Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

By Rikki_oko

Rating: NC-17
Summary: Season 4, goes AU after Hush. I have taken a few liberties, like our favorite heroine carrying a cell phone a bit early, so please suspend your belief and enjoy
Pairing: Spike/Buffy
Disclaimer: Don't own it, do love it, please don't sue.
Warnings: Fair food can cause high cholesterol and spontaneous make out sessions
Any other notes: Angstchic is my awesome beta - all glory and thanks be to her.

***

Chapter One

If there were a top ten list of recent suckage in the life of Buffy Summers, cleaning vampire dust out of her shoes had to rank pretty high. Possibly just beneath foregoing the newest Tom Cruise flick in favor of the fascinating study of the feeding habits of Turlock demons. Then there was finding out the cute, ordinary boy she was flirting with was more than meets the eye. Not as common as dust removal, but thanks to her recent spill-the-beans session with Riley, she'd realized that it was at the top of the chart.

Buffy snorted irritably, and kicked the trashcan she was strolling past. The receptacle flew to the building beside her, crumpling like a beer can against the bricks. She offered a sheepish frown at the damage and continued towards Shady Hill Cemetery.

“You just had to be some sort of top secret commando,” she muttered, envisioning Riley's face, as she rubbed her forearms and wished for once she'd sacrificed cuteness for warmth. “Because being an ordinary TA would be too much to ask for since I was considering dating you. In fact, color me surprised that you're human at all.”

Of course, she didn't say any of this to him when she had the chance. No, after they'd both laid out their entirely separate, yet equally bizarre, life missions she'd nodded sagely and put on the “let's take some time to think about it” brakes.

A rattle and crash behind her caused her to whirl, stake in hand and eager for battle. A streak of black fur, coupled with a sad meow, darted across the alley. Harrumphing her disappointment, she put her stake away.

“I thought the Hellmouth was supposed to spew out endless streams of things needing a good killing. Like Old Faithful…with less tourists.”

With a frustrated sigh, she resumed walking. Her cell phone rang and she pulled it from her skirt pocket, knowing instinctively that only one guy was likely to be on the other end of the line. One who was neither cute nor ordinary.

“Yeah?” she answered.

“Buffy, I'm glad I caught you,” Giles said, “Something's come up.”

“Something evil?” she guessed hopefully.

“To the marrow of his bones,” he confirmed, with that tone that indicated he was probably grumpily pinching the bridge of his nose. “It's Spike. I'm afraid he may be up to something.”

“Like what? Scowling? Making weird British insults? C'mon, Giles, it's not like he can do anything.”

“We can't be certain of that, Buffy,” Giles corrected, as she exited the alley, glancing both ways more in the vain hope of spotting a fledgling than actually anticipating a car on the quiet street. “He may not be able to bite anyone, but Spike has many connections in the vampire community, and he does have certain charms that may lure unsuspecting victims.”

“Oh yeah, he's a regular purple heart or green clover,” she said dryly, crossing the road. “Why the sudden concern? Don't we have real vampires to fight?”

“Yes, but tonight I have reason to be concerned,” he said, “I sent Spike to the market over two hours ago and he has yet to return.”

“You sent Spike to the grocery store?” she said, pausing briefly as a disturbing image of the vampire comparing the price of canned peaches sprung to mind. She shook it off with a curled lip and continued on her way. “Gee, Dad, did you remind him to bring the car back with a full tank of gas?”

“Yes, I suppose you think you're terribly amusing. If you must know, he is eating me out of house and home and at the very least I felt it would be reasonable for him to pull his weight around here.”

“So, I should call up the local Safeway and recommend an armed guard for the produce section?”

An irritable huff, “If you would kindly let me finish I would explain that there is a carnival starting tonight. And since I remember Spike mumbling something about picking up candy floss, I think it's likely he'd attend.”

“Okay, so he's got an evil itch to ride the Scrambler,” she replied. “Which, granted, weird, but this is Spike.”

“Indeed it is, Buffy, and you seem to forget that he is a particularly sagacious predator. I've no doubt that he'd consider a throng of distracted fun-seekers a prime opportunity.”

“Someday I'll need to take classes on your speak,” she sighed, then stomped around the route to the cemetery, heading for the main drag. “But, fine. I'll go find the bleached idiot and bring him back to your place. I haven't seen a baddie all night anyway.”

A sigh came from the other end of the line, “In that event, it wouldn't be unwise to patrol the carnival. These events can be rife with evil.”

“My God, Giles, you're right,” Buffy mocked, “Cotton candy and kiddie roller coasters. Should we alert the media?”

“Traveling fairs can attract an unsavory lot. Coupled with a Hellmouth, I think a bit of caution is in order.” Giles' tone was thick with irritation and Buffy pulled a face, before responding.

“Right. Call me cautious girl,” she said. “I'll bring back your roomie as soon as I find him.”

“Do take your time,” Giles sighed, and she could hear the sound of scouring in the background. “It will take me a month to clean... my God!” he abruptly exclaimed, “What atrocity has he committed with that loaf of bread?!”

The line went dead and Buffy pulled the phone away to stare at it briefly before putting it away.

Five blocks and not a single slay later, she arrived at the fairgrounds. A cacophony of lights and noise assaulted her as she wandered into the midway. For those first few moments, it was hard not to be swept away. Hecklers assured her how easy the milk bottles would come down, just one, two, three, pretty girl. Ignoring them, her nose caught a mixture of smells redolent of seasons past. Fresh fries and funnel cakes, and the unmistakable sweetness of cotton candy.

She paused and examined the colorful offerings at a temporary-tattoo booth, watching with envy as a young couple picked out designs for each other. She found herself smiling as they pointed and laughed at the more obscene designs. Which of course was the perfect cue for her little tingle alarm to go off. Buffy narrowed her eyes and scanned the crowd. She made her way through the throng, searching for the vampire that she already knew was near.

It took all of two minutes to find the creature in question, skulking behind the garish glow of a candy apple stand. And naturally it had to be the single vampire in this wretched city that she couldn't kill. She crossed her arms, listening as he flirted with a giggling, obviously teenaged girl. From her hiccups and wobbly stance, Buffy guessed the carnival wasn't in the practice of carding their patrons.

“I'd love to get you a candy apple, pet, but I'm afraid I left my wallet at home.”

Yeah, his wallet is right there with his birth certificate, circa. Old-enough-that-maggots-don't- want-him.

Eyes rolling, Buffy snuck a little closer, getting ready to break up the party if he'd somehow managed to get his fangs up and working again.

“Oh, I have money!” the girl slurred, producing a wad of cash that might as well have been wrapped with a ‘rich daddy' ribbon. “Enough for us to have lots of fun.”

“True enough, but it'll go further for just one,” Spike purred, then abruptly morphed into game face and roared, “Now drop the dosh and run before I rip you in half and use your innards for floss!”

The girl let out a blood-curdling shriek that blended into every other thrill ride scream in the vicinity. She dropped the cash and fled, stumbling off the fairgrounds and falling over a flimsy barrier fence in the process.

“That's gonna leave a mark,” Spike laughed as his victim disappeared into the night, giving Buffy the perfect opportunity to sucker punch him in the kidney.

“Bloody hell!” he yelled at impact, clutching his back and turning, fangs still brandished. “You! Should have known.”

Buffy strolled forward casually and clocked him again, sending him wailing crankily into the concession booth's trailer hitch. “My thoughts exactly,” she agreed. “Now how about you tell me exactly what the hell you're doing here.”

“Helping little old ladies onto the merry go round,” he said snidely, wiping blood from his nose before he tried to move past her.

Buffy pulled back to punch him again. He ducked to the side, but she caught him by the ear. Twisting hard, she yanked him to his knees.

“You bloody bitch!” he screamed, “You're even worse than normal tonight, aren't you? Is this some Slayer charged version of PMS?”

“Shut. Up. Spike.” With each word, she kicked him in the gut, until he had doubled over onto the ground. “Now, why don't we talk about Giles' groceries?”

Clutching his stomach, he bellowed, “Well, I couldn't just run up to the local cash machine, could I? What is your problem tonight?”

“You want to know what my problem is?” she gritted out, a rush of angry heat running from her head to the soles of her feet. “You are my problem. Your kind is my problem. The entire sorry state of my life is my problem!”

Spike huddled to a crouching position and slipped back into his human guise, but she ignored him, pacing back and forth as her tirade continued. “I'm a cute girl, you know? I shouldn't be chasing some badly dressed, over-bleached piece of fangy Euro... ”

“Hey!” he defended, but she ignored him.

“ ...trash around a carnival on a Friday night!”

She spun, waving her hand at the lights and rides, “I should be at this carnival with a normal boy. Not a vampire or a sleazebag, and definitely not some sort of gun-toting commando fighting for the greater good. Just a guy! Someone who will win me a cute little pink bear and offer me his jacket when it gets cold!”

“But nooo…” She flipped her hair and redirected her fury at Spike. Her tirade instantly stalled into silence when she noticed he was now on his feet and intently sniffing the air. Oh, and totally not paying attention to her.

“Smell that, Slayer?” he said throatily, pushing past her with a wild look in his eyes.

