DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Too bad.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: An exhausted Buffy and Spike have been whisked away to safety by Dolly, and are attempting to sleep without interference from the Soul Eaters…

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Chapter 20: Summer Dreams

The first thing she felt was an overwhelming heat, licking with kitten tongues across her skin, up her muscled calves, tickling the back of her thighs before caressing the curves of her waist, wrapping and embracing her in a sheath that promised exquisite pleasure alongside the burn. She could smell the sand beneath her cheek, coarse and gritty where it clung to her outstretched arm, and inhaled the scents of the ocean as they drifted in from the water. The beach. One of her favorite non-slayage places to be.

Between the soft lapping of the waves against the shore and the warmth prickling her eyelids, Buffy felt the sudden need to sleep, and wondered briefly if she could risk it, if a short nap in the sun would turn her into a lobster or if she had remembered to put the sunblock on before lying down. Better to be safe than sorry, she thought, and reached blindly out to her side, feeling around for the bag she knew was there.

Her fingers curled around the fabric, dragging it closer, but when it caught, stopping her arm in mid-crook, Buffy frowned, her eyes flickering open to blink against the blazing afternoon shine.

"Thought this was s'posed to be my little part of this fantasy," Spike drawled, his hand tight around the bag, his skin glowing even more white under the sun's rays. "Or am I remembering your dream wrong?"

Though he was really more of an outline, Buffy smiled, realizing for the first time that she was actually asleep, that all this was one of her own dreams manufactured by her subconscious, hopefully to provide her with a much needed respite from the whirlwind of death and drama that seemed to be winding around her in the waking world. "Actually," she said, rolling onto her side and propping her head up in her hand, "you kept your mouth shut during the sunblock bit. I didn't know it was you until I felt the…" Her gaze dropped to the hand curled around the bag's strap. There, on his long finger, rested the Gem of Ammara.

He noticed it as she did, and let go of the bag to hold his hand up, fingers splayed. "It's heavier than I remember it," Spike noted, testing its weight, and twisted it around his knuckle with his other hand. "Wonder what would happen if I took it off? Think I'd go poof?"

"Don't!" Grabbing his hand as it began to tug at the ring, Buffy looked up at him in shocked horror. "What do you think you're doing?" she demanded.

His lips curled into an amused smirk. "Just a dream, luv. It's not like I'm goin' to burst into flame for real."

"And you know this because…?" Sitting herself up, she looked pointedly at the deserted beach around them. "Last dream you had, you woke up with some very real burns. Or had you forgotten that part already? And just because it looks like we're alone here, doesn't mean there still might not be something dangerous lurking about. Don't be helping it by doing something stupid."

Slowly, his smile faded, to be replaced with that pensive worry she'd been hoping to forego in dreamland. "Guess you've got a point there then," Spike murmured, letting the ring slide back down his finger to rest comfortable at its base. He glanced up at the blazing sky, squinting against the too-bright sun. "How the hell can you see in this?" he complained, shielding his eyes from the brilliance. "It's givin' me a headache."

She was on him in a second, forcing him to lie back on the hot sand, straddling his hips and pinning his arms so that he had no choice but to look up into the cloudless blue. "So don't look," Buffy teased with a smile, giggling as his brow wrinkled, eyes narrowing to slits as he fought to make her out.

"Bloody wench," he murmured, but there was a laugh behind his tone. Before she could react, he had thrown her off, sending her tumbling to the side, and leapt to his feet, standing before her with a wide grin on his face.

With both of them able to look at the other now without being blinded by too much sunshine, Buffy found her heart hammering inside her chest as she gazed at the vampire, her mouth suddenly dry. He was beautiful. There were no other words for it. Before Spike, she would've felt silly placing such an adjective at the feet of a guy, but now, it seemed the only one appropriate. Beautiful. And hers.

Sculpture come to life, marble-like skin that glistened in the brightness, power housed within limbs that knew both violence and gentility. He was such a contradiction in terms, a demon and not, a man and not, capable of the most heinous of crimes yet possessed with a certain selflessness for those he deemed important in his life. Of course, most of the badness had been in the past, prior to his coming into contact with Buffy, but it was still there, a part of him, a part of who he was, and the fact that he now chose to move on from the worst of it meant more to the Slayer than any words he might say. She only hated that it had taken her so long to finally figure it out.

