As I wrote this story, I realized there had to be a sequel because there was no way a certain huge secret could stay buried forever. Here's a hint to the events in the sequel, "The Persistence of Memory."
Katie wandered into Spike's office. No one was there, not even Princess. She glanced at the board on the door and saw that someone had signed up to take the dog for a walk.
Feeling abandoned for the umpteenth time in the past few days, Katie dropped into the armchair that used to be hers but that Ms. Summers used an awful lot now. She flicked the remote a few times before stumbling across an old episode of Doctor Who. It was the one where the Doctor couldn't remember who he was because he'd hidden himself from some demony things. There was too much sappy stuff for it to be one of her favorites, but it beat watching Oprah.
Spike's desk was even more of a mess than usual. Katie wondered what he'd been looking for. Probably something for Ms. Summers. Sure enough, there was the folder about her stupid demons, right near the top of the pile. Katie picked it up and started reading. She hadn't remembered that the demons had attacked Ms. Summers and she'd barely gotten away. I wouldn't have had to escape. I'd have figured out how to kill them all, right there and then.
But in spite of her sulks, Katie remembered that if the demons were killed, their hosts would be destroyed too, and that unlike vampires, there were still souls in those host bodies.
Katie sat very still, frowning as she tried to capture a memory. She had a feeling it was very close. Something in this room where she'd spent so much of her time. She breathed in deep. The memory was associated with a smell.
Her eyes snapped open and she stared at a shelf of nasty, moldy old books. There were weird pictures and stories in some of them, things that had fascinated a little girl who was just beginning to read. One of the pictures had had a caption that she remembered sounding out carefully. Something about soulless demons and demons with souls. The repetition of the words had confused her.
Katie started pulling books off the shelf.
Willow drove back to campus late that night, still muttering horrible things about airline connections, O'Hare, and how she'd curse the airport if it wasn't obvious it was cursed already. She was about to turn the car towards her house when she looked up and saw a light in the top floor of the castle tower. "Damn, I hope I just left that on," she snarled, although she was almost certain she hadn't.
Maybe Spike, Buffy, or one of the other teachers had gone up there on a legitimate mission and left the light on.
And maybe one of my little darlings is up to something. She pulled into the lot closest to the castle.
When Willow entered her office, she found Katie sitting next to her desk. She was surrounded by spell books and flickering in and out of visibility. "Honey," she started wearily.
"I know, I know. I'm trying," said Katie almost desperately. She quivered for a moment and her image solidified. "And I know you're tired, but I'm just so excited. I think I found Ms. Summers' demons, Willow!"
"Buffy's demons?" Her mind on the curriculum, Willow thought this might have something to do with Demonology class.
"The ones she asked Spike about. He showed me the folder and I was helping him look up stuff. I wanted to show him, but I don't know where he is." Katie picked up a large book from the desk and thrust it in Willow's direction. "Look! Look where I put the bookmark!"
Willow stepped behind her desk, taking the book and opening it carefully. It had been printed before acid-free paper became the norm, and the pages were yellowed, threatening to crack as she turned them. About a third of the way through the volume was a yellow sticky note. As Katie bounced on her toes with impatience, explaining how she'd climbed up to the tower to see if she could find something to help her understand the spell in the book better, Willow began to read about an encounter with some vampire-like demons that could walk in the daytime and didn't completely destroy the victim's soul.
"It tells how they kicked the demon out of the host," insisted Katie. "That's what you needed to know, isn't it? And look in the middle. There's a picture."
Willow started to feel real excitement as she turned to the second sticky note. It was just possible that Katie had found the information they'd been seeking. All the illustrations in the book were clustered at the center point, and she had to page past some drawings and photographs of other demons before she found the right ones.
"Of course, they just look like humans." Katie sounded disappointed that her find didn't come with more startling visual aids. "But that one woman seems kind of whack."
Willow stared down at the photograph and sat down, her legs shaking. It could have been a picture of a costume party, but only if all the guests except one had decided to dress like characters from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. A small group of men and women were watching a girl in a short, fringed dress who was pulling away from a hand on her arm. The dark-haired woman reaching for her seemed to have wandered in from an earlier century, or maybe from the cover of one of those old novels where the heroine was always running outside at night in something flowy and white.
"The woman who wrote the book said the flapper girl was one of the victims, but she wasn't sure about the lady in the fancy nightgown thing. She doesn't look like she belongs in that crowd, does she?"