She made a grab for him, but he darted past her and back into the thick of the crowd of the midway. With a furious growl, she stomped forward, following the distinct tingle of his presence as she pushed her way through the bodies.

A very morbid part of her was curious as to what had him so worked up. She really needed to find him so that she could dust him, and thus annihilate that icky curiosity forever. Just when she thought the search was in vain, she found him at the window of another food trailer.

“Gimme one of those blooming onions and a funnel cake and maybe some of those chips.”

Unbelievable.

The girl behind the counter smacked her gum and offered a confused glance at the menu.

“Fries, sorry,” he corrected with a shake of his head.

Buffy approached him and raked the stake in her palm surreptitiously down the back of his duster, quietly muttering. “I am going to kill you.”

He turned over the shoulder, looking her up and down with a disgusted sigh. “Oh, fine.” Into the food trailer, he called, “And give us a couple of lemonades, yeah?”

“We are not buddies, Spike,” she continued in a low voice. “We are not going to share some fries over a picnic table. As soon as you walk away from this innocent bystander, I'm going to put this stake in your heart and you're going to disappear.” When he didn't respond, she tapped the stake lightly between his shoulder blades. “Are you somehow missing the pointiness of this point?”

Spike gathered his food and both drinks and sauntered past her, sparing a nasty smirk as he headed into a shadowy grassy area behind the food trailers. Flabbergasted, Buffy tucked her stake away and stalked towards him, fury pulsing through every inch of her.

When she found him, he was sprawled on bench that was missing an arm, a couple of fries already wrangled from the cardboard container. He shoved them into his mouth and pulled his fingers out with a little flick of pink tongue that sent Buffy's stomach on a barrel roll. Okay, ew for the tongue and double ew for the belly flippage.

At her look, he scoffed. “You have some sort of potato aversion?”

“I have a you aversion,” she snapped.

He shrugged and snatched more fries, which was enough to send her over the edge. She wasn't going to sit around and watch him snack. She was going to kill him and he was going to like it. Or not, which would be just as good. Better, even.

“I've got news for you,” she said, grabbing him by the collar and hauling him off the bench. At his yelp of protest, she pulled harder and continued. “You're not going to live out this little carnival fantasy on my watch.”

“Carnival fantasy?” he said, jerking out of her grasp and fixing her with a lascivious smirk. “Well, Slayer, and here I thought your little ‘tumble on the muddy hill' ditty was go...”

She cut off his words with a fierce stranglehold, the crescents of her freshly polished nails pressing dangerously into his cool skin.

“I thought I told you to never speak of the spell again,” she gritted out.

“Oh, right,” he gurgled, jerking away and slumping onto the bench with a scowl. “I filed it away in my I-don't-give-a-shit-because-you-said-it box.”

Now seething, she crossed her arms and offered a saccharine laugh, “Oh, that's so cute coming from the vampire who, not seven days ago pledged his undying devotion to me. In three languages, I believe.”

“Four,” he said, then curling his tongue behind his teeth added wickedly, “You were a little too busy riding my hand when I was on the fourth one.”

Horrified, Buffy looked around. Spotting no one, thank God, in hearing range, she leaned in with an ominous expression. “The next time you bring that up, I will find a way to stake you with a French fry.”

“Killing me in my condition goes against your ethics,” he sniffed, plopping down on the bench and reaching for his food. “So, I can talk about whatever I want.”

“No, you can't.”

Spike cleared his throat and bellowed, “There's no need to be ashamed, Slayer! I have very talented fing...”

Buffy's fingers pressed into either side of his Adam's apple, strangling the last part of his word. “Ever heard one of these suckers crack?” she said, an eager glint in her eye. “Want to?”

Spike shook her off and reached again for his fries. “Oh, ease up, Slayer. Just let me eat my chips in peace and I'll leave your virtue unsullied. It's not like I'm gonna drink the fun-goers, now am I?”

Weighing her current options, Buffy clenched her fists and bit back her fury. Truth was she couldn't dust him here, even if Giles did approve. Too many kids to risk it.

“Eat fast,” she barked, crossing her arms in defeat and dropping to the opposite side of the bench. “We're leaving in five minutes. I need to patrol.”

“Then you help,” he said around a mouthful of fries as he shoved the food between them closer to her.

“I'm not eating food bought with your dirty stolen money,” she said, despite the pleading groan of her stomach.

“I'm feeding the Slayer with that money,” he reasoned. “Defender of good and justice and all that rot, yeah?”

Buffy stared at him like a diseased sewer rat. “Why are you here?”

He gestured at the midway beside them, “Oh, come on, Slayer, do you have any idea the kind of pure delicious evil lurking in this place? The kind of fun to be had?”

“What exactly do they do at carnivals in England? Sacrifice babies to the moon?”

He paused, cocking a dark brow at her, “When's the last time you felt safe around a carnie?” When she didn't answer, he nodded. “Exactly. Any place run by them has got to be saturated in wickedness. 'Sides, like I said, it's fun.”

“You're a vampire. Vampires and fun should not be mixy things.”

“This coming from a vampire slayer wearing sneakers with pink laces?”

“They match my t-shirt,” she defended. Finally unable to resist the delicious smell of the fries, she grabbed a few.

Oh God. They were good. Like died and gone to heaven, these-may-very-well-be-better-than-sex, good.

Half the carton, and a third of the lemonade later, Buffy looked up to see Spike starting in on the blooming onion. He offered her a thumbs-up and a chuckle.

“I'm still going to kill you in a minute,” she said, and she was. After she finished these fries. And maybe had a bite of that funnel cake.

“No, you're not,” he said, unconcerned.

Buffy dropped the fries and leveled him with a malicious stare. “You seem to be forgetting about the slayer part of my title.”

“You seem to be forgetting about my little condition,” he snorted, offering her the blooming onion.

She declined it with a haughty look and he shrugged. “Slayer, I've been trying to kill you for years, and I've learned a thing or two.”

“Oh, do share,” she sniffed, crossing her arms expectantly.

“You're never going to stake me when I can't fight back.”

Buffy gasped in outrage, “You are completely delusional!”

“Am I?”

“Yes! If Giles didn't want you kept around for information, I would stake you right here and now.”

Spike paused mid-chew. “No, you wouldn't.”

“Yes, I would!”

“No,” he said, putting down his plate and picking up the funnel cake. “You wouldn't. You are too good at being a Slayer to kill me.”

“That can't even make sense in your freakish mind.”

“It makes perfect sense,” he said, offering her the funnel cake. She took a piece. Damn him. “It's like hunting in a fenced yard. No thrill in it.”

Buffy feigned contemplation, “Let's see, seeing you disintegrate into a zillion pieces, knowing I'll never hear your annoying voice again, not even have to break a sweat to rid the world of you …gosh, it sounds pretty thrilling to me.”

“No, it doesn't. It sounds boring and you know it. If there's no real danger, there's no real point.”

Buffy snorted, but he continued, “Oh, come on. You live for a good fight, and not just because your bloody Watcher tells you to. You live for it because you are a Slayer . Ever stop to think about that word, pet? About what it really means? You were born to do this, you need it the way you need air, or nail polish for that matter.”

“Just because I was born for it doesn't mean I want it,” she snapped. “There's more to me than this stupid destiny.”

Blue eyes locked to hers. “Oh and you think you're the only Slayer who fits that bill?” He shook his head derisively. “And, like it or not, that destiny of yours still rules everything else.”

Buffy clenched her shaking fingers. “Even if it that were true, none of that has anything to do with me not staking you.”

“It has everything to do with me,” Spike argued, leaning forward, lips curled in a sanguine smile. “I'm the reason that part of you exists. I'm the reason you fight. The thing that gives you purpose, the yin to your bloody yang, the dark side to your Force. But when I can't fight back?” He paused to shake his head wryly, “Can't exactly be the best if you only manage to take me down at my worst.”

“I don't want to be the best,” she protested weakly. “I want to be normal.”

“Oh, I think you do,” he said with a sardonic chuckle. “You're just too daft to realize you can have both.”

“I'm the Slayer,” she said frostily. “Normal walked away from me the minute I wrapped my fingers around a stake.”

“Then maybe it's time for you to redefine normal.”

Chapter Two

“Alright,” Buffy said through gritted teeth. “We've been standing in this line for ten minutes and I have yet to see something vaguely evil. When exactly is this demon of yours going to show?"

“Don't know if he is,” Spike said, shuffling forward in line. “Just said I can smell one.”

“And I believe this because of your stunning track record of forthrightness,” she replied, voice heavy with self-mockery as they trudged ahead.

“Believe me or not,” he shrugged, “You'll be able to see the whole carnival from up here. You're bound to spot something.”

“Hopefully my sanity,” she groused, as they plodded onto the metal platform. She clenched her teeth and tried not to dwell on the ill-gotten tickets he handed to the operator before tucking the cash back into his pocket.

Buffy plopped into the waiting bucket and Spike dove in with a self-satisfied grin. She glared daggers at him while the attendant pushed the metal bar across their laps.

“There is no demon, is there?” she said, eyes narrowed to little slits in his direction.

