Spike awoke to a scream from Cordelia down the hall. Even though he was startled, he still recognized the scream’s caliber for what it was, and it was anything but fright. His mouth curved into a harsh smile as he realized that his sire had finally got his balls back and was doing what he should’ve been doing for a month now. He was happy for Cordelia; he really was. But the knowledge that they’d made up only intensified the loss of Buffy, only increased the pain that he felt.
Knowing it was nearly dawn, Spike dragged himself from bed even as his body screamed to remain asleep. He’d only been out for an hour at most, his internal clock keeping vampire hours despite his immunity to the sun. It was hard to adjust to human hours, but Spike had discovered the beauty of the sunrise, and he made it a point to view it as often as possible.
Throwing on his jeans and avoiding his shirt, Spike strode out of the room and walked down stairs, ignoring his rumbling stomach as the first rays of light began to cast a dim glow over the lobby. He walked outside into the courtyard, pulling a newly purchased chaise lounge out into what was certain to be the path of the morning sun.
Facing east, he reclined on the lounge and smiled wanly as the sun began to turn the sky from midnight blue to a pretty violet, then fingers of pink and orange as it peaked over the horizon. He waited, needing the warmth of the sun to reassure him that he was alive, to help him get through this life that seemed less worth living with every day that passed. He needed Buffy so badly, but it was over. His immortal existence wasn’t going to be brightened by her presence, and he had to get used to the idea.
“Spike.” The words came from behind him, from the shadows, so softly he thought his mind was playing tricks on him. Her scent surrounded him and he groaned. Closing his eyes, he raised hands to his temples and shook his head.
“Stop it,” he begged. “I had enough with the god-awful mind games on the hell mouth. She’s not coming back, mate. She doesn’t love you. Be a man and ignore it!” His little self-deprecating speech did nothing to dim the strength of her scent or the taunting buzz of her presence.
“Spike.” Her voice was stronger now, and he watched with wonder as she materialized from the shadows, her blonde hair gleaming in the first fingers of early morning light. He could see tears glistening in her eyes as she looked at him, her mouth pursed as she tried to keep from crying. Her fingers fisted at her sides as if she itched to touch him, but wouldn’t let herself.
Buffy stared at him with a mixture of longing and love, but a healthy dose of uncertainty stopped her from acting on those feelings. She’d walked all around the city this morning, mindlessly, knowing that she would end up back here but unsure as to whether he would take her back. She loved him, whether he’d slept with Cordelia or not. She needed him. She needed him so badly that she was afraid she’d shrivel up and die without him.
Once, long ago, he’d said that she belonged in the darkness with him. At the time, he was half right. She did belong with him, although not in the darkness. She belonged in the light, with him in the light. Since getting his soul, he was the one person that kept her from the darkness, as ironic as that was, and she was afraid that she’d squandered her last chance.
“I’m sorry, Spike.” Her voice was barely a whisper, but he hung onto every word like it would save his life. “I love you and I’m sorry,” she said, coming closer to him until she was just inches away, the air between them buzzing with the electricity of their nearness.
“What are you sorry for, luv?” he said hoarsely. He didn’t want her to go through the pain, but he needed her to say it. He needed to know that she realized they were meant to be, not just thrown together.
The tears spilled over as the hateful words she’d said rang back in her head. “I’m sorry for accusing you of ignoring your soul. I’m sorry for being such a bitch to you when you tried to tell me you loved me. And I’m sorry for doubting you.”
Still not touching her, Spike gazed up into her face as her apology washed over him. But his own guilt remained, and it need to be dealt with. “I didn’t sleep with the cheerleader, Slayer. I didn’t touch her like that, because you’re all that I need, all that I want. I’m sorry I rubbed our friendship in your face and made it out to be more than it was, but I was hurting so badly, watching you with Angel, that I needed you to hurt, too.”
She smiled wryly through her tears. “It worked,” she said.
