DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Too bad.
SUMMARY: Buffy & Spike have escaped Daymon’s hold, while Xander has accepted Celie’s deal in order to get Buffy back.

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Chapter 13: Out of the Frying Pan

The desert quiet wrapped around her shoulders, sheathing Buffy in its wintry embrace, and she fought to suppress the shivers that radiated through her torso. The memory of the long-sleeved blouse lying rumpled in the corner of her recent cell/bedroom made her regret her over-developed sense of style, and briefly, she wondered how her traveling companion was managing in the cold. Since they’d gone over the fence, Spike had been silent; only the crunch of his boots on the loose grit behind her confirmed his presence.

For over an hour now, the pair had been walking parallel to the dirt track leading away from the ranch, the one Spike claimed was the road that had brought them in. Even though she had no real idea where they were---other than the desert---Buffy hoped that somewhere along the trail they’d find some shred of civilization, some way of contacting Giles maybe, or a way to get back to Sunnydale. They were making good time; only once had they had to duck out of sight, when a truck laden with Daymon’s men had lumbered past. She’d watched the taillights receding against the horizon with a tightening knot in the pit of her stomach. What else in her life could possibly go kerplooie now?

“Slayer.” His voice rolled over her spine and though she felt the now-familiar tingle in her clit, Buffy kept on walking, intent on the landscape in front of her.

His lean fingers wrapped around her upper arm, jerking her to a halt, forcing her head to whip around and see his eyes glittering in the moonlight. There was no mistaking the concern she saw reflected there, and she found she didn’t even have the strength to attempt breaking free as the vampire’s gaze swept over her shivering form. “When were you going to tell me?” he growled.

“I’m f-f-fine,” Buffy argued, but the chatter in her teeth contradicted the firmness of her reply.

“For a Popsicle,” Spike countered, and began pulling her back in the direction from which they’d come. “C’mon. We passed a cave not too long ago.”

Although she resented his take-charge attitude, part of the Slayer was relieved that at least she didn’t have to continue pretending about the chill that was seeping into her bones. The unforgiving cold was sapping what little strength she had managed to regain, and in spite of his manhandling, Spike was right. They needed to find some shelter very soon.

“Don’t you dare tell anyone I said this,” she started in a small voice, “but sometimes I think we’re all screwed.”

The blond vampire didn’t reply, only glanced at her over his shoulder, loosening his grip on her arm at the same time. The moon cast long shadows over his cheeks, hiding half his face in darkness while illuminating the other in crystalline brilliance, and she was suddenly struck by the intensity of his features. For a moment, he seemed a stranger, perhaps some pagan deity resplendent in his human form as he walked among the mortals, and she felt her pulse begin to quicken. It was only when his lip curled in that mocking style that was so quintessentially Spike did the spell get broken. “Been telling that to the lot of you for years,” he said. “’Bout time you bloody believed me.”

Buffy giggled, an unbidden response that seemed to cut through the desert air, echoing against the knoll that now loomed in front of them, and she clapped her hand over her mouth to deaden the sound. Maybe it was the encroaching chill, maybe it was her increasing exhaustion. Whatever it was, for some inexplicable reason, the Slayer felt totally at ease as her unlikely partner led her into the darkened cave.

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

The trio stood outside the fence, watching the truck grind to a halt before the porch, the man in front of the house a mere outline in the moonlight. Even from where they stood, they could hear his angry voice barking orders, sending the truck’s occupants scuttling away on foot.

Not for the first time that night, Xander wondered just what in the hell he’d gotten himself into. How many times had they had a go at Buffy for going off half-cocked without back-up? And here he was, tagging along after the dog-bitch who was hunting her in the first place, pretending to play commando when he was really terrified that he was in way over his head.

So far, the only thing they’d agreed upon was Dawn. The teenager had been adamant about coming along. “She’s my sister,” she’d argued. But Xander knew, as foolish as his choice was, dragging along a thirteen-year-old would only compound the difficulty in breaking Buffy out and so he’d not fought Celie’s decision to cast a forget spell on the young girl before walking her the rest of the way home.

“It’s harmless,” the witch had stated. “She will think she returned on her own and we will not be burdened with trying to protect her from Daymon’s men.”

He’d waited until they were in the desert before asking about who this Daymon was she kept referring to. “My employer,” she explained. “He is the one who has your friend.” She’d only shrugged when Xander had asked about his purpose for the Slayer. “It is not my place to question,” she’d said.

“And where does Spike figure into all this?”