“And this surprises you?” he said, tearing open his newly purchased cotton candy while the cart lurched backwards, leaving their feet dangling off the back of the platform. The night was turning cooler by the moment, and being encased in this metal box wasn't exactly helping to warm her up. As they paused to load more passengers, Buffy watched the teeming midway with a pang of guilt. The kind of pang that stabbed repeatedly as the Psycho theme song played in the background.

“Wow,” she said, lifting her eyebrows thoughtfully. “And here I thought the Big Bad was something to be concerned with. What's your next plan? Repeating everything I say? Flicking me with a rubber band?”

Spike leaned towards her leaving precious few inches between them. So few, in fact, that she could smell him, old leather, new tobacco and just a hint of powdered sugar. The powdered sugar was new, but the rest of it brought back memories of Willow's spell that she really wished she could forget.

“When I get this problem sorted I'm going to drain you until you shrivel like a raisin.”

Buffy sneered, “I have a great solution to your problem! It involves your severed head, want me to demonstrate?”

After a scathing look, he finally shrugged and leaned back in the seat, plucking a piece of cotton candy out of the bag. “Blather on, little girl. I still got my way.”

“There needs to be a stronger word than hate,” she groused as the wheel started to gain speed.

“There's always abhor,” he offered, tipping the cotton candy bag at her. She absently plucked a piece from inside, then realized exactly who had been holding it and grimaced at the pink fluff. With a shudder, she chucked it over the side and crossed her arms as they took their first spin at full speed.

“What kind of evil plan is this, anyway?”

“No kind,” he said, still pulling the last bit of his most recent bite in with his tongue. Something in her lower belly twitched again at the appearance of that part of his body. Probably the something that remembered exactly what his tongue was capable of. She shoved the memory into the valley of things never to be thought about again.

“Then why are you up here on a Ferris wheel eating cotton candy like a normal person? Don't you have creepy lurking to do or my death to plot or something?”

“Could be plotting your death right now,” he said, shoving another wad into his mouth.

She tilted her head at him accusingly and he rolled his eyes with a growl, “Fine! I'm not currently plotting your sodding demise!” He tied a knot in his bag and shook his head, “God, Slayer, don't you ever take a break?”

“Right,” she drawled sarcastically, “The Slayer takes a break.” Guilt crept up her spine as she realized she was kind of doing that. Right now. Suddenly the spinning of the ride was making her a lot queasy. She saw Spike's lips curl in a knowing smile, but he didn't speak.

“Now, Slayer,” he chided, “everyone has downtime. I'm as evil as they come, but I still occasionally get a little tired of the death and mayhem and think, maybe I'll just watch a bit of Passions or check out the new releases at Virgin Records.”

“Reason nine hundred and sixty-four why you are neither good nor the Chosen One.”

And some Chosen One she was. She could picture the headlines now. Hundreds die in carnival massacre. Meanwhile, Slayer rides the Ferris wheel with vampire.

“You never take a break,” he challenged, his dark brow arched pointedly.

This is not a break,” she insisted venomously, “A vile alternate universe where I ended up sitting less than three feet away from you, yes. But it is not a break.”

She noticed him nod briefly out of the corner of her eyes, his lips quirking.

“What?” she asked brusquely.

“Oh, nothing,” he sing-songed, clearly indicating otherwise. God she had never hated anything or anyone the way she hated him. The minute they touched solid ground again, he was stake fodder. Spike faced her suddenly, all pursed lips and feigned innocence, “Say, don't you carry around one of those little mobile phones?”

“Why?” she said, eyes narrowing to slits of expectant fury.

“Just thought I should call the old Watcher to check in. Let him know that while I did mention your grave responsibilities to the safety of this fine city, in your infinite wisdom, you decided we should go for a ride on the old spinny wheel.”

“I am going to kill you so very much,” she said.

“Now you're talking,” Spike said with a chuckle, “Music to my ears.”

“There won't even be dust left to brush off the cart when the ride's over,” she growled.

Resolutely, she changed her focus to the carnival beyond them. Her hair floated up in the wind, bits of it getting stuck in her lip-gloss, while the squeals and laughter of the passengers fell all around her. It had been a long time since she'd felt these sensations. The pit of her stomach balled up tight when they sailed over the crest again and again.

Spike leaned back and stretched his arms out on either side of the metal bench. She scooted even further forward, appalled by the mere possibility of brushing against him.

“The first one was amazing,” he said, and when she turned to offer an entirely perplexed expression, he clarified, “First Ferris wheel.”

She turned back, hoping he'd take the hint and shut up. Fat chance.

“Chicago World's Fair,” he elaborated, “1893, I think. Fifty cents was the admission price and riding the wheel cost you another fifty.”

The comforting hum of the motor sang all around them and Buffy really tried to focus on that instead of his voice.

“This thing's like a miniature,” he muttered, “The first one had these big wooden boxes, all cushy seats and paneled wood interiors. Every one of those cars held as many people as this whole wheel. It was slower, though. Must have lasted half an hour. Good thing we had an early dinner.”

Buffy turned to offer an irritable glance, but his focus seemed to be somewhere else. His gaze abruptly flicked to her, just long enough for her to be reminded of just how blue his eyes were. Okay, yuck. As if her knowledge bank wasn't already tragically creepy, it was just perfect that Spike's eye color got to be included.

“Didn't matter, though,” he said, “It was brilliant, all the exhibitions shrinking away, the world itself fading into the distance as we climbed higher. You could see everything from up there, the buildings and tents, people like little ants trailing up and down the roads. The magic of it was undeniable. There hadn't ever been anything like it.”

After a long pause, he concluded softly, “Still isn't.” He leveled her with an even stare then, his head tilted thoughtfully.

The staring contest was making her feel even edgier. Something about this was playing out like an old movie that she really didn't want to watch. Buffy shivered and closed her eyes for a moment. Forcing a nasty tone, she tossed out, “It's just a stupid ride. I don't even know why I'm here.”

“I'll show you,” he said, and before she could blink, before she could even take a breath, long, cool fingers covered her eyes. She could smell the sticky sweetness of cotton candy and feel the pressure of his arms on either side of her. It hadn't been so long since she'd last felt his embrace, a tiny voice reminded her. Hadn't been too long since she'd liked it, either, an even smaller voice added.

She balled her fists for attack, but he released her, uncovering her eyes just as they crested the top of the wheel and coasted over, her stomach cart wheeling in turn.

“See?” he breathed, voice a low rumble near her ear, “Even you can see the magic in it, yeah?”

He was right. She hated him for it, but he was right. The whole world seemed to be dancing. Blinking lights and blaring music. Teenage boys throwing darts with their dates waiting hopefully behind them. Little girls linking hands and skipping along with sugar-buzzed smiles. People everywhere, laughing, eating….living. Buffy exhaled slowly and her body relaxed, her shoulders bumping against his arm.

“I love carnivals,” he said quietly, as they swept back up the wheel yet again, the momentum rocking their cart repeatedly. “Love the way they make the world look.”

Suddenly aggravated with him, she bristled and pulled away from his arm. Which, gross! Arm of Spike! And how dare he spew all this stuff about magic and beauty.

Yeah, how dare he see it better than you, right, Buff?

“You're a vampire,” she snapped, “You aren't a part of this world.”

“Neither are you,” he replied easily, “Difference is, I still know how to love it.”

***

The wheel continued its rotation while Spike seethed about his poncey little tirade. ‘The magic of it was undeniable.' Where the hell had that come from? He could damn near feel those wired spectacles perched on his nose once more. Bleeding William.

And of course, leave it to the Slayer to get her knickers in a twist about his place in the world, or rather, his lack thereof. God, she was irritating. The wheel started to slow and he glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye.

She smelled good, though. Like honeysuckle with a hint of lemonade.

Tasted good too.

Spike bit his tongue lightly and stared out over the slightly thinning crowd of the carnival. He really didn't need any more reminders of Red's spell. Magic always made that sort of thing amazing. Hell, she could have kissed like Angelus and his knees would have buckled.

“Step up!” the carnie barked as he yanked the bar clear of their laps. Buffy nearly launched out of the seat, stumbling down the metal steps with her hands brushing her clothes frantically.

Spike ambled out of the cart more slowly, lighting a cigarette while she fussed with her hair and shirt, acting like she'd been caught snogging behind the bleachers at school. And he'd know, because the last time he'd witnessed this reaction, he'd actually done something to cause it. The memory caused his lips to twitch in amusement.

Then again, maybe tonight wasn't so different. Her eyes had done that fluttery bit right in the middle of his bloody speech. And all the snide comments in the world weren't going to cover up the way she held her breath for a few seconds when he looked at her.

“Alright, just stay within five feet and I won't dust you…” she said, marching primly towards the crowd, “…yet. I need to figure out what the hell to do with you.”

“Don't think so,” he said, staying put and enjoying his nicotine.

She stopped abruptly, that pert little ass of hers tightening as her heels clicked together. She spun like a drill sergeant, arms crossed over her chest. “So, you'd rather get the dusty part over with now? Here works for me. No need for anyone to sweep up.”

