DISCLAIMER: We know they're Joss', right? Which really is a shame, because most of the time, we're so much nicer to them than he was.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy and Other!Spike hid in a broken freezer above ground, and their bickering erupted into sex, while Angel agreed to make a deal with Ilona in order to get the clock and help Giles save Buffy...

* * *

They both froze the instant he was fully sheathed inside her pussy. Memories and dreams were all well and good, but those were pale imitations of the real thing, his thick length filling and stretching her, the coarse rasp of hair against her clit as he did that little rolly thing with his hips. Buffy’s heart hammered inside her chest as she waited for Spike to move, to do anything, but he seemed as stuck in the moment as she was.

Though his mouth worked as if to speak, no sound came out, his throat convulsing as he swallowed, his tongue darting out to moisten his lips. It drew her eyes away from his, and without thought, Buffy lifted her head to claim him in a kiss.

At the worst of times, it had always been their language of choice. It didn’t matter which dimension they were in.

His strong hands tightened on her hips as he kissed her back, finally allowing his body to take control and begin pulling out of her. She marveled at his restraint. Though he had ploughed into her with tremendous force, Spike took his time with his exit, stopping only when the head of his cock was still in her. His second stroke was just as strong as the first, though, and it was that soft then bruising rhythm that soon had them rocking against the cold floor of the freezer.

“Been so bloody long,” she heard him murmur, but something inside told Buffy that the words were meant more for his ears than hers. Just as the repeated endearments, lost between kisses, swallowed by caresses, were more about his loneliness than any direct reflection on his actual partner. She had to block them out before they got to her. Listening would lead to believing, and there was no way she could allow that to happen.

Instead she focused on the physical, on the way his cock hit that one spot inside her, on the continuous slide of his hands over her skin once their rhythm was established. She honed in on the cool glide of his mouth along her chin, how he loved to nip at that tender spot at the back of her jaw, how his tongue traced sinew and vein in paths she couldn’t anticipate. The coolness of the floor and freezer was forgotten as her core temperature rose, responding to friction of skin against skin, cock into pussy, and the only sound discernible – once she ignored Spike’s voice – was the roar of her own blood rushing in her ears.

It was enough to forget where they were. It was enough to forget who she was. It wasn’t enough to forget who it wasn’t bearing her into the floor.

Buffy buried her face in his neck, arms coiled painfully tight around his back, as Spike began to quicken his strokes. The short, sharp gasps that substituted for breath made her lungs burn, but they were the best she could manage as everything tightened to a knot inside her, flesh ready to unfurl, skin ready to spring. It only took the return of Spike’s mouth to hers and the abrupt shift of angle in his hips for her to come, dizzy and unrelenting as her orgasm exploded within her.

He came seconds later, but whether he’d been holding off on waiting for hers or it was her clamping around his cock that had triggered it, Buffy didn’t know. She was too busy drowning in the memories that suddenly swamped her to care about analyzing it, trying desperately to stay rooted in the here and the now.

“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered. He kept himself from collapsing atop her by propping himself up on his knuckles, but it didn’t stop him from resting his forehead to hers. His eyes were closed, his mouth soft, and Buffy couldn’t resist the temptation to tilt her head and give him one last kiss. “Didn’t expect it to be like that.”

“If I haven’t figured out what feels good for you by now,” she joked lightly, “then I was doing something seriously wrong all the time we were together.”

His lashes lifted at that, blue eyes uncharacteristically dark, even in the shadows of the freezer. “Tell me something, pet. Which came first? The feelings or the fucking?”

He was still trying to resolve the issue of them being together, she could tell. And since she’d already made it clear that she hadn’t loved Spike when they’d been together, Buffy knew he was referring to his counterpart’s situation with his queries, not hers.

“The feelings,” she admitted. “I don’t know when exactly, but then Spike didn’t either, he told me. I just know that I found he loved me months before anything physical happened between us. Well, except for that time we got engaged, but that doesn’t count because that was one of Willow’s spells.”

A brow quirked. “Seems like you’ve got your fair share of stories to tell.”

In spite of herself, Buffy smiled. “I thought you weren’t interested in my stories.”

“I’m not. I’m just---.”

