Sequel to Out on a Limb
between Gone and Doublemeat Palace
The Scoobies meet to figure out how to handle the Troika. But their demons get in the way. Wackiness, lust, and various other nonsense ensues.
Lots of creamy froth over a shot of dark espresso.
Joss owns the characters. I just make sure they have sex.
Thanks to Gargoyle and Caille for disciplining me whether I need it or not.
The Magic Box. she bristled. Yeah, right. More like the store formerly known as The Magic Box. They might as well rename it The No-Magic-if-Your-Name-is-Willow Box.
She sighed. Okay. So, yeah. She blew it on the magicks big-time. She needed to quit. She got that. But, hey! She was getting things back together, right? So what if it was a whole store filled with magicks. Chock of full of neat stuff like dried froggie parts and spell books and newts’ eyes….
‘Scuse me, ‘salamander’s eyes,’ Mr. Rupert cheapskate-amphibian-substituter Giles. All bluster and bogus superiority. He calls me a ‘rank amateur’! And, what kind of dumb name is Roopert, anyway? Arrgh. Stop thinking about the magick. Again, I sigh.
Realising she’d slowed down almost to a standstill, Willow took a deep breath and marched off again. Well, she had to go to the shop. The Scoobs were meeting to figure out how to decommission Warren, Jonathan and the other guy. They needed her, in a computery, non-magicky way. She’d just have to deal with the magick-lust when she actually got there. But first, she had to actually get there.
Right now, she discovered she had a more immediate problem. The Espresso Pump lay directly between her and The Magic Box. And, lately, she’d gotten herself a major mega java-jones.
Willow wasn’t exactly sure when caffeine had climbed up her back to join the magick monkey. At first, after the whole Amy/Rack/Dawn mess, she’d reached for cups of hot, sweet, creamy coffee to steady herself. Then when the shakes set in anyway, she drank even more to cover them up.
Who, me? she’d tell Xander and Buffy. I’m doing just fine. Sunnyside cranked all the way up. The tremblies? That’s the caffeine. Honest. I’m fine, better than fine. I’m finissima.
Which was a big old pile of hooey. She wasn’t even in the same zip code as fine. Put it away, Willow told herself. Don’t think about magicks. Or Tara… Tara. No! Put it far, far away. Keep walking. Keep looking at the sidewalk.
The Espresso Pump was now a quarter block away, and closing fast.
Don’t even think about great big steamy vanilla mochalattes with heaps of whipped cream and caramel drizzle all dripping and lickable from the pointy cherry tip of that luscious mound. Which sounded like she was planning to lick something that wasn’t a latte, and better stop thinking about that too. Keep walking. Keep looking at the sidewalk.
Not that a caffeine addiction could do as much damage as magicks. But, if she didn’t cut down on the lattes, she’d end up being the porkiest WiccaJewBian on the hellmouth. Besides, Willow needed to prove that there was something in her life she could actually control.
Hey, she thought. I could do that Picture of Dorian Gray thing. I could conjure up a portrait of me and put a spell on it and let it get all fat, while I stay nice and… Willowy. She smiled, quite proud of her solution… for a moment. Then the implications hit. Magicks – poopy. Lattes – poopy. Magick cure for lattes – way poopy. Keep walking. Keep looking at the sidewalk.
This was it, the moment of truth. Willow had reached the coffee bar. Okay, missy, she told herself, No stray glances into the mocha mecca. No listening all la-dee-dah to sireny coffee beans telling you to ‘Come on down,’ Willow Rosenberg. Nope. I am the boss of me, and the master of all my senses.
She’d almost managed to make it past the danger zone when the scent of heaven itself in the guise of a vanilla mochalatte wafted onto the sidewalk. Her feet stopped dead.
Nasal betrayal, she grimaced. The worst kind.
Willow steeled herself, and resolved to make her feet move again. Hey! This isn’t so hard, she thought. I’m psyched. I’m ready. I’m one with my inner 12-step machine….
“I’m drooling like a Saint Bernard in a sausage factory.”
She was about to step inside the shop when she felt something rub against her ankles, and heard a plaintive, “Meww.” Willow looked down at the sidewalk and saw the cutest, whitest, fluffiest blue-eyediest kitty-cat in the whole wide world.