“Try it,” he scoffed, then strolled off in search of a rubbish bin and an opportunity for cash. He ended up near a boisterous hawker, daring the crowd to try a contraption called the Slammer Hammer. He pitched the remnants of his cotton candy and donned a shit-eating grin when he glanced back to see her marching after him.

“And if I did try it,” she replied, as if he'd never walked away. “You'd stop me…” she paused to tilt her head thoughtfully, “…with a really firm talking-to?”

“We've covered this,” he said with an unconcerned wave. “But you do love to carry on about that power of yours, don't you? Gives you a rush, admit it.”

He watched her lips thin and two spots of red appear on her cheeks as the righteous fury brewed in her tiny body. She was entertaining, at the least. A burst of laughter ready on his lips, he considered the delicious opportunity lurking just beside them.

“Unlike you, I don't enjoy my freakish abilities, Spike. I deal with them.”

“Right, and I don't care for A positive.”

Her face scrunched into something even more hostile, but before she could retort, he pitched his cigarette and pulled her over to the Slammer Hammer. Since he was forced to deal with her, he might as well profit from it.

“What in the hell are you doing?” Buffy shrieked, but Spike ignored her, stopping in front of the heckler and tugging his reluctant companion into a sideways embrace.

“Ready to test your stuff, shorty?” the operator jibed.

“Nah, I was thinking more along the lines of the little lady,” Spike replied.

Buffy squirmed against his side, then went entirely still, repeating sourly, “Little lady?”

The carnie moved his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other and rubbed the sunburned triangle of skin peeking through the open collar of his shirt. He took a good minute looking her up and down, settling a couple of times on the cotton stretched across her breasts. “This is more a man's game, sweet thing.”

Buffy gasped and Spike suppressed a laugh, but the guy continued, offering her a lewd smile. “I'm not sure a pretty little girl like you could even lift the hammer.”

She glowered and Spike squeezed her again, planting a noisy kiss on the top of her head, “Oh, I don't know. This one's a right firecracker, if you get my drift.”

“It's your dollar,” the carnie shrugged and Spike grinned back at him, ignoring Buffy's sneaker as it stomped onto his foot. He loosened his grip marginally on her waist.

“Sweetums,” he sing-songed to her, “I don't think he believes you're strong enough.”

“I'm about to make a very dusty point that will prove him wrong,” she gritted out.

Her elbow jammed into his ribs and he grunted quietly as he heard something crack. Tipping his head sideways, he continued, “Mate, what do you say you and I make a little wager on my girl? Under the table?”

With a cocky and yellowed grin, the carnie crossed his arms. “I'm listening.”

“I'll bet you fifty bucks the girl can not only lift the hammer, but she can ding a bell.”

“Come on, she's a hot little thing, but unless she's hiding a bundle of grapes in that skirt, she's not going to ding a damned bell.”

“Alright, ewww!” she sputtered, “And she is right here! And would be really happy if you'd stop talking about her in third person, thanks!”

“Relax, honey,” the carnie said, “Your fella and I are just having a little conversation.”

Buffy gasped and opened her mouth, but Spike interrupted.

“Fifty bucks,” he pushed again and the carnie sucked his toothpick, his eyes lingering once more on her chest.

“You're on,” he said, “Figure it'll be worth the risk just to watch her bend over to pick it up.”

Spike couldn't suppress the smirk that curled his lips when the Slayer growled and abruptly hefted the hammer in one hand without so much as a curtsey. She proceeded to slam it down on the pad with a delicious crack. The bells rang up like a music scale, the final mark gonging with startling authority.

Spike grinned when he noticed the sizable fresh dent in the side of the bell. When he returned his attention to Buffy, she was spinning the hammer like a baton. She dropped it into the gobsmacked hawker's hands and dusted her palms off.

“Okay, that was almost as fun as hitting him with the hammer,” she said, marching off just a little ways, as if the guy's blinking and gaping was bothersome.

“Indeed it was,” Spike agreed as she disappeared, then cocked his head at the heckler. “Time to pay up.”

With wide eyes still fixed on the Slayer, who was now a few yards away and checking her nails, he counted out the fifty dollars. “That ain't natural,” he muttered, “But with an ass like that she could have me in all kinds of unnatural... ”

“One more word and I'll teach you all about unnatural,” Spike warned, letting his eyes shift yellow just long enough to make his point. He shook his demon visage back before it fully emerged, and stalked away, counting the money the carnie had thrust at him. Better to keep his mind on the cash and off his little outburst.

He caught up with the Slayer tucking a tube of fruity lip balm into the pocket of her denim skirt.

“Here's your cut,” he said, offering her a folded stack of cash as he fell in step beside her.

“My cut?” she said, stopping and pursing those pink glossy lips, “I don't think so. Gambling isn't legal in these parts, King Con.”

“No blood, no foul,” he shrugged, “And where's your sense of girl power or what not? You can't tell me you didn't get off on putting him in his place.”

“I have girl power aplenty,” Buffy said, perching her hands on her slim hips and tilting her head in consideration. Finally, she snatched the money and tucked it into her pocket.

“Fine, I didn't hate it,” she begrudgingly admitted. “But he was begging for it! I don't get some sick kick out of my calling Spike, no matter what you think.”

“Right,” he drawled sarcastically, “Because you'd give it all up in a minute for a normal life, wouldn't you?”

“Yes!”

“Face it, those Slayer perks are a part of you. You need them like I need blood.”

You don't know anything about what I need.”

“Singing a different tune not too long ago, weren't you luv?” he asked, curling his tongue behind his teeth.

Her expression iced over as she stepped closer. “The only reason you are not the chorus of a very popular Freddie Mercury song right now is because Giles thinks you might be useful.”

“The only reason you'd even have a chance is because of my problem.”

“Shyeah! I could so kick your ass!” she said, eyes bright and ego jumping.

“You really think so, don't you?” he teased.

“Facts are funny things. I tend to believe them.”

“Okay, tough girl,” he challenged, crossing his arms over his chest. “What makes you think you can take me? Slayer strength versus bonafide demon. What makes you better?”

“Oh, I don't know.” she said, “Oh, right! Everything.”

”Prove it,” he said.

“Fine,” she barked stepping over to a deserted eating area, a few sticky tables and folding chairs scattered around for the patrons. She pulled her stake from her skirt and spun it in her fingers. “Come and get it.”

Now, maybe it was the sugar talking, or the stretch of abstinence that being the Watcher's house pet earned him, but something about those four little words coming out of her mouth sent an electric jolt through him. Spike pressed his lips together and moved beneath the awning stretched over the tables.

“You at full strength and me with a sodding migraine the first time I pull your hair?”

“Works for me,” she said with a perky smile.

“Course it does,” he said, hooking his thumbs in his pockets. “It's the only way you'd win, but it still wouldn't prove anything.”

Her lips thinned and her expression pinched up in contemplation. Finally, she rammed her stake back into the waistband of her skirt and yanked out a chair near him.

“Alright, sit down.”

He did, watching her with interest as she sat across from him and put her arm up on the table, palm extended. “Okay, death breath,” she said, wiggling her fingers at him.

“Let's go.”

“You want to arm wrestle me.” He said it. Asking seemed a mute point.

She wiggled her fingers again and tilted her head. “It proves who's stronger, doesn't it? What's the matter? Chicken?”

Arching a brow dryly, he tugged off his duster and set his arm on the table. “Running out of that wit of yours, I see.”

Before she could respond, he snatched her hand and met her eyes when he heard her heart rate skip. He gave a quick tug to make sure his skull wasn't going to start hammering. Satisfied, he focused again on her heartbeat, which was back to normal. As was her grip. Her jaw clenched and her brow creased as they began to wrestle in earnest.

He could say a lot of nasty things about this girl. Hell, he could probably write a bestseller for the vampire community at large. But damned if she didn't blow his mind with the magnitude of power stored in that hot little body of hers.

Spike shook his head in amusement as she grunted and pushed hard, gaining ground. With a groan of his own, he pushed back, his eyes locked to her throat as he pulled her arm back to center and then slightly towards his side.

He could see her pulse hammering away in her neck. Just watching her skin jump and dance in the rhythm was enough to keep him gaining ground. A little further and he'd have her. She was breaking a sweat, clearly putting everything she had into besting him. And bloody hell if that extra heat and pounding heart didn't make his mouth water.

“Unnnh”

Stunned by the throaty noise that had just passed from her lips, Spike's eyes jerked to her face. Suddenly, everything was moving very slowly. She caught her bottom lip with her teeth and sucked in a tight breath that left him panting and reminded him he needed to kill the little witch later. Because that sound and that little lip nibble were all too familiar. The last time he'd been privy to either, he had Buffy in his lap and a Watcher yapping until she'd reluctantly wiggled away.

She opened her mouth and touched the same spot she'd bitten with the tip of her tongue, watching him intently. Never one for playing by the rules, Spike's cock jumped with interest. Concentration diverted, his grip faltered for a millisecond. It was enough. Buffy smiled smugly and slammed his hand into the table just as he realized he'd been had.

Still breathing hard and squelching impulses that really didn't fit the old arch enemy relationship, he sat in silence as she jerked away from him, hopping up with a smug grin.