She tilted her head, hazel gaze sweeping over him, and bit back the smile that sprang to her lips as it hesitated over his hips. Obviously, he hadn't noticed yet…

"What?" the vampire asked, catching the aborted grin, noticing where her eyes were lingering. "What's so…" His voice trailed away as he glanced down and saw the brightly patterned swim trunks that hung loosely from his lean hips. "Bugger," he muttered, then looked up at her through his lashes, eyes flashing. "You couldn't have made them black? I look like Harris!"

Buffy laughed. "I don't know. I think they're kind of cute, in a geeky, my mom does my shopping and I got dressed in the dark, kind of way."

"Well, if you think I'm wearin' 'em for one more second, you've got another thing comin'."

As she watched, Spike yanked the drawstring that held the fabric up, loosening the waist and allowing them to fall from his hips, kicking them into the surf with a vehement lash. "Ooo," she cooed with a small purse of her lips. "I think I like this much better."

His body hadn't been excited before, but a comment like that couldn't go unattended, his cock already starting to swell as his platinum head lifted to stare down at her. "Turnabout's fair play," he drawled, and let his azure gaze sweep over the tiny bikini that barely covered her.

Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment, knees drawing up to hide her body. "You're kidding! Somebody could come along!"

"It's a dream, Buffy. And there's nobody else here." He took a lazy step forward, tilting his head. "Not like I haven't seen it all before anyway."

"Do you have any idea how badly I'll burn? And in places where it will most definitely not feel good. Not that sunburn ever actually does, but…" She'd been inching herself backward while she spoke, eyes locked on Spike as he edged himself closer, knowing as she spoke that this was all just part of the game, that both of them knew there was no real intent behind the words. That's what made it fun.

His foot caught the strap of the bag as he passed it, kicking it up into the air and catching it in one deft move, all without stopping his pace forward. "That's what the block is for."

"I'm not going topless---."

"Topless, bottomless, the whole kit and caboodle, pet."

When he dove forward, meaning to tackle her, Buffy shrieked in delight, rolling to get out of his way, and watched as he landed with a thud in the sand. "Gotta catch me first!" she cried, and was about to scamper to her feet when an icy hand clamped around her ankle.

"We've played this before," Spike said, dragging her across the beach while he crept forward himself. He pinned her against the coarse grains, and began playing with the straps of her suit. "Not really in the mood for tag right now."

She held her breath as his fingers slid down to the tie between her breasts that connected the two halves of her bikini top, tugging at it gently to loosen the knot there. "No games then," she whispered, and reached out to stroke the corded muscle of his thigh.

"No games," he agreed.

When the inferno of the sunshine spread over the expanse of her now-exposed breasts, Buffy groaned, jaw dropping as her eyes fluttered shut. It was more relaxing than she'd felt in days, like being wrapped up in the warmest blanket on the coldest night, with her mother's arms tightly around her. Calming. Except thinking about her mother only brought back the bad stuff and questions she had no answers to, so quickly she shuffled those comparisons to the back of her brain, opening her lids to bring her back into the moment.

He was lying half-on, half-off her, propping his head up in his hand as he gazed at the curve of her breast, his fingers tracing curlicues in the air above it, so close and yet so far to contact that the anticipation of feeling him touch her made her ache. "Y'know," he said softly, "does it ever occur to you that this thing between us has only been going on for a couple weeks now? Sometimes, with all this head readin' business, it feels like it's been forever, but when we're like this…" His voice trailed off, his eyes dark even in the afternoon sunshine.

"Do you wish it was like this all the time?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper. It was a question she'd been dying to ask since before the business with the Soul Eaters had even started, but in light of all their angst over the past few days, it had slipped her mind. Now, though, seemed like a good time to talk about it. While they were in a good place. Because she knew her answer to that question and could only hope that Spike would feel the same way. Of course, it wouldn't make a difference in the long run, but being on the same page was always of the good. "You in your head, me in mine?" she added as clarification.

It took him a long to answer, his gaze seemingly captivated by the hardened bud of her nipple, the shadow of the curve beneath her breast. "I don't like how you get all the bad with the good," Spike finally said. "I don't like hurtin' you, and knowin' that some of the rot that runs through my head is less than pretty makes it…rough tryin' to keep it in check."

"I'm not complaining," Buffy started, but was silenced by his fingers on her lips, cool against the fever of her flesh.

