 101 at Sunnydale University. Spike, William at the time, had been shy and reserved unlike every other guy she'd met on campus. They'd gotten together to study for the class and they hadn't really been apart since.

She had never really wondered why they never dated. They'd discussed it once, she thought, maybe while they were drunk one night. But it seemed as if they'd come to a mutual agreement that they never wanted to risk their friendship for anything more fleeting.

But over the past year, while watching him agonize over Dru, Buffy's feelings had somehow changed. It sounded so cliché, she knew, but Buffy had actually woken up one morning and realized that the person she'd been looking for her entire life had been standing right in front of her the whole time.

At the time of Buffy's epiphany, Spike had still been engaged to Dru. Although Buffy sincerely disliked the woman, she wanted nothing more than for Spike to be happy. She curbed her tongue, and let Spike decide for himself whether Dru really was the person that could make him happy for the rest of his life.

The day he'd come to her, tears streaming down his face, Buffy was torn. On the one hand she was elated that Spike had finally seen what kind of woman Dru really was, but on the other Buffy's own heart ached to see Spike so broken. That had been nearly 5 months ago.

Buffy had several internal debates on whether she should reveal her feelings to Spike. There wasn't any other person on the planet that knew her better than he did, but even he didn't know the depths of her feelings for him. She was always careful to conceal anything that might ruin the relationship they already had.

She thought, *hoped*, that in a few months time, after he'd had a chance to get over Dru she might be able to broach the subject to him. But could she spend a whole week with him as his fiancé, without letting the cat out of the bag?

Spike's voice broke into her meandering thoughts. "Buffy, I know it's a lot to ask. But I can't show up there alone. Dru was supposed to be there to help me with all the social stuff, you know how bloody bad I am at these types of events. And with all the other businessmen attending with their significant others it will just make me stand out even more!"

"Spike, I want to help you, but..."

"Please, luv. It's a free holiday for you." He gave her another pleading look before bringing out the big guns. "I could really use a friend." He whispered the words forlornly.

"Oooh." Buffy chewed her bottom lip in aggravation. How could she say no? "Okay."

Spike beamed her a brilliant smile before jumping off the sofa. He turned and gave her a bear hug and a peck on the forehead before striding toward the door. "Thanks, luv. You won't regret it!"

Buffy wasn't so sure of that.


1 - The Ring

Buffy met Spike for lunch the following week to discuss their plans for the trip. She still wasn't sure this was a good idea, and had been having second thoughts since the moment she'd agreed.

When Spike arrived he could tell that Buffy was ready to back out. "Hello, kitten." He kissed her lightly on the cheek as he took the seat across from her. He knew better than to pretend that everything was okay, so he took her hand in his and leaned forward. "Buffy, you know I would never want to make you do anything you find uncomfortable. If you've changed your mind," Spike shrugged and let out a heavy sigh. "I'll deal with it, luv. It's not the apocalypse after all." He smiled to reassure her.

Buffy melted. Spike was willing to risk his own embarrassment and possible work related repercussions to make sure that she was okay. How could she not help him? When she knew if the situation were reversed he'd be there for her in a heartbeat. "No, Spike. Of course, I'll do it. I said I would. I won't let you down."

"That's my girl." He kissed her cheek again, then let go of her hand to reach for a menu.

Buffy studied him while he went over his choices for lunch. He wasn't the most handsome man she'd ever met. When they'd first met she remembered only thinking that he was, well, nondescript would probably be the word for it. He'd been shy and bookish, but his open face and bashful smile had caught her attention.

Over the years, she supposed she'd just gotten used to having him in her life. She hadn't noticed all the changes he'd gone through, hadn't really blinked an eye when he insisted she start calling him Spike, rather than William. Although she did occasionally still risk calling him Will now and then. Secretly she loved to call him Will because it felt like her own special name for him. He never allowed anyone outside of the office to call him that, not even Dru.

Buffy didn't know when she'd first taken a second look at him. One day they'd been sitting having lunch just like today, when she'd looked up and seen him. Really seen him for the first time in years. The skinny boy she'd grown accustomed to had somehow become a lean, muscular man while she wasn't looking. His appearance was no longer nondescript, but chiseled and sexy. She had to admit though she'd always found his startlingly blue eyes an attractive feature, even way back when they'd first bumped into each other trying to get to the same seat in class.

"Do you know what you want, pet?" Spike asked, breaking into her thoughts.

Buffy was startled to see the waitress standing by their table. She hadn't even noticed the woman's approach. "Oh, sorry!" She blushed. "Yes, I'd like the cobb salad and another iced mocha, please. Oh, and can you bring another basket of bread?"

"Sure, hon," the waitress turned to Spike. "And what'll you have handsome?"

Spike smirked and winked at the woman. "Just a roast beef sandwich with fries, luv. Thanks." He handed back the menus.

Buffy and Spike made small talk until the food came. Buffy talked about the girl's night out she'd had with Willow, Tara, and Cordy the previous Saturday. She had Spike laughing out loud when she repeated some of the lame pick-up lines that some bloke named Riley had tried to use on her.

When the food finally arrived they both dug in. Spike shot Buffy a few surreptitious glances from beneath his lashes. He was worried about her. She'd been acting strange for the past 6 months or so, and he worried that there might be something wrong. But she hadn't said anything and all his attempts to pry information from her so far had been met with either silence or denials.

Lately it seemed as if she was nervous around him, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out why. *He* had always been the nervous one, with a perfect right to it. When she'd first begun talking to him in that far away English class, he'd been shocked and almost speechless. He remembered thinking how utterly beautiful she was, and knowing that she had somehow made a mistake by sitting next to him. But when she continued to do so, and then began asking him to join her for study sessions, Spike just counted his blessings.

He knew Buffy was way out of his league. She was the kind of woman to date football players, or even movie stars, not a shy, wannabe poet. He contented himself with being her friend, and made sure never to push her for more in fear that she'd take even that small part of her away from him. Over the years he'd grown accustomed to being the one she came to when her heart had been broken, but never the one she wanted to give her heart to. He'd even come to accept it.

But he wouldn't be able to bear losing her now. He hoped that he was just overreacting and that there truly was nothing wrong. But one of Spike's motives for inviting her on his upcoming business trip was to get to the bottom of whatever was bothering Buffy. He wanted to make sure it was something he could fix before it became too late.

"So did you get the plane tickets changed to my name?" Buffy asked in between bites.

"Sure, no problem. We're you able to take the time off at work, okay?" He answered.

"Yeah, I've got loads of overtime, so they owe me." Buffy was PA for a small movie studio. It definitely wasn't a glamorous job, but it had its perks.

"There's really only one thing we have left to take care of, luv."

"Hmm? What's that?" Buffy queried looking up from her salad.

"The ring. You'll need one if we're going to convince people we're actually engaged."

"Oh." Buffy thought back to her meager jewelry stash, mentally going through each ring in her possession. "I'm not sure I have anything appropriate."

"No worries, luv. I'll buy you one." Spike answered, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly.

"What? No, you can't do that!" Buffy said. "That's too expensive! What about Dru's ring?"

"I told her to keep the bloody thing!" Spike spit out. "I never wanted to see it again anyway."

"Spike! You shouldn't have done that. You could have returned it, or sold it somewhere else!" Buffy reprimanded him, although secretly she was glad not to have to wear Dru's castoff.

"I didn't want the reminder, Buffy. And it's only money."

Buffy felt horrible, she was only making him feel worse when all she wanted to do was make him happy. "Okay, I'm sorry Spike. But you still don't have to buy me one."

"No, I want to. It'll be a thank you for everything you're doing for me." He smiled at her. "So, what kind of stone do you want?"

"Oh, um...cubic zirconia is nice and no one can tell the difference." She hedged. She didn't want Spike spending his money on her. She never wanted Spike to associate her with the women who'd chased after him early on when he'd made his first million.

"Buffy! I'm not buying you any bloody cubic zirconian ring!" Spike huffed. "Just finish eating and we'll go out to the shops this afternoon."

Reluctantly Buffy accompanied Spike downtown, where they entered the first jewelry store they came upon. Spike had to practically drag Buffy into the store, wrapping his arm around her waist he tugged her through the door. Once inside he let his arm slip down, his fingers grabbing onto hers and entwining them together. He pulled her toward the display case and let the gentleman behind the counter know that they were in to see engagement rings.

Buffy's whole body was flushed. Since her realization that she was in love with Spike, she'd found herself getting flustered and excited whenever he made any significant contact with her. That basically meant any contact whatsoever, but at times like this, when her hand was firmly ensconced in his she felt like a whole colony of butterflies had made a home in her stomach.

Buffy bit back a sigh of disappointment when he let go of her hand to point at a few rings in the display. Dutifully she leaned forward to see what he had pointed out, frowning slightly at the clearly expensive rings he was picking. When the clerk pulled the case out of the glass so that they could get a better look, she tried to pick a smaller less elegant ring, but Spike would have none of it.

"Don't just pick the smallest one, Buffy." He chided her. "Here, try this one." He pulled out a beautiful one carat Ruby ring, surrounded by two small clusters of 1/4 carat diamonds on each side. The band was made of white gold. He slipped it on her finger, smiling and holding her hand while he admired the fit and waited for her approval.

Buffy's lip trembled and she tried to suppress the tears that threatened to spring from her eyes. This was too real. It didn't feel anything like a charade, and Buffy's heart ached. When Spike looked up at her face he noticed her disconsolate look, and hastened to reassure her. "If it bothers you that much, you don't have to keep it. I'll bring it back after the trip, or sell it, or something. But we do have to have something people would actually believe I'd buy for my one and only true love. Okay?"

Buffy nodded, not trusting her voice.

"Is this the one you want, luv?" Spike asked, concern in his expression and worry in his voice. Had he done something wrong? He knew he shouldn't have pushed her to agree to his crazy scheme, but he hadn't been able to help himself. He hoped he hadn't pushed her too far. But he had given her an opportunity to back out, and she hadn't taken it. He figured that was as good a sign as any.

"It's beautiful." She managed to whisper the words.

Spike brought his hand up and cupped her cheek, forcing her to look him in the eye. "Are you okay, kitten?"

She gave him a tremulous smile, and nodded once again. She fought the urge to lean her cheek into his warm touch. "Fine. Just tired. It's been a long day."

Spike didn't believe her for one second, but knew that he wouldn't get anything else out of her. "Okay. I'll just pay and we'll get you home."

"Thanks." Buffy tried another smile this one came out just a shade brighter than the last.

When Spike disappeared into the back room with the sales clerk to ring up the final purchase, Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. This whole thing was already way too intense. How was she going to get through the week?

She twirled the ring on her finger, letting the longing ripple through her in a rush. This was what she wanted. This was her dream. Maybe it was something she'd never have. The thought made her shudder. Maybe this week would be the only chance she'd ever get to play the part of Spike's love.

Buffy straightened her shoulders and made a decision. This may well be her only chance, and she was going to make the most of it. She'd be allowed, expected even, to touch him, and kiss him, and show her love for him all week. And by god, she was going to do it! She'd worry about the consequences later. But for now she was going to take the opportunity that had been presented to her. She was going to be everything Spike wanted and needed in a woman. At least for this one week.


2 - The Girls/The Boys

Cordy, Tara, and Willow sat around Buffy's bedroom sipping on wine coolers and watching her pack.

"I can't believe you agreed to do this!" Willow exclaimed. "Why couldn't he just explain that his fiancé couldn't make it?"

"Willow, you know how nervous Spike still gets when he's around too many people. He's forced himself to deal with the important business meetings, but throw him into a dinner party with more than 6 people and he's lost!" Buffy responded. "He said he needed a friend."

"Yeah, right." Cordy almost spit out her drink. She gave Buffy her 'are you kidding me?' look.

"What?" Buffy asked defensively.

"So he says he needs a 'friend'." Cordy put the air quotes around the last word, both brows lifting sardonically.

"Yeah, so?" Buffy prompted her to continue but was surprised when Tara piped up instead.

"Buffy, I think Cordelia's hinting that he may finally be wanting something more than friendship from you."

"No way! You guys don't know Spike." Buffy answered her heart hammering. "Besides, we've always just been friends. He wouldn't want to change that now. And he's still getting over Dru, remember?" Buffy voiced some of her own fears.

"Do you really believe that?" Willow asked, giving Buffy a knowing look. "We've always wondered why the two of you haven't gotten together before." Both Cordy and Tara nodded at Willow's statement.

Buffy chewed her bottom lip. She hadn't told anyone yet of her feelings for Spike. The one person she would normally tell everything to was out of the picture, since he was the one she'd fallen in love with! She'd sort of been paralyzed with the fear that saying or doing anything about her new feelings would have a devastating ripple effect in her life. She wasn't sure she'd be able to survive if that ripple pushed Spike away from her.

"You know we're just friends. We've never seen each other as anything more than that." 'Until now', she thought.

Buffy's three friends just looked at each other, deciding to let it go. "So, what are you bringing with you?" Cordy asked, pawing through the pile of clothes Buffy had dropped onto the bed to sort. "Oh! How about this sexy number?"

Buffy breathed an internal sigh of relief that the subject had been dropped. She turned to see which outfit Cordy had picked up and blushed to find her holding up one of her Victoria Secret's nighties. "How did that get in there? I wasn't planning to bring that!" She snatched the nightie up and tossed it toward the hamper in the corner.

Willow retrieved the nightgown and held it up once more. "Why don't you bring it? It's pretty. And I'm sure Spike would appreciate it." Willow winked at her.

Still blushing, Buffy turned to sort through the rest of her clothes shaking her head at her friend. "No! Are you guys crazy? Spike would *not* appreciate it! He'd think I was trying to seduce him or something. He'd probably run screaming!" She tried to joke about it.

"He might be screaming by the end of the night, but I doubt he'd be running away." Cordy said under her breath as she snuck the nightgown into the bottom of Buffy's suitcase.

After that the girls buckled down and helped Buffy pack the rest of her things. She brought two different bathing suits and several pairs of shorts. She made sure to bring extra halter-tops, since she wasn't sure how many different activities they'd be participating in during the day. She also brought one nice dress for every evening they'd be out. She didn't' know if they were going to have to dress for every dinner, but she wanted to be prepared.

Privately she was excited to have a reason to wear such elegant, yet sexy, clothing for Spike. It was rare that he'd seen her in anything more than jeans and a blouse. They didn't go out to swanky social events very often, really not at all, the more she thought about it. The one time they'd gone to a black-tie affair together it had been Willow's wedding to Wesley, and she'd been forced to wear a bridesmaids dress rather than something she'd picked out herself. To be fair, Willow had picked a great dress, but it still wasn't Buffy's usual style.

He'd seen pictures of her of course. From formals at college and some press photos at random studio parties she'd attended, but never anything in person. Buffy looked toward her three friends, deep in a debate over Orlando Bloom versus James Marsters as the sexiest man alive, and sighed.

Willow had Wesley. Xander would be dropping down to one knee for Cordy any day now. And sweet, shy Tara was already engaged to her long time love, Lorne. Sometimes, when they all got together like this, Buffy felt like the odd man out. When would she ever find her true love? She'd started to believe that it just wasn't going to happen. And then she'd been hit with the sledgehammer that Spike was her true love. And now the question had changed. Would her true love ever find her?


Spike's suitcase lay open on his bed while he rifled through his closet picking out different suits for the trip. He'd already thrown in a couple pairs of swim trunks, and even one pair of speedos, though he doubted he'd have the balls to wear it in front of Buffy. He had several casual outfits already folded and packed away, and now he just needed his business and formal wear.

Spike through the last of his clothes into his cases, just as the doorbell rang. He vaulted down the steps and opened the door to three familiar faces. Wesley, Xander, and Lorne stood on his stoop with a case of beer and two large and delicious smelling pizzas.

"Come in gents." He waved his arms in invitation, grabbing one of the pizza boxes as they passed. "Let's get settled in the game room, we can eat in there."

"So you ready for your big trip?" Xander asked, munching down on a big greasy slice.

"Yeah, just finished packing, mate." Spike answered as he racked the pool table. "Can't believe Buffy agreed to go to Kauai with me for a week." Spike shook his head.

"Oh yeah, tough choice I'm sure." Lorne said sarcastically. "What girl wouldn't want an all expense paid trip to paradise?"

"Nah. Buffy's not like that. She doesn't care about money, or fancy things." Spike insisted.

The boys looked at each other and smirked. Their friend had it bad.

"Yes, I agree. Buffy's very special." Wesley responded. "Much like my Willow." He couldn't help adding.

"'S probably why they're mates." Spike nodded at Wes. "You want to break?"

"Sure." Wes chose a cue stick and lined up his shot. "So, how much work is going to be mixed in with the fun?"

"Well, it's really mostly just that ridiculous hob nobbing." Spike answered, dry washing his face with his right hand. "I hate having to bloody 'network', but Laura insists." Laura was Spike's ever-efficient PR secretary.

Spike owned and operated a large publishing firm. He handled anything from preschool board books to hot ticket bestsellers. This week was a chance for him to meet with several large clients, and other vendors in the industry. It was a big conference held every year. It was a great chance to solicit new business and help reaffirm old, while giving everyone in attendance a sort of busman's holiday.

"They are going to have a few good activities like surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling. I'm sure Buffy will want to try those." Spike thought of Buffy in a bikini, and quickly shook the arousing image out of his head. "You know how active she is. She'll love it." He hoped she would at least. Maybe it would snap her out of the funk she'd been in lately.

"So, does she know you'll have to share a room?" Xander waggled his eyebrows trying to affect a leer.

"Yeah, 'course she does. We are supposed to be engaged." Spike answered exasperated.

"What about the kissy face you guys are gonna have to do?" Lorne asked.

"Huh?" Spike was busy setting up a shot for the 2 ball. "Kissy face? What are you talking about mate?"

Wesley raised an inquisitive brow at him. "You do know you'll most likely have to be affectionate don't you? At least in public, you'll have to kiss, hold hands, that sort of thing."

Spike missed the shot, sending the cue ball into the side pocket instead. Bollocks! Of course they'd have to kiss. Spike's heart began to beat erratically. He'd never kissed Buffy before, not really, a peck here and there, but nothing like what they'd have to do during this trip. What had he been thinking? Was he trying to torture himself?

Xander laughed. "Guess you didn't think of that before hand, huh?"

Spike scowled at him.

"Spike, maybe this is your chance." Wesley prodded him.

"Chance for what?"

"To make your move." Lorne took up the baton, then handed it to Xander.

"Yeah, man. Who knows? You might actually come back as an engaged man, instead of an impostor." Xander finished.

"You guys are daft. Buffy would never think of me that way." Spike muttered, though his brows drew together in thought.

But all three men noticed that Spike didn't deny thinking of Buffy that way.


3 - The Airport

Spike picked Buffy up at the ungodly hour of 5 AM, in order to make it to the airport on time. Their flight left at 6:45 and they still needed to park the car, check in their bags, and hopefully grab some coffee and a bagel before getting on the plane.

"Mornin', pet." Spike greeted her as he hefted her bags into the trunk of his beloved Desoto. Buffy couldn't believe that with all Spike's money he insisted on keeping his old car. She didn't believe him when he said it was a classic. It didn't look like a classic to her.

"Morning, sweetheart." She gave him a peck on the cheek before seating herself in the car. She laughed and winked at him when he did a double take. "We have to start getting into our roles sometime, don't we?" Buffy asked with a mischievous grin on her face.

"Whatever you say, honeykins." Spike gave her a saccharine grin in return.

"Oh no! Forget it!" Buffy laughed. "I'm not going by honeykins! The deals off!" She tried to get back out of the ancient car.

Spike stepped around to the passenger's side and kept her firmly in place. Chuckling he asked, "Okay, why don't you just call me Spike, and I'll just call you Buffy."

"Don't you mean Will?" Buffy asked.

"Oh yeah. Do you think you can remember that, luv?" Spike asked, his brow furrowed. He'd forgotten that most, if not all, of his business associates knew him as Will or William.

"Sure." Buffy shrugged. "And if I forget every once in awhile, I'll just tell them that's your little, oops I mean not so little, bedroom nickname." She laughed. Spike blushed.

"Cheeky chit!" Spike admonished her before stepping back over to the driver's side of the car and getting in.


They arrived at the airport relatively unscathed. Spike grumbled about the fact that they were only to be gone a week, not a month when he started to haul Buffy's luggage toward the check-in.

"I needed to make sure I was prepared for anything." Buffy tried to explain.

"Well, luv, it feels like you're prepared for a bloody hurricane!"

Buffy slugged him in the shoulder.


"You're the one who asked me to come." Buffy sulked.

Softening, because it was true and he knew how much she'd been against it, Spike stopped. Buffy turned to ask him what was wrong when he dropped their cases and reached for her. Surprised Buffy let out a small squeak before Spike had a chance to wrap his arms around her.

"I'm not attacking you, Buffy!" Spike hugged her tight. "I know you didn't want to come, and I'm grateful that you did. Thank you, kitten." Spike swooped down and kissed her lightly on the cheek, letting his lips linger for just a second longer than absolutely necessary.

Buffy pulled away before her body began to tremble at his closeness. She stepped back and gave him a warm smile. "I couldn't let you down Spike, I know how much this means to you."

"I know, luv." Spike bent down and re-shouldered his burden, motioning to Buffy to lead the way.

After checking in their cases, Buffy tugged Spike along toward the coffee shop she'd seen earlier. "I really need a wake me up." She told him.

"Don't you mean a pick me up, pet?" Spike asked, chuckling.

"No, I mean a wake me up! Do you think it's normal to be up at this hour? Only farmers and...and newspaper delivery men wake up this early!" She finally finished.

"Newspaper delivery men?" Spike raised a scarred eyebrow toward her. Buffy loved that little feature on his sculpted brow, although she thanked god everyday that that was the only reminder he'd had from that confrontation. The scar had been caused by a couple of teenage muggers. A few years ago Spike had been walking from his office to his car when some guys had jumped him from behind. They'd had brass knuckles and used them. Luckily the only permanent damage had been the small scar bisecting his left eyebrow. Buffy thought it gave him a sort of rakish, bad boy look, although she'd never admit that to him.

"What? Aren't they up at the crack of dawn?" Buffy asked innocently, she even batted her eyelashes for him.

"We were hardly up at dawn, Buffy." Spike replied.

"Says you! It takes hours to look this good, mister!" She pushed a pointed finger into his chest. "Do you think I just wake up looking beautiful?"

"Yeah." Spike answered under his breath as he watched her stomp toward the coffee shop.

They got in line, waiting for their turn at a caffeine jolt. When they got to the cashier Buffy ordered some complicated skimmed milk, double shot, mocha something or other, while Spike just had a cup of today's coffee.

They stood aside sipping at their hot drinks debating over whether to sit down for a few minutes or head over to the gate. "We still have about 45 minutes until our flight leaves. They won't start boarding for another 15 - 20 minutes." Buffy said.

"Did you want to sit here for a bit?" Spike asked, the coffee shop was nearly empty, only two other people were sitting at one of the tables.

"Sure." Buffy chose a table and sat, watching as Spike followed.

"Are you nervous about the conference, Will?" She asked. She'd decided to start calling him Will now, so that she'd be less like to forget later.

"I don't think nervous is the right word, luv. You know I hate these big events. Just away to advertise, but I feel like a walking advert the whole time!" Spike answered.

Buffy reached out and took his hand. "Don't worry about it, Will. At least with me along we can kick back in between events and get in a little fun." She smiled encouragingly.

At her words several different images passed through Spike's mind in quick succession. None of them Buffy's definition of fun, he was sure. But if his body's response was any indication, they sure were his.

Before he could respond they were interrupted by the couple that had been seated in the shop ahead them. The man leaned forward and asked, "Did I hear you guys say you were going to a conference, and that your flight left in forty? You wouldn't be heading to the Annual Waterman's Publishing Conference on Kauai would you?"

Spike's eyes narrowed. He didn't like this guy.

"Yes. How did you know?" Buffy answered surprised.

"We're going there too." The man motioned toward himself and the woman with him.

"Really? What a coincidence." Buffy replied.

"I'm Angel." The man offered his hand. Buffy took it enthusiastically. Spike shook it reluctantly. "And this is Harmony." He pointed toward the woman with him.

Again the three exchanged hand shakes. Spike could already tell he didn't want to be hanging out with these people. The man was a total git, and the woman was a bubble-brained idiot.

"I'm Will. And this is my *fiancé* Buffy." He made sure to emphasize the word.

Buffy smiled at the new couple, wondering why Spike was being so hostile. They didn't seem that bad, although Harmony could get on her nerves after awhile, she thought. She shrugged putting it off to the fact that Spike didn't really like any social interaction if it didn't involve their tight circle of friends. That's why she was there, right?

While Buffy made small talk with the couple, Spike took a moment to study the man who'd interrupted them. He was tall, and built. Even Spike could see his straining muscles through his dress shirt. He had dark brown hair, slicked back with gel, and a wide forehead.

Spike sighed. He was just Buffy's type. Tall, dark, and broody, the type of man Buffy had always dated. He looked like he might have been a football player at one time as well.

Standing abruptly Spike took his empty coffee cup and threw it in the rubbish bin. "We should probably go." He looked at Buffy as he spoke. "Come on, luv, you can sleep some more on the plane. I know how tired you are." He helped her out of her seat and turned to nod a goodbye at the other couple.

"Awww, Angel honey! Aren't they the cutest?" Harmony purred, wrapping her arm around Angel's bicep. "Isn't Will a sweetie?"

"Yeah, real sweet." Angel said sarcastically.

Spike only nodded and murmured goodbye as he ushered Buffy toward the exit. Before they reached it, Buffy whispered under her breath, "What is your problem?"

They stopped, just inside the coffee shop walls. "Nothing."

"Yeah, right. You practically dragged me out of there."

"That stupid git was coming on to you!" Spike tried hard to keep his voice down.

"What? That's ridiculous. First of all he's with his own girlfriend. Second of all we were just making small talk." Buffy tried to reassure him.

"Whatever. Let's go." Spike tried to pull her through the exit once more.

"No, stop." She dug in her heels. "Look, even if he was flirting with me, it doesn't matter. I wasn't flirting back."

Spike sighed and dragged his hand through his unruly curls. He hadn't bothered to gel them down that morning since they were going to be traveling most of the day. "You trying to tell me he isn't exactly your type? That you don't find him attractive?"

"Him?" Buffy was surprised. She turned back and took another look at the imposing brunette. "Well, I guess he's good looking in a cave man sort of way. But I don't think he's my type." 'You're my only type,' she thought.

"So you're not attracted to him?" Spike asked again.

"To him? No." Buffy answered with finality. Turning back she grinned, "Why? Are you jealous Spike?"

"Hey, just want to make sure you remember who you're engaged to this week, 's all." Spike murmured turning away.

Buffy felt a stab of disappointment, but hastened to reassure her friend. "I know. I'm just teasing Spike. Don't worry, everything will turn out fine."

"You think? Those two in there probably don't even believe we're engaged and it's only the first hour of our trip!" Spike said, panic seeping into his voice. Why had he thought this would work?

"You don't think they believe I'm your fiancé?" Buffy asked, turning back to the couple and seeing them watching her conversation with Spike. "Well, let's convince them."

And before Spike could wonder what she meant, Buffy was in his arms. He wrapped them around her automatically, his eyes closing and his mouth opening on a surprised gasp when their lips met.

The kiss was sweet, their lips brushing against one another in a slow leisurely way. He nibble at her bottom lip, sucking it in he licked at it cautiously. When she didn't protest or pull away, he let his tongue wander further into the moist cavern of her mouth.

Buffy whimpered and pressed her body even closer to his. The hard points of her breasts pushed up against Spike's chest, and they both let out husky groans. Buffy's hands came up to explore Spike's back, as she let Spike explore her mouth.

The feel of Buffy against him, leaning in to him, wanting his touch almost had Spike losing control. When she finally began to pull away, he followed. Taking her mouth again, and bringing her back to him. She gave in readily, and they kissed for several moments more. Finally, knowing they had to catch a plane and that they were still in public, Spike pulled away.

They looked at each other in silence, their breath mingling together as they each panted in tiny gasps. "I guess, they're convinced now, huh?" Buffy murmured, finally stepping back from Spike's embrace. She hugged her own arms around her waist, feeling the loss of Spike's heat almost immediately.

"Yeah, thanks, luv." Spike answered. The reminder that they had just been putting on a show dimmed his arousal, but didn't banish it. How could anything banish the aching pulse he felt the moment Buffy had stepped into his arms and he'd realized her intentions? God! He'd always been able to tell himself that he'd be happy with their friendship and that that was all he needed. Especially since that was all he was going to get. But now, after kissing her, touching her, feeling her warm breasts against his body, he wondered whether that would ever be true again.

That kiss had changed everything. How was he supposed to stop the ache of wanting her now? And it was only their first kiss, in the first hour of their trip. Oh lord, he was a dead man.


4 - Arriving

Spike breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that Angel's and Harmony's seats were no where near theirs. He didn't want to spend any time in that pouf's company unless he absolutely had to. It was bad enough that they were all going to the same conference. What were the odds?

He turned to Buffy who was sitting back in her chair, her eyes closed. He hadn't been kidding when he enticed her with more sleep. Spike knew Buffy wasn't a morning person, and the 5 AM pickup he'd scheduled with her was a big sacrifice. Without thinking about it, he brought his arm up and around her, pulling her close. "Come on, luv. I'll be your pillow." He rested her head against his shoulder.

"Mmmm." Buffy murmured, already more than half asleep. "Thanks Will." She turned slightly and kissed his neck affectionately before resettling into a more comfortable position.