“You cheated,” he rumbled huskily as he watched her hands brush down the front of her pink shirt. Ballsy move. Could have guessed a lot of ways the Slayer might have played dirty, but this was a kind of dirty he'd never pegged her for.

A vixen's smile graced her features. “What is it that you said? No blood, no foul, right?”

Before he could answer, she spun towards the midway, leaving him stunned at the table.

Chapter Three

Bicep aching and heart pounding, Buffy rushed into the busy midway, her smile fading as reality struck. She could sail up that river in Egypt all she wanted, but deep down inside she knew she had deliberately made that sound and done the whole licky thing to get to him. As if their furious spell-induced necking session from the previous week wasn't enough, she'd decided to test out her feminine wiles sans magical enhancement.

For the record, the wiles were working just fine.

Revolted with herself, Buffy shuddered. She clearly needed psychiatric treatment. Too bad she had a whole college education and regular world save-age gig that sucked up her free time.

“Hell of a tactical maneuver,” Spike purred, announcing his presence at her side.

Possessed. She had to be possessed to have brought that spell up again. Maybe he'd let it go.

“I'll bet you remember a lot of maneuvers that worked on me,” he said, voice dropped to a sultry murmur that made her knees wobble.

Maybe not.

“Shut up before I rip your tongue out!” she snapped.

“Not likely. It's your favorite part,” he goaded, still keeping up with her. “You told me, yourself.”

“Do you want to explore life as a floating particle of filth?” she snarled. “I was under a spell! A spell that I've mostly forgotten, and you need to forget about right now!”

Right. She forgot about his fingers tickling the backs of her knees while he licked the curve of her neck. She also forgot about the way he held his breath when she touched him, which should have been stupid, but was really kind of hot. And most of all, she forgot how he kissed. With his fingers threaded in her hair and his tongue working the kind of magic that even spells couldn't mojo up.

Buffy rubbed her temples vigorously, trying to release the demon that had obviously taken over her brain. Should she call Giles?

Giles, help. I flirted with Spike to win an arm wrestling match and mentally replayed lots of icky make-out scenes from Willow's spell gone wrong.

Okay, going to Giles was out. Buffy looked around. Maybe there was a convenient way to seal up the Hellmouth, dust Spike, and kill herself.

“Admit it, Slayer,” Spike challenged, voice barely audible over the screaming horn of one of the Appalachain rides in the immediate vicinity. “You and I hate each other, yeah?”

“This is something that I need to admit? I was actually thinking about ordering a t-shirt,” she snarked, eager for the bickering to push her hormones into the background.

“Ha bloody ha,” he said, pausing in front of the noisy ride. Buffy's eyes flicked to it with interest, and then back to Spike, who was watching her enigmatically. “But it only proves my point. The world isn't black and white like you want it to be. No matter how much we hate each other,” he continued, “That little bit back at the table proved one thing, pet. You didn't forget that spell any more than I did.”

“We're leaving,” she said. “Now.” Yes, leaving was good. Get out of this crazy carnival before things got any weirder.

“Proof in point,” he said, gesturing at her smugly.

She stopped in her tracks and spun to face him. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“What do you think it means?” Spike snarled, marching up until they were toe to toe. “You may have spent half this night threatening to stake me, but you've had a bit of fun, too, and that scares the hell out of you. You say you want to be normal?” He laughed, bitterly. “Sure, you do. The minute you start having a little bit of normal fun, you're back to the Good Little Soldier Girl following her commands.”

“I could never have fun with you,” she ground out, hating him because she knew it wasn't true. And hating Riley for good measure, because he was a soldier and she so didn't need the reminder.

“Oh, yes you could,” Spike said, his eyes flicking over her in a way that made her pulse trip like an over-excited puppy. “Could and did.”

He touched his tongue to his top teeth and her thighs burst into flames. “Want a reminder, luv?”

He issued the words mockingly, but she could see the temptation swirling in his expression. And that same temptation was still doing a hell of a number on her, because she was feeling his words everywhere . Before she could betray anything more than her body's traitorous reaction, she turned her head, focusing on the furious pace of the ride. The carts were flying around the track, in and out of the tunnel while the music drowned out all but the loudest screams.

“Look at you, all pouty lipped and shaking knees,” he taunted. “You say you want normal, but you're scared to death to want anything, aren't you?”

Buffy turned back to him, “Fine! You want to know what I want? I want to ride this.”

Spike gave an incredulous snort, which Buffy pointedly ignored, nodding at the ride. “That's right, you heard me, I want to ride this thing, and since I can't kill you and I can't get rid of you, you're going to ride it with me.”

He shifted on his feet, obviously gritting his teeth at her total shut down. Which, she kind of got, because it sounded a lot like the “la la la…not listening!” routine to her too.

Finally, shoving his hands in his pockets, he sighed. “I used the only tickets I had at the Ferris wheel.”

She refused to reply or acknowledge him in any way. Maybe he'd just go. Just go far away so she could stand here and come to terms with the loss of her mind and dignity in peace and non-quiet.

“Get in line,” he said, with a weary wave. “I'll be back in a minute.”

Buffy nodded absently, her eyes fixed to the blur of cars and lights as they spun past faster and faster, AC/DC wailing out of every speaker. She walked over to the end of the line, body taut with wariness. Since when did her life become the place where normal boys turn into army freaks and psycho archrivals can read right through you? Probably the same time when you stopped caring when the homicidal maniac vampire wandered away with a vague promise to return with ride tickets. Or maybe the time when you forgot that vampires are walking corpses and therefore not appropriate eye candy.

Someone tapping her on the arm jarred Buffy out of her reverie. She turned to find a slim brunette, freshly lip-glossed and dressed to kill, standing behind her.

“Is this the line?”

“Yeah,” she said. “But you can go ahead. I'm waiting on tickets.”

Ms. Don't-you-wish-you-could-be-me laughed pleasantly, “Me too. I love these things.”

Buffy turned back to the line and examined her nails for lack of anything better to do. They looked nice. Granted, the rest of her life was swirling down the toilet bowl, but at least she was freshly manicured.

“Hey, did you get them?” Buffy grimaced as the pretty girl's excitement filtered through the din. Perfect. She was probably with some incredibly hot, yet normal guy that never left town for “the best”, wasn't a secret commando, and didn't believe Clorox was a brand of hair coloring products.

“Yeah, I did,” a male voice replied. A really, really familiar male voice. Buffy's brow furrowed.

She turned slightly sideways only to jerk back the minute she saw him. Great. Of all the lines of all the rides in the world, it would only be fitting that he ended up in hers.

“Buffy, is that you?”

Cursing inwardly, she clenched her fists and turned around to face them. “Parker,” she said, forcing a tight smile. “How have you been?”

With a pleased smirk, he wrapped his arm around his date's waist. “Good, good!” then with a pointed look at the girl, sighed, “Things have been great. And you?”

She wondered if it would be very wrong to stake a human.

“The best,” she gritted out, false smile still in place.

Being a white hat sucked royally.

***

Spike slammed down his money irritably and took the tickets. He'd finally gotten away from her for two minutes and hadn't managed to score so much as a handful of pocket change. People around these places were practically dripping with cash, but he was too busy standing in line to buy tickets to notice. And for what? So he could get sick to his stomach on some spinning ride for the chance to get all scrunched up next to his…his what? His date? His school sweetheart? Hell's sake, she was the fucking Slayer! Bane of his existence and all that.

About time he stopped getting all tight in the trousers over a damned arm wrestling match and started remembering how he really wanted the Slayer. Which was dead. Tickets received, Spike spun to find her in line, his mind eager to focus on the things he hated. Her ridiculous shoes. Her crooked nose. That prim little expression she got whenever she was taking charge and feeling righteous. So, the one she wore every other damned minute. Her damned bouncy hair. Actually, he liked her hair. And that in itself was one more reason she needed to die.

Spotting said head of hair about midway through the line, Spike gritted his teeth and marched past a few game stands. He stopped short as he realized she was having a conversation with a vaguely familiar git. He took in the scene before him, the brunette wrapped around the boy's arm, the boy looking amused and Buffy looking one step from mortified. All in all, it looked like a good time to him.

Where the hell had he seen this kid, anyway? Had he bitten him? Mugged him? Ordered a burger from him at the Beef Shack? Buffy's nervous laugh floated by on a candy apple breeze and his eyes widened as he remembered their meeting. Shouldn't have taken so long since he was one of about four humans he'd seen up close in daylight in the last century or so.

A cruel smile curved his lips as he resumed a lazy stroll towards the line. Brilliant. This was just the thing he needed to put him back in the right mindset. No little sexy murmurs or hints of fruity lip gloss. Just the sweet surrender of Slayer pride as she was humiliated beyond her worst nightmares. All things considered, it wasn't a bad way to kick her ass.

“Mandy dragged me here after dinner,” the boy said, nuzzling her hair.

“I wanted a keychain,” the girl, presumably Mandy, said, shaking her glittery prize while Buffy blinked.

