Remains PG-13, although after the fic is over, definitely XXX!
Thank you for all your lovely comments...after the writer's block I've been suffering from, any comment is lovingly cherished....
The Taste Of Truth 4
Spike stood outside the back door and listened to the conversation inside for a moment. His heart leaped to hear that Joyce and Dawn didn’t disapprove of him as a suitor for Buffy. His mood dipped perilously low at Buffy's assumption that Giles and Xander wouldn’t like it, then soared again when she admitted their lack of importance in her decisions.
When Joyce opened the door and he caught a glimpse of her face, however, his hopes fell flat into the gutter. She had a mulish look on her face as she ate her plate of spaghetti, shoveling it in faster when she saw him waiting for her outside. He ducked his head as he stepped into the kitchen, waiting for her to make a scathing remark, but she was abnormally quiet.
Joyce tried to get the conversation going. “Spike, how goes the research?”
“Red was making some progress, but we still have to figure out which spell will work better. They’re doing a bit more looking before they decide which way to go with it.” He looked over at Buffy. “She had any more problems today?”
“She is sitting right here, and she can answer for herself. Yes, I’ve had a few problems. Nothing that I can’t handle.” She waited in vain for the foulness to flood her mouth. She gave him a strange look and grabbed her coat off the hook by the door. “Let’s go. I’m in the mood to kill something.”
Spike followed her through cemetery after cemetery, watching her wreak her vengeance on the vampire and demon population of Sunnydale. He could feel the tension rolling off of her in waves and wondered how he could help her get through this.
Buffy looked over her shoulder at the bleach blond on her tail. She didn’t want to be here with him, not with unresolved feelings from Willow's aborted spell. There were too many variables and too many questions that had no answers. There was just this—slaying and protecting the people that she loved, including Spike.
She stopped dead in her tracks at the sudden knowledge that flooded through her. She loved Spike! She turned to look at him, her eyes filled with wonder at the new reality she’d stepped into, and completely missed the fledgling rising from the grave directly behind her.
Spike lunged at her, then past her to plunge a stake into the fledge’s heart. As it exploded into ash, he grabbed Buffy by the shoulders, giving her a tiny shake so as not to fire the chip. “Slayer, what the bleeding hell is wrong with you?”
Buffy looked up at him with glazed eyes. “I…Spike, I…I can’t tell you. You’ll laugh at me.”
His thumbs caressed her shoulders through the fabric of her coat. “Slayer, I promise, I won’t laugh at you.”
Buffy worried her lip with her teeth, wondering how close she could cut it between the truth and a lie. Her hands came up to hook into his belt loops and she looked deep into his blue eyes, fascinated by her reflection there. “I was remembering Willow's spell and how I felt when we were under the influence. Spike—I think….” She swallowed hard. “I think I’m in love with you.”
Spike didn’t have a chance to reply. They both heard Riley and Xander yelling at them across the cemetery. “Buffy! We found a cure!”
Reluctantly, they separated and followed the suspicious Riley and equally suspicious Xander back to the Magic Box.
Buffy stood in the center of the magic circle eyeing Willow and Giles dubiously. “Okay, so what do I have to do now?”
“Just repeat the words after us, okay? You can remember that much, can’t you?” Willow looked over the book in front of her nervously. “I mean, you haven’t lost that much of your memory, right?”
“I can remember exactly what I need to, Will. I still remember Tara, right? And Anya? So I think that I have enough memory left to remember three seconds after you speak.” Buffy's irritation with Riley and their supposed relationship was bleeding over into her reaction to Willow, and she immediately felt sorry for her rudeness. “I’m sorry Willow. I’m just a little…twitchy right now.”
Willow nodded, clearly relieved. “I understand. It must be hard, realizing that you’ve forgotten whole parts of your life.”
Buffy shot Riley a glance then chanced a look in Spike's direction. He was holding the candle that Giles had handed him in one hand and a printed piece of paper in the other. He looked completely miserable.
Buffy found herself wondering what he would have said about her declaration of love in the cemetery if they hadn’t been interrupted. Her train of thought derailed as Giles started instructing them in their roles for the ritual.
“Now, when we start lighting the candles, there can be no idle chatter except for the responses printed there on your sheets of paper. No comments,” he said, looking pointedly at Xander and Riley, who stood on the opposite side of the circle from Spike and had been glaring in his direction. “Any deviation from the ritual could leave Buffy permanently crippled with this memory loss, and I’m fairly certain that none of us want that.”