Spike felt his body tighten at the brush of her lips against his skin. He willed himself not to react, after all they had shared light kisses like that for the past ten years, but his body disagreed. Spike muffled a groan so as not to wake Buffy and embarrass himself. How was he going to handle the rest of the week? They had to share a room, sleep together. He hardened further at the thought.

Well he couldn't avoid her. The whole reason he'd brought her on the trip was to give her a mini-vacation and to have someone with him to help with all the socializing. Maybe the solution was to make sure he was so exhausted by the end of the day that he couldn't do anything but fall asleep? Although Spike had a feeling no matter how exhausted he was, he wouldn't be able to sleep a wink knowing that Buffy was lying beside him, just like now. He closed his eyes in vain; it was a long flight to Kauai. He sighed.


Buffy woke groggily shaking her head from side to side. When she encountered a hard male chest she felt her heart stop for just a moment. Peeking through her lashes she stared up at the man sitting beside her.

Spike looked like he was asleep. She apparently had fallen asleep and made herself comfortable. Her right arm was casually thrown over his middle while her face had been snuggled into his chest. She felt a warmth spread through her as she realized that his arm was around her as well.

Buffy marveled at the fact that she was able to sleep at all. Her body still felt a thrum of excitement at the kiss they'd shared in the coffee shop. Maybe sleeping was a protective mechanism she mused. Throwing herself out of consciousness so she wouldn't have to think about the sexy tilt of his mouth, or the way his hands had caressed her body during their embrace.

She shivered at the memory. At her movement Spike's arm tightened around her shoulders. His hand began to rub up and down her arm, as if to warm her. It only caused her to shiver even more uncontrollably.

"Cold, luv?" Spike asked.

"No, I'm okay. You know, these long flights just wig my body out." Buffy answered, pulling away from the press of his body.

"Are you hungry, Buffy?" Spike asked. "I didn't want to wake you earlier. I saved a couple of bags of peanuts and the orange they brought with breakfast." He offered her.

"Thanks, Spike." Buffy took the proffered fruit and began to peel it. "Yummm." She let out a muffled groan of happiness as she sunk her teeth into the first orange sliver. She was a lot hungrier than she had originally thought and the orange tasted sweet and moist in her mouth.

Spike looked away. He couldn't watch Buffy's cute little mouth and hear the sexy noises she emitted without wanting to pull her back into his arms and continue what they started in the coffee shop this morning. "We'll be landing in about another hour." Spike informed her.

"So soon? Have I been sleeping for that long?" Buffy asked in between bites. Blushing slightly she continued, "I didn't drool on you did I?"

"No," Spike answered smiling at her flushed skin. "But it wouldn't have been the first time, luv." He teased.

"Hey! That was under extreme circumstances!" She replied, giving him a 'you dare to bring that up?' look.

"Right, extreme circumstances." Spike answered nodding.

"I was tired." Buffy pouted. "Nearly exhausted."

"Yes. So different than this morning's trip." Spike said sarcastically.

Instead of answering, Buffy just harumphed at him and turned toward the window. Spike was equally silent, though Buffy could practically feel his smirk.

She loved how comfortable they were together. The fact that they were able to tease each other mercilessly without wondering whether one of them had gone too far. They new each other well enough that they didn't have to think about things like that.

Again Buffy's mind wandered, and with no place else to go it settled back on the kiss the two of them had shared that morning. In the near decade they'd known each other, that had been their first real kiss. And she knew she hadn't imagined his response. He'd felt the same jolt she had when their lips had touched.

It gave her heart a little hope that maybe someday soon he'd reciprocate the feelings she had. At least knowing he was physically attracted to her was something. They had never really discussed it before, beyond his few compliments here and there. And she could always pass those off as the duty of friendship. But his reaction to the kiss, the way he'd taken her lips and caressed her body, could never be categorized as merely friendly.

She smiled out the window, looking forward to the week ahead.


The airport they arrived at was tiny. But Buffy could already tell she would love the island atmosphere. Everyone was so friendly and laid-back; it was such a contrast to the hustle and bustle she had to deal with everyday at the studio. Maybe Spike was right. Maybe she really did need a vacation.

Buffy and Spike found their luggage on the carousel and flagged down a taxi to take them to the resort. Spike nearly carried her in his haste, not relaxing until they were finally seated in the cab.

"What's the hurry, Will?" Buffy asked.

"Just didn't want to get stuck sharing a taxi, 's all." Spike answered, shrugging nonchalantly. In truth he'd been turning his head this way and that every since they'd gotten off the plane wanting to avoid Angel. And he definitely didn't want the git trying to share the taxi with them.

"O...k...a...y." Buffy answered, raising a questioning eyebrow, but when Spike didn't elaborate she just let it go.

Spike didn't really know what was wrong with him. It wasn't as if Buffy hadn't had her share of boyfriends over the past few years. But somehow now it felt different. Maybe because, for this one week at least, she was his. Didn't he have a right to be protective and possessive toward his own fiancé? So what if the ruse would be over by this time next week? For now they were engaged, and he was going to act accordingly.

"So, luv, what would you like to do first?" Spike asked, trying to start up an innocuous conversation.

"Well, what time is the orientation? We have to be there for that right?"

"It's actually not until dinner tonight. The real events won't start until tomorrow morning, the workshops, speeches, and whatnot. You don't really have to attend those with me, if you're not interested. It's the other stuff I'll need help with. The dinners, team building exercises, that type of thing." Spike explained.

"Yuck! Team building exercises? Those are so lame!" Buffy exclaimed. "We have to do those at the studio all the time! They think it builds morale or something. Everyone just thinks they're dumb."

"Preaching to the choir here, luv. But they're not mandatory. Just a good way to get to know the others and do some extra networking. You know the drill."

"Yeah, I suppose that's why you're here after all."

"That it is, luv. Though I wouldn't mind spending a week just lying around on the beach with you." Spike winked at her.

Buffy's heart fluttered and she called herself a fool. Spike had been flirting with her for years. It was just another part of the friendly ego boosting duties, and a vital part of the Spike persona. Buffy had realized a long time ago that being 'Spike', let Will do a lot of things he'd never dreamed of doing before. Flirting was one of them.

"Yeah, right! You're so pale, you probably have a sun allergy you're too embarrassed to tell me about!" Buffy teased right back.

"You wound me, luv." Spike gave her a hurt impression.

"Okay, maybe you're not that pale. But you could use a little sun, mister." She admonished him.

"Well, that's why you're here with me, Buffy. To keep me on the straight and narrow, and make sure I enjoy the hot, blinding, cancer inducing UV rays abundant on the island." He smirked.

Buffy almost slugged him again, but refrained this time. She figured by the end of this trip he'd be sporting a few bruises on his arm if he kept it up, though.

Sighing deeply to display her irritation she continued, "Okay, well the first thing I'd like to do is maybe sign up for some surfing lessons. Don't you think it would be a great activity to learn? I've always thought it looked like so much fun!"

"Anything you want, Buffy." Spike answered. "We'll unpack and change, then we can head out to the activities desk and sign-up. I bet they'll have a bunch of other things you'd want to put your name down for as well."

"Great! Then maybe we could hang out on the beach for a little while before dinner? It's been so long since I've just lazed around soaking up the sun." Buffy stated wistfully.

"Sure, luv. Sounds great." This was exactly what Spike wanted. For Buffy to relax and maybe finally tell him what has been bothering her for the past few months.

They arrived at the hotel, and Spike checked them in and retrieved their key cards. A bellhop helped with the luggage, which Spike was grateful for, and led them up to their room on the fourth floor. They settled in, unpacking quickly. At least Spike unpacked quickly. Buffy was still unpacking when Spike went into the bathroom to change into his swim trunks and a comfortable tank top.

When he walked back out into the main room, Spike's jaw dropped. While he had been busy in the bathroom, Buffy had taken the opportunity to change as well. She was now sporting a two-piece bikini. And although her nether regions were covered with a sarong, see-through sarong, her top was completely exposed. The only thing covering her pert breasts were two tiny patches and a flimsy looking piece of string. Spike hardened immediately, glad that his tank top covered his arousal. He cleared his throat, not trusting his voice and waited for Buffy to turn around.

When she did, she nearly did a double take. Not that she'd never seen Spike in a bathing suit, but somehow, now, after her revelation, things were different. She could see the hard muscles of his arms rippling as he walked and reached down for the beach bag she'd filled with sun lotion and towels. His legs were taut and toned, his thighs bulging as he crouched to heft the bag on his shoulder. Buffy felt an aching pulse between her own thighs at the sight.

"Ready, luv." Spike managed to breathe out, his voice huskier than normal.

Buffy only nodded. She followed him out the door and back down toward the lobby, where the activities desk was located. Was she ready? She'd thought so on the plane. But now, in the harsh light of day, she wasn't quite sure anymore.


5 - Surfing Lessons

When they reached the activities desk Buffy was excited to find out that there were Surfing Lessons every other hour. Since they were only going to be there for a week, Buffy convinced Spike to take their first lessons today, before the dinner. That way they would have the rest of the week to either take more lessons, if necessary, or just enjoy being able to surf.

At the moment they were both listening and watching the instructor show them how to balance on a board, and explain that they may not all be able to stand up this first go around. Buffy nodded but determined that she would be one of the ones who could. Spike saw the look on her face and braced himself. Past experience told him that, that look never boded well.

"Don't try anything you're not ready for, okay, luv?"

"Don't worry, Will." She gave him a reassuring smile before they both grabbed their boards and followed the instructor out into the water.

They paddled out cautiously, Spike shooting sharp glances at Buffy every few minutes to make sure she was okay. She seemed to be doing fine, and he relaxed a bit. The muscles in his arms were really getting a workout and he could already see that surfing wasn't as easy as it had always looked in the movies.

At least the lessons were done in the less violent waters, where the swells didn't reach tsunami proportions. Or so they had been told jokingly by the instructor. Spike believed him so far, not having seen any life threatening waves.

He watched with amusement, and a small hint of male pride (everyone here thought Buffy was his after all), as Buffy caught the first wave. She stayed on her stomach as instructed and rode the wave back into shore. Then she turned around and paddled back out to the rest of the class.

"Great job, luv." Spike smiled encouragingly. Then it was Spike's turn and he felt the rush as the swell propelled him back to shore. Even on his stomach he could feel the adrenaline pump through his body at the sheer excitement of the sport.

As he paddled back to the class he watched as other students came barreling toward shore. When he looked back up toward Buffy, his heart did a somersault into his stomach. The wave she was trying to catch wasn't all that large, but larger than the first attempt she'd made. And seeing the look on her face, even from this distance, Spike knew Buffy was going to try for more than she might be ready for.

When he saw her shakily get onto her knees, and remain that way he relaxed just slightly. But then as if in slow motion, he saw as she tried to maneuver her way onto her feet. Spike saw the moment she lost her balance and was already pumping his arms as fast as they would go in her direction. "Buffy!" He cried out as he watched her wipe out into the surf. Before he could reach her she resurfaced, laughing and spluttering.

When he finally did reach her, he had to restrain himself from hauling her on to his board and shaking her senseless. "Are you okay, luv?" He asked anxiously.

"I almost had it!" Buffy cried, frustrated that she hadn't been able to stand completely before she'd lost her balance.

"What?" Spike asked in disbelief. "You almost gave me a heart attack and that's all you're worried about?"

"What are you talking about Will? I'm fine. What's the big deal?"

"The big deal is that the instructor said that we might not all be able to stand right away. And what's the first bloody thing you try?" He asked giving her a hard look.

She paddled closer to him and reached out to touch his arm. "I'm fine, Spike." She rubbed his arm soothingly. Spike was just beginning to relax again when she pulled away and said, "Besides I know what I'm doing. I almost had it. I'll do it right the next time."

Spike's frustration ratcheted up a notch. His girl was so bloody stubborn! He knew there was nothing he could say to talk her out of trying again. He watched as she paddled a bit further out, waiting for another likely swell. She was athletic, had always been. When they'd met she had been a cheerleader, but before that she'd studied gymnastics for practically her whole life. Had even considered trying for the Olympics when she was younger. And she was tough. She could hold her own on a basketball court with blokes twice her size. He knew. He'd watched her do it. So why was he worried about her now?

The answer, because he *always* worried about her. Even when she was just on the court with a bloke her same size he worried about her. He just usually did a better job at hiding his concern. Buffy would just get upset and probably chide him for being a 'cave man'. But he couldn't help it. He loved her, whether she ever found out about that fact or not.

He shook his head. He was actually really lucky that he'd finally broken things off with Dru. He'd known almost the moment he'd proposed that it might have been a bad idea. Not only was her fidelity questionable, but he had a niggling feeling that he'd made the wrong choice. Sure, Buffy would never view him the way he'd always wanted her to, but did that mean he should settle for something less? The marriage he'd planned might have turned in to something bitter and resentful by the end, when the realization that he had chosen second best came to light.

He had had strong feelings for her though. Dru hadn't just been a passing fancy. He had honestly believed that they could have a life together before he'd actually gone down on one knee and put the ring on her finger. And it had hurt deeply when she'd betrayed him, not just once but twice. And without any real regret in her eyes.

However the excuse of his devastation over the break up to get Buffy to accompany him on this trip was just that, an excuse. But he was glad of it, because he could already see some of the old Buffy coming back to the surface. She was laughing and smiling and genuinely having a good time. And he couldn't help but smile in return.

He watched as she took another wave, this one just a medium sized swell. God, she was magnificent. Her body glistened wetly in the sun, her hair was tied back in a ponytail, her bangs plastered to her forehead. He studied her the way a scientist studies a newly discovered creature. Wanting to observe every possible action or reaction the creature might have.

Silently he cheered when he saw her stand and maintain her balance. He didn't want her to know he was proud of her, of her skill, and her stubborn determination. It might just encourage her to try other more foolhardy ventures. But he *was* proud of her, and proud that everyone around them thought that they belonged together. That they were a deserved match.

Then suddenly his chest tightened and he held his breath as he watched Buffy go down a second time. This time she fell head first, as the surfboard bucked beneath her. He waited a beat, but she didn't come up for air and then he began to panic.

He raced toward her, the instructor reaching her location before he could. When he got there, she was being hauled out of the water onto the instructor's board, unconscious. He cried out involuntarily when he saw her still form. There was blood too. A gash on her forehead where she had apparently hit the board before she'd fallen into the water.

"Buffy!" By the time he was close enough to touch her, the instructor was already performing CPR, difficult on a floating board, but something all the lifeguards and instructors were taught.

The relief he felt when he saw her sitting up and coughing water was immense. All the breath came whooshing back into his body and he could feel his heart pounding a drum beat against his chest.

"Is she okay?" Spike demanded.

"Will?" She called between coughs.

"Right here, luv." Spike assured her, placing a hand on her arm in comfort. Before he could say anything else she fell onto her back her eyes closed.

"What's wrong? Is she okay?" He stared, eyes wide with concern and a little pleading, at the instructor.

"She hit her head pretty bad. We have to get her to the emergency room. She probably has a concussion. But I'm sure she'll be fine."

Spike followed anxiously as they paddled back to shore, the emergency crew already at the beach alerted by a watchful lifeguard. The doctors at the emergency room didn't seem concerned. The gash only required 8 stitches, and the concussion was mild. She woke several hours later, groggy and asking for him.


"Here, Buffy. Right here." He reached out a hand to grasp hers.

"Where are we?" She asked.

"At the hospital, luv. Don't you remember?"

"No, what happened?" She looked around confused, her fingers clutching tightly to his.

"You wiped out on your surfboard, stubborn bint, and hit your head." He admonished her affectionately, kissing the thin line of stitches.

Buffy's free hand came up to feel at the threads. "We were surfing?"

"Yes. You don't remember anything? We're here, on Kauai." Still no recognition in her eyes. "For my business trip." He finished lamely.

Concerned now, he stood quickly. "I'll get the doctor."

The doctor didn't seem too concerned when he told them that Buffy didn't seem to remember much.

"That's sometimes the case with head trauma. It should just be a temporary condition." Those statements didn't assuage spike's worry, but he gamely followed the physician back into Buffy's room.

Buffy was sitting up looking adorably confused. "Will?" She held out her hand to him, and he took it immediately.

"Hello Buffy, I'm Dr. Travers." The doctor smiled at her. "Will tells me you've forgotten a few things."

"Yes." Buffy swallowed. "What's wrong with me?" Her face was a mask of concern. Spike squeezed her hand in reassurance and she gave him a wobbly smile.

"It's perfectly normal. You hit your head and sometimes that can play tricks on your memory. But everything should start coming back to you as you heal up." He reassured them both.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Dr. Travers asked.

Buffy thought hard, her brow furrowed slightly. Then the pensive look was replaced with one of happiness as she turned to smile at Spike. She took their entwined hands and brought them up to her lips for a kiss. Then she turned that hand over and stared down at the ruby ring she wore.

"I remember shopping for my ring." She locked gazes with Spike as she spoke. "I remember kissing at the airport." She blushed. "It's all a little fuzzy, just images here and there. But I guess what I really remember," Buffy leaned forward and gave the stunned Spike a quick peck on the lips, "Is loving Will."


6 - Word Association

Buffy thought she was in love with him, what was he going to do? Spike paced in the hallway outside of their rooms trying to mull over his next step. The doctor had specified that Buffy needed rest and asked that Spike try not to excite or expose her to any undue stress. Would the truth about their relationship cause either of those things? He wasn't sure and with Buffy's health he would never take the chance. So for now he had to just play along until she regained her memory.

He stepped into the room they shared, glancing briefly at the bed where Buffy was napping. God, she was beautiful. He watched her for a few moments, until she began to stir quietly. Walking quickly over he took a seat on the mattress beside her. He ran his hands through her silky hair in an effort to soothe her jerky movements.

"Will?" Buffy asked as she swam back up to consciousness.

"Yes, luv?" Spike asked, still petting her hair softly. His heart skipped a beat at the smile she graced him with once her eyes had focused on his face.

"I'm sorry you had to miss the dinner last night." Buffy's bottom lip protruded in a self-deprecating pout.

"No worries, luv." He kissed her lightly on the cheek. "I've explained the situation. The director gave me a handout of the events this week, so I didn't miss much, just the long-winded speeches. So I really owe you a thanks." Spike smiled down at her.

Buffy felt herself longing to be encircled by Will's strong arms. He was the most understanding, gentlest, sweetest man she knew. Shuffling forward she propelled herself onto his lap, wrapping her own arms around his waist and nuzzling her face into his chest. Spike's arms went around her automatically, holding her close.

"Mmmm." Buffy sighed in contentment. "I love you." She lifted her head slightly and placed a swift kiss on the underside of his jaw.

Spike felt a curious sting at the words. Words he'd wanted to hear for years. How ironically bittersweet were they now? She believed she loved him only because of the few vague memories she still had of their hastily arranged 'engagement'. Those vague memories coupled with the feelings she really did have for him as a friend had her confused and Spike miserable.

"I love you too, Buffy." Spike managed to choke out. "Are you feeling any better, luv?"

Buffy snuggled herself deeper onto Spike's lap. "Much better now." She supplied.

Unfortunately for Spike, Buffy's wriggling on his lap was affecting him in several different ways. He loved the fact that she wanted to cuddle with him, and that doing so made her feel 'much better'. Her quiet words and affectionate actions boosted his male ego to new heights. But the wriggling and rubbing were causing him to reach other more physical heights as well.

He could already feel his arousal lengthening and hoped that Buffy didn't feel it as well. When she moved to cuddle closer and pressed her bottom down against his lap he let out an involuntary groan.

Buffy smiled to herself. She could feel Will's hard length beneath her, which caused a pulse of desire to shoot through her entire body. She pressed her bottom down to rub against his arousal, at the same time that she leaned up and pressed a kiss to his lips. When he groaned again, she took the opportunity presented and thrust her tongue into his open mouth.

Buffy shifted positions, straddling Will's body with her own. She ground her hips down, pressing her womanhood against the growing bulge in Will's trousers.

Spike's mind was lost to desire. His hands had reached for her breasts of their own volition. He kneaded them now, gently, swiping the hard tips with his thumbs. When Buffy moaned and arched further into his touch, Spike felt a deep satisfaction. He pulled away from their kiss to drop his mouth down and suck a firm nipple through the thin fabric of her nightshirt.

"Yes, Will." Buffy moaned. "Oooh."

What was he doing? Just because Buffy thought they were engaged, didn't mean they actually were. If he made love to her now, no matter how much she seemed to want it, he'd be taking advantage of her condition. And Buffy would never forgive him. With effort, Spike pulled away from her lusciously aroused body.

"Luv?" He waited until Buffy focused on his face once more. "We can't."

"What? Why?" Buffy was confused, and feeling decidedly put out. Did he not want her?

Spike bit his bottom lip, trying to think of a rational explanation. He could say the doctor had ordered it, but since she had been awake and conscious during the doctor's big spiel on needing rest, etc. he didn't think she'd buy it. "Because, you don't remember, but you wanted to wait until we we're married." He finally decided was the only acceptable excuse.

"Oh." Buffy thought about that for a moment. "I did?"

Spike only nodded.

"So, it's not because you don't want me?" Buffy asked quietly, glancing down in embarrassment.

Spike was stunned. How could she think that? "How could you think that, luv?" He echoed his thoughts aloud. He rolled his hips. "Can't you feel how much I want you?"

"Yesss." Buffy hissed out her own arousal having yet to abate. "I just..."

When Buffy didn't elaborate, Spike turned them so that she was once again sitting on his lap. Her face turned away, her back leaning up against his hard chest. "You just what, luv?" He kissed the crown of her head in reassurance.

"I just...have all these memories of us. How cute you looked when we met. How smart you are. The times we've been out together, our friends, buying the ring." She shrugged. "But...I don't have any memories know...*us*."

"Oh." Spike took in her answer. So she remembered almost everything. Everything except for the fact that their engagement wasn't real. "Well, that's because you wanted to wait." He reminded her.

"But..." Buffy chewed on her bottom lip. Her hand came down to cover the one Will had draped over her stomach. "I don't even have any memories of us really kissing, except recently at the airport. And definitely no serious make out sessions." Buffy blushed from her head down to her toes.

There was nothing for him to do but lie. "Well, Buffy, there definitely have been several heavy petting sessions. I don't know why you don't remember." He sighed. He hated to lie to her. He'd hate it even more when she regained her memory and found out. Would she resent him for having kept the truth a secret?

Buffy took his sigh to mean something else entirely. "Oh, Will! I'm so sorry I don't remember. I'm sure it has nothing to do with you. The doctor said it was normal."

"No worries, Buffy." Spike hastened to cut off her apology. "Maybe we can do something to help you regain your memory."

"Like what?" Buffy asked, intrigued.

"Well, what about word association?"

"Word association?" Buffy looked doubtful.

"Sure, I'll say a word and you say the first thing that comes to your mind. Okay?"


"Home." Spike began.


"Good!" Spike praised her. "Friend."


"Work." "Studio."

"Family." "Mom."

"Lorne." "Tara."

"Cordelia." "Queen." Spike raised his eyebrow at that one, but kept his chuckle in.

"Trip." "Island."

"Ring." "Ruby."

"Engagement." "Love."

"Love." "You." And then she kissed him.



"Instead of trying to regain my old memories..." She ducked her head shyly. "Can we just make new ones?"

He groaned. Now what was he supposed to do?


Thankfully Spike had been able to remember that there was an event that he had to attend. He left Buffy laying on the beach with instructions to head inside the second she felt light-headed or in anyway other than normal. She nodded, told him he worried too much then gave him a kiss goodbye.

Spike was currently sitting in an auditorium listening to an author speak about the different techniques she used to create her own paper. She was one of those wacky authors who did everything themselves. She actually made her own paper! Although he had to admit her books had a definite esoteric appeal, they just weren't for the masses. The amount of money it took to produce them was way too high for the average book buyer.

It was interesting though, if he could keep his mind on it. Instead he had images of an aroused Buffy dancing through his head. He had known when the fact that they would essentially be engaged for a week had sunk in, that he would have certain intimate moments with Buffy. He just hadn't counted on this! His groin tightened at the remembered feel of her on his lap.

How was he supposed to put her off until her memory returned? What if it took all week? Or worse even longer? What would their friends say when they returned to Sunnydale? Maybe that was the answer. Maybe he needed some advice from friends. Spike slipped out the back of the room and headed back up toward their suite.

Dialing, he waited impatiently for Wesley to pick up. Of the three close friends he had, Wesley would be the most levelheaded; the one who would probably give the most sage advice.


"Wes." Spike greeted. "I need your help."

Once Spike had finished telling Wesley the details of his problem, he heard the other Brit whistle in sympathy. "That definitely is a problem."

"I know. What do you think? Should I just tell her the truth." Spike asked anxiously.

"Well, I think you might be right in that it could cause some over excitement. You might be wise to wait it out."

"But how can I?" Spike practically wailed. "Do you understand how hard this is on me?"

"Oh, I'm sure it's *hard*." Wes chuckled. Spike scowled, though the other man couldn't see it. "But you'll just have to live through it, my good man. She'll regain her memory eventually."

"But will she hate me when she does?" Spike asked.

Wes sighed. His friend could be completely blind sometimes. "No, I don't think she will. You and Buffy have had a very strong relationship for many years. I don't think she'd throw that away over something like this. When you clearly only have her own best interests at heart."

"But it was all my fault she agreed to come on this stupid trip in the first place." Spike answered.

"Yes, but those things can be forgiven. And I'm sure they will. She loves you Will." Wesley tried to inform him. Even without having Willow tell him of the fact, he could see for himself whenever the wayward couple were together that they were besotted with each other.

"Yes, I know, as a friend. As I love her." Spike answered by rote.

"Well, good luck then." Wes offered. "I've got to go, I'm already late picking up Willow."

"Okay. Thanks Wes." Spike hung up the phone dejectedly. Wes hadn't been much help. All he'd done was reinforce Spike's original decision to play along with Buffy's incomplete memories. He hadn't told Spike *how* he was supposed to do that, though.


7 - Strategies and Networking

Buffy lay on the beach for most of the day. She grabbed a quick sandwich at the bar, and brought it back to her lounge chair for lunch. The sun was warm and felt wonderful on her skin, making her feel both languid and lethargic. It was a nice feeling, something she thought she hadn't felt for a long time. From what she remembered of her job it was incredibly fast paced and stressful. This trip was just what she needed to re-energize her flagging strength.

As she lay with her eyes closed her mind turned to the events that had occurred only hours ago in their suite. Buffy remembered vividly every hard plane and rigid muscle of Will's body. Her own began to tingle at the very memory. Her whole body had been buzzing during their kiss and she'd known nothing at the time except the yearning for more. How could she have decided to not take their relationship that one step further?

It wasn't as if she were afraid that they didn't know each other well enough. She doubted there was anyone else who knew her half as well as Will did, and vice versa. They'd known each other for what seemed like forever and she knew, whether she remembered the last few weeks in detail or not, that there was no one she trusted more. So why not take it to the next level? Maybe it was time to re-evaluate that earlier decision.

She thought of Will's reactions to her earlier, and even during the remembered kiss they'd shared at the airport. Thinking back she couldn't help but feel that both kisses had begun reluctantly, almost as if he had tensed at the first feel of her lips. Why would that be the case? Maybe she was imagining things? But the more she thought about it, the more it seemed to be true. And the way he'd acted this morning, after her initial overture, had seemed odd as well, almost as if he were hiding something from her.

Buffy knit her brow in thought. What could be the problem? Suddenly she gasped as an idea struck her. Could Will have found another woman? Could that be why he didn't want to kiss her, or make love to her? No, Will would never cheat on her, she was sure of that. Maybe he'd just realized that he didn't really love her, and was going to break it off before her accident. Will wasn't the type of guy to kick her while she was down. Maybe he was just biding his time until she got better, before breaking things off with her. Buffy's lip began to tremble and her eyes misted over. Did Will not love her anymore?

She tried to think back over their relationship. It was strange but she couldn't pinpoint the moment they'd gone from just friends to something more. She had plenty of memories surrounding them together, and several of him saying those three sweet little words, 'I love you'. But she was sure that Will had never had a problem telling her he loved her, even when they had just been friends. So, what clear memory did she have of them as a couple? None. Unless you counted the day they shopped for the engagement ring. And that memory was far from clear. More like disjointed images of a jewelry store, Will slipping the ring on her finger and her own attempts to arrest the tears that gathered in her eyes.

It seemed a recent memory though. If he had stopped loving her, why would he have gotten her a ring? Why hadn't he called things off before going that far?

Buffy wracked her memory for anything that might help. The only things prominent were Will, and her job. She did seem to spend an awful lot of time at the studio. She remembered several all nighters as well. Could that be the problem? Could Will resent the fact that she worked too much? That she didn't give enough to their relationship? Buffy couldn't imagine her life without Will. Her job did mean a lot to her; she wanted to be successful in her career, but not at the expense of her relationship with the man she loved.

What could she do to change his mind? Maybe she just needed to let him know that *he* was her priority. She had all week to convince him of that fact. And when they got back from this trip she would re-evaluate her job and whether it truly did make her happy. Maybe she could cut back on hours there, or find another studio that would be more reasonable. Being a PA wasn't exactly glamorous, though she loved working in the industry. Maybe it was time to see about changing careers. Either way Buffy couldn't lose him. She was determined to spend this week making sure Will knew how much she loved him.


