To catch a heart

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

I'm just someone with a secret obsession with Spuffy and the creativity to play around with it ;)

Spike finished his smoke and got up from the couch. The hotel's weak yellow lighting did a poor job at night, giving an eerie medieval aspect to the old lobby. As he climbed up the first flight of stairs, the courtyard glass door revealed a more natural, although just as weak, brightness. The full fountain came into view once he reached the plateau, its water jets gleaming under the moonlight. He stared at them, not really looking, just giving his body a moment to rest without really doing so.

"So, it's 'die and get a sweater' day? You really should leave that kind of clothing to Giles. It makes him look like an accountant, you just look…gay."

"That's bloody hilari — Bit?"

Dawn crossed her arms. "I don't think that's a word."

In his semi-aware state, he had missed Dawn coming in from the front door, missed her steps toward him, and had even missed the thud from her overstuffed duffel bag as she intentionally dropped it on the ground to get his attention. Spike watched as she quickly climbed the three steps that separated them.

'What are you doing here', 'how did you get here' and 'how are you' were the only questions that popped into his mind, but for once he chose silence over some idiotic conversation starter.

She had a dauntless expression on her face, that impassive look she wore when she was angry – usually at her sister. Not a single facial muscle moved as they looked at each other. A few seconds later, the space between her eyebrows creased and she poked his stomach with all the softness of a punch.

He watched as her façade crumbled into shock – she didn't expect her finger to meet his flesh. "It really worked." Her eyes went from his stomach to his face. "And Buffy?"

A bit of dust got caught in his eye. How could he explain?

Dawn caught his hand and tugged it down. They sat on the red carpeted step. "Willow — well, Wesley told me you tried a spell. I know it wasn't a regular one or they wouldn't have called."

He faked an interest on the lobby's marble floor. "Percy did, huh?"

"Spike, tell me what happened."

So he did.

Her reaction was not what he expected. She was too calm, too optimistic when she should be screaming, or crying, or hitting him. Maybe she didn't want to understand.

Mildly irritated at Spike's 'you're-in-denial' look, Dawn got up. "My moronic sister almost got herself killed, I get it. She does that a lot, and it's really annoying." Her gaze softened a little. "But she did it for you, not to save the world from the next apocalypse. I can't get mad at her this time. Just don't tell her that.

She caught a trace of a smile on his face as he stood up. "Let's go, Bit."

Spike took her to Buffy's room where he'd stayed all day and most of the night. Red had kept him company for a good ten hours, until Percy insisted they took turns and urged her to get some sleep.

When Dawn and Spike entered the room, the former watcher was shifting positions on the armchair. He rose immediately to greet them. "Dawn! You made it."

"Hi, Wesley. Thanks for calling me. And thanks for the ticket, I'll pay you back."

"That's hardly necessary. Did Spike—?"

"He told me. How is she?"

"Stable. It might take her a few days to wake up, however."

"I know my sister. Before we know it, she'll be kicking ass and making bad puns about it."

"We all hope so…do you still need me?"

Spike walked over to the side of the bed. "I'll take it from here, Wesley."

Wesley's eyebrows drew closer together as Spike said his name for the first time. His expression raised a smile from Dawn. "That's Spike for 'thank you'. I'm grateful too."

Wesley's eyes widened slightly. "Don't mention it. Well, good night then."

They stayed with Buffy as the pitch dark night dimmed before the sun's marigold tones. Soon the morning had come and clouds covered the sky in a gray cloak.

The Bit had dragged the armchair to Buffy's side. She refused to sleep in her big sister's bed, worried she might toss and turn and end up accidentally hurting her. She fought to stay awake, yet her eyes kept closing until she fell asleep – half sitting, half leaning over the bed.

Spike checked the bathroom, the corridors and even the space under the bed before he left the Summers girls alone so he could pick the lock of a room nearby, one that still had clean bed linens left. When he returned, he checked again – nothing. Good, he wouldn't have to call His Royal Poncyness to watch over her in the – what, three minutes? – that it would take him to carry Nibblet to her very own bed. The girl deserved to get a proper wink.

