Lorne checked his watch. Yes, indeed, it had been about an hour since they'd gotten to Sunnydale, and Spike had driven with one hand clamped on the wheel and what had felt like both feet and several weights jammed on the gas pedal. Now, he was ambling with loose-limbed giddiness to the car, accompanied by someone who could only be the Slayer, and she, too, was suspiciously loosey goosey as well. Spike's hair was tousled, and to Lorne's interested eyes, it was pretty obvious whose fingers had done it. As far as the Slayer herself, she was tiny and mussed, wallowing in huge sweats, hair wild around her face, and lips obviously just-kissed. Well, well, well, wasn't this impressive. Back in town less than an hour, and they'd already gotten naked and -- from all appearances -- looked like they'd soon be going at it again. After the sterile confines of the Hyperion, it was rather refreshing in an unexpectedly vivid kind of way.
Both of them smacked up against the same invisible obstacle when they saw him. The body language was exceptionally interesting. Buffy, who had been glancing surreptitiously out of the corners of her eyes at Spike, tripped over a molecule, and thumped over her own feet, then flushed. Spike, who had been more or less blinking his long eyelashes non stop at the Slayer, stopped abruptly, probably at the same proton, and stared at him blankly as if he'd never seen him before. Comprehension dawned with visible slowness, probably at the same rate of speed as brain cells were repairing themselves, post orgasm. Lorne watched as the vampire visibly struggled for some clue as to his identity. He waved helpfully, hoping to disperse the almost-visible pheromones clouding around their respective heads. "Slayer," Spike finally said, "This is Lorne."
"Slayer," Lorne drawled. "What an unusual name for a girl. Did this make your life interesting in the public education system?"
"Um, it's actually Buffy."
"Well, that's mundane by comparison." Lorne said. "So where are we going?"
They exchanged glances. "We?" Spike asked. "You're not going anywhere with us. Right now. Because we have pizza to get."
"Uh, huh." He eyed the way their hands dangled too close together, as if they'd just been separated. "Sure, sweetness, pizza. Thirty minutes or you get a freebie?" He eyed the house, more than a little curious. "So, what's going on here?"
Lorne sadly reviewed his life; once the owner of a wonderful club with all sorts of interesting people, he now looked forward to a room full of teenagers. How art the mighty fallen? He smiled at the two of them. "Don't be too long." Just long enough so I can plot something, he amended. The three of them stood there and eyed each other uncomfortably, and he wondered, were they going to christen the car right there in the street or something? Spike opened the passenger side door, and Buffy gave Lorne a curious glance as she climbed in. Spike squinted at him for just a second over the roof before he got it. "You're not planning on having any little sing alongs, are you?"
"What can I say?" Lorne asked. "I'm a musical kind of guy."
Spike shook his head, but Lorne was too much of a distraction from Buffy, who was leaning over the seat and looking up at him. He slid in and started the car, pulling away from the curb with such haste he left rubber behind. Buffy settled into the seat with a sigh, and he glanced over at her. It suddenly occurred to him that they were alone, for a while. Not necessarily alone in hey-let's-shag-again-alone, although that was a possibility. Alone as in no-need-to-worry-about-putting-on-a-fake-face-type-alone. Although there was the post-coital nervousness thing to worry about, the way she got all twitchy some times after the clothes came back on, which seemed to be what she was doing now. He sighed, wondering how long it would take this time.
Buffy stared out the open window, the breeze rustling her hair, suddenly confronted by more unnerving thoughts on the order of, Oh, all alone, I see. No friends around. No need to deal with whatever this is, no need to pretend, no need to act. She had gotten so used to the pretense that its absence almost made her miss it. Now, that's bad, she thought. My life has officially become a bad country song, although it's going to be hard to work the whole vampire thing in there and still break the Top Ten. She glanced at Spike. Plus he definitely was not the country type. She had no idea what to do with worry-free time, and the idea of being worry free in Spike's company was so recent an addition to her Theories of Life that she was still writing the play book out. Hm.
