Author’s notes: This began as the simple challenge response, to a challenge I found on the site Death-Marked Love (challenge will be posted at the end of the fic).

In this universe, Xander is dating Anya and Willow is with Tara, although they are only in high school. Angel, Cordelia, Oz and such don't exist.

Chapter One

"Okay girls, behave," Joyce said, with a meaningful glance at her oldest daughter.

Buffy sighed, and said, "Don't worry mom, we'll be acting if he was the prince of England."

"And no sarcastic remarks, thank you very much."


Dawn, Buffy's eleven-year-old sister, stood besides Buffy, and Joyce stroke her long beautiful brown hair. "Mom, when's he coming?" she asked, her voice excited.

"Soon, sweetie, soon. Your dad just called and said that they're on their way back from the airport."

Just then, they heard a car pull up outside the house. Dawn was almost jumping up and down in excitement; she'd been looking forward to having the exchange student come since her parents had broken the news that they'd have one. Buffy yawned; she had been against it all since the beginning. How in the world was she supposed to keep her Slayer duties a secret from a guy living in their house? Of course, she had managed to keep it from her parents for quite a while, but she really didn't want to go back to the old 'sneaking-out-the-window-routine'. She preferred it the way it was, with everything out in the open with her family.

The door opened.

"Come on in, William," she heard her father's voice. Hank came in the door carrying one big, heavy bag, and behind him came the exchange student. Buffy could hear Dawn gasp, and she knew that her sister would have a crush on the guy for the rest of the year.

William was quite tall, was the first thing he noticed. Lots of muscles were hinted under a leather jacket and tight black pants. Bleached hair that didn't get Buffy's liking, strong cheekbones and piercing blue eyes.

"Hello William," Joyce said, and stretched out her hand. "The flight went well, I hope?"

"Yeah, although the food was bloody awful," he responded, then shook the hand of a slightly shocked Joyce.

"Well… Um… I'm sorry to hear that." She turned around and decided to introduce her daughters. "These are my daughters, Dawn," she pointed at the littler one, "and Buffy."

"'Ello," Spike said, eyeing Buffy appreciatively from her toes and up, stopping at her eyes.

"Hi," Buffy said coolly. She already disliked this guy.

Dawn, on the other hand, she had a smile on her face that reached from ear to ear. "It's so nice to meet you, William," she said politely.

"Call me Spike. That's what everyone else does."

He grinned, and Hank asked him if he wanted to take his suitcases up to his room.

"Sure," Spike said. He grabbed them both, one in each hand, and Joyce led him up the stairs to his new room. Dawn stared after him, still smiling.

"Are we allowed to leave now? I need to go patrolling," Buffy said in an annoyed voice.

"Sure, you go," her dad answered.

Not wasting a second, Buffy was out of the door.

Buffy met up with the Scoobies in the graveyard. She was silent, but as a vampire came by and she hit him with more force than any of them had seen in a long time, Willow asked her, "Uh, Buffy? Is there something wrong?"

Buffy turned around and looked at her friend. "No."

"C'mon, Buff," Xander said, "Tell us."

Buffy hesitated, then she said, "Fine. The exchange student came to us today."

"Oh yeah, that's right," Willow said, "How is he?"

"Rude, stupid and bleached," Buffy said. "I saw him for two minutes and he's already getting on my nerves."

"Ooh, t-that can't be good," Willow said. "But why don't you like him?"

"Oh I don't know! The way he looked at me, though, it was scary. No, I take that back. He wasn't scary, just annoying."

"Give him a chance," Xander broke in. "He can't be that bad. I mean, he's not a vampire or anything. Right?"

"No, he's not. Oh, I guess you're right. I'll try and like him."

"That's the spirit," Willow cheered.

But as much as Buffy tried, Spike just kept getting on her nerves. A month went by, and he was everywhere, invading her house and school and life with every inch of his body. But nobody else seemed to have a problem with him like Buffy did.

When her mother had come over the use of 'bloody hell' and 'sodden' in every other sentence, Joyce had come to the conclusion that she liked Spike, although she preferred to call him William. Of course, she saw Spike with a mother's eyes, and he saw her as a second mom, and not as if he was undressing her with his eyes as Buffy thought he did with her.

