The potentials didn't appear bothered by his presence, chattering as if they broke bread with a vampire every night. It worried her a little; they were becoming so comfortable with Spike, there was the danger they might think others were like him. She'd purposely called vampires "animals" to impress upon the girls how dangerous their foe could be. What kind of example was she setting by flinging herself into Spike's arms?
Everyone else seemed relaxed, the afternoon's outings having done them good. Even Molly seemed to have released her grip on the ever preasant notepad, watching in fascination as Spike stole spaghetti from Dawn's plate to demonstrate the fine art of twirling it onto one's fork. "Doesn't that have garlic in it?" she inquired.
"I believe it does." He downed the noodles with only a minimum of "slurp." "Not all vampires are repelled by garlic, though."
He looked at Buffy and grinned as her face grew warm with the memory of garlic braids she'd thought might keep him away. "Messes up the sense of smell if there's too much, but nothing to keep one from eating it," he explained.
There was small splash of sauce at one corner of his mouth, and Buffy caught herself with napkin in hand, ready to reach out and wipe it away. Instead, she caught his eye (not a difficult task) and mimed wiping something away from her mouth with her finger. He picked up on the cue and removed the spot. "Did I get it all?"
So much for being subtle. "Yes, you got it. Vi, are you done with that plate? I'll take it out to the kitchen."
She managed to gather a few others and carried the load away from the dining table. She lingered for a moment, hoping he'd follow and a bit disappointed when he didn't. Once the plates were scraped and set to soaking, she headed back to the dining room and discovered the girls had taken advantage of her absence to question Spike. "I'd just rolled into Sunnydale when I met Buffy," he was saying to Rona when she returned. "The Feast of St. Vigieous was coming up..."
"St. Vigieous?" Chloe asked.
"Bid bad vampire who killed lots of humans back in the Dark Ages. Vamps hold him up as a talisman due to his utter lack of compassion. Anyway, there were plans to attack the slayer on the feast, that Saturday. Thursday, however, was parent-teacher night at the high school and I decided it'd be much more fun to crash that."
"I didn't see much," Willow said. "I spent most of the evening locked in the closet with Cordelia, waiting for them to go away."
"That must have been fun. Cordelia always thought she was queen of the world," Dawn explained with a roll of her eyes."
"And I went to get help," Xander volunteered. "Brought back Angel, who's the other souled vampire." Spike tried to eat me."
As one, the heads of the potentials all swiveled toward Spike, who sighed. "I was never going to bite you. Knew something was up with Angel and wanted to string him along to see what it was. That's why I punched him when I did."
"So you know Angel?" Molly looked like she was searching for her notepad.
"He's my grandsire." Spike's voice was quiet. "He made Drusilla, who made me."
There was another issue they needed to work out. Buffy stepped further into the room, taking up a place behind Spike's chair. As she laid a hand on his shoulder, he looked up and she saw a hint of uncertainty there "To make a long story short, Buffy kicked my ass quite thoroughly -- with a little help from her mum -- and has been kicking my ass ever since."
"And you fell for her," Kennedy said, her voice filled with skepticism.
Even as Buffy bristled at the tone, Spike's smile made his feelings clear. "What's not to love?"
"Besides," Xander said, "even if Spike is an evil, blood-sucking fiend, he's our evil, blood-sucking fiend."
"Does that mean I'm our 'evil-but-reforming super-villain'?" Andrew asked.
"No!" came the response from Xander, Anya, Molly and Chloe. After that, it seemed like a good time to get everyone away from the table.
The evening stretched on, the television going, small groups of conversation, the girls taking turns at the shower. Through it all, Buffy was keenly aware of Spike's eyes on her, watching her movements with a smile. She was also aware of the others watching them and the intense, whispered conversations between Willow and Kennedy that quieted when she drew near. She shouldn't be surprised, she supposed. The girls had been buzzing about Spike since he'd come through the front door, half-walking, half-carried.
Buffy hadn't missed Kennedy's snide comments about having formerly dated Spike, nor the way Rona sized him up, look at her, then sized him up again, or Molly's rather embarrassing question about whether they'd be required to make out with him as well. Last year, she and Spike had carried on affair that proved hard on buildings and furniture...and her friends hadn't noticed. In the past few weeks, they'd both made every effort to keep their relationship on a strictly professional basis...and a group of teenaged girls kept wondering what was up. Maybe, she had to admit, not only had she not wanted the Scoobies to see what was going on, they hadn't wanted to see what was going on.
There was no keeping of secrets in this house. Everyone knew Kennedy was chasing Willow, that Chloe cried at night when she didn't think anyone was listening, and a host of other things people would probably like to keep private but couldn't because they were living on top of each other. If she and Spike took the next step, everyone would know that as well, see him climb the stairs in the evening rather than disappear into the basement. If they didn't take the next step, everyone would be watching and waiting.
At last, the house began to bed down for the night. Sleeping bags were brought out for those camped in the living room, and those who slept upstairs began to say their good nights. Buffy, as was her habit, lingered until she was certain the girls were bedded down, making sure the doors were secure and trusting that the protection spells Willow had put in place would hold another night.
With the lights downstairs dimmed, and everyone accounted for, she was free to head upstairs. Feeling a touch of nerves fluttering in her stomach, she joined Spike where he stood in the hall. He lifted an eyebrow as if posing a question, but she knew he knew the answer already. Without a word, she started up the stairs, only to realize he hadn't followed her before she got halfway up. Turning, she looked down to find him waiting at the foot of the stairs. With a smile, she held out her hand, giving him that final invitation.
