By Miss Murchison
Sequel to A Glorious Morning Have I Seen
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.
Notes: This is a sequel to A Glorious Morning I Have Seen, as I continue my mission to give Joyce a fun storyline of her own. And, of course, lots of sex with Spike.
Setting: A mildly AU early Season 5. Dawn doesn’t exist, and instead of falling for Buffy, Spike has discovered the attractions of an older woman.
Thanks: To DorothyL , Keswindhover, and Devil Piglet for correcting my errors and for all the encouragement. And to Keswindhover and Devil Piglet for this great manip.
Joyce stepped out of her sandals and peeled off her pantyhose and slip, then reluctantly put the sandals on again. As an afterthought, she pulled off her long necklaces and the tasteful little bracelet she'd wrapped around her wrist that morning. She gave a sigh of relief as she dropped the discarded clothing in her open briefcase and turned back to her desk. It was just too hot to keep up the guise of a professional working woman now that the gallery was closed and the customers gone for the day.
But, with or without pantyhose, she still had work to do. She had to finish inventorying the new shipment or pay her assistant overtime to do it. Since Susie was barely worth her pay on regular time, Joyce had decided to finish the job herself. She hoisted a box onto her desk and reached for a utility knife.
Using her office as a storeroom was another inconvenience. But even in downtown Sunnydale, square footage cost money, and Joyce made a living as much from keeping costs down as she did by selling art. If this new shipment didn't move quickly, she'd have to turn her daughter's room at home into a storage area again, even if Buffy was annoyed to find herself displaced by a dozen boxes of knickknacks meant to appeal to pseudo-sophisticated college students. There was no space left in the spare bedroom. It was filled with seasonal merchandise waiting for its time to come again (Joyce did a brisk business at Easter, since her main competitor on the street never carried any bunny-related items) and the leftovers from the shipment of Black Forest cuckoo clocks that cute Bavarian salesman had talked her into buying. Not to mention the series of huge, Andy Warhol-style portraits of ex-governors of Idaho that Susie had taken on consignment, only to have the artist leave town without a forwarding address.
Joyce wiped a strand of sweaty hair away from her forehead. But it was dark outside now, so it should cool down by the time she was ready to walk home. Of course, that meant she would be walking home in the darkness of Sunnydale, the town on the hellmouth. Beautiful, hot Sunnydale, the town inhabited by more demons than any other on the face of the earth.
And there was one demon in particular who she knew was going to be angry at her tonight.
The door behind her shook.
Joyce stopped, her arms buried to the elbow in packing material, her hands trying to lever a stone statue out of the depths of a packing crate. If she let the statue go now, it would drop to the bottom of the crate and most likely get chipped in the fall.
She held onto the thing as the door shook again. Something was rattling the lock. Joyce glanced at the main gallery, which was in semidarkness, lit only by one dim lamp beside the front door. The knob rattled again, and this time the door opened. Joyce straightened up, the heavy statue in her hands, as one of Sunnydale's demons stepped into the room and glared down at her.
"You weren't at the house," said Spike accusingly.
"No," said Joyce. "Because I'm here. And don't look at me like that. It's not like you have a phone. I can't call and let you know when I'm working late." She set the statue down on her desk and added, "Why didn't you knock? You must have sensed I was in here alone."
"You gave me a key," he said, holding it up. "Which sticks. I suppose I should make like a blooming handyman and ask you where the WD-40 is."
"In the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet," she said calmly.
He made no move to get it, leaning against the wall and watching her work, his frown slowly easing into a smile. "Hot in here," he commented at last.
Apparently, she had been forgiven for scaring him. She nodded, wiping another wisp of hair out of her eyes. "I turned down the air conditioning when I closed," she said. "Don't want to waste the money. I thought I'd be ready to leave before this. But it should get cooler outside soon."
He looked cool now, impossibly so in that long leather coat he always wore, and no trickle of sweat marred his James Dean swagger. But she knew better than to touch him to relieve the heat sweeping through her body. If she laid one finger on him, she would feel as if she were aflame.