Katie kept talking, but Willow didn't hear most of the words. She was staring at the woman in the white dress. It wasn't a face that was easy to forget. She didn't realize she'd said a name out loud until Katie asked excitedly, "Drusilla? You recognize her? Who's Drusilla?"
They'd been playing on the new bed that had arrived from the furniture store earlier that day, joking and laughing, murmuring scandalous suggestions to each other about how to break it in properly. It was a beautiful bed, Buffy thought, big and wide, with strong posts and a lovely firm mattress that it would take even the two of them some time to wear out. She stretched across the fresh, cool sheets, giggling under Spike's hands as he removed the last of her clothes, giving all her attention to his latest acquisition for his new house and the important matter of how they would make love on it for the first time.
He knelt next to her, his left hand straying along her golden body, his own lightly tanned flesh glowing and warm in the sunlight slanting down through the skylight. His eyes were dark with desire, and, she realized suddenly, some slight hesitation.
"What do you want, Spike?" she asked. "You built this house, you made this place. I want to celebrate that." She sat up, meeting his gaze. "Please, tell me something you want to do that we haven't done already." Her voice became teasing. "Consider it a housewarming present. Or a bedwarming present."
"I—" His eyes shifted away, glancing at the clothes scattered along the floor and the foot of the bed.
Buffy's smile grew. "Now I know there's something," she purred, snuggling close to him, and whispering in his ear. "And "I won't be satisfied until I find out what it is and give it to you."
"You are a very bossy woman," he told her, and she thought he did sound mildly exasperated, but he ran his hands down her arms, took her wrists in his grasp, and held them before him, looking at her with a half-hopeful, half-embarrassed expression. "I'm afraid it may be the one thing you won't want to do."
"Tell me," she demanded, sure that it wouldn't matter what it was, so long as he wanted it.
He reached behind him and picked up the long red cashmere scarf she'd been wearing earlier. He held it up and said, "Are you sure? Do you trust me?"
Buffy did panic then, for a half-second. She felt something like vertigo, as she stared at that sinuous length of fabric and listened to his words. Then she met his tentative gaze as openly as she could. "Absolutely," she said, and was proud to hear how firm her voice sounded.
It was the truth. He wasn’t the one she distrusted.
She lay back on the bed and waited as he looped the scarf around her wrists and the bed posts. He was careful not to cut off her circulation, and he left a lot of play in the bonds so that she could move her arms a little and they wouldn't tire. She almost protested against that consideration, wanting to say that it took a lot to strain a slayer's muscles, and that he could bind her more tightly. But this was his game, and she'd promised to play it his way.
She could release herself in a second, of course. She wouldn't even have to use her slayer strength. He'd left a bit of the scarf dangling just within her reach, and all she had to do was pull on it, give it a quick tug, and she would be free. But she couldn't do that to him. This was what he wanted, and she had to submit. She owed him that. She closed her eyes, knowing what was coming next.
Because she'd been with him for weeks now, and she knew that in many ways he was still the same Spike she'd used in the bad old days when she'd been an emotional basket case and he'd been the world's most dysfunctional vampire. He still wanted the same things in bed that he'd wanted then. He still made outrageous, wild demands on her, and she still agreed, and then responded by fulfilling her own fantasies. And he made no secret of how much it thrilled him when she took the role of director in their sex play.
But Buffy wasn't twenty years old anymore, and she didn't define normal sex as whatever Riley had seemed to think was good and proper. These days, she didn't have it in her to feel guilty about doing anything that she and Spike both enjoyed.
The past few weeks had been glorious.
But this was the first time in their new relationship that he'd asked for this. She knew exactly what he wanted to do to her, and she dreaded it.
I have to let this happen. I have to let him. To exorcise the last of my own demons. And because he deserves to have what he wants.
Her eyes still closed, she heard Spike give a lascivious chuckle just before he touched her.
Feathery soft kisses lingered on her face and neck as his hands stroked her body. One thumb rubbed a nipple, coaxing it erect before moving on to the other. Much later, those hands moved over her stomach and thighs, barely hovering over her flesh, the stimulation all the more arousing for its extreme gentleness.
He moved so slowly that every nerve screamed out, the fine hairs on her body standing erect, her gut twisting with desire and the need to reach for him. She curled her hands into fists, clutching at the soft folds of the scarf, willing herself not to move or scream or flee.
