Buffy blinked, slowly lifting her head from the cushion. Spike muttered behind her, and she realized they were still on the couch. His hand tightened on her side, and she glanced down. Her fat fuzzy robe had fallen slightly open in sleep, but his towel was completely off, and the sunlight painted the light hairs on his skin with gold. His hand dangled on her waist, and she studied the fingers as if she’d never seen them before. Well, not so clearly, she thought. He had such long graceful fingers. The novelty of sunlight and Spike struck her again, and she could only glance around the room with some distaste. The contrast of the mundane little room and the enormity of what had happened to Spike made her dizzy. She half expected to find his flesh turned to air, but he was solid when she traced her thumb over his hand.
She twisted and looked up at him as he squeezed his eyes shut hard. With a yawn, he rubbed them. Settling onto her back enabled her to see his whole body, and it took her a moment to realize he’d opened his eyes and was watching her. Somewhat guiltily, she looked up. He shook his head a little, but he looked a bit amused. “Better?” she asked.
“Well, it’s got to be stressful,” Buffy said. “When I—came back---that was part of it. Exhaustion. Maybe you’re exhausted.”
He remembered sliding inside her, the sensation as vivid as if he’d never experienced it before. It’s you, Spike thought. He looked around the small living room, and sighed. My new world. His new world had been furnished by someone who was evidently a big fan of Martha Stewart.
“I should get dressed,” Buffy said. That was something he had always objected to, but now he was studying her face. “I have to tell Dawn about you, and I don’t think I should do it over the phone.”
“How, erm…” She watched Spike turn pink around the edges, and then he did something that puzzled her. He shifted and pulled the towel around him so that he was covered again. A gap in her own robe exposed one of her breasts and she had to stifle the urge to pull it closed. She flushed just a bit. Even lying with him calmed that weird fluttery feeling in her stomach, but she wondered what it was doing to him if his impulse was to cover up. She sat up, rebelliously letting her robe sag still further open.
“How are you going to tell her?” Spike propped his head up on his palm behind her.
“Good question. I’m hoping the Inspiration Fairy will make a visit.” She rubbed her eyes. “I have to say, talking to her about sex would be a joy after this.” When she leaned back a little, she found, she could touch his stomach, and seemingly without thought he slipped his hand around her waist. Her pesky nerves instantly relaxed. Aaahhhhh….
“You haven’t talked to her about sex yet?” Dawn. Sex, Spike thought, and cringed. Oh, God, don’t make me go to PTA meetings.
“No, and I hope I never will. She’s so different from me, and I don’t want her doing some of the same things I did when I was her----Oh, my God, I’m Mom, all of a sudden.” She flopped back on the couch and stared up at the ceiling. “I’m middle-aged.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I just quoted from the Mom rule book.”
“I can get you a cane if you like. How old are you again? Twenty-one?” They hadn’t even bothered with a birthday party that year, he realized. The year of the First Evil. And then there was…the two of them, all over again. All those cautious overtures, the wary compassion, the emotional foreplay for things they’d already done.What a backward pair they were. He rubbed his eyes again. Headaches, he thought. Nobody reminded me about headaches. “Or Twenty two?”
“Not if you count my age in Slayer years,” Buffy said dryly. “I’m hundreds of years old. I’m like—Methuza---Methu--that really old guy in the Bible.” She looked at him curiously. “How old do you feel?”
The question left him shaking his head. Physically? Mentally? Emotionally, he was at sea. Her face, her eyes---those were the things anchoring him. Physically, nothing hurt. Mentally, he had no idea. “Dunno, love. How’m I supposed to know? Feel like a schoolboy sitting out in the hall while the headmaster goes on about what to do with me. Don’t know what’s happened, what’s going to happen.” He did not mention that in this little scene, the headmaster looked a great deal like Giles. He suddenly realized that Giles was taller than him.
“Does anything hurt?”