After a minute or two, some of the residual tension seemed to ease from him, and he began to act more like a man at ease with his surroundings. He shrugged out of his coat and tossed it on the rack in the main room. And—so nonchalantly that to comment on it would have clearly been a faux pas, even to make a bawdy joke about it—he snagged the can of lubricant from the filing cabinet and fixed the lock on the door. Then he threw himself into her desk chair and picked up one of the figurines she had unpacked.
"What's this shite?"
Well, what did you expect, Joyce? Tact? "A shipment we got in today. They're supposed to be pre-Columbian design."
He snorted. "Bugger the design. These are post-Columbian manufacture." He picked up a distorted little man lying on his back with his knees up in the air. A plate lay across his belly, looking uncomfortably like a serving dish. "I wouldn't be surprised to see a 'made in China' sticker on these. And a Chac Mol! Leave it to the residents of Sunnydale to think sacrificial altars are 'cute.'"
"Someone will probably buy it to use as an earring tray," said Joyce calmly. She was used to his criticisms. "I've already sold two of those today." She set a box marked "special order" on the desk and began to unwrap it. "This one is supposed to actually be worth something, but I hope I wasn't taken in. The man that ordered it hasn't been by to pick it up, and his phone is disconnected. Maybe it's pretty, and I can sell it to someone else if he never shows up." She lifted out a wad of bubble wrap and looked down into the box, disappointed. It was another Mayan god, like the Chac Mol Spike had handled. But it wasn't very pretty. In fact, it was downright disturbing.
Joyce stared at the ugly little thing. No one could imagine this being used as an earring tray. But it did seem old enough to have been used for—well, for something she didn't like to think about.
As she reached for the statue, she heard a sudden growl behind her, impossibly close. Spike's hand grasped hers from behind, pulling her away from the box. "Don't touch it," he said emphatically.
She turned her head. His eyes, inches from hers, burned amber, and his fangs almost scraped her cheek. Even without his warning, there was no way she would have touched the statue now. There was no way she could. His grip on her was too strong.
Joyce blinked at him in bewilderment. "What's wrong, Spike?" she asked.
He shook his head slightly and blue eyes met hers. "It's magic. Not the sweetness-and-light white magic of Willow and her pretty lover, either. Ancient, dark, evil, and not inclined to be friendly even if you speak to it nicely."
"Oh." She looked down. "What does it do? Make zombies?"
"No." There was a note of puzzlement behind the sternness in his voice now. "I don't think so. Why the devil would you expect zombies?"
"There was this mask a few years ago, and—never mind." She frowned. "What should I do with this?"
He grasped her by the nape of her neck and pulled her back into his arms, not ungently, but for once without any erotic overtones. It wasn't a grip she could break without fracturing her own bones. His azure gaze seared into her as he said, "I'll find out what it is. In the meantime, lock it away, and don't touch the sodding thing unless I say so. Promise me, love."
It wasn't a request. "I promise," she said. "You can let go."
He released her. "Sorry," he said, stepping back. "Don't want you afraid of me."
She smiled. "I'm not afraid. Not of you, at least."
His eyes were dark and mysterious, and she wondered what he was thinking. He seemed pleased she wasn't afraid, but she thought he looked confused as well.
He hovered behind her, making sure she locked the box in one of the cabinets by the door before he turned away and went into the main room of the gallery, not needing even the dim light by the door to scan its contents. Joyce's fingers shook a bit as she tidied away a few papers and flicked off the office lights before going to join him. It was unlike Spike to be so perturbed by something magical. Whatever was in the box must be really nasty to affect a vampire like that. She felt no inclination to break her promise to him.
Spike's footsteps echoed through the gallery as he wandered around in there, examining the eclectic collection of artwork that filled it. At least, "eclectic" and "art" were the terms Joyce preferred to apply to her inventory. But a previous assessment of Spike's—"a motley assortment of rubbish"—stuck in her mind. Sunnydale was not a rich or a terribly sophisticated town, and she had to display what she had a chance of selling. The gallery wasn't a junk shop, whatever Spike said, and it was certainly a few steps up from Pier One, but Joyce had to admit that Christie's had nothing to fear from her.
Still, there were some nice things here. Joyce rather liked the dark paintings in the alcove reserved for shows by local artists, as long as she didn't look at them closely enough to get nasty shivers down her spine. Spike had told her the artist was part demon, but Joyce was still convinced the woman had real talent.