He checked all the nooks and crannies again, just to be sure. The window didn't go unchecked – he held the sweater' sleeve with his fingers and rubbed off the condensation from the glass. The weather outside looked nothing like the tropical temperature he had set in Buffy's room. A pair of pigeons cooed at him from the windowsill, their necks still hidden under their fluffed up body. Spike shooed them – he bloody wouldn't take any chances.

He adjusted Dawn's back so that she would lean against the armchair before sweeping her into his arms. Watching her head as he went out of Buffy's room and again as they entered the empty room, he carried her to the bed, placed some covers over her, then drew the curtains. He heard a dull noise as he walked the corridor, but thought nothing of it. As he reached the opened door, the first thing he noticed was the empty bed. The second was Buffy standing between the bed and the dresser. Her hair was messy and she favored her left side a little, but her fingers were wrapped around an armed crossbow.

She glared at him, her index finger hugging the trigger tighter.

"I am so gonna kill you."

Then she fired.

*** Two minutes earlier ***

When Buffy woke up the next morning – and she knew it was morning because her eyes had decided to cooperate – a pungent smell inflamed her sinuses. Nicotine. It made her want to sneeze and sigh with relief at the same time. The sigh won the battle, and she called softly. "Spike?"

"Try again, my darling." The answer came in a hoarse voice, one she had heard before.

She tried to place it. The air crackled with a coldness that penetrated the three layers of covers on top of her. Her fingertips felt icy as they brushed her goose bumped skin. And she swallowed a lump in her throat as the memory finally came to mind. Drip-drip-drip, goes my prey's slit limbs...

Oh God, she hadn't imagined it.

Buffy pushed herself onto her elbows, and the sudden movement made the room spin before her eyes. Willing the dizziness away, she focused on the wall directly in front of her – the spot next to the open door. The figure standing there stood perfectly still until her sight stabilized and his features became sharp.

He looked human – a creepy one for sure. His face held a weary look, with two vertical wrinkles marking the beginning of his nose where his eyebrows should start. Short, light colored hair framed his face. His clothes were stuffy – they reminded her of a Civil War painting in a book she should've read while in High School, instead of just looking at the pictures. But the scarf – or whatever that white napkin tied around his neck was – and the non-military coat betrayed it as a way older "fashion". He didn't strike her as one of Angel's friends.

"Who are you?"

"Ooh, the fear. I can almost taste it."

"Who. Are. You."

"Such curiosity. I'd say you should know, considering that you stole my toy."

Buffy cast a quick glance sideways. Good, her bag was within reach.

"Sorry, doesn't ring a bell." She pushed the covers away with her feet, slowly yet constantly, her eyes fixed on his. "Besides, aren't you too old to play with toys? I know men never really grow up, but still…."

"A fiery little girl; this shall be entertaining." His gaze darted from her face to her feet and back. He tilted his head down, the dark rings under his eyes made more pronounced by the movement. "You take me for a fool. I assure I'm not…none of my prey gets away."

She stopped. Damn his predator instincts. "Prey?"

"You are not my first one, that wouldn't do, would it? Don't feel jealous, soon you'll get to play with the others. All of us will have such fun, my darling."

Buffy rolled her eyes. With a pull, she shoved the covers from her body and rolled off the bed. Her body didn't respond as well as she would've liked, as her soon-to-be-bruised hip could confirm, but she still managed to reach inside her bag for a weapon. Crossbow, lucky her.

Her legs shook as she forced herself to stand. The 'man' was a good two steps closer when she managed to load the weapon. She had the tip of the wooden arrow pointed at his heart before he could move any further.

"I am so gonna kill you." Without blinking, she fired. He didn't move. The arrow quivered as it was propelled forward, the wood slashing through the mass of air that stood in the way of its mark. This slight trepidation was too insignificant compared to the force of the bolt. The arrow went through the visitor's heart as he provoked her with a silent smile. He vanished before she could feel the taste of victory. The arrow didn't. Buffy gasped as she saw Spike standing in its way. She watched, horrified, as the wooden point lodged in his chest, only a couple of inches below his left collarbone. Convinced she'd killed him, she couldn't look away from the wound. She exhaled as blood dyed his beige sweater a new color in a slowly spreading stain. Spike slid down the wall to the ground. She was by his side as fast as her weak body could take her. "I'm sorry. I didn't…"

He clenched his jaw, his eyes closed. Through shallow breaths and using the most vicious tone he could pull, he said, "Missed. Wanna take another shot, Slayer?"