Okay, all he had to do was keep them out of the room for as long as possible. Being in public was the only solution. Spike knew that being alone with Buffy was something he couldn't afford to do. Being in public with Buffy was already weakening his resolve to keep things platonic between them; private time would just eradicate it completely. Especially because she was determined to maintain physical contact at all costs, or so it seemed.

After his phone call with Wesley, Spike had gone out for a long walk. By the time he'd returned to the room, Buffy was already dressing for dinner in the bathroom. He quickly donned his suit and used the vanity in the bedroom to insure his unruly curls were tamed. When Buffy had stepped out of the bathroom, Spike nearly reneged on his promise to keep a safe distance from the girl.

The dress she wore was a shimmering gold that fell just inches below the shapely curve of her hips. Nothing indecent, but something definitely a bit risqué. The neckline was modest, swinging to just above the soft mounds of her breasts. The fabric was so thin he could see the outline of her hard nipples, and wondered if that meant she wasn't wearing a bra.

She had just a splash of make-up on, and Spike was glad. He never thought she needed any, preferring to see her fresh-faced. The subtle odor of her perfume wafted across the room and aroused his senses. He had no idea what type of flower it smelled like, only that it tickled his nose and made his body tingle.

Spike cleared his throat clumsily, nearly choking instead. "You look beautiful, Buffy." He managed the words. "Ready, luv?" He held his arm out for her, both aching for and dreading her touch.

They walked out together, heading downstairs to the dinner. The outline the director had given him had stated that a formal dinner would be held each night in one of the ballrooms of the hotel. It was a chance for conference guests to mingle, exchange business cards, and make new contacts. In short, it was everything Spike hated, yet everything he was here to do.

When they entered the room, Spike barely held back a cringe. There were several hundred people in the room. He searched the small sign-in table for their name tags, finding them he helped Buffy pin hers on before pinning on his own. He scowled slightly at the tag, realizing that all the men in the room now had a reason to focus on Buffy's chest.

"Relax, Will." Buffy ordered him, feeling the tension in his taut arms.

"Relax? In this bloody mob?" Spike swept the room with his gaze and groaned. "Great! Look who's coming this way."

Buffy glanced up to see a dark haired man and a blond walking in their direction. "Who's that?" She whispered.

"You don't remember?" Spike asked.

"Duh! Head trauma?" She reminded him.

"It's that Angel git, and his ditzy better half, Harmony. We met them at the airport." He offered.

By the time the other couple had reached them, Buffy head a welcoming smile plastered to her face. "Hello, again." She nodded in their direction.

"Hello, Buffy." Angel gave her a smile, reached for her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. He completely ignored Spike, who began to emit a deep growl at the other man's temerity.

Buffy immediately pulled her hand away from Angel and placed it around Will's waist, leaning her body into his. The growling ceased, but Spike continued to stare daggers at the man talking to his girl.

"So, how have you been, Buffy? I heard you had a little accident the other day. I have to say you definitely don't look any worse for wear." Angel winked at her.

Buffy felt distinctly uncomfortable. She could feel the tension tightening every muscle of Will's body. And the feelings she got from Angel were of the creepazoid variety. Why didn't the woman he was with say something to him instead of just smiling inanely?

"Yes, we had a small mishap surfing. But I'm fine now. Will took good care of me." She turned and placed a quick kiss on Will's cheek. "Thanks, honey."

Spike continued to remain silent. Finally, Harmony spoke up. "So, when do you two plan to get married? Have you set a date yet?"

Buffy's smile widened into a genuine one. She turned to Will and asked, "We haven't set a date yet, have we honey?" Then turning back to Harmony she continued, "But I'd love to do it as soon as possible. Maybe in October, I'd love a fall wedding. The whether will be cool, but not cold." She didn't notice Spike's gaze shift to her. Didn't notice his close scrutiny, or the wistful look in his own eyes.

"It's a good thing our circle of friend's are all couples. That way we don't have to worry about pairing anyone up for the wedding party. We haven't actually started official planning yet, but I know my mom has probably planned everything down to the minute since the day I was born." Buffy chuckled. "And she loves Will. She's been telling me for years that we should get together."

"She has?" Spike broke in, surprised.

"Oh yeah. You didn't know that?" Buffy answered smiling at him.

"No, luv. You never said."

"I thought it might just make you uncomfortable. You never seemed to want anything besides friendship with me."

"But you wanted more?" He was intrigued.

"Well, we're engaged aren't we?" She emitted a low sexy laugh.

Spike barely kept the scowl off his face. That wasn't the answer he was looking for. The only reason they were engaged was because of his own stupidity. He thought back over their recent conversation. Did that mean that Buffy had feelings for him? That she had wanted to become more than friends, and had never told him? Or was that just wishful thinking on his part?

"Come on, Angel. Let's leave the two lovebirds alone and find our table. I'm starving." Harmony began to pull Angel away from them, waving a quick goodbye.

"See you later, Buffy." Angel's goodbye sounded more like a threat to both their ears. It made Buffy shiver and Spike's arm tightened around her.

"Let's go, luv. You must be hungry too. You only had a sandwich for lunch, yeah?" He asked, leading her toward a table.

"Yeah. I'm a little hungry, but I'm okay. Don't worry Will."

"Can't help it, luv." Spike answered.

"I know. That's one of the reasons I love you so much." She kissed him on the lips this time. The kiss was quicker and definitely more chaste than Spike would have liked, but he conceded it was probably for the best.

When the rest of the table sat down, Spike tried to make conversation with their table-mates but it was not one of his more honed skills. Fortunately for him, Buffy was an expert at socializing. She soon had the whole table chuckling and in a light hearted mood. Spike watched her, his heart swelling. Every now and then she would brush a hand against his, or lean her body into his, as if the brief contact gave her enough energy to keep going throughout the night.

Afterwards, when the women separated to make a trip to the ladies room several of the men commented on his luck. Spike could only smile and nod, knowing that if his engagement were real that statement would be nothing but the truth. He was also able to get several business cards, and pass out several of his own before the night ended.

Finally the night waned and Spike informed their new acquaintances that he should be taking Buffy up to get some rest. He guided her out of the ballroom and back up to their suite, dreading a sleepless night beside the woman of his every fantasy. He knew he wouldn't be able to get a wink of sleep with Buffy laying beside him.

When they got upstairs he let Buffy use the bathroom first. He stripped down to his boxers and got under the covers to wait for her. Normally he slept in the nude, but he knew that was out of the question. When Buffy exited the bathroom, Spike nearly fainted, all the blood rushed to his groin leaving him lightheaded and groggy.

While Buffy had been getting ready for dinner this afternoon, she'd come across something hidden at the bottom of her suitcase. It was one of her Victoria Secret's sexy nightgowns. She'd figured this was the perfect way to hint to Will that she wanted to nix her original plan to wait until they were married. So she'd take it to the bathroom and left it there, slipping it on when they'd returned from dinner.

She looked beautiful. Better than any fantasy he'd conjured of her over the years. Her curves were covered with a very thin silky material. Lace edging crept to just above her hard nipples, and the top itself ended at just about her waist. He could see she wore matching thong underwear, and a see through robe thing that ended at hip level. He groaned, his erection pulsing between his legs.

"Buffy?" Her name was a croak between dry lips.

Without a word she came to stand beside him on the bed. Leaning down she took his mouth with her own, slipping her tongue between surprised lips and exploring his warm mouth. His arms came around to wrap around her waist and haul her on top of him. She could feel his arousal through the sheets, and ground her hips down, making him moan and thrust up toward her.

"Buffy, we can't." He nearly cried, trying to pull away from her.

"Yes, we can." She silenced him with another kiss. "I know I don't remember everything, but I know I want you. There's no reason to wait."

Spike was helpless. How was he supposed to refuse her? He was only human, and what little intelligence he normally sported seemed to have drained down to the lower portion of his body. And god, he wanted her too.

Carefully he repositioned them, scooting Buffy over so that he could throw off the covers. He laid her down beside him, rising up on his elbows to get a better look at her. With her hair fanned around her face, and her cheeks flushed she was the sexiest woman Spike had ever seen. He wanted her more than he ever thought possible, but still he fought against his instincts knowing that the 'real' Buffy would never forgive him if he went too far.

"You're so sexy, Buffy." He murmured, bending down to drape his lips over hers. "Close your eyes, luv." He commanded as he drew back from her. He then began to trail kisses all over her face, and then down her neck. He stopped to suck lightly on her pulse point for a few minutes, loving the breathy moans that he could feel vibrate against his lips.

As his kisses traveled further down her body, Spike's hands came up to slowly begin to divest Buffy of her lingerie. Finally she was wearing nothing more than the lacy thong. Her eyes were closed, and her chest rose and fell with every deep breath she took. Spike's gaze focused on her hard nipples, and his mouth watered at the thought of suckling there. Before allowing himself the pleasure, he divested himself of his own clothing, leaving him nude beside her.

At last he dipped his head down and took one rosy nipple into his mouth. Buffy mewled, and arched her back, loving the feel of his rough tongue on her sensitive flesh. As he licked and sucked one breast, his hand covered the other, kneading the soft mound gently. When he let his lips wander to her right breast, Spike's hand began a slow journey downward. He caressed Buffy's flat belly, tickling the smooth skin there.

Spike lifted his mouth, and raised himself higher so that he could once more kiss her passion swollen lips. Leaning forward he whispered, "There are other ways to give each other pleasure, luv." And then he dipped his fingers beneath the small scrap of lace Buffy still wore. Spike knew he was probably only fooling himself, but he hoped that if he at least kept them from performing the final act Buffy would find it in her heart to forgive him.

Spike swallowed her surprised cry with his own mouth, his tongue and fingers dipping into her body at the same time. His own arousal flared at the first feel of her moist center. Already slick his fingers entered her easily, and he setup an even rhythm. Her hips began to thrust in counterpoint to his movements, and he could tell that she was getting close to the edge.

Unexpectedly Buffy's eyes shot open and she caught his gaze with her own. "I love you." She whispered softly, and then reached down to grasp his rock hard member. Spike gasped and threw his head back, but kept his own fingers moving steadily. Without conscious thought they matched each other's rhythm, Buffy's hand moving in pace with Spike's.

Their breathing sped up, as did their fingers. When Buffy's orgasm hit, she squeezed her hand unintentionally sending Spike over the brink as well.

As their lids grew heavy and their breathing evened out, Spike couldn't remember ever feeling more sated. They hadn't even made love, yet this felt like the most intimate moment he'd ever shared with another human being. He moved in closer, wrapping his arm around Buffy and nuzzling her neck. God, what would happen when she got her memory back? He clung to the hope that she would see that he'd only tried to do what was best. But even if she did, would *he* ever be able to forget these days with Buffy? Would he be able to go back to being 'just friends' with the girl that he'd secretly loved for years now that he'd had a taste of what it was like to be more?

Buffy felt completely boneless. She had wanted to seduce Will into making love to her. Although her plan had failed, she didn't think that this was too far off her original mark. He was obviously still attracted to her. And although he hadn't responded to her love declaration, he had been a little busy at the time. Buffy had to admit that most men lost coherency when all the blood rushed from one head to the other. She still thought the evening had turned out pretty well. And it only made her resolve to stick to her original plan to make sure that Will knew how important he was to her. With that last thought she snuggled further into Will's embrace and finally drifted off to sleep.


8 - Confessions, Promises, and Nicknames

Buffy woke in the morning alone. The stab of disappointment she felt sharpened when she realized Will's pillow was cold and he was no longer in the suite. He must have left hours ago. She frowned, was he regretting there intimacy last night?

Deciding to think on the bright side, Buffy got up and started the tub for a bath. The bathtub was large and had whirlpool jets, something that Buffy planned to take advantage of. Indulging in a long bubble bath was one of her favorite pastimes. It was always able to relax her. And with the stitches in her head, a bath was preferable to a shower in order to keep the wound dry.

She sank into the tub, turning the small radio in the bathroom on low. Closing her eyes she let her mind linger on last night, remembering the feel of Spike's hands on her and shuddering. Daydreaming, she never heard the door open and so was startled when a deep voice greeted her.

"Morning, luv." Spike had watched her for several minutes before announcing his presence. Though the bubbles covered most of her beautiful body, her peaked nipples rose just above the surface. He suppressed a groan, and hoped that Buffy didn't acknowledge the growing bulge in his pants. He really couldn't allow a repeat of last night, or heaven forbid, any *more* intimate moments.

Buffy let out a small eek, before here eyes popped open to find Spike staring down at her. Even though they'd obviously shared an intimate relationship, and had nearly made love last night, she still felt the blush creeping over her face. She supposed it was natural to feel shy being the only naked person in the room.

Despite her embarrassment she gave him a warm smile, glad to see he'd returned to the room before she had to go looking for him. Maybe he didn't regret their night together after all?

"Good morning." She greeted him. "Would you like to join me?"

Spike's posture immediately stiffened. "I'm afraid I've got a busy morning, Buffy. I just came back to say good morning and let you know that I'd be in workshops most of the day."

"Oh." She couldn't hide her disappointment.

The look on Buffy's face almost made him take it back. There was only one workshop he really had to attend; the rest were optional. But in order to maintain his sanity, Spike thought he should attend any and all events available.

"We'll be able to meet up for dinner, though." Spike offered.

"When will you be through?" How was she supposed to ingratiate him with her love if they didn't spend any time together?

"The last workshop lets out at 4, so we can meet back here at 4:30, okay, luv?"

Buffy sighed, she supposed she really had no choice. "Okay." She gave him a halfhearted smile.

Giving in to temptation, Spike leant down to give Buffy a goodbye kiss. As soon as their lips touched, Spike knew it had been a mistake. Lust burned through him, causing his groin to tighten and his throat to constrict. He felt wetness seep into the collar of his shirt as Buffy's hand lifted and wrapped around his neck, bringing him closer and deeper into the kiss.

Spike wanted to rip his clothes off and join her in the tub. He wanted to trace her curves with his soapy hands and blow the bubbles off her body as he kissed every inch of her. He wanted to feel her exploring him, touching, kissing, and licking every bit of his skin. He groaned.

Buffy felt the rumble of sound echo from his mouth to hers. The residual tingle rippled through her body and caused her nipples to peak and her toes to curl. She let out a small cry of disappointment when he finally pulled away from her.

"I'd better go, luv." Spike panted. Buffy felt a small pulse of triumph when she saw the telltale bulge in his trousers. But the tiny victory was soon overshadowed with frustration when he stood to leave.

"Okay, Will. I'll see you this afternoon." He did come here to work after all. She couldn't expect him to spend all day with her, could she?

After Will left Buffy stayed in the tub until the water turned cold. Drying off she put on her bikini and got ready to go to the beach. Unfortunately her injury had pretty much curtailed most island activities for her. There were still a few things she could do. Really she just had to avoid soaking her stitches.

She could try parasailing, or even kayaking as long as the waters weren't too rough. She couldn't really afford getting dunked, although it probably wouldn't hurt that much. But she wouldn't be getting the stitches out until at least the end of the week. Sighing she laid her bag and towel down on the lounge chair and then sat beside them to take her sandals off.

Yeah, she supposed there were still a few activities she could participate in. But she didn't want to do them alone! She wanted Will with her. Maybe he would have more free time tomorrow. She spread her towel out and grabbed a paperback from her bag before getting comfortable on the chair.

Before long Buffy was so engrossed in her book that she didn't see the new occupant of the chair to her right. "Ahem," the woman next to her tried to get her attention but to no avail. Finally the woman just leaned over and poked Buffy in the shoulder, making her let out a startled yelp.

"Hey!" Buffy turned to scowl at the new comer. She was surprised to find Harmony, a friendly smile plastered on her face.

"Hi Buffy!" Harmony greeted her.

"Hello." Buffy answered warily.

"I brought you some magazines. I thought it might be fun, if you hadn't already picked everything out." Harmony showed her the variety of wedding magazines she'd brought. "Since the boys are busy I thought we could hang out together."

Buffy wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea, but she didn't want to appear rude. And she was sort of interested in starting the plans for their wedding. She didn't remember them making any decisions yet. "Sure. That sounds great. Thanks, Harmony."

To her surprise Buffy was actually having a pretty good time. Harmony had some great advice on bridesmaid dresses and floral arrangements, which Buffy took to heart. Around noon they both decided to break for lunch and head up to the lobby restaurant together.

"So, are you and Angel thinking of getting married soon?" Buffy asked, wondering how Harmony knew so much about wedding arrangements. The frown that marred Harmony's face had her wishing she could take back the question.


"Did you want to talk about it?" Buffy asked.

"I...He'll never want to marry me." Harmony finished sadly.

"Why? Don't you think he cares about you?" Buffy put her hand out to cover Harmony's on the table.

"No." Harmony sighed heavily. "He just likes to sleep with me."

"That can't be true!" Buffy was indignant. "Why would he bring you on this trip, if that's all he wanted?"

"Because everybody else was bringing someone, so he had to as well." Harmony shrugged.

"Oh, Harmony." Buffy patted her hand in comfort. "Do you love him?"

It was a long time before Harmony answered. "I thought I did." She whispered, head down. "But he's changed so much. He used to be so sweet. He was the first guy in a long time to treat me as something more than just a ditzy blond." Harmony sighed. "But he's never happy anymore. Now, it's like he's just angry all the time."

"Harmony," Buffy leaned forward urgently. "Does he ever hurt you?"

"Hurt me?" Harmony looked startled for a moment. "No. Not physically anyway. It's just that his company means so much to him. And they're having so many problems. The past year has been really rough. I think he might resent Will."

"Will?" Buffy's heart started to race. "My Will?"

"Yes. Will's been so successful this past year. He's outbid Angel on almost every book he's really wanted. And to top it all off he's the press' darling. Angel fumed when he saw that article on Sunnydale's most eligible bachelors a few months back. It might not have been so bad if Will hadn't made the cover."

Buffy remembered the magazine. They'd interviewed her as one of Will's closest friends. Hmmm, that had been about 3 months ago. So their relationship must be extremely recent. Though Buffy supposed it shouldn't surprise her that he proposed right away, they have known each other for almost a decade already. They didn't really need the getting to know you, hand holding, first date stage of coupledom. Buffy frowned, something didn't quite add up.

"Buffy? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you. Angel won't do anything." Harmony reassured. "You know how competitive boys can get. I'm sure that's all it is."

"I'm sure you're right." Though Buffy still resolved to tell Will what she'd learned. "Let just finish lunch, okay?" But before she picked up her fork again, Buffy addressed Harmony once more, "But...if something does happen, if Angel does or says anything that makes you uncomfortable, let me know. Promise me you won't stick around if Angel starts to blame you for all his troubles, okay?"

"I promise." Harmony smiled at her. It felt good to have someone care about her, even if it was a woman she'd only met days before. "Thank you, Buffy."

"Just make sure you keep that promise."


Buffy was getting ready for dinner when Spike arrived back in their room. Spike inhaled the lingering scent of Buffy's perfume as he entered. He could hear her tinkering around in the bathroom, probably putting the finishing touches on her makeup.

Quickly he changed into the cotton shirt and slacks he was wearing for tonight's dinner. Before he could put his loafers on, Buffy was emerging from the bathroom. Her hair was up in a french twist, held together by one very large hair comb. Her outfit was casual, as the outline had noted was tonight's theme. Her skirt was a floral print sarong in differing shades of purple. Her top was a white knit halter. And to top the ensemble off she wore a matching orchid in her hair.

"Beautiful, luv." The compliment flew from Spike's lips.

Buffy blushed prettily. "Thank you, Will."

Spike stepped forward and gathered Buffy into his arms. "Can I ask you something, Buffy?"

"Sure, Will, anything." She snuggled into his embrace.

"Ever since your accident you've only ever called me Will. Do you not remember my nickname, luv?" Spike asked, worried that this was just another piece of Buffy's memory lost.

"'Course I know your nickname, Will. You only asked me to start calling you that almost four years ago." Buffy chuckled. "But you know why I call you Will instead of Spike."

"No, luv. You never said."

"I didn't? Not even when we first started dating? I'm sure I would have told you." Buffy murmured. "Are you sure?"

Spike cursed himself. "Well, maybe you did, and I've forgotten?"

"'s just..." Buffy began, "It's just that it's something of mine."

"Yours, luv?"

"Yes. You make everyone outside of work call you Spike." Buffy explained. "Don't you remember that even before we started seeing each other I used to call you Will occasionally?" Spike nodded. "That's because it felt special. It felt special because I was the only one you allowed the privilege. And it sort of made me feel connected to the boy I met in college."

"Why would you want to feel connected to that wanker?" Spike asked, surprised.

Buffy slugged him in the shoulder. "What do you mean? You were the smartest, sweetest guy I'd ever met."

"In other words, I was a pouf." Spike scowled.

"Will! No, of course not. Even then I'd felt an attraction to you, but you never seemed to want anything but friendship from me."

"You were attracted to me back then?" Spike was amazed. He found it hard to believe that Buffy was attracted to him even now.

"How can you think you're so unattractive?" Buffy wondered aloud. "You were Sunnydale's number one most eligible bachelor just a few months ago." Which reminded her that she really should tell him about her conversation with Harmony earlier.

"But back then?" Spike asked again.

"Yes, back then!" She slugged him in the shoulder for the umpteenth time.

" hair was all poufy, and my clothes were so...boring."

"Those things didn't matter to me." Buffy answered him softly, her lips grazing his cheek ever so slightly.

Spike was flabbergasted. Buffy had been attracted to him? Could this be another symptom of the accident and the memory loss? He couldn't understand how Buffy could feel that way about him without him knowing it. He'd made a study of her for the past ten years, you'd think he'd notice any affection she might have harbored for him.

Before he could question her further she kissed him stoutly on the lips, leaving him dazed and confused. Then she grabbed his hand and tugged him toward the front door. "Come on or we're going to be late for dinner." And then they were out the door.


9 - Getting to Know You

The next day, Buffy resolved to get Will to spend some time with her. She'd checked the outline and knew that there was only one workshop that he was required to attend. So she followed him into the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub to watch him shave.

She'd intended to corner him there and get him to agree to lounging with her for a few hours, but ended up silent as she watched his quiet morning ritual. Just a few minutes ago Buffy had felt the affects of a long night's sleep on Will's stubbled cheek. The rough feel of his skin against hers as they kissed good-morning had her tingling and drew her in for a second kiss before she let him get out of bed.

Now she watched as he smoothed shaving cream over his face and rinsed out the razor. He didn't use one of those barber blade thingies, but he didn't use an electric razor either. It was one of those older razors that you could switch the blades out of. For some reason, Buffy liked it more. The silence made the whole thing seem kind of surreal. Buffy watched in rapt attention as each swipe of the blade through the thick white cream left Will's face baby soft. She longed to reach out and touch a finger to the newly smoothed surface just to compare the difference from their earlier contact.

Spike was painfully aware of Buffy's scrutiny. The way she was looking at him, it took all his concentration to avoid fatally wounding himself. God, did she know what she did to him? Methodically he continued to run the blade up and down his face, making sure to get every inch of stubble, making sure not to make eye contact with Buffy through the mirror. It had already taken enough out of him just to roll out of bed after the good morning kiss she'd planted on him. It wouldn't take much to get him tumbling back into it, with her.

When he was finally through, Spike rinsed any residual cream off his face before splashing on some aftershave. The liquid stung as he slapped it on, letting the sharp pain break him out of his lustful thoughts. Damn! Buffy was his best friend, had been since almost as far back as he could remember. Or at least as far back as he wanted to remember. Why couldn't he stop thinking about her as anything more than that?

Yes, he had always known she was beautiful. That her body was petite yet muscled, her face full of pixie innocence, and her eyes startlingly wide and almost always filled with quiet amusement. He loved that about her. The fact that she could find humor, a small sense of the ridiculous, in just about any situation. He also adored the fact that she was intelligent, kind-hearted, and one of the sweetest bints he'd ever met.

So why couldn't he concentrate on those things lately? Why was the only thing his mind able to focus and zero in on was the fact that she was also one of the sexiest bints he'd ever met? Sighing he rinsed out the razor and put it back in his traveling kit.

"What do you have planned for today, kitten?" Spike asked, trying to force his thoughts on to other more concrete paths.

Buffy jumped to her feet, giving him a heart-melting smile as she shuffled closer to him. "Well, I can't really do too much until the stitches come out. I thought maybe we could lay on the beach for awhile. And - oh! I've always wanted to try parasailing. We should be able to do that, right? I mean, I don't have to be in the water for that do I?"

Spike hadn't missed the fact that she'd said 'we' rather than 'I'. She wanted to spend the whole day with him. On a normal day he could handle it, no problem. Buffy in a bikini was a sight, that was for damn sure, but he'd always been able to control his wandering libido before. But now...While she thought they were lovers about to marry, how was he supposed to resist? Even now he could see the hint of desire in her eyes as she walked toward him. He tensed as he felt her arms surround his waist and her head bend down to kiss his shoulder lightly.

"I checked the schedule. You only have one meeting today. Can we meet for lunch afterward and spend some time together?" Buffy met his eyes in the mirror and gave him her best pleading look.

Spike crumbled. How was he supposed to say no to those eyes? "Sure, luv. Anything you want." And then he turned and kissed her.

Buffy held onto him, crushing him closer as their lips met. She was so elated. This was the first time that Will had made the first move toward her. Maybe she'd been wrong about the problems they'd been having. When she was in his arms like this, it certainly seemed like she had been.

What was he thinking? Or maybe that was the problem, he hadn't been thinking at all. The look she gave him, her warm arms around his waist, her firm breasts pressed gently against his back. It had all been too much. Spike had spent a long incredibly restlessly night lying alongside Buffy. Not daring to move for fear that one brush of her skin against his would cause a chain reaction worse than any nuclear explosion.

So instead he gritted his teeth and forced himself to remain awake. He didn't trust his control in sleep, so he lay awake all night while Buffy snuggled into his embrace. How could he turn her away? What would she think of he didn't want to hold her as they slept? So he did.

But now he did more than just passively stand in her embrace. Now he let his hands wander her back while his tongue invaded her mouth. She moaned and he hardened. Spike deepened the kiss, his hands moving down her back to cup her buttocks. He pressed his groin towards hers, fitting them together nicely.

Only when Buffy freed her mouth long enough to whisper, "Will, please, let's go back to bed." Did Spike finally break away. He was trembling and aching, but he put enough distance between them to clear his head. What the bloody hell had he been thinking?

Buffy watched as Will visibly composed himself. His features hardened, not into a cold mask, but still lacking the warmth from his earlier desire. His hand made a rough path through his hair as he blew out a ragged breath.

"God, Buffy. I want to, but...we can't." He made a show of looking at his watch. "I have to be downstairs in twenty minutes."

Buffy didn't bother to hide her disappointment. She had a feeling his refusal had more to do with her previous wish to remain abstinent, but she didn't press him on it. There was a glimmer of hope shining through her aching disappointment. *Will* had kissed her. And she could tell, whether he believed it or not, he was weakening. It wouldn't be long until he finally gave in, and they could be together.

"Okay, sweetie. I'll just meet you in the lobby after your meeting." Buffy kissed him gently on the cheek before exiting the bathroom to find clothes for the day.

Spike checked his watch again. He did have to be at the workshop in twenty, no make that fifteen, minutes but he couldn't go like this. So he opened the clear glass door, and stepped in to the shower. Turning the nozzle completely to the left he shuddered as the cold water hit him full blast in the face. Too bad there wasn't going to be as easy a solution for him *after* his meeting.


"Tell me what you thought the first time we met." Buffy smiled across at him from the beach towel she'd spread on the hot sand. They had been lying beside each other baking in the sun for the past two hours, sweating away the last of the quick meal they'd eaten after Spike's meeting. And for the past two hours, Buffy's fingers had been entwined with his. She'd taken his hand almost immediately after stretching out on the towel, and hadn't let go.

When he didn't answer right away, she squeezed his hand to get a response. "The first time we met? How about I tell you about the first time I ever set eyes on you?"

Buffy looked up at that, turning on her towel to face him completely. "Weren't they at the same time?"

"No." Spike answered, staying on his back, looking up at the sky. He could feel her eyes on him, but he refused to make contact. He'd never told her this, and somehow it made him feel almost as if he were stripping himself bare in front of her. "I'd seen you before, on campus. The first time I'd ever seen you, you were walking across the quad with Willow and Cordy." He sighed and moved his free arm to cover his eyes, shading part of his face from the sun.

"I was just coming out of the Liberal Arts building after one of my classes. I can't even remember which, all I remember was seeing you there, laughing and smiling as you walked with your friends." Now he did turn and look her in the eye. "I think I might have fallen in love with you then." Bloody hell! Why had he told her that? "It was one of those perfect California days, the sun was out and the wind was just breezy enough to gently swirl the curls that framed your face. The way you were laughing, it was so...real. It wasn't one of those fake, sorority girl laughs. It was loud and heartfelt. Then you looked toward me, and even though I knew you weren't looking *at* me I think I stopped breathing altogether."

"Oh, Will." She leaned in and placed her cheek on his chest, snuggling into his embrace and hooking her own arm around him. "That's one of the sweetest things anyone's ever said to me. Why didn't you tell me?"

"Yeah, right." He snorted. "Like a beautiful bint like you was going to even look twice at me?"

"But I did look twice. Why did you think I kept asking you to study with me?" Buffy insisted.

"Because you needed help? Because you were a bloody good samaritan and thought that a pathetic loser like me needed more friends?"

"I never thought you were a loser! Or pathetic!" She sat up abruptly her words full of indignation. "You were and still are the smartest man I know. And you're incredibly sweet, and loyal and..."