He had a very sappy desire to indicate his chest, which had started aching again, but what with the loss of the vampire strength, he wasn’t too happy about admitting to other reductions as well. “Bloody odd,” he said finally. “Everything feels---strange. New, in a way, but familiar and-----“ And less, he added mentally. On the one hand, the way the sunlight felt on his skin—and the way it looked on her---was beyond the powers of his vocabulary. On the other, there were so many little things grating on him. I bet even Xander is taller than me. I don’t get to be cynical about other people, he thought suddenly. They get to be cynical about me.
Buffy watched a frown take shape on his face, and reached out to touch his face. Whiskers prickled her fingers. Bodily function, she thought, and then blinked. Bodily functions, why did that make her stomach flip flop all of a sudden?
She sat up abruptly, so fast that Spike had to press himself back against the sofa cushions to avoid getting head-butted. “Oh, shit,” she muttered. The tie of the robe was hopeless tangled somewhere underneath her, and rather than wrestle with it, she abandoned the robe and left it behind to head for the bathroom. Spike eyed her retreating form with a mixture of curiosity and bewilderment. Then he looked down at his towel with the same expression. Why was he clutching his towel and why was Buffy the one wandering around naked? He wasn’t William any more. He didn’t precisely know what or who he was, but he was not going to relive that life. Then something occurred to him. What if this wasn’t a reward? What if it was a punishment? Where had that little tid bit been in the fairy tale? Vampire turns human and never thought to check the fine print.
Even before she got to the bathroom, Buffy knew it was a futile gesture. Water under the bridge, and all that stuff. Sex with a vampire is a lot easier than sex with humans. Good one, Buffy. Well, hell, she thought resentfully, the facts of life in Slayerville are---or were---a little bit different. Now that he had a body instead of just being one, there were all sorts of little things that needed to be taken care of---millions of them, as a matter of fact. Just have to use birth control, she thought. That had always been Riley’s job. She wondered how Spike would feel about that. This is too---real, she thought dismally. It wasn’t as if reality and sex had ever mixed for her before.
It’s so much less complicated to have sex with vampires, she thought, then glanced around guiltily to see if someone was reading her mind. Humans are complicated, and----she sat down, glad that Spike couldn’t see the glum look on her face. All those complications, she thought, but no drama, no significance, no earth-shattering rule-breaking. No sonnets. Nothing going in the history book here. My new life. She sighed and flopped backward on the bed. “No complications, my ass,” she grumbled. “Just leave that to me.”
Spike tapped at the door frame, and Buffy winced. Knocking? She thought. He’s knocking? Spike doesn’t knock, he’s---- She pulled herself up on her elbows, noticing the way his towel was slung precariously around his hips. All those times he’d wandered naked around his crypt while she tried to avoid thinking about what they were doing, and now he was wearing a towel. He was shaking his head very slightly as he looked at her, as if denying that she was actually lying there naked in front of him, like an offering. She flushed a bit, wondering if he was remembering the way she’d clutched at sheets and rugs and jackets, never exposing herself to him. Well of course I did, she thought suddenly. I had to---what? The sensation returned to her as if she just had to turn her head to be back in Spike’s crypt. All those times she’d avoided his eyes, acknowledging what they were doing. It was more vivid that more recent events.
“You’re going to get Dawn?” Spike said. He looked like he was dazed.
“Yeah. You want to come with?”
“Uh….” He glanced around, and his eye fell on his discarded sweats, huddled in a pile on the floor, on top of his flip flops. Clothes. The simplest thing in the world. He did not have any of his own. Nor, he thought, did he have any means of getting any. He was now in the position of having to ask someone to get him some. The thought of saying anything about it practically choked him. Then someone else would know he didn’t even have any clothes of his own. He looked around for escape. Couldn’t very well rob people, now, could he? Vamps never went to prison, but petty criminals certainly did. Bloody fuck. “When----when-----“ He banged his head lightly against the door frame, trying to get thoughts moving. He thought of the moment in the sun, the plan to spoil Buffy with lavish feasts, and wondered what he could do. Buffy chose that moment to say something unfortunate. “Giles said he’d get paperwork for you.”
Spike looked at her for a moment as if trying to understand what language she was speaking. “What?”
“You know---ID, stuff like that….”
Identification. Just somebody else in the database. “This fast?”