"Spike, listen to me." She placed a hand behind his neck. "I didn't shoot you. Please let me take it out."

Spike faced her, his eyes distant. He didn't protest as she reached for the arrow, but his jaw remained clenched. She pulled it out, his body jerked with the motion. "Last chance, Slayer."

There it was again – Slayer. She put down the bloodied bolt. In a loving relationship, is it okay to punch your boyfriend? Just once or…twenty times? "I love you. I don't want you dead. I was just trying to kill the demon from the spell."

"What demon?"

"Mr. I'll make bad rhymes as you bleed to death. He showed up before I lost consciousness."

"There wasn't anyone else in the room."

"I'm not crazy. Wait, you don't think I am, right?"

"No, luv."

Buffy scanned her room. "Good, 'cause creepy guy's friends decided to join the party." She rose to her feet, her hands closing into fists. "You take fingerless guy, I'll take ruined face and the ugliest one."

"Pet," Spike looked up at her, his pinched eyebrows creasing his forehead. "I don't see anyone."

"You're kidding."

"Get Red, I'll meet you there."

Buffy tried to run, but had to settle for a hurried walk. She reached Willow's door without any encounters, but banged on the door nonetheless – better to wake her friend with a fake scare than wait until the real threat caught up with her.

Willow opened the door. Her hand gripped the doorknob harder as all the color faded from her face. She looked like she'd seen a ghost – the ghost of her best friend. "Buffy!"

"Yeah, alive and walking. Kinda." Buffy cast a quick glance at both sides of the corridor. "We have a problem."

"What's wrong?"

"Demons or big time hallucinations. I prefer the first."

"Come in." Willow caught Buffy glancing over her clothes. She looked down to her flannel pajamas. "Oh. I'll go get my work clothes. I'll be right back."

As Buffy waited, no demons showed. Neither did Spike though. What was taking him so long?

"Okay, what happened?"

Before she could explain, the door opened slightly. Buffy had already jumped when a voice came from the other side. "I'm human. Well, now at least. Don't hit me."

As the door was pushed open, the mystery behind Spike's delay was revealed. "Dawn! What are doing here?"

She came in, and then turned to talk to Spike who was right behind her. "See? She's fine already. Hi, Will."

"Hi, Dawnie."


"Don't we have demons chasing us or whatever?" Dawn crossed her arms, her right foot tapping the ground. "Why don't we skip the part where you treat me like a child and I point out your suicidal spell?"

The two sisters had a short-lived staring competition. Buffy caved. "Fine." Spike shut the door and checked the lock before going to her side. Buffy turned to Willow. "Okay, we have maybe four demons out there. Any chance this is part of the spell?"

"No. The worst outcomes were one or both of you dying or..."

Buffy asked. "Or?"

Willow grimaced, diverting her gaze to Spike. "The thing that didn't happen so there's no need to mention it?"

Buffy looked at Spike. "Spike, what thing?"

He placed a hand at the small of her back. "I'll tell you later, pet."

Spike's gesture that didn't go unnoticed by Dawn. Nor did the fact that her sister never removed his hand. Spike was the only one to catch her 'a-ha!' look – he winked at her before turning his attention to the matter at hand.

"Will, are you sure this is not from the spell? You released a demon when you brought me back."

"I summoned a different god. Hecate helps ghosts. She doesn't send demons to kill them afterwards."

Spike asked. "So it's not a demon?"

"It's not our demon. As in, we didn't create it."

Buffy forced a smile. "Regular demons then, yay."

"So, what did it look like?"

"Bulky, in serious need of a wardrobe revamp." Buffy made a face before continuing. "The others seemed like they came out of a Stephen King movie."

Willow's voice came out strangled. "Cujo?"



"Well, what should we do?"

"I can't fight, and Spike can't see them. I hate to say it, but…run?"

A/N: Here's another chapter! I know I went MIA right after a major cliffhanger and I'm really sorry about it (my finals are to blame). But I survived (and passed) so I get to keep writing. :)

A shout out to thephoenixandthedragon4ever and mareknowakowski for the reviews!

Hope you all enjoy!