The window by the street held some of the items that had arrived in the "pre-Columbian" shipment, and more pieces were on display in one of the cabinets by the door. The rest of the room held statues and pottery from various periods, grouped as logically as Joyce had been able to manage with the occasional help of her scatterbrained assistant.
Ignoring these items, Spike was stalking around a recent addition to the gallery like a house cat offended by some new bit of furniture unthinking humans had dumped in its living space. "What the bloody hell—"
"Susie bought it." Joyce entered the main room, went to the windows, and tried to adjust the blinds for the second time that night. One of the slats was askew and kept pulling apart from the others. She'd have to get that fixed. Little things like that mattered in her business.
"Fire her." He stopped circling and stood in front of the chair, his arms crossed and his expression wrathful.
It really was a very silly chair. Made of molded black plastic, it was in the shape of a human hand, palm held flat to form the seat, fingers thrust upwards for the back, and wrist curved down to meet the base.
Joyce's lips twitched, but she looked stern. "This is a college town. Things like that sell here. Some frat boy with too much money will think it's just the thing for his dorm room, and maybe I'll make enough of a commission to buy that boxed set of Bogart DVDs I wouldn't let you steal for me. Besides, it's not even all that uncomfortable." She hopped up on the chair and sat facing him, her feet dangling a few inches off the floor, her face upturned to his. She fought to keep frowning, but between the heat and the mock-wrathful expression in those blue eyes, she felt as if she were melting away.
"It's a good thing I'm evil, or I'd find that distasteful and insulting to Bogie's memory." He was still frowning too, but she noticed that he was paying much less attention to the chair than to its occupant. Or, more specifically, to the blouse of its occupant. Joyce looked down. She had picked out something in a light fabric this morning, and left undone one more button than usual because of the heat. From where he stood glowering above her, Spike was getting a fairly good view.
Joyce decided he deserved an even better one and pulled his head down to hers. He uttered no complaints, his mouth opening to hers willingly. He'd been smoking and boozing already tonight, but she wasn't in a complaining mood either. The bad habits that might have driven her crazy in a human lover were simply a part of Spike, and she wanted him as he was, whole and entire.
And now. She wanted him now. She wiggled on the slippery seat of the chair, spreading her legs and sliding her hands to his hips, pulling him in between her knees, feeling the hardness of his erection through his jeans as he rubbed against her.
"Here?" he asked, his voice roughening, and his hands moving to slip off her blouse before waiting for an answer.
"Here," she said. "On this chair, to make up for teasing me about it."
He chuckled. "You always earn points for imagination, love."
"Yes, you have to hand it to me," she agreed, ignoring his groan at the lame pun because in the next moment, he had unhooked her bra and bent his head, his tongue caressing an already erect nipple before moving on to lick away the trickle of sweat that was running between and under her breasts.
"Have I mentioned that I like the way you punish me?" he murmured, his lips moving to the other breast.
"Have I mentioned that I like the way you apologize?" She kicked off her sandals and brought her knees up on either side of him, her bare feet grazing his denim-clad legs and urging him closer.
Now his hands were sliding up under her skirt, pushing the fabric up to her waist. His fingers hooked into the elastic of her panties, pulling them down and tossing them aside, so that her bottom slid into the plastic embrace of the chair. She had expected to stick to the thing, but she was moist with sweat, and she slipped along the seat towards Spike, bumping into his hips and grinding against him. He slipped one hand between them to expertly massage her clit while his other hand traced up and down her spine and his lips moved to her throat. Her fingers wrestled with the zipper on his jeans, and she shoved the pants down his legs with one hand as she grasped his cock with the other.
"I should be jealous of that bloody chair, the way it's fondling your bare arse. That's my prerogative." Spike slipped his left hand under her, between her warm body and the black plastic. Joyce infinitely preferred his hand's responsive, muscular strength to the chill, gargantuan embrace of that ridiculous chair. She put one hand on his shoulder, the fabric of his black t-shirt bunching under her fingers. She pulled herself up, guiding his cock into her with her other hand. Then she wrapped her legs around his hips, locking her ankles and drawing him deep into her.
