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Buffy’s approach was silent, yet sure. She didn’t want to startle him, but she wanted him to know that she meant what she was about to say. She loved him and had no regrets about what had happened. It wasn’t his fault.

None of it was. A sob escaped him as she ran a steady hand down his arm. She stepped closer and rested her head against his back as she wrapped an arm around his waist, hoping that just her presence would calm him.

“I am so sorry,” Spike shook his head, wanting to step away from her, but not having the will-power to do so. She felt so good against him…so soft and cool.

“I know. You don’t have to be. What happened wasn’t your fault,” She kissed the back of his neck as she breathed in his scent. Leather, cigarettes, and alcohol and horrible guilt. “The Master knocked you out and forced you to sire me. I don’t blame you.”

Spike turned around, confusion clear in his cerulean gaze. How could she know what had happened? How could she not blame him? If he hadn’t been so weak…if only he could have gotten the upper hand or gotten there sooner…she’d never be the very thing she hunted. She’d be alive and happy and warm. “How do you know what happened? You were pretty much out of it.“

Buffy smiled, a sad gleam in her eyes. She had been with her mother again and sent back to deal with the evil down here on earth. Yet…she didn’t feel the depression she had felt last time she was brought back. This time she was brought back to the man she was hopelessly in love with, and with him by her side…she had her own heaven here on earth. “Does it matter how I know?”

Spike looked away, the pain again building in his chest. No. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the result. His girl will never see the sunlight again, or the blue sky of a sunny day right after a cold winter. Now all her skies will be black. It just wasn’t right. “No. It doesn’t.”

Buffy sighed as she pulled away from him. She had no idea how to fix this. He seemed so forlorn…so lost. She wanted to do something to relieve his guilt…at least make him ok with everything. Maybe if she told him some of the things that happened while she was in heaven…and then presented him with the rings her mother had sent back with her…maybe that would lift his spirits. Smiling softly, she took his hands and lead him to the bed.

“Set with me? There’s some things I want to tell you.”

Spike frowned, feeling a tinge of fear. He couldn’t help the thinking that she was going to tell him that they were over. That she couldn’t possibly love him after what he had done to her. Yes, she seemed relaxed and accepting of her new condition…but Buffy was a master at hiding her true feelings. Maybe she wanted to lure him into a false sense of security and then lower the big boom on their relationship. Avoiding all eye contact, Spike did as he was told, making sure not to meet her eyes. Maybe if he avoided looking into those hazel jewels, he could avoid having his heart ripped out.

“Spike…I want to tell you about heaven.”

Tears filled his eyes. Of course. She had gone back to the one place she had found peace, but this time it was the powers that be that sent her back. He was not surprised. The bastards couldn’t even let her have eternal peace, could they? No. They had to send her back to this cold harsh world, where she’d be damned for eternity.

“My mother was there,” Buffy continued, trying to keep her voice steady and calm as she recounted her return trip to heaven. She was ok with this lot in life. Really. She wanted to get that through to Spike. A trembling voice would have said otherwise. “She showed me what had happened. The Master knocking you out and forcing me to drink your blood. She then gave me a choice. Return as a ensouled vampire…or stay up in heaven while the demon took over my body and killed all my friends. My choice.”

Spike couldn’t help his sarcastic snort. Of course. They’d give her a choice that really wasn’t a choice at all. Buffy would never have had that peace if she knew that her friends were in mortal danger. Those wankers knew that. So they gave her an offer that she couldn’t refuse. It was a good thing that the powers were incorporeal and on another plain of existence, or else he’d rip their bloody heads off.

“I came back…with gifts,” Buffy dug in her jeans pockets and pulled out three rings with a purple gem in the middle.

Spike’s eyes widened in disbelief. This was impossible…it couldn’t actually be what they looked to be. “The gem of amora.”

“Gems of amora, actually. One for each of us. You, Angel, and myself. The powers sent them as gifts.”

“Gifts from the powers?” Spike frowned, taking one of the rings out of her hand and held it up to the light for inspection. “Gifts with strings attached you mean. What are the conditions, pet? I jump through hoops and or else they take away the bloody ring and your beautiful soul? I trust those wankers that be as far as I can bloody throw them.”

Buffy shook her head, forcing back the irritation she felt at Spike’s paranoia when it came to the powers. He did have a point, but this time, they were doing right by her…by both of them. “There are no conditions. They’re a gift to me for going through this whole mess, to Angel because he’s their champion, and to you because you’re mine. Unlike Angel, you sought your soul…for me. You had the strength to love me, no matter what and you gave your life…um…unlife to save the world. So these are our gifts. No strings attached.”

“Accept the fact that you lose out on heaven. Again. Bloody hell, Buffy! They can’t do this to you! Give you peace and happiness and then just take it away! And for what? To come back and be killed all over again?”

Buffy went into his arms, and held him tight, burying her head in the crook of his neck, taking in the aroma of leather, alcohol, and cigarettes. The aroma of home. “Don’t you understand Spike? I am in heaven. Right here in your arms. I love my mother, but I could never be in peace, being away from you…not after what we had shared. Not after knowing that you still love me and I hadn’t mucked it all up. The powers didn’t take me out of heaven. They gave heaven back to me.”