Dawn just adored Spike. She got this big, almost drooling smile whenever he was around, and more than once, Buffy had heard her giggle with her friends about him. But Dawn was still a child and Buffy knew that that was the way Spike saw her too, when she'd heard him refer to her as 'Nibblet'.

And then there was her dad. Buffy didn't really know what he thought of Spike; he was seldom home and when he was, Spike wasn't the one he spent time with. So she couldn't tell if he liked Spike or not.

Her mother was calling her down for dinner. Sighing, Buffy put together the magazine she'd been trying to read and left her room. As she was walking down the stairs, another door opened, and the next moment, Spike was right behind her.

"Don't you have anywhere else to be?" she asked him angrily.

"Nope, I don't, since I do live here, at the moment at least," he answered her in a slightly amused tone.

"Why on earth did mom and dad decide that we were gonna host an exchange," Buffy muttered under her breath. But Spike heard.

"You mad at me, pet?"

Gritting her teeth, she responded, "Don't. Call. Me. Pet."

"Pet, pet, pet…"

"You are so full of it," she whispered. The two had stopped in the hallway downstairs, and were now glaring at each other.

"And that's why you love me," he whispered.

"I so do not love you."

"Oh really?" he mocked her.

"Yeah. Really. You see, you are a dumb, five foot ten or so, gross, and badly bleached Englishman with out manners." She almost felt proud of herself for that outburst.

"As if you are so much better," he sneered. "You are an annoying sixteen-year-old little fashion victim with too much hormones."


It was pure reaction, and it did what it had intended; it got him quiet. He looked shocked.

"Shut up," she threatened. "One more word and I will hurt you. Badly."

"I'd like to see you try."

"No," she whispered. "You wouldn't."

Suddenly, Joyce's face appeared in the doorway. "Are you to going to stand here all day, or are you coming?"

"I'm coming mom," Buffy responded, and added quietly, "But I hope he doesn't."

Another couple of days passed, and Spike didn't seem to be bothering her as much. Maybe, she thought, maybe I really did scare him off with my words. That thought made her happy, as she wanted nothing to do with the stupid senior.

Suddenly, the door to her room opened, interrupting Buffy's thoughts.

"Hello Buffy," she heard his voice.

"Have you ever heard of knocking on the door?" Buffy asked icily.

"Why hello Spike too," he said, and proceeded into her room.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. Couldn't she even get to be alone in her own room?

"Just wanted to see how my little sis was doing."

"I am not your little sister," she said, continuing just as icily.

"Fine. Whatever." He looked at Buffy, and she got the same feeling as always; that he was undressing her with his eyes. She shuddered.

"Can you please get out?" Buffy asked, sounding anything but polite.

"Do I hear a hint of hostility?" Spike asked, not moving.

"Not just a hint. Get out before I throw you out the window."

"Buffy, Buffy, Buffy, you need to work on your people skills. But I'll do as my lady wishes," he said and walked over to the door, but he didn't leave until he'd done a taunting bow.

Buffy's inside was boiling, and she knew that the only ting that could do was to go out and slay some vampires. Quietly, she grabbed one stake, put another in the pocket of her jacket and headed outside.

She walked over the cemetery, the wet grass sounding beneath her. It had just started raining. Not heavily, just a light drizzle. Ahead of her though, vampires caught her attention. There were six of them, all making their way towards her, game faces on. They seemed new; dirt was still on their clothes, left rising from their graves.

"Oh hey, here we go," Buffy muttered. She made her way forward and before the vampires knew what had hit them, she was in the middle, kicking and staking furiously. The first one went, with a surprised look on his face. The second one she kicked, landing him on the ground, and she had put the stake through his heart before he had time to get on his feet again. Number three and four were running towards her, one from each side, and she held out one stake on each side, and they pinned themselves on the wooden points as they jumped on her. Two left. She right-handed one, sending the female vampire to the ground and then kicking the other one in his stomach. The female got up and kicked Buffy in the face. She dropped her stakes, and fell hard back into a tombstone. Momentarily, her world went black.

Then, groggily, she tried to sit up again, but a vampire held her down while the female sat over her, punching her in the face.

"Not on top of it anymore, Slayer?" the female said, bending down to bite Buffy.