Uh oh, Spike thought. She's thinking. This was not good. Thinking led to reasoning, which invariably involved not doing fun things, like shagging for hours, kissing where her friends might find them, and well, doing what they were doing right now, which might very well lead to more shagging. He stretched his arm out along the back of the seat and Buffy surprised him by turning her cheek into his palm. Her hair curled over his hand, and he found himself looking more at her than the road. She rubbed her cheek against his hand, and his fingers curled automatically, response to irresistible stimulus, feeling her skin flush even more against his hand as she closed her eyes and leaned her head against his arm. He kept glancing at her stealthily, which he knew was stupid, but he couldn't quite do away with the fear of getting caught. She usually only let her guard down with her clothes, and for her to snuggle while dressed was a milestone.
They came to a stoplight, and the absence of movement made her open her eyes. She blinked at her, then, after a moment's hesitation, scooted over the seat, and nudged her head into his shoulder. Do not say a word, he ordered himself. Do not say a word. Saying a word invariably meant he was trying to say something, but would wind up saying it in such a fashion as to cause words. Even Iloveyou -- said at the height of passion, and really uncontrollable -- had been known to get her dressed and gone. So he had to bite his lip every five seconds as yet another phrase would arise in his mind that seemed clever while merely a thought but would undoubtedly be disastrous if he ever dared let it out. These were in fact legion, but he refined his list while waiting for the light.
I love you. Best said while arguing.
The whole animal thing. She could climb him as nimbly as any monkey, ride him like a rocking horse, but if he ever wanted her to do it again, he'd best keep it to himself. Although the mental image was fun, and accurate, dammit, he sincerely doubted his ability to turn any reference to a primate into a complement.
Her bounteous bottom. It wasn't that it was huge, it was just curved, and lush, and there was no way on earth he could say that without putting parts of him in jeopardy.
Any reference whatsoever to the way he adored her super Slayer strength in terms of duration or enthusiasm. One thing hadn't changed in a century (as if William would have known) -- Never, ever, imply, or infer, or suggest, or somehow indicate, speculate or otherwise give the slightest impression, that any woman anywhere at any time or in any place might have been to bed before with someone else and learned how to do a few things properly. Or improperly, which was actually better, once you thought about it, and oh, Christ if he was thinking about it, it was only moments till he was blurting it out.
The light changed, and he stamped on the gas with more enthusiasm than necessary, startling Buffy, not a good thing, because it was possible she might suggest driving herself.
Which he promptly forgot as Buffy snuggled closer, his arm around her waist, her arms around his waist, and sighed in his ear. Bloody hell. She pulled closer still, till her head was on his chest, and he got a brief chance to bury his face in her hair before he yanked the wheel over to the curb, and pulled her as close as he could without actually donating any organs. Her hair smelled like mint and strawberries, and just that Buffy smell that she had, which invariably went straight to his nerve endings. She twisted in his arms till she was curled up in the opposite direction, almost on her back in his lap, too easy to kiss not to, tasting his mouth while she touched his face with the slightest of fingertip touches. He spread his legs for her so she could wriggle into his lap and be that much closer, and then, not coincidentally, put her bottom right where he could fit it into his hands. It wasn't a demand, he wasn't trying to seduce her -- any more than usual, that is -- he just loved the way her bottom fitted his hands.
"Pizza." Buffy murmured between kisses.
"Request, order, comparison, observation?"
"Mm." Buffy gave one of those little sighs. "Reminder."
"Bugger the pizza." He slid his arms around her waist, and tightened till she squeaked. "Kissing takes precedence."
"Kids waiting at home."
"Eating you out of house and home, no doubt."
Well, hell, he thought, that did it. "It's worth it, because Dawn's so happy." She sounded injured.
"Is she?" He stroked her hair again, and she laid her head against his left arm. Pieta with Slayer, he thought. Interesting concept.
"Oh yes." Buffy smiled at the thought of she and Dawn on the back porch, arms linked, grossing out at the thought of Sex. With. Boys. Or boy vampires, she thought, trying not to giggle outright at the sudden thought of a vampire in a Cub Scout uniform. Spike raised an eyebrow.
"Well, your name came up in the conversation."
"Probably in vain."
"Hm, dramatic much? No, this was the Talk."
"The Talk?" He heard the capitals, and wondered what sort of initiation rite he'd missed.
"You know, the Talk. Sex came up." He raised an eyebrow again, and she was torn between envy at his eyebrow skills and... well, more envy. She'd always wanted to be able to do that. "Sex with you."
"You talked about sex with Dawn?"
"Actually, it was more like the other way around." She made a gesture of collision. "I didn't know what hit me. Train wreck time."