The cleared air hovered between them, the relief making both of their bodies sag as the tension drained away. Suddenly not being able to take the separation any longer, Spike bounded up from the chair and towered over her, cupping her face in his hands.
“Are you here forever, Buffy? Are you going to stay with me and love me like I love you?” he asked, his blue eyes deep with intensity.
She nodded, her cheeks rubbing against his roughened palms. “I’m here forever, Spike. I’m still the Slayer, and I can’t turn my back on that, but I want you by my side, in my bed, in my life until I die. I love you.”
“God, I love you, Buffy,” he breathed, and his mouth finally collided with hers. Their passion was frenzied, a strong flame that was stoked and nurtured until it consumed them both. She jumped until her legs were wrapped around him, her mouth slanted over his as he tilted his head up to adjust for the new angle. Fingers and hands stroked everywhere, his making their way up inside her top, grazing the untethered breasts that hardened and swelled for him. His mouth broke away from hers and he latched his cool lips around one distended nipple, her back arching as his mouth sent fingers of pleasure all the way to the tips of her hair and toenails. Her hands roamed the narrow expanse of his back, teasing the muscles there. She brought them around the front, gently caressing the nearly-healed puncture wounds from last night, fleetingly realizing how close she’d come to losing him. Frantic at the thought, she rubbed against him, his arousal pressing against the worn fly of his jeans and into the junction of her thighs.
Finally pulling his head back, Spike looked up at her with arouse-glazed eyes, loving the way her face was flushed and her eyes had dilated to nearly black.
Their position suddenly reminded them both of their first time together, that first violent mating in the abandoned building in Sunnydale that had brought them, kicking and screaming, into a relationship that would both destroy and complete them both. They stopped, their bodies throbbing, as everything came full circle. Suddenly, it all seemed right, all seemed complete. He backed up until he was against a pillar, the morning light spilling over their disheveled, glistening bodies, and brought into this reminiscent act the one ingredient that had been missing that fateful night so long ago.
“I love you, Buffy,” he whispered, his hand squeezing her ass as he pulled her against him.
She leaned down, kissing him hotly, her tongue tracing his teeth and the inside of his lips, then pulled back. “I love you, too, Spike. Forever,” she vowed.
Reaching down, she unzipped his fly and freed him, he pushed aside her skirt and panties and entered her in one swift thrust. They both groaned as the bittersweet memories of their first time were washed away by the amazing sensations of now, by the joining that finally seemed to bring them both the fulfillment that they’d always sought but had not yet found. Their souls felt whole as their bodies joined, the act of making love finally brining them the peace that had eluded them for so long.
Locking their gazes together, Buffy began to move against him, impaling herself on him, and the pleasure spiraled nearly out of control. As the pressure built, she whispered her love, then he whispered his, and it became a chant between them, a mantra that solidified and cemented their commitment.
In the moment of her climax, Buffy screamed the words, “I love you!” her eyes never leaving his, even as her body convulsed around him.
His cry echoed hers as he emptied himself inside of her, clutching her to him as if he’d never let her go. On wobbly legs, he brought them, still joined, to the chaise lounge, lowering himself into it and bringing her to rest on top of him. She snuggled against him, burying her face in the crook of his neck and kissing him languidly, the warmth of the morning sun surrounding them in a warm cocoon of security.
She had been right, that painful day so long ago. She had been right when she said that their relationship was killing her, that she couldn’t go on like they had been. Because even though he’d loved her with every fiber of his demonic being, two very important things had been missing. He didn’t have a soul, and couldn’t love her in the way she craved to be loved. And she didn’t have hope, didn’t have the will to continue a life that threatened to destroy her.
Now, though, he’d found his soul and was complete with it. And in doing so, he became that hope that she needed. He filled the hole that had been ripped in her being when she was torn from heaven. It had been a long, difficult journey apart from each other, but they were finally at a place where they were meant to be. Because of that painful time apart, they were able to be fused together, their souls, hearts, and minds, in a healthy, loving way that would see them through to the end of their existence.