"I sound more like a dog than a man." Spike interrupted her. "Besides you told me you just wanted to be friends." He remembered that drunken night with clarity.

He wasn't much of a drinker, but Buffy had wanted to try a new club and he'd gone with her. They'd both had a little too much to drink and had ended up back in Buffy's dorm room. Willow had been gone for the weekend visiting Wesley, and so they'd found themselves alone. Somehow they must have fallen asleep on her bed together. He hadn't known how they'd gotten there. He woke up with a start probably only an hour or so after they'd fallen asleep because the clock only read 3:23AM. When he turned to check on Buffy she was awake and watching him and before he knew what was happening their lips were pressed together. She moved closer and wrapped her arms around his neck, one hand moving up to run through his nancy boy curls.

He let himself enjoy the feel of her for about half a second before he steeled himself and pulled away. "Buffy, we can't." God, how it killed him to say that. But he couldn't take advantage of her when she'd been drinking. And she was obviously drunk, because he knew she'd never kiss him sober. And he felt his own little buzz going as well.

For a moment he thought he saw a flash of something in her eyes, but then it was gone.

"Oh god, sorry." Buffy whispered, turning away from him and swinging her legs off the bed. "I must be soooo drunk. You're such a good friend. Please tell me I haven't made you too uncomfortable to still hang out with me." She pulled herself off the bed and walked slowly over to the minifridge in the corner.

"No, 'course not, luv." He answered immediately, wishing she were back in bed with him.

"Good, because your friendship is like the most important thing to me. I would *never* want to do anything to ruin that." She stated adamantly as she pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge and took a healthy swig.

"Well, what did you want me to say?" Buffy's heated question pulled Spike out of his reverie.


"What did you want me to say, after I throw myself at you and you push me away?" Buffy asked, head lowered now.

"You were drunk, luv."

"No, I wasn't. I mean, yeah I'd had a drink or two, but I wasn't anything more than buzzed." She answered. "I had been wanting to kiss you for so long, and I just figured I couldn't pass up the opportunity, you know?"

Buffy was afraid to look up. Will was completely silent, and it was sort of freaking her out. Obviously they were together now, but revealing her intentions from that long lost night had been very daunting. She was feeling very exposed, and the longer his silence droned on the more uncomfortable she got.

Just when she thought she couldn't take anymore she felt Will's hand reach out to cup her chin. He pushed up until she met his eyes, and then she realized just how close they were. "I didn't know, luv. I never thought..." And then he kissed her.

God! She had intended to kiss him. She hadn't been drunk that night. Spike still couldn't believe it. Even now with their lips pressed together and Buffy's sweet tongue exploring his mouth, he couldn't believe that this is what she'd wanted from him ten years ago. Bloody hell! She'd *intended* to kiss him that night.

Spike pulled away trying to control the raging lust coursing through him. They were in public after all. But he couldn't resist swooping down and giving her one last quick kiss before pulling away completely. "Come on, luv." He stood and then held out a hand to help her up as well. "Let's go ask about the parasailing. Once we're sure it's something that won't hurt your stitiches we'll try it, okay? I know how much you were looking forward to trying all the different activities here and I feel pretty bad that you can't. In fact, I feel horrible that you were hurt at all. I'm so sorry, luv." Okay, he was babbling. But his mind was still reeling from the revelations they'd shared, and his body was still spinning from having been so close to Buffy.

"Okay." Buffy followed happily beside him. He'd kissed her again! And the things he'd said, the way he'd felt about her all those years ago. God, she loved him.


Neither of them saw the figure shadowing them as they strolled across the beach toward the rental and activity huts. The figure stopped short, a sneer on his face, watching as they walked hand in hand. He'd seen them on the beach kissing. Seen how happy they'd been. It only made his sneer turn into a scowl. God, he hated that man.


10 - When Darkness Falls

Buffy was humming softly as she got ready for dinner. Tonight she'd picked out one of the full body sarongs she'd bought just the other day in one of the local shops. It was made up of different shades of blue and green, mimicking the rippling waters of the Pacific Ocean. She let her hair hang loose about her shoulders, framing her face with soft curls. The only thing she'd put in her hair was a small decorative clip covered with iridescent mother of pearl shells.

She continued to hum along as she spritzed herself with a dash of perfume, then passed Will on his way into the bathroom to check his own appearance. She couldn't remember being happier than she'd been today. They'd had almost a perfect day. They'd talked, and laughed, and discovered things about themselves they never knew. They'd spent almost the entire day together. And tonight the conference was hosting a luau. Buffy'd never been to a luau before and she was looking forward to it, another new experience that the two of them could share together.

But what really thrilled her was how affectionate and loving Will had been all day. Since that talk they'd had on the beach, he hadn't stopped touching her. Holding her hand, kissing her, wrapping her up in his arms. God, she couldn't get enough! Maybe tonight he'd finally give in and let them make love. What would it be like to have Will make love to her? Knowing him he'd be sure to make it the most wonderful experience of her life.

"Ready, luv?" Spike asked, stopping to peck her on the cheek. He was wearing very casual khaki trousers with a blue Hawaiian print shirt. Buffy loved it because the blue of the flowers almost matched the color of his eyes exactly.

"Hello, handsome." Buffy made sure to place her peck square on his lips before pulling away to wink at him.

Spike laughed, and reached out for her. He pulled her close, hands on her waist and bent his head to give her a proper kiss. He'd been thinking about their relationship all day. At least since the conversation they'd had on the beach. Ever since they'd started on this crazy trip Spike had been learning more and more about Buffy and the things she'd felt for him over the past ten years.

He still couldn't quite believe it. It was too close to his fantasy for him to not have doubts, but he was getting closer and closer to the realization that Buffy did indeed have stronger feelings than friendship for him. Or at least it seemed so. Could he be wrong? Could this be some wild side effect of her injury? It didn't seem likely. But he would still take things slowly and cautiously. At least that was the plan. But every time he was with her, especially when they were alone like this, he found it harder and harder to keep his hands, and his lips, off of her.

When the kiss finally ended, Spike didn't pull away completely. Instead he kept his eyes closed and touched their foreheads together letting their breaths mingle. They stayed that way for a minute, just holding onto each other before Buffy spoke. "I love you."

Spike sighed heavily, his heart constricting. Did she really mean it the way he'd always longed for her to? "Love you too, Buffy." He whispered back.

"We'd better get going." Spike let his fingers trail down her arm and then clasp her hand in his. "The sooner we get there the sooner we can leave."

Buffy laughed. "Will, it won't be that bad! Maybe you'll have fun. They're supposed to have hula dancing and even a fire eater!"

"Sounds like a barrel of laughs, luv." He answered, deadpan.

She slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "You're such a party pooper!"

"Oi!" He mocked cringed from the blow and the insult. "How do you know there isn't another reason entirely that I want to leave early?" Oh god, had he really just said that? Spike swallowed heavily waiting to see what Buffy would say.

Buffy's heart almost stopped. Did he mean that the way it sounded? "Maybe we don't have to go at all?" She ventured quietly.

Spike's heart was beating triple time. Did he want to do this with Buffy? Who was he kidding? *Of course* he wanted to do this with Buffy! But the real question was, should he? No matter what her true feelings were for him, wouldn't it still be taking advantage of her when she remained under the impression that they were truly engaged?

"No, luv. I think we probably need to make an appearance at least." And it would give him some time to at least think about the consequences some more. God, he could be risking everything.

"Oh, okay."

The disappointment in her voice, made Spike pull to a stop. He tugged on her hand until she was facing him, and then he kissed her again. It was slow and sweet and promising. And he knew in that instant that there was really nothing left to think about. There was only one decision he *could* make. But stubborn as he was he still wanted to go through the motions. So he ended the kiss and without another word pulled her out the door and down the hall.


The nights out here were incredibly dark. The luau was being held right on the beach, with several tiki torches set up to illuminate the party. He watched as Buffy made her way over to the buffet table and tried the poi. The face she made was ridiculous and it almost made him smile, but he curbed it before it could appear. There was no doubt that she was beautiful. There was also no doubt that she was unmistakably Will's. It only made him want her more.

The bastard had everything that should rightfully belong to him. He was king of a multimillion dollar kingdom, and had all the comforts and luxuries that came with it. Including the beautiful courtesan. Damn him!

But tonight Angel was going to get back a little of his own. He slunk through the shadows, watching and waiting, biding his time.


Spike watched as Buffy threw her head back and laughed. She was caught up in the excitement of the night, watching the fire eater and the other island entertainers. Spike had to admit it was impressive. He didn't know how anyone could be disciplined enough to learn to swallow a huge ball of fire on demand.

They'd been at the luau for a few hours, while he both dreaded and wished for the time when they could be alone. He knew what would happen once they got there, but he was determined at least to do the right thing. He wanted her there was definitely no denying that, but he knew he couldn't have her. Not without being honest first. He'd thought long and hard about what he was going to do. He had to tell her the truth.

He'd weighed all the pros and cons. Spike just couldn't imagine the truth hurting her anymore than what he'd already been doing. He wasn't even sure if she'd forgive him for what they'd already done. But he could hope, and wish, and pray that once he'd confessed to her, she'd still want him. Still love him. At least enough to still be his friend. But, Lord he wanted more.

He watched her carefully. He'd been watching her carefully ever since the accident. She seemed almost completely healed. The only evidence left were the few stitches on her forehead. And her memory loss. Why couldn't she remember? Would she ever remember? That was one thing he'd thought about long and hard. If she never did remember, they could be married and in love and together for the rest of their lives. And she'd never know the difference. But he would.

Spike sighed, running his fingers through his disheveled hair. Wanting...wanting...everything, and knowing how precarious his chances at having that really were. At this point he'd even settle for just a small crumb, but bloody hell he wanted, *longed*, for it all.

"I'm just going to get a drink, do you want anything?" Buffy asked as she stood from their seats on the straw covered floor.

"I'll go, luv." Spike started to stand but she put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

"No, I'm already up. Besides my legs were falling asleep. It's just a short walk." She tilted her head over to where the bar sat, just a few feet away from where the luau was being hosted.

"Okay, kitten. Just some pineapple juice for me." He needed to keep a clear head if he wanted to make sure he said the right words tonight.

She leaned down and gave him a quick peck on the lips before turning to walk away. Spike turned his own attention back to the entertainment; still marveling at the bravado it took to actually swallow fire. Those men must have some pretty big stones. He watched as they juggled long torches back and forth before finally swallowing the last of them down. When the hula dancers came on he realized that it had been more than just a few several long minutes since Buffy had left for the drinks.

He stood and looked around, but didn't see her anywhere near the bar. Spike made his way over to the bartender. "Have you seen my fiance? She was wearing a sort of green dress. Shoulder length blonde, hazel eyes?" He described her while continuing to scan the area.

"Sorry, don't remember anyone like that." The man shrugged helplessly.

Maybe she had gone inside to use the restroom? He stood outside the ladies room door, and waited until a woman came out. He asked her politely if she'd seen Buffy, or if she could at least go back into the restroom and see if she were still there. But no luck. Where had she gone?

He tried their room next. He entered, panting from having run up the flight of stairs, impatient for the elevator. "Buffy?" He called as he raced through the main room and into the bathroom. But the suite remained silent.

Buffy was gone.


Buffy's heart was racing and she knew that if she didn't concentrate on breathing she would probably hyperventilate and end up passing out. She had woken up blind folded, the back of her head throbbing from the blow she'd been dealt.

When she tried to raise her hand to feel for the bump, she realized that she'd been tied down. Both her legs and arms were bound to what she assumed were bedposts, since she was obviously lying on a mattress.

She had no idea who had her or why. The last thing she remembered was heading over to the bar for a couple of drinks. On the way she'd decided to detour to the restroom and stepped off the regular path and onto the grass hill that led back up to the main hotel lobby. It wasn't exactly well lit, with only tiki torches spaced every few feet. She hadn't seen anyone or anything, though she hadn't exactly been looking.

Whoever had taken her had definitely done it before she'd reached the lobby. She still had to use the restroom, and fear made the need even greater. Who would want to kidnap her? Maybe she had enemies she didn't remember? Wouldn't Will have told her, reminded her to be extra careful? God, Will must be worried sick.

"Hello?" She called out, not knowing whether she really wanted an answer or not. "Please, I really have to use the bathroom." She could feel the blush from her head all the way up to her toes. How humiliating to have to ask your captor to not let you wet your pants.

Her panic increased when she heard heavy footsteps on the carpet. The blind fold was whisked off her head, forcing her to blink her eyes against the bright light. When her eyes had finally adjusted, she felt her stomach drop and the bile rise in her throat.


And then she couldn't stop the tears. Oh my god! She'd never told Will. She'd meant to let him know about her conversation with Harmony. But she'd never gotten around to it. And now it was too late. He wouldn't even know where to start looking.

Angel smirked at her, and so she did the only thing she could think of to do. She screamed.


11 - Waiting

Buffy screamed until her throat was hoarse. Angel smirked the entire time. It was extremely frightening and creepy.

"Go ahead. Keep screaming." Angel crossed his arms across his chest as he leaned against the door frame. "No one can hear you."

"What are you talking about? There are people all over this hotel."

"Ahh, but we aren't in the hotel." Angel answered. "We're in one of the honeymoon bungalows." This time Angel laughed out loud. "The desk clerk even smiled and winked at me when I asked for the room. He thought I might be getting some on the side since he was the same guy who checked Harmony and I in to our suite in the hotel."

"Bungalows?" Buffy whispered, afraid of his answer.

"Yes. They're separated from the main hotel. There are a bunch of them scattered around the resort. I guess they wanted to insure honeymooners privacy. It also keeps other guests from being kept awake at night, I suppose."

Oh god. That meant that nobody would be able to hear her call for help. Buffy wanted to cry again. How was Will supposed to find her?

"What do you want with me?" Please, please, please let this be some kind of horrible joke. She flinched when Angel's expression turned dark and he nearly snarled.

"You're *fiance*," he spat the word out as if it were a curse. "Has what should rightfully be mine. And you're going to help me get it back."

"What do you mean? How?" Buffy wasn't sure if it were wise to keep him talking, but the more she knew the better prepared she might be.

"Obviously the man will want you back. But he's going to have to learn that not everything in life comes easily, or...freely." The smirk was back.

"You're going to ask for a ransom?" Buffy asked, relieved. She knew Will would gladly pay, and it was definitely a lot better than what she had been imagining.

"Don't look so relieved, honey." Angel doused her hopes. "You're right about the ransom, but unfortunately there's no way I'm going to be able to let you go. Not that your precious William will know that." Angel stepped further into the room. He stepped up to the bed and sat on the edge, his hand reached out to wrap around her slim ankle. His thumb rubbed circles on her skin making a shiver of fear run through her. "Maybe we can have a little fun until then..."

Buffy began to kick and thrash, though her bonds didn't allow very much movement. "Stay away from me!" She screamed, but Angel just laughed. He did stand and step away though.

"If you're good, maybe I'll come back and let you use the bathroom. Right now I'm afraid I have some arrangements to make." Then he was gone.


Spike was worried sick. He'd called hotel security and even the police. But the police had been no help. They'd said he had to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person. At least security was out looking on the property. He'd explained about her head injury. Spike was worried that she might be wandering around dazed, or otherwise injured. Had he really thought last night that she looked almost completely healed?

But then the thoughts that he'd been trying to deny since he'd realized Buffy was missing made their way in to his head. Maybe she wasn't missing because of her injury. Maybe she had been taken. Maybe she was at this very moment scared out of her mind because some psycho had kidnapped her.

God, he really needed his friends here. No, what he really needed was Buffy here. But for now he'd settle for the gang. He knew they'd help him search for her, instead of sitting around on their bloody hands and waiting 24 hours! He'd called them almost immediately last night. After talking to Wesley the other day he assumed the whole lot of them would already know about Buffy's accident. He'd been correct and they were all more than willing to fly out to insure that Buffy was found safely.

It was an enormous relief. Especially since both Xander and Wesley were trained investigators. They worked together in their own private detective agency. Both were former law enforcement officials, Xander a street cop and Wesley a homicide detective. He hoped that having them both here would help spur the investigation. But the truth was that Spike just wanted his friends around him because *he* was scared to death. What would he do if something happened to her? If he never saw her again? If some bastard was out there, right now, hurting her?

He'd kill him. He'd hunt him down and rip his throat out. Without hesitation or qualm, Spike would be sure the bastard got what he deserved.

But for now Spike was going to hope, and pray that Buffy was okay. That she just got confused and wandered off in the wrong direction. Even if it had been nearly twenty-four hours already. Maybe she fell asleep on the beach, or some other part of the resort property. Maybe she even ended up fainting, and someone had taken her to a hospital. She could be asleep, or unconscious in an emergency room, as some Jane Doe.

Spike checked his watch; their plane should have arrived about twenty minutes ago. They'd agreed to take a cab because Spike did not want to leave the resort in case any news came in. They should be at the hotel any minute. He was antsy so he left the room and strode down to the lobby. Instead of waiting for the elevator he opted for the stairs once again.

He flung the door to the stairwell open and started down. Preoccupied with thoughts of Buffy, Spike didn't notice the second figure on the stairs and ended up crashing into him.

"What's your hurry, man?"

"Sorry, mate." Spike apologized quickly before looking up. His eyes narrowed when he realized it was Angel he'd bumped into. "I didn't know your room was on this floor." Spike's tone was questioning.

"Oh, yeah. Normally I take the elevator, but I had some excess energy to burn I guess. Harm and I are just down at the end of the hall. You and Buffy on this floor too?" Angel asked gesturing down the hall toward his room.

"Yeah, just a few doors down. Angel, have you seen Buffy at all since last night at the luau?" Angel knew what Buffy looked like, so there was a better chance of him spotting her than any of the hotel staff. "Or, did you see which way she went when she left?"

"You lose your girlfriend or something?" Angel laughed.

"Yeah, actually. I'm worried that her head injury might have been worse than we thought. She disappeared last night during dinner." Spike answered, distracted now that he knew Angel hadn't seen his girl.

"Oh god, sorry man." Angel was instantly contrite. "If you want I can help look for her. Harmony, too. I'll just go up and get her from the room."

"Yeah, yeah. That would be great. Thanks." Spike was already going down the steps towards the lobby, hoping his friends had arrived.

As soon as Spike was out of sight, Angel turned back toward the hall with a satisfied smirk. Now, all he had to do was setup the ransom note. At least his ditzy girlfriend was a magazine junkie. He just needed to get rid of her long enough to cut up the letters he'd need for the note.

Angel headed toward his suite, entering without even a greeting.

"Hi, honey." Harmony jumped up to kiss him hello. "Where've you been all morning?"

"Oh, just had a workshop I had to go to. You know this is a working holiday, Harm."

"Oh, well, are you free for the afternoon? We can spend some time together." She asked eagerly.

Angel's mind was churning over the potential ways he could get Harmony to leave for a few hours. "Sure, Harm. I'd love to spend time with you; you know that. But how about we skip tonight's big dinner and do something fancy, just you and me?"

"Oh, Angel, really?" Harmony was so excited, this was the first time in a while Angel had wanted to do something romantic, just the two of them.

"Sure, baby. In fact, I'll ask the desk clerk what the fanciest most romantic restaurant on the island is and I'll make reservations for tonight. How's that?" Angel went over and wrapped his arms around Harmony, pulling her close for a deep kiss.

"Yes! That would be so nice, honey. It's been so long since we've gone out together." Harmony snuggled closer into Angel's embrace, enjoying the warm feeling of being in his arms.

"Why don't you spend the next couple of hours in the spa downstairs? You can do a whole relaxation makeover thing. You're already beautiful, but I know how much you love to really fancy up. And I know you said there was a sexy dress in the shop downstairs you were thinking about getting." Angel waggled his eyebrows at her. "How 'bout you go ahead and pick it up after your spa treatment and wear it tonight?" He nibbled at her neck as he spoke, sending erotic shivers down her spine.

Harmony was almost speechless. Not only had he remembered about the dress she'd spoken about but he wanted her to get a new sexy makeover for tonight's dinner. He was making it sound really special, and she loved it! It'd been such a long time since he'd even really shown any interest. She was beginning to think their relationship was coming to a close. Maybe all his business stuff was close to being resolved. She knew that was a cause of most of the tension and stress he'd been under lately. He sure seemed much happier now.

"Okay, honey. I'll pretty myself up for you. I'll be so sexy you'll probably want to end up just skipping dinner!" Harmony giggled and kissed him again before pulling away. "I'll meet you back up here at about 6:30, all right?"

"That would be perfect, baby." He winked at her as she grabbed her purse and headed out the door. Blowing her a kiss he added a quick goodbye. "See you soon, Harm."

"Bye, honey." The door closed with a quiet snick behind her.

The sickeningly sweet smile dropped off Angel's face as he made his way over to throw the dead bolt. He had approximately 2 and half hours to complete the note and deliver it without being seen. As soon as the dead bolt was in place he headed over to the coffee table where several stacks of magazines were strewn. Grabbing the first stack within reach, Angel dropped onto the couch and got to work.


12 - A Friend in Need

Spike was pacing in the lobby when his friends arrived. The rush of relief he felt at seeing them had him lightheaded. None of them smiled, they all had identical expressions of grim determination on their faces. Although once they finally reached him, Tara put her arms around him and tried for a shaky smile. "Don't worry, we'll find her. I'm sure she's fine."

"Thanks, luv." He kissed her on the cheek and then greeted the rest of the gang. "Thanks for coming."

"What, you thought we wouldn't?" Xander asked, surprised.

"No, 'course I knew you'd be here. I guess I'm just...relieved that...Bloody hell! It's been hard to be here alone." Spike pushed the words out in a rush. Embarrassed he turned away.

The others nodded, but didn't issue a response. They knew what he meant, and were glad that they could be there to help. They were all worried about Buffy. But they were worried about Spike as well. They could only guess how he must be feeling, not knowing where Buffy was or if she was uninjured.

They checked in, each couple getting their own room. Spike had arranged from them all to be on the third floor with him. After they dropped their luggage off they all met back up in Spike and Buffy's room. He explained to them all of what had been done so far in the search, what little there was. Then he sighed and was silent for several minutes.

Just when Willow was about to say something, anything, to break the tense silence, Spike spoke again. He didn't look at any of them, didn't meet their eyes. His voice was low and husky, and Willow bet that if he did look up there would be tears in his eyes.

"I know you all know what's been going on. That Buffy thinks that we really are engaged. That she thinks she loves me, and that I love her. The truth is...I *do* love her. I have for as long as I could remember." He sighed again and shook his head, almost as if he wanted his jumble of thoughts to fall into proper place. "A lot has happened since the accident. Between us, I mean. I don't know how she'll react once she gets her memory back. But I know I can't deny it anymore." He stood and walked toward the balcony. The others ignored the wet cheeks of his reflection in the sliding glass door. "God, I want her here. I need her safe, with me." The words whispered from his lips were tainted with a kind of aching hollowness. "It's been almost a full day."

Xander stood, as did Wesley and Lorne. They formed a kind of half circle of support behind Spike, not touching but quietly lending strength. "We'll find her." Xander's words were firm and sure.

Just then there was a soft knock on the door to Spike's suite. He flew toward it and flung it open. A bellboy stood on the other side looking slightly surprised but quickly snapped to attention. He held out an envelope to Spike. "This was dropped in the inter-resort mail slot sir. It's addressed to you." The bellboy shrugged. "We don't normally get mail for other guests. It's usually reserved for inter-office mail, but...You are William Huntington aren't you?"

Spike nodded absently, still standing at the door staring down at the envelope in his hands. Wesley came to stand beside him he cleared his throat attracting the bellboy's attention. "Thank you, young man." Wesley handed over a tip and then quietly closed the door for Spike.

"What is it?" Cordy asked, impatient now that the bellboy was gone. "Open it."

Spike ripped open the envelope with shaking fingers. What did he expect to find? But he had a bad feeling, and when he unfolded the letter he knew the feeling was justified. He let out a small whimpering cry and nearly dropped the letter. But Wesley scooped up the slim page before it hit the ground, quickly scanning the words, his face grim. "Xander call the police." He looked up at the others eyes alight with anger. "It's a ransom note."


Buffy heard the front door click open and then shut. She waited, her adrenaline surging, until Angel stepped back into the room.

"Well, your little lover-boy has probably gotten my note by now." Angel smiled at her. "Have you been having fun here, *kitten*?

Buffy shivered at the use of Spike's affectionate nickname for her. How long had Angel been following them, watching them? Or was it pure coincidence that he used that name? She doubted it. The sarcastic inflection he used was too much of a coincidence.

Angel saw the shiver and his smile grew. This was a much better way to end his night. He'd been forced to take Harmony out to dinner, and she'd expected even more when they'd gotten back. He obliged, though sex with Harmony had gotten about as boring as sex could possibly get. He left her, asleep in their bed, and came here.

"Please, I still have to use the restroom." Buffy ignored his earlier question. In fact she was surprised that she hadn't yet wet herself. "Please." She hated begging, but she was getting desperate. She didn't want to sit here for days smelly and unclean.

"Well...since you asked so nicely." Angel leant down and began to untie her. Before he was even finished with the first knot he bent closer and kissed her full on the mouth. Buffy let out a startled yelp and tried to turn her head away, but Angel wouldn't allow it. He kissed her hard, forcing his tongue in her mouth. Buffy, unable to move away from him, instead bit down hard.

Angel let out a pained cry and retreated. "Shouldn't have done that, Buffy." His voice was harsh. "I'm the only thing keeping you alive right now." He warned her.

She stared back up at him, chin tilted defiantly. "I'd *rather* be dead." She'd rather death than let him touch her. She shuddered at the thought of having his hands on her. And for a long moment she thought she'd just sealed her fate. He stared down at her, brows drawn together, anger evident in every line on his face. Then suddenly he threw his head back and laughed.

He was still chuckling as he untied her. He made her sit up on the bed; he left her legs free, but retied her hands together in front of her. "The bathroom's in there." He gestured with his head towards the door on the right.

Buffy scrambled off the bed and through the door. She breathed a heavy sigh once she was finally able to relieve herself. God, it had been hours! Afterwards she turned the sink on, scrubbing her hands as best she could. Then she scooped some cool water and tried to rinse out her mouth. She could still taste the awful mix of alcohol and heavy spice that Angel's kiss had left in her mouth.

She left the water running as she glanced around the room. The window was way too small for her to crawl out of. She looked beneath the sink to see if there was anything useful she could grab as a weapon, but all she found was extra toilet paper and some toiletries. Her heart sank. What was she going to do?

Shutting off the water she stepped back out of the room. Angel had his back to her, but heard her as she entered. "Get back on the bed." He stated, not even bothering to turn around. God, he was big. He probably didn't think she was any kind of threat. She was so small compared to him.

Quickly looking around she grabbed the lamp off the night stand pulling the plug out of the wall with a tug. She ran full throttle for him, swinging as she went. The lampshade shattered as it made contact with the back of Angel's head. He fell to the ground with a groan, and Buffy sprinted across the room and into the main suite. She was almost to the front door when he tackled her from behind.

They both landed with a hard thud, all the breath knocked out of Buffy. She kicked at him, and with incredible luck hit him square in the groin. He groaned again and rolled off her. Scrambling to her feet Buffy made for the door again, but when she tried to open it she realized that the dead bolt had been thrown.

Before she could get her hands around the lock, she felt Angel's arms wrap around her middle. She screamed but was already flying through the air. Angel had literally picked her up and tossed her back toward the bedroom. The throw was powerful and she found herself hurling through the air. The wall was coming fast and she only had time to close her eyes before she impacted, hard. She crumpled to the ground without even a whimper.


"This is all my fault." Spike had his head in his hands, his palms digging into his eye sockets.

"Fuck that, sweetie." Lorne spoke up. "The only person at fault is the bastard who took our lovely."

"No, he wants *my* money. He's trying to get back at me." Spike shook his head, his voice shaky. "If I hadn't asked her to come, if everyone didn't think she was my fiance...this never would have happened."

The police had left, taking the note with them. They were going to dust it for prints, but Spike doubted they'd find anything besides his and Wesley's. The kidnapper had to have worn gloves he wasn't stupid. At least he'd planned properly so far it seemed.

The note had asked for half a million dollars. The drop off was supposed to be tomorrow night, midnight. It stated that there would be instructions and directions in the lobby at that time. Spike, and therefore the police, had no idea where the final drop off destination was supposed to be.

So this guy wanted Spike's money. He'd taken Buffy to insure that he got it. Fuck, no matter how he looked at it, Spike knew that Buffy was in danger quite possibly in pain, because of him. He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream. He looked up at his friends, silently pleading with his eyes that they somehow make this better. Somehow bring Buffy back to him, safe and whole.

Wise to the fact that nothing they could say would lessen Spike's guilt, Wesley told him to get some sleep instead. "It's obvious you didn't get any sleep last night. Get a few hours now, while Xander and I take a look around. We'll go down to the luau site to see if we can find anything. We'll talk to the hotel staff, and a few guests. Don't worry, we won't be idle." Wesley reassured him.

Spike nodded, acquiescing. He knew he wasn't about to get any sleep, but his friend's wouldn't allow him to step foot out of his hotel room until they thought he'd gotten some rest. And he did know that Xander and Wesley would do their best to find anything that might have been missed earlier.

Spike had already called his bank and the money was being wire transferred over to the local bank here. He'd pick up the cash in the morning to be ready for the delivery that night. There had never been a question in anybody's mind that he would pay the ransom. The police had insisted that he shouldn't give in to the kidnapper's demands, that there was no guarantee that Buffy would be released afterwards. But Spike couldn't take the chance that not following the orders would get Buffy hurt, or worse. So he'd made the calls and arranged for the money.