"Not fun, was it?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'll turn her loose on you when we get back and you'll see. " He gave her one of his Spike looks, which mixed skepticism with just plain sex, eyeing her so challengingly that she leaned up and kissed him.
"Oh, hell." He took a deep breath. "Let's go."
"Why?" She wriggled against him, deliberately, he was sure.
"Pizza, you said. Sooner we get back, sooner I can get you alone."
"In a houseful of girls?"
"Worked before." He pointed out silkily.
Well. That was what was called an irrefutable argument right there. "Pizza then." She sat up sulkily, sticking out her lower lip. He gunned the motor, then leaned over and kissed her lightly.
"Pizza." Buffy sighed, in the way of reminding him.
"Pizza," he agreed, but he didn't stop kissing her.
"Pizza!" Buffy gave him a small shove, and he sighed, with great patience and pulled away. Domino bastards, he thought, and pulled out into traffic.
Lorne ambled around the perimeter of the house, picking up fragments of conversation within, and nips of the scent of garlic. Garlic? Now that was interesting. It wasn't present in the house any longer, but there'd been so much of it at one point that the scent lingered on. How interesting. Spike had said she didn't love him, but he believed she felt something for him, and at one point at least, that feeling had been fear.
He came around the back porch, to find a voluptuous blonde sitting on the top step with her chin on her knees. "Oh,' he said, startled. "Pardon me."
She sagged visibly, as if he were the final straw, the last indignity. "Oh, God."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well!" He snapped, affronted. "I'm not just another demon. Allow me to introduce myself, sweetness. I'm Lorne of the Deathwa clan, and my goodness, how you must moisturize. I'm impressed, especially in California."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well, you know, this dry air." He waved his hand through the air as he said this, as if to specify this air rather than other air. "It does just terrible things to my pores, and I just don't think I packed really well for this trip."
"Oh, you know, I thought it was just going to be an overnight thing, maybe, but well, I've seen the hotels around here, and all I could think is, the only way two people ever get in one of those showers together is if one of them is Norman Bates." He added thoughtfully, "Would have done him some good, you know."
"Showering is definitely good."
"So, uh..." He looked around, searching for further conversational forays. "Known Spike long?"
"Spike!" She smiled suddenly. "Oh, you're a friend of Spike's! Oh, that explains a lot."
"Well." Tara was stumped by that one. "Your sudden appearance."
"Good save," he said admiringly.
"Well, I thought I recognized you, but I wasn't sure."
"Oh, really?" He gestured at a spot next to her, seeking permission, which she granted with a nod. "Spike has a lot of demon friends from my clan?"
"Well, demon friends, at least."
"Well," Tara thought. "There's Clem."
Tara thought about it for a minute. "There's... Clem."
"He's a very popular boy, our Blondie, isn't he?" Lorne said thoughtfully. They sat in silence for a few minutes, long enough to hear a burst of giggles in the kitchen, plus what was unmistakably an adult's voice. Tara froze at once, darting a startled glance at Lorne, and then jumped up. Brushing off his pants, Lorne followed curiously to the door, where he saw several teenage girls in their pajamas, plus another demon, of a type he couldn't place. He and the demon stared at each other for a few minutes, while the girls exchanged nervous glances. Then he remembered his manners. "Lorne."
"Halfrek." They shook hands, and Lorne had to shake off an uncomfortable feeling of invasion, as she held his hand far too tightly, and peered into his eyes." How nice to meet you."
Dawn bounced up to him, sticking out a hand and shaking his vigorously, freeing him from the uncomfortable scene with Halfrek. "Are you a friend of Spike's?"
Well, well, well, Lorne thought, watching Halfrek stiffen. Really, these humans -- or former humans -- were so obvious sometimes. From Buffy, stealing virginal glances at Spike, to Spike, hovering next to her, to Halfrek acting like she'd just seen Bill Clinton when she was busy with someone else, they all might just as well have been wearing signs.
He thought about Spike, and what he'd told him; that sometimes there was so much of another person in the singer's thoughts that he could pick up impressions of that person. He thought about Angel, long since over Buffy, but not likely to react well when he heard the news of precisely who she'd moved on to. And he looked at the demon in front of him, a former human like Spike, who, unlike Spike, radiated waves that reeked of demon, and eyed the coltish little girls around her like a hungry cat.
"What a lovely speaking voice you have," he tsked at her. "I bet you sing divinely."
Continued in Chapter 26