Spike held her close to his body, tears flowing freely. This was just too much to believe. She wasn’t devastated over losing heaven because of him. He had never thought that anyone would love him as much as Buffy did. It was so bloody unbelievable. “God, I love you so much, pet. I just want you to be happy. I just can’t see how you can be. Not like this…a vampire.”

“Because I’m with you. Believe me, if it wasn’t for you…I would be very put out,” Buffy kissed the side of his neck, burrowing deeper into his arms. She had the urge to just be as close as possible to him. She didn’t know whether it was because she loved him so much, or it was because he was her sire. She just knew that she wanted to be inside his skin somehow. Spike didn’t seem to have any complaints with her sudden need to be close. He just wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer. He knew that it was because she was his childe and unlike most sires, he was going to accommodate her in anyway he could. He wanted this transition to be as easy and peaceful as possible, and if she needed to be close to him, for whatever reason, he was going to give that to her.

Buffy sighed in contentment as she pressed her mouth against Spike’s throat, lightly tasting his skin. His skin was salty from sweat and tears. Her mouth opened a little more as she began sucking at the skin. She couldn’t help herself. She wanted more of him. The feeling of need…it was scaring her, but she had no control. Without even thinking, she vamped out and sank her teeth into Spike’s pale skin and began to lap up the cool delicious blood that flowed into her waiting mouth.

Instead of pushing her away, Spike pulled her closer, knowing what this meant. Any other sire would have pushed the childe away and punished them for taking without the blood being offered. But Spike wasn’t just any sire and Buffy wasn’t any childe. She was the love of his unlife. The one he wanted by his side forever. What ever it took, to make sure that she was happy and strong, he would give without any hesitation. He belonged to Buffy and Buffy only. Just as she belonged to him. There was nothing that could come between them now. The bond between sire and childe was too strong.

Buffy finally released Spike and slinked down into his arms, embarrassed by what she had done. She didn’t know what Spike’s reaction would be, after it was all over. She knew if he had been Angelus, she would most likely be dead by now. She looked up at him with shy hazel eyes and a small smile. Trying to push back the unreasonable fear she had of her sire’s anger. She shook her head, reminding herself that this was Spike. The man that loved her beyond reason. He would never hurt her. No matter what.

“I…I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”

Spike just tenderly smiled down at her and ran a hand through her golden tresses. He leaned down and gently kissed her blood smeared lips. He had every intention of reassuring her that all was well. He understood and she was welcomed to partake of his blood when ever she wanted. “It’s ok, kitten. It’s your demon wanting to bond with mine. You’re completely welcomed to it, pet. What’s mine is yours.”

“It’s not like this between all sires and their childer…is it?”

Spike shook his head, remembering the punishment he had received from Angel when he had tried partaking of his blood without permission. He shuddered at the memory. Thank the powers that those days were over and done with and that Buffy would never have to experience anything like that from him. He’d die before hurting her for any reason. “No it’s not, pet. Usually, a sire’s blood is sacred. Not to be partaken of, unless invited. To do so without invitation calls for severe punishment. Lucky for you, I’m your sire and love you far too much to follow such rubbish.”

Buffy sighed again, as she looked at the clock and frowned. They had been in the room for far too long. She knew that her friends were probably walking the walls by now. Plus, she had to present Angel with his ring. Buffy shuddered at the thought of facing her ex once again. She had once loved Angel, more then anything, but he had betrayed that love time and again, causing her to be afraid to give that much of herself another man. It took nearly losing Spike to make her see that she was hurting herself by closing her heart off to anyone that had shown an interest. She didn’t want to think about what Angel’s reaction to her relationship with Spike would be. Her frowned deepened as she remembered what Spike’s blood had shown her.

Angelus had tried to hurt Spike. Of course he hadn’t succeeded, thanks to Willow, but the thought of that monster putting his claws on her sire the way he had…it mad her see red. She didn’t want to give the ring to Angel. Instead, she wanted to toss him outside to burn in the sun, but looking at Spike, she knew that wasn’t what he would want to happen to Angel. So instead, she swallowed her anger and leaned her head against Spike‘s chest, silently vowing to make it clear to Angel that he was to never touch Spike again.

“What are you thinking about, pet? You’re being rather quiet,” Spike asked, sensing her tension.

“We have to out there in a few minutes. I have to give the ring to Angel and face everyone…Spike…I don’t think I can do it. I mean…I’m the very thing I thought those girls to hate. What are they going to think?”

“That you’re the most bravest woman among them. You took a beating, but you kept ticking. Nothing can keep you down. Not even a blood-thirsty master. They’ll see your goodness and light and strive to be what you are. One hell of a woman.”

“You’ll be out there with me…right?”

“You know I will be, love. I won’t leave your side.”

“And you agree…none of this is your fault? I need to know that you’re ok with this Spike. I won’t go out there with you being eaten up with guilt.”