"I wasn't done." His eyes lifted, and the softness behind the storm of his gaze automatically netted the butterflies that had started fluttering in her stomach. "Harnessing those kind of instincts isn't my favorite thing to do, but I've been doin' it to some degree ever since they shoved this chip up my brain. So, I guess I can learn to take it that extra step so you don't get the spillover of carnage I can't help but consider every once in a while." He paused, his thumb trailing over her chin. "The other thing is…I don't like not havin' the control, of thinkin' someone else might be at the wheel and I'm stuck belted in the back, just watchin' the scenery go by."

"I haven't taken your control…have I?" The worry that she'd overstepped the boundaries she'd placed on herself swelled within Buffy's breast, and her hazel gaze swept over his face, silently begging him to allay her fear. The last thing she needed right now was to ruin what was probably the best thing that had ever happened to her. If she drove him away the same way she'd driven away Riley, she wasn't sure what she was going to do.

"No," Spike was quick to assure, the lone word a hush against her cheek as he bent to sweep his lips over the swell of her mouth. "It's not you. It's the situation. The watching from the sidelines while life goes on around you. Like when you found your mum. That was…" How could he finish the thought? Crippling? Overwhelmingly painful? It seemed to escape definition, and he growled with the frustration of being limited by words.

She let her eyes close against the disappointment that she knew suddenly flared there. "So I guess that means, you'd be all for having Giles and Will find some way of reversing all this once we get past this Soul Eater business," she said, and tried not to let the bitterness slide into her tone.

"I didn't say that. Buffy, luv, look at me." He waited until she lifted her lids again, and refrained from sighing out loud at the sorrow he saw there. Bollocks. He hated when he messed up what came out of his mouth. "What I'm sayin'," he murmured, "is that at the end of the day, considerin' what bein'…connected like this might mean inconvenience-wise, I wouldn't trade it for all the blood in China. Because there's so much more good that comes of it." He pushed back her hair from her forehead, watching the sun glint in the strands of gold, and felt a twinge of sadness that he'd never be able to see it dance so during their waking hours. "You give me life. Exhilarating, pulse-pounding, glorious life. It used to just be all about the metaphor. That's what lovin' you felt like before." He chuckled. "Now it's the real deal."

Relief washed over her, allowing the heat from the sunshine to permeate the muscles that she'd locked against the potential pain of hearing him disavow the bond between them. "Maybe we can work on those privacy issues," she said with a small smile. "Find ways to give each other just a little bit more alone time."

"Maybe," he agreed, his voice barely audible as he feathered a trail of kisses down her cheek. His next word was a mere breath. "Later."

The moan escaped its tether from the back of her throat as Spike's cool tongue traced the whorl of her ear, his hand dancing down her side to caress the curve of her hip. The tension that had been building in her body vanished, sinking into the sand beneath her as if pulled by some huge invisible magnet, and Buffy was left with the exquisite lethargy that should only come at the hands of an excellent masseuse. Well, except Spike is very much good with his hands, she thought lazily, the corner of her mouth lifting as her knees seemed to part of their own accord. He definitely qualifies, even if he isn't really touching me in that way. Yet.

His knee was nudging hers further apart, allowing his hand better access to the moisture that was dripping down her slit, and as his index finger traced a path around her outer lips, Buffy turned her head to him, taking him by surprise by meeting his mouth, and echoed the tenor of his strokes with the lazy search of her kiss.

Everything was forgotten…the grief that had suffused both of them since discovering Joyce's body…the unspoken fear of the mostly unknown enemy from which they were both running…the anxieties that had stretched taut two sets of nerves as they fought to define themselves within the confines of their unconscious link. None of it mattered. Not then. And somehow, each of them instinctively knew that when they woke from this particular dream, the world would seem sharper, edges honed to a clarity that would make confronting it all that much simpler, their path a clear line before them.

Buffy's fingers wove through the curls at the base of Spike's neck, pulling him closer so that their kiss deepened, tongues searching and battling as they feasted on the other's mouth, her breath catching in her chest as two of his long fingers slid inside her slick channel. Thrusting them in and out, his thumb flicked over her clit as they worked, sending shocks of pleasure coursing through her pelvis that brought a corresponding moan to her lips.

Spike chuckled as he broke free, sliding to nip at the scar on her neck. "So," he drawled, "do I remember something 'bout 'fuck Mr. Nice Guy' from that first little dream of yours?" He punctuated his words by plunging a third finger into her sticky depths, eliciting a hungry moan from the Slayer who writhed in the sand beneath him.