Buffy squirmed and tried to get out of the vampire's grip, but its hands held her down like metal straps would have done. She tried not to show it, but she was trembling with fear.

But just then, as Buffy though her life would end, the female was kicked of her. A stake was thrown at her, and she staked the male vampire behind her before he understood what was going on. Surprised of the turn of events, Buffy stood up – still groggy from hitting her head on the tombstone – and was more than surprised to see Spike of all people, fighting the female vampire. He held a stake in one hand, but he was loosing to the vampire.

Quickly, Buffy ran over there, and with two kicks, a punch and a stake through her heart, the vampire was gone.

Panting, Buffy turned to her savior.

"Spike! What the hell are you doing here?" she asked, rubbing her throbbing her head.

"Are you okay?" Spike asked, ignoring her question.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Buffy lied. Her head hurt badly. "What are you doing here?"

"Well… You've been disappearing almost every night, and I wanted to know where you were going."

Buffy looked at him, disbelieving. "Right," she said. "You were gonna see if I was being bad, doing drugs or something."

Spike looked indifferent. "Yeah, well, that wouldn't be too hard to think, now would it, pet?"

"Well, I'm not doing drugs," Buffy retorted, holding both hands up to her head. It hurt, and her world was swaying before her eyes. She reached on hand out to hold onto something to be able to regain her balance, and Spike took it.

"You're not okay," he said. "C'mon, let's go home."

She nodded, still clutching Spike's arm. If she didn't, she was going to fall. She felt ridicules, but at that very moment, she didn't care. They walked slowly over the cemetery, but by the time they reached the outside of it and still had another fifteen minutes of walk to go, Spike said, "This is not working."

"What?" Buffy asked and looked up at him.

"You won't be able to walk all the way home," he said, looking concerned. This surprised Buffy.

"What d'you suggest we do?" she asked in a small voice, as it hurt to talk.

"This." Quickly, he put one arm under her knees and one under her shoulders and lifted her.

"What 're you doing?" Buffy asked, a little annoyed.

"Just relax. I don't bite," he answered, and to her own surprise, she did relax. She lowered her head to his shoulder, held her arms around his neck and let him carry her.

He was surprised at how light she was. Even more surprised was he at the fact that she actually let herself be carried. But, she really didn't look well. Her face was pale and her eyes had been groggy, and she'd hardly been able to walk. He wondered where she'd gotten the power to stake that last vampire.

At last, they reached her house. Quietly, Spike opened the front door, and walked inside. It was quiet and dark. It was one o'clock, so that was understandable; everyone else was in bed.

He sneaked up the stairs, still with Buffy in his arms. She seemed to have fallen asleep, and he put her in her room on the bed. She woke up as he was pulling her boots off. She sat up and looked slightly disoriented.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Putting you to bed, pet," he answered. "Lay back and sleep."

She obeyed, and was back asleep before he was done with her shoes. Spike pulled her covers up over her, and then he left the room, smiling slightly.

Buffy woke up, her head still aching slightly but not like the night before. The Slayer healing had kicked in. She remembered the night before. Oh God, she remembered. Spike. He had carried her. Why in the world had she let him do that? She hated him! But what had he really been doing there at the cemetery in the first place?

Hastily she got dressed and went downstairs. It smelled of pancakes and she found her mom in the kitchen.

"Good morning, sweetie," Joyce said. "Want some pancakes?"

"Yeah, that sounds good," Buffy said smiling slightly. She sat down by the table. "Where's everyone?" she asked.

"Oh, your father is at work," Joyce started, and Buffy interrupted.

"On a Sunday?" she asked, staring at her mom in disbelief.

"Yes, he had something he needed to do. Anyway," Joyce said, sounding like she didn't want to talk about it. "Dawn is still sleeping I believe, and William left a while ago. I think he went to the library."

"Oh." Spike at the library? she thought. Now that's odd.

Her mother put a plate in front of her and Buffy got syrup. Joyce sat down on the other side of the table. Buffy thought she looked tired.

"What's up mom?" she asked, concerned.

"Oh, it's nothing," Joyce said, attempting a smile.

They both fell quiet and ate under silence. A couple of minutes later, Dawn came down the stairs.

"Morning," she said, pre-teen tired as always.

"There are some pancakes on the stove for you too, honey," Joyce said.