“Well hello, Miss kitty-cat,” she said. She stooped down, picked up the kitten, and held it above her head, to take a better look. Yup. It’s ‘Miss,’ all right. “What’s a little cutie patootie like you doing all alone in the asphalt jungle?” Willow took a look around her, but there didn’t seem to be anyone around who was obviously minus a kitten. She wrinkled her nose at the adorable, triangular face hovering above her own. “Awww. You’re not alone any more, baby.”
Xander and Anya stood leaning against The Magic Box’s sales counter, poring over wedding paraphernalia. They were reading, not talking. But, the tension in their bodies seemed to suggest that the not talking was both deliberate and about something very specific.
Anya broke the silence, picking up where the conversation had left off earlier. “Well I think it’s ridiculous,” she announced.
Relieved at the return to any kind of speaking-relationship, Xander tried again to persuade her. “An, it’s not ridiculous. It’s a masterful stroke of genius.”
Neither of them noticed that Buffy had walked into the shop.
“What’s not ridiculous?” Buffy asked.
Anya gave a long-suffering sigh. “It is ridiculous. But, of course, you would side with Xander, even though you can’t possibly know what we’re talking about.”
“Ok-a-ay,” said Buffy. “This is me butting out. You two kids go for it.” Buffy sat down at the research table, reached for the nearest book and made a show of reading it.
Anya looked dubious. Scoobies almost never ‘butted out’ of each other’s lives. And, sure enough, Xander’s attention was not directed at her, but at the Slayer.
“Xander,” she snapped. “Stop staring at Buffy. Buffy, stop pretending you’re reading.”
Buffy began to protest, but Anya cut her off. “Don’t even bother. That’s an ancient Babylonian cookbook.” Anya stepped closer and peered at the open page. “I believe you’re reading the recipe for Braised Virgin.”
“Ew.” Buffy slammed the book shut.
“You might as well pay attention,” Anya sighed. “I know Xander won’t rest until he’s told you his ‘brilliant scheme.’”
“Okay,” Buffy said. “All ears.” What parts actually went into a dish of Braised Virgin anyway?
She noticed Anya and Xander staring at her. She didn’t think she’d said the ‘parts’ part out loud. Or had she? It seemed like she’d been extra scattered since the other night in the cemetery with Spike and that little kitty he’d… kit-napped to pay off his poker debt.
Thanks to her, the kitty was free. Of course, that was less because she actually freed it, and more because she and Spike were so busy having sex they lost track of it. Buffy Summers, protector of the innocent… except when horny, she thought. She smiled, remembering how good it was with Spike; then she frowned, remembering how bad it was with Spike. Nope. Don’t go there, she decided. She focussed on Xander and Anya.
“So, you crazy lovebirds,” Buffy said, “whatcha arguing about?”
Xander began to speak, but Anya cut him off. “Xander thinks we should put all his relatives up at his parents’ house, and all the demons at our apartment.” She turned to Buffy for comment.
Buffy looked blank.
“Our wedding guests,” Anya explained.
“Oh,” said Buffy. “That does kind of make sense.”
“Pshaw,” Anya sniffed. “We can’t bunch them up like that. They’ll tear each other limb from limb. They’ll curse and spew venom and leave a bloody mess.”
Buffy searched for a diplomatic response. “Um … yeah, but demons are like that. This won’t be new for them.”
“What?” Anya’s brows knitted in confusion. “Oh. No. Not the demons. I’m talking about Xander’s family. Have you met them? They’re animals.”
“Exactly,” Xander agreed. “They turn each other into spare parts – which can’t come to weddings. We get all the credit for inviting them and none of the barfaliciousness of actually having to spend time with them. Ergo, ‘genius.’”
“You see?” Anya complained. “He wants the wedding to be a failure.”
Buffy stopped listening. Xander and Anya’s pre-marital bickering was so endlessly endless-loopy. If it wasn’t the seating arrangements, it was the living arrangements; if it wasn’t the living arrangements, it was the menu.
A tune started running through her head. A song her parents used to sing and make up words to and laugh together about, before everything went to hellmouth in a divorce basket. “You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. You say potato, I say po-tah-to.” Only in this case it was “You say type-O, I say Merl- ot.” Feh. Let’s call the whole thing off…
“I’m calling it off,” Buffy said.