She’d darkened at the vampire’s name. “He was for me,” she said. “But Daymon refused my audience so that I could explain. So now, I must take him for myself.” Her eyes narrowed. “I find it curious that you would be friends with such a monster. Why does the Slayer allow him to fight her battles?”

“Whoa there, back up. First of all, not friends. No way, no sir, no how. And secondly, the Slayer does no such thing. She does very well on her own, thank you very much.”

“He was tending her when they were captured.”

“He was protecting her from you and Marmaduke back there.”

Celie was silent, lost in thought. “Perhaps she chooses him as an ally because he loves her,” she finally commented.

Xander exploded into laughter. “Loves her? Boy, do you have it wrong! Spike’s all Big Bad, well, ex-Big Bad, he’s more like chip-boy these days. But he and Buffy are enemies from way back. There’s no chance in hell he’s anywhere near being in love with her.”

“To be enemies, one requires passion…commitment. It would be simple to transpose those feeling into something more…romantic.”

“You don’t know Spike and Buffy,” Xander said, shaking his head. “The last thing in either of their heads is romance.”

The witch had no response to this and merely looked at him with those unfathomable eyes. The rest of their trek had passed in silence, and it was only when they’d reached the perimeter of the ranch did she address him again. “You are not still troubled from the teleport, are you?”

Xander was glad it was dark enough so that she couldn’t see him blush from embarrassment. “No, I’m fine now,” he said, inwardly hoping that she wasn’t about to do it again. After dropping Dawn off, she’d whisked them away from Sunnydale using the same spell she’d escaped from the alley with, and the young construction worker had spent the first five minutes in the desert vomiting in the dust. “You’re not…planning on doing it again, are you?”

Before she could reply, the Hound growled, his head bent low to the earth. Xander watched as Celie reached out, stroked the beast, murmured in its ear. She paused, seemingly to wait for a response, then stiffened, her black eyes narrowing as she looked over at the ranch. By now, the men had disappeared around the back of the house, their low voices becoming indistinguishable in the desert’s midnight hum, and young Harris began bouncing on his toes as his nervous energy began to take the better of him.

The dark witch straightened and turned her ebony eyes to her confederate. “We must re-evaluate our plans,” she said, her voice suddenly ice-cold.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“She’s gone.”

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

The wall of the cave was rough against her back, its jagged edges imprinting her skin with tiny pockmarks, and Buffy was grateful for the added layer of protection that Spike’s shirt gave her. Before they’d even reached the cave’s mouth, he’d stripped it off his back and pressed it into her hands without a word. She knew that he didn’t feel the cold the way she did and so didn’t really need the buffer the clothing provided, but something about the unsolicited gesture seemed rooted in genuine worry. She’d thanked him, a small smile letting him know she meant it, and then realized that it was the first real sign of gratitude she’d shown him since her abduction.

Now, hugging her knees close to her chest, Buffy watched the vampire prowl around the edges of the cave, his boots kicking at an occasional pile of sand, his fingers sporadically reaching out to explore unseen crevices in the stone. There was very little light within the cavern; the only illumination came from the bits of moonlight that trickled in from the entrance. Still, for some reason, her Slayer senses had kicked into overdrive, adjusting her eyes to the darkness, attuning her hearing to the nocturnal music that surrounded them.

For the moment, Spike was the center of her concentration. Without his shirt on, his chest gleamed in the stolen moonlight, sculpting his muscles in lines of porcelain, drawing her gaze down his abdomen, before disappearing under the waistband of his jeans. His scent filled her nostrils, causing her mouth to water in some unknown anticipation, and her arms tightened around her legs, forcing the fabric of his shirt even closer to her face without making it too obvious that she was deliberately inhaling its aroma. The realization that her panties were soaking wet didn’t even register alarm; instead, Buffy couldn’t help but wonder that if she could smell the vamp so strongly, there was no way in hell he wasn’t aware of her.

“Spike, you’re making me dizzy. Come sit down.” Inching her bottom over, Buffy resisted the urge to pat the ground next to her. Desperate much, Slayer? she asked herself silently.

The vampire stopped where he was, his head tilting as he looked at her through the corner of his azure eyes. “You should be sleeping, luv. It’s been a long couple of days.”

“Well, isn’t that a lesson in understatement,” she responded, rolling her eyes. “Let’s see, I got stalked by a demon hound---.”

“Hey! I got mangled by that demon hound.”