Spike sighed. This was getting more and more complicated all the time. It wasn’t like the guilt would just go away. It was going to be there for a while, but it was something he could leave with. As long as Buffy still believed in him, he was fine. “Pet…I’ll never be ok with this. You were my angel of light. The one good, pure thing in my life, and now you’re part of the darkness that fills me at this very moment. It’s not right and it never will be. Eventually…I’ll made my bit of peace with it. Wallowing in self pity will not change anything. As for now, the guilt is just something I’m going to have to live with. The important thing is that I have you. As long as you still love me, I’ll be fine. Now. Let’s go out there and show those gits what we’re really made of,” Spike pulled her off the bed, a mischievous gleam in his eye.

Buffy just smiled and followed her sire out of the bedroom, her hand tightly grasped in his. She took a deep breath, reminding herself to stay calm. Show the girls that she wasn’t scared of anything, least of all them.

She held Spike’s hand tight as he led her into the main room, where everyone was congregated, from Angel to the youngest slayer. Buffy stepped closer to Spike and stared at the floor, not really daring to look at anyone at the moment.

Angel was the first to step forward, guilt shining in his eyes. He felt horrible. This was all his fault. Him and that damn happiness clause. He was going to ask Willow if there was a loophole he could take advantage of. Something that would make his soul more permanent. Maybe if he went to see that demon in the cave that Spike had gone to.

“Buffy…I…I’m so sorry. I know there’s nothing I can say to make things better or that would take back what happened to you. If there’s anything I can do for either of you…” Angel nervously approached, avoiding all eye contact.

Buffy stepped in front of Spike, holding out the ring of amora. She didn’t want Angel anywhere near Spike…not after what had happened. She didn’t even want him around her slayers, but she knew that kicking him out would be of the bad, especially with The Master out there running a muck. Plus, she had to do what the powers wanted her to do. Give one of the rings to Angel. “It’s a gift from the powers.”

Angel’s eyes widened as he recognized the stone set in gold. “The gem of amora.”

“For some reason, the powers thought you should have that. Don’t ask me why…they just do,” Buffy stepped back into the safety of Spike’s arms once Angel had the ring in his hands.

The elder vampire was speechless. There was nothing he could say to make up for all he had done. He certainly didn’t deserve this ring and it was obvious that Buffy agreed with him. If she had her way, he would be roasting in the sun right now.

“Buffy…I’m glad you’re still with us,” Dawn nervously approached her sister, not knowing how to react to the tension in the room. She knew that this wasn’t only Angel’s fault. If only she hadn’t been out walking when she was supposed to be inside doing homework. She wouldn’t have gotten captured and Buffy wouldn’t have gotten turned.

“I’m glad too, Dawnie,” Buffy left Spike’s side to hug her sister, unaware of her sister’s self-blame. It never even occurred to her to blame Dawn for her new condition, just like it never occurred to her to blame Spike. Angel, on the other hand…that was another story all together.

“So…has there been any word from The Master?” Spike asked, knowing that there would no rest for anyone until bat face was good and dead.

“None. I’ve put out a location spell that I had modified to locate master vampires in the vicinity, but there’s too many to really pinpoint his location,” Willow shook her head. “We’re sending girls out tonight to find his lair.”

“Have you made it clear not to approach him?” Angel turned away from the sight of Spike wrapping an arm around Buffy’s shoulders. “The Master is stronger then most vampires. He’d kill them before they even had a chance to breathe.”

“He’s not stronger then me,” Buffy’s tone made it clear that there was to be no argument. “I’ll handle The Master. After I’m done with him…he’ll wish that he had stayed dead.”

Silence filled the apartment as signs of Buffy’s demon flashed behind hazel eyes. She meant business. Her fellow slayers could patrol with her and hunt down the bastard’s hideout, but when it all came down to killing The Master…that job fell to her, and she was going to make him suffer for the loss of her humanity.


Outside the slayer’s apartment complex, The Master stood, resisting the urge to let out his anger in a fierce roar. Those damn, meddling Powers That Be had ruined his brilliant plans. They had returned the slayer’s soul and now he had the strongest fledging vampire to ever be risen after his blood. This was not what he had planned. This was not the way it was supposed to be. Both the slayer and William the Bloody was supposed to be at his feet, right now, ready to be his loyal servants. Instead, they were inside this plain building, plotting his death.

He had no choice. He was going to have to come up with another plan. A plan that would guarantee William’s defection back to his side and the destruction of both Angel and the slayer. He needed a even better plan…but what? What could he possibly do to guarantee the slayer’s destruction? It was times like this that made him miss Darla. She always had a plan ready when one failed.

Wait…wasn’t there another childe of Angelus? A mad childe at that? A childe that would be glad to woe her William back to the fold? Drusilla. Of course. The insane vampiress would be a great asset and she would indeed enjoy taking back what she deemed was hers to begin with. Sharp, blood-stained teeth were revealed even more in a maniacal smile, The Master disappeared into the darkness, his new plan taking form. The slayer was going to wish that she was really dead, by time he was through with her.