She lay naked on the cool grass, staring up at a blanket of stars. Spike sprawled beside her, face down. She tried not to think about what had just happened. Running into him in the cemetery, bickering, bantering, kissing, falling to the ground with him, having sex, losing herself, finding herself.
The blades of grass pricked at her flesh. Made her skin tingle. And the smell of it… She rolled over onto her stomach, and inhaled the fresh, lush perfume of the grass and the funky musk of the earth beneath it. Must have mowed the grounds today, she thought. Funny, how in the middle of a cemetery something can smell so alive.
She breathed deeply. The tang of their sex rose up and mingled with the scent of the grass. Lately, the sex seemed to penetrate everything. Sheesh, she thought. ‘Penetrate!’ The sex was even hijacking her words. She was right to end it.
“Calling what off, pet?” Spike drawled, still languid in afterglow.
“This,” she said. “Us. It’s over.”
She always said that. And he supposed that one day she would likely mean it. But, not today. Please, god, he begged. One way to find out.
He turned to her and then, lithe as a cat, slid onto her back and draped his body over hers, covering her completely. He propped himself up on the ground with his forearms and elbows. He didn’t want his weight heaving down on her just yet.
He began to brush against her, the merest glancing touch, skin to skin … to feel, just feel her body. The shapes, the textures, the heat. And to let her feel him. The curve of her back against his chest, the swell of her ass pressing into him, exciting him, making him hard again, their thighs touching – his all muscle, hers muscle but soft too, inviting. He made slight, circular motions with his body, the surface of his skin tickling hers.
“Is it, then?” Spike whispered.
“What?” Her voice was thick now.
“Us,” he answered. “Over? You sure?”
He buried his face in her neck, nudging her hair aside and tracing her nape with soft bites. Then he moved one hand round her hip, underneath her belly, and found her pussy. She was damp. Like the grass. Like the earth. Fragrant, damp, welcoming. He played with her, gentle but insistent, tapping his fingers on her clit, while his tongue darted in and out of her ear and along her throat.
“I’m sure,” she gasped.
“Sure of what?”
“I… I want…”
“Sure you want me?” Spike demanded.
“Yes, dammit,” Buffy cried out.
Buffy raised up her hips, inviting him to take her from behind. He got to his knees, clasping her slim, strong hips as he slid into her. So hot, so silky…slowly he entered her, feeling her body adjust to let him in, feeling her surround him.
He took her right hand in his and gently placed it on her pussy. He tapped out a rhythm until she picked it up, and their fingers danced in unison.
“Let yourself feel it, pet,” he whispered. “Not just from the inside. Feel it like I do. All wet, slick, welcoming. Do you feel it?”
“Yes,” she moaned.
“Yes,” he echoed. He spoke as he pushed urgently inside her, his words emerging in jagged scraps. “When I’m with you… the world falls away… There is only you.”
Buffy felt it too. Spike all around her and in her. Filling her up, thrusting thrusting thrusting. Deeper. Hitting that sweet spot inside her…oh, god… while she pressed her hand against herself. He always read her body perfectly. Knew where to touch, or not touch, and when, and how. All thought faded away. There was only sensation. They merged into one and the moment was perfect. Endless. Perfect.
From out of nowhere, an owl screeched, piercing the noiseless night and slicing through Buffy’s consciousness. It’s hunting, she thought. Distracted, she searched the sky and followed the arc of the bird’s flight as it seemed for an instant to block the moon. She froze as she watched it hurtle to the ground to attack its prey.
She suddenly felt cold, fragile, empty.
Feeling her grow still, Spike grunted, confused. She’d never reined herself in before, his Slayer, not when she was so close. He stopped too.
“What is it, love?” he squeezed the words out, barely able to speak.
In reply, Buffy started moving again. Slowly. Oh, so slowly. Afraid to hope, yet hoping. Please let me feel it again, she prayed. She never took it for granted, their spark. She needed it too much. She needed him too much. She longed for proof that the flame would always come back.
“Slowly,” she pleaded.
“Whatever you want, love.”
