Almost forty-eight hours had passed, and Spike had yet to find the courage to leave his crypt. He was consumed with both the elation of possessing a slayer and the blind terror of having said those three incriminating words.
Which had been forced into his head and out of his mouth by a meddling carrot-topped co-ed, no doubt.
He'd figured it this way: Red cast some sort of mutual good will spell to make up for her previous debacle, only it took a tragic sexual turn thanks to Buffy's raging hormones, pent up frustration and painfully obvious attraction to him.
It must have worn off the moment that Buffy looked at him with all that fear, revulsion and internal torment, right after he said it. She had to know he'd been a puppet too -- or was she thick enough to believe he actually meant it?
He wanted to find Willow and rip her heart out.
Except that he kind of liked Willow, and besides, the first part wasn't all bad. From a purely objective standpoint he'd confirmed some long-suspected abilities totally unique to slayers -- or this slayer anyway. And the thing was, she had these incredible eyes...
This had to stop.
"Buck up, mate," he said to himself. "Find her and just... take it back."
Couldn't be that hard, right?
He grabbed his coat and headed out.
* * *
How dare she come back to the Bronze and just stand there chatting happily with her little friends like nothing ever happened!
It was time to remind her. No... wait. It was time to take it back -- that's it.
Spike took a deep breath and approached her.
"Wha--?" Buffy turned around. "Spike," she said, expertly giving him her patented Buffy-to-Spike reaction, the one that said he was just a pesterly gnat she had no time for. "What do you want?"
"Buffy, can I speak to you alone for a second?"
"Why? And what's with the Buffy all of a sudden?"
He grit his teeth. "Slayer."
"Okay, okay." Buffy threw Willow a shrug, and followed Spike to a darkened spot under a staircase.
"Right." Spike began to pace.
Buffy looked around as if she was on Candid Camera. "Are you actually going to talk? I don't really have time--"
"About the other night. About what I said."
"The other night?"
She looked at him blankly. "What did you say?"
"When I said I loved you, that was the spell talking, all right? You can thank bloody Velma for that." He gestured at Willow.
"You mean a couple of months ago, when we were... betrothed." Buffy was trying to forget that embarrassing little episode. Why was he bringing this up now? Had he joined some kind of vampire twelve step program?
"No, the other night. When we..." he jerked his head to the side.
Again with the blank stare. "When we...?"
"Oh, come on! Don't play dumb with me! When we had it off!"
"Had what off?"
"Oh, for bloody--" He looked around him and leaned in. "When you rutted me like a wild cheetah in heat."
Buffy's features froze. When I whatted like a what huh in who?
"It was the spell."
Suddenly, she felt ill. "This is a joke, right? Please tell me this is a sick and misguided joke."
"Don't pretend you don't remember, woman. Because I was under it too," he came close to her ear and continued in a low murmur, "and I damn well remember every bleedin' second. Every sigh, every wriggle, every birthmark..."
"Oh... oh god." Faith, that conniving little whore! With Spike? "I'm gonna be sick."
He pulled away, shocked and disgusted. "Bloody nitwit! I should've known better than to think--"
She turned on him. "You asshole!"
"You, oh god, you just went for it?"
"What? Are you daft? You seduced me! You practically attacked me!"
"That wasn't me." Buffy forced back angry tears.
"I know -- it was the spell."
"Spike, there was no spell."
"What d'you mean there was no--"
"It was Faith."
"What was faith?"
"Faith. The other slayer. She was in my body. She was..." Another wave of revulsion. "She was the one who... Oh I'm really gonna kill her now."
"She was in your body." Spike found this all very hard to believe.
"She had this ancient magical doo-dad that switched our bodies -- I was in hers, she was in mine. Get it? She was planning to take over my life. I guess she thought it'd be funny to sleep with you," she said bitterly.
"Wh--..." He stopped to absorb this new information. It sort of made sense: the slayer gone bad, back with a vengeance. Well, that was a funny one. Until the other shoe dropped, and it was his turn to feel ill. "I wasn't under a spell?"
"No spell," Buffy said, then his meaning hit her. "Wait."
"Sorry, gotta go." His duster flared out behind him.
Reluctantly, he turned to face her, then quickly trained his gaze on the floor.
"You hate me." Vampires without souls can't love anyway. ...Right?
"Why did you...?"
He scoffed. "Well, that's a stupid question. You were all over me. I am a man, after all."
"No -- first of all, let's get one thing straight. I wasn't all over you. Faith was all over you."
"Sure as hell looked like you," he said, adding to himself, Felt like you, smelled and tasted like you...
"I meant, why... about the other thing."
"Right. Heat of the moment and all that. Forgot who you were."
"Um. Yeah. Okay." I'll go with that, she thought as she tried to shake off the uneasy feeling curling around her. "Listen. You have to promise me you won't tell a soul--"
He backed off, head held up high. "Wha', think I'm proud of it?"
"No, I just mean--" She took a deep breath.
"I know what you mean. Look, I'd be offed if anyone heard about this. Bad enough I'm already defanged." Her eyes searched his, pleading and afraid, and he sighed. "Your blockhead boyfriends will never know."
"Thank you. Now, excuse me while I search out and destroy Faith."
"Oh, right, Faith. Think she's still in town?" he asked with a wicked grin and an eyebrow wiggle.
"Not if she knows what's good for her. And don't get any ideas. Believe me, you were just a toy to her."
"Oh, I don't know, Slayer. She came like mad when I said it."
"When you... ugh. Okay, this is too weird. Let's not--"
"And, she slapped me and ran off when I said your name."
"--talk about this anymore."
"Guess she likes me, then."
"I thought you forgot who I was."
"Huh?" Bloody big mouth.
Buffy shook her head. "Forget it. This discussion is ove-r--Riley!" Suddenly, a tall, fair-haired boy stood before her.
"Buffy," Riley looked warily at Spike. "What are you doing talking to Hostile 17?"
"Nope," she managed cheerfully.
"Shall we?" Buffy led her boyfriend away from the darkened stairway.
In their wake, a confused vampire stood cursing in the shadows.