He kissed and stroked her, barely exercising any pressure as he used lips and tongue and fingers to caress every bit of exposed flesh. And when he wasn't kissing her, he was talking to her, describing how beautiful she was, telling her how much he loved her, even quoting snatches of poetry that were as loving and gentle as his kisses.
She lost track of time at last. It seemed like he spent hours exploring her body before he settled between her thighs, his tongue moving first against her clit, then probing inside her with maddening tenderness. All the while his hands continued that gentle stimulation, and she knew he was using her involuntary gasps and moans as a guide, doing everything he could to heighten her arousal. She found that the only way she could bear it was to stop thinking entirely, to let her mind do nothing but enjoy the experience of pure, passive pleasure.
She'd almost gone mad when he'd done this during that horrible time just after she'd come back from the dead. When he'd held out the handcuffs and asked, "Do you trust me?" something in her had leapt with sick pleasure, and she'd had to pretend reluctance when she held out her wrists. She hadn't known what to expect that time, and once she'd realized that there would be no abuse, no violence, she'd begun to scream in pure panic.
Then, he'd had her shackled by the ankles as well as her wrists, and she couldn't force him to be rough with her. She'd been unable to bite or hit to drive him to the angry retaliation that she'd found so exciting and disgusting. She'd sworn and screamed at him as he'd driven her almost insane with lust, but he'd ignored all her curses and insults, instead making love to her, truly making love, refusing to hurt her, refusing to merely fuck her. It had been like some sick joke, some parody of sadomasochism, where he had tortured her by refusing to satisfy her need for pain.
The marks on her wrists and ankles had been the only scars from that encounter, and they were her fault. She had been so enraged at his tenderness and her body's reaction to it that she'd torn her flesh against the bonds, weeping bitterly even as she moaned in orgasm.
It had been that encounter that had convinced her there had to be something truly wrong with her, that she wasn't just taking a walk on the wild side and having some crazy sexual adventure. It had been that night that had sent her running to Tara for reassurance.
Now, Buffy opened her eyes at last and blinked in the warm sunlight that was playing over them. Spike was still kissing her, licking inside her, stroking her, the pressure of his lips and fingers increasing at last, triggering her body’s inevitable response. "I love you, I love you," she heard herself moan, and realized suddenly that she'd been saying the words over and over, as if trying to make up for all the times long ago that he'd uttered them and she had responded only with silence or insults. Then something released, a final barrier gave way, and she came under his gentle, insistent touch.
She lay quietly, fists still clenched around soft cashmere, savoring the sweet lassitude that swept over her, realizing in astonishment that her lips were quirking upwards in a contented smile. It's okay, Buffy. Maybe you do deserve this now. Maybe you can let him make you feel this way.
Spike's lips had moved to the inside of her thigh, and he was murmuring to her again. "Happy, love?"
"Yes," said Buffy, and she heard the note of astonishment in her own voice. "Yes, I am."
He rose on hands and knees, moved over her now, his face above hers, his eyes concerned. "You didn't mind, then? I was worried. A woman like you, who needs to be in charge—"
"Not always," she said. "And—it was beautiful, Spike. Perfect."
He bent to kiss her lingeringly then, his hand slipping down to coax her legs apart again. She opened to him, and felt him slip inside her, easily and tenderly, like every other touch she had felt this afternoon. He was resting on his elbows, so that his body weighed lightly on hers, skimming along her torso, but not pressing down on her. He still had not broken their kiss, and he thrust slowly, barely stirring within her, making every tiny movement of his flesh against hers a small miracle of connection and caring.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, pulling him closer, desperate to embrace him. He collapsed against her then, burying his face in her hair and sighing, increasing the rhythm of his thrusts ever so slightly. They were too closely united now to need words.
But, at last, she could stand it no longer. "Please, Spike, please," she begged, "I need to touch you." He looked up, his expression changing to concern when he saw the tears on her cheeks and the near-agony in her face, and he tugged on the dangling end of the scarf so that the knots gave way and she could wrap her arms around him, the soft crimson folds of fabric draping over their bodies as they moved together.
"I'm sorry," she whispered when it was over. "I'm sorry I couldn't stand it until the end."
"No," he said, kissing the side of her throat. "It was perfect, love. Better than I imagined it. And tomorrow," he added with a chuckle, "we do what you want."
"I have everything I could possibly want already," said Buffy, feeling the tears dry on her face as she felt the warmth of his breath against her skin and the heat of his body pressed against hers.