Cordelia awoke before Angel, her eyes sliding open heavily as she took in the darkened room, barely lit by the tiny slivers of light that escaped from the edges of the heavy drapes. Angel had a solid grip on her waist, pulling her back into him, her bottom pressing up against his dream-induced arousal.
Smiling, she turned in his arms, giggling as he growled and tightened his grip as if he thought she were trying to escape. Face to face with him, she let her nose brush against his in the briefest of Eskimo kisses, inhaling the cool scent that was uniquely Angel. She touched her lips to his forehead, then between his eyes, then his nose, his chin, and finally his lips. Her tongue darted out to taste him, knowing somehow that he was still between sleep and awake, just enjoying the sensation of her lips on him.
The moment her tongue touched his lips, Angel gripped her tighter and took over the kiss. She squealed in surprise, then opened her mouth to his assault. He plundered her, sucking her tongue into his mouth and stroking it with his own. She rubbed against him, moaning, and he cupped her ass to keep her there.
Finally, he moved away and stared down at her, his hair disheveled from sleep, spikier than normal.
“Morning, baby,” he said in a half-growl. “You’re playing with fire, you know that?”
“Um-hmm,” she answered lazily. “Just looking for a little morning nookie.” Her eyes sparkled. “What’s the harm in that?”
“Nookie?” he said, the strange term rolling off his tongue. “If that’s what I think it means, I’m very happy to accommodate you.”
“Great!” she practically breathed as his mouth attached itself to her neck, his tongue and teeth scraping over her pulse point. He licked her there, fighting his demon to keep from claiming her, knowing she wasn’t ready for that yet.
Reaching a hand down between them, Angel found that she was more than ready for him. Without any warning, he entered her swiftly and she sighed, her eyes crossing before they closed. “I think I could get used to this kind of alarm clock,” she said breathlessly as he began to move.
He just smiled wickedly and used his body to bring her to a screamingly pleasurable orgasm. Only then did he release himself inside her, shuddering with the intensity of it, just as he had so many times the night before.
Cordelia snuggled up against him as he rolled away from her, assuming the position she’d woken in. Now that she was sated, satisfied, she brought up the one remaining question from their talk last night.
“So what are we going to do about Connor?” she asked point blank.
“Connor?” Angel asked, startled. He peered down at her with a puzzled expression. “Nothing. Connor’s happy. Happier than he’s ever been, and I don’t want to take that away from him.”
“But you’re not, Angel. You aren’t happy because you don’t have him. Even making up with me, as great as that is, doesn’t bring you the bliss you deserve. You need your son back.”
“I know that I’m not as happy as I could be, but it’s way more than I ever expected and it’s enough. Connor’s happiness is more important,” he said emphatically, and Cordelia knew the discussion was closed. For now, anyway.
They were quiet for a moment more before Angel spoke. “I really need to get out of the firm. After what they did to you. . .”
She could feel the tension building in his body. “Shhh, Angel,” she soothed, stroking his chest. “We’ll figure out a way to make them pay.”
“I just don’t like being in charge of so much evil. The line between good and bad has been so muddled that I can hardly make sense out of it. And since you’re safe now, I just want to get out.”
“Maybe Wesley can help,” Cordelia said. “I haven’t seen him since I came back, but he didn’t seem very happy to be working there, either.”
“I think you’re right,” Angel agreed. “We’ll talk to him soon, okay?”
She nodded, and snuggled into him. They may actually be getting somewhere. Their lives were back together, aligned for once, and only one, albeit huge, obstacle marred the expanse of their paradise. Somehow they’d find a way around the evil law firm that threatened to destroy them. Someday.
A few hours later, Angel and Cordelia descended the stairs, feeling smothered as they’d donned their clothes again. All they wanted was to lose themselves in each other for the rest of eternity, but their rumbling stomachs had had other ideas. After a much-longer than intended, but extremely satisfying shower, they’d finally dragged themselves from the safe haven of Cordelia’s room and made their way downstairs.