I'm so glad I started that yoga class last year. Now I really understand what the instructor meant about the joys of gaining flexibility and letting your body open.
The instructor had talked about improved control of the pelvic floor too, and she tried that out now, feeling her muscles contract obediently.
Spike cried, "Bloody hell, woman!" snatching her up entirely from that ridiculous chair. He was all her support now, holding her easily with one firm hand under her ass and his other arm around her shoulders. She had never been more conscious of his immense, inhuman strength, and thought that she could never feel so secure in anyone else's embrace.
"You're amazing, love," he was muttering as he raised and lowered her against him, building a smooth and almost excruciatingly slow rhythm that made her open even wider, letting him thrust even more deeply inside. "I'd say you were the best lay I ever had, except we don't seem to spend that much time on the horizontal."
"I've got too much to do to be a lay-about," she returned, her arms around his neck now, her words punctuated by kisses and gasps of pleasure. "I'm a busy woman. Too many things to learn, too many things to make you teach me." Her eyes sought his in the dim light. I could spend forever trying to read that midnight gaze.
"I think you've got the student and the pupil mixed up," he said.
She shook her head and tasted him again, lingeringly. Ashes and whisky, a strange combination to send waves of heat crashing through her body. Feeling drunk and breathless, she lifted her head and gasped for air, staring over his shoulder, towards the door of the gallery.
"Stop!" she cried reflexively.
He did, as only he could. He was suddenly, completely still, holding her against him. She could feel him tense, could sense as he began to change to game face, making the psychological move from her lover to her protector, readying for an attack.
"No!" She kissed his brow, easing it with her fingers until it began to smooth again. "It's all right. Nothing's trying to hurt us. It's just—I thought someone was trying to peek in through that gap in the blinds. There was something moving out there."
He was still holding her motionless in a way that should have been impossible. "You want me to stop? Close the blinds? Go into the office where no stupid wanker can sneak a peek at us?" But his words came in short, urgent gasps, his cock was still hard inside her, and his eyes begged her not to interrupt their lovemaking.
"No," she said, tightening her legs around him. "It's okay. I'm sure—it's dark in here. If anyone's there they can't see much, and—" She thought again of someone watching them, seeing their bodies interlocked like this, his hand pressing her bare ass into him, her mouth seeking out his. She felt herself smile involuntarily. She licked her lips, and finished, "So what if they can?"
His laugh echoed through the gallery. "You're liking that, are you? Thinking about someone watching us? Maybe I should carry you over there, just like this, rip down those blinds, and let the world see us? All the little frat boys and coeds are on their way out to bars right now. We could give them a bit of an education."
"No!" She clutched at his shoulders, raising her head and pulling her torso away from his chest as a new image flooded her mind. His mention of coeds made her think of Buffy, and the idea of her daughter spying her in Spike's embrace like this--
"Shh," he said, drawing her close again and making no movement towards the door. His right hand stroked her back soothingly. "I won't do it. I understand, pet. You just liked playing with the idea."
She clung even tighter to him, dizzy with suddenly conflicting emotions. Still incredibly aroused, but frightened by where her latest whim had nearly taken her, she was also gripped by a fear that she had failed Spike somehow. This was the first time she had ever turned down any suggestion he had made during sex. "I guess I'm not as eager to try everything as I thought I was," she said apologetically, her body and her emotions suspended as if on a precipice, ready to either spiral down to frustrated disappointment or to soar to some impossible climax. What she felt in the next few minutes was completely dependent on his next move, his next words.
His face was pressed close to hers now, his lips on her cheek, and she felt rather than saw his smile. "Don't worry, love," he murmured. "I'm not disappointed." He lifted her up even higher, then settled her body back against his hips again, his cock thrusting deep into her, "You see, there's no other creature in the universe I want to share this moment with."
She came then, feeling as if she were airborne, almost out of her body entirely, her flight fueled by the sound of his rich laughter in her ear.
Eventually, she came back to earth, or rather to the seat of that silly chair. She was suddenly conscious that her throat was sore as if she'd been shouting and that the temperature in the room had dropped. Sweat was drying on her bare flesh, chilling her slightly. She clung to Spike's shoulders as he set her down. She was leaning into his chest, feeling the thin fabric of his t-shirt against her cheek. She wanted him to pick her up again, to make him keep holding her close, but she heard him say, "Someone's at the door, love. Expecting anyone?"