“---got snatched by Mr. Personality---“

“---caught on fire from the bleedin’ sun---“

“---almost died from magical fever---“

“---got shot by a wanker who doesn’t know when to knock---

“---and risked needing a transfusion to save your ass.” She said this last with a hint of a smile, which she had to consciously refrain from widening as Spike crossed the cave and sat down next to her. “Too bad Slayers don’t get workman’s comp.”

Absently, he picked at the remaining black polish on his nails. “You’ve got a rough gig, bein’ all Chosen and everything,” he commented. “Now, much as I enjoy a spot of violence now and again, if I was on your career path, I’d consider chucking it all for somethin’ with a better benefits package. Maybe start a band or somethin’,” he joked.

Buffy couldn’t help but laugh. “You’d starve, Spike,” she said. “I’ve heard you sing.”

“Don’t need to sing,” he smirked. “Just have to look goooood.” He drawled the last word, and left his lips slightly pursed, mocking his own Billy Idol impression.

As they both chuckled at his silliness, Buffy couldn’t help the sense of surprise that crept into her head. This can’t be the same Spike, she thought, Big Bad doesn’t crack jokes at his own expense, or offer the shirt off his back to a Slayer, or even care that that same girl might be a little cold. But he did…and he was…and suddenly, that seemed to make all the difference.

Tentatively, Buffy shifted her weight so that she was leaning ever-so-slightly against the vampire’s shoulder, at the same time stretching out her legs so that their length pressed against his. One hand lowered, came to rest on his jean-clad thigh, and she found herself revelling in the stony strength under her palm. She glanced up at his face, ready to thank him yet again, only to be stopped by the patch of crimson coloring the bandage on his shoulder. Her reaction was swift. “Damn it, Spike, you’ve gone and opened it up again!” Twisting around to face the vampire, the Slayer reached out to check his wound.

His iron-grip shot up to grab her wrist, staying the motion. “It’s fine,” he said. “It’s not fresh. That happened while we were out happy trailin’.” Spike paused, his blue eyes riveted on her face. “Fussin’ over Big Bad’s goin’ to give him the wrong ideas,” he added, his voice a mere murmur.

The moment froze as Slayer and vampire regarded each other. “No,” Buffy finally whispered. “They’re the right ideas.” Her admission shattered the resolve she’d been so desperate to control, and the young woman leaned forward, pressing her slightly parted lips against his. The kiss was gentle, questioning, catching her breath in her throat in spite of its brevity, and when she pulled away, all Buffy could hear was the pounding of her own heart in her ears.

Although his face was immobile, Spike’s darkened eyes scanned hers, searching for some shred of doubt. “No spell this time, Slayer,” he said.

“Don’t need one.”

This time, there was no hesitation. Their lips met…parted…tasted, as Spike’s tongue swept through her mouth, his soft exploration a marked contrast to their earlier interrupted romp. Under her breath, Buffy moaned, pressing herself even closer to his bare chest, while her arms slipped around his neck, guiding him closer. As her fingers intertwined in the vamp’s hair, his kiss slid across her cheek, tasting the salt of her skin, absorbing her heat, until his mouth hovered over her ear. She was surprised by the sensation of his warm breath on her neck, but the surprise was quickly replaced by delight as he caught her earlobe between his teeth, nibbling at the tender flesh.

“Spike…” she murmured, shifting her weight so that she was sitting on his lap, his hard cock pressing into her ass. As she moved, she caught a whiff of the musk between her legs and felt the vampire’s groan against her neck as the same scent assailed him. His nibbling intensified, trailing across her collarbone, and he pushed the cotton shirt aside to expose the delicate musculature of her shoulder.

“Too many clothes,” he growled.

Buffy chuckled. “You’re the one who gave it to me.”

Straightening, Spike held her by the shoulders at arm’s length, his sapphire eyes looking her up and down. “Then maybe I should take it back,” he drawled. His hands dropped to the top button, opening it excruciatingly slow, before dragging his way to the second…then the third…

When an impatient Slayer reached up to hasten the shirt’s removal, he swatted her away. “No help from the peanut gallery. Been waitin’ for this for a long time, luv. It’s goin’ to get done right.” As the fabric fell from the Slayer’s frame, Spike frowned. “Hmmm,” he said. “Forgot about that one.”

Buffy glanced down at her tank and grinned. “My turn,” she replied, grabbing its hem. In one liquid motion, the top was over the young woman’s head and tossed aside, exposing her hardened nipples to the chill night air. “Too bad we don’t have that sponge now,” she teased.