Cordelia’s face lit up into a smile as she saw the scene that awaited them. In the kitchen, cuddled up at the table, were Spike and Buffy. They were talking softly to each other, both drenched in each other’s scent and oblivious to anything further than three inches away from each other.
Angel cleared his throat loudly and they broke apart, looking up at the other couple with no trace of embarrassment in their eyes. They were both too happy.
Cordelia raised her eyebrow and smiled at them before walking over to the refrigerator. “Looks like you two have patched things up,” she commented.
“Yeah,” Spike said with a grin as he tightened his grasp on Buffy. “And I heard the two of you going at it last night. Sounded like a brothel.”
Angel just chuckled as he sat down across from them, surprised that he felt nothing but joy for his friends as he watched Buffy and Spike together.
Cordelia blushed, but she was saved anyone noticing because her back was turned. She’d pulled a jug of blood from the fridge and was fixing Angel his breakfast.
Pointedly ignoring his bawdy insinuations, Cordelia asked, “Had breakfast yet, Spike?”
“Nope,” he said.
“I haven’t given him time,” Buffy said slyly, snuggling in closer.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Please, I don’t need the details. I’m in my own post mind-blowing sex haze here, don’t need it polluted by yours.”
Buffy looked up from Spike finally, noticing that Cordelia was pulling another mug from the cabinet and filling it with blood. She popped both of them into the microwave, pushing the buttons to warm them to just the right temperature.
Scrunching up her nose, Buffy rose from Spike’s lap and walked over to the microwave, peering inside.
“Eww. There’s just something so wrong about this. It’s like giving an alcoholic a bottle of Jack Daniels or something.”
“Actually, it’s pretty far from it,” Cordelia defended. “It’s more like giving a starving man a sandwich, if you ask me. And its part of who they are, Buffy. You can’t get away from it.”
“I know,” she said. Looking up at Cordelia, she saw the friendship reflected in the other woman’s eyes. “I don’t want to get away from it.”
As if to punctuate her statement, Buffy pulled the mugs out of the microwave when it beeped at the end of the cycle. Handing one to Cordelia, she took the other over to Spike and handed it to him, lifting it to his lips as he drank.
For Spike, the moment was poignant. In that one, simple gesture, Buffy was showing that she loved him. All of him. That she was willing to accept him, just like Cordelia had always so blithely accepted Angel’s demon.
Angel sighed with satisfaction as he enjoyed both his breakfast and the warm body snuggled up against him. Cordelia had pulled a chair over close to him, picked up his arm, and draped it around her. She had one leg hooked over his knee, pulling herself fully into his side.
He saw the looks that Buffy and Spike were exchanging, and decided it was time to begin working on the rocky relationship he’d always had with his grandchilde. He may not care for Spike all that much, but at least he was likable now, what with his soul and all.
Staring across the edge of his mug at the blonde couple, he said, “Glad to see I’m not the only whipped vampire around here.”
Spike nearly choked on his blood as he glared at Angel. “I am not whipped,” he groused.
“Spike,” Buffy said in a sultry, sing-song voice. His eyes immediately shot toward hers, and she pushed her bottom lip out in a pouty, cute way. “Will you do something for me? Please?” She stroked his chest in a spot she’d discovered was ultra sensitive. He shuddered, his nerves still raw from their previous encounters that morning.
“Anything, pet,” he said, purring under the words.
She just smiled at him, then looked over at Angel, who smirked. “See?” he said, laughing.
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered, gulping down the rest of the blood as he’d seen how he’d been manipulated. “Good thing I love you, Slayer, or I would make you pay for that.”
“You can still make me pay, Spike,” she whispered in his ear, low enough so that Angel even had to strain to make out the words. Not that he wanted to. She licked, then bit his earlobe softly, making him squirm. “You can make me pay until I scream if you want.”
He gulped, only stroking her back as his mind played back fantasies that he’d suppressed during their long separation.