He withdrew from her, pulling out the entire length of his shaft and then inched back into her fractionally. Bit by bit, inevitable, inexorable. Hitting her finally with a powerful thrust. Again. And again. And oh, again.
She felt him, back and forth, in and out slowly. A gentle roll punctuated by thunder. She propped herself up on one outstretched hand and reached the other hand around to the back of his thigh. She clawed at his skin trying to urge him closer. He was inside her, but that wasn’t close enough. She needed to pull him into her. She wanted him faster now. In her. Faster. The fire rose inside her and burned.
“I need you,” she screamed. “Please don’t leave.”
“Never,” he said. “Never leave you.”
They rocked and moaned, he, grateful for his lover’s invitation, she grateful that even fleetingly she was sufficiently alive to welcome him.
* * *
The jangle of the shop’s bell brought Buffy out of her reverie. She glanced up to see Willow struggling in the doorway with an armload of junk that covered her from waist to eyes. Willow kept the door wedged open with her butt as she inched her way inside.
“Good,” Buffy rushed to help Willow, relieved to be distracted from lusty thoughts about evil-guy, evil-thing… evil-guy-thing. Which sounded really rude. Stop, Buffy.
“Um, Will?” Xander asked. “That is you under there, right?”
“Ynnssff,” Willow confirmed as Buffy removed some objects from Willow’s arms.
Willow found the table, via the bumping-into method, and Buffy unloaded her. Sweater, book-bag, computer, a huge take-out tray of what smelled like vanilla mochalattes… each shed one by one, until all that was left was Willow holding a fluffy ball of white fur.
“New gloves?” Xander asked, looking at the furball. “Cause, Southern California? Hot? I’m thinking, winter clothes? Verging on crazy street-lady chic.”
“Plus the big hands look is so 80s,” Buffy added. Willow shot her an ‘et tu, Brute’ look. Buffy back-pedaled. “I hear it’s coming back, though.”
Willow sighed patiently. Her expression softened and she spoke into her hands. “Aren’t they sillies? You’re not gloves.”
“Willow, stop talking to your hands,” Anya ordered. “It’s disturbing, and often followed by drooling and alien messages in your dental work. I don’t care about the aliens. But, you can’t drool in the store.”
Anya moved a display of monkey brains away from the table and Willow, and onto the counter between herself and Xander. “Nobody’s going to fork over their hard-earned money for soggy monkey brains.”
“Aren’t brains pretty much of the soggy by nature?” Xander ventured. Anya tossed him a frosty stare.
Unperturbed, Willow blew on the furball. Roused from its sleep, the now-discernable kitten uncoiled and stretched.
Anya looked shocked. Buffy looked pensive. Xander crinkled up his nose and gave a gale-force sneeze.
“Isn’t it adorable?” Willow asked.
“No,” Anya said. “It’s anything but adorable. Please tell me you’re going to sacrifice it in some gory ritual to find those three invisibility people.”
“What?” Willow snapped.
Xander sneezed again. Hurricane-force this time.
Meanwhile, Buffy approached Willow and the kitten. She peered into its blue eyes, eyes exactly the colour of Spike’s. Yup. No doubt about it. This was the kitten Spike had been chasing in the cemetery.
Spike had said the kitten was some rare species. A Himmel-something. “Hiya,” Buffy said, scratching the kitten’s ears. “I know you. You’re … Himmelfarb.”
“Himmelfarb?” said Willow, Anya and Xander.
“Buffy, I love ya,” Willow began. “And, it means a lot, you trying to work-in the whole jewish thing. But, ‘Himmelfarb?’”
“Oh for goodness’ sake,” Anya broke in. “Himmelfarb! Pfui. It’s a Himalayan, an exotic form of Persian. And you can’t keep it in my shop unless you kill it. Soon.”
“Kitty-killer!” Willow shielded the kitten against her body.
“An, I thought you iked catchoos,” Xander sneezed.
“Real cats, yes,” said Anya. “And wipe your nose, Xander. It’s red and drippy, and extremely unattractive.” She removed the monkey brains from the vicinity of Xander’s nose.
“What do you mean, ‘real’ cats?” Buffy asked.
