She padded through the house, checking on the others. Dawn slept peacefully enough, Buffy discovered. Willow and Tara lay curled up next to each other, breathing in time with each other. Buffy shut the door to what was once her mother's room and headed downstairs. She paused at the bottom step. She could hear Giles breathing deep and steady over there on the couch.
She moved through the shadows quietly, without knowing quite where she was headed. Suddenly, it didn't matter where she was going. She just needed to be anywhere but here. She ran lightly up the stairs again, her feet falling silently on the carpet. She pulled on sweats and a soft t-shirt, grabbed two stakes and headed out to face the night.
She wandered through the cemetery, not going in any particular direction when she heard scuffling. She closed her eyes and focused on the noise. She took off then, stretching her legs and running as fast as her body allowed. She came up short when she saw them.
Whirling and kicking, punching and growling, Spike fought another vampire. His leather duster swirled around him as he spun, cloaking him in darkness for a few seconds. He didn't speak to the younger vampire, just toyed with him. The moon cast silvery blue light across his face, and Buffy saw the ferocious joy that flashed across his face when his stake finally hit the mark and dust exploded.
Spike slipped the stake into his duster and turned away to leave. He stopped and tilted his head slightly. "Enjoy the show?"
Buffy tried not to smile. She had, in fact. "Didn't seem like you were working too hard." She walked around to stand in front of him.
He shrugged. "He was just a young'un, that one. No big deal." His eyes searched hers. "How are you feeling, after."
"I puked most of today away. Finally ate something around dinner time." She rubbed her stomach absently. "Still not too happy in there, though."
Spike's eyes drifted down to her belly. "Always knew you couldn't hold your liquor, Slayer." His voice was roughened, thick.
Buffy let her hand fall away to her side. "You doing my job, tonight?"
"Someone has to," he said easily. "'Specially with you being under the weather and all."
"I'm surprised you were in any shape to be slaying, Spike. I saw how drunk you were." She giggled then. "I can't believe you were cheating at Kitten Poker! That's such a stupid currency."
Spike grinned slowly. "It's possible you mentioned that a time or two last night."
Right after you called me a person. "Man's got to do--"
"Yeah," she cut him off.
They stood facing each other for a long moment. Buffy didn't want to go home yet, but she didn't want to just stand here and be awkward either. She wanted to do something, she just didn't know what.
"Slayer, you want to, uh, go for a ride on the bike?"
Her eyes lit up. Riding on the motorcycle was almost like flying. Last night, she'd closed her eyes and let the wind whip over her. "Sure."
Something flashed in Spike's eyes. He didn't think I would accept, Buffy realized. How odd. She spent more time with Spike than...except that wasn't true, was it? She did spend more time with her friends, after all, but...It was different with Spike. He didn't make her feel like a freak. Just looked at her--Oh, God. Just looked at her like a woman. And she --
"Did you hear me?" he asked.
"No. Huh? What?"
"I said, where do you want to go?"
She smiled. "Anywhere but here."
"C'mon then. Bike's over here." He took her hand, and led the way.
His hand felt like anyone else's hand. It was a little cool, but that was it. The warmth of her body warmed his flesh after a few minutes anyway. Buffy was a little startled to realize that her thumb absently stroked his fingers as they walked. She stopped that abruptly, and he turned his head briefly before looking forward again.
"Here we are," he said. "Hop up." He handed her the helmet.
She shook her head. "Not wearing that tonight."
"Buffy," he said warningly.
"No. I want to be free. I don't want that thing on my head tonight."
Spike closed his eyes, then looked skyward. "If something happened-"
Buffy squeezed his hand. "You know you wouldn't let anything happen."
That was nothing but the truth, he admitted silently. He released her hand and mounted the motorcycle. "You coming?"
She opened her mouth and shut it again. Too easy. She reached up and held onto his shoulder to steady herself, then swung her leg over the seat. She shifted her weight forward, pressing against his butt and back.
Like he had last night, he reached back and drew her arms around his waist. He started the bike and warned, "Hold on."
Her grip tightened and she clung to him as they sped away. After the initial fear wore off, she closed her eyes and pressed her cheek into his back. Her hands explored his stomach before she realized what she was doing. She heard him clear his throat, but he said nothing. Smart, she thought.