“I’ve got better,” Spike said, and slid his hands up her sides, around her back, behind her shoulders, tilting her backwards until she lay prone on the packed dirt floor. Placing his fists on either side of her, the vampire hovered over the golden beauty, drinking in the curve of her waist, before lowering his mouth to her breast.

Buffy gasped as Spike’s tongue licked around the dusty pink aureole, sending goosebumps dancing across her skin, and she had to fight the urge to just flip him over, straddle his cock, and impale herself on his hardness. Instead, her fingers dug into the earth, rooting herself, holding her breath as he caught her nipple between his teeth, gently pinning it while his tongue flicked its tip. Electricity shot through her torso, connecting breast to clit, and Buffy arched her back, silently begging him for more.

He could smell the juices running down her thighs. More than anything, he wanted to tear the trousers from her hips, plunge himself deep inside her, drown himself in her embrace, but Spike was determined to make this last as long as possible. As his mouth etched a path along the Slayer’s navel, his lean fingers slipped under the waistband of her pants, undoing the button, sliding down the zipper. She bucked as his hand grazed over the wiry curls, and he couldn’t help the smile that twisted his lips. If she liked that…

Buffy squeezed her eyes shut, biting her lip, as he pushed her clothes down over her hips, his mouth never leaving her skin. Every inch of her felt on fire, nerve endings all akimbo, and her legs seemed to have a mind of their own as they spread, exposing her dripping pussy to the elements, one knee arcing around Spike’s platinum curls, pulling him even closer. There was a moment when he froze, mere inches from her body, and she began to wonder if maybe something was wrong, if maybe she’d done something or not done something, or if maybe he was having second thoughts. All that was expunged, however, when she felt a small, intense, very directed breeze between her legs, followed almost instantaneously by his thumb gliding down her slit, lubricating itself with her juices along the way, before settling along the crack of her ass.

Her breath caught. A tornado of color eddied around her head as she waited, then felt the first pressure of his tongue curling around her clit, matched only by his free hand reaching up to pinch her nipple. There was no helping the groans that escaped her now; her body was a living flame under his expert touch, and the only thing she could do was go along for the ride. Her fingers tangled in his hair, guiding him closer…deeper…daring him to delve even further.

For a brief moment, Spike wondered how exactly Mr. Whitebread Finn had managed being Buffy’s lover for as long as he had. Her Slayer strength was riveting the vampire in place, and he could feel her internal muscles squeezing around his fingers as he guided them in…out…and back in again. There was no way Finn could’ve survived this, Spike thought. Buffy would’ve snapped him in two if she’d used even half the power she was using now.

He trapped her clit between his teeth and was rewarded with her tightening her hold on him, clenching his fingers with the walls of her pussy, as shudders of pleasure wracked her body.

There was no cave for Buffy. Spike’s tongue and teeth…his fucking her soaking slit…even his thumb as it caressed her ass…this was her world, building to a crescendo of color and lights, erasing all thought other than here…and now…

The orgasm tore at her body, ripping the scream from her throat, and she thrashed on the floor of the cave. Even with her eyes shut, she could feel the world tilt dangerously around her, threatening to buckle and envelop her should she choose to stare it down, so she clawed into the dirt, desperate for a handhold.

As the shockwaves dissipated, Buffy’s muscles relaxed, turning to lead and sinking into the ground, while releasing Spike from his position between her legs. She sighed, stretched, felt him climb up her body, only opening her hazel eyes to look at him once she knew he was directly over her.

His face shone from the juices smeared across his mouth and cheeks, and there was no mistaking the smug satisfaction in those azure depths. “I told you,” he said.

In spite of the heaviness of her limbs, Buffy lifted her right hand to touch the vampire’s jaw, stroke his bottom lip. “Told me what?” she asked, barely able the articulate the words.

Spike’s own hand reached up to caress her face, touch the golden curls laying dishevelled around her, before bending down to brush a light kiss over her lips. “Mine,” he whispered.

Buffy didn’t respond. Instead, her eyes searched his face, poring over the familiar scar, the unimaginably perfect cheekbones, the sensuous mouth. So intent was her scrutiny, she didn’t even hear their approach until Spike’s head had jerked up to look past her, deeper into the cave.

“Shit,” he muttered. “Out of the frying pan…”

The Slayer twisted around to see what the vamp was referring to. There, in the black recesses of the cavern, stood a dozen armed demons, all focused on the pair on the ground. Buffy groaned. “And into the fire…”

To be continued in Chapter Fourteen: Caves