“Calicos, tortoise-shell, Siamese, Burmese, brown, ginger, black.” Anya ticked off her fingers. “Black cats are unfairly maligned, you know. That ‘evil’ stigma? It’s a myth. The cats you really have to worry about are the Persians, especially the Himalayans.”
They all turned their gaze to the kitten, which continued to purr in Willow’s arms, oblivious to the stir it had caused.
“You can’t just accuse a kitten without proof,” said Willow. “It’s unconstitutional.”
Buffy wasn’t sure the Founding Fathers really had kittens in mind. But she did think Anya was acting kind of wiggy, even for Anya.
“Why the Himmelf… the exotic Persian ones?” Buffy asked.
“Look at it. Shorter ears, longer tails. But, that’s just to throw us off. They’re bunnies in disguise.”
Willow snorted. “That’s just stupid.”
“Xander, your ‘best friend’ just called me stupid.”
For what must have been the jillionth time, he swivelled his head back and forth between them. Leaping Lizzie Borden, he thought. Women. But all he said was, “Achooo!”
“Besides,” Anya continued, “Look at Xander’s nose.”
“So, he’s allergic to cats, so what?” Willow countered.
“Umb, a liddle sypathy here,” Xander said.
“Right, sorry,” Willow frowned. “But, it doesn’t prove the kitty is evil, is all I’m saying.”
Anya delivered the coup de grace. “Xander’s never been allergic to cats before.”
“Yeah?” Willow said. “Well, it’s a well-known scientific fact that people can develop allegeries at any age.” The kitten purred and licked Willow’s face.
“How putrid,” sniffed Anya. “Bunny saliva.”
The kitten hissed at Anya.
“Aww,” said Willow. ““Shhh, baby. Don’t listen to the mean lady. I’ll always protect you….. Who’s got cute saliva?” She flicked her tongue back at the kitten.
“Xander, your ‘best friend’ is about to French-kiss a bunny,” Anya said.
“Kitty,” Willow snipped.
“I stand corrected. Your best friend is about to French-kiss a ‘kitty.’ Everyone knows how normal that is.”
Buffy thought Anya was probably letting her bunny paranoia get the better of her. But, just because she was paranoid didn’t mean bunnies weren’t hopping around after her.
“So,” Buffy asked Anya, “Are you saying it’s not a real cat? It’s a thing? An evil, soulless thing?”
"'Someone call me?' And there he was, Spike, out of nowhere, watching them from the rear doorway.
“No,” Buffy and Xander answered together.
Spike leaned against the doorframe, arms folded, one ankle elegantly crossing the other. He looked calm, almost serene.
“Wadachoo doing here, Spike?” Xander asked. “Doh-one wants you.”
“That so?” Spike said. “Thought I heard Buffy call for an ‘evil, soulless thing.’”
Spike uncrossed his legs, pushed off the doorframe and sidled up to Buffy. He whispered in her ear, “Sounded like the call of the Buffy. Tame, house-broken Buffy. Now, Buffy in the wild? Her call is feral, raw.”
Buffy shivered as his voice coursed through her. She closed her eyes, to shut him out, then drew back. “Back off, Spike,” she said.
“You sure that’s what you want, Slayer?” he asked.
“I tode you to stop macking ond Buffy, Dead-boy,” Xander said.
“Typical,” Anya muttered. “Defend Buffy from a neutered demon who couldn’t gum an avocado to death. But, do you stand up to Willow for me? No.”
Willow stood apart from the others, watching them bicker like old married couples, fighting fights no one ever won or lost. Stalemate. Better than no mate at all, I guess, she thought. No. Stop thinking.
Finally she cleared her throat. “Okay, enough. Research time. Spike, you can stay. But only if you behave.”
Spike opened his mouth to snark, then noticed the kitten. “Hey! That’s my cat. Where’d you-- ? Give it here,” he demanded. He moved toward the redhead. The cat wailed and Willow jerked away, shielding it.
“No way,” Willow said. “It’s my kitty. And, besides, I know what you do with kitties, Mister. And it’s gross and inhuman.”
Spike lifted a brow.
“Okay, so inhuman not a problem for you. But, she’s my baby, and you can’t touch her.”
Buffy pulled Spike away from Willow. She directed her words to her friend, but looked Spike in the eye. “Spike won’t touch a hair on the kitty’s chinny chin chin. Don’t worry.”