That had been her worry. “Well, it could help, it could hurt…But it’s good to have.”
Being William Smith had been just a dodge. It was the last thing that set him apart, and he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to get shoved in amongst everyone else who had a name.
“Well, he didn’t exactly offer it to do it out of the depth of his feelings for you but he did concede after a while that he’d do it.”
“How long did he say it would take?”
“A few days. They’ll be coming from England.”
“It’s up to you,” She added the second sentence after something dark formed in his eyes, and she couldn’t identify the expression.
“I don’t know where to start,” he muttered. Clothes, he thought. The means to get them. He glanced at Buffy. Rather doubtful she’d approve if he got the money the old-fashioned way—by stealing it. That meant…. He stared out the window as an appalling vision of his existence formed in his head. A job. Employment. He’d be well and truly ordinary if he went that route. When one was a vampire, laying about one’s crypt all day wasn’t the same as being unemployed----it was a sign of the very rebellion of one’s existence. Take that, laws of God and man! Observe the vampire watching the telly in defiance of science, good taste, and labor laws!
He’d last had a job a hundred twenty odd years ago. It had been utter hell. Trying it again at this stage would be beyond hell. His education was out of date, he hated working---at least what he’d done before----and he suspected that being around humans without the ability to scare them would drive him nuts. He suddenly felt very old.
“So don’t start,” Buffy said reasonably. “Not just yet.” She propped herself up on her elbows, which made her breasts bob enticingly.
“I have to at least think about it.”
“A job,” he muttered.
“Jesus,” he sat down next to her and sagged onto his back. “I don’t know how to do anything but lay about and be useless.” And cut a dashing figure while doing it, he added mentally, but this was not an employable skill.
“You’re not useless.”
“I’m not useful.”
“Not yet,” she specified in a purposeful tone that made him dizzy with visions of doing KP dancing in his head. “Jeez, Spike, get a grip, it’s not like you’ve been hanging around for a year or something.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“Because it’s true.”
“Bugger. Was it this irritating when you were depressed, and I was the one with all the energy?”
Buffy considered it. “Pretty close.”
“So…are you irritated?”
Buffy considered it. “No,” she said. “Concerned, that’s what I am.”
He eyed her. “Concerned?” Concerned for much of the previous year had meant, platonic. He leaned closer. “How concerned?”
Oh, boy, Buffy thought. I have to talk to Dawn about sex and Spike about birth control. On the plus side, however, as he kissed her, she managed to divest him of the towel. She made a mental note to make sure that all the towels in their bathroom---Dawn had her own bath---got replaced with towels that were big enough to dry off with, but not big enough to wear.
“I saw that,” Spike said.
“What?” He settled himself more comfortably into her skin, and she helped, sliding her hands up his back. “Oh, that, well---“
“Nice wrist action there, as you flicked it away.”
“All those years with stakes.”
“Good to know it’s got other uses…” And he kissed her again, and she sighed happily, wriggling with anticipation. This got her a throaty chuckle in response, and her hands became more urgent. Talk later, she thought. A nice, non-weird talk…
Somebody knocked on the apartment door, and Spike lifted his head with a groan. “Bloody hell.” He kissed her again, and she murmured appreciatively. But when the knocking started again, she started abruptly.
“Oh, crap,” she muttered. “They’re not going away. What if it’s that stuff from Giles…?”
Spike waved a hand wearily. Obviously sex during the day had some drawbacks. He flopped over on his back to catch a glimpse of her leaving the room to get her bathrobe.
First chance he got, that robe was going in the trash. What did she need a robe for, anyway? She could walk straight from her bathroom right into the bedroom.
With something considerably less than good grace, Buffy grabbed her robe from the couch, jerked it on, and tied it shut with sharp motions. She counted to ten at the door, half-hoping the interloper was gone, half-hoping they were still there so she could yell at them.
The first thing she saw was Leo Tate’s Sunnydale PD badge, right at her eye level. He glanced at her bathrobe, then around her. “Well, hello there, Miss Summers. I took your advice.”
“I took your advice. I went out and I detected something. May I come in?”
Continued in Chapter 11