The kidnapper had been extremely smart to ask for a half a million instead of something ridiculous. A half million was easy to get his hands on. He didn't have to liquidate anything, in fact the money had been in one of his accounts already, just sitting and accruing interest. If it had been much more he would have had to go through several hoops to get what he needed in cash, as it was, Spike thought it was almost too easy.

He sighed heavily as he closed the door behind his friends. The girls had offered to stay with him, but at the moment he just wanted to be alone. He knew that none of the others agreed that it was his fault, but he couldn't shake the feeling. He'd been the one who put Buffy in danger. He was the reason she was gone. And his wealth would forever put anyone close to him in that same danger. Could he do that to Buffy? Once she was back and safe, could he continue to be with her knowing that she could be someone else's target once again?

God, he ached for her.

He loved her. He'd planned to tell her, to make sure that no matter how mad she was once she'd regained her memory, that she at least knew that his love was real. But now, knowing that loving her put her at risk, maybe that wasn't such a good idea. Maybe what he really had to do, if he truly did love her, was to stay away from her. Damn, he could already feel the burn that type of self enforced separation would bring. Knowing that he could be with her but wasn't?

He lay down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. He'd spent the last few nights doing the same thing. Lying awake, staring up at the ceiling, but this was the first night he'd done it alone. The regrets hit him full force, like a punch in the gut. He should have been with her while he'd had the chance. He should have taken what she offered. Even if her love was temporary, he would have at least had that. What if he never saw her again? His eyes burned, and he swiped at the moisture that pooled and then spilled down his cheeks. No! He wouldn't, couldn't think that way. He *would* see her again. He had to.


13 - Running on Empty

Buffy woke the back of her head throbbing in pain. Groaning, she slitted her eyes open and took a quick look around the room. Angel appeared to have left again, letting her breathe a small sigh of relief. Damn! She had almost gotten away! She couldn't believe how close she had come, only to have him pull her back at the very last minute.

To combat the dizzines she felt, Buffy held herself as still as possible. Her head hurt so bad that the back of her eyes ached. She thought back to her escape attempt and tried to figure out what she could have done differently. If she had the chance again she didn't want to waste it.

She thought of Will, probably worried sick, wondering where she was. Had Angel already sent a ransom note? Did he know that she'd been kidnapped? She wondered how long it had been since she'd blacked out. Was it still the same day? There was no clock in the room and she realized she didn't even know if it were day or night. All the curtains in the room had been closed, for obvious reasons, and she couldn't tell if the dim light shining behind them was sunlight or lamplight.

God, had it only been three days, maybe four, since they'd arrived? She remembered having such a giddy sense of excitement when they'd first gotten off the plane. Yes, she was nervous and a bit worried about whether she could keep up the charade without revealing her true feelings, but a whole week away with Will! She couldn't help but anticipate the pleasure of his company.

Buffy faltered, gasping involuntarily. She *had* been worried about the charade. The *charade*. Oh my God! How could she - ? What did he - ? Oh my God!

They had never truly been engaged. They weren't even dating! Buffys' breath was escaping in short shallow pants. She tried to calm herself, worried that she would hyperventilate and pass out again.

Why didn't he tell her the truth? Why did he let her think they were really a couple? Buffy's cheeks burned hot. She had practically thrown herself at him. She'd worn her Victoria Secret's lingerie! Will had seen her in lingerie! And he'd touched her. Boy, had he touched her.

Could he have gone along with her faulty memory because he'd *wanted* to touch her? To sleep with her? But no, if he'd wanted that he'd had plenty of opportunity. *He* was the one that had refused her, over and over again. He'd made up some ridiculous excuse about her wanting to wait until their wedding night. Buffy snorted. And she fell for it! If she and Will were really engaged, or even just a couple, there was no way she'd *ever* want to wait that long! Geez, she didn't even want to wait that long now.

Then why? Why had he lied to her?

Buffy shook her head, regretting it as the world started to spin. She didn't know why Will had done it. But she knew Will, and she knew there had to be a good reason. She wished she could talk to him. Her eyes began to water as she realized that she may never talk to Will again. Even if Angel had already given him the ransom note, he still wouldn't know where to find her. And Angel had made it clear that he wouldn't let her go whether he got the money he wanted or not.

Oh God, she didn't care why he'd done it. She was glad that he had. Glad that she got to be happy for the past four days. That she got to be in love. She'd tell him, too. Tell him that she loved him, and that she wanted their engagement to be real, as soon as she saw him again...if she ever saw him again. The tears leaked from her eyes, and she wished she could swipe them away but her hands were still tied down. So she just let them trail down her cheeks until they hit the pillow.


Xander walked the perimeter of the luau for the fourth time. He hadn't found anything they could use. With so many people at the party, everything was pretty much trampled. Any debris that had been left could be attributed to the luau. Nothing out of the ordinary stood out. Xander ground his teeth in frustration. So far he hadn't been any help whatsoever.

If they didn't figure out who had Buffy before the drop off, Spike was going to lose half a million dollars, and they still might not ever see Buffy again. Damn it! He stomped back into the lobby, searching the vicinity for Wesley. He spotted him over by the activities desk talking to the clerk there.

"Yes, so you didn't see anything out of the ordinary that night?" Xander heard Wesley asked as he walked up behind him. The clerk shook his head no.

"Do you remember seeing this woman at all during or after the luau?" Wesley held up a picture of Buffy that the gang had brought with them in order to help with the search.

"No, I'm sorry." The clerk shook his head apologetically. "I do remember her though. She and her husband signed up for surfing lessons the first day of the conference, right?"

"Fiance." Xander corrected absently. Then chuckled softly to himself.

"Oh, yeah, her fiance." The clerk nodded. "I'm really sorry I can't help."

Xander and Wesley thanked the clerk, then began walking toward the elevator bays. "Lot of help I am. They're engaged, not married, doofus." Xander rolled his eyes. "Did you find anything else out?"

"No, unfortunately nobody else had any other information. It's like she just vanished without a trace." Wesley murmured, frustrated.

"So, where does that leave us?" Xander asked, stepping onto the elevator and pushing the button for their floor.

"We've got to prep the equipment. Good thing we brought the kit."

"'Always be prepared.' That's my motto." Xander answered.

"Yes, you're a bloody Boy Scout." Wesley shot back.

"You know it." Xander answered, oblivious to Wesley's teasing.

They reached Spike's suite, knocking quietly. Tara opened the door quickly, shushing them. Spike had finally agreed to take a quick nap. They all knew he hadn't gotten any sleep the night before, no matter what he told them.

"Did you guys find anything?" Willow asked eagerly, her hand reaching out towards Wesley's.

"No, luv." Wesley sat down next to Willow and wrapped his arm around her bringing her close. "Our best bet now is to go through with the drop. Xander's going to start prepping the wires, and the homing device."

The girls all looked at each other anxiously. "Is Spike going to be in danger?" Cordy asked, looking toward her boyfriend.

Xander gave her a grim smile and a nod. "Yeah, Cord, probably. We'll do everything we can to keep him safe though; and to bring Buffy home safe, too. You know that." Xander answered, trying to reassure her.

"So that means you'll be in danger, too? Right?" Cordy asked again, this time biting and chewing on her bottom lip. "You're going to keep him safe, who's going to keep you safe?"

Xander quickly made his way over to Cordelia, hugging her in a tight embrace. "Honey, this is my job. You know I'm trained for this, and I've been doing it for a while now. How come this is the first time you've gotten so worked up over it?"

"Because this is the first time I've had to watch it. To be here, and know that you're going to be going up against the bad guys in a couple of hours!" Cordelia's voice rose and wavered.

"Cordy, honey," Xander ran his fingers through her hair, trying to soothe. "You know, I'll be careful. This isn't something we can walk away from. This is Buffy and Spike. They need our help."

Cordelia nodded, but didn't answer.

"Besides, Wesley will be there. He'll keep me safe." Xander continued.

"And me." Lorne's voice piped up from across the room.

Tara looked up quickly, "But, Lorne, you've never done anything like this before."

"Baby, I have to do something. These are our friends. Besides, I'll just be there as backup. You know...I can ride in and save the day. But not unless the boys absolutely need me." Lorne kissed her on the cheek, letting his lips linger for a bit. Tara's expression was still worried, but she recognized the determined look on Lorne's face and kept her objections to herself.

"We should all go together." Willow suggested, looking toward her husband for support.

"Wills, you know that's not a good idea." Wesley answered instead.

"Why not? We can do the same thing Lorne's doing. Just hang back until you need us." She asked, giving him her puppy dog eyes.

"Luv," Wesley kissed her. "It would be too distracting. We'd all be worried about each other. With only the four of us going, it's already bad enough. But with you girls there as well, we won't be able to concentrate at all!"

Willow's hurt look caused Wesley to hold her closer. "Wills, we all love you ladies so much that it would be too hard *not* worrying about your safety. It'll be hard enough even while you are all here, let alone if you come with us." Wesley looked up to receive nods of approval from Lorne and Xander. Each man was holding his lover close, each thinking about how hard it must be for Spike. "Please understand, luv."

Slowly Willow nodded. Each girl caught the other's eye and gave tired sighs of defeat. "Will you at least have Agents Benson and Salazar with you?"

The local F.B.I. branch had sent over two field agents when they had called the police to inform them of the kidnapping. Both agents had been vocal in their objection to the boys getting involved. They were also against giving into the kidnapper's demands by getting the money so quickly. Instead they wanted to stall him, telling him that there was a delay in collecting the money, but that was one thing Spike would not agree to. There was no way he was taking a chance on Buffy's safety.

"Yes, so don't worry." Xander answered for Wesley. "Both fibbies will meet us here tonight. They'll be monitoring the whole exchange along with us."

"Okay." Willow reluctantly agreed. After a few more minutes of cuddling time, the boys stood to finalize the rest of their plans for that evening. They left the room promising to return by 11pm to prep Spike and say goodbye to the girls.

The girls huddled together on the couch, staring silently at the muted television. They were all worried about the men and what they planned to do tonight. They were also scared to death at the prospect of never seeing Buffy again. None of them wanted to contemplate what she might be going through while she was in the hands of the kidnapper. So they stared at the tv, closing ranks in order to hold each other close until the men returned later that night.


14 - Lost and Found

Harmony woke up in bed alone. It seemed like this had been happening a lot lately. The disappointment she felt was sharper because she'd actually thought things were getting better. Angel had taken her out to dinner and they'd made love until they'd both fallen asleep. She thought that meant he was finally relaxing again, finally willing to give a little bit more to their relationship. Her eyes watered, but she refused to cry.

She lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling and willed herself not to cry. Maybe it was time to face facts. Her relationship with Angel, if there had ever truly been one, was over. He obviously didn't love her, and she found herself wondering at times if he even *liked* her. Resignedly she threw the covers off and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.

She dressed quickly wanting to hurry downstairs for a quick bite to eat. Before leaving the room she did a quick sweep with her eyes scanning for any note Angel might have left letting her know where he'd gone and why. But the room was empty and the last little bit of hope Harmony had was quickly fleeing.

She made her way downstairs and sat down at the bar. Though her stomach rumbled she had no real appetite. Barely glancing at the menu she ordered a half a club sandwich and some fries. When her food arrived she picked at it halfheartedly. Their week on Kauai was almost half over and Harmony knew what she had to do once they got back to the real world. She took a deep breath trying to hold back the tears that threatened. She'd been with Angel so long now she wasn't sure what she was supposed to do once it was over. She didn't even have a place to live since she'd moved in with him six months ago.

Harmony knew that Angel would never marry her, but she'd held on to the false hope anyway. She thought that his asking her to move in with him was a step in the right direction. But now she realized she had only refused to see it for what it really was...convenience. Angel didn't want to have to get in his car and drive the twenty minutes it would take to get to her apartment whenever he wanted to get some. So he'd done the practical thing and asked his personal sex toy to move in with him. The laugh that barked out of her was entirely devoid of humor.

Harmony was just leaving a few dollars on the table to cover her lunch and tip when she spotted him. Angel was walking purposefully across the grass toward the ocean. Before she could stop herself she called out to him, but it did not good. Angel either hadn't heard or had chosen to ignore her. Quickly she grabbed her purse and leapt down from her stool. She ran toward him just as he was slipping around a corner.

Curious she followed silently, wondering where he was going in such a hurry. He was walking away from the main lobby and further on to the resort, but as far as she knew there was nothing much out this way. And she'd explored a lot, given that all her days so far, barring the one she'd had lunch with Buffy, had all been spent alone. Harmony frowned when she saw Angel enter a small bungalow. She recognized it as one of the honeymoon bungalows. The frown deepened and the tears she'd been trying to hold back finally fell.

God, she really was a pathetic loser! He'd been cheating on her this whole time. She sniffed back the tears and hardened her heart. He must have been laughing at her the entire time they'd been here on the island, maybe even for their entire relationship! Well, screw that! She wasn't going to sit around here waiting until he got too tired of her and finally sent her packing. She'd leave him before he ever got the chance to shove her out the door! She spun on her heel and stomped her way across the resort and back toward their room.


"Well, hello little girl." Angel smirked at Buffy. "Does your head hurt?"

Buffy didn't answer, choosing instead to glare angrily. Angel just laughed.

"I'm meeting your precious *Will* tonight." Angel said his name as if it were a curse then sat down at the edge of the bed, making sure to stay far enough away that what little movement Buffy was granted couldn't harm him.

"And what are you going to do with me once you get your money?" Buffy had no doubts that Will would pay whatever Angel had asked.

"What do you think I'm going to do with you, honey?" Angel leered, moving in closer. He pressed down hard on her arms, making sure that she couldn't fight back. Then he jammed his lips down on to hers. He was smarter this time and made sure to keep his tongue in his own mouth, but he couldn't resist letting one of his hands wander to cup her breast. He squeezed roughly causing Buffy to cry out in pain. Angel took the opportunity to sweep his tongue through her mouth too quickly for her to react. When he pulled back his pupils were dilated with lust and Buffy cringed at the obvious sight of his erection. "Until tonight, *luv*."


Harmony was not crying. She refused to cry. Instead she shoved her clothes into her suitcase with a vengeance. "Stupid, bastard." She muttered under her breath. She grabbed the bag of dirty clothes they had put in the bathroom and began to sort through them. She dropped Angel's clothes onto the floor and stuffed hers back into the bag. As she reached down for the last article of clothing she realized it was the nightie she had worn the other night. Probably the last night they would ever make love. Or have sex. Which was exactly what it had been to Angel. She had been making love and he had just been fucking.

Damn it! She was not going to cry!

He'd probably even gone out to that stupid bungalow after she had fallen asleep. Gone out to sleep with that bitch. Wait, maybe that wasn't fair. Maybe she didn't know that Angel was sleeping around on Harmony. Maybe the other woman was just as stupid as she was.

Harmony checked her watch. It was way past dinnertime. Angel had never come back and she wondered if he were still in that bungalow. Maybe he had taken *her* out to dinner tonight. Or maybe he was in some bar somewhere getting drunk and picking up a third girl. Harmony didn't know. She'd spent a good portion of the afternoon calling the airlines and trying to find a flight out. When she realized that she couldn't get on a plane until at least the next day she ran down to the lobby and gotten another room. Now the only thing left to do was pick up her suitcase and get out.


Spike literally ran into Harmony in the hallway. His hand shot out to catch her before she fell, and he gave a slight nod in apology. "Sorry, luv."

Spike glanced distractedly over his shoulder, waiting for the guys to catch up. They were still saying goodbye to the girls, but Spike couldn't help glancing at his watch nervously. They'd been in his suite discussing plans and setting up the homing device on Spike for the past three hours. Now they only had about half an hour before the appointed time.

"It's okay, William."

The sound of Harmony's voice drew Spike's attention back to the blonde in front of him. He studied her for a moment, noting the red rimmed eyes and the frown lines. "I wanted to thank you," Spike began. "For helping search for Buffy last night. Angel said you both skipped dinner to help. I wanted you to know I appreciated it." Spike's voice cracked and he swallowed back the lump in his throat. "God, I wish she had just wandered off and gotten lost. Is it sick that I would rather she be unconscious in a hospital somewhere?"

Harmony wanted to reach out to him. Will looked panicked and wary and afraid. Buffy was missing? Angel had told Will that they had searched for her last night? Harmony was confused and wanted to ask Will for more detail but she couldn't bring herself to force him to talk anymore. Just then Will's suite door opened and three handsome young men walked out with somber expressions on their faces. Two more followed, looking just as serious but not quite as young.

"Ready?" The dark haired, chocolate eyed one asked. Will nodded then turned back to Harmony.

"Thanks again, luv." He moved past her quickly, the others following. They all entered the stairwell, apparently unwilling to wait for the elevator.

What the heck had that been about?


Harmony was sweating now. She'd gone over and over what Will had said to her in the hall and it just didn't make sense. At least not the kind of sense she wanted it to. Buffy was missing. Angel had lied. Angel had booked an out of the way bungalow in secret. What or *who* was he hiding there?

Harmony paced back and forth in her new room. Could it be possible that Buffy and Angel had run away together? That Will had the whole thing wrong? But she'd *seen* Buffy and Will together. They were in love. There's no way that Buffy could have been faking that.

And who was to say that Buffy was the one in the bungalow anyway? It was entirely possible that Angel was just a chronic liar, and that he had a woman, yes, but not Buffy, hidden away. How could she even think that about Angel? It would take a special kind of monster to pull something like that off. And she'd been with this man for over a year. Wouldn't she have known? Wouldn't she have seen that he was that kind of man? Of course she would. This was ridiculous.

But what if she were wrong?


Buffy was crying. It was hours after Angel had left and she'd spent the entire time dreading his reappearance. Oh God, where was Will? How could this be happening? Buffy felt like throwing up. She'd prayed and prayed that she'd wake up to find out this had all been one hellish nightmare, but she knew that wasn't true. No matter how much she wished for it.

The sob caught in her throat when she heard the jiggle of the front door handle. Angel was back! She held herself very still, hoping that maybe if she feigned sleep he would let her be, at least for tonight. It was a ridiculously silly hope, but it was all she had left. Buffy had been trying unsuccessfully to get out of the ropes that tied her to the bed, but after her first escape attempt Angel wasn't taking any chances. She wouldn't be getting out of here unless someone helped her out. And she had very little hope of that happening.

"Oh my God!"

Buffy's eyes whipped open at the loud exclamation. Harmony! Buffy's heart began to beat triple time, as she looked wildly about the room for Angel. When she realized that Harmony had come alone she began to beg.

"Harmony, please. God, get me out of here, please!" Buffy struggled against the ropes, letting them chafe her already raw skin. "He'll be back any minute. God, please!"

The blonde had been standing in a semi-shocked state, but at Buffy's vehement pleas she went into action. She moved quickly, untying each rope with efficiency. When Buffy was finally free, she helped her sit up and then stand. Buffy was weak from hunger and lack of sleep, so Harmony wrapped an arm around her waist for support. Together they walked out of the bungalow, Buffy frantic for escape.

It was nearly one in the morning, and the hotel was quietly deserted. Instead of using the main lobby they went straight to the closest side entrance, and up the stairs. When they reached the third floor, Buffy was sobbing once more. She couldn't believe it! She was free. She wasn't going to die. Angel wasn't going to touch her. And in just a few more minutes she would be with Will again.

Harmony pounded on the door to Will and Buffy's suite, hoping that he had returned. She was literally holding Buffy up now, the girl was shaking too much to support herself even a little. The door was wrenched open, but instead of Will's familiar face there were three women standing in the doorway.

"Buffy! Oh my God!"

Both women were hustled into the room and directed toward the large couch. The three women Harmony didn't know were all talking at once, which confused her, but at least they had taken possession of Buffy who was now wrapped in a warm blanket and sobbing onto the red head's shoulder.

After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, the room quieted and all eyes turned to Harmony. She looked away, wondering how she was supposed to explain her boyfriend's actions.

"Thank you." The words were whispered but they echoed soundly through the still room. Harmony glanced up in surprise, wondering how anyone could be thankful to her. She *should* have known what kind of man Angel was. What kind of horrible things he was capable of. Instead she'd blithely gone about fantasizing that he might one day love her enough to marry her! How could anyone, let alone Buffy, thank her for being so blind and stupid? But when she looked up and met Buffy's eyes all she saw was gratitude and relief, which only confused her more.

"How did you know?" Buffy asked.

"I didn't! Don't you see! You should be mad, angry that I didn't know what kind of man he was!" Harmony shouted, unable to except the fact that Buffy was grateful rather than upset.

"Nobody could know that." The red head answered quietly, keeping one arm securely around Buffy. "What matters is what you did once you found out."

Harmony was quiet, taking in Willow's words and the solemn stares of Buffy's friends. "I didn't know." Harmony began quietly. "I thought he was cheating on me. I saw him go into that bungalow today, and I thought he had another woman in there." She smiled apologetically at Buffy. "But then I ran into Will and he said some things. Things that Angel had told him, but I knew weren't true. It made me think. Made me wonder..." Her voice trailed off and she looked away, out through the sliding glass doors at the black as night ocean waves. "How could I not have known?" The words were barely audible but the other girls heard them nonetheless.

Tara stood and walked over toward Harmony, stopping to kneel in front of her. She placed her hands on Harmony's knees and squeezed gently. "How did you get into the bungalow?" Tara asked quietly, knowing that Harmony would only reject another attempt to absolve her culpability.

"I...well...I sort of flirted with the desk clerk. You know, then I asked him for the key. Told him I locked myself out. He didn't even bother to look up the name on the register." Harmony answered, flushing with embarrassment.

Tara squeezed her knees again. When Harmony met her gaze she gave her a warm smile. "That was very smart. You saved Buffy's life."

Harmony nodded once and then burst into tears. Tara stood quickly and wrapped her arms around the crying woman. They sat comforting each other for a minute, until Buffy's voice once more echoed through the room. "Where's Will?"

"Shit, the boys! We've got to let them know you're okay and that we know who it was." Cordelia was rapidly dialing her phone to connect with Xander. "Xan! We've got Buffy, she's okay!" The girls all gave a weak smile when they heard Xander's whoop through the phone. "Yes, and we know who it was, some guy named Angel. Spike should know who that is." Cordy listened for a minute, making sounds of agreement every now and then. "Okay, honey. Just make sure you're all careful. We love you. Bye."

"What's going on?" Buffy asked, worried.

"They're going after him. Spike's already been running around the island for over an hour following Angel's stupid instructions. Once they get to the final destination the boys are going to bring that bastard down." Cordelia explained.

Buffy bit her lower lip, chewing until it was red and raw. God, she hoped Will wasn't going to do anything crazy. She still wanted to tell him that she loved him, and to let him know that she remembered everything now. Remembered him.

"Don't worry Buffy, Spike'll be fine." Willow tried to reassure her. "Besides he's got all of our honeys there as backup."

They were quiet another moment until Harmony finally had to ask, "Who's Spike?"


15 - The Beat Down

"Spike?" The tiny radio crackled in Spike's ear.

"Yeah?" Spike whispered quietly back, hoping the hidden microphone in his lapel would pick up his hushed tones.

"The girls got Buffy. She's fine, just a little shaken." Xander hissed in his ear.

Spike stopped stunned. He stood in the middle of the path unmoving, not willing to believe the words Xander was saying. Buffy was safe? If it weren't an ungodly hour of the night, he'd be worried that he looked a bit odd standing stock still on the meandering pathway. But as it was, he was probably the only one awake for miles around.

"Cordy's on the other line. She's got Buffy with her now. Apparently some girl named Harmony found her, got her out of there." Here Xander paused, while Spike clenched his teeth in frustration. If Harmony was the one who'd gotten Buffy out, that could mean only one thing. "It was Angel." Xander's words hit Spike like a punch in the gut.


It had been that bloody ponce all along! He'd had Buffy the whole time he pretended to be concerned. Pretended to search for her. Bloody bastard!

Spike could feel the growl starting from the tips of his toes. It crawled through his body until he was practically vibrating with the sound. His lips curled up in a vicious snarl as he whipped his head around to focus his eyes toward the end of the path.

"Sir, you'll have to calm down if you don't want to tip him off. He could be watching you right now." Agent Salazar's voice whispered in his ear.

Spike grit his teeth and forced himself to calm down. "I want to talk to Buffy." God, he couldn't believe she was safe! He needed to talk to her, to see her, to touch her.

"You can't right now, Spike." Xander's voice crackled again. "The girls have taken her over to the hospital for a checkup."

"What?! You said she was fine. You said she wasn't hurt!" Spike was nearly shouting.

"Calm down!" Wesley's voice cut in. "She *is* fine. Just a couple of bruises, but they wanted to get her checked and get some forensic photographs taken."

"Fuck! Forensic photographs. My girl has to have forensic photographs taken." Spike mumbled the last sentence dejectedly.

"Spike, baby. We know. Let's just get this over with so that you can get back and see her for yourself." Lorne's suggestion came over the wire.

"Yeah, okay." Spike visibly calmed. That's all he wanted right now, to see his Buffy. And the only way to do that was to take down that fucking bastard, Angel.

He squared his shoulders and continued down the path. Spike suppressed the sigh that wanted to escape. This was the fifth meeting place he'd gone to, only to find another note giving him further instructions. This better be it.

He got to the old mission a few minutes later. The mission itself was pretty run down, the walls cracked and crumbling. But the sign on the door announced the schedule for masses and tours. It was one of those historical sites that got a small write up in the tourist books they gave out at the airport.

In front of the main doors was an old dry fountain. The instructions had said they would meet there, by the fountain. The case he held with the money should be placed in the fountain bed while he waited. So Spike stepped forward and gingerly laid the case down. The one lamp by the main doors provided very poor visibility, so he strained his ears listening for any movement rather than bothering to search with his eyes.

A few seconds later he heard it. Rustling, to his right, just beyond the dim light the lamp cast. "I've got the money, where's Buffy?" He demanded loudly, making sure the guys realized that he was no longer alone.

"Go inside the mission, the doors are unlocked." The voice drifted through the darkness toward Spike. "Leave the case in the fountain."

"No." Spike's answer was vehement. "How do I know you won't just take the money and run? How do I know you'll let Buffy go?" Spike was trying hard to keep his voice from shaking with anger. Then he realized that there was no reason for that. That his anger would be genuine if he thought this psycho was going to keep Buffy for himself.

"Where the fuck is she?" Spike demanded, letting his anger out. "Come out where I can see you're fucking face!"

And then he did step out of the darkness, Angel, a smirk playing about his lips and a gun in his hand. "I've been waiting a long time for this, *Will*." The smirk turned into a sneer as he spat out Spike's name.

Spike's expression didn't change. "I should have known it was you all along." His gaze drifted down to the gun in Angel's hand. "You need a gun to show what kind of man you are?"

"Fuck! We're almost there Spike. We'll have him surrounded inside of three minutes. Just keep him talking." Xander's voice whispered through the earpiece.

"No. I need a gun to kill you." Angel answered serenely. "You really are stupid if you think there's anyway I can let you or your precious Buffy go. You both know who I am and what I've done. Sorry, but the game's over." Angel lifted the gun and aimed toward Spike's head, but Spike was ready for it and lunged toward him before he could get a bead.

They fell to the ground in a tangle of fists and limbs. Spike could hear his friends approaching at a dead run, and he struggled to get the upper hand on Angel before they could appear. He didn't want anyone getting hurt and he knew if Angel could manage it he'd shoot every last one of them. Spike had seen the crazy glint in his eye, and knew that he was no longer thinking rationally, if he ever had.

Spike managed to grab hold of Angel's right wrist. He twisted and bent it until Angel was screaming; finally dropping the gun to the ground. Spike quickly picked it up and through it as far as he could into the darkness. Angel let out a deep growl before bending his head toward Spike's left hand and biting hard.

Spike screamed and pulled back, giving Angel just enough leverage to flip them over pinning Spike down on the ground. Angel's fist flew at his face and Spike grunted in pain from the blow. For a second Spike's world spun out of focus. Then he remembered Buffy. Remembered all the horrible things he'd pictured as he lay wondering what was happening to her. Rage coursed through him at the thought that the man in front of him was the one who'd taken her, hurt her.

Spike exploded.

Xander, Wesley, and Lorne were running down the path. When Spike had announced that Angel had a gun, they all quickened their paces. When they heard Angel's threat and the subsequent struggle they all broke out into a sprint. The fibbies had gone ahead of them, trying to surround Angel before he realized that Spike had brought backup. But the dumb bastard hadn't even bothered to check. He'd assumed that having Spike run all over the island would have lost anyone trying to tail him. Angel hadn't figured on Xander and Wesley's tracking devices. And from the sounds of it Angel hadn't figured on Spike at all.

They burst in to the clearing that surrounded the fountain. On the ground Angel lay beneath Spike, barely conscious. The two F.B.I. agents were standing to the side trying to convince Spike to stop and stand down. It was obvious that they had originally pulled out their weapons in order to shoot Angel if necessary but had never gotten a clear shot.

"Bloody, fucking, bastard!" Spike was screaming as he continued to pummel Angel's face. "You ever, fucking, come near her again and I'll fucking kill you!"

"Spike, man!" Xander came forward placing a rough hand on Spike's shoulder. "He's out of it. I think we can safely hand him over to the feds."

Spike was breathing hard, but at Xander's calm touch he forced himself to stop. He stood, stepping over Angel's limp body he headed toward the fountain where he sat staring at his bloodied fists. Wesley came and sat beside him, not touching.