* * * * * * * * * *
Spike shifted on the seat. Between the vibrations of the engine, and Buffy's wandering hands, he was in a bad way. The longer they rode, the bolder Buffy got. She'd started by just rubbing the cut muscles of his abs. She'd slid her arms completely under the duster, and ran her hands all over his chest. So far, he hadn't said a word about it. For one thing, he wasn't sure if she really realized what she was doing. Also, he was afraid that if he said anything, she'd stop.. So he drove until the gas gauge was nearly on empty.
Finally he said, "Slayer." His voice sounded wrong to his ears, more like a croak than a word.
Her hands stilled and she stiffened. "Yes," she said warily.
"Almost on 'E'. We'd better turn back."
She sighed, and opened her eyes. "Okay." Time to wake up from the dream.
Spike spun the bike around and she leaned into his body, not fighting the centrifugal force.
"There's something I want you to know, Buffy," he called back through the wind.
"What you were doing? You didn't have to stop."
She froze. Then she forced herself to relax. "I wasn't...I didn't-" she stammered.
He grinned. "You did and you were."
Buffy glared at him and smacked the back of his head.
"Ouch! Temper, temper."
"Shut up, Spike" she said without heat.
When they got close to Buffy's house, he turned off the engine and rolled silently up the street. Last thing they needed was to have the whole bloody gang up and about. He put a foot down on the pavement and said, "I think this is your stop."
"Yeah." She swung her leg over the bike and grabbed at his shoulder. Her legs were all wobbly.
"Easy, Slayer. Hang on for a sec." He got off the cycle, trying not to knock her over.
"I think I'm all right now," she said. She looked up into his eyes. What was she supposed to say? Now that she knew how hard his chest was, how his stomach rippled. She focused on his mouth for a moment. His lips were full, and they looked so soft. They could be cruel, though. They could twist into a sneer so dark and furious, oh, but she hadn't seen that look in a long time.
Mostly he looked just like he did now. Intent. A little concerned. Sexy.
He shifted, and Buffy realized that he was very close, maybe six inches away.
"Slayer," he said softly. He remembered the last time he had almost kissed her. She had recoiled in disgust and left him weeping in an alley. He tried to put those thoughts out of his head, because, after all, Buffy was standing right here, looking at him like he was a piece of chocolate.
She couldn't take anymore. She hesitantly laid her hands on his chest, and moved the final step closer. Her leg was in between his, their hips almost touching. Her hands moved to the back of his neck and she drew his head down.
He whispered her name, and then wrapped his arms around her frame, pulling her flush against him. He kissed her without hesitation and thought he might ignite when her mouth opened against his. Her tongue dueled with his, and Spike lost track of everything else but this. The scent of her, the feel of her body-it was like a drug. He licked her lips and slid his mouth along the side of her neck. His hands pulled her shirt out of her waistband and crept up against her back.
Buffy felt like she was whirling. Her head spun and her legs were jelly. She clung to him, and gasped for air. She felt his teeth nibbling at her neck and then she remembered that she kissing Spike. A vampire. She pulled away suddenly, and found herself staring into his eyes. His beautiful, clear blue eyes.
Spike. Her enemy. Her ally. Her friend.
Those blue eyes clouded. He took a step back. His lips pressed in a grim line, and the muscle in his jaw jumped. "You don't have to say, it, Slayer. I'll save you the trouble." He brushed past her, pulling his body to the side as if he couldn't bear to touch her. Swung onto the bike, and took off, the engine roaring in the night.
Buffy touched a finger to her raw lips. "Okay, what the hell just happened?"
* * * * * * * * * *
It was only a matter of time, Spike decided, before she came storming in here. He prowled back and forth in his crypt, cursing at the sun.
"Never should have kissed her," he muttered, then realized that Buffy had done the original kissing. Huh. Still. No reason for her to look at him that way. Like she was horrified. After all, she knew very well that he was a vampire, right? And he couldn't help being what he was, could he?
The question was, when Buffy came, would it be to fight to his death or talk him to death? Neither prospect seemed pleasant. But maybe he was jumping the gun. The girl couldn't get enough of him on the motorcycle. Made him near insane, it did, the way she'd rubbed all over his body. And him unable to do anything about it.
He paused in his pacing and sat on the back of his arm chair. It didn't make sense. Why would Buffy go out of her way to make advances and then spurn him. That wasn't her style. All right, he admitted, it was totally her style, but not this time.
Maybe, a tiny voice inside him whispered, maybe she didn't mean to turn you away. Maybe she just needed to regroup. How many times have you tried to kill her?