She forced herself to acknowledge the world that existed beyond him. Someone was not only knocking on the door, he was shouting her name. Joyce gazed up at Spike. "We're the only ones I expected to be coming tonight. And that sounds like— It can't be him—but why would anyone be here at this hour?"
"Maybe he heard you screaming like a banshee, pet." His lips twitched. "We can ignore him and go for seconds if you want."
"Screaming? I didn't—did I?" Joyce pulled her blouse back on, slipped on her sandals, made an attempt to pat her hair back in place, and skidded over to the door as Spike bent to pick up a scrap of red fabric from the floor. "I just hope this really isn't—Hank!"
"Joyce," said Hank from the doorway. Hank, wearing Dockers and an open-necked shirt with a blazer tossed over his arm, looking so normal and ordinary that the sight made her blink. "There you are!" he announced, almost as if he suspected her of hiding from him.
"Of course. I work here. But—what are you doing here?" It shouldn't have been such a shock to see a man who had once been an integral part of her daily life. But for some reason, seeing him here was like coming across the decaying pillars of the Parthenon amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan. He just didn't belong.
"May I come in?" he asked irritably.
She bit her lip and reluctantly stepped back to let him enter. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Spike leaning against the far wall. In his black t-shirt and jeans, he might have faded into the shadows had it not been for that bone-white hair and his preternaturally pale skin. He was motionless. Joyce shivered. Usually, she found his ability to lurk with such unbreathing stillness exciting (not to mention refreshing, since he rarely engaged that lurking ability, and was more likely to prowl around muttering to himself, like a bad-tempered cat in urgent need of a dose of Ritalin). Tonight, his stillness was menacing.
Joyce wondered what Spike's vampire senses were telling him about her and Hank. Oh, damn. I'm probably exuding some pheromone that says, "I had mediocre sex with this guy for eighteen years until I found him cheating with his secretary." She thought of the civilized façade that she had carefully built around her post-divorce relationship with Hank. Spike could shatter that pretense forever with a few snarky comments, and once it was gone, Buffy would finally see all the anger and resentment that lay behind it. Joyce cast him a warning glance that she hoped communicated her desire that he shut up for just this once!
Worried about Spike, Joyce was only listening with half an ear to Hank's querulous saga of his search for her. "—not at the house, so I came here. I've been up and down the street a couple of times. Does the downtown always close up this early on weeknights? I thought I saw someone moving in here earlier, but I decided it was my imagination, because most of the lights were out. I was looking in a store window two doors down, and I heard this scream, so I came back to make sure."
"Scream?" said Joyce. "Um, how odd." She very carefully did not look at Spike now, but kept her eyes fixed on Hank's face and hoped she looked curious instead of guilty. "Screaming?"
"Yeah, it sounded like it came from here, but I suppose it couldn't have." Hank ran a hand through his thinning hair. "It wasn't like a scream of pain, exactly. It was like nothing I ever heard before."
Spike gave a short, sarcastic bark of laughter, and Hank turned, noticing him for the first time. "Who is this?" he demanded.
Joyce opened her mouth and shut it again, taking a moment to consider her response. The exact truth was impossible, but she had promised herself long ago that she would never lie to Hank or cheat on him the way he had lied and cheated. She had always suspected she was being sanctimonious by staking out this moral high ground, but it had helped her self-esteem survive the divorce, and she had clung to the knowledge that she had not broken any vows.
Now that they were divorced, cheating was no longer an issue. Lying, however, was another matter. Joyce looked over to Spike, who had given up imitating a statue to don his duster and retrieve a pack of cigarettes from one pocket. He was fumbling with his lighter, flicking the element with those strong, talented hands . . . "He's an artist," she said sincerely.
Hank had never thought much of the artists Joyce worked with, as none of them made enough money to meet his qualifications for a social equal. Now, he obviously dismissed Spike as an employee, one of the "help," of no more interest than a gardener or a janitor. "Isn't smoking illegal in here?" he asked pointedly
"I think that's only during business hours," fudged Joyce before Spike could respond with a curse. He stared at her over the glowing tip of his cigarette and she cast him another pleading glance. His eyebrows twitched in annoyance and his gaze slid away from hers, but he said nothing.