Wesley cleared his throat before he began. "So..."

"I could have killed him." Spike said quietly, still staring at Angel's blood on his knuckles.

"Yes, it certainly seemed that way."

"I just kept picturing Buffy, you know? Scared. And *bruised*." Spike said, by way of explanation.

Wesley moved then, placing his hand on Spike's back and just letting it lay there. Tears sprang to Spike's eyes as he turned to his longtime friend. "Are you sure she's okay, Wes?"

"Yeah." Wesley answered without hesitation. "Why don't we go and see her now, mate?"

Spike wiped at the tears, not caring that this was the first time he'd ever cried in front of any of his male friends. Tears were usually reserved for Buffy. Spike never felt like he had to hold back when he was with her. He knew that no matter what he did, Buffy would never think any less of him. But right at this moment, he couldn't give a rat's ass what anybody else thought of him. Right now, all he wanted, needed, was to be with Buffy, to make sure that Buffy was safe.

"Yeah, let's go." Spike stood and headed back toward his car. Before he realized it, he was running.


16 - To See You Again

Spike had driven to the hospital as fast as humanly possible. In fact he'd had to force himself to even bother stopping for red lights. The only thing keeping him from pushing the pedal to the floor was the fact that he actually wanted to be alive long enough to see Buffy again.

But by the time he'd gotten to the emergency room he'd found that Buffy and the girls had already left. He took about two minutes to run to the restroom to wash all the blood off his hands and splash cool water on his face before jumping back into his car. He didn't want Buffy to worry at the sight of blood when they were finally reunited.

Spike burst into the room, his duster flying behind him, practically screaming Buffy's name. "Buffy!" Before he had a chance to even call out to her a second time, she was in his arms.

"Oh, God, luv." Spike breathed out the words as he buried his face in her hair and held her close. "God, you're safe." The words rushed out tinged with awed disbelief.

Neither of them noticed when the others slipped out of the room, leaving them blessedly alone.

Buffy was crying. The relief of having escaped hadn't sunk in until the moment she'd laid eyes on Will again. The sobs came fast and hard, her breath hitching in her chest. "Will." His name was the only word she seemed capable of voicing.

"Shhhh, luv. You're safe now. I've got you." Spike held her closer, hugging her tight. His own chest ached with the relief of having her in his arms again. After a while her sobs died down, though tears still leaked from her eyes. Spike tilted her head up and wiped at the steady stream with his thumbs. "Did he touch you? I mean, did he hurt you at all, luv?" Spike whispered the question with dread.

She shook her head, still unable to speak. Spike kissed her then, unable to wait any longer. The feel of her lips against his was heaven. Having her here, tasting her again, was heaven. Buffy kissed him back, savoring the feel of him against her. She wanted the kiss to last forever, but eventually she pulled away so that she could talk.

"He threatened..." Buffy shook her head. "But he never. He said when he got back, but then Harmony - " her breath hitched again, and she fought back renewed sobs.

Spike let the anger wash over him. She was safe. Angel wasn't ever going to touch her again. His grip on her tightened, but he stopped himself before causing her any pain. She was safe.

He cooed words of love to her, telling her she was safe, that he would always keep her safe from now on. She clung to him, begging him not to let her go, to just hold her. He maneuvered them so that they were lying on the bed Buffy in his arms, her head resting on his chest.

She was quiet for so long that Spike thought she had finally fallen asleep, but then her small voice echoed through the room. "He said he was going to kill me. After...after he got the money...after he...after he had some *fun*." Buffy shuddered in his arms and he couldn't help the possessive growl that escaped his throat.

"He's gone, luv. He won't ever touch you again." Spike reassured her, rubbing his hands up and down her arms to warm her chilled skin.

"Will, there's something I have to tell you." Buffy lifted herself up so that she could stare into his eyes. "I love you." She saw his eyes blink; saw the telltale signs of water building behind those beautiful lashes. "The whole time I was...there...I could only think of one thing. Getting back to you. I didn't want to die without telling you. Without making sure you knew, understood, how much I loved you."

Spike's heart was beating a mile a minute. She was pouring her heart out to him, or at least what she thought was her heart's desire. And all he could think about was kissing her, loving her, right here, right now. He loved her, God damn it! And he'd just spent the worst forty-eight hours of his life hoping and praying that she was still alive. And now he had her here, in his arms, professing her love for him. What was a man supposed to do? He was only a mere mortal. So he did the only thing he could; he kissed her.

Spike nibbled at her bottom lip, letting his tongue trace its outline before gently biting down. Buffy groaned and arched into him, her breasts pressing down against his chest, the taut nipples rubbing coarsely over the material of his shirt. It was an effort for Spike to force himself to not flip them over, rip off all her clothes, and thrust himself hard into her willing body. It felt as if he'd been waiting forever for this moment. Forever for just the chance to make love to this woman. *His* woman.

Slowly he let his hands wander her body, gently lifting her clothes off her, until she was naked and pliant beneath him. Buffy's hands were busy as well, tickling the fine hairs of his skin as she explored his body. His shirt had long since come off, and his pants as well. He was left with nothing but his boxers, a very thin piece of material separating him from Buffy's own nudity.

"Will, please." Buffy tugged at his shorts, begging with her actions for more.

"Luv, are you sure?" God, how could he ask her that? How could she be sure, when she didn't know the true nature of their relationship? Spike felt like a heel, but he couldn't stop now. Couldn't keep himself from taking what he'd always wanted. What he desperately needed.

"Yes." Buffy slid his boxers down, until he was able to kick them off.

The one word answer sent a wave of desire crashing through him. He reached down with one hand, feeling for her, and swore softly when he encountered wet heat. "Christ, luv."

Buffy spread her legs wider, inviting him to lie in the cradle of her thighs. She nearly wept when he took his hand away only to replace it with the tip of his arousal. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, pressing him closer.

Spike leaned down to kiss her, entering her in one swift thrust. She was tight around him, and he moaned almost incoherently. He waited, wanting to give her time to adjust to the intrusion. Spike could feel every inch of her against him, encasing him. And he grit his teeth to keep from losing control. God, he was finally inside her. She was finally his!

And then it hit him. He could *feel* every inch of her. Spike cried out when Buffy began to move, to thrust up against him. "Luv, wait. Stop!" Quickly he pulled out of her, cursing himself every which way possible. He turned away from her, swinging his legs off the bed and sitting up.

"What's the matter?" Buffy's voice was trembling, as if she feared she had done something wrong.

"Sorry, luv." Spike turned back to her, the look on her face nearly broke him. He leaned forward daring to kiss her again. Mistake. He was on top of her in a matter of seconds.

"Mmmm, yes, Will." Buffy murmured, reaching down to grasp him firmly in her hand. "Make love to me."

God, he wanted to. Spike thought he might actually die if he didn't. But he was already doing enough to guarantee his reservation in Hell; he wasn't about to add this to the list as well. "Buffy, luv. Fuck!" He jumped in her hand, thrusting involuntarily. "I want to, God, I want to." He murmured kissing her again. "But no condom. It might already be too late." He wanted to kick himself for not thinking, for entering her without protection. The look he gave her was so contrite she tried to stop the bubble of laughter from escaping, but couldn't. "If you think my dying of blue balls is funny, then have at it, luv." Spike grumbled, his arousal still painfully throbbing a reminder at him of his own stupidity.

Buffy kissed him, still laughing lightly. "It's not that, Will. I'm just happy. I thought...I thought you didn't want me." She answered shyly. "When you turned away, I thought..." the words trailed off but she continued to gaze at him, her big doe eyes large in her face.

"No, Buffy." He kissed her again, torturing himself. "God, I can't *stop* wanting you." But he pulled away, running his hand through his hair roughly. Barely suppressing the need to pull it out by the roots instead.

"Then there's no problem." Buffy whispered, her hand stealing out to open the drawer in the small bedside table. "Cordy." She answered his unspoken question as she pulled out a pack of condoms. "She thought we might need them tonight." Spike was going to kiss Cordy the very next time he saw her.

But then he was kissing Buffy again, and all thoughts of Cordy, of the rest of the world, flew out of his head. He ripped open one of the foil packets she handed him, and quickly covered himself. This time he entered her slowly, dragging out the incredible feeling of her heat engulfing him. Bending forward he took the peak of her breast into his mouth, suckling gently. One hand shot out to cover the other breast, kneading it slowly before reaching toward the tip to pinch and roll her nipple.

She groaned and breathed out a small sexy "oh" that made Spike's insides catch on fire. Every sound she made, every wriggle of her body beneath him had him responding in ways he'd never imagined. He'd made love with other women, and some had been extremely creative. But loving Buffy...being with Buffy was something that couldn't compare to any experience he'd ever had before.

Spike couldn't keep himself from quickening his rhythm. His thrusts came faster and harder, making Buffy cry out. She clung to him, meeting every thrust with as much force as possible. Their hips crashed together, over and over, until the sensations swamped over her.

Spike felt his whole body tightening; felt the onrush of his orgasm shooting through him. Reaching down he pressed his fingers to her, rubbing softly. "Buffy," he groaned out her name. "So close, luv, please." He begged her with his eyes to find her release, and just like that she exploded. She fluttered around him, and Spike couldn't do anything but ride the hot wave of his own desire to its crest.

Feeling completely boneless, Spike rolled off her not wanting to crush her with his weight. Buffy moaned in complaint, reaching for him again. He turned them until he was spooning her, his front to her back. Then he kissed the nape of her neck, letting his lips linger. "That was incredible, luv." His arms went around her waist, his palms coming to rest on her flat stomach.

"God, Buffy. I'm so sorry. I can't believe I let myself lose control that way." His arms tightened around her, his hands rubbing gentle circles over her abdomen. "I might already have gotten you pregnant." He worried.

Buffy turned in his arms and kissed him softly. She lowered her head until it was resting on his chest, and let herself enjoy his warm masculine scent before replying. "I guess that would mean you'd just have to marry me." She answered playfully.

Spike's gut clenched, God, he was a bastard.


"Mmm?" The murmur was muffled by his chest.

"There's something I have to tell you." Spike grimaced at his own lame attempt to begin this conversation. "I should have told you before...Jesus, before we made love, but I couldn't."

He waited a beat before continuing, trying to screw up his courage. "Buffy, we're not engaged. You don't love me, at least not in that way. I'm sorry." He whispered, waiting for her response. The silence stretched until it became unbearable. "Buffy?" Nothing but her steady breathing. When he finally got the guts to check, he found her fast asleep.

"Oh, bloody..." Spike couldn't believe his luck. She hadn't heard a word he said. So, okay, he'd hold her in his arms tonight and tomorrow he'd finally tell her the truth. Then he'd probably wave goodbye to her as she walked out of his life. He kissed the crown of her head, and tightened his hold on her.

Maybe that was for the best? She'd only been his pretend fiance and look what it had gotten her? Two days of terror and bruises that hadn't yet faded. He kissed her wrists, brushing his lips against the rope burns. Could he ask her to become a permanent part of his life, when he knew how dangerous it could be? He knew that anyone in his life could be a potential target, but especially his loved ones. With his mum and da gone, the only other potential targets would be his wife, he stared down at Buffy, and their children, his hand came up to unconsciously curl around her stomach.

Good Lord, what if he'd gotten her pregnant tonight? A stab of longing pierced through him at the thought of Buffy as the mother of his children. What he wouldn't give for that image to become a reality? What was he going to do? He wasn't even sure if she would still want him; love him, after she found out the truth.

Spike drifted off to sleep, still mulling over the potential threats to Buffy versus their potential happiness together. Could he risk her safety? Spike thought about the agony he had just lived through, not knowing where she was or whether she was even still alive. And he knew the answer to that question.


Buffy rolled over and heard the crunch of paper before she opened her eyes to find the note. She squinted at the white sheet before rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.


Dearest Buffy,

There are so many things I should have told you before last night, luv. You've always told me I had a gift with words, but when it comes to you I've always been tongue-tied.

First, I want you to know that I love you. After you read the rest of this note you may not believe that, but it's true. So I hope you keep it in mind when you find out what I've done.

You should know that we aren't really engaged to be married. You aren't my fiance; you never were. I'm so sorry, luv, that I lied to you. It was a ruse, that you agreed to participate in, in order to help me with the conference. I never thought it would go that far, Buffy, I swear.

After your accident, the doctor said that you should avoid any unnecessary stress. And I wasn't sure how you would react to the news, since you seemed to believe that our engagement was real. I hated lying to you, luv. But I didn't want to take the chance that it might affect your health.

I suppose you think I've taken the coward's way out by writing you this letter rather than speaking to you in person. And maybe you're right. But I knew that if I hadn't left while you were sleeping I never would have been able to. As it is it's tearing me in two just thinking about walking out that door.

I know last night shouldn't have happened. And you're probably regretting it as you read this...but you may as well know it's the one thing in my life that I will *never* regret. The one memory I'll always cherish. The one thing I do regret, though, is your not knowing the truth before it happened. Before we made love. I'm sorry for that, Buffy, truly.

I love you, baby.

I'm sorry if I hurt you. I ache knowing that, that bastard hurt you because of me. Which brings me to the hardest part of this letter to write: the goodbye.

I won't let that happen again. I can't.

Being with me puts you in danger. It always will. I'm sorry, luv, but I can't stand around knowing that my love puts you in harm's way. A love I'm not even sure you want any part of anymore. I'm sorry.

Please, luv, stay safe.



The ink began to blur as the tears fell from Buffy's eyes. Will was gone?


17 - Dawn's Early Light

Spike was crying. He tried to stem the flow of tears, tried to keep from acknowledging them, but it was a losing battle. He'd left Buffy hours ago, warm and sleep rumpled in their bed. He'd written her a final goodbye.

He'd gotten on the first plane off the island, not bothering to say goodbye to his friends or to thank them for helping get Buffy back safely. He couldn't. He could barely force himself out of that room and onto the plane. If he'd stopped for anything, he wouldn't have been able to go through with it.

God, he was such a namby pamby nancy boy! So what, if he'd given up the only truly good thing to ever happen to him? So what, if he knew he was going to be miserable for the rest of his life? That he'd given up the only woman he could ever love? He didn't have to cry about it! Did he?

He remembered crying that day he'd arrived on Buffy's doorstep after having caught Dru with another man, for the second time. The tears were falling down his face and though he hadn't said a word, Buffy knew. She took him in and threw her arms around him. She made him cocoa with little marshmallows and let him talk his brains out. And then she'd taken his duster, shoved him under the covers of her bed and then gotten in with him. She wrapped him in her arms, and kissed him on the forehead. Before lulling him to sleep with words of comfort and the warmth of her body surrounding him.

That had been a day from Hell, but Buffy had somehow made it better. Yes, he remembered crying then, but had it hurt like this? This gut wrenching mind numbing pain that made his chest hurt and his eyeballs ache? He didn't think so. He hadn't remembered this all-consuming agony. Maybe that was because even though he'd lost Dru, even though she'd humiliated him beyond belief, he'd still had Buffy. And now...well now he didn't.

Spike stared out the tiny window listening to the plane's twin engines hum. He could see the early light of dawn peeking through the clouds. The sight was beautiful, the colors bright and vivid, but Spike didn't really see any of it. His mind was a million miles away, or maybe just a few thousand, in a hotel room with a girl who would just barely be waking.


Buffy couldn't believe it. Will was gone! He hadn't given her a chance to explain, to tell him that she'd gotten her memory back. Instead he'd left her. For her own good! Buffy stomped angrily around the room gathering her clothes. What right did he have to decide what was good for her? What right did he have to decide that he wasn't worth the risk?


Buffy was already throwing her clothes haphazardly into her luggage; she was determined to go after him. If he really meant to sever all ties with her, well he better damn well be able to tell her to her face!

Her suitcase was almost full when there was a knock on the door. Crap. She'd forgotten about the rest of the gang. They were probably checking up on her to see how she was doing. Buffy hadn't even given them a second thought! What kind of friend was she? They flew all this way to help her and she was about to jump on a plane without even saying goodbye! Buffy opened the door an apology already on her lips. She frowned when she was met with the two men she'd never seen before.

"You should really be more careful miss." The one on the left warned.

"Especially after what you've just been through." The other piped in.

"How do you know what I've been through?" Buffy asked suspiciously.

The two men reached into their pockets simultaneously. "Sorry miss, we should have identified ourselves first thing. I'm Agent Salazar, and this is Agent Benson." They showed their IDs to her.

"Oh." Buffy was still a little confused as to what they were doing there. "Was there something you needed?"

"Actually, yes. We need you to come down to give your statement." Benson explained. "It's best to get it as soon after the incident as possible to make sure that the details you remember are fresh."

"It would be helpful if Mr. Huntington could join us as well." Salazar added.

"Oh," Buffy chewed her bottom lip nervously. "I'm afraid that Will has already left for California. He had to take care of."

Salazar frowned. "He does realize he'll have to return to give his statement, and more importantly testify in court?"

"I'm not sure. I'll call him and let him know he has to come back as soon as possible." Buffy hedged, uncertain even how she was supposed to get a hold of Will when he didn't want anything more to do with her.

Benson nodded. "It's still a good idea for you to come down this morning and give your statement, even if Mr. Huntington won't be able to give his until he returns."

"Do we have to leave right now? Can I...can I call some friends to go with me?" Buffy hesitated. She really didn't want to go alone. She didn't think she wanted to relive the last two days by herself.

"Of course Ms. Summers. Whatever makes you most comfortable. We just want to get the facts down straight so that we can help the attorney prepare for trial." Salazar gave her a sympathetic look.

"Thank you." Buffy stepped aside, gesturing for both men to enter the room. "If you'll just wait a moment I'll call over to my friends' rooms."

Within ten minutes Cordy, Willow, and Tara were all in Buffy's room. They'd stepped further into the suite to speak quietly to each other out of earshot of the two lawmen. It wasn't that there was any real reason to keep the conversation from the two, except for Buffy's embarrassment at the situation.

"He just left?!" Cordy almost yelled out, but quieted at Buffy's frantic motioning. "Without saying goodbye or anything?"

"He left a note." Buffy answered.

"That's it?" Willow scrunched her nose up in disgust. "You guys finally get together? And he just leaves you a note? I mean, you did get together right?"

Buffy blushed.

"What did the note say?" Tara entered the conversation.

"Will said he loved me, but didn't want to put me in danger. He thinks loving me will make me some kind of target or something." Buffy explained.

"That's ridiculous!" Willow yelped in outrage.

"I don't know. I can see why he'd be concerned. You did just get rescued from a psycho that was out to hurt Spike." Tara played devil's advocate.

"So you think he's right? To just throw away a chance at being together just *in case* something might happen?" Buffy queried, surprised. "He said he loved me. And I told him how much I loved him last night." Buffy whispered quietly.

"No! I didn't say he was right. I just said I understood." Tara rebuffed.

"Well, he needs to get his ass back here." Cordy stated firmly.

"Look! I can't deal with this right now. They need my statement." Buffy glanced over at the two waiting FBI men. "I don't want to go alone." She bowed her head.

"Honey, we know that." Willow was rubbing circles on Buffy's back. "We'll all go with you, that's why we're here."

"And as for dealing with Spike..." Cordy glanced up as the door to the suite opened and Wesley, Xander, and Lorne walked in. "I know just how to handle it."


"I can't believe this! Could we at least have gone first class?" Xander whined.

"No. You know these were the only seats available on this flight. If we'd waited, the next flight wouldn't have left until after dinner." Wesley answered calmly.

"Why couldn't we just call him? Why do we have to fly all the way back to Cali just to turn around and fly back?" Xander continued to grumble.

"You know how stubborn our Spike is." Lorne answered. " And I don't know about you two," Lorne wagged his fingers at his two companions. "But I don't intend to sleep on the couch for the rest of my life."

All three boys sighed as one.



AN: Hi All!! Thanks for reading, and thanks for the reviews! A few people have asked if any more characters from the Buffyverse will appear in my fic, and the answer to that is yes (probably).

This is just a quick note to let you know that I appreciate all the feedback and to thank you all for reading! This fic is far from over, and if it plays out on paper the way it does in my head, I'd say we may possibly be just above the halfway point.


18 - Coming Back to You

They entered the house with the key Spike kept in the hanging plant on his back porch. They found him in the game room, sitting on the love seat and staring into space.

"Okay, pack your stuff." Xander didn't bother saying hello.

"Huh?" Spike jumped in surprise. When he realized that the friends he'd left in Hawaii with Buffy were now in the room with him he became concerned immediately. "What's wrong? Is Buffy okay?" Spike was up and grabbing a hold of Xander before he even knew what he was doing.

"Lay off, man." Xander shrugged Spike off. "No, Buffy is not freakin' okay. You left her. Alone." Xander emphasized the last word. "And now we're all paying for it." He swept his arm toward their other two friends.

"But she's okay? She's not hurt?" Spike insisted on an answer.

"Not in the physical sense, no." Wesley provided. "But she wasn't looking too good when we left. Although that might have more to do with the statement she has to give today."

"What statement?" Spike demanded.

"Spike, honey," Lorne moved closer, and threw his arm around Spike's shoulder. He led Spike back to the loveseat and sat him down. "Buffy just spent a horrific two days with some psycho. Those federal boys want her to tell them everything that happened. I think she was just a little nervous at the prospect."

"She could probably really use the support." Wesley encouraged.

"But she has the girls, right?" Spike wanted nothing more than to be there for Buffy, but knew it would be a mistake.

"Yeah, the girls are with her, but Spike, man, she needs *you*." Xander insisted. "How can you stand to be away from her after almost having lost her for good?"

"Don't you see? That's exactly why I have to stay away from her!" Spike's words were laced with anguish.

"And would you feel any better if something happened to her while you were apart?" Lorne asked.

"No! Nothing's going to happen to her. That's why we have to *be* apart." Spike insisted.

"Spike you can't predict the future. Buffy could have an accident tomorrow. Or some psycho could see her walking down the street and decide she's the flavor of the week whether you guys are together or not." Lorne warned. "You're being without her can't stop any of those things. In fact the only thing you're being apart can prevent is your own happiness."

"I...I need to think." Spike stammered, wavering slightly.

"You can think on the plane. We've got reservations for the 6:15 flight." Xander informed him.

"No! I can't go back tonight."

"Spike, they have to get your statement as well." Wesley put in.

"Well, I can give a statement over the phone." Spike rebuffed.

"But you have to be there in person for the trial anyway. It's probably going to be set in the next week or so. Salazar said something about a cancellation on the court roster." Xander checked his watch, trying to hurry Spike along. "Come on, you have to grab your bag. We gotta jet."

"No." Spike was stubborn.

"Okay, Spike." Lorne caved in. "We'll call the girls and tell them you're not going back with us." Both Xander and Wesley gave Lorne unbelieving looks, but kept silent.

"Good." Spike was relieved to have gotten his way without too much resistance. "Ask them how Buffy's holding up?" Spike checked his watch. "She's probably still giving her statement." Spike's brow was furrowed in worry.

Lorne whipped out his cell phone and hit speed dial. "Tara, honey, how's tricks?" Lorne murmured a few sounds of agreement before speaking again. "I was just calling to let you guys know - " Lorne paused, his expression becoming alarmed causing all three men watching to lean forward with questioning looks. "What?! How could they let that happen?" Lorne listened for a few more minutes. "We'll be on the next flight." And then in a quieter tone he added, "Don't worry, baby, I love you."

"Let's head out," Lorne clicked his phone shut and jumped down from the barstool he'd been sitting on. "The girls need us."

"What? Why? What's happened?" Spike was nearly a wreck. "Is Buffy okay?"

"She's fine." Lorne answered calmly but refused to meet Spike's eyes.

"What aren't you telling me?" Spike demanded.

Lorne sighed. "I guess you'd find out sooner or later." He shrugged. "Angel's out on bail." He watched as Spike's jaw clenched. "Apparently he might've made some threatening statements towards both Buffy and Harmony. Both of them are pretty upset, and so are Tara, Willow, and Cordy."

"What kind of threats? Are they under police protection?" Spike, Xander, and Wesley all spoke at once.

"The fibbies offered to put them in hiding, under protective custody, but Buffy refused."

"What? Why?" Spike demanded. "Why would she refuse?"

"I'm not sure. I couldn't really get a lot out of Tara it sounded like she'd been crying. I'm pretty sure she said there were police stationed at the hotel, but Buffy didn't want to be moved. Didn't want to hide. Something about not wanting to live her life running away?" Lorne related what little information he had.

"Bloody stubborn bint!" Spike yelled. "Let me grab my bag." He was already running towards the stairs that would lead to his bedroom.

"Maybe we should call Salazar and Benson to make sure they've got everything covered until we can get back." Xander suggested, worry for Cordy and the girls running through him.

"No need." Lorne said turning back to them with a smile.

"I thought you said you didn't know much? How do you know if they've got sufficient coverage at the hotel?" Wesley asked.

"I don't. The one thing I do know is that Spike is going to be pretty pissed when he finds out that the only information I got during that phone call was the current 78 degree temperature of downtown Sunnydale." Lorne smirked at them. "But we'll be at least 50,000 feet in the air before that happens."


Buffy was completely miserable. Spike hadn't called. And now that the end of the day was looming she'd gone from being angry to depressed. Cordy had insisted that the boys wouldn't let her down. But what could they do, really? If Spike didn't want to be here, if he didn't love her enough to take the necessary risks, how could they force him to?

On top of all that she was emotionally drained from her five hour session at the Kauai branch of the FBI. The girls had gone with her and had been extremely supportive, but her worry and anger over Spike plus the odd mixture of emotions she felt at retelling her ordeal combined to completely flatten her.

She sighed, wiping at the stray tears on her cheeks. Buffy was sitting out on the patio of their room, watching the waves crash on to shore. The sun had set long ago and the breeze that played with the loose strands of her hair blew coolly over her skin. God, she was tired of crying.

Buffy was so lost in thought she didn't even hear the suite door open, or see the man that entered.


When Spike had found out about Lorne's ruse, he'd been both angry and relieved. He was happy to know that Angel was still locked up and that his Buffy was safe, but angry to realize that he'd been tricked into going back to Kauai. He wasn't sure how he felt about seeing Buffy again. He'd been agitated since the moment he'd left her, worried about her safety, but also concerned about her reaction to the revelations he'd lain bare in the note he'd left behind.

Would she hate him for lying to her? Would she really want to see him again now that she knew he was in love with her? These questions replayed themselves over and over in his head as the plane flew them that much closer to the answers.

Spike berated himself for having left her, wondering how she had coped with the statement she gave this morning. Wondering how she had been coping with the aftereffects of being kidnapped and imprisoned by a madman. Spike's hands clenched into fists as he thought about the man that had taken his Buffy, the man that had used her to try to hurt him.

Spike would have gladly killed him the other night, probably would have done without thought to himself if Xander hadn't stopped him. All he could see while he was beating Angel into the ground was Buffy's face, scared and upset. He couldn't even stomach the thought that Angel might have touched her, might have hurt her in anyway. He remembered exactly the feelings that swamped him when Buffy had told him that he'd only hurt her a little, only left a few bruises. He remembered kissing at the ring of bruised skin around her wrists as she slept.

Spike's gut clenched and his heart twisted. He needed to see her again, to know that she was all right. Lorne's ploy had been nothing but that, a trick to get him on the plane. But it served a second purpose as well. It had reinforced Lorne's earlier words. Would Spike feel any better if Buffy were somehow hurt while they were apart? He knew the answer without having to even think about the question.

Quietly Spike slipped into their room, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom until he could see the faint outline of Buffy's body on the lounge chair beyond the sliding glass doors. He moved across the carpet, coming to stand just inside the archway of the patio doors. "Buffy," he called softly and then swore when she jumped a mile, eyes wide with fright. "Sorry, luv."

"Will?" She whispered his name as she realized who it was standing before her. For a brief moment Buffy was overcome with relief, love, and longing at the sight of him. But she soon became wary, not knowing why he was here or what he was feeling. "What are you doing here?" Buffy voiced the first question that came to mind. She honestly hadn't thought she'd see him again so soon, if ever at all.

Spike let his gaze wander over Buffy. Letting him see for himself that she was healthy and hale. She was wearing the oversized t-shirt she normally wore to sleep, with a pair of spandex shorts. He knew from experience that the shorts would come off before she climbed into bed, and the thought was already making him half hard. He shook his head to rid himself of those inappropriate thoughts and concentrated on the question she had asked him.

"I came back..." Spike hated the cautious and slightly disbelieving look Buffy was giving him. He decided to go with the unabashed truth. "I came back for you."

Buffy's look turned into one of disdain. "Just like you left for me?" She asked, not bothering to hide the hostility or hurt she felt.

"I..." Well, what could he say to that? "I'm sorry."

Buffy stared at him for a moment before looking away. "Do you honestly think that after all these years together, now suddenly, I've become a target? We've only been in each other's back pockets for the past ten years. If any of your enemies didn't already know how much we meant to each other, whether we're lovers or not, they're too stupid to worry about."

Now that she put it like that, Spike felt ridiculous. It was true that anyone remotely interested in him would know how strong his feelings for Buffy went. For God's sake, every article ever written about him had included at least a small snippet from her as well including that damned Sunnydale's Most Eligible Bachelors feature. Why had he thought that loving her would put her in any more danger than she already was?

"You know what I think?" Buffy continued, oblivious to the thoughts running through Spike's head. "I think you left, no, *ran away* because you were afraid. Not for me, but for yourself." Buffy advanced on him now, poking painfully at his chest with her index finger. "You were afraid to face me, to have to tell me the truth. The truth about our engagement, the truth about your feelings for me." Buffy's face was red and angry once more. Abruptly she turned on her heel and strode back out toward the balcony railing, silently seething.