Dawn went ahead and took some pancakes and then sat down at the quiet table.

"O-kay," she said, "Why are we having this year's Gloom-party here?"

Buffy shot her a look, and her mother answered, "We just have a lot to think about, Dawn."

Dawn shrugged, grabbed a comic magazine and ignored her mother and sister.

Buffy met up with the Scoobies a little later in the day. They sat around the table at the Magic Box and talked. Willow and Tara were engaged in a discussion involving unicorns – whether they existed or not –, Xander and Anya were sitting together, he trying to read a book and she kissing him on the side of his face. He didn't seem annoyed. Giles was talking to her, about her training.

"You need to start training more, Buffy," Giles said. "You need to start taking your duty more seriously."

Buffy nodded, but she wasn't really listening to what he said. She was thinking of Spike, and his – and her – behavior the night before. Why in the world had he followed her to the cemetery? How did he know that he needed a stake to kill the vampires? Why wasn't he freaked out about seeing vampires? The whole thing was a mystery.

"Buffy! Listen to what I have to say!" Giles interrupted her thoughts.

"Uh, what?" she asked a highly annoyed Watcher.

Giles looked at her, but at that point Anya turned around to them.

"Oh yeah," Anya asked. "I was wondering, Buffy. When will we get to meet you exchange student guy?"

Buffy stared at Anya. Could the ex-demon read her thoughts?

"Uh, soon, I guess," she answered, not wanting to talk about it.

"But he's been here for a month, and we still haven't met him," Anya complained.

So far, Willow was the only one who'd met Spike, and even that meeting had been brief. Willow had come by her house to pick her up to go to the Bronze one night, and Spike had been there too.

"You-you must be Spike," Willow had said.

"Yeah, that'd be me," he'd responded. "And you are…?"

"Oh. I'm Willow. B-Buffy's friend."

He'd nodded, said, "Nice to meet you, Willow," and left.

Returning to present, Buffy answered, "Well, he's not much to see. He's big, bleached and annoying."

"Crushed to hear you say that, pet," a voice said and Buffy whirled around. Spike was standing in the doorway.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Your mum wants you to come home, your cousin and aunt have come."

Oh shoot, she'd forgotten about that. Her Aunt Michelle and her bratty, fourteen-year-old cousin Sarah had come to spend a week with them. She didn't know why, but her mother had told her they wanted a vacation, and they thought Sunnydale would be the perfect place, since they normally lived in dull Oklahoma.

Buffy muttered a curse under her breath, and then said, "Fine, I'm coming. You go ahead."

"Oh, I wouldn't leave without you pet."

"You are so extremely annoying."

"And proud of it, love. By the way, aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?"

Buffy turned around to find all of them, even Giles, staring at her and Spike.

"Fine. This is Spike," she said to the Scoobies, then she turned to get her stuff from the training room.

"'Lo all," Spike said with a crooked grin.

Willow smiled at him in recognition, while the other ones just stared. Anya smiled and said, "Hi, I'm Anya. This is Xander," she pointed at her boyfriend, "Willow and Tara," she continued nodding at the Wiccas. "And Giles of course," she said with a look at the older man. "He owns the store. I work here."

Spike nodded. He didn't say anything, and the next second, Buffy was back with a bag on her back and an irritated expression.

"See you later," she said to the Scoobies and left the store with Spike in tow.

She walked fast, attempting to get ahead of Spike but not succeeding. He seemed to have no trouble keeping up with her. Suddenly she stopped and looked at him accusingly.

"Are you going to tell me anytime soon what you were doing at the cemetery last night? Or will I have to guess?"

"Why do you care, pet?"

"Why I care?! Because there aren't supposed to be people out at a cemetery at twelve o'clock at night!"

"Then what were you doing there, huh? Besides, shouldn't you be bloody thanking me?"

"Why would I?"

"Because I saved your sodden life!" They had started walking again.

"You did not; I had everything under control!"

"Yeah, even when you were thrown into a tombstone, knocked unconscious and almost bitten. Oh yeah, you were in control," Spike said sarcastically.

"I have come this far, I don't need your help!" she said, walking so fast she was almost running. He had stopped a little further back, and the rest of the way they walked one and one, neither saying another word.

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