The ritual began, and Buffy felt herself being strangled by the press of the magic around her. Every lie that she had ever told crashed down on her head in a thunderous roar, loud in her ears, almost drowning out Willow and Giles' voice.
She repeated their words, her voice rising to a scream as the pain of her deceptions overwhelmed her. She fell to her knees clutching her stomach as she continued the spell, barely aware of the voices of her friends surrounding her. When she believed she could take no more, the magic stopped, and there was silence.
Giles got to her first, lifting her up off the floor to a sitting position. “Are you…Buffy?”
She gave him a tremulous smile. “I’m myself, Giles. Memory’s all back and everything.” She looked around at the concerned faces. “I’m okay everyone. I’m okay.”
She noticed Spike remained in the background as they all closed in on her, touching her like she wasn’t real. Riley moved closer to her and she drew away from him, missing the pained expression on his face. “Did you guys hear anything?”
“Only the words that we were chanting, Buffy. You?” Willow asked, hugging her friend.
“A big roar, like a tornado. Must have just been inside the circle. Where did Spike go?” Buffy asked, looking to where the vampire had just been standing.
“Who cares? Deadboy knew that he wasn’t needed or wanted anymore, that’s all that matters. Good to have you back, Buffster.” Xander's hearty slap on the back barely moved her, but she turned on him all the same.
“You know, Xander, you’re just a little bit narrow-minded, aren’t you? I would have died earlier tonight if it hadn’t been for Spike. Heck, I could have died the night the demon got to me if it hadn’t been for him carrying me home. So excuse me for being opposite-girl if that means that I not only need him here, but want him here too. He backs me up quite a bit nowadays, and I appreciate it. I wanted to tell him so.”
Riley grabbed her hand and pulled her in close to him. “You can tell him another time, can’t you? I thought that we—“
She gave Riley a shove in the center of his chest. “You know, that’s something else. There is no we, Riley. There’s me and there’s you.” She pulled her hand from his and gave him a cool look. “Maybe you need to move along with your life, you know? Because when I told you I loved you? All I got was a bad taste in my mouth.”
She looked around the room at her friends. “Thanks for helping me, guys. I know that you did a lot of work on it. I’m heading home now. I need to tell my mom that I’m okay.”
She didn’t wait for them to answer before she ran out the back door and over to Restfield via the fastest route possible.
Spike studied the caramel colored alcohol in the familiar bottle with a critical eye. Not nearly enough to get him drunk. Not nearly enough in one bottle to make him forget what the Slayer had said before Cardboard and the Whelp interrupted them.
He raised the bottle to his lips and up-ended it, swallowing convulsively. She had said she was falling in love with him, hadn’t she? It wasn’t one of those bad dreams where nothing was real—she had really said it.
That was before her friends had roped him into helping them with the spell to restore her memory. Restore her memory, and ruin his unlife.
He was about to go to Willy's to find himself more Jack Daniel’s when the door to his crypt crashed back on its hinges and she stood in the open frame in all her Slayer glory. He stared at her, unable to read the expression on her face.
She stalked across the crypt toward him and he began to worry that something was off with his Slayer. When she was face to face with him and still hadn’t said a word, he began to fret, fighting to keep his face calm and placid. Then she shoved him against the pillar and he couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer.
“Hey! What did I do?” he yelled at her.
She looked up at him, a dangerous expression in her eyes. “You didn’t answer me earlier. In fact, you didn’t say anything, and that kind of makes me wonder about what you were thinking. So, you ready to talk?”
“About what?” he said nonchalantly. “I don’t remember the gist of the conversation, Slayer. There’s been a lot happen since then.”
“Well,” she said, hooking her thumbs in his beltloops in a familiar way, “I think that I was here, and you were there, and I had just said that I think I’m falling in love with you. Of course, you didn’t really have the chance to answer, seeing as we were so rudely interrupted, but now you do. What do you think, Spike?”
Spike couldn’t think of an answer, so he cupped her face in his hands and pressed his lips to her perfect, kissable mouth. To his surprise, she returned his kiss tenfold, pulling him close to her and wedging her legs between his to press her full length against him.
He pulled away from her, gasping for unneeded air. “What about Riley?” he said between breaths, and was shocked by her laughing response.
“He left a bad taste in my mouth. Seems I couldn’t lie to myself either while I was under that demon’s influence. Good for you, bad for him, huh?”
Buffy looked up at Spike, suddenly serious. “This isn’t going to be easy, ever. You know that.”
“I know, love, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Now, kiss me again, so I believe it.”
She put all the truth of her feelings into her kisses for a long while, and Spike found himself believing every one.