A muffled crash outside the closed door made both of them jump, and Spike tore away from her almost painfully as he leapt to his feet. Buffy scrabbled for her pants as he did himself up, but she had only started to slip them back on again when Tara’s voice called from the other side.

“Spike? They’re gone. You can come out now.”

He glanced back, waiting for Buffy nod of approval before replying. “Be right there.” To Buffy, he said, “Whenever you’re ready.”

The moment she was dressed again, Spike opened the door, cursing under his breath and jumping out of the way when a swathe of sunlight cut across the entrance. Tara’s murmured apology came before Buffy could actually see her, and then darkness seemed to fall again, cooling the brightness and darkening the danger so that they could dare the door once again.

If Tara noticed the state of her clothing, she didn’t say a word. Behind her, Giles was busy holding up a blanket that blocked out the worst of the sun, shielding Spike so he could emerge.

“It’s not good,” she said, answering Spike’s unasked question.

The quartet began shuffling toward the doorway to go back down to the basement. Buffy noticed that the barricade they had placed was tossed aside like kindling. Yay for Fyarl strength, she thought wryly.

“They trashed most of the living quarters, and over half our supplies are decimated,” Tara continued. “We thought for awhile they might actually try and brave coming into the Hellmouth, but they finally turned back.”

“You do that?”

Tara shook her head at Spike’s question. “I don’t know what made them change their minds. But…we lost Clare and Benny. In all the rush, I didn’t realize they weren’t in the Hellmouth with us until I’d already sealed the entryway. Giles found some of Benny’s blood in their room, and Claire’s dust was all over the bed. We think they tried to hide, but the soldiers got to them anyway.”

She didn’t know who Clare and Benny were, but from Spike’s resigned sigh, she could tell that they’d been valued members of their little community. Buffy had to fight not to reach out and take his hand in reassurance.

They climbed down the stairs that led back to the bowels of the basement in silence. Nobody spoke until they heard the voices drifting from deeper in.

“This has got to stop,” Spike said. His voice was low and determined, the muscles tight in his jaw. “It’s only goin’ to get worse. There’s no way Finn can resist Slayer-bait, and even if we manage to get her back to her own world, he’s not goin’ to believe she’s not here unless he kills her or takes her in. The raids won’t stop.”

Giles growled behind them, drawing a shake of Spike’s head in response.

“No, we’re goin’ to find that spell she talked of.” He glanced to Buffy. “Hope you’re up for some heavy reading, Slayer. Because I’m not letting you away from the books until we’ve got what we need to stop Adam, once and for all.”

*************

Spike stood between the bed and everybody else, dark brows drawn together into a furious line as he glared at Angel’s back. It was bloody ridiculous to trust Ilona at this point; he didn’t care how urgent their situation was. The fact that she’d followed them to London with everything they needed to wake Buffy up was more than cause for alarm in his book. It reeked of a set-up. Only problem was, Angel had made his decision, and once that was done, there was no changing it. Especially when Rupert had practically wet himself when he saw the original spell done on the clock. Spike knew he was outnumbered, even if he was the only one left with an ounce of sense on the matter.

The three of them stood at the small desk against the far wall, looking over copies of the two spells, heads bowed and voices mere murmurs. Beyond the closed drapes, the morning sun was creeping across London, a reminder that time was slowly betraying them, running through the hourglass faster than they could catch it. Spike wanted to shout in frustration, and if it wasn’t for the fact that Angel had already threatened to kick him out of the room if he did it again, Spike would have. He was almost ready to do it anyway.

He settled for a menacing growl.

“Should I send the boy for tea?” he complained. “Seein’ as how we’re making a day of tryin’ to do something for Buffy here.”

Angel shot him a dirty look over his shoulder. “I told you to can it, Spike.”

“That was half an hour ago. All you’ve done is go back and forth, nattering on about nonsense. This isn’t brainstorming for Buffy. This is Oprah’s bloody Book Club.”

Ilona peeled herself away from where she had been pressed to Angel’s arm, but as she stepped toward the bed, Spike moved to prevent her from getting any nearer. “You do not believe I wish to help,” she said, curiosity in her tone.

Spike folded his arms over his chest. “No, I bloody well don’t.”

“Why?”