Desperately needing the change in subject to get a hold on his rapidly unmanageable libido, Spike pushed Buffy off of his lap and set her gently in a nearby chair. He turned to Angel, a determined look on his face.
“So, I guess we’ll be out of your hair pretty soon, then,” he said, his face unreadable.
Cordelia sat up straight. “You’re leaving?” she said in dismay. “You’ve hardly been here.”
Spike looked over at Buffy, grabbing her hand and stroking the back of it. He couldn’t stand not touching her for more than a few moments, now that he could. “Buffy’s got commitments to keep, and my place is with her.”
“Spike,” Angel began, then stopped. He squeezed Cordelia tighter, his hand grasping her arm and stroking it as if he needed the reassurance of her presence to continue. “I wouldn’t normally ask this of you, but—”
The heavy silence hung between them as he stopped again.
“Spit it out, Angel,” Cordelia encouraged.
“I need your help, Spike. And yours too, Buffy. I would—” Cordelia elbowed him, and he corrected, “WE would really appreciate it if you could stick around for awhile.”
“Why, Peaches? Big, poofy vamp that you are, can’t handle this on your own?” he mocked, unable to break the old habits so quickly.
Angel stiffened, and it was only Cordelia’s soothing touch on his chest that kept him from growling at his grandchilde. Sometimes, Spike was so damn annoying.
Cordelia explained before Angel took Spike down a few notches. They needed their help, not their anger. “We’ve got a problem, and you two are our best shot at fixing it.”
Buffy and Spike looked at each other, an unreadable message passing between them.
Buffy spoke first. “What do you need?” she said, holding Spike’s hand firmly. “After all, we’re family,” she said, looking from Spike to Angel. Angel nodded, silently thanking her for her blanket acceptance.
“Yeah, Angel. Whatever you need,” Spike sighed, giving into the inevitable. “So what are we talking here? World-ending apocalypses? Master vampires? Out of control demon babies?”
“Not exactly,” Angel said, frowning. He looked down at Cordelia, suddenly afraid to make the declaration of war that would certainly turn their lives inside out.
“God, Angel,” she said, rolling her eyes. “It’s no big deal. We’ll win. We always do. It’s our destiny, remember?”
He nodded, suddenly strengthened by her confidence. He turned to the Slayer and vampire across from him.
“Either of you up for kicking some evil lawyer ass?”
Surrender is a funny thing.
When all is said and done, surrender, the act of sacrificing your body, your heart, your soul, all for the sake of your loved ones, becomes your redemption. The pain and heartache that comes with the sacrifice masks any hope of happiness for the future, but it doesn’t take it away. Happiness is there waiting for you, only to be discovered and snatched up, caressed and cherished as the rare state of being that it is.
Most people never find happiness in the wake of surrender because they can’t get past the ramifications of their selfless act. They wallow in the pain and misery their sacrifice creates, falling into the trap of denial, believing the propaganda and the lies that the enemy floods them with. They see glimpses of the potential to rise up and fight again, but their strength wanes and they lose themselves in desperation that pervades their very existence, draining them of hope for the future. They give up and die anyway, convinced that their dreams are flights of fancy and unattainable, their surrender becoming a loss rather than a delayed victory.
Most people fail at surrender, but you didn’t. They do because they don’t have someone on the outside fighting for them, someone to break through the barriers of denial and self-preservation erected as byproducts of your surrender.
You had someone that fought for you time and time again, someone that cracked the hard shell you’d constructed around yourself, one that had come up stronger and harder than the one you’d erected when you’d made the worst mistake of your existence and screwed your sire.
You had someone that loved you despite your regression to a relationship with your ex-girlfriend that sucked more precious essence from both your hurting souls rather than replenish them.
You had someone that refused to put up with your wallow in self-pity and asked, no, demanded, that you look within yourself and find the man that made her fall in love with you, that made her believe in you.
You had someone who understood why you surrendered in the first place and loved you for your sacrifice.
Because of her, your best friend, your soul mate, surrender became your salvation.