Shivers rippled down her spine with each powerful drive of his hand. "Told you," she panted. "You…white hat…get used to…it…"

The taunt prompted a growl from the vampire and the amber flecks danced behind his eyes. "Not a nancy boy," he snarled, and added the fourth finger, stretching her to a satisfying fullness, heedless of his nails as they flicked across the wet inner walls.

Buffy smiled, in spite of her growing incapacity to control her muscles, or her inability to contain the responsive thrusting of her hips as they met each of his strokes. "Poof," she teased, and gasped when his head dipped to catch her nipple between his teeth.

When he felt her clench around his fingers, Spike hissed, his cock jumping against her thigh, straining to just bury itself deep into her pussy. Not yet, he reasoned silently, his head swimming from the scent of her skin. Want to make this last. But the warning came unbidden, the niggling reminder that this was still just a dream and either of them could wake at any moment, be yanked from the bliss that was surrounding them in a fraction of a second and leave the other alone and unsatisfied. Better to just take what he could and enjoy it for as long as possible. Time was not currently their friend.

Pulling his hand free, Spike slid his mouth up the curve of her breast to her neck again, positioning himself over her so that the tip of his erection hovered above her slit. "Love you so much," he murmured, readying himself to enter, but was startled by her powerful hands grasping his ass and guiding him inside, a single thrust that made her back arch away from the searing sand.

The movement ground her clit into his pelvic bone, and his head dropped, his eyes closed, as she held him there for what seemed an eternity, the muscles in her hands kneading his buttocks while her inner ones pulsed around his cock. Scorching from below and above, her heat battling with that of the sun, and Spike felt like he was ablaze, his flesh threatening to slough away as it mounted in a piercing torture that made his mouth water. When she finally loosened her grip, allowing him to ease, he took no pause as he proceeded to pound into her channel, driving her deeper into the sand as her hands slid up, her nails clawing at his back.

"Spike…"

His name was a long, drawn-out exhalation, her pulse quickening to the point where he feared her heart would jump from her chest. For a moment, the vampire considered slowing, the momentary worry that he was hurting her skittering across his mind. Mustn't hurt Buffy, he thought, and felt the draw to ease.

Almost immediately, she sank her teeth into his shoulder, not breaking the porcelain skin, but searing him with pleasure, and Spike roared, his demon emerging as his back arched, plunging himself deeper, more frenzied…her pussy squeezing and milking him with power unrestrained…undulating in tremoring waves as she came beneath him, the screams torn from her throat as her every muscle tensed from the relief.

His teeth clenched as he felt his balls tighten, his body go rigid as his cock shot deep inside her, and his fangs drew blood from his own lips as the tide overtook him. It was only when it ebbed did the demon recede, his tongue lapping at the blood that stained his mouth before lowering himself to suck at hers, swallowing her breath as they both came down from their orgasms.

"Only you," he whispered against her skin as he collapsed on top of the Slayer. "Always you."

"Us," Buffy corrected, and ran soothing fingertips over the scratches she'd left on his back. "Always us."

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What the hell am I doing? Dolly thought as she materialized in the dimly lit library. I've got to be out of my mind. Yep. That's it. I've officially gone wandering into bonkers world because that has got to be the only reason I am checking up on these silly little humans. Damn Cort. She is definitely going to pay for me going soft.

It was deserted, not what she'd been expecting at all. A quick sweep of the stacks confirmed for the green demon that the room was empty, no sign of the two witches anywhere to be found. Odd, she mused as she stepped out into the hallway. They're supposed to be researching. So much for due diligence. And here I thought the redhead might actually be worth something. The power had certainly leaked off her in corrosive flashes during the brief contacts she had had with her. Guess she'd made a mistake.

Halfway down the corridor, though, and she came to a halt, the dead bodies of two of Cortina's guards barring the way. Their necks had been slit, their blood still flowing to stain the earth in colorful hues, and Dolly felt a growing concern as she stopped to listen, smelling the pervasive scents of human in the air, fading into a mist should another one be lurking about. Not good. Not good at all.

As she floated further along, she found another corpse, this one a black-clad human, its weapon crushed at its side, and stopped, her need to continue stifled as she realized what had actually happened. Cortina's not going to like this, Dolly thought as she faded away. And something tells me the Slayer's going to be none too pleased when she finds out that her precious Council has snatched her little Wicca friends…

 

To be continued in Chapter 21: A New Birth