“And how can I say no? So, are you here alone?” the boy continued, a mean edge lacing his sugary tone. Spike cracked his neck and tried to force himself to keep moving. Why the hell wasn't he enjoying this more? And for that matter, why was he hanging back instead of stepping up to rub a bit of salt in the wound?

He tilted his head and watched the Slayer struggle for a response. “Yes and no,” she said evasively, then after another pause, sucked in a deep breath and braved the boy's direct gaze. “Right this second, yes.”

Oh bloody hell, girl, you're the Slayer! Can't you do better than that?

“Oh,” the girlfriend cooed sympathetically, while her beau smirked from behind her. “That stinks. This is more fun for couples.”

Her lip trembled. It was just for a second, just this tiny little quiver before she pushed herself into a good-natured grin and shrugged. Spike rolled his eyes as she shivered and wrapped her arms across herself. God, she was pathetic. Letting the little prick preen about like a rooster while she fought tears and nibbled at her lip. Girl needed to remember exactly who she was.

And he was the one to show her?

Spike stalled, jaw ticking as he tried to sort through the mix of emotions running through him. He should want to kill her. Hell, he knew that. Should want to drape her intestines around like garland. Trouble was, he didn't and truth was, he hadn't in awhile. Ever since he'd come to with her wiggling on top of him, he'd been too damn distracted by the memory of her kisses to remember why he'd been so gung ho on killing her in the first place.

Torn between self-loathing and a twisted desire to play the shining knight, he spun on his heel, duster billowing behind him. He stalked to the nearest game booth and scanned the tawdry prize offerings, his irritation so hot he could feel the itch of his fangs. Finally spotting a perfect choice amongst them, he marched up to the trailer and slapped a dollar on the counter.

“Give me a bloody dart,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck, wearily.

“I'll give you three,” the heckler said with a chuckle. “Looks like you've had a rough night.”

As soon as the darts were dropped in his hand, Spike sent them into the dead center of three separate white stars like greased bullets. The carnie's jaw dropped and Spike crossed his arms.

“You have no idea,” he responded bitterly, pointing in abject horror at the fluffy pink bear dangling at the far end of the trailer.

The carnie blinked first, then off Spike's raised eyebrow, remembered to close his mouth as he moved to retrieve the prize. The vampire could feel the man's eyes on his back as he marched back towards Buffy. He tugged off his duster as he went, throwing it over his arm and rearranging his grip on the bear until the stitching protested.

“Looks like we're next,” the boy was saying as Spike came up behind Buffy.

“You can sit with us if you want!” his girl added with a smile that was not entirely unkind.

“Looks like I just made it,” Spike said, approaching Buffy from behind. Before she could react, he wrapped an arm around her waist. Leaning down to murmur in her ear, he brought the bear around and gave it a cheerful wiggle in front of her. “Will that do, pet?”

She stiffened beneath his touch and turned her face. She was so close that he could damn near taste her, and it was sending a trail of fire up his spine. Doing the knight routine wasn't all bad, he supposed.

“You didn't have to do this,” she said awkwardly.

“Like to keep my girl happy,” he said, putting his coat around her shoulders. “And warm.”

“I'm so glad he made it,” Mandy whispered and Spike smirked exultantly.

Buffy nodded awkwardly and managed to slip her arms into the duster, her expression the picture of consternation. She pulled her hair out of the leather collar and Spike moved beside her, watching her tip her head at the now intrigued pillock who'd previously been watching her like a particularly amusing chipmunk. Her lips opened for what Spike guessed would be an introduction. The rider operator chose that exact moment to unchain the path and usher the new riders on.

Spike turned to face the appropriate direction, and moved up the stairs, arm snug around Buffy's waist as they were led to a waiting car. They slipped inside and raised their hands as the bar was pushed over their laps. All the while, Buffy said nothing. Her silence was unnerving. And the crease of her brow did not improve matters. He had a sick feeling that he was about to find himself on the wrong end of a wooden object.

Safety bars clicked all around as the rest of the riders were seated. Spike bit his tongue and considered his options while he stared at the operator's booth. He could run. But where to? He could take his chances. Didn't seem her style to stake him so publicly. Then again, a ride like this moved fast. Lots of things can happen when the music's loud and the lights are low. He opted for reasoning with her.

“Don't get brassed off with me, Slayer. A trained monkey could have done a better job of showing that wanker... ”

“Alright girls and boys, are you ready to get wild?!” the operator rumbled over the loudspeaker. The riders roared eagerly. Well, most of the riders.

“Look, I'm just saying that you were drowning back there! He was strutting around like a complete... ”

“Are you running a little hot tonight?!” he rumbled again and Spike growled at the interruption.

A vaguely familiar rock beat was climbing in the distance as the ride began to move. He turned to find Buffy facing him, her knuckles white on the bar despite them barely moving. There was something desperate about her expression, some arcane need in her eyes that called to him like a siren's song.

“—pillock. Why in the hell does a girl like you put up—“

“Are you read to take your medicine?” the carnie nearly yelled.

That time Spike didn't hear the roars of the crowd. He didn't even feel the surge of the ride moving faster or notice the sudden increase in the music volume. The one thing he could feel was Buffy, her lemon and sugar lips suddenly pressed up against his fiercely, her warm fingers wrapped around his arm. She touched her tongue to the seam of their mouths and he groaned, sucking in a tight breath when she pulled away.

The ride lurched into high speed, sending them both sliding towards the inside of the cart, the fire of her kiss still burning through his skin.

Your love is like bad medicine
Bad medicine is what I need

Spike slammed sideways into her shoulder. He turned to face her, bracing his arms on either side of her body as he struggled against the push of gravity. In and out of the tunnel they went, round and round with her heartbeat and the music pumping furiously in his long dead veins.

First you need

Huddled into the side of the cart, she braved a look at him, her mouth slack and inviting despite the wariness that radiated off of her in waves.

Spike brought one hand back and reached forward, ignoring her token jerk of protest as he brushed his thumb slowly over her lips.

Then you bleed

Unable to resist the rapid hammer of her pulse or the taste of her still lingering in his senses, Spike leaned in to kiss her. She pulled away, but he could smell her hunger now, could feel it warring against her judgment. His lips slid to her jawline instead, teeth pressing at the place where her pulse thundered away.

On your knees

The ride ground to a stop and Buffy shoved him away, her hands coming to rest on her flamed cheeks as the carts reversed, gears churning as they shifted to move backwards. She fought to keep a grip on the handle, squeezing her eyes shut as they moved faster.

The motor whirred into high gear, sending the carts hurtling backwards around the track. Spike spread his arms and let the force slam him into his side of the car. He kept his body turned towards her as much as the seat would allow, a predator lying in wait for his prey. Gravity was a wicked hunter. Even Slayer strength was no match for Mother Nature. This was pure physics and chosen or not, it was only a matter or time.

Buffy gave a strained yelp as her grip on the lap bar began to slip. They hit the downward slope outside of the tunnel and she slid across the seat, her hands scrambling on the seat and finding purchase on his denim covered thigh. She clenched hard, her arms straining to push herself away from him.

And now this boy's addicted 'cause your kiss is the drug

Spike hissed at the feel of her nails through his jeans. He pushed his hands into her hair, moving it clear of her face. One last look and he dove in. Wind howling and music screaming, he kissed her like he'd waited a lifetime for it.

This time she didn't fight long. Just one breath of hesitation then her hands curled over his leg as she whimpered into his mouth. And bugger all if he didn't whimper himself when her lips opened and he could finally truly taste her.

Bad, bad medicine

She tasted of all things forbidden, of sweetness and fire and life. As their tongues danced, Spike dropped his hands to her body, hauling her closer. The feel of her, warm curves and smooth flesh wrapped in his duster. It was driving him wild.

Time passed, or maybe it didn't. It didn't matter. Nothing outside the feel of her lips mattered. The rhythm of their kiss was all that existed, mouths parting only long enough to spare Buffy a ragged gasp of air before they melded together again, fire and ice, right and wrong. His hands were roaming the silky expanse of her bare legs as hers were circling his neck to pull him closer. She took him over, her soft sighs and warm lips sending him on the ride of his unlife.

When they parted again, he nuzzled the column of her neck, eyes closed as he murmured, “Je suis toujours sous ton charme.”

There was a sudden jolt as the ride ground to a halt and Spike lifted his head and blinked in the haze of neon lights. He pulled away from Buffy's hair as the carnie lifted the bar, his gaze focused on her face. Stormswept eyes and lip caught between her teeth, she was torn between two worlds. And hell if he didn't know that story. Could probably hum the theme music.

He took her hand, snatching the bear from the floor as they made their way out of the ride. She stumbled after him, her fingers wrapped tightly around his own as he moved them through the crowds, eyes searching for a place. For any place.

They moved through the throng in silence, two hunters slicing a silent path through a cacophony of giddy fun-seekers.

“Where are you taking me?” she whispered breathlessly, her voice a mix of fear and anticipation.

“Through the looking glass, Alice.” he said raggedly, finally spotting what appeared to be an out of order Fun House in the distance.

A couple of lonely lights dotted the exterior, but looked to be for show. No crowds, no lines and nary a carnival employee in sight. He inhaled deeply, satisfied that no other humans were nearby. It wasn't exactly the comforts of home, but his hands were itching for her skin and at this point an unlocked car would have been just fine.