"And what's that thing?" said Hank, glaring at the hand chair.
"A coffee table," snapped Joyce, her self-control slipping. "What do you think it is?" Irrationally, she didn't want Hank staring at the chair, much less commenting on it. She wanted to think of Spike when she looked at the damn thing, not Hank.
In Joyce's mind, Hank was now associated with late child support checks, nasty letters from lawyers, and Buffy's disappointed frowns. On the other hand, there were few objects that had not been improved by being linked in her imagination with Spike. Even some of the most mundane or unlikely objects. Loofahs, her feather duster, the spatula she used when making his favorite cookies, that big, flat sarcophagus in his crypt . . . .
Joyce's mind jerked back to the present as Hank pointed out, "It's hardly the best piece here, even in this place. Why does it get the central position in the gallery?"
Joyce rolled her eyes, far more annoyed than when Spike had made a similar comment. Perhaps that was because it was so like Hank to act like he had the right to order things, even here, at the business she had built entirely on her own since the divorce. She knew that it was how he got results on his job, by always seeming competent and in-control. But his pretense of always knowing what was best had begun to annoy her a long time ago.
Spike's shoulders shifted and his expression darkened even more. "Maybe the lady wanted it to sell fast." His voice was pitched low, and Joyce guessed he was close to switching to game face, even as she realized he was repeating her own earlier defense of the chair.
"I did," she said quickly. "But now I'm considering putting it in storage and only hauling it out for special, private showings." A glance at Spike showed that his mood was lightened by that, his lips twitching and the gleam in his eye now more randy than menacing. She took a deep breath. "Forget the chair, Hank. Why are you here?"
"I came to see Buffy. To make up for missing her birthday. You know I—"
She knew his tales of self-justification by heart. "Yes, Hank, you explained. But that was months ago."
"This was the first time I was able to get away. She was supposed to meet me for dinner. She left a message at the restaurant that something came up, but she didn't say what it was."
Turnabout is fair play. Joyce pressed her lips together to keep the thought from escaping and creating unpleasantness. Besides, poor Hank did look bereft.
"It took me hours to drive up here," Hank said. "And I really wanted to show her my new—uh, vehicle. So I went to her dorm and eventually found her room, but no one knew where she was. Then I went to the house and you weren't there."
Why would I be there? My days of waiting around for you are long over. "I had to work late," she said mildly. "I had to unpack a shipment, and," she added because some explanation of her companion seemed to be called for, "Spike was helping me with—something."
Hank looked at him again. "What do you do? Set up exhibits? Haul boxes?" The last remark was made with an incredulous assessment of Spike's spineless slouch that failed to take into consideration the wiry muscles hidden under the folds of the duster.
"I'm stronger than I look, mate," purred Spike. "Besides, I don't answer to you. The lady appreciates my talents, and that's all you need to know."
Hank moved closer to Joyce, and she stepped back reflexively. Not taking the hint, he leaned close again and whispered in her ear, "Are you sure it's safe to be alone here with him?" He peered over her shoulder. "He looks pretty seedy. I know you cut these artistic types a lot of slack, but some of them live on the edge. He might rob you."
Joyce rolled her eyes in exasperation. "That's not what he's here for, Hank," she said out loud. "And I wouldn't say he lives on the edge." Whispering was a waste of time; Spike had obviously heard Hank's comment, but, fortunately, he'd been amused by it.
"Is he even in this country legally?" Hank turned back to Spike, glowering suspiciously. "What nationality are you?" he demanded.
"Drunkard," retorted Spike immediately, drawing a snicker from Joyce.
Hank turned to Joyce, but before he could begin sputtering his outrage, she said, "Honestly, Hank, he's quoting from Casablanca. Don't you know when you're being teased?" She stepped into the office and picked up the phone. "Let me worry about Spike. And let me call some of Buffy's friends. Maybe I can find out where she is." And maybe I can get rid of you before you ruin the rest of my evening. Spike and I were going to watch "To Have and Have Not" on cable, and it airs in less than an hour.
Continued in Chapter Two