Spike flicked his tongue at Buffy and flashed a lascivious grin. “How you gonna stop me, Slayer? Same as last time in the graveyard? Here?”
Buffy punched him in the nose.
“Hey!” he yelled.
“Behave,” said Buffy, “Or next time I’ll shut you up the old-fashioned way.” She moved her right fist up and down rapidly, mimicking a staking motion. At Spike’s smile and the others’ looks of horrified disbelief, she stopped short. “I gotta stop doing that,” she muttered.
Buffy planted Spike against the shelves in back of the table, then joined the others who were already seated.
“Okay,” Buffy said. “Let’s get started. Warren, Jonathan, and … the other guy. Andrew? I suppose we should know his name before we cream him.”
“Yes!” Willow shouted, startling everyone. “Names! We all have names.”
“Um, yeah?” Buffy said.
“The kitty doesn’t have a name,” Willow explained. “We have to name her.”
“How about Lucifer?” Anya sneered.
Willow put the kitten on her lap and turned her attention to the vanilla mochalattes she’d brought from the Espresso Pump. “Behave,” she told Anya, with a glance back at Spike. “Or you don’t get any.”
“Oh.” Anya clapped her hands. “Bribery. I respect bribery.”
As Willow passed out the lattes, the kitten leapt onto the table and wandered over to the pile of books. Pausing by an open spell-book, it cocked its head to one side and peered at the words printed on the page. Then it rolled over on its back, stretching and pawing at the paper, causing the pages to flip backwards and forwards.
“Oooh!” said Willow. “How cute is that?”
“Probably going to turn us all into carrots,” Anya muttered.
Finally losing interest in the book, the kitten tiptoed its way around the table, pausing in front of Anya.
“Shoo, bunny!” she ordered. The kitten hissed and scampered back to Willow. Breathing a sigh of relief, Anya pried the lid off her latte. “Oh. What a coincidence . Whipped cream. Xander and I were just eating some last night in bed, though not on coffee. Xander loves whipped cream.”
“Heh heh. Nod so buch,” Xander stuttered.
“Well you moaned like a Frellshaw demon in heat when I slathered it all over your-- ”
“Aaaahaha,” Xander leapt in, capping it with a, “choo.” He cringed and stared down at the table, fervently praying that Anya had run out of whipped-creamy patter.
But Anya persisted, “I’ve never understood the ‘whipped’ part. Is that how they make it stiff? With whips? Whips certainly have that effect on Xander.”
Oh God, thought Xander, can I turn into a Frellshaw demon now and get Buffy to just kill me? But when he dared to look up again, no one was paying attention to him. Buffy, Anya and Spike were too engrossed in watching Willow. He followed their gaze.
Willow was lost on planet latte. She flicked her tongue back and forth lightly over the maraschino cherry embedded in the whipped cream topping … slowly at first, then more quickly. After she had coaxed every drop of syrup from the cherry’s skin, she opened her mouth slightly and held the red shiny fruit firmly between her lips, flicking at it more furiously with her tongue. Finally, she took it deep into her mouth and swallowed it with a satisfied moan.
“You two want to be alone?” Spike asked.
Willow frowned. “Huh?”
Without warning, Xander let loose an enormous “Ahhh Choooee” spraying the entire table. The kitten howled, then fled up onto the shelf behind Spike. Buffy, Anya and Willow leapt out of their chairs, screaming, “Ew.” “Gross.” “Disgusting.” “Get away from here.” Anya ran to fetch paper towels from behind the counter.
Meanwhile, Xander stood up and walked over to join the vampire. “I’ll stadd ober here in da bad boys section,” he said.
“Better not come over all snot-dripping with me, Sneezy,” Spike warned.
“Or wad, Mr. Chip? You gonna call me other dwarf dames to death?”
Spike sneered in the direction of Xander’s crotch. “If the sock fits, Tiny. Oh, my mistake. Different kind of dwarf.”
“That’s id,” Xander growled. He grabbed Spike and slammed him back against the shelves.
“Stop it, you two,” said Buffy. She elbowed in between them and pulled Xander off, then turned back to Spike.
“Don’t provoke him, Spike,” she ordered.