His brows shot up. “You mean, other than the fact that you don’t have anything now than you did in Rome but you’re only now stepping forward? Can’t see a single reason why.”

“But I do.” Her smile was ingratiating. Spike had no idea why Angel continued to fall for her smooth talk. “Taking the Immortal’s amour put you into a position of power, Spike. Surely you know this? I had the original spell, yes, and my people, they were busy searching for a means to fix what is broken. But this they cannot do if the Slayer is not there for them to use it upon, do you not see?”

He wasn’t going to succumb to her smooth logic. Ilona was one of them, through and through. He had to keep telling himself that.

“Doesn’t say why you have the clock,” he argued.

“No, it doesn’t.”

Though he waited for her to elaborate, nothing came, making Spike snort and shake his head. “You’re not goin’ to make me ask.”

Ilona shrugged. “It is a tool. And we wish the Slayer to be awakened as badly as you, or Angelus, or the Immortal does. The Immortal understands this and gave me what was necessary to bargain for her life.”

“Let it go, Spike.” Angel moved away from the desk to stand at Ilona’s side. “The important thing is that we have everything we need to snap Buffy out of this.”

“Then why isn’t she awake yet?”

“I think I know,” Giles said softly. With a book cradled in his hand, he stepped away from the desk and approached the others, his lined face lacking any of his earlier relief at the additional aid. “Our original assumptions were correct. Our spell should have worked, except something is tying Buffy to the other dimension. As long as that tie is there, she will not awaken.”

“So we sever the tie,” Angel said. “Easy.”

“Not quite.” Giles handed the book over and pointed to a passage. “Buffy is the only one who can do that. The clock is constructed from her past, her choices. That’s why it doesn’t work to transport any of the rest of us when we touch it. All the power of it rests in her hands.”

“Could she be hurt?” Spike asked. “Could that be what’s stopping her?”

Giles shrugged. “It could be anything. It could be as simple as the fact that she’s in Sunnydale again, or it could be something else entirely. Without being there, there’s no way for us to know.”

Silence followed the announcement. Even Ilona seemed uncharacteristically subdued.

“Well, that’s easy then.” Spike lifted his chin. “One of us has to go tell Buffy what’s up. Tell her she’s bollocksing things by not letting go.”

Giles started shaking his head before Spike had even finished speaking. “We can’t use the clock that way,” he said. “And we have no idea how to pinpoint what dimension Buffy is actually in. Without that information, any one of us could end up stranded someplace completely different.”

“But we do know.” Walking back to the desk, Angel picked up the clock and turned it over, exposing the date. “Buffy didn’t make choices in a vacuum. That’s what always set her apart. She had friends, family. There has to be somebody around who would’ve been affected by whatever choice she made that split that dimension off from this one.”

“Let me check on something…” The small group followed Giles as he left the bedroom to head to a bedroom across the hall, where a computer sat on a small desk near the doorway. It took a few minutes of fumbling at the keyboard, during which time everybody – not just Spike – began to fidget, but eventually, he nodded as if he’d reached an answer.

“Yes,” Giles said. “That’s what I thought. The date is Thanksgiving of that year, which explains why it’s my old clock the dimension’s been created from. If we could construct another portal attuned to me, I could go through and tell Buffy what she needs to do.”

“And how do we know that her choice would directly affect you?” Ilona asked. “I do not wish to seem the naysayer, but it’s very likely you could end up in the same dilemma as the Slayer.”

“I wouldn’t be tied---.”

“Ilona’s right.” Spike didn’t flinch as all eyes turned to him. “You can’t be the one to go through.”

“I have to be,” Giles argued. “I’m the only one here. Xander’s still in Africa, Willow’s in Bolivia, and Angel never actually encountered Buffy that day.” He shot a worried glance to the other vampire. “You…didn’t see Buffy that Thanksgiving, correct?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Spike interrupted. “I did. Tied to a chair while she went about turning the baddies into bears, remember? And I’m the one who heard the bits about the basement when we tried to wake her up. Think it’s clear who should be the one to go through.” When the voices started to rise in argument, he shook his head, turning on his heel to head back to Buffy’s room. “Chop, chop, Rupes. Time’s a-ticking. Literally.”

 

To be continued in Chapter 18