Spike stood stunned. Was that what he had done? Had he run away because he was afraid to face her? Afraid to tell her the truth? Afraid to *know* the truth?

"You left one thing out, luv." Spike moved closer, only inches away from her now. But he refrained from touching, waiting for her reaction to his next statement. "I was afraid to find out the truth. The truth about your feelings for *me*." He waited as she turned around to meet his gaze. "You're right. I was afraid, though I didn't know it at the time. I was afraid you'd hate me for lying to you all week. Or worse yet, afraid that all you'd feel was sorry for me once you found out that I was in love with you and always had been." Spike cursed himself as he felt his eyes fill with water. "I couldn't bare to see the pity in your eyes, luv."

"Oh, Will." Buffy shook her head. "If you'd only waited and let me explain."

"Explain what, Buffy?"

"I got my memory back, Will. While I was still," Buffy swallowed past the lump in her throat. "While I was still with Angel. I tried to tell you, before we made love last night. I told you how much I loved you."

"You mean?" Spike's heart was doing flips in his chest. "You mean you knew, before we made love, that our engagement had been a lie? And when you said you loved me, you meant you *loved* me?"

Buffy nodded, unable to form any more words. And then Will was kissing her. She heard the low groan rumble through him as their lips met. Buffy let out her own small groan of satisfaction when she felt the tentative lick of his tongue against her bottom lip. She opened for him, allowing him entry into her mouth to deepen the kiss.

Spike was in heaven. Buffy loved him! Unable to wait any longer he scooped her up in his arms and carried her back into the suite. Gently he laid her on their bed and stood back to admire her. Buffy's hair was sexily rumpled and her mouth was swollen from their kiss. As he watched the small pink tip of her tongue peeked out to wet her lips. Spike moaned feeling his groin tighten at the sight.

He fell on to the foot of the bed on his knees, staring hungrily up at her. Slowly he crawled up her body, rubbing as much of himself against every inch of her along the way. Buffy wanted to scream as she felt the normally soft cotton of her shirt rub roughly against her tightened nipples. When Spike was finally covering her fully with his own body, he leant down to kiss her once more. As Buffy lost herself in the kiss she failed to notice Spike flipping them over so that he was now on bottom, her legs straddling his hips.

Buffy shivered as she felt the cool night air touch her overheated skin. Her eyes opened slowly at the realization that she was now nearly naked. Her shorts had long since disappeared as had her nightshirt. Already prepared for bed, she hadn't been wearing a bra. So now she lay on top of Spike clad only in a white lace thong. Buffy thrust downward feeling the hard length of his arousal through his tight denim jeans. They both groaned as Buffy fumbled with the button and zipper, struggling to pull the thick barrier away.

As Buffy moved off his body to tug at his jeans, Spike sat up and pulled his t-shirt over his head. Now they were both dressed in only their underwear, only moments away from making love together for the second time. Buffy stepped off the bed, waiting until she caught Will's eyes before slowly bending forward and slipping off her thong. Spike's heart was pounding as he watched Buffy slowly strip the last bit of lace off her tantalizing body.

He couldn't believe that he was actually here. After all they'd been through and meant to each other, they were finally together. After admitting to each other their true feelings, they were about to make love without any secrets or fears hanging over them. Quickly he released his erection from the confines of his underwear kicking off his boxers while he waited for Buffy to reclaim her position above him.

Buffy straddled his hips again, his arousal nudging at her entrance. But instead of taking him inside of her, she leaned forward and began nibbling on his neck. Moving down his body she teased his nipples until they were hard and aching, before continuing downward. Spike's hands shot out to try to guide her movements, but she fended them off, wanting to be the one in control.

When he felt that hot pink tongue tasting him he nearly fainted. She took in his arousal and it was all he could do not to thrust roughly into her warm wet mouth. "Buffy, luv, stop!" He cried out when the sensations became too much.

She pulled off him quickly, a worried look on her face. "Did you not like that?"

Was she blind? "No, luv! Of course I liked it. God, I liked it a little *too* much."

Buffy blushed and Spike marveled at her ability to do so after what she'd just done to him. "Ah, Buffy. I love you." The words slipped out without conscious thought.

"I love you, too." She whispered the words back to him.

"C'mere," he growled at her, his arms open.

She slid into his embrace and squealed when he flipped them over once more. Spike reached into the bedside drawer praying that the stash of condoms Cordy had given Buffy were still there. He nearly let out a triumphant shout when his hand encountered a small plastic square. He pulled it out quickly and covered himself, leaning forward to kiss Buffy once more before positioning himself above her.

Slowly he entered her, waiting as each breathy moan escaped her lips. Finally encased within her, he began a lazy thrusting as he nibbled on her neck. God, had he ever felt anything more delicious, more right? Sooner than he'd like his rhythm began to quicken, as did his pulse. He could feel himself nearing completion and wanted desperately for Buffy to go over the edge with him.

"Buffy, luv," he whispered in her ear just before taking the lob in his teeth and biting gently. A satisfied thrill shot through him at her deep moan of approval. "I'm so close."

"Yes, Will." Buffy answered, her hips thrusting upward to meet his. "Just a little more."

Buffy arched her back nearly off the bed as Spike bent even further to take the taut peak of her breast into his mouth. At the same time his hand snaked between her legs to massage her there. The twin sensations sent her rocketing over the edge and she screamed out his name, "Will!"

The sound of his name leaving her lips pushed Spike toward his own climax. He thrust once, twice, three times more before his orgasm ripped through him and he emptied himself into the tight latex covering he wore. They lay in the afterglow for just a few minutes before Spike rolled off her and cleaned himself up. He came back with a warm wet washcloth to wipe Buffy down and then gently kissed her on the tip of her nose before returning to the bathroom to dispose of the dirty towel.

Climbing back into bed, he was immediately warmed by Buffy's body snuggling into his embrace. They kissed lazily, until Spike finally pulled away. "You need to get some rest, luv. The last few days have been exhausting and we'll have to go back to the FBI office tomorrow so that I can give my statement." Spike hated to bring up anything to do with the last few horrific days without her, but he knew they needed rest.

Buffy looked as if she wanted to say something, but she only bit down on her bottom lip instead.

"What is it, luv?"

"Will you still be here when I wake up in the morning?" She asked, looking away from him, the hurt still evident in her voice.

Spike's breath hitched in his throat. "I'm so sorry for hurting you, Buffy." He kissed her again, rubbing his hand up and down her arm in comfort. "I'll be here in the morning. And every morning after if you'll let me?" He made the last statement a question.

"What are you saying, Will?"

"I'm saying that I want you for forever." Spike stated calmly. "I know this is bloody horrible timing, luv, but...I want our engagement to be real." He fingered the ring she wore on her left hand. "Will you marry me?"

"Oh, Will!" She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him soundly. "Yes!"


19 - The Run In

Buffy was tired, especially because she hadn't been allowed to get much sleep last night. She smiled at the memory, not minding one bit. Her right hand was clasped in Will's, leaving her free to raise her left and gaze at the ring she wore. She stumbled a bit as they walked up the stone steps, Will catching her before she fell completely.

"Watch it, luv." But he'd known what had distracted her and smiled at her lovingly. "We're almost done for the day. Then we can head back to the hotel and celebrate some more." His smile turned wicked making her shiver.

Spike turned back to focus on their path wanting to get the rest of this day over with. They had just finished meeting with the FBI officials to give Spike's statement and were now heading over to the courthouse to talk with the district attorney. The court date had actually been scheduled quite early, only three weeks away and the DA was anxious to get all the information together for the trial.

Spike turned to Buffy once more when he felt her stiffen and heard her let out a short gasp. "What's the - " Spike's question was cutoff by a familiar voice.

"Why hello there, cutie." Angel's smile was wide. Buffy saw now the crazy glint behind his eyes, something she hadn't noticed before he'd taken her. She didn't answer, only tightened her grip on Will's hand.

Spike's head whipped around and he took a step to place himself directly between Buffy and Angel. "I told you to stay the bloody fuck away from her!" Spike's voice was even and low, his eyes shooting cold blue shards of anger.

"So, we meet again, William." Angel turned his gaze toward his hated nemesis. "This isn't over. You stole what should have been mine! I deserve to have it back!"

Spike lunged for him, Buffy screamed. Suddenly there were restraining hands over both men. Buffy was shaking as she realized that Wesley and the others had arrived just in time. Wesley had hold of Will and both he and Xander were talking him down. Lorne made sure to keep himself between Angel and the girls, who were huddled protectively around Buffy.

Risking a quick glance over at Angel, she noted that there was a man she didn't know holding him back as well. He was in a dark brown suit, his hair nearly black, his face clean shaven. He, too, was trying to speak soothing words, but Angel's eyes never lost their crazed glint. From what she could hear the man was obviously Angel's lawyer, but if he thought Angel would listen to logic and reason he was sorely mistaken.

At just about that time, the DA came flying down the steps to intervene. Angel's lawyer was already herding him down the steps and towards his own car, so Spike whirled on the DA instead. "How the bloody hell did he get out?"

Looking chagrined the DA nonetheless pushed the loose hair from her face and straightened her posture before answering. "I'm afraid he had his bail set today, and was obviously able to meet it."

"Why the fuck would they give that asshole bail?" Tara was surprised at the language and tone her lover used. It was rare that anything got to his sweet nature.

There was nothing the DA could say to that. The old adage innocent until proven guilty, obviously wasn't going to cut it.

Buffy was completely shaken, her eyes wide in her face at the thought that Angel was free to roam the island. Spike swept her up in his arms and held her close, rubbing soothing circles on her back. Once she'd calmed, Spike had to relieve some of his own excess emotional energy. He kissed her lightly on the crown of her head, and angled her face so that their gazes could meet.

"Luv, I need some time to think." Spike informed her.

"What? Why? Will - "

"The others will stay with you." He gave each of their friends a stern look, letting them know exactly what would happen if any of them left her alone until he returned.

"Buffy," he kissed her on the lips this time. "I'm just...I'm still so angry. And I feel so guilty."

"Will, it's not your fault!" Buffy wailed, not knowing how to make him see.

"I know that, luv, here," Spike pointed to his temple. "But here," his palm rested above his heart, "it's a completely different story."

"What about our appointment, Mr. Huntington?" Spike had forgotten that the DA had still been standing there.

"We'll have to reschedule it. I'll call you first thing in the morning." He promised her.

"We don't have very much time, if we're going to prepare for this trial properly." She warned.

Spike only nodded as he turned to trot down the stairs. As he passed his friends he whispered a fierce, "keep her safe!" To which they all nodded.


Buffy was beginning to get really worried. Who was she kidding? She'd been worried the moment Will had walked off without her that afternoon. Now, almost midnight, he still hadn't returned. Lorne and Xander were currently out in the main suite playing cards, while Wesley escorted the other girls to their own rooms. In an effort to get rid of her bodyguards Buffy had put on her pajamas and announced her intention to go to bed. Unfortunately that did nothing but force her to lay awake listening for Will in the bedroom, rather than sitting out in the main room watching the door. The boys refused to leave, citing Spike's icy glare and quick temper. She heard them now, shuffling the cards and chuckling to each other.

Where was Will?

Just then Buffy heard the soft click of the front door opening and Xander's soft, "woah." She bolted out of bed and through the bedroom door to find a bruised and bleeding Will limping into the room.

"Will!" She ran toward him wrapping her arm around his waist to help him to the couch. "What happened?" Her fingers flew over his body examining every inch of him, making sure his injuries weren't life threatening. "We need to take you to the emergency room." Buffy urged.

"No. Had enough of bleedin' hospitals in the past two weeks." Spike answered, to sore to refuse Buffy's help to the sofa. "Just had a small scrape, that's all, luv." He kissed her cheek as he sat.

"A small scrape?" Buffy repeated, incredulous. "Where have you been? Who did this? Was it Angel??"

"No, luv. Haven't seen that tosser since this afternoon." Spike shook his head. He took the glass of water Lorne offered with a nod of thanks before taking a large gulp. "Told you, needed time to think. Rented a motorcycle, took a ride. Went further than I thought, started to rain." He shook his head at his own stupidity. Riding on unfamiliar roads, at night, at the speed he was going he's lucky he didn't do any serious damage. "Took a turn too fast."

"Oh my God!" Buffy's heart leapt into her throat at the thought that Will could have been killed. "Are you sure you don't need to see a doctor? You could have broken something!"

"'M fine, luv." Spike reassured her.

"Well, if you're all right, I'm gonna head on out." Lorne stood. "Tara's probably waiting up for me."

"Yeah, I want to get back before Cordy falls asleep." Xander stood as well.

"Thanks, guys." Spike nodded at them. "I appreciate you staying with her."

"Just don't make a habit of running off half cocked and trying to get yourself killed, okay sweetie?" Lorne answered for the both of them, giving Spike a wiggly fingered wave as they left the room.

Spike chuckled then decided that had been a bad idea. His side hurt like crazy. He placed a palm over the area in which he knew he would have a very large bruise in the morning.

Buffy was torn between wanting to nurse Will back to health and wanting to knock his block off for almost killing himself. She settled for a quick insult as she strode toward the bathroom to get the first aid kit, "You big!"

She returned to the main suite still talking, "Why do you always have to do the big brood? And why does it have to be on a motorcycle? I hate the one you have back home, and now you tell me you went out and rented one? Geez!" She blew out an exasperated breath.

She administered to his wounds, not feeling guilty at the sharp intake of breath Will took at the first touch of the hydrogen peroxide doused cotton ball. "Serves you right!"

Through it all, Spike remained silent, letting Buffy vent her worry and anger. Finally when she was done bandaging his cuts he reached for her and pulled her into his embrace. "I'm sorry, luv." He nuzzled his face in to her neck, and breathed in her scent. "I didn't mean to worry you."

Buffy sighed, letting herself relax into Will's arms. "I didn't know where you were, if you were okay. And then you come in and you're all..." she gestured toward him, encompassing his whole body. "Bleedy. It was like a nightmare or something." She whispered.

"Luv, why did you ask if Angel had done the damage?" Spike wondered.

"He's out now." Buffy shrugged. "And you're the one he really wants to hurt. He only took me because he knew it would hurt *you*. I thought...I thought he might have gone after you." Buffy buried her face in his chest. "I was so worried."

"God, Buffy." Spike's embrace tightened. "I'm so sorry, luv. I didn't even think about how you would be feeling. What you must have been thinking after seeing him again." He cursed himself. "I'm such a selfish git!"

"Yeah, you are." Buffy smiled into his chest. "The girls have been asking me what the heck I see in you." She teased.

"Oh, have they?" Spike raised his scarred brow at her.

"Yeah, when I told them our engagement was real, they were like, 'What? Why?'" Her smile grew wider when she felt Will poke her in the side.

"And what did you tell them?"

"Oh, something about the really cool game room you have at your house." She answered, bursting into hysterical giggles when Spike's poking finger turned into several tickling fingers instead.

"Is that why you're marrying me? For my game room?" Spike demanded.

"Yes!" Buffy cried between gales of laughter.

"Oh, really?" A second hand joined in the tickle fest.

"No! Stop! Stop! I give!" Buffy screamed.

"You give?" Spike asked, still letting his fingers wander.


"Okay, what did you *really* tell them?" Spike prompted.

Buffy waited until her breathing returned to semi-normal. Then she looked up into Will's ocean blue eyes. "That I'm happy. Finally." She leaned forward to kiss him chastely on the lips. "That I love you."

"I love you, too, baby." Spike caught her lips in a kiss considerably less chaste than hers.

When they broke apart Buffy was once more breathing heavily. "Will?"

"Yes, luv?"

"Can you promise me something?"


"Be careful." Buffy urged. "You don't know what Angel's capable of."

"I promise, luv. But you don't have to worry about him anymore." Spike leant forward until their foreheads were touching. He closed his eyes and just sat surrounded by her. After a few moments his eyes fluttered open and he moved forward to kiss lightly at the tip of her nose. "Let's go to bed." He whispered huskily.

She nodded and stood, reaching out a hand for him. He clasped her hand in his, tugging her gently toward the bedroom. "You're hurt." She reminded him, as she lay on the bed watching him strip down to his boxers.

"Not *that* hurt." He responded, leering playfully at her.

"Will." She reprimanded him, even while she stifled the wince that came from seeing the new bruises forming on his torso.

Spike's leer turned into a smile as he slid under the covers. "I just want to hold you, luv." He reached for her, slipping her to his side, his arms encircling her slim figure.

"Goodnight, luv."

"Night, Will."

He held her close, letting her even breathing lull him to sleep.


Chapter 20 - The Morning After

Buffy woke to the sensation of Will's soft lips rubbing gently against her own. "Morning, luv." He whispered as he slanted his head to take the kiss deeper.

"Mmmm." Buffy murmured, riding on the wave of bliss Will was bringing her on. "Morning." She finally answered when Will moved to trail his kisses down her jaw line toward the pulse point jumping in her neck. He suckled her there, not worrying whether he left his mark on her.

"I take it your feeling better?" Buffy giggled as Will lifted her nightshirt to ghost his lips over her sides, and down to her hips.

"Never better, kitten." Spike leered at her, nipping at her hip playfully.

Buffy felt a jolt at the feel of Will's teeth grazing her skin. Her hands reached out automatically to cup his head and hold him against her. She reveled at the urgency to which Will worried her smooth skin. When it had a light shade of red his tongue licked out to soothe the rash he had created. She sighed at the sensation.

In the meantime Spike's hands had not been idle. They continued with their mission to rid Buffy of her clothing, lifting the nightshirt up until she was able to slip it above her head. She lay beside him now with only her panties, writhing at his touch. He stopped the game he was playing at the curve of her hip, to reposition himself. He covered her with his body, letting her feel his heavy arousal.

"We're going to have to stop at the drug store today, luv." He whispered as he kissed the tip of her nose. While he distracted her with sweet kisses, he reached into the night table for another condom. "We're running low on supplies," he waggled his eyebrows at her, making her laugh.

Spike couldn't resist another kiss. Hearing her laughter, seeing the happiness on her face, made him want to hold her in his arms and kiss her until the end of the world. But too soon kisses weren't enough, and Spike found himself pushing his boxers down and hastily kicking them off. He ripped open the small package he held, but Buffy stopped him before he could reach for his hardened member.

She smiled, taking the condom from him and encircling him with her free hand. Spike groaned, loving the feel of her small hands on him. Buffy took her time, placing the rubber at the very tip of his arousal, then making a tight circle with her thumb and forefinger. She pushed slowly, letting the condom descend inch by agonizing inch. It took nearly all of Spike's control to not push her hand aside, shove the condom on and drive himself inside her. He could tell how much Buffy was enjoying this and that made him infinitely more patient than he ever thought he could be.

Finally she had secured the protection on him and was guiding him to her opening. They both sighed as he entered her and taking his cue from Buffy, Spike set a slow lazy rhythm that drove them both crazy.

A few minutes into their lovemaking Buffy caught Spike wincing slightly. "Oh God! Will, we shouldn't be doing this. You're still hurt." Buffy stilled both their hips in concern.

"Buffy, luv," Spike kissed her deeply. "There's *nothing* I'd rather be doing right now. It's just a few bruises." He reassured her.

"Well..." Buffy was wavering. She really didn't want to stop either, but she hated the thought that making love to her was somehow causing Will pain. "Could we maybe change positions? Maybe it wouldn't hurt your side so much if I were on top?"

Spike's arousal doubled at the thought of Buffy taking control of their lovemaking in that way and he eagerly agreed to the new position.

"Now don't move a muscle. I'll do all the work." She winked at him. Slowly she began to raise her body only to languidly slide back down. She was in the perfect position for Spike to reach out and play gently with her breasts, causing Buffy to arch her back with a deep moan of satisfaction.

Spike groaned, closing his eyes when the strain of resisting his body's need for completion became too much. He took deep even breaths, trying to calm himself down.

Buffy was close; she could feel the orgasm growing and feel the first rush as it built inside her. Wanting to insure Will's satisfaction she began to work her muscles, squeezing gently. The hard ridge of flesh pressed against her contracted walls, and pushed Will over the edge.

"Buffy!" He cried out her name as he spasmed inside her.

She came before he could even complete his cry, her own body shaking with the force of her climax. She collapsed on top of him, her slim form adding hardly any pressure to his sensitive wounds. They lay together for a long time, basking in the afterglow of their morning romp, until there was a sharp rap at the door.

"Maybe they'll go away." Buffy mumbled, but the knock came again. Groaning she extracted herself from Will's embrace and grabbed her nightshirt. Throwing it on, she ran to the bathroom to quickly splash some water on her face and put on the bathrobe that hung on the door. "Coming!" She called as she walked out into the main suite.

"If that's Xander, Wes, or Lorne, tell them to bloody come back later!" Spike called from the bedroom. She could hear him rustling around trying to find appropriate clothing to greet a visitor in.

Buffy threw open the door, a huge grin on her face. "Will says to - " She cut her words off swiftly as she saw the state their visitor was in.

"Oh my, God. Harmony! What's the matter? Are you okay?"

Harmony stood in the entryway, tear tracks streaming down her cheeks. She shook her head in the negative, unable to utter coherent words. Buffy ushered her into the room, herding her toward the couch. She ran to the bathroom to grab a box of tissues, returning immediately to Harmony's side. Buffy offered the tissues to which Harmony gave her a hesitant smile. The blonde dabbed at her tears, in an effort to compose herself.

Finally Harmony spoke. "You'll probably think I'm ridiculous; silly to care about a man who was such a monster. But...I can't...I mean I thought I loved him, you know?" She gave Buffy a pleading look for understanding. Buffy nodded, wanting to give Harmony whatever support she needed.

"Are you worried about his trial? That he'll be going to jail?" Buffy couldn't imagine *not* wanting Angel locked up forever, but she could see how Harmony would be torn by the idea. Harmony shook her head, a fresh burst of tears escaping. "What is it then?" Buffy prompted.

Harmony looked up; eyes wet and bottom lip trembling. "Angel's..." he had to stop to swallow the lump in her throat. "Angel's dead." The words were whispered but they echoed across the room as if she'd used a bullhorn. Harmony promptly burst into incoherent tears, lunging toward Buffy to bury her face in the other girl's shoulder. Buffy patted her back absently letting the shock of Harmony's words penetrate her mind.

Buffy let Harmony cry herself out as the idea of Angel's death made its way through her consciousness. She felt...well she felt a lot of things. Relief that the threat was gone. Anger that Angel would never be judged guilty. Sadness for the girl weeping in her arms. Her emotions were so jumbled. She wasn't sure what she was *supposed* to feel. Distantly she heard the shower running, her mind supplying the fact that Will hadn't yet come out to join them.

"How?" The words left her lips without conscious thought. She wanted to bite them back, not knowing how Harmony would take the question. Wanting to kick herself for asking Harmony details of her ex-lover's death. "Forget I asked. I'm sorry."

"No. It's okay." Harmony sniffled, lifting her head from Buffy's shoulder. "I'm not sure exactly. The police called, they want me to go down to the station, ide-de-dentify the body, answer some questions." Harmony looked away, staring through the sliding glass doors and out toward the ocean. "They said he was be-beaten." She stumbled over the words. "But I think, the detective said something about a bullet wound, too."

Buffy found that her initial shock hadn't been complete. "So, it wasn't an accident?" Buffy's brow furrowed in confusion. "He was murdered?"

"Yes." Harmony's bottom lip was trembling again, and Buffy opened her arms to allow Harmony back into her embrace.


Spike found them like that, huddled together on the couch. He'd thrown on a pair of pajama bottoms and a tank top after hopping out of the shower. And was still scrubbing his hair with a dry towel as he sauntered into the room when he stopped short at the sight of them. He rushed toward them, his hand extended, "Buffy? What happened? What's wrong?"

Buffy shook her head silently letting him know with her eyes that she would tell him later. But before he could get the message Harmony was already sobbing out the words. "Angel's dead!"

Buffy watched with a mixture of curiosity and confusion as Spike's face went from shock, to anger, to a decidedly pale mix of both. "Dead?" He repeated the word as if in disbelief.

"Yes, they found him this morning. He was beaten and shot." Buffy hastened the words out before Harmony had to.


"Yes." Buffy repeated.

Spike's gaze slid across the room, darting over objects he didn't really see as he took in Buffy's words. Angel had been shot? The bastard was gone? For good? He turned back toward the pair on the couch; Harmony calmer now but still obviously badly affected by the current turn of events. The sight of her made him want to offer comfort, but he couldn't bring himself to say he was sorry for the monster's death.

Spike was still standing there debating his next move when there was another knock on the door. He gestured to Buffy that he would answer it, and quickly made his way to the entrance. He pulled the door open and found himself confronted with several people of which he wasn't expecting. He raised his eyebrow at Xander wanting to know what was going on.

"Spike, man. They need to talk to you." Xander indicated the two men standing behind him. Spike nodded at Salazar and Benson, stepping out of the way so that everyone could enter the suite. Wes, Lorne, Xander, and the two agents all made their way into the main room.

"Ms. Kendall, Ms. Summers." Benson gave each of them a nod. "Sorry to interrupt." Both agents looked discomfited by the crying jag Harmony was still trying to control.

As one they both turned toward Spike. "We need to speak to you sir. If you could get dressed, maybe you can accompany us back down to the police station?" Salazar requested politely.

Spike gave them a puzzled look. "Police station? Why do you need me down there? I told the DA that I would call her this morning to setup another appointment." He stopped for a moment, chagrined. "But I guess that won't be necessary anymore."

"Not necessary? What's going on here?" Wesley piped up. He had noted the girls on the couch, and wondered at the agents' arrival, but still had no clue as to what was happening. "Did something go wrong with the trial date?"

"You could say that, sir." Benson answered. "The defendant is dead."

The room was completely silent as the three new comers absorbed the information. "And you need to speak with Spike because?" Wesley prompted.

Again both agents turned toward the man standing in the middle of the room. "Perhaps you could tell us where you got those cuts and bruises, sir." Salazar gestured towards Spike's bruised arms and scraped knuckles.

"I had an accident last night."

Salazar and Benson turned to look at each other, nodding to themselves. "We'd still like it if you can come down to the station with us, sir."

Spike stared back at them silently. Finally, he rubbed a dry palm over his face. "Do I need a lawyer?"

"It might not be a bad idea, sir."

"No!" Buffy stood, throwing Harmony off her. She'd had enough of listening to these ridiculous accusations. "He didn't do anything! Angel was the criminal! Angel was the one who should be going to jail!" Buffy's own tears had surfaced now.

Spike strode toward her quickly, wrapping her up in his arms. "Shhh, luv. Don't worry, nothing's going to happen to me. I didn't do anything wrong. They'll see that soon enough." Spike whispered comfort.

Buffy remained silent the entire time Spike was dressing, throwing short furtive glances at the two men sent to take him away. Spike returned to the main room, giving Buffy a warm kiss on the lips. "I'll be back soon. The guys will go with me." He nodded his head toward the three men waiting by the door. "Call Giles. Tell him to get on the next available flight." Buffy nodded her eyes still moist with tears.

The sound of the front door clicking shut was loud in her ears.


Chapter 21 - Interrogation Room B

"Am I under arrest?" Spike asked again.

"No. We told you, sir. We would just like to ask you a few questions." Salazar answered, again.

"You've already done that, mate." Spike nearly growled. He was tired and hungry. And it had been hours since he'd left Buffy that morning. "I don't think I'm going to be answering any more questions without my lawyer. I've already told you how I got the bruises."

"But you haven't fully explained your whereabouts last night." Benson gave him a look that said 'I don't believe a word your saying'.

"And I've told you I'm not going to answer any more questions until Giles gets here."

"Suit yourself." Salazar stood. "We'll just leave you to cool here for a bit until your lawyer arrives."

After the two agents left the room, Spike stood and began pacing the tiny area. What was he going to do?

It seemed like hours later before the nondescript door opened again. Giles entered briefcase in hand.

"I came as soon as Buffy phoned this morning." He explained. He sat, studying Spike carefully. "How are you William?"

"How am I? How the bloody hell do you think I am? They're treating me like a felon! They haven't let me out of this room all day." Spike was up and pacing again. Some of the tension had eased the moment he'd seen Giles, but the worry and strain were still evident. "Where's Buffy? Have you seen her?"

"Yes. She picked me up at the airport. She's waiting just outside actually." Giles answered smoothly. Buffy had already filled him in on the fact that the young couple were now engaged. This was something he'd been hoping for, for quite some time.

Giles had been Will's lawyer since practically the first day he'd started his business. He'd been around to witness the relationship between Buffy and Will and was more than glad that they had finally decided to move beyond the friendship they'd shared all these years. He held a deep fondness for both of them, not having any children of his own. And because he'd known them both and had been such a close friend of the family Giles knew that Will could never do anything as cold as murder.

"First things first, Will. You know I'm not a criminal lawyer. I've been doing nothing but corporate law for the past 8 years now, and I think you'd be best served by another attorney."
"What?" Spike was shocked. He'd been counting on Giles and he wasn't sure he felt comfortable finding a new lawyer during this crisis.

"Don't worry, Will. I've found someone perfect for you. She'll be arriving on a late flight tonight. And I'm not abandoning you." Giles made sure to emphasize the last point. "I'll be sitting second chair if they decide to actually take these ridiculous accusations to trial."

"What's this lawyer's name?" Spike asked warily.

"Joyce. Joyce Matthews. We're old friends. Went to university together. Don't worry." Giles tried for a reassuring tone.