She knew heads in the living room lifted from their pillows, silently watching the scene illuminated only by the light that filtered down from upstairs, but the time for worrying about that was past. Now, she focused on him as he stepped onto the stairs, stretching out his hand to slide into hers.
Buffy felt some guilt at her insistence that she not share her room, but the opportunity to have somewhere she could retreat from everyone had been too great to pass up. As they stepped over the threshold and the door closed behind him, she was glad she'd insisted. At least she and Spike weren't put in the position of having to search the house for a place to snatch a few moments of away from prying eyes.
She turned toward Spike, ready to tell him that, only to find herself swept into a tight embrace. "I've been waiting all evening to do this," he whispered before kissing her.
They made it to the bed somehow and divested themselves of their clothes...somehow. The few times Buffy had allowed herself to consider a reunion, she'd pictured it as all the things she'd never let them be. This, on the other hand, was more like those frantic days when they got down to business as soon as possible. Spike's hands were everywhere, touching, teasing, causing her breaths to come in gasps and pants. He couldn't stop kissing her, his lips trailing fire across her skin. This was...oh, yeah. Right there.
Then, suddenly he paused and looked down at her with a happy smile on his face. "I love you."
She lifted her hand to trace the line of his jaw. "I love you, too." It felt good to say the words, watch his joy in them. Buffy didn't think she'd ever seen him smile quite like this before. "We don't have to rush..."
"Who's rushing?" His hand grazed down her side, dancing across that spot just above her hip that made her tingle and wiggle. "Believe me, Buffy, my love, this is going to take quite some time..."
Lying sprawled on her back, Spike collapsed beside her, his head resting on her chest, Buffy decided she didn't need to move ever again. She felt boneless and content, relaxed in ways it was difficult to describe. "That was..."
He grinned up at her. "Still think I was rushing?"
"No." She ran her fingers through his hair, marveling in the short curls that appeared in every direction. "I think I had some vision of flowers and romance, candlelit rooms and something very slow and maybe even a little tentative."
"I've got you back in my arms, no way I'm going to be tentative. Might try very slow, but I'd probably have to gag you so we wouldn't wake the house."
There was a wicked, lustful look in his eyes that promised infinite delights if she was willing to play along. That had been a revelation, that he would make love to her with the enthusiasm and ferocity that had kept her desperate for more last year; the difference lay in herself, in her willingness to let herself be open to the warmth in his eyes and murmurs of love he whispered against her skin. It had always been there, waiting for her.
"Maybe," she said coquettishly, "when Giles gets back, we can let him take the girls out for some training, get them out of the house all day."
"That's my girl." He slid up her body, pulling her into a kiss. Somehow, Buffy had the feeling she was going to get very little sleep that night. Maybe Kennedy could put the girls through their paces in the morning.
The shrill ring of the phone broke the mood somewhat, causing Buffy to glare at her desk. "Let the machine get it," Spike said, nibbling at her neck.
"It could be Giles."
A moment's pause and he rolled away. "Right. Tell Watcher-Boy I'll dismember him later for this."
"I'll help," Buffy said as she slipped from bed and padded across the floor. "Summers' residence."
"Miss Summers? Buffy?"
The voice on the end of the line was familiar in its British accent, but Buffy couldn't quite place it. "This is Buffy Summers. Who is this?"
A sigh. "Of course. It's been years. It's Wesley Wyndham-Price."
This was not good. The only reasons she could possibly think of for why her former (and much-despised) Watcher would call her were either Angel, Faith, an Apocalypse...or any combination of the above. "What's going on, Wesley? Given the time, I doubt this is a social call."
"It's not." Static crackled on the line as if he were on a cell-phone. "I'm on my way to Sunnydale and I wanted to warn you."
"Warn me about what?" Spike had gotten out of bed and pulled her robe from the wardrobe, draping it around her shoulders. He stayed close and she knew he could hear what was happening on the other end of the line.
"We've had some difficulties in Los Angeles. I'll fill you in on the details when I arrive, but what is of primary concern at the moment is that Angelus is back."
It was as if time had frozen. She couldn't speak, could barely hear Wesley asking, "Buffy? Are you there?" through the thundering in her ears. It was the pressure of Spike's hands tightening on her shoulders, realizing he'd heard the news as well that brought her back to movement. "I'm here. You said Angelus is back?"
"And apparently on his way to Sunnydale. You'd better contact Willow and warn her -- it's likely he wants to remove the only other person who knows how to restore his soul."
There was a world of questions in that statement, but there wasn't time now. "How much of a head start does he have?"
"We're not sure. I should be there in an hour, but you might want to do a disinvite if you can."
"I'll get right on it."
She hung up the phone, slipping her arms into the robe's sleeves. Wrapping the sash tightly around her, she headed for the door but stopped with her hand on the knob. "Spike..."
He was there in an instant, planting a kiss on her forehead. "Go rally the troops. I'll be there as soon as I get my clothes on."
Before he could pull away, she reached up to kiss him. "I love you," she told him fiercely.
"Love you, too."
There was more she wanted to say, but there wasn't time.
More than ever, there wasn't time.
Continued in Chapter Three