“What am I doing?” she breathed, sounding panicked as she followed him.

Spike slipped around the back of the structure and released her hand just long enough to snap the sturdy chain holding the service door closed. He eased it open, then reached for her fingers again quickly, pleased that she didn't resist him.

“No. Wait. I can't do this. This is crazy.”

Spike surveyed her casually, his thumb tracing a circle on her wrist. “Yeah? Well, something tells me you could do with a bit of crazy.”

She jerked her hand free, then, her eyes wide and expression uncertain.

He waited for her next move. Had he been forced to guess, he would have wagered a lot of things that she might have said or done in response to that statement. Most were along the lines of staking him or storming off with righteous indignation all aflutter. Walking inside without so much as another word, however, was something he never would have guessed.

Still reeling in surprise, he followed her in, closing the door behind them.

Chapter Four

He hadn't realized how dark it was inside until the door was shut. Thankfully, his current issues didn't extend past his inability to hunt. His predator vision was in full working order and after a moment to adjust, he spotted his prey.

She was backed up against the wall, eyes straining. By the erratic rise and fall of her chest, he could tell her visual range was seriously compromised and she was…well, not quite panicked, but as close to it as he'd seen her in a long time. It was a delicious thing to witness, even if he didn't want to kill her at present.

Spike moved forward in the narrow walkway, allowing his boot to scuff the metal flooring. Buffy's head jerked towards the noise and she gave a nervous laugh.

“I can't see a thing in here.”

Spike slipped the bear into one of the duster's pockets, enjoying her responsive jump. He silently palmed the wall on either side of her face and leaned in until he was close enough to feel her breath against his chin.

“I can see just fine,” he said, sotto voice.

Buffy's heart rate changed rhythm as she tried to focus on his face.

“You know, forget this,” she said, brushing past him, her hands searching blindly in front of her. “Obviously, I have lost my mind and need to seek therapy. Or possibly brainwashing. With acid.”

Spike easily moved around her to block the door, smirking when her hands came to rest on the soft cotton of his shirt. She pulled them back and frowned.

“Let me go.”

“Why would I do that?” he asked, parting the leather coat with his hands and settling his palms on her hips. She went very still as he leaned in, brushing his lips across hers.

“I…I..can't,” she said, the words nearly lost in his mouth.

He pulled back and turned her around. He didn't have a clue how they'd gotten here, but he wasn't about to let her walk out that door without at least attempting to see this bloody thing through.

“Let's just have a look around, shall we? See what kind of fun we can find.”

“Somehow I'm missing the fun,” she said dryly, holding herself stiffly but allowing him to push her ahead.

“The fun is that we shouldn't be here snooping about,” he said, steering them through an open door to the portion of the attraction paying customers were supposed to see. And this particular area couldn't have suited him better. There wasn't much more light here, but Buffy must have felt a difference in the flooring, because she came to a stop when they exited the hallway.

“This isn't snooping, Spike. This is aimless, blind stumbling.”

“Only for one of us,” he said, reaching into his pocket and tugging out his Zippo.

“So, where are we?” she asked, and if her pulse was any indication she was enjoying the thrill.

“I'll show you,” he murmured, igniting his lighter and setting it down directly in front of her.

She was instantly illuminated, flaxen hair and golden skin glowing in the flickering light. A string of mirrors flanked either side of the hall, which was painted black in any places that didn't hold a mirror. It left the room shadowy and eerily quiet, her dancing images like specters drifting all around. Spike slipped into the shadows behind her, watching her eyes roam over her many reflections.

“I thought these were supposed to make you look weird,” she said, slipping the duster off her shoulders and letting it pool on the floor at her feet. Spike suppressed the urge to whistle as his eyes took a leisurely stroll up her body.

“That's funny mirrors, luv,” he said from a few feet to her right. He grinned when her face jerked towards him. Gotcha, cutie. Spotting her own reaction, she turned forward again, clearly schooling her face to blankness.

“We're in the Hall of Mirrors,” he finished, slipping behind her and speaking close to the back of her neck. “Still a funny feeling when everything's a reflection.”

“Not everything,” she said, turning over her shoulder to look him pointedly in the eyes.

“Ah, but you have an advantage there,” he said, curling a finger around a silky strand of his hair and leaning in as she turned back to the mirror. “You can feel me, even if you can't see me.”

Buffy nodded slowly, and tipped her head to the right, eyes empty as she took herself in. “Doesn't feel like an advantage.”

Spike moved away, circling around her. This little game was driving him mad. Circling her like this, hearing the hush of her breath and the thump of her heart while he watched her from a dozen angles…a mortal man would have been on his knees. Then again, a mortal man wouldn't be able to play this game, would they?

“Why not?” he asked, his voice rough and hands itching to touch her. She turned, startled that he was now several feet to her left. That was the look that was going to do him in, that rabbit frozen in headlights, wanting to be caught nearly as bad as she wanted to run.

“Do you want an alphabetized list?” she scoffed, then, with her eyes locked on her reflection, dropped her voice to the barest whisper. “Let's start with A, as in the Absolute Wrongness of it.”

“Wrong for the Slayer side, maybe,” Spike disagreed quietly, “But you're more than that. Isn't that what you said? Isn't it time you let yourself have the bit of normal you crave?”

Her lips quirked in an almost smile, “Normal? This is dancing on the lines of recommended institutionalization.” Her hands flew to her temples, “God, what am I doing?”

He moved behind her again, clutching her hips and pressing the full length of his body against her back. She sucked in a tight breath and held it, her tirade cut short.

“You're doing what feels good, and that is very normal,” he nearly growled into the back of her hair. “You and I have wanted this since the second we woke up from Red's mumbo jumbo.”

The truth fell over her features like a curtain. Her eyes welled and her chin trembled with the force of it. He loosened his hold on her. “If that's true then I'm a failure.” Then, with a bitter laugh, she added, “You know, I actually passed failure about an hour ago. This is treading into Slayers Gone Bad material.”

“Don't be daft. They don't make Slayers better than you,” he said simply, because it was true and something in him couldn't remember a reason to lie to her. Not here. Not now.

Buffy's eyes softened before she dropped her gaze and her voice, her hands knotting in front of her. “That doesn't make this any less wrong.”

“Yeah, but you can't deny how right it feels,” he said, running a slow hand down her spine.

“Do you have any idea what you do to me?” he continued, encouraged by the surge of her heartbeat. “Ever since that damned spell, I can't keep my eyes off of you. Or any of my other senses, for that matter.”

She shivered then, but it was from anything but cold. Spike settled both hands at the small of her back, sliding his fingertips under the hem of her shirt.

“Your smell drives me out of my mind,” he said, leaning into her neck to inhale deeply. “It's all I can do to keep from doing this every time you're in the bloody room.”

Her eyes rolled as his lips brushed her neck. With a satisfied smirk, Spike lifted his head and grazed his fingers around her front, reveling in the silky heat of her skin. His thumbs edged higher as his palms pressed against the taut flesh of her belly. In the mirror, her shirt rose higher and higher and she watched it with dark eyes, her breath coming in shallow gasps.

Their breathing was the only sound in the room, hers digressing into whimpers as he unveiled her pink cotton bra and began to pant himself. He bit his lip as her nipples tightened in her reflection, straining against the thin fabric. Hungry for more, he moved his mouth near her ear, “You're sweeter than candy. Kisses like cherries and skin like honey.”

He pinched the peaks of her breasts lightly and groaned when she moaned and leaned back against him. His body drumming with anticipation, he unhooked the front clasp of her bra. Bugger all but she was a vision. He bit her earlobe lightly and let his hands explore her completely, exulting in her every desperate sound.

“We have to stop,” she whispered, even as her hands reached behind her to claw into his thighs.

“I don't think I can,” he rumbled, moving one hand down the front of her belly. He unbuttoned her skirt while he continued to tease her nipples in turn. Her sounds were eager, her eyes slipping open and shut in the mirror.

Buffy mewled as he slid his hand into her skirt and palmed her cotton-covered mound. One long finger pressed against her clit and her knees buckled as she let out a beastly groan. Spike's cock surged impatiently at his zipper and he gritted his teeth, suddenly incapable of words as she bucked against his hand.

He pulled away just long enough to move in front of her, dropping to his knees and offering her a hungry stare. ““And I don't think you want me to.”

***

Buffy was on sensory overload as she looked down on him. Her mortal enemy crouched at her feet, thumbs hooked in her functional pink panties and cool breath bathing her inner thighs. This was totally insane. This was about six miles past insane. Yet, insane or not, she was watching her reflection with growing need as her underwear and skirt slid to her ankles.

He helped her step out of them, while her pulse rattled around in her body like a jackrabbit. She felt the tickle of his curls against her thigh and her eyes widened in shock. In the mirror, she was alone. Naked and panting like a porn star, but totally alone, and for one second after his hair touched her leg, she almost felt alone, too. Then he pressed a wet kiss to her clit and she choked on a scream. A series of skilled flicks later and an orgasm that she hadn't realized was close rocked over her. She rode it out in a set of soft moans, his hands supporting her bottom as he continued to work her with his mouth, his tongue and lips moving in a cadence that had her building up again before she'd even come down.