Spike stood still, eyes closed, head hung wearily. "Don't have much of a choice, now do I?" He asked. "Can you get me out of here?" Spike ached to see Buffy again. To reassure himself that she was still there. Real. Waiting for him.

The last week was such a blur. A strange mix of fantasy and nightmare combined. The realization that Buffy loved him. That she knew he loved her and didn't run from the revelation. Buffy missing. The agony and fear of not knowing whether she was alive or dead. Their reunion. The beautiful night they'd shared before the ache of leaving her hit him. The pain of separation, then the joy of seeing her, touching her, loving her again. And then Angel, that bastard. Threatening to take it all away. To take her away. His death. The police. Buffy's eyes as he was led away this morning.

God, he needed to see her again.

Spike stared at the door, willing himself to see beyond it. Willing himself to see his Buffy.

When the door opened once more Spike was startled out of his intense focus. Benson and Salazar entered, nodding a greeting at Giles.

"Gentlemen." Giles greeted them in turn. When they took seats on the other side of the table, Giles began. "My client has been here for several hours. If there's nothing more, we'd like to go."

"There are still several questions we'd like to ask." Benson insisted.

"I'm afraid Will has answered all the questions he can today. Now unless you are planning on charging my client with something, we're leaving." Giles stood one hand on Spike's elbow.

The two agents just sighed, and gestured toward the door. "You know it might be better for you if you cooperate with us, Mr. Huntington. It might turn out better for you in the end."

Spike gave the agents a long serious look, but said nothing. Instead he turned, nodded at Giles, and they both swept quietly out of the room.


Harmony was shaking. Her legs felt like lead, and she wasn't sure if she could make it all the way down the hall. She clutched at Buffy's hand, glad that the other woman had agreed to come with her. She wasn't sure if she could do this alone.

She took a deep breath, nodding at Buffy before continuing down the corridor. She thought back on the last week, the last few months really. Harmony had finally admitted to herself that Angel didn't love her. And more importantly, that she didn't love Angel. She'd tried. She'd wanted, more than anything, for the kind of love that she could see between Buffy and Will. But she'd known, deep down, that she would never have that with Angel.

But, God, she hadn't wanted this either! She may not have loved him, but she had cared about him. She'd been more than shocked to find out what he'd been capable of. That he could hurt Buffy, hurt Will, without remorse. She glanced furtively at Buffy, wondering what the other woman was thinking. Did she wonder how Harmony could still have feelings for Angel? Did she wonder why Harmony would care about the monster that had hurt, and threatened, and nearly killed her? Probably. Harmony wondered that, too.

Harmony gulped when they came to the double doors, Buffy at her side, and a police officer in front. He turned to her, asking with his eyes if she were ready. She nodded once, took another deep breath, and followed him into the room. Her eyes tracked along the walls, noting the contents of the room. The metal tables, the wall of drawers, the men in white lab coats. Goosebumps broke out along her arms, and she let go of Buffy briefly to rub them vigorously.

Her shivering grew when her eyes landed on a table at the far end of the room. A white sheet draped over a mass of lumps beneath its surface. She could just make out pale white toes sticking out from beneath the sheet as she followed the officer toward the prone figure. A lab technician was standing by the table, waiting patiently, pity or maybe just boredom swam in his eyes.

"Ms. Kendall?"

Harmony blinked. By the look on Buffy's face she got the feeling that they had been calling her name for awhile. She gave them a shaky smile, and nodded. "Yes?"

"Are you ready?" The lab tech had his hand on the sheet the look on his face morphing into one of expectation. At her second nod, he threw the sheet back, revealing the pale and bruised face beneath.

Harmony let out a sharp involuntary gasp. Her eyes were wet with tears, before she could even form the thought in her head that it was him. "It's him. It's Angel." The words were barely audible.

He looked...peaceful. The bruises were a faded purple, but there was no swelling left. Harmony leaned forward, studying his still face. Suddenly her eyes caught sight of the tiny scar on his chin. He'd told her, when they'd first started dating and were still in the getting to know you phase, that he'd gotten it back in 5th grade when he'd slide into home and ended up hitting a rock. The cut had bled painfully, but the umpire had called him safe and that had been all he'd cared about at the time.

She smiled at the memory of that conversation. At the thought that they'd once been happy. Once been in that place where Harmony had thought that she might just have met her prince charming. What had happened? When had he become such an obsessed self-involved jerk? Or had he always been? Had she just been blind? Realizing where her thoughts were headed, Harmony mentally castigated her self. The man was dead.

She turned on her heel, taking long striding steps to the door. When she was finally out in the corridor once more, she turned gratefully into Buffy's arms, taking comfort where she could.

"Come on," Buffy urged her. "Let's get out of here."

Harmony was happy to comply. She let Buffy lead her back down the hall and up the stairs. She knew where they were headed. Will was upstairs, being questioned about last night. Buffy wanted to be there for him when he got out.

Harmony thought about the man upstairs. About the pain and fear he'd seen in Will's eyes the night she'd run into him in the hall outside his suite. Could Will have killed Angel? He certainly would have done anything to get Buffy back that night. But would he have done it after Buffy had been returned safely? Could Will just walk up to another human being and kill them in cold blood?

Harmony threw a quick glance at Buffy. Could Buffy love a man who could do something like that? She shook her head. Harmony didn't know. She could tell, though, that Buffy didn't think Will had anything to do with Angel's death. Buffy believed with all her being that Will was innocent. And who knew the guy better? Again Harmony shook her head, not really knowing the truth. Harmony stole another glance at the girl beside her. For Buffy's sake she hoped that Will was innocent. Would their relationship survive if Will were guilty? Harmony didn't think so.

This time Buffy's hand reached out to grab hers. Harmony could feel the tension radiating off of Buffy's petite frame. She squeezed Buffy's hand trying to give off whatever bits of reassurance she could, even as she prayed for the future of the wayward couple.


Chapter 22 - A New Face, An Old Friend

Spike stepped out of the room and immediately began sweeping his gaze up and down the long corridor. His anxiety kicked up a notch when he found no evidence of Buffy. But then there she was. She took long strides toward him, her face showing the fear and worry that had been haunting her all day.

He met her halfway down the hall his arms already opened wide to receive her. She stepped into his embrace and let her cheek fall against his chest, breathing in the scent of him. They stood holding each other close with no thought for anyone else until Giles cleared his throat.

"Maybe we should go back to the hotel. Plan our strategy since it doesn't look like they're going to be dropping the investigation into you anytime soon." Giles suggested a faint shade of pink creeping up his neck and over his cheeks at the intimate display he was witnessing.

"What does he mean?" Buffy asked, taking a step away and looking up into Will's eyes. "Didn't they check with the rental company?"

Spike sighed, and ran a free hand through his rumpled hair. "It's not as simple as that, luv. Since I was alone for most of the night, and the accident didn't occur until pretty late, they don't consider it proof that I didn't go after the wanker before hand and then stage the accident to explain away my bruises. In fact, I think it might make me look even guiltier."

"Oh, Will." Buffy hugged him tightly before taking his hand and starting back down the hall that would take them out of the precinct.

The rest of the gang was waiting in Spike and Buffy's suite when they returned. The boys had left earlier when Buffy had arrived at the station. "How did it go?" Lorne asked as soon as they walked in.

Spike gave them a frustrated stare before dry washing his face with his right hand. "Not bloody well." He answered, sitting down hard on the sofa and pulling Buffy down with him.

"Spike, man, we're sorry." Xander blurted, his face flushed with guilt.

"Why are you sorry, mate? I got myself into this mess." Spike answered puzzled.

"They confiscated the tapes today." Wesley answered for Xander. "There was nothing we could do."

"Tapes?" Buffy asked, her brow furrowed. This whole thing had been like one gigantic nightmare. And now it seemed she was having trouble following the conversational thread.

"Yes, from the night we took down Angel." Wesley clarified.

"What about them?" Buffy asked, still confused.

"Spike got a little...upset. He was...beating Angel, mostly in self defense mind you, when the rest of us finally made the scene." Lorne explained. "The tapes were still running and they caught Spike threatening to kill Angel if he ever came near you again."

"So, what?" Buffy's exclamation rang loudly through the suite. "That's just something he said cause he was angry and scared for me and...and...and they should know that!"

"Whether they know it or not, it's just another piece of evidence they'll be using at trial." Giles inserted.

Just then a soft knock was heard to which Giles stood quickly, "I'll get that." The sextet heard soft murmurs coming from the foyer and then Giles returned with a woman none of them had seen before. "Will, this is Joyce. Joyce Monroe. She's the lawyer I told you about."

Spike stood and offered his hand, murmuring a soft thank you for her assistance. He watched her as she shook hands with the rest of the group. She looked casual, but professional at the same time. Her long blonde hair curled softly just past her shoulders, and her eyes gave off a wise yet compassionate glow. Spike immediately felt more at ease now that he'd met her. He turned back to Buffy to see her smiling at the new comer as well.

"I'm sorry we have to meet under such unpleasant circumstances. Rupert's told me so much about both of you." Joyce smiled down at them.

At the mention of Giles' first name Spike gave the old man a smirk. "Rupert, huh?"

To everyone's amusement Giles blushed. "Yes, well, I told you that Joyce and I were old friends."

Joyce just smiled and held her tongue. She found Rupert's flushed cheeks adorable. Instead of commenting she took a seat and opened her briefcase. She took out a legal pad and pen, and waited to catch Will's attention. Eventually the teasing glint left the youngster's eye and he sat back down next to his girl.

"Rupert's," Joyce paused to smile at the snickers the name evoked. "Rupert's briefed me on your case, but I'd like to hear everything once more from you."

Spike went over the last week in detail, though his voice was without inflection. It was almost as if he were reciting something he'd memorized years ago. It was weird because part of him felt like everything had just happened yesterday. And then another part of him felt like it had been decades since he'd thought he'd lost Buffy forever. The arm around her waist squeezed automatically, almost as if to reassure himself that she was still there.

"And that's everything?" Joyce asked, taking some final notes. When Will didn't answer she looked up to find his gaze wandering around the room. She wondered at that for a moment, but then he did look up to meet her stare and nod. But then he turned his head away once more and was again letting his eyes roam the room. "So there was nobody that might have seen you at any time after you left the rental company last night?"

"No, I'm afraid not." Spike answered, his gaze now fixed on the world just outside the glass of the balcony doors.

"You didn't stop for gas, or anything else?" Joyce pushed.

"No, the bike's tank was full when I rented it. The only person I saw last night was the tow truck guy that picked up the bike after my fall. And the taxi driver that brought me back to the hotel." Spike answered, almost absently.

"With Angel's time of death set at around 9pm, it doesn't look good for you. You didn't call in the accident until after 10 and you left the rental company just before 7. The prosecution is probably having a field day knowing that all the time is unaccounted for." Joyce informed them.

"So you think they're going to charge him for sure? But he didn't do it!" Buffy's cry was indignant. She knew Joyce wasn't at fault, but she felt like she had to yell at somebody.

"We all know that Buffy, but the prosecution does have a good case. Will had both opportunity and motive."

Buffy's lip began to tremble as she tried to fight back the tears. How could this be happening?

"Don't worry Buffy, we won't let Spike go to jail." Willow reassured her, looking up at Wesley for confirmation.

"Of course not. Xander, Lorne, and I will be out first thing in the morning to hunt down evidence. Spike didn't kill Angel. But somebody did. We'll find out who." Wesley was adamant.

"Maybe we should all get some rest." Giles suggested. Everybody stood except for Spike and Buffy, who were too emotionally exhausted to do more than wave goodnight to everyone. "We'll be by around 9am tomorrow to continue our discussions."

The door closed shut behind them, leaving Buffy and Spike snuggled together on the couch. Spike tilted his head just enough to land a kiss atop Buffy's hair. "Don't worry, kitten. Everything will turn out right, you'll see."

"Will, I'm so worried." Buffy tunneled further into Spike's embrace. "What if the guys can't find anything? What if the police really think you did it?"

"No worries, luv. I didn't kill Angel. I'm not going to jail." Spike's voice was resolute.

"But there are plenty of innocent people in jail, Will. Sometimes it takes years to prove them innocent, and sometime they never do." Buffy's lip was trembling again, and Spike could feel her tiny body shuddering against his. He wrapped his arms around her and let his palms rub warm circles on her back.

"That's not going to happen, Buffy. Trust me." He whispered, letting his lips linger by her ear, his breath tickling the short hairs of her neck. When she sighed and leaned in further, Spike let his lips touch down tasting her sweet skin.

"I do trust you, Will...mmmm...Of course I do." Buffy tilted her head to give him further access to her neck. She loved the feel of his soft lips against her. Closing her eyes to enjoy the sensation she was surprised when she felt herself lifted off the couch. When she was laid gently on top of the bed spread she opened her eyes to find Will watching her intently.

"I can't believe we're here, luv." His eyes were so full of love for her she could hardly breathe. "I can't believe that I can stand here, watching you, loving you, and not have to hide a thing." He was slowly shedding his clothes as he spoke, moving closer and closer to her prone figure. "I can't believe that I can stand in front of you, say 'I love you', and actually expect you to say it back."

"I do love you, Will." Buffy insisted quietly.

"I know, luv." He whispered, crawling on his hands and knees until he was lying atop her. "That's how I know everything will turn out right in the end. Because we're here. Because you love me." And then he kissed her.

Buffy gave herself up to the kiss, her body heating up from the contact. Soon she was so hot she couldn't stand it anymore and began to try wriggling out of her clothes. Spike noticed and reached down to settle her. "Let me, luv." He whispered in her ear, nipping at the enticing lobe before pulling away enough to unbutton the front of her blouse. One by one he took each piece of clothing off her, kissing the newly exposed skin as he went.

When she was naked, he returned to his previous position, their bodies now flush skin to skin. They kissed for a few more quiet moments, until Spike could feel Buffy's hips thrusting up toward his own in a silent plea for more. He sheathed himself quickly and then slid into her warmth, exhaling roughly at the feel of her against him.

He began a slow rhythm, whispering his love and devotion over and over again as he went. He'd held in his feelings for her for so long, that the freedom to tell her exactly what he was feeling made him giddy. "I love you, Buffy. Love you." He rambled between kisses. And then all he could do was feel. He sped up his rhythm, his breath coming in harsh bursts. He let his hands wander, touching her, delighting in the moans of pleasure that each feather light touch induced. And when he felt her let go, felt her shuddering around him, he exploded. "Buffy!"

"I love you, Will." Buffy murmured sleepily as they both drifted off, exhausted.

And Spike was filled with warmth. Buffy loved him. Whatever else happened they get through it together. He kissed her lightly on the forehead, snuggling her close against his side before he too drifted into dreams.


Chapter 23 - Musings and Speculations

Spike chewed nervously on his bottom lip, a habit he'd unconsciously acquired from Buffy, as both Joyce and Giles paced in front him. They were going over every detail of his activities last night for about the fifteenth time. Both lawyers were determined to find some small detail that might have been forgotten, something that may prove or at least lead to proof of his innocence.

The police had not yet made an actual arrest, but no one really doubted that they would. Although so far all the evidence gathered against Spike had been circumstantial, enough of it could still guarantee a trial and possibly a conviction.

Spike was getting tired of repeating his story over and over again, but he continued without complaint. He could tell that Giles was extremely worried, which made his own worry double. Last night he'd been lost in the bliss of having Buffy by his side and had thought that they could conquer any obstacles together. But in the harsh light of day, things seemed much bleaker. What would he do if they actually convicted him?

Finally they took a short break, and Spike stepped outside to have a smoke. It had actually been years since his last cigarette. He even kept his older lighter with him as a reminder his resolve but the events of the past two weeks had pushed him back into his old bad habits. He'd pretty much begged Xander to buy him a pack at the shop downstairs, trying his best to ignore Buffy's disapproving looks.

Thankfully the girls had insisted that Buffy join them in Willow and Wesley's room while the boys were out hunting down clues, not that there was much to go on. Buffy had hesitated at first, not wanting to leave him, but Spike reassured her that he would be fine and that he wanted her to have some time to decompress. After his promise to call is he needed anything, she reluctantly agreed. So now Spike was free to step out on the balcony and have a smoke.

Spike tapped out a cigarette from the newly opened pack and lit it with a deep dragging breath. He held the smoke in his lungs, letting himself feel the slight euphoria of once more taking up an old but comforting addiction. He blew out the breath he'd held, letting the smoke spill out of his mouth and into the salty air. He fiddled with the matchbook he'd found in the bedside table as he pondered the events of the past few days.

Glancing behind him he saw Giles and Joyce talking, their heads bowed close together. For a brief moment Spike let himself wonder whether their intimacy stemmed from more than just a casual acquaintance in law school oh so many years ago. But then his thoughts returned to his current predicament. How had he gotten himself into this mess?

He shivered slightly at the breeze coming off the ocean, hugging his arms around his own waist to ward off the chill. He still couldn't believe that Angel was dead. Buffy had said she'd seen his lifeless body with her own eyes, but Spike still felt as if the whole situation was a bit surreal. Like something out of a Dali painting, where everything is crooked and skewed.

He took another puff, exhaling slowly. Spike hadn't felt like he'd had any time to think to reason out what he should do. He'd known the moment Buffy had asked him what had happened the other night, he should have told her the *entire* truth, but he hadn't wanted to upset her. And he wasn't sure what he should do.

"Will?" Spike was jolted out of his reverie when Giles poked his head through the open door and beckoned him back into the room.

Spike joined them back in the main suite, once again flopping down on the sofa cushions. For now he was just going to hope for the best, it was too late to change his story now at least not without repercussions he wasn't sure he was ready to face.


"Do you think Harmony could have done it?" Cordelia asked as she munched on an apple from the room service cart they'd ordered.

"Done what?" Buffy muttered after swallowing a large gulp of her iced tea.

"You know, Angel. Do you think she could have killed him?"

"What?!" Buffy was shocked, she turned to see what her other friends thought only to find them all looking at her in silent expectation. "No. You guys didn't see her. She was shocked, devastated when we identified the body. There's no way she could have been faking that reaction. And the whole way over there, I could see how much she was hoping it wasn't going to be true. No. No way." Buffy shook her head.

"What do you think happened?" Willow asked, nibbling at one of the croissants while handing over another to Tara.

"I don't know. God, I wish we had some clue!" Buffy exclaimed. "I hope it wasn't just some random mugging gone wrong or something. They'll never find the killer then, and all they'll have is Spike." Buffy looked up worriedly.

"Don't worry. The guys will find something. I'm sure they'll find something that'll show that Spike wasn't the one." Willow tried to reassure her friend.

They ate in silence for a few minutes, all four speculating on who might have killed Angel. Doubtless he had many enemies, the guy was a jerk and half, but how many of them had access to him here on the island? How many people even knew he'd be at this conference? When Buffy reached for her orange juice, she was so lost in thought she fumbled the glass and ended up spilling the sticky fluid all over her pants forcing her to make a break for the bathroom to wash out what she could.

Tara turned to the other girls, wondering how she was supposed to bring up the subject on her mind. Before she could speak, Cordelia did it for her. "Do you guys think Spike *could* have done it?"

"Cordelia!" Willow was aghast.

"Hey! Look, I know he wouldn't have *planned* on killing Angel, but you saw him while Buffy was missing. He would have done anything to get her back."

Tara nodded at Cordelia's assessment. "And he did go a little beserky at the courthouse."

"The jerk was leering at Buffy. He threatened her!" Willow exclaimed surprised at her friends' doubts.

"Exactly." Cordelia pronounced. "Spike was the one who said he'd kill Angel if he ever went near Buffy again. And there Angel was, threatening her, goading Spike on."

Buffy stood just outside the main suite listening to her friends' speculations. Did they actually think Spike could kill someone? Was there any possible truth to what they were saying?

"But Angel was beaten *and* shot. Whoever did it must have planned it if they brought a gun with them." Willow pointed out. "Do either of you really think it could have been Spike?"

Buffy heard the hesitation in Willow's voice and decided that she'd had enough. She reentered the room noticing that all three friends were suddenly busy refilling their small plates with fruit and bread. Her mind was reeling at the conversation she'd overheard, but she was too chicken to bring it up. She didn't want to talk about it. God, she didn't even want to think about it.

What if they were right?


"What exactly are we looking for?" Lorne asked, searching the ground with his eyes.

"Anything." Xander replied absently.

"Uh, not much of a help there, Xan." Lorne answered still unsure what a good piece of evidence looked like.

"Anything out of the ordinary." Wesley supplied. "Anything you think doesn't belong. Or possibly anything that looks new enough to have been dropped here within the past 24 hours."

"How can I tell that?" Lorne asked, now crouching low to the ground and sifting through piles of debris.

"It's really just guessing. Anything that doesn't look like it's been stomped into the ground by about 50,000 tourists. We can send whatever we think is important to the labs for testing." Xander replied. "Or if you want to find the killers wallet with ID in it, I wouldn't object."

Lorne gave Xander a halfhearted smile, wishing it were that easy. Lorne stood and surveyed the area. It wasn't a particularly popular tourist spot, but it wasn't exactly remote either. They were in the gardens in front of a small pool fed by a waterfall. It was less than half a mile from the main road, but there was enough foliage to cover whatever activities had occurred here the previous night.

The body had been discovered by a family of tourists early that morning, and the area had been cordoned off. Lorne wasn't sure how Xander and Wesley had gotten them past the patrolmen, but they had. Since they hadn't found anything significant in the area closest to the body, they decided to widen their perimeter. They were now exploring about 500 or 600 yards from the actual murder site.

"Holy crap." Lorne's head snapped up at Xander's exclamation.


Spike was still ruminating on what Giles had told him about the possibilities of a trial, when the guys strode into the room. He looked up prepared to give a friendly greeting when he caught the look in Xander's eyes.

"What is it? What did you find?" Spike looked at them all in turn, hoping for some answers.

"Where's Buffy?" Wesley asked quietly, ignoring Spike's question.

"She's with the girls in your room, mate. What's going on?" Spike asked, worried now.

"Good." Wesley answered, taking a seat next to Spike on the couch. Xander sat on his other side, while Lorne took the chair next to the small circular reading table.

"Tell us what really happened last night, Spike." Xander finally spoke.

"What do you mean?" Spike looked around nervously.

"You wanna know what we found? This." Xander thrust out his hand, palm up.

When Spike looked down the knot in his stomach grew until he felt like doubling over. In Xander's hand was a small sleek black lighter, filigreed with vines that circled the base and two small letters carved in it's side; W.H.

Spike paled at the looks his friends were giving him. "I - "

"Spike, man, none of us believe that you killed that guy. You could have, yeah, while he had Buffy, but not like this. Angel was executed. Shot in the head. We know you didn't do it." Xander emphasized their belief in him. "But you have to explain this." Xander held up his hand once again. "We can't help you unless we know all the facts. Unless you tell us the truth about last night."

Spike opened his mouth to speak when he was once again interrupted. "Spike?" Buffy stood in the entranceway face a mask of confusion, expression one of bewilderment.


Chapter 24 - Confessions

"Luv, it's not what you think." Spike began.

"I think you lied to me."

Spike bowed his head. "You're right, Buffy. I'm sorry. I only wanted to protect you."

"Protect me?" The words came out whisper. "What have you done, Spike?"

"Nothing, luv! Not that! Just meant I lied to protect you, didn't want to scare or worry you, 's all." Spike explained. "I rented a bike, just like I told you, luv. I drove for a bit, trying to clear my head. I stopped at a quiet spot; there was a sign for a waterfall or so some such. I followed the trail and..."

"And what Spike?" Wesley prompted.

"I stayed there for awhile, just thinking, yeah?" Spike looked up fear and nerves showing throw his face. "There was a noise, and when I turned it was him. *He* followed me. He was angry, and shouting, couldn't even make out the words. He came at me. I only defended myself, luv, that's all." Spike looked at Buffy with pleading eyes.

"Did you kill him, Spike?" Buffy couldn't get her voice above a whisper. She tried but it was so dry it hurt to even speak.

"No, luv, no. He was alive when I left. I only gave him some bruises. 'S all."

"And the accident?" Xander asked.

"I *did* have an accident. I was shaken from the fight. And I was in a hurry to get back to Buffy. And it *was* beginning to rain. Lost control, but it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Most of the cuts and bruises were from the fight, not the fall."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Buffy asked a wounded look on her face.

"You were already so worried. And then afterwards I was glad I hadn't told you. You told me that was one of your biggest fears that he would come after me. You were *crying*, luv. How was I supposed to tell you then?" Spike asked.

They were all silent for a moment, taking in Spike's confession. Then Spike stood and strode over to Buffy, still standing in the entranceway of their suite. "Do you believe me, luv?" He took her hand in his and begged with his eyes.

"Of course I believe you, Will." Buffy responded automatically. Spike might have lied to her, but he wasn't a killer. Buffy knew that. "I just wish you'd been honest with me."

"I know, Buffy. I'm so sorry, kitten. But that's all. That's everything. I promise." They kissed briefly before Buffy looked up at the rest of the gang.

"Okay, so what are we going to do about this? The fact that Will was there will just make him look even guiltier. He's the one who actually beat Angel up. What we have to do is find the guy with the gun. You guys didn't find anything else while you were there?" Buffy asked hopefully.

"No, sorry. The police had already been through, and not much was left. Luckily Spike's lighter was, at least." Wesley answered.

"We need to concentrate on Angel's background check. Obviously the killer knew him. They didn't take his wallet, or anything, so it wasn't a robbery, right?" Buffy asked. "So it's got to be someone he knows."

"Okay, so we're concentrating on ex-girlfriends, employees, debt collectors, that sort of thing." Xander wrote everything down in his little notebook as he spoke. "We're already on it. The guys at the office have been working 24/7. I'll get a progress report from them tonight."

"Someone needs to go get Giles. He needs to know what happened." Buffy prompted. She felt Spike wincing beside her and squeezed his arm. "You know it's for the best."

"He'll be so disappointed in me, luv." Spike said forlornly.

Buffy knew that Spike saw Giles as a sort of father figure. His own dad had been gone for a long while before Giles had entered the picture. But when he had the two had formed a very close father/son relationship. "He'll understand." She reassured him.

They waited, holding each other close, until Giles appeared.


"Well, I do wish you'd told me this when I first arrived, Will." Giles admonished. "There's nothing for it now, but to go to the police and explain."

"What? Why should we tell them if they don't already know?" Buffy was worried.

"It will look better if we go and explain that Will just wanted to wait to consult with me before he told them about the encounter. If we continue to hide it and they do find out, it will just make you look all the more guilty." Giles explained.

"I'm sorry, Giles." Spike muttered, not looking his old friend in the eye.

Giles leaned down and placed a warm hand on Spike's knee, making the young man look up. "Will, I know you. You don't have to hide things from me, you know I'd never believe you capable of such acts. I *am* disappointed. But only because you felt you couldn't trust me."

"I *do* trust you, Giles. I just didn't want to disappoint you. Guess I buggered the whole thing up, yeah?" Spike looked away sheepishly.

"Don't worry, Will. It will all work out. I won't let them send you to prison." Giles assured him.

Spike took comfort in Giles' words. The man had always been a strong source of support in his life, and he leaned on him now. Wanting to believe. Wanting to lose himself in dreams of a future; a future with Buffy, away from this place, and all thoughts of a jealousy and anger and the bleakness of a life without his love.


Buffy watched as Will's chest rose and fell in sleep. She turned spreading her hand in front of her, studying the shining jewel on her finger. Had it only been days ago that she'd been so incredibly happy? That Will had proposed and her life had begun to take on the hue and color of the dreams she'd had for so long? Tears formed in her eyes while she studied the object on her finger. What was going to happen now? Tomorrow morning Spike and Giles were going back down to the police station. They were going to confess that Spike had seen Angel that night and that they had even fought. Would they arrest him right there and then? Would he even be able to come back to the hotel?

She wished she could go with him. Just in case. But she had other things to do. Other things that might help clear Will's name. She had called Harmony and she and the girls were meeting her for breakfast in the lobby. They were going to pick her brain. See if there was anyone or anything she remembered that may help to figure out who exactly it was that killed Angel. The police had already questioned her, but Buffy had a bit more incentive to dig for the truth. While the guys began to track down leads from the background check, Buffy and the girls would be doing their own investigation.

Buffy looked down once more watching Will's lashes flutter against his pale cheeks. He was so beautiful sometimes that it took Buffy's breath away, though he stammered denials whenever she said it aloud. Leaning down she kissed him gently on the lips, waiting until his eyes fluttered open and stared into her own.

"Hey, lover." Buffy whispered. Then she kissed him again, letting her lips linger and her hands wander. She felt the lean muscles of his abdomen ripple beneath her touch, his body arching to meet the warmth of her fingers.

They didn't speak, not needing words to express the way they felt. The love, the desperation, the desire that coursed through them at the uncertainty of what was to follow. Buffy slipped out of her nightshirt, naked now, her nipples hard and rubbing against Spike's own. Buffy sighed as Spike pushed into her, their bodies connecting, making them one.

They made love slowly, soft murmurs and sweet sighs echoing through the room. Buffy lost herself in him, wanting to keep this night, this moment forever. She couldn't pinpoint the moment but in an instant they went from slow and lazy to hard and fast. She felt it as her body quickened and tightened, crying out his name when she came. Two or three breaths later and Spike was murmuring his love and spilling himself inside her.

They drifted off to sleep, Buffy holding on to the moment. Not willing to let it go. Wanting to dream of Will and love and togetherness rather than the awful what if of tomorrow.