"More than I can count," he murmured.
Also, vampire plus neck equals bad. She's the Slayer. Think she can help that?
He hopped onto the sarcophagus and lit a cigarette. Sunset wasn't for another few hours. He lay back with one arm under his head and smoked for a long time.
* * * * * * * * * *
Buffy woke up to an empty house. Willow, Tara and Dawn had all gone off to school. Giles was at the shop, probably hovering over Anya. She must love that, Buffy thought wryly.
She fixed some cereal and ate it. Watched TV for awhile. She flipped past Passions without stopping to see who was doing what to whom. She wondered if Spike was watching it. Then she threw the remote across the room. It bounced off the wall without breaking. Buffy glared at it.
She had a bad moment after she'd gotten in the shower-the hot water on her face made her acutely aware of how puffy and raw her mouth was. She closed her eyes and remembered how good it felt to kiss Spike. His body had fit against hers like a key in a lock. She had felt his hardness pressed against her. Buffy quickly soaped her body and got rinsed off.
What was his problem, anyway? What had she done that was so terrible he just walked away from her after making her melt in the middle of the street? God, why, no matter who it was, why did they always walk away from her?
With jerky movements she pulled on her clothes. She laced up her sneakers tightly. Attacked her hair, until it behaved. Then she sat and thought.
* * * * * * * * * *
His back was turned when she came through the door of his crypt. Fine. He had nothing to say.
"What the hell is wrong with you," she demanded, whirling him around by his shoulder.
His eyes widened. "With-? You're the one that's out of your bloody mind, Slayer, not me."
"Oh, so you always go around kissing people and walking away without a second look?"
He stared at her, floored. "Buffy," he began.
"I mean, I know you think I'm not worth a second go, but I thought-" She broke off.
"Wait," he said, shaking his head. "Is that what you think I think?"
"But you can at least say something to me before you walk away, I mean, is that so much to ask?"
"Buffy, that was two years ago, it was before-" he stopped.
"You bloody well know what!" He roared. "Look me in the eyes and tell me you think my feelings have changed since last year. Or even since last night."
Buffy looked down. "Oh."
"Yeah, 'oh'. I'm the one who oughta be on his high horse anyway, 'specially after-" he sucked on his teeth and glanced away. Images flashed through his head, all the times Buffy had rejected him, called him disgusting, humiliated him, ignored him.You're beneath me. That was the worst.
Finally he met her gaze and said roughly, "When I kissed your neck last night, the way you looked at me..." He couldn't continue.
Buffy chewed on her lower lip. "I know you wouldn't hurt me, Spike, it's just that-" She sighed and shifted her feet. "For a minute I forgot that you were a vampire, and then when I remembered-I got a little nervous for a second."
Spike just looked at her. "You forgot I'm a vampire," he repeated.
"Um, yeah. I was a little distracted, it slipped my mind, all right?"
"So you weren't getting ready to..."
"To what?" she demanded.
He moved past her and took a cigarette from the pack on the sarcophagus. He lit it quickly and blew out a lungful of smoke. "Dunno. Try and kill me maybe?" He examined the floor.
Buffy took a few steps toward him. "Can I ask you something?"
"After Willow did that spell-"
"Love, Red's done a lot of spells. Which one...wait , that one? The enagagement spell?"
"Yeah. After it was over, how long did you think about...about what we did?"
Spike put out his smoke. "I never stopped." His eyes blazed at her.
Buffy's legs felt like she'd just gotten off the bike. She licked her lips. "I never let myself think about it. But at night, sometimes I dream about it." She paused and said, "Last night was a beautiful dream, except when I woke up, I realized that you were still standing in front of me." She turned her face away. "Then you were gone, and I couldn't figure out why."
He stretched his hand out so it lay on her shoulder. He massaged the tense muscle for a moment and then stepped behind her. One arm wrapped around her waist and the other stroked her cheek. "Because I've always been a fool, I suppose, when it comes to love."
Buffy turned in his arms so she was face to face. "We were just getting to the good stuff when you left last night."
"Were we ever," he agreed. He kissed her, licking her lips, tasting her. Heat shot through his body as Buffy plastered herself against him. She sucked gently on his neck and a growl escaped him. She broke off, expecting to see his gameface looking back. But it was only Spike, looking just as he always did. Intent. A little concerned. Sexy.