“Not him I want to provoke,” Spike drawled. He checked over her shoulder. Anya, Xander and Willow were wiping up the table and arguing hotly about kittens, the sanctity of dry merchandise and mucous. He didn’t notice the kitten peering over his shoulder.
Spike anchored his foot against the seat-back of the chair Buffy had vacated, and pushed his thigh upward between Buffy’s legs, pressing hard against her crotch.
“Ohh,” Buffy groaned softly. “So good…” Her eyes closed and she took deep breaths, inhaling his musk. She began to bounce lightly up and down on his thigh, feeling a joyous rush with every landing. He moved his leg in time with her, then grabbed her hips and nudged her up his leg until her thigh ground against his hardness.
“Spike … No…oh, no,” she said softly.
“It’s all right, pet,” he grunted in her ear. “No one’s looking.”
“Buffy, Spike,” Anya asked. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” said Spike.
Quick as a flash, Spike straightened his leg. Buffy slid down him like a lonely Amazon on a greased Mahogany tree. She landed on the floor with a thump.
“Huh what? Where?” Buffy said. She picked herself up and fumbled her way back into her chair. “Um. I was just threatening Spike with the discipline.”
“Ond da fore?” Xander asked.
“It was toe torture,” Buffy said. Toe torture? “An ancient form of…. So, what were we doing? Oh yeah. Kitty names. Quick kitty names. Then nerds. Will?”
But Willow was busy. The others watched mesmerized as she rapturously lapped once again at the latte.
“Witch’s mind not on kitty,” said Spike. “Although, you could argue it is on puss—“
Xander snickered, then stopped when he saw how Anya and Buffy were looking at him. “Evil, sexist humour,” he wagged his finger at Spike. But one second of eye-contact with the grinning vamp and Xander collapsed once more into snickers.
“Hey,” Spike said. “I know! Pussy-Willow. Or,how about Puss’nBoobs?”
Anya and Buffy stared.
“The na-ame,” Spike explained, with a roll of his eyes. “Joke, yeah?” He turned to Xander. “Shite. Tough room.”
“Shut up both of you,” Buffy commanded. “What’s with you two anyway? A minute ago you were punching each other out. Now you’re bosom buddies?”
The two men doubled over with laughter.
“Okay. Very, very bad choice of words,” Buffy conceded.
The men laughed hysterically, but they didn’t look amused. They seemed confused and a little frightened.
Buffy turned to Willow who was now running her tongue around the inside rim of the paper cup. “Will…”
“You have to admit,” Anya said, “she does look like a how-to manual for cunni--”
“Cunning drinking methods,” Buffy interrupted. She thought to herself. Yup, it really really does look like what Anya said.
Buffy surveyed her friends.
Anya? Seeing bunnycats. Xander? Sneezing like a Fyarl demon and whooping it up with Spike of all unpeople. And Willow? Willow was having sex with a paper cup.
What the fuzzy heck is going on here? she wondered.
Willow started to eat the cup.
“Oh crap,” said Buffy.
* * *
The kitten remained perched on the topmost shelf, watching as the two blonde women struggled to remove a cup from the redheaded woman’s mouth. The two men watched, hugging their aching chests and gasping.
The shorter woman, the one who had wrestled with the bleached man in the cemetery, made a grab for the cup. But, the redhead was faster. She yanked it back. The momentum pressed it flat against her chest, causing the remaining contents to spill out onto her blouse. The redhead cried while the shorter woman consoled her and the taller one once again cleaned the table. The spill sent the men into renewed paroxysms of laughter.
Unnoticed, the kitten leapt from the shelf and back onto the round table, where it gave a final, appreciative sniff at the open spell-book it had been playing with earlier. If Anya hadn’t been busy blotting Willow with a paper towel and muttering “dry merchandise,” she could have identified the book as an ancient Persian Cursing Codex, open to an illustration of a white-furred, blue-eyed demon.
In the chaos, the kitten blew on the Codex, rifling the pages till the book opened to a curse targeting unscrupulous used-carpet salesmen. Then it darted through the door to the training room, where it paused and turned for a moment. It seemed to smile and then… evanesce. A retreat into the shadows, an optical illusion? By the time the Scoobys thought to look for it, the kitten was simply gone.