He moaned appreciatively against her sex, moving two fingers inside of her to press her over the edge again. Oh God, how was it happening so fast? She couldn't stop herself, and didn't want to, just wanted him to go on forever, bringing her to this precipice and catching her when she fell from it. Her moans slipped into sighs as she drifted back to the world.

She felt her knees hit the floor and his soft kisses on her throat as she crumpled in his lap. Her eyes fluttered open to see his face in shadow in front of her.

“What you said,” she whispered through her heavy breathing, arms linking around his neck. “What you said on the ride. What did it mean?”

Spike leaned in to kiss her, but she pulled back, wanting his words. He sighed against her mouth and whispered, “I'm still under your spell.”

Buffy kissed him with bruising force then, tasting the tang of herself on his tongue. Soon enough she was burning even hotter than before. When Spike lifted her up, she eagerly shifted sideways to help him recline her on the pile of clothes. For the first time since they'd come in, he was truly visible to her, the flickering firelight casting strange patterns on the angles of his face. She watched him in silence as he worked at the button to his jeans, then curled her hands around his biceps when he moved over her, settling between her thighs.

Then he was pressed against her entrance and panting in her ear and everything was very very real. In the I'm-about-eight-inches-from-hot-monkey-s ex-with-my-arch-enemy kind of way. Buffy dug her nails into his arms and froze, “Stop.”

He did, pulling back to settle a desperate look on her. She shook her head vigorously. “I have to stop this. I have to stop you.”

“I won't hurt you,” he promised with a voice so soft she scarcely recognized it. Everything about him was soft just then, the pout in his bottom lip, the feel of his thumb tracing her jaw. Everything was inside out and upside down and every nerve ending she possessed was begging her to give in.

“I know you won't,” she said, trying not to pant at the feel of him, still firm and pressed between her folds. “I can't,” she cried. “This can't…we can't do this. Or any more of this, at least. It's just wrong.” He rubbed himself in a slow circle and her voice squeaked, “So wrong!”

Suddenly his hands were spanning her face and he was smiling at her. And it was sweet enough to make her almost forget what he really was. And what wrong meant. Might need a dictionary, because that point was getting mighty blurry.

“Crazy wrong,” he agreed, leaning down to catch in her in another mind-blowing kiss. He pulled away, sucking her bottom lip just a little before releasing her.

“This thing happening here,” he said again, his voice a silken thread as his fingers stroked down the length of her throat and slowly down to her chest. “It's a bit of magic, yeah? It defies every law we understand, but somehow it makes sense.”

He pressed lightly at her nipple and she gasped, rolling her head sideways on the leather. “Scary sense,” she replied, breathlessly.

“Nothing to be scared of, pet.” She looked at him then and his fingers paused in their ministrations. He leaned down to press wet kisses at each hardened tip before looking up at her from the valley between her breasts. “It's all smoke and mirrors, luv. A trick of the light. It feels real enough, but after the curtain comes up, you know it never really happened.”

He surged against her entrance, tongue flicking at a nipple as he waited for her to process.

“Never happened,” she rasped shakily.

“The greatest trick of all,” he said, and she tugged at his head, bringing her legs up and open for him.

“Show me.”

Their eyes locked for one moment, one piercing connection that she felt from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes. Then his jaw clenched and his hands were on her thighs and he was inside of her, buried to the hilt.

“Oh God,” she whimpered and he growled as he pulled back, thrusting again, his fingers pressing with bruising force.

Hips straining to meet every movement, Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and closed her eyes tight. She'd never known a ride like this, one that sent the earth spinning and her body shivering. Hell could come forth. Set up a damn camp in her kitchen and eat the last pint of Ben and Jerry's for all she cared, just as long as Spike stayed with her, stayed in her.

His rhythm was punctuated with a line of babbling that dizzied her as much as his motion. “God, Buffy…..so warm….like being in the Sun…don't stop….like that…I never dreamed…”

She rolled into a thrust the right way and let out a growl, her internal muscles clenching and her nails digging into his nape. “More,” she gritted out and Spike tensed within her, his pace increasing as his words digressed into grunts.

“More!” she begged, clenching again. He shuddered and turned his face and Buffy smirked in triumph as she heard the telltale shifting of bones.

She jerked his jaw towards her as his thrusting reached a crescendo. She wanted to see him, wanted to look the devil in the eyes. He fixed her in a yellow stare as he pounded her mercilessly into the leather, his grunts coming in a quick rhythm. It was watching him over her like that, the beast and man together wanting this, wanting her more than blood. It was that knowledge that sent her third orgasm rushing over her. A low keening escaped her as her back arched and lights exploded behind her eyes.

His vicious momentum was a contradiction to the softness of her orgasm, but somehow it propelled it, sent the pinnacle of her pleasure on and on. It swallowed her in deep long pulses that made her bones ache and her eyes roll. Her hands flailed for his face, and she focused blearily on him as she continued to clench. She tested his lips, sliding her fingers inside, searching and finding his fangs with her fingertips. She pressed hard against them, hissing in exquisite pain as he roared in climax at the first taste of her blood.

Then his arm was around her and he was clutching her to him while soared into the crux of his own orgasm. Hers was still drifting slowly, sweetly away, leaving her limp and replete in his embrace as he rode his to its finish. She let out a shuddering sigh and watched him come down, his body still thrusting softly as he sucked her fingers and watched her with predator eyes. He came to a still, tongue taking a final swipe across the cuts before his bones shifted again and the demon retreated.

He kissed the tips of her fingers and watched her with a mix of wonder and wariness as he laid her back down, the smell of leather and of Spike filling her senses again.

“Should I run while your knees are still wobbling?” he asked, still breathing roughly as he directed a pointed look at her fingers.

“At this rate, you'd have until sometime next week to get moving,” she said and they both chuckled, their pants mixing in the air.

He tugged up his jeans and fastened them while Buffy struggled with her own clothes. She felt a lot like a jelly donut, and that was just a little bit too real. She worked at her bra with shaking hands, jerking down her shirt as soon as it was fastened and avoiding even looking in Spike's direction as she wiggled into her underwear and skirt.

Okay, wig factor at red alert.

She needed to go. Needed to go and do stuff. Needed to study for the Chem test and wash some socks and about forty other things that had nothing to do with having sex with Spike. She was resolutely patting her hair in the mirror and working on item six of her To Do list when she felt his hands on her waist. Her fingers stilled in her hair as he slowly turned her to face him.

“Don't,” she said, all shaky voice and too-bright eyes.

“Won't,” he assured her, tugging her forward and resting his forehead against hers. “Just wanted one last taste of you.”

“I…uh, where…” she trailed off, her hands moving of their own accord to toy with the edges of his shirt sleeves.

He reached down, and wrestled with his duster for a moment before picking it up and shrugging into it. “I'm going to the market to pick up the list of goodies and then back to the Watcher's where I'll swim around in the smell of you until my fingers are pruny.”

“Spike...”

He cut her off with a kiss, his tongue and lips as soft and sweet as the smile he'd given her earlier. Then he was brushing past her for his lighter and before she could catch her breath to speak, he was gone and it was dark once more. She made her way to where he'd left the service door ajar, the smells and lights of the real world trickling into this sanctuary. Buffy sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, watching him leap a barrier fence and disappear into the shadows beyond the carnival.

She stepped outside, then hesitated, looking over her shoulder before darting back inside again.

***

When her phone rang, she wrestled it open with her free hand. “Yeah?”

“Buffy!” Giles' voice came through, “I've been a bit worried. Are you still at the carnival?”

“Yeah, I'm just leaving.”

“Did you run into Spike?”

Does participating in several lewd sexual acts constitute running into someone?

“He was here,” she confirmed, feeling the final word throb at the apex of her thighs.

“Your verbosity is enchanting,” he said, sounding irritable. “Where exactly is Spike now?”

Feeling that “Well, part of him is dripping down my leg” wasn't the optimum choice, Buffy sighed. “He's on his way to the grocery store like you asked him. He was just taking his sweet time about it. And before you even ask, the carnival patrol didn't turn up anything of interest.”

Mostly since I didn't actually do it.

“Well, I'm sorry to have wasted your evening,” he offered. “I'm sure you had more inviting things to do than running about following my wild goose chase.”

“You know, for a work night, it was really okay. I took a walk down memory lane and got to eat some nutritionally useless fair food.”

A sad sigh met her at the other end of the line, “Buffy I should tell you more often what a remarkable job you do at juggling your calling along with the rest of your life. I…I often wish things could be more along the lines of what a person your age should be dealing with.”

“I don't know,” she mused, “Maybe normal isn't what anybody expects it to be. I think everybody has to make it up for themselves.”

“Ah, yes well you might be right,” he said softly. “Have a good night, Buffy.”

“Thanks, Giles.”

Buffy pocketed her phone and smiled, sniffing the pink bear she'd gone back for. It smelled like polyester, cotton candy, and a little bit like leather.

“I already did.”

The End

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